At VMworld 2011, VMware presented a chart that showed their progress in terms of virtualizing various workloads in their own customer base.  The chart (shown below) demonstrated that VMware had made some really good progress with some really hard workloads, and mostly excellent progress with easy workloads (low hanging fruit). The interesting question is what is the best way to proceed from here on out.

Virtualization Progress as of Spring 2011

What the chart does not say, but which is of course obvious to us all is that millions of workloads that are not worthy of being called out on a chart like the one below have been successfully virtualized on VMware vSphere. Virtualizing those workloads lead to dramatic server consolidation, which in turn lead to the delivery of a dramatic hard dollar ROI generated by the associated CAPEX savings.


Virtualizing Business Critical Applications

If many (if not most) enterprises have successfully virtualized their low hanging fruit, then obviously what is left are the business critical and performance critical applications. Much has been and is being written about virtualizing these workloads. The Performance and Capacity Management aspects of this issue are covered in our Resource and Availability Monitoring White Paper and our Application Performance Management White Paper (both of which are going to get updated as we approach VMworld 2012).

One thing that is not being discussed nearly as much as the management aspects of virtualizing these applications is the platform requirements for virtualizing these applications. This is because most people are just making an assumption. That assumption is that if VMware vSphere is still the best performing, most scalable, and most manageable virtualization platform on the market and that this happens to be the platform that you are running in your data center that you will in fact choose vSphere to virtualize your business critical and performance critical applications.

This seems like an entirely valid assumption. Certainly of vSphere was good enough for low hanging fruit, and vSphere remains the technical and market leader in virtualization platforms, then vSphere would certainly be the first choice for virtualizing what comes next (which is again those difficult business and performance critical applications).

But What About the Incremental Licensing Costs?

Let’s make an assumption. Let’s assume you are 50% virtualized, and the 50% you have not virtualized are those business and performance critical applications. As you start to virtualize these you will likely discover the following:

  • You are not going to get the same kinds of server consolidation ratios for business critical applications that you got with low hanging fruit
  • You may bump into the virtual memory licensing aspect of vSphere as business critical applications tend to consume far more memory than do low hanging fruit applications

Therefore even though you have only half of your estate left to virtualize, you might fact the prospect of needed more than twice as many vSphere licenses to virtualize the remaining 50%.

Going Back and Looking at the Low Hanging Fruit

Can you think of a way to get some free vSphere licenses? Well there is a way. If you are a typical large enterprise, you most likely have the license agreement in place with Microsoft that makes Hyper-V free or nearly so to you. So what if you starting migrating low hanging fruit workloads to Hyper-V as a part of the process of migrating business critical workloads from physical server to vSphere? Due to the likely need for more sockets and maybe even some virtual memory licenses, you will probably ending up needing some more vSphere licenses anyway. But you would not need to more than double them just to address the 50% of your un-virtualized workloads.

Managing Hyper-V and vSphere

If you are a typical VMware shop, you certainly have skilled VMware Administrators on staff. What you may not have is the same skill set in managing Hyper-V. This presents the problem of how to managing more than one virtualization platform without recreating the management tool nightmare that you live with over on the physical side. There are three approaches you can take to solve this problem:

  • You can simply live with the fact that VMware is managed by vCenter and Hyper-V is managed by SCVVM. However this is probably a really bad idea as it will lead to two entirely different stacks of products that use vCenter and SCVVM which will lead to the tool and process proliferation that destroyed your agility in the physical world.
  • You can buy something that claims to let you manage both from one third party console. There are lots of products that claim this. Microsoft even claims that you can manage vSphere from within SCVVM. But as this paper from VMware points out, there are critical things you cannot do, and that means you end up using both vCenter and SCVVM anyway.
  • You can use Hotlink to fully manage Hyper-V from within VMware vCenter and let your administrators keep doing exactly what they have been doing.

Summary

The drive to virtualize business critical workloads is going to require more vSphere licenses. Shifting low hanging fruit workloads to Hyper-V may free up licenses. But it creates a cross-hypervisor management problem that only Hotlink is well positioned to address.

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Bernd Harzog (335 Posts)

Bernd Harzog is the Analyst at The Virtualization Practice for Performance and Capacity Management and IT as a Service (Private Cloud).

Bernd is also the CEO and founder of APM Experts a company that provides strategic marketing services to vendors in the virtualization performance management, and application performance management markets.

Prior to these two companies, Bernd was the CEO of RTO Software, the VP Products at Netuitive, a General Manager at Xcellenet, and Research Director for Systems Software at Gartner Group. Bernd has an MBA in Marketing from the University of Chicago.

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9 comments for “Rethinking Your Already Virtualized Low Hanging Fruit

  1. Jay Rogers
    June 22, 2012 at 9:05 AM

    I find these articles almost funny. The writers don’t understand how hard it will be to really keep up with two very different hypervisor platforms. I know it is everything I can do to keep up a very large VMware environment and strategy, with all the products involved with it and Vmware strategies. Splitting your focus is a mistake.

    The way you reduce licensing cost is by migrating to newest hardware. We freed tons of licensing by going from 4 socket dual core servers and upgrading to 2 socket 6 core blades…lots of free license! Without the Microsoft mess!

  2. Nathan
    June 22, 2012 at 9:28 AM

    Can you disclose your relationship with Hotlink?

  3. June 22, 2012 at 10:18 AM

    Bernd,

    Well written article as always. You correctly point out the limitations of SCVMM for managing vSphere. I am not familiar with Hotlink, but even if it does a good job of managing Hyper-V out of vCenter, that does not mean it should be introduced. The real promise of virtualization is to move to ITaaS where workloads are dynamic, monitored, metered and charged back to business units based upon utilization. Virtualization, in this manner, serves as a unifying platform enabling the end of the hodgepodge of equipment, software tools and processes that constitute most data centers.

    While organizations may be able to save a few licensing dollars utilizing a well-managed Hyper-V for low-impact servers, this is meaningless in the bigger picture. For one thing, the greater VM density enabled by vSphere means that any licensing savings are likely to be negated by increased hardware requirements. Far more importantly, the organization loses capabilities around automation, orchestration and security that are essential to ITaaS transformation. Virtualization rather than meeting its promise of data center unification, becomes yet another island of technology with which the IT staff must contend.

  4. Bharzog
    June 22, 2012 at 12:12 PM

    Hi Jay,

    Thanks for posting the comment. I agree that newer hardware helps. But please realize that the reason that VMware did the virtual memory pricing on top of the per socket pricing was precisely because they knew that as the number of cores per socket went up (and trust me they know exactly at what pace this will happen due to their relationship with Intel) VMware understood that based purely upon sockets the number of required licenses would go down. I am curious as to how far you have progressed in the virtualization of your entire estate of applications? Do you still have some very large and important ones left to go? Have you done the memory budgets for them yet and figured out if the VTAX is going to get you? Remember it is designed to come into effect precisely when you take advantage of high densities on a per socket basis.

  5. Bharzog
    June 22, 2012 at 12:15 PM

    Hi Nathan,

    Hotlink one of the 40 vendors who sponsor this site. Hit the Solutions Showcase menu across the top of the site and you will go to a page that lists them all. Now if that post seemed like an endorsement, it was not intended to be. It was simply the recognition of the fact that if you want to manage Hyper-V from vCenter for the economic reasons outlined in the post, then Hotlink is the only currently technically feasible solution by which this be accomplished.

    Bernd Harzog

  6. Bharzog
    June 22, 2012 at 12:18 PM

    Hi Steve,

    Thank you for adding your perspective to this. I think you are 100% on in highlighting the higher level management issues that arise when implementing multiple virtualization platforms. It is not just about having two hypervisors and maybe saving some money and maybe having negotiating leverage over VMware. It is about not messing up the admin model, and the automation, orchestration, performance management, backup, and security layers of management. My stand is that more than one hypervisor is fine. More than one management stack is not for the precise reasons you outlined.

    Bernd Harzog

  7. June 22, 2012 at 2:27 PM

    IT shops, particularly larger ones, have a range of business reasons for adopting multiple platforms — whether those platforms are hypervisors, servers, storage, public clouds or other. Our focus at HotLink is on enabling native interoperability of hypervisor platforms so these customers can independently pick the best management solution without giving up the flexibility to chose another hypervisor (for whatever reason). We took a bottoms up approach to abstracting the hypervisors so the management platform literally cannot tell the difference between the different hypervisors. Other multi-hypervisor approaches have been dependent on the APIs provided by the hypervisor vendor and are inherently limited in the cross-platform capability they enable. The HotLink approach doesn’t have this limitation. That’s why we are able to provide a solution which is fully integrated (into VMware vCenter, for example) without another pane of glass to manage Hyper-V, Xen Server or KVM. If the readers are interested in learning more about this unique ability, we have Webinars every week, and would welcome new attendees! Sign up at http://www.hotlink.com.

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