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Dan Kusnetzky, who has a blog here: Virtually Speaking on ZDNet, has written a number of thought pieces with his consulting/analyst hat over here: Recent Publications from the Kusnetzky Group at his website. He’s usually exploring the interface between the technology of virtualization and operationalization in a business process.

I like this recent one: Virtualization: Evolution not Revolution (pdf link). In this short 3-pager, his basic point is that things move slowly in the enterprise data center, because IT managers must be risk averse.

The Golden Rules of IT

1) If it’s not broken, don’t fix it. Most organizations simply don’t have the
time, the resources or the funds to re-implement things that are currently
working.

I think paradoxically this has been one driver for VMware’s successful adoption. It is so easy to get started with VMware — download VMware Server or a VI3 eval, then convert [warning: sound] some necessary but little-used old servers that are just sucking up electricity, and go. You don’t need a special paravirtualized kernel, just whatever you were running (Windows, Linux, Solaris, etc.); don’t need to recompile your app; don’t need to get special hardware; and you don’t even really need a SAN or other fancy enterprise storage to get started — just virtualize, no re-implementation needed. The key point you need to realize at this level is that you treat a virtual machine just like its physical counterpart — although try not to have every antivirus and backup job in every virtual machine on an ESX Server fire off at the same time.

Now when that works great and you do want to see how to take more advantage of the opportunities afforded by virtual infrastructure, then you do have to do some more planning — maybe get more storage, certainly get some expertise and evaluation of your current infrastructure, and start to figure out how this affects your processes when a new server can be provisioned in a few minutes and your DR plan is finally something more than just a fantasy.

Ultimately you end do up with a data center that looks, acts, and is managed quite differently than what you started with. So was that by evolution or revolution?

(Anyway, Dan has a lot of great stuff there; read up, then go forth and virtualize carefully but with great ultimate success.)

[Update: enterprise software is sexy when it is innovative. The relevance of this article to the current discussion is left as an exercise to the reader.]