can’t solve. However, there will be new
things that you may choose to spend
money on that in the past were not a
problem, such as doing live migration
between servers. But if you just want
to run a shop that has up to around 20
servers, unless you’re doing something really weird, you should do it. It
is easy and readily available from any
of the major vendors. This addresses
the relatively easy problem of “Can I
put three things on one server?”
If you then realize you have new
problems, meaning “Now that I have
three things on one server, I want that
server to be more available or I want
to migrate stuff if that server fails,”
this is a level of sophistication that the
market is only beginning to address.
Different vendors have different definitions.
simon cRosBY: Once you achieve basic virtualization, the next big issue is
increasing overall availability. If I can
get higher availability for some key
workloads, that transforms the business.
steVe heRRoD: I agree. In fact, we currently have a large number of customers that buy one VM per box first and
foremost for availability and second
tom BishoP: About two years ago, the
best session at a conference I attended
was “Tales from the Front, Disaster
Recovery Lessons Learned from Hurricane Katrina.” A large aerospace company had two data centers, one just
south of New Orleans and another one
about 60 miles away in Mississippi.
Each center backed the other up and
both ended up under 20 feet of water.
The lesson they learned was to virtualize their data center. In response
to that experience they built a complete specification of their data center
where it could be instantiated instantaneously and physically anywhere in
mache cReeGeR: Our target IT manager is trying to squeeze a lot out of his
budget, to walk the line between what’s
over the edge and what’s realistic. Are
you saying that all this load balancing,
dynamic migration, that the marketing literature from Citrix, VMware, and
Microsoft defines as the next big hurdle and the vision for where virtualization is going are not what folks should
be focusing on?
simon cRosBY: Organizations today build organizational structures
around current implementations of
technology, but virtualization changes
all of it. The biggest problem we have
right now is that we have to change the
architecture of the IT organization.
That’s people’s invested learning and
their organizational structure. They’re
worried about their jobs. That’s much
harder than moving a VM between two
mache cReeGeR: A while back I did a
consulting job for a well-known data-center automation company and they
brought up this issue as well. When
you change the architecture of the data
center you blow up all the traditional
boundaries that define what people
do for a living—how they develop their
careers, how they got promoted, and
everything else. It’s a big impediment
for technology adoption.
simon cRosBY: One of the reasons
I think that cloud-based IT is very interesting is none of the cloud vendors
have invested in the disaster of today’s
typical enterprise IT infrastructure.
It is horrendously expensive because
none of it works together; it’s unmanageable except with a lot of people.
Many enterprise IT shops have bought
one or more expensive proprietary
subsystems that impose significant
labor-intensive requirements to make
it all work.
Clouds are way cheaper to operate because they build large, flat architectures that are automated from
the get-go, making the cost for their
infrastructure much lower than most
companies’ enterprise IT. If I’m Amazon Web Services and I want to offer a
disaster recovery service, the numbers
are in my favor. I need only provide
enough additional capacity to address
the expected failure rate of my combined customer set, plus a few spares
and, just like an actuary, determine
the risks and cost. A very simple and
compelling business model.
aLLen ste WaRt: The thing that challenges the cloud environment and
most enterprise data centers is the
heterogeneity of the shop and the
types of applications they run. To take
advantage of the cloud, you have to develop an application model that suits
disconnected state and applications.
I think that challenges enterprise IT
shops, because they look out and see a
completely dissimilar range of applications without a common development
GustaV: I just built two data centers
and fully populated them. If I look at
the stereotypical cloud case right now,
EC2 ( www.amazon.com/ec2) is about
$0.80 per hour per eight-CPU box. My
cost, having bought the entire data
center, is between $0.04 and $0.08.
Having bought the entire data center, I have the budget and scale to blow
away that $0.80 EC2 pricing. SMBs
(small- and medium-size businesses)
probably do not have that option. The
cloud guys can produce tremendous
margin for themselves by producing
the scale of an entire data center and
selling parts of it to SMBs.
tom BishoP: The model that’s going
to prevail is exactly the way the power
companies work today. Every company
that builds power-generation capacity
has a certain model for their demand.
They build a certain amount of capac-
ity for some base level demand and
then they have a whole set of very so-
phisticated provisioning contracts.
mache cReeGeR: Or reinsurance.
tom BishoP: Reinsurance to basically
go get electricity off the grid when they
need it. So the power we get is a com-
bination of locally generated capacity
and capacity bought off the grid.
simon cRosBY: As a graduate student,
I read a really interesting book on con-
trol theory that showed mathematical-
ly that arbitrage is fundamental to the
stability of a market and the determi-
nation of true market price. Based on
that statement, virtualization is just an
enabler of a relatively efficient market
for data center capacity; it’s a provi-
sioning unit of resource.
Virtualization allows for late bind-
ing, which is generally considered to
be a good thing. Late binding means
I can lazily (that is, just-in-time) com-
pose my workload (a VM) from the OS,
the applications, and the other rele-
vant infrastructural components. I can
bind them together at the last possible
moment on the virtualized infrastruc-
ture, delaying the resource commit-
ment decision as long as possible to
gain flexibility and dynamism. Virtu-
alization provides an abstraction that
allows us to late bind on resources.
steVe heRRoD: The opportunity to