Gustav: There’s actually a really powerful application that comes with this.
Along with day-to-day virtualization
stuff is the issue of disaster recovery
(DR). Most SMBs make zero investment
in DR. Virtualization becomes incredibly cost effective when it has the ability to send VMs to the cloud for access
only when needed.
simon cRosBy: The benefits are huge
and the numbers are very compelling.
Gustav: Typical disaster-recovery
costs are 2N (twice the cost of the infrastructure). To say that I can go to 1.05N
is game changing.
simon cRosBy: The great thing about
this kind of approach is that the cloud
vendor can lose a data center and my
data is still there. They can lose two
simultaneously and my data is still
mache cReeGeR: The virtualization
abstraction enables fungible data-cen-ter capacity, much like the power industry, where people can trade excess
capacity on the open market.
simon cRosBy: That’s right, and like
the power industry you will have purely
financial players, people in the business who know nothing about technology, simply trading capacity back and
forth. The first arbitrage players on the
cloud are already in business.
Gustav: I will take it back to the insurance space. I can buy true insurance. I
can pay 2% of the value of my assets today and know I can absolutely run my
mache cReeGeR: So it’s a bulletproof
tom BishoP: That’s right. It’s how you
compute and manage risk.
Gustav: It’s “How do I take my 2N
problem down to 0.02N?” It’s “How do
I take 98% of my DR cost to zero?” That
is just a different way of saying “How do
I take 49% of my total IT cost to zero?”
simon cRosBy: At the same time, the
high-end fault tolerance (FT) moves
down to a commoditized, value-priced
capability rather than a high-end, hardware capability.
Gustav: To give you an example of
the thinking behind DR, take 9/11. 9/11
was a black swan; it never should have
happened. Any statistical model that
you build fails when the black swan
shows up, and DR is only valuable if
it actually works when the black swan
You are actually building a model
that goes past the black swan. The
thing about 9/11 that made it even
more chaotic than the tragedy of the
Trade Center towers coming down was
that 12 Broad Street (the lower Manhattan telecom switching station) filled
with water. This resulted in no teleco
for the southern tip of Manhattan, creating a black swan.
Theoretically the thing that could
never happen, which is that every divergent teleco path in southern Manhattan becomes blocked, happened. Many
of the problems that are solved in the
typical case are not sufficient in the DR
case because the normal constraints
do not apply.
tom BishoP: The number-one conclusion at this one event I attended was
that during Hurricane Katrina every
company’s disaster-recovery plan assumed people could get to work. Every
disaster-recovery plan in New Orleans
failed because people could not get to
simon cRosBy: 9/11 was about mortality. Nobody reasons about how to
recover from mortal events. At the end
of the day, the rational guy in the SMB
doesn’t deal with that level of risk. If an
event like that happens, his business is
Gustav: There actually are levels of
defined risk. You’ve got systemic risk.
If the counterparty doesn’t show up,
the entire market cannot function.
That’s one level of badness. But think
about the SMB. There’s a stat I’ve seen
recently that says that 70% of businesses that are forced to close for more
than a month never reopen. Systematic
risk, well priced, is more valuable to
the SMB than it is to a large enterprise
like my employer.
The counterargument made earlier
states that if this business fails, it is
cheaper to start a new business than
to pay 2N for 10 years. The problem is
that we have never been able to present
a reasonably priced alternative.
Effectively the SMB owner is self-insured and betting on his own ability.
I would say that DR for the SMB is actually a richer market than DR for the
enterprise. I think part of the problem
is defining the minimum requirement.
It doesn’t need to be up in the next five
minutes; he just needs to know that he
can get it working in two or three days
under any circumstances.
tom BishoP: One of the things I
learned at Bell Labs was that in terms
of fault coverage, you got far better re-
sults by recovering from failure than
you ever got by avoiding it.
simon cRosBy: That is right. A re-
cent Stanford research model tells us
to assume that computer systems are
inherently fragile, humans build bad
software, and applications are going to
decay and fail. Therefore we should ar-
chitect our applications so they inher-
ently contain the concept of failure and
mache cReeGeR: We are almost out
of time here. I’d like you all to summa-
rize what the takeaways are and what
kind of advice you’re going to give to
the poor person who’s trying to make
sense of the world today and how he
can move forward.
steve heRRoD: At the highest level,
I think we should all avoid breathing
our own exhaust too much. At the end
of the day, virtualization is a tool. The
goals are to make life better, and par-
ticularly for SMBs, to make computing
simpler. To make it easy for SMBs is to
enable them to operate highly available
and securely, and to solve their busi-
ness problems with their applications.
It is actually about manageability
and how to do more and make things
run better with less staff. When you’re
evaluating your workload and products
to address it, you should be looking
at the overall story, not just at a snap-
shot. It’s really what you are going to be
working with day-to-day. I believe that
is what we’re all trying to focus on. That
is certainly what VMware is trying to fo-
aLLen ste WaRt: Think locally but really have your eye on what you’re going to do with virtualization moving
forward. Someone in the SMB space
is typically looking at virtualization to
get flexibility, but think about the actual applications, the use cases, and
the user profiles to determine why you
want to use virtualization in your environment.
Manageability of the environment
is really going to be a critical aspect,
not just the fact that you’re creating a
virtual machine. Integrating the stack
into your environment is going to be
very important from a small business
perspective. You need to determine