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Is This a Contest?

by Administrator on October 7, 2010

In the Twitterverse last Friday, several tweets were sent to me referencing an article that Network World had published.  The article provided stats on the increased use of VMware to host SQL Server and MS Exchange that seemed to fly in the face of some estimates by analysts suggesting that VMware was primarily being used to host mainly low traffic web servers and file servers, not anything with a transaction heavy workload.

We told you so, Toigo!

 Of 1,083 surveyed respondents, about half reported using a hypervisor to stand up Exchange and/or SQL workload.  Details count, of course:

While 65% of VMware customers who use Microsoft’s SQL Server have virtualized at least one instance of the software, only 43% of total SQL workloads are inside VMs. A similar trend occurs with Microsoft Exchange: 50% of customers virtualize at least one instance of Exchange, but only 38% of total instances are virtualized.

The article quoted a VMware person saying, in effect, See.  We told you so.

Then, then an analyst responded in effect, So what.  It’s still a pimple on an elephant’s butt.  And, oh, by the way, no one is virtualizing serious transaction processing workloads like those from SAP or Oracle.

Reading both pages of the article, it sounded a lot like what should have been the led to the piece was actually buried in the later sections:  “customer comfort levels and software licensing approaches still limiting the penetration of hypervisor technology in mainstream computing.”

I still see hypervisor computing as a stepping stone, not as an end in itself.  I have received absolutely no response to my earlier challenge to VMware enthusiasts to calculate the actual costs of a server virtualization strategy.  It would have some probative value in this debate to stand up the calculations that VMware has offered of its benefits and cost-savings versus what it really costs to do a serious implementation of the technology.  I kind of doubt that, when you factor in the costs outlined in the earlier post, that organizations actually realize significant savings at all from the strategy.  My cost categories were broken down in this graphic:

True Costs of Server Virtualization

What are the real costs of server virtualization?

Anyone care to share what their actual costs were for their deployment — beyond the initial basic hypervisor license?

Until I have this data, I really don’t buy into any of the poll data being proffered.  It’s really unimportant to me how many people deploy a VM.  From a strategic perspective, I want to know what the strategy really costs and what value it really delivers.  All I have right now are vendor claims.  You know they are lying:  their lips move.

From where I’m sitting, hypervisors are a fad, like hula hoops and clackers (those two balls on a string that were so popular when I was young).  Like clackers, which came off the market because they proved to be dangerous, it remains to be seen whether hypervisors will persist or will be replaced in the next few months by something different:  containerized applications.

For now, the statistical woo everyone is tweeting at me is just that.  Woo.  And badly in need of a quack miranda that states “No serious analysis has been made of the actual cost or cost-savings accrued to this technology. Your mileage may vary — widely.”

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

rmolinger October 7, 2010 at 11:30 pm

Lately severallarge technology vendors have been trotting out their CIO’s to us and bragging about “The percentage of their infrastructure that is virtual.” Frankly, I’m unimpressed with that measurement. I always ask “What percentage of your infrastructure SHOULD be virtual?” and they look at me funny. While there is probably some benefit from applying a hypervisor to an already busy workload like SQL server and Exchange, I can’t figure it out. Mobility Schmobility, any good nerd can move a workload with very little downtime if he/she is worth their salt.

signal_lost October 21, 2010 at 2:22 am

I’ll start off and say that massive full capacity ERP systems may not be the best candidate for virtualization.

I hope I don’t come across as a Virtualization zombie, but I can tell you from experience both in the SMB, as well as Enterprise that the cost savings is massive.

For a SMB company that does some basic hosting of a number of services, we’ve gone from a 40U of servers to 5U including storage.

Out of your layers of cost, most of those are required for any type of consolidation outside of hypervisor licensing and training.
Vmware is frankly easier to use, and makes things like out of band management and configuration vendor agnostic.

Rather than have to rebuild and migrate servers, P2V drops costs whenever your doing consolidation or hardware refresh. Honestly the increased costs and complexity, is offset by other things that are mitigated. Maybe if your in environment’s where servers all run at 90% capacity but in practice most companies are full of low CPU monitoring servers, edge transport servers, application servers that get used by 20 users, databases that MIGHT push 100 iops. I see clustering and HA deployed for uptime reasons, almost never performance. Virtualization gives these features at lower complexity, easier deployment and less hardware, to smaller companies.

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