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Business-Driven Architect

Brenda Michelson

@ Virtualization, Cloud Computing and Green IT Summit: Report from Trenches: What's Working in Virtualization and Green IT

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Reports from the Trenches: What's Working in Virtualization and Green IT, moderated by Larry Hale, Director, Office of Infrastructure Optimization, GSA


  • Jack Baxter, Manager, IT&S, Government Printing Office
  • Richard Fichera, Director, Blade Systems Strategy, HP
  • Bernard Golden, CEO, HyperStratus
  • Dale Wickizer, US Public Sector CTO, NetApp

Larry Hale has some starter questions for the panel:

1. Biggest challenges in adopting virtualization?

Jack Baxter: Greatest challenges: application qualification, funding, hardware and how it's going to be used.  Heterogeneous environment calls for a lot of up-front research.

Dale: Moving to cloud computing requires a mental shift.  Iron huggers need to switch from managing stuff to managing service-level agreements.

Richard Fichera: Distinction between virtualization and cloud.  Virtualization is well adopted.  Cloud is very early.  Adding to Dale and Jack, there are internal process barriers.  Applying current processes to virtual machine environment will lose advantage of shared service environment. 

Bernard Golden: Breaking down of traditional IT silos, forces people to work together who never have, need to optimize / change vertical processes for horizontal view.

2. Is there one government agency that best illustrates benefits of virtualization?

Dale: Federal government is Navy / Marines.  In rest of public sector, great work going on in universities.  Grant providers don't want money going to IT, want it applied to research.  Universities are starting consortiums of shared IT resources, using virtualization.

Richard: School district work as well.  Virtual desktops that follow students around school.  Others that provide shared resources across schools in a district.

Bernard: Refers to prior session, says Casey Coleman was modest in her description of Apps.gov, and he points to Apps.gov as the best example.

3. Role of virtualization in government in next 5 years?

Jack: Downside of virtualization is ease of creating a server, results in server sprawl.  Still need a datacenter plan and management.  Calls out VMWare as an important management tool.

Bernard: Virtualization will be the defacto way servers work.  Will be packaged with every server and default configuration.

Dale: Most organizations will have hybrid cloud environment.  Legacy will remain as is.  Core, mission critical applications will run on internal (private) cloud.  Other mission applications will run on public clouds.

Richard: Not focused on government.  Financial services industry is further ahead, virtualization is mainstream in commercial space.  Emphasizes he is saying virtualization, not cloud.  There is still a layer of physical machine management.  In future, integrated management of these two control planes. 

Need to think about overall reliability, not reliability of single elements.  This can be achieved with a collection of cheaper infrastructure, don't need to rely on expense high availability infrastructure.  But, need to plan and manage for overall (application layer) reliability, not physical elements.

Dale: Points out that cheaper infrastructure models, such as Google and Amazon, require more physical infrastructure and creates server (and therefore datacenter) sprawl.  This is fine for users of Google and Amazon, but not necessarily for private datacenters and private clouds. (Please note, Dale is with NetApp).

Richard: Coming to Dale's defense, reminds everyone that infrastructure from vendors like NetApp is not nearly as expensive now, as it has been.  This price efficiency will only increase.  At the same time, systems integrators will become more sophisticated in delivering low cost infrastructure solutions.  [Of course, you need to pay the SIs].  [Please note, Richard is with HP]

Bernard: Going forward, applications will be written with different assumptions, one of which is that hardware costs won't be constraining. 

4. Primary security considerations with virtualization?

Dale - starts with cloud, not virtualization.  Calls out Terremark and FISMA certification.  States that many virtual private cloud environments have better security than organizations currently have in place, on premise.

Bernard - In addition to FISMA, organizations need to be concerned with privacy regulations.  Privacy regulations are not up-to-date with technology advances.

Richard - The "spectacular security breaches" in cloud computing will have same root causes as today, passwords on post-its, using dog's name for server password, etc.

The panel continued with a good discussion on virtualization, product or journey.  The answer, as you know, is journey.  The steps expressed, standardization, consolidation etc. are well known, so I didn't capture again here.

An important note, is that this panel focused heavily on virtualization as being a step to the clouds, leading cloud thinkers, say otherwise.  I'll post in-depth on this another time.  Think bundles, patterns and frameworks.



So that you have the proper spelling of my last name: Wickizer.

Thank you for your summary of the panel discussion. I think you captured the essence for the most part. Their are a couple of points that need clarification:

With respect to your description of what I said about Google/Amazon (and quickly attempted to qualify/dismiss by stating that I'm from NetApp): The Google/Amazon model seeks to reduce acquisition costs. Their model is to leverage simple "white box" servers with DAS (since they buy 10's of thousands of them, or in the case of Google, build their own) and to replicate physical data several times for protection. This, however, results in server and data center sprawl, driving up that side of the equation. They do use a high degree of automation to help mitigate this and to keep operations costs low. They have had almost 10 years to develop that automation.

If an organization is going to move part of their workload, this is not something that they really care about. They care about SLAs and costs only. (That is, this is a provider issue.). However, if organizations want to implement private internal clouds, their goal is to reduce total cost-of-ownership (not just acquisition cost and some operations costs). Data center sprawl would undermine their efforts. Our experience in the dozens of providers we have worked with is that they have routinely achieved 25%-50% reduction in total IT spend year over year using the methods I discussed during the panel.

Also, with respect to your last comment: "An important note, is that this panel focused heavily on virtualization as being a step to the clouds, leading cloud thinkers, say otherwise." I respect the thinking of people on "future" frameworks and operating systems (cool stuff). However, in the world in which we live today, many of the largest providers and organizations have moved to cloud services in manner we discussed during the panel: centralization, standardization, virtualization, automation, etc. You statement dismisses this fact in favor of capabilities that don't really exist today, or if they do exist have not been widely adopted. Your statement could cause an organization that wants to do something today to misstep and waste time.


Apologies for the incorrect spelling on your last name. I pulled from the online agenda. I will update the post.

It was a good panel, lots of good information for folks to consider, for now and the future.


Brenda Michelson, Principal of Elemental Links, shares her view on architectural strategies, technology trends, business, and relevance.

Brenda Michelson

Brenda Michelson is the principal of Elemental Links an advisory & consulting practice focused on business-technology capabilities that increase business visibility and responsiveness. Follow Brenda on Twitter.


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