Virtualization Must Be Intuitive and Easy

With so many vendors in the virtualization marketplace, new products are released daily, and only some of them will ultimately prove to be successful. The competition for both mindshare and wallet is fierce, and this is forcing new vendors in particular to simplify new products brought into the marketplace in order to achieve success.

In a typical virtualization environment, an IT administrator or engineer works with a multitude of vendor products on a daily basis. The products that are easy to use gain favor, especially by new administrators and engineers, whereas those with complex interfaces or functionality are accessed less frequently. “Accessed less frequently” can translate into “not renewed” or “quickly replaced when a newer product that is easier to use is released” in the marketplace.

The vendor product manager who spends the extra time to ensure that the admin interface is easy to use is more likely to achieve success. These product managers understand that technologists don’t have the time and energy to read admin guides cover to cover or to perform countless searches in order to find detailed information on how to get a specific product to function properly. Most importantly, smart product managers understand that administrators and engineers don’t live to service their product, but instead instinctively know that the product must efficiently service their technical audience. It is these product managers and their products that will most likely achieve success.

As analysts for The Virtualization Practice, we are frequently approached by vendors who wish to brief us about new products or offerings. These briefings often include a colorful interchange about the products and related technical details, as well as where they will fit into the marketplace. The best products have high-caliber technical product design and development coupled with an intuitive administrative interface.

In recent a product briefing, two of us expressed grave concerns about a new virtualization product. The intuitiveness of the interface was questionable, incorporated some new terms rather than industry-accepted concepts, and forced the administrator to re-enter data that should have been imported. Further, there wasn’t a clear definition as to the target market for the product. Will this product achieve success? Only time will tell, but the odds are against it.

In discussions with virtualization vendors, the answer to the question, “How much consulting time or training is required to implement the product?” is a telltale sign as to the complexity of the product. Well-entrenched virtualization products from vendors such as Citrix or VMware are complicated because of their vast functionality, and technologists accept that related complexity. But the small startup that is attempting to break into the marketplace doesn’t have that same luxury.

There are a multitude of moving parts that comprise a virtualization environment—storage, server virtualization, desktop/application virtualization, monitoring, and much more. IT departments just don’t have the time and energy to work through cumbersome and clumsy administrative interfaces; that’s the job of the vendor’s product design team. They need to keep in mind that for new products to achieve success in this marketplace, virtualization must be both intuitive and easy.

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