Certainly think about what you’re running in your
environment. If you’re running Windows, think about
using Hyper-V and some sort of high-level management
construct that doesn’t require you to do a large integration effort.
CROSBY Virtualization is a feature set, not an objective.
It’s a technology that we should look at in the same way
as compilers or TCP/IP stacks. It’s a passing fad. The real
benefits will come out of the overall ability to compose
and manage an application throughout its life cycle.
It is the application that IT is charged with delivering,
not virtual machines. The sooner we move the debate
from virtual machines back to delivering services to end
users, the faster people will focus on the tools that will
drive them through that application-life-cycle process.
BISHOP I agree with that. IT transformation today is
really all about two things: delivering the services that
businesses care about and doing it as cheaply and efficiently as possible. Virtualization has a role to play in
both of those, but it’s just an enabler; it’s not part of the
higher-level set of objectives. The challenge is how to
fold in the capabilities that virtualization provides into a
higher-level set of mechanisms to enable you to achieve
those two objectives. The harder challenge is changing
the focus of what IT does and the people who do the
work. A large number of IT people still view recovering
the database as their job, not delivering business services.
GUSTAV My definition of good engineering is ease of
removal, not ease of implementation. One of the common characteristics of the available VM platforms is that
transitions between them are relatively easy. Physical-to-virtual migrations don’t actually depend on you being
the physical part for them to work. If you were to look
today at a physical-to-virtual migration of something that
already happens to be in Veridian or VMware or Xen, it’s
going to work.
Since most of these platforms have quite sophisticated
physical-to-virtual movements, worry less about whether
you are tying yourself to something that you will be stuck
with for many years, and worry more about the types of
benefits you will gain from its use.
BISHOP All of the issues we have been discussing are
proxies for the fact that we build applications incorrectly.
We build applications without regard to how much they
cost to own, how much they cost to manage, and their
impacts on their operating environments. As you design
your infrastructure architectures, a conversation around
application life cycle will be far more productive than a
discussion around virtualization.
CREEGER What you’re all telling me is something I
learned in the AI (artificial intelligence) business in the
early 1980s. AI was considered to be a market, even
though I spent a great deal of time telling folks it was just
a technology like compilers and file systems. Virtualization is replaying that old script today with the help of
a strong media amplifier. Ultimately, just like AI, virtualization will get subsumed into the toolbox of best IT
Folks need to avoid that hype and have confidence
that regardless of vendor choice, all the VM platforms
will get you where you need to go. They should focus on
the services they need to deliver and work backward to
the tools and technologies that best match their needs.
They should believe that sensible people in the technical
management of all these companies are working toward
standards that will allow as much interoperation as is
practical and that it will progress over time. As people
better understand where virtualization fits as a component in an IT architecture, all the products will evolve
toward common functionality. The real analysis should
be on what management paradigms you choose and, if
you are inclined toward a cloud-based platform, evaluating whether virtualization can be an asset in achieving
the benefits of that paradigm. Q
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© 2009 ACM 1542-7730 /09/0200 $5.00
This article appears in print in the December 2008 issue
of Communications of the ACM.