Virtualization – Who Cares?

I have visited a number of customers recently. The discussions are usually straight forward where I provide them with a download of our current products, I tell them about things that we are doing in the future and along the way I ask them some questions about trends that they are seeing with their businesses. It will come as no surprise that enterprises are trying to keep up with their current requirements while also squeezing out increasingly flat or dwindling budgets to do something new. Many are turning to virtualization as a way to do more.

So who cares? CFO's care. I went out to visit a leading Fortune 500 company based on the West Coast of the US. Keep in mind I am planning to discuss our server platforms, why I believe they are leadership on performance and power and also all of the great new virtualization features we have recently introduced or will intro in the future. Before we get started they proudly walk me through their new datacenter and I stop in front of a rack that has two servers in it. Two 2U two processor servers. It is right next to another rack that has four servers in it. I inquire as to why both racks are only partially full and I receive a response that says one is owned by Finance, one is owned by a business unit. IT just manages them. You can look at this two ways. The glass half empty way would be that they are wasting an incredible amount of datacenter space and they are hopeless. The glass half full way would be that this is a great opportunity to really deliver value to this company's bottom line by first convincing them that physical consolidation (full up their racks) is important, then showing them a path toward application consolidation and finally sharing a vision of datacenter virtualization that includes compute, storage and networking. Their CFO will care.

IT employees care. One theme that seems to be coming through loud and clear is that people who drive some form of virtualization are usually considered as innovators or leading edge thinkers within their company. I have heard the term "IT Hero" to refer to someone who has delivered on a high ROI project, usually these days through the use of virtualization. I have met a number of IT folks at conferences and during visits and it is uncanny how many are trying to dig for more product information and how eager they are to hear about what new features we're putting into CPUs, chipsets, networking devices. A quick search of Youtube found this case study (here) that sums up the sorts of things I have heard.

It is also increasingly important that all of this stuff works well with the software, VMM and OS vendors product offerings. I know we are working closely with all of the ecosystem players because if we come out with an amazing new feature in our components it would be wasted if the VMM, OS or software didn't take advantage of it. There is some interesting banter here (here) about some of the pros and cons with virtualization. We are busy working on features that improve the performance and simplify the experience end users have when they virtualize. Why do you care about virtualization? What are you doing today that you couldn't do a year or two ago that has been made possible because of virtualization related technology?