Lawyer Bait

The views expressed herein solely represent the author’s personal views and opinions and not of anyone else - person or organization.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Good things to Happen in 2009

Well 2008 marks this blog being up for just over a year. In this time the blog has had more traffic than I imagined, and I have met some great people along the way. 2009 promises to be an even better year, as my employer has asked me to blog more often and share some thought leadership with our customer base and the industry at large. That is a huge crdibility boost as was being named to one of the top bloggers to watch in 2008 by VMWare.

I only hope that I will live up to expectations.

Topics I will be very focused on are the container based computing offerings out there - Verari, HP, Sun, and Rackable to name a few.

Areas of interest are - how do we compute in a more energy efficient way within the data center/power/cooling footprint that we have, and what should we consider if we are making a move - being green or saving some green.

There are some fantastic things happening out there that will help us all compute more effectively, more efficiently, and spend our dollars more wisely. I will share what I know, what I hear, and what I believe and why. Wherever possible I will provide justifications, incluing how I came to the conclusion I did, and share that with the community. I firmly believe the tide raises all boats, and I'll do what I can to keep us floating higher in the water.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Billion Explained

This has little if anything to do with virtualization, however this email really blew my mind and I felt compelled to post it. Enjoy...

How many zeros in a billion? This is too true to be funny.

The next time you hear a politician use the word 'billion' in a casual manner, think about whether you want the 'politicians' spending YOUR tax money.

A billion is a difficult number to comprehend, but one advertising agency did a good job of putting that figure into some perspective.

A. A billion seconds ago it was 1959.

B. A billion minutes ago Jesus was alive.

C. A billion hours ago our ancestors were living in the Stone Age.

D. A billion days ago no-one walked on the earth.

E. A billion dollars ago was only 8 hours and 20 minutes, at the rate our government is spending it.

While this thought is still fresh in our brain, let's take a look at New Orleans ...
It's amazing what you can learn with some simple division.

Louisiana Senator, Mary Landrieu (D)is asking Congress for
250 BILLION DOLLARS to rebuild New Orleans Interesting number... what does it mean?

Well... if you are one of the 484,674 residents of New Orleans
(every man, woman, and child)
you each get $516,528.

Or... if you have one of the 188,251 homes in
New Orleans, your home gets $1,329,787.

Or... if you are a family of four...
your family gets $2,066,012.

Washington , D. C - HELLO!
Are all your calculators broken??

Accounts Receivable Tax
Building Permit Tax
CDL License Tax
Cigarette Tax
Corporate Income Tax
Dog License Tax
Federal Income Tax
Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA)
Fishing License Tax
Food License Tax
Fuel Permit Tax
Gasoline Tax
Hunting License Tax
Inheritance Tax
Inventory Tax
IRS Interest Charges ( tax on top of tax)
IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax)
Liquor Tax
Luxury Tax
Marriage License Tax
Medicare Tax
Property Tax< br> Real Estate Tax
Service charge taxes
Social Security Tax
Road Usage Tax (Truckers)
Sales Taxes
Recreational Vehicle Tax
School Tax
State Income Tax
State Unemploy ment Tax (SUTA)
Telephone Federal Excise Tax
Telephone Federal Universal
Service Fee Tax
Telephone Federal, State and Local Surcharge Tax
Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Tax
Telephone Recurring and Non-recurring Charges Tax
Telephone State and Local Tax
Telephone Usage Charge Tax
Utility Tax
Vehicle License Registration Tax
Vehicle Sales Tax
Watercraft Registration Tax
Well Permit Tax
Workers Compensation Tax


Not one of these taxes existed 100 years ago...
and our nation was the most prosperous in the world.

We had absolutely no national debt....
We had the largest middle class in the world...
and Mom stayed home to raise the kids.

What happened?
Can you spell 'politicians!'
And I still have to
press '1'
for English.

What happened?????

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Tech Target and Burton Group in Dallas

I am at the Advanced Virtualization seminar in Dallas being hosted by TechTarget and the Burton Group. The first half hour worth of presentation has been covering the decision points for what you use from the hardware up. The bottom line is performance and the filters that you will run your performance requirements through are hardware configs – memory, disk speeds, I/O.

Pick a platform, understand why and make sure it dovetails to current hardware strategy. If it’s a CPU intensive app - Limit number of virtual CPUs to <= physical cores. Benchmarks are 4:1 overcommit.


Akorri and Vkernel were mentioned and highlighted in the presentation. I asked the interesting question:

How much information is captured and reported in a chargeback report? In other words does the report capture chargeback information that includes power costs to support the virtual environment or is it just focused on the plug into the app and hardware?


No one has factored this into chargeback. This is VERY interesting to me, and here is why:

IT can tell Finance (and CIOs are reporting to CFOs more and more) what the computing costs are for application and virtual resource usage, yet the lowest common denominator (power) is left out of the equation, yet is a significant and crucial piece of the equation. So there may be an incredibly inefficient computing environment running that YOU or your department is paying for. If it’s YOUR money, don’t you want to make sure it’s being spent wisely and that your efficiency is being rewarded in what you are charged?

More later…

Friday, November 21, 2008


A friend of mine turned me onto this company this week and I finally had some time to poke around the site. I had to smile when I saw what the solution does, because anyone who has ever worked in support (internal or customer facing) will understand the value.

There was a comment that was posted back on my musings about Vkernel which was 'They (Vkernel) don't do anything that a good Sys Admin can't do'. To which I say, then why are providing value to CIO's for a lot less money than a 'good Sys Admin'?

Same goes for AutoVirt. Their focus is on data migration and making sure that as data is migrated - the stuff that usually gets broken - re-naming, repointing, remebering what you did in what order, all the stuff that a 'good Sys Admin' can absolutely do - that the migrated data and the breadcrumb trail and detour signs stay intact, so your users don't inflict more pain on your 'good Sys Admins'.

BTW, I was *not* a 'good Sys Admin' because I was lazy and not detail oriented enough to write everything I did down someplace, nor did I have the memory that would help me remember what I did in the right order. That's why I see the value in the AutoVirt's and Vkernel's of the world - they do the stuff that I am too lazy to do and will help me keep my job in spite of myself.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I just Ning-ed Virtualizationstuff

I just decided to set up a social network around virtualization and cloud computing. It focuses on the business end of it though - not the technical. There are plenty of other resources for the technical.

I have a forum set up and feel free to upload VMUG photos from wherever you hail from and let's have some fun!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Virtualization for DR and Business Continuity

I had a great lunch yesterday at Gritty McDuff's in Freeport with Chris Harney, the guy who pulls together the New England VMUG Meetings in addition to his day job. I love the kind of lunches when you get to share ideas and data and come up with some interesting, pertinent, and consumable solutions. Eurekaware if you will.

So my latest piece of Eurekaware came out of yesterday's discussion in which Chris was telling me about the VMWare Site Recovery Manager (SRM). What I got out of the discussion given my slant towards managed services and data center operations was that VMWare has a slick solution that is also cost effective, for deploying a live-live application scenario. Think two environments, same hardware footprint.

So what is the Eurekaware? It is a geographically diverse mission critical live-live application deployment. Mirrored, true live-live applications that fail over instantaneously over a superb fiber backed peering fabric for low latency and multipath redundancy. With the power and cooling to handle the hottest of infrastructure.

Dude. Seriously.

Friday, September 26, 2008

ROI and TCO of Virtualization - Same Difference?

The hits to this blog are running at 98% of visits are looking for ROI information about Virtualization. Must be budget season...

Anyway, in a discussion I was having earlier this week it struck me that people are looking for TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) for their environments almost as frequently. Why is this?

Is it because they've already virtualized and need to know where to spend their savings in next year's budgets?

Are they trying to be more responsible in their budgeting process?

I believe it is very simple and is boiled down to the Quest of data. Not generic, data like - what does Gartner or Burton, or the Uptime Institute say, but what does this mean to ME vs. what does it mean.

So companies in the absense of ME Data try to bend what is out there to what they need. I have offered up a framework in a previous post and I will be hitting the road to offer up an ROI workshop. First stop is Boston. Keep an eye on the blog - I will post up all pertinent data when I get things nailed down.

It should be fun, you're all invited, and they'll be free.

Monday, September 8, 2008

How important is Virtualization ROI?

Hello folks, I am back on the grid after some much needed time off. I am at CRGWest these days and couldn’t be happier. As part of my re-entry to the working world I went and took a look at my stats for the blog and to comb the results for ideas and see what people are interested in.

Virtualization ROI was 80% of the queries and referrals. I’d have to be even more of a bonehead not to talk more about it. Here goes...

As I have said in my posts in one of my other blogs that focuses on identity management with a dose of security, the bad guys are way better at sharing information than the good guys. I believe same rings true for just about any data that people think may be perceived as wrong or invaluable – people don’t want to stick their neck out.

We should stick our neck out. Why? It helps us all. Why do you think I blog? Even if my numbers are wrong, the frameworks that I develop and share are helpful. Your savings, your numbers will be different than mine – I will guarantee that. However, the way in which I got to those numbers is important because it is a piece of the accounting puzzle that is vital to the bean counters and CIO’s who prepare budgets and decide how the revenue will be spent. Is it 100% of the puzzle? Nope. Not even close. Is it helpful? Well, 80% of the people who came to my blog in the past 30 days think so.

So how do I help people figure out ROI? I ask two simple questions -
For every dollar invested in new technology how much more will I make back through revenue or savings? Question #2 – when will it happen?

If I spend/invest $1 I want to make more than that back, otherwise it’s like trading lunches at school – it’s still lunch. So I want to set a goal, or perhaps one is set for me – 20%, 40%, etc. and we need to see which projects will get us to that goal and which ones don’t. A side benefit for management is that it sets the accountability up front so that you aren’t pestered with requests for things outside of this criteria as often – everyone knows that they need to meet or beat this criteria or don’t even bring it up.

So in one of my examples – if I wanted to virtualize 1000 servers onto 50 blade chassis (been there done that) I need to compute the current power draw, vs new power draw, support licenses, VMWare licenses, and labor required to run the hardware and the software applications on those boxes.

I look at what the current config costs to operate vs. the new config, and then look at the power, cooling and space savings in addition to the reduced hardware support costs – that’s my ‘what do I get back’ number. These are the hard costs. Soft costs are that you can manage resources more effectively and peg out servers by using underutilized boxes resources to crunch zeroes and ones. You’re more green by consuming less fossil fuels to cool and power your environment. Users are happier because their apps run as they should – reliably.

I’ll cover more on this, and please if you have specific questions about your situation and what you’re trying to do, I have built a few thousand business cases (even got a few rock solid ones in there) and I’d be happy to help.
Mark dot macauley AT

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

on vacation

I just wanted to post that I will be on vacation until Sept. 2nd, and I will be starting a new job that day as well.

So I am off the grid fishing 3-4 hours every day and actually getting a tan this summer.

Peace. Out.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Three Tier Virtualization

In my travels the past couple of weeks I have some interesting discussions with folks from the purely hypothetical - Where do you think Virtualization will be in a year or two - to basic blocking and tackling discussions - How do I figure out chargebacks and what should I virtualize first?

What struck me was that these are the same types of discussions that have happened in IT since I have been dealing with it and they center arount architecture, and more specifically eating the Elephant in Bites by using tiers in our approach.

So on the VDI or Virtual Desktop front I have had discussions with some fairly large companies about VDI plans. The bulk of them are going to Virtualize Windows and the two approaches seem to be to use Citrix/Xen or one of the new startup management tools to do this. Why Microsoft never provided a way to manage desktops better in the first place is beyond me - they figured out how to deliver a security patch every Tuesday a while ago and RDS (Remote Desktop Support) has been around a while too. Alas - I am off on a tangent already.

I am going to go out on a limb here and propose my own approach for the desktop and not because it's the shiny new toy, or because it is hipper and can generate more buzz, but because it solves a number of problems and I cannot find money to fund the project to get it out of my dining room and its 'nights and weekends' status. Ready? Here goes:

1. Grab a copy of Ubuntu. Save yourself $200 in license fees out of the gate for Windows Vista Upgrade (Business SP1)
2. Brand it, hack it, and lock it down
3. Save the image to a server (or servers) for download
4. Link to it and email the link
5. Script an update tool so that upon login image is checked to insure there are no updates. If there are the OS grabs it, if not it stays as is.

Why Ubuntu - It's so easy to install even I can do it, and I have marginally more grey matter than a caveman. It comes with a browser, email client (although who doesn't have OWA, Gmail, Yahoo, etc now anyway), and doesn't have over 500,000 pieces of Malware, Spyware, etc. written to mess with it on a daily basis.

What do you gain - a more ecure OS, savings of $200/per desktop, no investment in RAM upgrades ($75 for 2 GB per machine), and what about agents used to keep the crap off the machine (5 agents at $100 per is $500/per machine), and support calls dealing with 'My Internet is Broken' to the 'What does a Fatal Error mean? That's not good - right?' questions. Even offshore support will set you back ~$20 call in hard costs plus lost productivity.

Net-Net you're at $700-1000 per device. You decide how much you want to save.

Gotchas - Not every app runs on Linux. Duh. That won't change and you will always have users running Windows. But you probably don't buy a new car when your tires are bald and you need to pass inspection either. Save money where you can.

That's the Desktop. How about Servers?

Server Virtualization is marching right along and has been for a few years. I think it may be eclipsed by Desktops on sheer numbers alone - I'm just not sure when. This is another Tier for Virtualization and what I see is similar to what is going on in the desktop space to some extent...

Applications were built to run on physical servers, and many application vendors haven't figured out how to certify their applications for virtualized servers. This will tap the brake pedal a few times on a server virtualization scoping exercise when you start looking at what is and is not supported for your existing apps. Also don't forget that if you virtualize 1,000 boxes and some sweet new gear, that you still have 1,000 OSes to patch and you won't save a lot if any on labor. I won't even get into licensing applications since you have sockets, CPUs, cores and everything else to factor in if you'r a software vendor. Do us a favor - figure out a per VM price and sell the heck out of it.

Then there is the Network Layer and looking at virtualizing the physical footprint of network gear. This is a third tier where things are heating up. I met with one of the Vyatta guys this week, and anyone who follows this blog knows I am pretty hopped up on this company's Linux based firewall product that will go head to head with a Cisco 7200 and they have the data to prove it. Their product runs fine on my 486 box at home. That is a lot of space, power , and cooling for my data centers, and If I am fortunate enough to run A Crossbeam Chassis, I can load Vyatta onto a blade and slap it in the chassis and go for a zero footprint increase, and measurable but not noticeable power suck.

Anyway there are a bunch of sub tiers and other points I will make, but I have a conference call to jump on... Have a great weekend!

mark @ virtualizationstuff

Friday, July 18, 2008

VMWare - Entering the rapids?

I blogged after my trip to the VMUG yesterday, and this morning was up early to read a couple of blogs that I frequent:

Burton Group's Chis Wolf's take on the Change in Leadership at VMWare
and Alessandro's coverage at from the inside because an employee leaked a few emails and shared their thoughts.

It appears that based solely on what I have heard and read in the past 18 hours that VMWare is entering the Class III rapids and they may see Class IV before too long.

I will echo Chris Wolf's sentiments that VMWare need to take some crucial steps quickly, and I will explain my take on why. His points:

- Lower the prices of the entire VMware product line
- Accelerate development on a soup-to-nuts solution for the SMB space
- Accelerate development on VMware's virtual desktop solution
- Focus the company's messaging around the application and the total solution

1. VMWare needs to drop their price immediately. Totally agree. When companies compete on price against you there is a reason - typically lack of product maturity - so you take this key competitive point away from the competition. Then you compete on product maturity and functionality. If price is no longer a valid argument to a CIO asking the question - Why Change? - then they need to find another way to compete.

2. The SMB space is tricky, having been in it for 1/3 of my career. They want all of the functionaliy of an enterprise solution with the ability to CONFIGURE not CUSTOMIZE a solution. This is a key point. Think HTML templates vs Notepad. The SMB wants to be able to roll out something useful and meaningful quickly using their mouse as opposed to consultants. They want best practices rolled into the product vs the almight toolkit that can do anything if only they had the expertise, time, and money to do it. My suggestion - build a base or core offering that is simple to deploy and captures the most obvious benefits of virtualization, and then offer widgets and/or bolt ons for the rest of the functionality. If ANY company goes into an SMB to sell a car when the company only needs tires will get their hat handed to them and a firm handshake on their way out. Been there. Done That. Have the T-Shirt.

3. Accelerate the VDI solution. Agreed, with a MAJOR but - do something other than Windows. I have been incubating a VDI solution that uses Ubuntu and while it won't be for everyone, if you could save $1100 per endpoint converted off of Windows, stop paying the Microsoft tax, improve security and risk at the endpoint, shave 60% of support costs off the books, and own and control the Desktop OS, brand it and make it your own - wouldn't you? I will gladly license this to anyone who is interested, and I just signed an NDA with a Fortune 3 to explore it.

4. Focus the Messaging. One of my closest friends CEO/author Michael Cannon at the Silver Bullet Group points out how important messaging is. Michael may want to chime in here, but insure the messaging speaks clearly to the audience for which it is intended. In other words a CIO and a VP of Marketing and a VP of Sales will respond differently to different mesaages. Duh. The key is to make sure you know who you're selling to and why you and your products matter to the audience you are in front of.

So long story short - VMWare has its work cut out for itself. From the outside competitors and the passionate anti-Microsoft internal mindset. It's time to grab a paddle dust off that Kevlar underwear and jump into the rapids...

mark @ virtualizationstuff. com

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Observations from the VMUG New England

I am at the VMWare User Group meeting

A quick poll by me earlier and what I saw at the presentation was that there is a lot of tire kicking going on between the VMx vendors. Xen and VMWare ESX are clearly the leaders, but for different reasons - especially in the channel. VMWare was claimimg that their 3.5 ships with a lot of features that Citrix/Xen does not so from a channel view there is less money to be made for the VAR with VMWare since they bundle in a lot of stuff that you can make margin on with Citrix/Xen by augmenting the Citrix/Xen solution with other products. The downside is for the customer that if you have to license comparable products to what 3.5 ships with thats a lot of vendor relationships to manage (isn't that what the VAR's do?). Makes me wonder if VMWare's channel strategy will mimc Novell's... They need to fix that messaging in my opinion if they are to be successful in the channel and garner their channel's support, otherwise MSFT will kick the crap out of them because they figured out the channel a LOOOOONG time ago and it drives their business. StongChannel with a hot new product could gobble up market share quickly.

the next question was answered by saying 'we'd be stupid to think that VMWare won't see increased competition and some market share loss to MSFT, but we believe we are 16-18 months ahead of them in product development' - in other words, they'll get there, we're still better for the next 1-2 years, so stick with us. They also threw up some slides that I will try to get over to you if I can.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

VMUG New England - See you there!

I thought I would get the word out and see who else was going to the VMUG in Brunswick, ME on Thursday July 17th. You need to register so follow the link and get signed up!!!

I will be there, I just haven't decided if I will be wearing my kilt or not. What do you think - kilt or no kilt?

mark @

Friday, July 11, 2008

Vyatta - geek for 'Wow this is cool'

So I have been playing around with the Vyatta solution for a few days and here are my observations:

1. Their support was awesome even for me who downloaded the free 'kick the tires' version. I was pretty embarrased as well since I had imaged a CD, forgot I did it (because I was on a conference call and replying to email when I initiated the whole process), and thought I had blown away my OS on my home machine. I just had to eject the CD. and drink more coffee. and take more Ginko Biloba to improve memory.

2. It works as advertised. Since it's based on Debian even my marginal skillsets (rusty too) were able to navigate around the product. The install took maybe 10 minutes and I was navigating directories and playing with configs in 12.

3. My only request would be a nice UI so guys like me with rusty memories and skillsets can point and click.

So in short - nothing bad to say. In fact I have been out touting it to my friends in the business world because I do think it's worth a look and if I can do it, antone who knows that there is no 'Any' key on a keyboard should do just fine. If not the support is great.

mark @ virtualizationstuff dot com

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

VMWare shakeup - so?

There has been a bunch of handwaving out there and Chicken little sky is falling for VM commentary and I don't get it. It's like those 1-20-09 stickers letting me know that it is Bush's last day.

What happens on 1-21-09? Do I get my home heating oil bill paid? Do I win the lottery? No!!! It's Wednesday - trash day. I will bring out the trash and freeze while doing it. And I will still be saying, its Congress people. Give those schmucks their walking papers. They make laws, the president either signs them or Vetoes them.

So the VMWare management team gets shaken up. So? Did you get your VMWare 50% off ESX coupon in your cereal box this morning? I didn't. What I did get was a sense that the company is entering a new phase of it's development and the board wants a different skillset and mindset driving the boat for a while.

If anyone knows of any ex-employee blogs out there, post the URL. That's where we'll see how it effects the people that built the company and maybe what to expect. In the short term, we can all watch the politics from afar and be glad it's not us, or continmue to armchair quarterback a company vs. start one on our own.

mark @

Monday, July 7, 2008

What isn't being virtualized?

I hope my friends in the US had a nice long weekend. Hard to believe July 4th has come and gone...

While boogeyboarding the other evening I got to thinking about my time at Catalyst and the presentations I went to and what it meant. The sound byte I kept coming back to was - What isn't being virtualized?

Servers, desktops, and firewalls are all on a path of being virtualized at most companies. Some faster than others. What I keep wondering about is the security in all of this virtualizing and had a few thoughts/questions:

1. Is a VM akin to a VLAN - get into one and you get the keys to the kingdom?
2. Why would a company want to virtualize Windows? The same problems exists with malware, viruses, etc. and the inherent security issues.
3. Are virtual firewalls an answer or just the next new (virtualized) thing?

If I think about it, here is what I come up with:

Virtualization can create a more porous environment that breaches can exploit far easier and most likely faster.

It is the equivalent of checking into a brand new hotel and because the processes that have been in place at other properties have not been followed to excruciating discipline in a rush to open, capture excitement, etc. new holes exist, and we get a master key vs. a room key as a metaphoric example.

Why not virtualize a desktop on Linux. With close to 1,000,000 exploits out there for Windows, and only a handful for Linux - why not push Ubuntu out to a desktop and have the control you want and take 999,999,990 threats off the table at the OS?

Add a firewall (I played around with Vyatta and was impressed), and that will help, take a virtual firewall and put it in between VMs, apps, etc. and you may be on your way to taking the best practices we know and love to the virtualized world.

Thoughts? Comments?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Vyatta - Check it out

So I am just back from the Catalyst conference in San Diego and digging out from a week away, catching up on the stuff I care about, and a buddy of mine clls me and says that I am one of his references and that I should expect a call. Ok. No problemo.

My day ends, and I jump in my wetsuit and hit the beach for some Boogey boarding at high tide. Killer waves, tons of fun, voicemail. It's Greg from Vyatta. I dry off and return his call.

I do the reference conveying that he is crazy to not hire my former colleague - he is the best networking guy I have met in 15 years in the IT business hands down. Then I ask the question - so what does Vyatta do?

Well Vyatta makes an open source (Linux based) virtual router. It has firewall capabilities and very few achilles heels that I could uncover immediately. Long story short, on my home machine I am downloading it to play around with it because I haven't been this excited about a piece of technology in some time.

Hopefully this will be the 'blind date' that surpasses expectations. Ok it's done. I am off to go find out how much I have forgotten about networks... Stay tuned.

Friday, June 27, 2008

VDI and ROI - Mutually exclusive?

I got an interesting post from Jimmy the Mad Salesman the other day:

'For the last 2 days, I have been looking in trade journals, google, and tech blogs for a strong ROI to move to desktop virtualization. Whenever I read an example, the ROI is always vague. So far the only example I have seen is a deal HP and VMware did with Collier County, FL but again only soft ROI are revealed. so far I see it makes sense from a management and security (perspective).'

ROI is not that hard. I think of it like this for VDI:

1. What do I save in licensing costs by virtualizing?
2. What do I save by not having to license certain applications (OS, A/V, etc)?
3. How many support calls were logged in the past year?
4. What were the support calls related to - apps, os, SaaS, new users?

On the flip side if a company virtualizes Windows, that will help w/support and management of a machine, however little if anything is saved.

If a company goes down the VDI path with Ubuntu (for example) all of the agents required to protect Windows from the several hundred thousand threats that exist go away, Citrix goes away, RAM to support Vista evaporates, and the list goes on.

In my opinion this means that if you virtualize Windows, you gain a measurable ROI, but centainly far from breathtaking.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Burton Group Dazzles

I am 2/3 of my way through the day at Catalyst and have been truly impressed by the quality of material I have had exposure too. I spent the day in the Data Center/Virtualization track and it did not disappoint. Notable take aways:

There is a right way and a not-so-right way to roll out true HA in a virtual way. The right way is simpler

'When we talk about security around a virtualized environment we get dumb again

I asked the question to one of the co-founders of Xen (who was speaking about VDI) how do you avoid the (insert software vendor here) tax? I mentioned microsoft btw. I did not get a straight answer which means one of two things - that's not the point (Citrix and Microsoft are two peas in a pod on this), or we haven't figured it out yet.

I was happy to get a premise validated in a left handed way which was that we are on the right track here at virtualizationstuff in rolling out an Unbuntu based desktop running an xTP protocol that will cost an organization $50-100/year per device running the solution. Including email using whatever client you want. The future looks bright

Catalyst is officially underway

I was at the opening reception last night decked out in my Scottish regalia to celebrate the kickoff of Burton Group's Catalyst conference. Some notable observations thus far:

My identitystuff crew is here
Ian Glazer is the newest member of the Burton Group
The folks from Boeing were dazzled by my kilt
National City Bank's architect flagged me down and promised to wear his next year

This remains one of the best conferences in the IT industry in my opinion - definitely worth checking out.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

More on ROI at the desktop

I was speaking with a buddy at a Fortune 10 and they are going through the usual hand wringing about virtualizing desktops and asked me to help on coming up with defensible models for their finance team. Here were some of the things we looked at and I wanted to share them...

Agents - there are 12 agents on every desktop which means 12 additional pieces of technology and associated infrastructure components to purchase, deploy, and manage. Average savings was $580 per desktop on agents alone year one/per new build.

Patching - with our process the patching occurs on boot in as close to real time as possible. An average of 15 minutes per desktop/laptop * (enter device count here)/4 = hours per device per month.

Backup - Increasing storage is spend, but it is more than offset by forensic investigations ($5,000 per request/investigation, plus retainer) and calls to support. Google or Microsoft search is free so when the device is reset on boot up the search is available and the cost is then borne by the user, reducing calls to support 30%

Hardware - Life expectancy for a thin client linux on a non-beefy machine doubles its useful life and allows for further depreciation and flexibility when accounting for costs of assets. Ace up the sleeve for finance.

All in average savings was $1100 per desktop with better support, easier and more efficient management, and more control.

Friday, June 13, 2008

What's the Point?

I have been mulling this quetion over in my head after finally being able to catch up on some reading of the industry rags out there -

What is the point of virtualizing the desktop if you stick with the same OS and Approach to management?

Is it Microsoft's virtual license fees? No. You still need to license the OS.
Is it security? The Microsoft Tuesday updates are more secure than last month?

I don't get it. In the articles I have read, they all talk about saving $X after they have spent $Y on infrastructure, LICENSING FEES, etc. and it makes no sense if what you are trying to do is to cut costs.

The smart CIO's will go another path and deploy a desktop that is more secure, more controlable, consistent from dev to production, includes the back up, key apps, etc. required for users to do their job, and do it either on their concrete or through a managed service.

Why would I want to pay licensing fees for OS's that will require new gear and skillsets to manage in a way that is no better than I have today.

What's the point?

Friday, May 23, 2008

Desktop vs. Server - Where is the Best Bang for the Buck?

A friend of mine at State Street in Boston sent me a link to an article talking about Merrill Lynch starting to virtualize the desktop en masse.

It got me thinking about where the best bang for the buck is - at the desktop or the server. Purely by numbers it's the desktop. There are more desktops than servers out there in most companies. I think the biggest issue is that you have to deal with users and their inherent free will to put P2P stuff, different chat software, games, etc. on their desktops, and with servers it tends to be a little easier since most people who know how to run a server don't call support and say 'My Internet is Broken'.

I also paid attention because it validates a solution I have been incubating for 7-8 months that has the capability to turn the desktop world on its head and cut the costs of a desktop to $100 or less per year. You pick how much you want to save based on how many desktops you want to manage.

What the solutions that are out there offer (Desktone is one I checked out) is essentially snapshot to storage of the image. Hardly new and hardly virtual. The partners include Citrix, Microsoft, and VMware. Huh?

If there is to be real, measurable, and true cost savings you need some other goodies (features) built in - and yes I have them - as well as the knowledge of what it takes from the support engineer point of view, the network engineer point of view, the IT staff in house, right up to the CFO who makes sure the company gets the best bang for its buck and manages revenue and expenses well.

In other words it's not all about the desktop. It's about all the other stuff that run (or shouldn't run) on it, and the infrastructure behind it that matter as much if not more. If you want a little juice, press an apple. If you want a lot of juice, press the orchard.

Have a great long weekend out there, and remember our soldiers - present and past - who are responsible for keeping me and my generations of family safe.

A personal Thank You to the men and women in uniform and their families who are able to call themselves soldiers this Memorial Day. Your family keeps mine free and we know it. You should too. Thank You.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Virtualization – The chargeback conundrum

Funding it vs. Paying for it...

I have recently had 6 discussions in the past two weeks with companies on how to get a Virtualization project funded, which is a relatively simple discussion to have. It basically involves us working with our ROI model to come up with real cost savings on quantifiable (hard) costs. Based on that the projects are either funded or not and we help roll out infrastructure (on premise or a third party site), licensing, etc. – the usual project lifecycle stuff.

Where clients fall down in on how to get business units and departments to pay for what they use. I have dubbed it the Chargeback Conundrum.

The issue is that when an enterprise wants to execute an Enterprise License Agreement (an ELA) for the Virtualization software (VMWare) there are no simple controls or visibility into what businesses consume and how to charge them back. From the business perspective, they are reluctant to go all in to help pay for it when there is no proof of what they are getting or understanding of what they will be charged, and arguably more important – no trust with the IT organization.

In other words –

Business Executive: How do I know that I am not giving a piece of my budget to another group?

IT Executive: (insert explanation here).

Business Executive: OK, prove it.

IT Executive: (insert deer in the headlights look on face here)

If you need help – reach out –

We can give you unprecedented visibility as product or a service so if you don’t want the cap ex on your balance sheet we can accommodate.

The services offering for Virtualization is also preferred when you want to pay for the functionality vs. be responsible for it.

You’ll need to work with your facilities folks to look at power consumption. While you can shrink the footprint, the power per cabinet jumps from 4KW to 7KW (almost doubles), and you’ll want to have the specialized floor tiles with variable speed fans, the temperature sensors on the front and back of the cabinets with the blades in them, and have it tied together in a management console.

If it sounds too cumbersome – reach out. We’re great at cutting to the chase…

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

How do you like THEM apples?


Here at Virtualizationstuff we have rolled out the following methodology for implementing a virtualization project. The Acronym is APPLES. The beauty of the methodology is its simplicity and the fact that most organizations can do a lot of the work minimizing costs at the outset and for ongoing maintenance. For everything else there is Virtualizationstuff.


Why do you want to virtualize your infrastructure?
What parts of it will you do first? Why? Do they represent the largest savings?
What other quantifiable benefits do you get besides savings?
How much will you save in facilities costs (Space & Power)?
How much will you need to spend to virtualize for the initial phase/set up?
What is the goal in percentage to be virtualized of the first phase of an initiative?
What are the current utilization rates of the infrastructure to be virtualized?
Where do you want the utilization to be in the new environment?


What changes need to be made to the facilities to support a consolidation?
What will the footprint need to be to support the new environment?
Do you have the resources to support the project?
How will you or departments pay for the project?
What do the builds need to look like? For what application(s)?
Who will pay what?


What ‘what if’ scenarios are a top concern?
What happens if the project is wildly successful?
What happens if the project is wildly unsuccessful?
When will you max out capacity?
What are the costs to add capacity/elasticity?
What are the impacts to the financial models?

How many licenses do you need?
What is the impact to application licensing?
Is there anything not supported?
Who will pay for these? How will you chargeback?


Deploy the infrastructure to capture largest savings first
Deploy the monitoring/chargeback mechanism
Track savings and expenditures
Broadcast successes and challenges at regular intervals
Perform post mortems at the end of each phase


Quarterly snapshot audits communicated to business units/departments
Publish results to dashboards for Finance and Operations to consume
Leverage data to support comp plans and bonus structure
What else can be done to increase operational efficiencies?

There will be more published around this methodology, and the importance of politics in an initiative, and how to factor them out of yours.

If you would like to engage us we have two offerings built around the methodology:

1. Vproof is an engagement utilizing our ROI models to extract data that will drive sound business decisions by both IT and Finance.
2. Vcolo which is adding capacity inside your existing data centers and providing a virtual colocation model whereby you will grow capacity inside your 4 walls

Pricing is based on desired results, size of environment, and value delivered. Average engagements are 2-4 weeks and cost $40,000-100,000.

To learn more contact us at

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

See you at Catalyst!

Just an FYI, I will be a speaker at the Burton Group Catalyst Conference June 23-27th in San Diego CA.

I am excited about this for two reasons - I think Catalyst is one of the best conferences for IT professionals in the world. To me it is the perfect balance between work and fun. I learn a lot when I go, I meet fantastic people every year who are passionate about solving IT problems, and the hospitality Suites are great too - the vendors get very creative, and it's a great atmosphere to network and be creative.

My topic is Avoiding Outsourcing Disasters, so if you have any war stories you want to share, it'll get you a mention in my presentation.

See you there!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Virtualization - The Shiny New Cabbage Patch Kids?

I have been talking to companies recently about their virtualization projects both planned and underway, and one of the undercurrents seemed to be that Virtualization was the shiny new toy they just had to have. As I peeled back the layers of questions around why start a project and how is it going, I got some great fodder for a blog entry. Then I soon realized that I've been in IT long enough to remember Cabbage Patch Kids and the frenzy over them, and that there is a similarity here in the frenzy.

Those of you who remember Cabbage Patch Kids know of what I speak. To the younger folks in the VirtualizationStuff audience it was like Playstation, Xbox, Wii, and texting rolled into one package - in this case a cute doll (low tech). And if you were a parent, you might not have even understood the need to have a Cabbage Patch Kid, but boy, if you didn't have one under the tree that year for Christmas... Well I won't go there.

Fast forward 20 years and Virtualization has become the new Cabbage Patch Kid. Everybody better have a project underway or planned or... Well I WILL go there because there is too much Lemming-esque behavior out there, and I think we need to put the safety on the Howitzer.

Some intial questions I would ask no matter what rung of the ladder you're on:

What do we gain for the Company, specifically, for deploying Virtualization technology?

What does my group gain, specifically, for deploying Virtualization technology?

What is the goal - in dollars- to both spend and save by deploying Virtualization technology?

What is the cost today of running our infrsatructure? Don't forget Power, Cooling, patching, network admin, application admin, audting functions, compliance costs, change controls, process changes, and backup. Here is my personal case in point:

A few years ago I wanted a home theater system to listen to the battle scenes from Braveheart (I'm Scottish) with the full effect. I called a buddy at SHARP the electronics folks and he told me about a high end unit that never sold well, and they were having a fire sale on eBay. So I got a $1000 system for $150. I win, yea me.

The package shows up, I unpack it, get totally psyched because my wife is out running errands which means once it's plugged in, the neighbors will be be hearing William Wallace's 'Freedom' Speech as if they were standing on the pitch themselves. And then wondering what the thundering noise is as the British Army's horses charge the Scots.

I get everything laid out, and then go to plug the cables into the TV and... The TV is so old that it only has the jack for the coax from the cable box. So this $150 great deal meant that I was now having to go out and spend $700 on a new TV.

I wanted home theater
I thought I got a great deal (and did - I still use the system)
I did everything right (or so I thought)
It cost me 3X in the end diminishing any real savings, and the credibility hit I took with my wife was unprecedented. 'Isn't that Freedom Speech a little tinny with that single speaker on the TV?'

So think it through. If you haven't covered all the angles and showed the tangible cost savings and expenditures in the detail required to make a good business decision then wait until you do. You may end up like William Wallace if you dont...

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Thanks VMWare

I was perusing some log files and and cam across a URL from a site that refers a fair amount of traffic. It was the the VMTN - VMWare Technical Network blog, and I was included for one one of my blog entries about the ROI of virtualization. Thanks VMWare.


Monday, March 3, 2008

Another Gotcha...

I was meeting with a customer last week and we were doing the requisite number crunching to figure out the savings on virtualization. There was a misconception that came out that I keep hearing which is all of the operational savings attributed to virtualization. So what's the deal?

The deal is this, if you collapse 100 servers onto 5 blades, you still have 100 servers to patch and manage, not 5.


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Virtualization - Where the budgets are?

If we are indeed headed into recession, then that will give the smart CIO's I talk to a chance to hunker down and get stuff done.

One question I can't help but think of lately is have things shifted from compliance to Virtualization and that is the new must have Budget Item?

Is Virtualization where the budgets are?

It makes sense to at least explore it, but remember it's a new product set, new investments, new expertise, etc. so crunch the numbers on your own first.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Computing Greenness at a Data Center

I recently read through an interesting White Paper on evaluating the Greenness of a data center put out by the Uptime Institute, written by John R. Stanley, Kenneth G. Brill, and Dr. Jonathan Koomey. You can get it here.

The report outlines four metrics which are designed to help us quantify energy consumption and they present some interesting formulas which I present below:

SI-POM (Site Infrastructure Power Overhead Multiplier) which tells us how much power is consumed to run the DC facilities vs. to run the gear inside it.


Data Center Power consumption at the meter / total hardware consumption at the plug

They suggest that a Tier 4 Data Center will peg out at 2.2
H-POM (Hardware Power Overhead Multiplier) tells us how much power is wasted on power supply conversion, loss to fans, etc. rather than power going to run the components of the gear.


AC hardware load at the plug / DC Hardware compute Load

They suggest that a data center with a 2.2 SI-POM will peg out at 1.33 on this exercise.

Deployed Hardware Utilization Ratio (DH-UR) is the metric that helps quantify the deployed equipment that is drawing power but is comatose; menaing not running an application, but is left on.


Number of servers running live applications / Total number of deployed servers

For Storage:

Number of Terabytes of storage holding data / Total terabytes actually deployed

Deployed Hardware Utilization Efficiency (DH-UE) helps us quantify the opportunity for servers and storage to increase utilization by virtualizing. This conceptually gives us another way of looking at why we would want to consolidate servers at 25% load to run at 50% load in a virtual and scalable framework.


Minimum number of servers necessary to handle peak compute load / Total number of servers deployed

I will spend more time, as I get it, to play around with some numbers to get some real world computations. Feel free to leave your own in the comments section too. The tide raises all boats in our sea of knowledge.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Follow up post from the Press Release about Calista acquisition

Bob Muglia from the Server tools comments on the move to Virtualization (below).

I will pick this apart as I see it:

Customers have been slow to 'reap the benefits of Virtualization' but as to the complexity and cost prohibitive-ness of it as he states, I'm not sure I agree. Given my ROI for a large environment, given the fact that I have been in the data center to desktop business for 15 years, I believe the reason is that it is not a tactical implementation, but a strategic shift that has tactical implications and companies will grapple with this because of the ripple effects between the street and the cabinet of the data center.

The issues are not with the hardware, blades have been around for a while. They are not with the software as this too is a mature industry. I will argue that the issue is getting enough power/circuits to the data center which Microsoft has little impact on unless they have rolled out a facilities software package that includes electricians, distribution of electrons, and other physical things needed to virtualize.

They also tout the cost savings, yet I do not see any calculator or way to figure this out, other than to trust what they say.

Or you can look at some simple math I have provided in an actual ROI exercise I went through with a large customer.

Quote from Bob in the press release:
"Very few customers are able to reap the benefits of virtualization today," said Bob Muglia, senior vice present of the Server and Tools Business at Microsoft. "We estimate that less than 5 percent of companies are utilizing virtualization technology because it is simply too cost-prohibitive and complex. We believe Microsoft's comprehensive approach -- from desktop to datacenter -- is unique to the industry by delivering solutions that address virtualization at the hardware, application and management levels. Our approach is not only one of the most comprehensive in the market today, but we believe it is also one of the most economical. This combination brings a big strategic advantage and cost savings to customers."

Microsoft Is Unveiling Virtualization Strategy Today

Microsoft is getting into the Virtualization game this week. Looks like it's a combination of acquisition (Calista Technologies), tweaking of licensing (it's so complicated these days fro large enterprises I'm not sure what this really means), and it won't be ready for 6 months. Hmmm. Another release of announcement-ware designed to sell their current OS? I can hear the resellers now... ' If you buy Vista today you can virtualize in 6 months, which gives you enough time to figure out our licensing programs...'

Microsoft Corp. this week is disclosing new details of its plans to take on VMware Inc. and others in a hot field called virtualization.

The software giant's moves include the purchase of a Silicon Valley start-up called Calista Technologies Inc. Terms of the purchase aren't being disclosed.

Microsoft is also relaxing some licensing policies to allow use of virtualization software with more versions of its Windows Vista operating system and is lowering some fees associated with using the technology.

The company plans to offer a virtualization component with its coming Windows Server 2008 operating system, which is scheduled to be delivered this quarter. But the feature, known as Hyper-V, won't be ready for six months, or sometime in the third quarter, said Larry Orecklin, general manager of Microsoft's server-infrastructure business.

Virtualization isolates a computer's hardware from key pieces of software, bringing such benefits as the ability to run multiple operating systems simultaneously on one computer. The technique, pioneered by International Business Machines Corp. in the 1960s, has become popular for exploiting unused computing capacity on low-end server systems.

The technology is also moving to desktop PCs such as Apple Inc.'s Macintosh, which can use virtualization software to run both Microsoft's Windows and the Macintosh operating system. In the future, technology companies hope to make it easy to transfer bundles of application programs and operating systems -- sometimes called virtual machines -- from computer to computer to be processed most efficiently.

Virtualization specialist VMware, which is majority-owned by EMC Corp., completed a successful initial public offering last year. It now boasts a market capitalization of more than $31 billion.

Microsoft offers some virtualization components already. But it doesn't yet offer a key layer of software, called a "hypervisor," that emulates the physical features of a computer and runs beneath an operating system. Hyper-V is expected to add that capability.

In the meantime, the company has been stressing the battle is just starting -- a similar theme to one the company used when it charged belatedly into markets such as Web browsers.

"Although virtualization has been around for more than four decades, the software industry is just beginning to understand the full implications of this important technology," writes Bob Muglia, senior vice president of Microsoft's server and tools division, in an email Microsoft is distributing to customers this week.

Frank Gillett, an analyst at Forrester Research, said Microsoft is "using the same playbook" it used in the Web-browser wars, when it eventually overwhelmed rival Netscape Communications Corp. He doesn't think VMware has much to worry about for two years or so, though, because its products are so well entrenched in corporate computer rooms.

"What we have been developing over the last seven years is what Microsoft is just starting to think about," said Raghu Raghuram, vice president of products and solutions at VMware, based in Palo Alto, Calif.

Microsoft had irked some virtualization suppliers by adding language to the licensing agreements for two consumer versions of Windows Vista that barred the use of virtualization. More-costly versions of the software, sold primarily to businesses, weren't covered by the restriction. But Microsoft has now decided to allow use of virtualization on the two consumer versions, Windows Vista Home Basic and Windows Vista Home Premium. VMware's Mr. Raghuram said he welcomed the change.

"We had to work pretty diligently to convince them of the error of their ways," added Woodson Hobbs, chief executive officer of Phoenix Technologies Ltd., another company that recently entered the market for virtualization technology.

Microsoft also is lowering the annual fee it charges for running Windows in virtual machines on servers while accessing them from PCs that are covered by a subscription program called software assurance. The estimated retail price for an annual subscription to what the company calls Windows Vista Enterprise Centralized Desktop is now $23 per desktop machine, down from $78, the company said.

Calista, a closely held company based in San Jose, Calif., makes software that helps run a user's desktop computing environment remotely on a server system. Microsoft is also announcing cooperative moves with a bigger company that offers similar technology, Citrix Systems Inc. Citrix, which recently bought the virtualization software maker XenSource, is developing technology to help customers transfer virtual machines between Citrix's XenServer product and Windows Server 2008 with the Hyper-V technology, Microsoft said.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Virtualization Hosting Dependencies

I mentioned that there were a few dependencies around virtualized hosting which in my opinion are not that dramatic, unless of course you own a data center that needs to be refurbished...

Power is the biggie, with cooling right up there as well. Most cabinets/racks draw 4KW a rack (42U cabinet) if you through a loaded Blade rack in the data center, you are looking at 7KW, essentially double. So what, right?

You will need to have the ability to do high density hosting which means 200W a square foot vs. the standard 100W a square foot.

For cooling you will need/want special tiles in the floor that increase airflow around the cabinets. For safety's sake you'll probably want to drop another CRAC in for sites with seasonal spike in utilization and corresponding heat signature(s).

If you want a green angle on the cooling, look North my friends. The smart data centers are using mother nature's inherent cooling capabilities to keep gear cool. They shut down several CRACs and use an exchanger to draw very cold dry air into the facilities, reducing the carbon footprint of that data center through reductions in power usage and cooling.

Depending upon the age of data centers this will vary from extremely difficult/expensive/not worth it to a few weeks of refitting.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Actual ROI of Virtualization

As I look ahead to 2008 and pay attention to what my customers are asking me about and what we are discussing, One of the top 2 things is virtualization which ties into the bigger picture of Infrastructure Management. The other is reducing the cost of Email management.

The top reasons companies are talking about it are:

1. Cost savings
2. It is considered green
3. It is a way to create space in a full data center

The cost savings moved the discussions along from ‘What is this virtualization thing everyone is talking about’ to ‘How do we build a plan to virtualize parts of our infrastructure?’. I will say that in my personal experience, the impacts were pretty dramatic in a data center move I was a part of. Here are the numbers:

Overall Consolidation ratio: 20:1

1,000 Wintel boxes into 50 Sun Blades running VMWare
8,000 square feet to ~200 Square feet
Cooling is 1/10 of what it was
Power is 1/10 of what it was

For a couple of large accounts that I work with, I will take you through the back of the napkin math we did on a whiteboard to quantify the ROI of Virtualization:

100,000 physical Wintel servers collapse into 5,000 Sun Blades
Power is reduced to 1/10
Cooling is reduced to 1/10
Floor space in two data centers 10:1 reduction in footprint

The assumptions were that the costs (they are leased machines) were a wash on the hardware:
• The Wintel boxes draw was 230 Watts at 50% Utilization so 23,000 KW per month
• @ $0.35/KW multiplied by 730 Hours in a month comes out to ~$6M per month on power costs to run machines and cool them.
• Did not include facilities costs

Virtualization costs:

• 5,000 blades draw 3900kw*730*.35= $900,000/mo (6 to 1 reduction)
• Add in costs of VMWare - $5,000 per instance * 5000 = $25M
• 5 month payback w/license inclusion

Are there dependencies? Yes, and in the next entry, I will explore some of the dependencies, which are negligible IMHO.