Archive for February, 2009

Things Are Nuts Around Here!

Well, life often throws one a curve now and then. And for me, this is true it seems as well. In just 2009, I have a close family member struggling with cancer, a close family member struggling with heart disease, and lost my favorite pet to old age, my first real pet, Gunter, his full name was Lord Gunter of Fair Winds Kennels. He was a dachshund like no other, a strong fierce spirit, for the past 18 years, never accepted the word or command, compromise. What else could go wrong, I don’t need more stress? Little did I know! Family is one thing, but I have friends struggling as well.

Last week, in one day, I realized I had gotten notification via various methods of more than 10 people I knew, most very well, were laid off. This brings my personal head count to well over 25 in recent months. Most of these 10 or so, I worked with or for many years. No, I am not going to explain specifics of what business segment, or scope I work in, or what areas the respective, recently unemployed, once worked in. That is taboo. As anyone knows, I don’t discuss specifics of or to my blog readers, nor do I discuss specifics about my real-career. What? You ask? This blog is not a job; it is fun, not quite a hobby, but something other than work. But I will say this, I am an engineer, a system integrated, and solution evaluator, so you can gather I have a large scope of friends in the IT field. My friends, yes, friends, at ToutVirtual included!

I am sure everyone understands the current economic situation we are in, specifically the IT industry. As major clients entrench, and new initiative funds dry up, what is the impact to us? What is the impact to virtualization in general? Well that is the interesting thing. Now is the time when virtualization should be going nuts. Firms that never wanted to do virtualization or saw minimum benefit, may be changing their collective minds? No? I wonder? What if the impact of the current crisis is too hard, too bad, too much for virtualization? This is an opportunity but also a threat. How so?
Yes, virtualization saves money. If done right, it should hands down. But it comes at a cost that is not always understood well, or acknowledged up front. With virtualization, your environment is more complex, your technical resources have to be on the ball, and know what they are doing. After all, if they take down one virtual host, and you lose 10, 20, whatever virtual instances in one shot? Right? So it can cost you in unexpected ways if you are not serious about virtualization and support it well. Pre-provision of virtual hosts makes sense; you need that achieve speed to market, right? But that is a capital cost that is not realized or recovered immediately. Your virtual clients may not be ready to use your virtual hosts and associated virtual instances at the same time you bring them online. What if your growth rate has all but died? You have virtual hosts that are under utilized? Ouch. To be sure these issues and more are understood by now, by most that are using virtualization or planning to do so. So what is the point? The point is, do you still really need to virtualize? Or virtualize more than you have?

Yes, but what type of virtualization? I think the current situation is going to push application virtualization into the lime light. I think operating system isolation is going to suffer for it. I think that as corporations look at costs from a strategic perspective, we will see a major push to eliminate multiple operating systems, from environments. For example, do I really need Solaris, Linux and Windows as server platforms? Of course not, many will say. This places emphasis on frameworks, and co-hosts if instances, in SQL, IIS, Oracle, Apache, etc., will reduce operating system sales, and hardware sales, just when hardware sales are hurting in general because of virtualization? Nuts. In fact, cloud computing if done right, will reduce operating system sales, and virtualization sales! It only makes sense, if doing more with less is the goal, operating system isolation virtualization is going to take a hit sooner rather than later.

Yes, we will see more layoffs and downsizing, we will see more friends let go or gone from the world we work in. We are on a downward spiral, still. And our own success nails us, to be sure, because the goal of IT is to reduce personal, flat-out. To do more with less is our super ordinate goal. Never mind the economic cascade and customer entrenchment. Unfortunately, this means that as the front office is downsized so is the back office, and IT is a big part of the back office. Do I see dark days ahead? Yes. What does this mean to me, from a personal perspective? Do I believe I will be out of work? That is a loaded question. But I will say this, as a knowledgeable individual in most things virtual? No, at least not right now. Knowing VMware, Hyper-V, and to some reasonable extent Xen, and soon, KVM? I think I have my bases covered for Hypervisor based virtualization. Time to move to cloud computing?

Yes, I even established an iSCSI and NFS test appliances based on Ubuntu in the home office so I can brush up my skills for Microsoft Fail-Over Clustering, yes, for Hyper-V, as well as improve my overall storage engineering skills as applicable to VMware vSphere, not withstanding Xen and emerging KVM. Never hurts to broaden the skill set. It was quite interesting to setup NFS on Windows 2008 (since having NFS on Windows 2003 up for years), also iSCSI target on Windows 2003 (that was interesting), and then compare these to Ubuntu server variants for NFS server and iSCSI target server. I plan to outline my observations on these efforts over the next few months, documenting what I did and how I did it, as my way of helping others develop their skill sets on tight budget.

Oh, now that I think about it, I need to freshen up the old resume as well. After all, around here, things are nuts!

Add comment February 24th, 2009

ToutVirtual Announces VirtualIQ Pro for XenServer

VirtualIQ suite of products now adds support for leading virtualization platform from Citrix

Carlsbad, Calif. – February 23, 2009 – ToutVirtual, an emerging leader in virtualization intelligence, optimization and performance-management software for virtual computing infrastructures, today announced that its VirtualIQ suite of products now also support all editions of Citrix® XenServer. With the certification under Citrix Ready, VirtualIQ is now certified to manage XenServer environments and heterogeneous environments that include XenServer.

The VirtualIQ suite of products is designed to support virtual server room operations through three stages of virtualizationdesign, deploy, and deliver stages – helping users make correct decisions for virtualization optimization along the way. For instance, in the design stage, the issues are physical-to-virtual (P-V) migration, calculating ROI, platform selection, how to decide which applications get consolidated on which hosts, resource optimization, and so forth. In the deploy stage, the challenges are managing available server capacity, controlling virtual server sprawl, performance optimization, and resource dependency just to name a few. In the deliver stage, the hurdles are managing heterogeneous virtual environments, service-delivery optimization, policy-based actions like spinning a new virtual machine, and more.

The suite of products allows users to compare how various virtualization platforms, such as XenServer, perform running different applications, such as XenApp and XenDesktop, and then provides visibility and policy-based control in managing the XenServer-based environment. The VirtualIQ suite of products supports multiple virtualization platforms – not just Citrix – for an apple-to-apple comparison and provides all essential decision-making data in a single, integrated web console that is simple to install and use. ToutVirtual is partnering with Citrix under the Citrix Ready Program, which showcases and recommends solutions demonstrating compatibility with Citrix Application Delivery Infrastructure.

VirtualIQ products provide Citrix customers key benefits including:

“We are pleased to work with ToutVirtual in defining best practices for managing virtualization processes,” said Simon Crosby, chief technology officer for the Virtualization and Management Division, Citrix Systems. “ToutVirtual’s VirtualIQ products enable our XenServer customers to better assess and optimize applications for their environments, assisting them in making the right planning decisions.”

“ToutVirtual is pleased to strengthen its relationship with Citrix,” said Vipul Pabari, chief technology officer for ToutVirtual. “VirtualIQ with XenServer enables Citrix channel partners and users to optimize each stage of virtualization. Best practices highlighting automation are a necessity in managing virtual infrastructures, which is why we developed policy-based ‘Crawl-Walk-Run’ automation methodology. Whether the user is just getting started in the design phase, or further along in deployment, or delivering advanced services, the VirtualIQ suite of products is simple and cost effective.”

Pricing, Availability and Platforms Supported

More information about the VirtualIQ suite of products is available at:

Channel partners interested in joining the ToutVirtual reseller program should go to

Add comment February 23rd, 2009

Does Your Virtualization Plan Have The Word Tactical or Strategic Stamped On It?

Know What Virtualization Is, But What Is Next – Chapter 15

As some of you may know, from reading this blog, I tend to be rather critical of virtualization implementations that are, well, what is the correct term… Slipshod? Consider the following scenario, if you would… Major company implements virtualization, same company saves a lot of costs upfront, less hardware purchased, less shared storage allocated (that can not be leveraged by virtualization better), better utilization of resources geographically, both human and machine. Elimination of cost, or avoidance of cost are the new buzz words around the management water cooler. Maybe even a few nice bonuses happened to float down to the dark shadows in the trenches, where the real work is done, the last few years. But senior management is already focused on utility computing, or cloud computing, they see virtualization as just another platform to be leveraged, the era of the floating datacenter is upon us! So what happens? Reduction of staff with incomplete planning, transfer of knowledge is weak, new personal that have no real experience or understanding of virtualization, which is a very complex animal, are now forced into a technology that is more demanding and harder to deal with, yes, virtualization is not easy to support nor manage. If you don’t understand this, you don’t really know virtualization.

Think this is not possible? Look again, I suspect it is already happening or, yuck, happened to you already, in your organization. Life cycle management is the big deal, right now, but is not the true specter, what is the true shadow over virtualization, in a strategic sense; it is how easy management sees virtualization as a commodity, a cog, and nothing more. Meaning management thinks, virtualization is like a simple operating system, the classic… been there, done that, ignorance. They forget that virtualization is a strategic platform, that it must be implemented well, supported well, designed well, and most important, planned for very well. This is easy to forget when considering cloud computing. Still think this is not happening to you? Even VMware has prompted this, in their rush to make cloud computing the new wave of profitability, to starve off Hyper-V. ESXi as a free component is worthless, if you don’t purchase all the toys! The name convention VMware just now adopted, says it all, vSphere, including vNetwork, vStorage, and vCenter. VMware is thinking strategic not tactical, true, but is your respective information technology management forgetting that virtualization is a true and significant increase in complexity? Strategic planning ignores the details, tactical planning and implementation tends to ignore the big picture, so which is it that you are struggling with in your organization? If not both?

Several years go, with my clients I started talking about a task-force mind-set, cross discipline technical teams, where storage, network, and operating system teams must integrate and have a common command structure, to prioritize goals. From a strategic perspective this makes obvious sense. But at a tactical level, it is expensive, because you are dedicating personnel, often your brightest and best skilled and talented people, to focus only on virtualization infrastructure. The devil in the details, tactical objectives, to support the strategic opportunity, thus be prepared for things like VMware Site Recovery Manager (SRM), VMware Fault-Tolerance (FT), better leveraging of VMware High-Availability (HA) and VMware Dynamic Resource Sharing (DRS), which at the time where about two (2) or so years in the future!

Was I successful? No. Nor were others I know. A peer of mine, in a different firm, but one that I am on good speaking terms with, that has also looked at virtualization from a strategic perspective, but only seen tactical implementation efforts, said to me just yesterday… Why don’t we have an enhanced storage infrastructure? Why don’t we use HA and DRS better, why don’t we have everything in place to use SRM today? I replied, well, everyone wanted to do it, but we never got funding, and migrating physical-to-virtual (P2V) was where all the cost savings has been, or straight-to-virtualization (S2V). So, it just never happened in the last four (4) years. First, the technology was not there to allow for it, so for two (2) years, we have waited for the technology to appear, well, for the integration of technologies to be fair. For the last two (2) years, we have just enjoyed the cost savings, ignoring the strategic advantage. Yes, the tactical cost savings should have supported as a funding initiative the infrastructure enhancements required to prepare for the new toys, no doubt. His reply was, and accurate I think… Great, so now with the economic issues we have today, we have no options, on strategic infrastructure, nothing in place to let us use the greater, if not best, features of virtualization, yet invented? What a slipshod plan.

I could do nothing but smile. I saw this coming more than three (3) years ago. My management and his, agreed, something should be done, we were right, but neither management structure acted, as the savings rolled in, as millions were saved, nothing was channeled to the future needs of virtualization. Our respective plans were stamped tactical, not strategic. So, given the economic down-turn, right now, when we really need to save more, than ever before, and the tools to allow for this are there, they now exist, to make even greater savings possible! Are any of us in a position to do so? Did we have strategic plans that were several years forward looking? No, well, only on paper, since no one wanted to invest in the future? So I ask you, again, is your virtualization plan stamped tactical or strategic?

Add comment February 4th, 2009


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