Talking taxes? In IT? Really?

By Kent Christensen, Practice Director

News is full of budget and tax talk. Here in tropical Minnesota (Datalink Headquarters), we're wrapping up a three-week-long government shutdown. The debate: Raise taxes or cut spending. Nationally, Congress is facing an August 2 deadline to address a similar issue: Avoiding a government debt default. Meanwhile in IT, we've been focused on maximizing business opportunity while limiting budgets to support rapid growth. For most organizations VMware plays a big part in transforming IT from a cost center to a driver of business agility.

Last week, VMware announced the next version of the world’s most complete virtualization and "cloud management" suite, vSphere 5, which includes expected improvements in vSphere 5, vCloud Director 1.5, SRM 5, vShield 5, and a vSphere Storage Appliance 1.0. Details are available at VMware and will be further rolled out via webcasts and upcoming conferences.

However, the new pricing model was surprising. Starting with vSphere 5, VMware will license based on both processors and a shared memory model called vRAM. The complete pricing model is outlined in a tidy 11-page white paper. We won't sort through that here, but there's some confusion on how vRAM (pooled virtual RAM allocated to running VMs) relates to pRAM (physical RAM in a server). Subject matter experts have already chimed in on the debate:

  • “Hold your anger” – Run the tool to see what's actually being used. It may not be that bad.
  • Will this promote poor practices to limit memory utilization thus creating more performance issues?
  • There's a process to “downgrade” licenses to avoid the “vTAX,” as it's been described on Twitter and other social media posts.

How did this discussion detract from the new features that are driving the IT transformation from siloed purpose-built architectures to cloud-like agile infrastructures? According to VMware, by the end of 2011, more than 50% of applications will run on virtualized infrastructures dominated by VMware. So this is critically important.

Our view... Now more than ever it's exceedingly important to have a well thought-out approach to infrastructure utilization and capacity planning. Not a new view, but an emphasis on our approach to virtual data center architectures.

This will get played out further in public forums over the next few weeks. Today, Minneapolis is hosting VMware’s vForum conference, the one-day VMworld conference that travels from city to city. Datalink will have two speaking sessions that have additional importance moving forward:

  1. Virtualizing mission-critical applications on vSphere. This is the point right? Effectively running the most important applications on virtual infrastructure, not just to reduce costs but to encapsulate the benefits of agile IT infrastructure. Best practices include a deliberate approach to understanding application needs and applying them to a virtualized data center infrastructure.
  2. Automating infrastructure and operations management. This includes capacity management and automation best practices and information about VMware’s new vCenter Operations suite. Datalink helps customers plan and manage virtual infrastructure via tools like OnCommand Insight Balance (formerly BalancePoint), including vRAM allocations aligned to mission-critical application service levels.

We'll talk about these and other virtualization topics with hundreds of customers. I'll report our findings in an upcoming post. In a few weeks, thousands of customers will have a chance to see the latest in virtualization and cloud infrastructure at VMworld in Las Vegas. Hopefully by then the conversation will be back on transforming IT alignment with business objectives and less on avoiding "vTAX."