content top

The 90s Called: They Want Their Procurement Team Back

Today I talked to a client about their private cloud architecture and pending investments. The talk hit on a lot of areas, ranging from software licensing, to vendor support, to orchestration, and finally to standardization. When we got to the topic of standardization and procurement, they couldn’t contain themselves. One member of the organization said: We can’t even say we’re a Microsoft Exchange shop. As far as procurement is concerned, we can’t even have a standard for email. If that sounds odd to you, then consider your investments for private cloud. Providers achieve tremendous economies of scale through high degrees of standardization, yet that approach is nearly impossible for many enterprises. The reason for many are the folks in the procurement group whose job it is to save the company on capex costs. These folks have long prided themselves on getting a 15% discount in selecting one vendor product over another. Once the discounted solution is procured, then it’s the job of IT Ops to run it. If that decision results in a 30% premium on opex, then so be it. At that point the procurement group is already focused on the next purchase. It’s a story I hear a lot and in my opinion is an extremely shortsighted approach. Until procurement is retooled to place the emphasis on TCO instead of capex, I will continue to work with clients on stringing together a hodgepodge of point solutions at a ridiculously high cost. Granted, not every vertical faces this issue to the same degree, but it is especially painful in the public sector. The finger often gets pointed at IT Ops for being too costly, but the real source is ironically a group that prides themselves on saving money – the procurement group. Procurement is trying to save money in the best interest of the business, but an approach purely focused on capex often hurts the business. Cloud computing is forcing one of the greatest collective IT modernization efforts in our history. It’s time that procurement processes join us in the 21st century as well. Update: This morning (February 5th) I discussed this particular issue with a client. In their case, standardization was a mandate set at the VP level and impacts all business units. The mandate changed the role of procurement to one of standardization enforcement with the expectation of getting better volume discounts by working with fewer vendors. In addition, he mentioned the other added benefits around opex costs. The procurement team no longer looks for the best deal in terms of upfront cost. They look to check to see if a product already exists within the approved vendor set and requires the business...

Read More

Heterogeneous Virtualization Trends at Gartner Data Center

Heterogeneous virtualization has been a hot topic among clients and last week at the Gartner Data Center conference in Las Vegas I presented a session on the subject. During the session, I polled the audience on their heterogeneous virtualization plans. Fifty participants responded to each polling question. The first question I asked was about the current hypervisors that were deployed (note that the values are the number of respondents and not a percentage).                 As you can see, most participants used VMware vSphere as expected, and there was a good mix of Hyper-V, XenServer, and some RHEV and Oracle VM. It’s one thing to have multiple hypervisors, but not everyone is using multiple hypervisors to run production server applications in their data centers. That’s why I asked attendees which hypervisors they were using to run production server applications.                   Notice that the drop was pretty significant. In the first poll, 44 non-VMware hypervisors were used. In the second poll, that number dropped to 25. The drop is consistent with an important but often unreported multi-hypervisor trend – while most organizations are using multiple hypervisors, most are not using multiple hypervisors for their production server applications (Oracle VM is a common exception). The second or third hypervisors deployed within an organization are often used to support branch office or departmental deployments. The fact that the additional hypervisors are being used is important, but so is understanding the use cases. With that in mind, I also asked attendees about their plans for a single hypervisor.                   Most (57%) planned to use a single hypervisor for production server workloads that required DR, with DR simplicity being the primary driver behind that decision. Clients frequently tell me that they fear that multiple hypervisors will recreate some of the same DR challenges that they initially solved with server virtualization. In addition, the OPEX concerns are real. Clients doing heterogeneous virtualization today almost always have a separate management silo for each hypervisor. When political or geographical issues preserve IT silos, the per-hypervisor silos might not be too big of a deal. However, organizations looking to be more centralized and efficient should aim for higher degrees of standardization. Does this data mean that VMware wins? Not necessarily. I’ve had many calls with clients that are considering to switching to Hyper-V as their standard virtualization offering. That switch will take place over a 3-5 year period, with the end goal of having a homogeneous virtualization layer. If VMware is smart, it will focus on the OPEX and DR benefits...

Read More

Desktop Virtualization Trends at Gartner Data Center

          At the Gartner Data Center conference in Las Vegas last week I asked several polling questions regarding desktop virtualization adoption plans and trends, and thought that they were worth sharing. Note that the poll was taken in my session on “Desktop Virtualization: Tales from the Trenches,” so the audience was already at least considering the technology. The first question I asked was regarding business drivers.                 As you can see above, the majority of respondents wanted to use the technology to reduce TCO, while giving users a “Follow-me desktop” was a close second. We have multiple clients that have been able to reduce TCO 10% or higher, so the expectations are legitimate. The next polling question looked at virtual desktop adoption goals.                 Note that 11-30% seemed to be the sweet spot, while other organizations had more aggressive targets, and some had less. We talk to many clients that are using virtual desktops for a variety of use cases, so the range of answers was expected. Some healthcare organizations see the technology reaching the majority of their doctors and clinicians. Other verticals are using virtual desktops for remote worker and remote office support. In fact, I spoke to several clients at the conference who were expanding to Eastern Europe and the Asia Pacific regions. They didn’t want to hire any IT staff to manage the remote offices, so the virtual desktop was a sound investment for them. I often get asked about virtual desktop vendor preferences and the survey respondents pointed to a near even split between Citrix and VMware, along with growing interest in Microsoft.                 We still see Citrix having a slight edge among Gartner clients that we speak with each day; however, Citrix should take note of the poll response that several organizations see VMware as a capable alternative. Note that the poll sample was from 105 conference attendees. The last question that I had asked was about storage preferences. This question was a little more involved and about half of the poll participants responded to this one.                         Attendees could select multiple options, and while the enterprise storage array features were expected, the interest in the native hypervisor features such as IntelliCache and View Accelerator was a bit of a surprise. However, virtual desktops are capex-sensitive and when native platform technologies can be used, it’s a logical first option. Still, oftentimes specialized storage is closely evaluated by organizations looking to reduce their storage...

Read More

Standardization ADD: We are all Hypocrites

Standardization Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or (SADD): (n) A condition in which one professes to support standardization, yet can’t help but be distracted by the newest, shiniest object – Opex costs be damned. I’m a hypocrite. There. I said it. It’s almost therapeutic. Are you one too? Here’s how I see it. We are all taking part in a great conspiracy. Many of us are both victors and victims in this circular history that we can’t help but repeat. End user organizations are spending way too much on IT services, and we are all at fault. Why? Let’s start with complexity. Every management vendor wants complexity. The more complex the environment, the more software and professional services they can sell. Hardware vendors? Ditto. Startups challenging incumbents? You got it. If you standardized you wouldn’t buy their products and they’d be out of business. Again – the newest, shiniest object is better than what you already have. And it’s cheaper! What’s not to love? IT pros generally like complexity at times because it lets us flex our intellectual muscle and show our value. Consultants and analysts? Check and check. Complexity equates to a greater need for advisory services. Are we all a part of one of the greatest con jobs in history? Sometimes it feels that way. We can always find a “business reason” to make things harder than they need be. Or maybe we’re the victims? We’re being duped by a community that professes the values of standardization but on the other hand goes at length to justify anything but standardized approaches to IT challenges. Many of us suffer from SADD. So how on earth can a highly standardized approach to delivering IT services hold our attention? If a lack of standardization costs the business more money long term, then so be it. We need to pit vendors against each other. Right? Group think often implies that it’s a better strategy. But who is it really better for? Vendors? Consultants? Analysts? The IT department? How often do we ever wonder if it’s best for the business? I’d argue not nearly enough. After all, in the quest to save 10-20% on one solution, what are you paying for new consulting, advisory services, and management products to deal with the added complexity? A few years ago I blogged about emerging cloud technologies and what I called “the Wal-Martification of IT,” stating: Think of public cloud providers as the neighborhood Wal-Mart. In many towns across the US, small businesses were swallowed by Wal-Mart. Many of these businesses were unwilling or unable to change their existing business processes or target markets in the wake of Wal-Mart’s entrance to their community....

Read More

Hyper-V 3: A Windows Server 2003 Remix?

Remember the days of Windows NT Server? I was among the many who mocked it as a serious data center server operating system. Then came Windows 2000 Server, and perceptions began to change. With the release of Windows Server 2003, Microsoft turned the tide of server OS dominance in the data center, placing Microsoft on a path to where the majority of servers would run a Windows OS. What initially seemed like a pipe dream became reality, and I was among many who were wrong about Microsoft’s chances as a dominant server OS vendor. That takes us to last week’s Microsoft Build conference, where Microsoft demonstrated several significant feature enhancements coming to the next generation of Hyper-V. If you compare Hyper-V maturity to Windows Server OS maturity, this could be the equivalent to Windows Server 2003. Microsoft unveiled many new features that positions Hyper-V as a serious enterprise-grade virtualization platform. I was most impressed by the improved virtual switch architecture and extensibility features. For years, I had seen the lack of extensibility and monitoring capabilities in the Hyper-V virtual switch architecture as a barrier to supporting multitenant environments. While Hyper-V today can offer unicast isolation for traffic on shared virtual switches and support VLANs, it does not support any type of port spanning or promiscuous monitoring. That made it difficult to monitor and enforce network security in Hyper-V virtual networks, and have made the hypervisor ill-suited for some large enterprise and many cloud IaaS scenarios. Those barriers are removed in Windows 8. In addition to rich network monitoring and enforcement capabilities, Hyper-V’s extensible switch architecture opens the door for technology partners in the networking and security space to reside in the Hyper-V fabric. Cisco has already announced support for the Nexus 1000V on Windows 8 Hyper-V. I expect other leading players in the networking and security space to follow suit. Juniper, HP, Riverbed, and F5 are good candidates to also offer Hyper-V virtual network appliances. Citrix is already there (i.e., NetScaler VPX for Hyper-V). One other architectural element of significance is that virtual networking and security requirements are embedded in each Hyper-V VM’s metadata file. So prior to any live migration job, for example, a VM’s underlying third party dependencies are validated on a target host. Keeping relevant network and security metadata with the VM ensures that mobility constraints can always easily be validated before any migration job. These features are significant. Having an extensible network architecture, extensible VM metadata, and extensible management (i.e., via the System Center suite and third party integration) isn’t Microsoft following VMware. It’s leadership. I have communicated extensibility requirements to VMware for years, and I’m happy to see Microsoft stepping up and addressing...

Read More

VMworld 2011: If Amazon is the Benchmark…

In a recent Gartner field search study, two early internal IaaS cloud adopters noted that if Amazon was the benchmark by which they are measured in terms of cost, then they had to make tough decisions regarding best-of-breed vs. good enough. In particular, the two clients cited whether deploying a third party virtual switch (i.e., Cisco Nexus 1000V) was absolutely necessary, especially if the cost made the internal cloud less competitive with Amazon. These organizations weren’t doing apple-to-oranges comparisons either. They came up with a per-VM cost broken down by both infrastructure and management/operations software. The cost of operational software was added to the Amazon cost to create an apples-to-apples comparison. Enterprises are having to make tough choices regarding virtualization technology and all associated infrastructure and management products. To deliver cloud services, the enterprise has to be able to provide services quickly, securely, and reliably. In other words, the cloud service should come with the expectation “that it just works.” That’s a tall order for increasingly complex data center infrastructures. At this point, you may be wondering what any of this has to do with VMworld. Let me explain. VMware made numerous data center and cloud related announcements at VMworld, including: New VMware vCloud® Offerings Accelerate Journey to the Enterprise Hybrid Cloud NetApp and VMware Help Transform IT, Make Cloud A Reality VMware Introduces New Platform for Enterprise Database as a Service VMware and Cisco Collaborate on Cloud Innovation Dell Announces Its First Public Cloud Offering; Dell Cloud With VMware vCloud® Datacenter Service Harris Corporation and VMware to Deliver Trusted Enterprise Cloud to Federal and Commercial Customers I’m not here to dissect all of the announcements. For good perspectives on the vCloud Connector and Global Connect announcements, take a look at Lydia Leong’s and Kyle Hilgendorf’s posts. That being said, I wanted to comment on the body of work. VMware’s vCloud web site lists a growing number of provider partners, and many VMware customers I speak to about hybrid cloud state concerns about the need for hypervisor parity. That’s because they include the hypervisor as part of the application QA processes. As a result, they see it as less costly to move a VM between the same hypervisor type. I had blogged about this subject before. Bottom line – for many enterprises seeking mobility between data centers and cloud, VMware has a home court advantage. Other providers (e.g., Amazon) maintain the advantage for applications deployed straight to the cloud, with the enterprise having no intention to pull them back in. VMware’s hybrid cloud strategy is quickly evolving, many customers are onboard with it, and at the same time, those customers are starting to question where they can save costs. Competitors such as...

Read More
content top