Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Journey of Virtualization: Software Defined Datacenter

Recently I was asked by some customers who have not yet start virtualization.  They asked which technology should they choose?  Microsoft Hyper-V, VMware vSphere, Oracle VM, Citrix Zen or even Redhat KVM.

I would like to take this as a neutral perspective here.  Here I do not want to be bias against any technology but rather be open about it and to start at the base and looking towards the goals.

What is your reason that you are going to start virtualization?
Many wanted to do because they see people doing it and they believe it is cost saving.  Have you assess if this is really cost saving for yourself?  For one reason, if you are paying hosting of your server workload, would you really bother about if it is virtual or physical for the SLA you have paid for?

Once you have determine your reason on virtualization, next we talk about what do you want to achieve out of virtualization?
Many talk about TCO, ROI and really the cost savings.  Honestly all virtualization technology delivers the same so what so different.  All allows you to consolidate many to one physical box.

Next, after than the business benefits, what else are you looking for?
Most of them do not tell me much.  But one common reasons is efficiency.  They want to have ease of management.  This is crucial.  Why you might asked.  Simple, you do not want to start virtualization to benefit from it and end up more difficult to manage and you might just prefer the physical environment.  With complexity meaning service level been affected since it would not be so easy to do any recovery or troubleshooting so resulting in higher operation cost (OpEx) and with more people need to manage the environment.

After all this, we are all looking at something that can be cost effective, operation effective and ease of use which can drive you automation and not sacrificing or reversing what you have done in a physical environment.

It can make it as easy as treat it as if you are using a phone, and you need one app e.g. Angry bird.  You browse using your iPhone or Android phone to individual store, search for the app and download it.  Once payment is received or approved, the app started to download and install.  It is ready to use.

Imagine this if this is your datacenter, where your users get to choose what they need.  As long they pay for their requirements, the services in terms of workload and security, firewall, etc. will be provided.  Now imagine, your user get to provision their workload and once its ready, they are informed.  They start using their workload created.  This was all done by them.  No involvement of the infrastructure personnel who are busy managing the environment and running the day to day tasks and projects.

This is what we want and hope to have.  Is it really available?  The answer is yes.  It is and it can be achieved if these are all running and controlled by software.  This lead to the hot topic where Microsoft and VMware are calling Software Defined Datacenter (SDDC).

Imagine all your hardware, servers, storage, networks, security are all in your infrastructure.  However the definition of how it is assigned and who gets to use it etc are defined by software.  You scale whenever you want and need while the user just have to do is request and pay for their requirements as long the infrastructure can support this.

Now we know there is such a vision and solution.  Next we look at how this can value add to your environment?  First, it can save you on time to management what you are suppose to manage and leave the user to decide what they need on their own.  Secondly, we want integration.  Definitely we do not want something that needs multiple components and perform some complex integration that makes it even hard to manage which will defeat the first purpose.  Lastly, a framework you can work on and reach there.

Having said all the above,  take a deep thought.  Is this what you really want to do or is it just something too far away which you doubt would really happen.

Next if this is what you really wish to have, then look out for a solution that provide a framework for you to work on.  Not one that provides you with many components and ask you to piece all this together yourself.  That would be near impossible.

Lastly, the ability to manage this new environment.  The administrators are no longer just administrator.  They are looking at a data center where its gear towards a Cloud infrastructure where the characteristics are the same.  These administrators are moving towards Cloud Architect role where they see things in a higher perspective.  Not the the usual day by day operational administrators we used to see.

The mindset of our perspective need to change and embrace the new technology moving towards a new era.  We have to think of future and not stay just at the virtualization layer where features and functions are just comparison people or companies makes you to compare on.  We should be doing is looking at a longer and further journey of who and what can brings you there.

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