Virtualization has forever changed the way IT departments operate and VMware with its flagship vSphere brought the concept of virtualization to companies of all sizes, big and small. Well, now that is history and in this digital time and age, it could be considered as old as “Once upon a time” kind of history. Virtualization technologies have come along a long way and with the product portfolio of VMware and its partner organizations, these technologies are now encompassing several functions of IT and datacenter operations such as server, desktops, storage, networking, and security.

The challenges faced by IT departments for server virtualization  were vastly different from those seen for vSAN and NSX. When server virtualization was initially introduced, the concept of virtualization was too geeky for mainstream IT deployment and was deemed that it would never support production environment. In my own experience, it was told that I can play with the virtual server as long as it was in my cube and did not touch the live environment. Looking back, I am glad that I did, and got a running start at virtualization.

The early hurdles with server virtualization was that the concept of virtualization was a novelty and even as it had a good feel to see multiple instances of server OS running on a single physical box, the presumed risk of failure was real and IT leadership would not put their bets on this new concept for running their business operations. The early adoption was running temporary setups and personal labs in virtual mode and then it spilled over to “just for testing” or “only until we can get the new server”. The virtualization was taking hold and the traction was building up. The next phase in this evolution was the test and development environments became open to running on virtual servers. These were lower risks and when complemented with cost savings, the organizational leadership could see that the benefits easily out-weigh the risks of running virtual servers. As the virtualization technologies improved and added additional protection such as clustering and HA, the enterprise environments were also responsive to finally give virtualization its rightful place in the enterprise datacenter.

Within most corporate IT structure, there are several verticals such as servers, storage, application, database, network, etc. The server virtualization addressed the needs of server support group and did not directly cross over to the functions of other verticals. The server admins were already managing the servers and the decision to go virtual for both, the test environments and live deployments was within the server support group. Compared to server virtualization, vSAN and NsX cross over different IT verticals, namely storage and networking. Any proposed changes from external group that has the potential to fundamentally change the way the function operates would be viewed with suspicion.

As an ardent supporter of server virtualization I have successfully built several VMware environments. My datacenter build strategy has virtualization as one of the primary pillars to build upon. Virtualization first is not just an IT policy, it is a way of life and you will have a hard time to justify a physical server dedicated to a single function in my environment. I have had many discussions with my fellow IT professionals, VMware staff, technical experts, and VMware partners at the recently concluded VMworld 2014 and at other occasions. The message that comes through for adopting NSX has been to build upon the success of server virtualization – “You have already seen the benefits of server virtualization – Think what it could do for your network”. There is no doubt in my mind about the benefits of server virtualization and having been a loud spokesperson for the benefits of server virtualization, I feel that the benefits of server virtualization do not directly map over to the needs and complexity of my network. The true realized benefits differ considerably based on the size of the network. The benefits of NSX get better with larger environments but do they justify the change for smaller environments? What is the break-point where the benefits actually outweigh the effort and cost of introducing NSX and how do I present the real benefits to my network team.

Just saying Go will not get any traction. As with all of us IT folks, the benefits have to be seen firsthand. Instead of having your network admin deploy NSX in their environment, extend your lab environment. Deploy NSX and permit access to your network guru giving him/her the opportunity to touch and feel the real thing. Enlist their help in building your NSX environment. Demonstrate and encourage to test out NSX in the virtual labs (http://www.hol.vmware.com). Virtualization is not only for servers any more. It encompasses functions such as desktops, storage, network, applications and is taking over the datacenter as we know it. Be a spokesperson for virtualization as an all-inclusive concept not limiting yourself to one vertical within your organization. Be the change that you want to see – Be Brave.

 

Note: You can download NSX vSphere 2.0 design guide from http://buff.ly/1plhyjp
VMware NSX home: http://www.vmware.com/products/nsx

 

Advertisements