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Impact of vCloud Technologies on Cost of Operations

Matthew D. Sarrel, Sarrel Group

I’m thinking about how vCloud Express changes the way that we work at Sarrel Group.  It’s interesting to look at the evolution of testing, especially virtual machine technology plus all the good cloud stuff.

I’ll show you what I mean.  I was configuring a SharePoint 2010 server in my vCloud Express environment at Terremark earlier today and a thought occurred to me.  Why install the document repository in my vCloud Express environment and not here in the lab?  The immediate answer is that it’s easier.

But then I looked around the lab and there are racks of servers, many of which are between projects and are sort of just resting.  The thought occurred to me that I should use one of these servers because I’ve already paid for it.  It’s just sitting there, right?  So there’s no cost advantage to using vCloud Express if I already own the server.

That’s not entirely true.  There’s electricity and HVAC for one cost.  There’s the cost of maintaining the system, meaning the tech’s time when he has to patch underlying OS’s, hypervisors, and VM’s.  Patching is actually a big time suck in the lab.  Patch this, call that gold, archive this, snapshot that…

In some ways these problems go away in vCloud Express.  I don’t even know what the server hardware is, or where it is.  And I don’t care – because it ain’t my job to manage it.  The template OS installs speed patching along. 

Basically, vCloud Express lets me forget about the underlying layers of hardware and software that would need to be provisioned in my lab for a project.  I can focus on the configuration and contents of the VM itself.  Of course, apps and OS in the VM need to be patched.  It’s not like I’m getting away totally free.

What are your thoughts on the impact of vCloud technologies on cost of operations, especially regarding installation and ongoing maintenance?

Matthew D. Sarrel (or Matt Sarrel) is executive director of Sarrel Group, a technology product testing, editorial services, and technical marketing consulting company.  He also holds editorial positions at pcmag.com, eweek, GigaOM, and Allbusiness.com, and blogs at TopTechDog.

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