Catching Up With Andrew Kutz

Prolific virtualizaton blogger, Andrew Kutz, on VDI, dark horses, and if virtualization is taking us back to the era of mainframes.

I saw Andrew Kutz, aka Schley Andrew Kutz, Lead Application Architect at The McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin and one of TechTarget.com’s Server Virtualization bloggers, creating a video blog at VMworld 2008 and knew immediately that this is someone with whom I needed to speak. I thought his message was particularly intriguing since he was also a VMworld 2008 presenter (VMware Infrastructure Plugins).

I finally caught up with Andrew (a most difficult task indeed) a week or so after VMworld 2008 to ask a few pointed questions and get his perspective on some key issues relating to the direction of VDI and VM management. The issue of VM management for virtual desktops is a conspicuous one since the number of desktops to servers is often in the hundreds to one.

KH: Do you think that virtual machine management is one of the major pain points of VDI?

SAK: Management is one of the pains of any major IT undertaking, and in some regards more so with VDI. VMware’s Virtual Desktop Manager (VDM), currently version 2.0, is by far the best VDI management platform, but even it lacks integration into VMware’s other management tools, such as VirtualCenter. I think VDI management, and in some regards management and virtualization, is going to remain a pain point until people begin to wake up to the idea that a virtual desktop is a desktop. It does not need a specialized set of management tools apart from what is necessary to manage the supporting technology. Virtual desktop management needs to be handled the same way as everyday desktop management. Whether that is with Canonical’s Landscape, the Red Hat Management Network, or Active Directory and Systems Center Manager (SCM), that is for your shop to decide.

KH: Who currently has the best VM management application and feel free to name more than one.

SAK: VMware Virtual Center 2.5 is currently the best VM management platform, in my opinion.

KH: For hosted environments, is there an application that allows chargebacks and monitoring?

SAK: Yes, VKernel does chargeback, and chargeback will be integrated into the VMware Virtual Datacenter OS (VDC-OS) sometime next year.

KH: Do you feel that virtualization is taking us back to the dinosaur days of mainframes and dumb terminals?

SAK: Enterprises, to an extent, are relocating the compute power back to the server rack. As long as the user experience does not change, all should be well. The two sticking points, however, are making sure that the user experience does NOT change, as well as the fact that users have become attached to their desktops as a point of personal pride and ownership. In many organizations, a personal computer is not just a business tool but something that its user has an emotional investment in. Taking that away could prove hard for some.

KH: Referring to that last question, do you think that, at some point, we’ll just go back to mainframes for VDI with projects like zVM?

SAK: Perhaps, it depends how well it can be marketed.

KH: Is there a particular dark horse in the virtualization space that you feel is worth checking out?

SAK: PanoLogic needs to get more love. Love the cube people!

KH: Do you have any predictions about VDI for the next 6 months?

SAK: I personally think VDI is overrated. VDI is a result of Microsoft’s failure to provide a seamless mobile desktop experience through settings and data synchronization. MobileMe has had its issues getting off the ground, but I believe that its core functionality and purpose, syncing the documents and preferences across multiple desktops, is the way to provide a mobile computing experience. Although VDI will be around in 6 months, I do not think it will have gotten the traction that many people think it will.

As you know, my opinion of the current state of VDI mirrors Andrew’s exactly. There were a few key points that I didn’t get to during this limited interview but I’ll save those for another time. I’ll give him some time to catch his breath and give VDI a chance to mature before my next analysis.

Thanks to Schley Andrew Kutz for taking the time out of his busy schedule for this interview.

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