Andi Mann at CIO.com posted a great article on challenges in adoption of virtualization and proposed a new term – VM stall. It refers to the apparent limit in adoption of virtualization within companies — those who start tend to virtualize the low hanging fruit and virtualization efforts seem to stall around 20-30% of the applications. Read his article
I agree with Andi that virtualization is not as widely adopted as everybody makes it look. By now, most IT shops have done something, so there is a widespread notion of “everybody’s doing it”. Also, it tends to be picked for new projects (which is a good thing).
I don’t think we should set “virtualization goals” — say at 50%, 90% or 100% - virtualization is not an end in itself. That said, it is an essential enabling technolgogy and I do believe it will become the norm within the next few years — every new server will be virtualized from the start; likely it will be either shipped this way by the hardware manufacturer or the OS will provide the layer by default.
That said, the let’s look at the possible reasons for the current stall in adoption. Based on my experience, I would propose three:
1. Not enough value in virtualization alone: Server virtualization as a solution is mostly about server consolidation. As a result, companies tend to consolidate the non-critical apps, the ones that can be packed in small boxes. Once that is done, the value of moving the bigger apps is simply not there — there will be no consolidation benefit. The bigger apps need more resources, not less. Virtualization alone does not help much (and can make things harder in some cases if not properly implemented).
2. Cost: To get most of the virtualization benefits, you end up needing very expensive hardware — SAN for everything, fast storage interconnect, lots of network bandwidth, etc., and lots of software licenses, both for the virtualization and for the management of all the pieces. Many projects simply can’t justify that cost. Not all virtualization products have this characteristic, but the default choice does, so it skews the statistics.
3. Complexity: the mere mention of a “virtualization team” (in IT departments) shows that the technology, in its current incarnation, is not ubiquitous enough. Virtualization was not (and is not) supposed to become yet another silo. All IT professionals should be skilled in virtualization. If the technology is so complex that it requires separate virtualization team, then we need better technology.
PS The solution to the above is in cloud technologies, where virtualization is an enabler to further abstraction and encapsulation. Good cloud technology – like the one we have here at CA|3Tera — achieves simplification and flexibility that we have not had before. This helps overcome the 3 factors I listed above and move adoption beyond the stall limit. Watch this space for further posts on how this happens.
PPS After posting this, I found out that Andi has joined CA Technologies, heading Virtualization product marketing — now that is great synergy!