Living in the virtual world, and I am just a virtual architect.

With apologies to Cyndi Lauper and her much catchier song.

Recently Microsoft released Hyper-V our updated virtual server solutions. It’s made me think about the concept of vitalization.

I equate vitalization to operations. You see, you can’t really virtualize an environment if there are no operations behind the vitalization. You can cut the number of servers you have down to nearly nothing, and yet end up cutting your up time down to nearly nothing as well.

It’s all about operational maturity as you consider "creating" a virtual environment. The first issue is really one that is slipping away. It is the overall issue of performance.

The second issue however remains the operational maturity of the organization. Do you have what it takes to risk your up time on a virtual world?

Over the years I have worked with a number of companies. Many of them have built extensive virtual labs that are very impressive.

  1. They test the solution.
  2. They test their operations.
  3. Then they move the solution to physical hardware.

I’ve worked with other companies who follow a lighter methodology.

  1. Listen to vendor claims, regardless.
  2. Listen to analysts, regardless.
  3. Design a solution that fits your specific one off business needs.

Operationally any one of the above items are a good component of a process, but without testing the risks you run are significant.

I once had a customer that had placed their entire directory structure on a virtual server environment. When I mentioned that solution was even "considered" in our testing and was not a solution we even "considered" supporting, they told me I was saying that because I was from Microsoft and they were using a competitors products.

I argued with them for two days and finally gave up. They asked me to take the section about their directory out of my report and I said, no. Someday this solution is going to fail and frankly I don’t won’t any part of that. They were pretty mad at me – but the reality is, it’s simply not good operations to build your entire house of cards on the edge of the largest fault in North America. There is bound to be a tremor and you have to start all over.

Anyway, my thought is there are three things to consider as you determine if your organization is going to go virtual…

  1. Operations
  2. Operations
  3. Operations

If you have a mature IT Organization that understands and lives by the operational processes and procedures, vitalization may be the best thing that ever happened to your cost structure. If your IT org is immature and not ready for process based computing, stay on the "virtual" sidelines until the mature orgs can build the IT practices you need to be successful.

Better to spent an extra dollar now, then having to spend 1,000 extra dollars tomorrow. (You’ll need those to pay for gas at the pump!)


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