The Struggle of Virtualization?

January 15th, 2011

2011 will be a lack luster year for virtualization to be sure

The end of 2010 was a struggle on a personal level for me.  No, I will not explain why, some things are personal.  Let us say my trails had nothing to do with technology.  But events of late 2010, did give me pause, to think about myself, and about the enterprise information technology industry that I have been in for more than 20 years, if you count computing in general, closer to 30 years.  Sure information technology has changed, but in reality it has reinvented its self more than actually changed.  Faster components, large scale, moreover, name any aspect of information technology since the late 60s, and it is not new just changed.

This same trend is true for the people that work in the information technology industry.  Be it operations, engineering, or architecture, the roles have expanded and contracted, trends come and go, but the heart of the industry has been people.  I have made this point before, to be sure, but the emphasis on technology replacing people somehow, now in 2011 seems more acute or focused on people, than any other factor.  Why?  Cost of course.  The answer is obvious.   Virtualization has created a commodity perspective; why else would a cloud strategy be so popular?  But that does not explain it in total, the idea that information technology is a competitive advantage is still true to a degree, but the idea that long term investment, meaning people, has been lost along the way.

True, a few earth shattering concepts have not changed the world quite the way we expected.  Whereas a few more have… for example, does the cell phone you have now, qualify as a phone or a mobile appliance?  How many processors does it have?  Some of the latest mobile appliances have two processors!  Could we have ever envisioned the need for 2 GHz in CPU capacity in a mobile appliance?  That mobile devices, never mind video game consoles leverage virtualization?  Maybe 5% of the world saw this coming a few years ago, and guessed right, thus maybe 1% made real significant money off of it.  Ignoring the success of Apple, of course, Steve Jobs has a long history of good and bad guesses about where consumer electronics would go.  Did someone say Apple IIgs, Macintosh IIcx, or Apple Newton?

So, what has virtualization been doing for the last year or even two years?  Not much.  Virtualization as a commodity has been the mindset.  Every vendor that has any ideas that are original about virtualization, has given up, disappeared, or refocusing on the management of virtualization, the clouding of computing.  Pick any segment of the information technology market, only to return to the same concept that there is nothing new under the Sun, just repackaging, realignment, rehashing.  Is this true?  Has the information technology industry reached its zenith?  I would say it has for the most part.  Especially in respect to virtualization implemented with hypervisors as the architecture foundation, right?

Sure, solid state, state-less, disk-less, blah. Blah… will continue to evolve.  But that is not real change, just morphing the old into newer packaging, performance, or scale.  There is no innovation taking place, not in any real sense.  Where have all the dreamers gone?  VMware is entrenched around ESXi, this is not a negative.  It makes sense, ESXi is easier to support, or should I say it in total truth, ESXi is cheaper to support.  KVM, Hyper-V, etc. are adding features to improve management that is it, period, and end of story.  Xen, well, Xen is trying.  Oracle, speaking of Oracle, what is going on… LODMs technology had the potential to really slam the monolithic hypervisor, what happened?  Virtual instances that so not replicate the OS, hello, did this idea just fall of the edge of the world or what?  AIX with its micro-partitioning, the micro-LPARs concept is significant, but only to the AIX world.  And zSystem based Linux zLinux has some potential but is the actual partitioning is not within the Linux OS space is it?  Don’t even bring up the Windows Azure concept, Microsoft has mastered the art of old-is-new, excuse me while I am ill!

So, what is 2011, I call it… The Year of Optimization!  Just that and nothing more, because whatever virtualization you have, you will tweak it, tune it, and call yourself successful.  A number of entities will add additional different hypervisor architectures, to establish niches, VMware and Hyper-V, or VMware and KVM, or KVM and Xen, etc., etc., etc.  The days of monolithic infrastructures based on one key virtualization vendor are over.  If you don’t believe that, then just look at what the big hosting vendors are doing… KVM, Hyper-V, VMware, Xen all under the same roof?  Of course, but, and this is the kicker… no one wants to increase staffing costs for the team of dynamic, resourceful, personnel that understand the complex environment at the operational level do they?  Sure, architecture and engineering costs are small compared to operational costs, right?  And with every single vendor out in the world promising clouding, what are information technology managers to do?  That is easy… cut costs, after all a service based industry does not need skill or talent to any large degree.  Go global, India, China even South America do information technology as good as the United States, Germany or even Canada right?  I wonder?  Do they?  Do they really?  TCO calculations for CEOs are like statistics… you can make the numbers say anything.  Especially when the accountants and managers roll over every few years, cough.

I leave you with one last thought?  What happens when you have tweaked, tuned, and such your virtualization infrastructure.  When you have found the best TCO model for your specific company, firm, or organization?  What will you do next?  Even a better question is… will you have the talent and skill, in house, to do the unthinkable?  Innovate?  What a struggle that will be, no?

Entry Filed under: A Proper Virtual World

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