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