Five Perceptual Barriers to Virtualization

Is your distorted view of virtual reality keeping you from adopting virtualization?

A former manager once told me that, “Perception is reality,” and I would have to agree even if that reality is virtual. Many would-be virtualization converts remain wholly in the physical realm due to their perceptions, prejudices or preconceived notions about what is and is not true of the technology. To embrace virtualization as a relevant technology takes a paradigm shift for some while others embrace it without pause. What sort of provocation does it take to win over these persistently oppositional personalities?

Negative perceptions regarding a particular technology, perhaps, are the most difficult to dispell. Prior to plunging headlong into a plenitude of plausible persuasions, I’ll present you with my analysis of the five perceptions that prevent adoption.

Platform

Contrary to popular belief, Linux is often not the most sought-after platform for potential adopters of new technologies. And since Microsoft’s introduction of Hyper-V, this barrier may further strengthen against our beloved Linux and its capabilities. Linux is foreign to Microsoft-only shops and still looked upon as niche or hobbyist in scope—a view promoted by the Redmond-based marketing powerhouse. Hyper-V is virtualization but it isn’t Linux.

Denying the plethora of possibilities with the Linux platform is myopic, considering that the largest and most influential names in virtualization; VMware, Citrix, Red Hat and Canonical are 100 percent Linux-based.

Performance

Perhaps the most often quoted anti-virtualization argument is virtual machine (VM) performance. Database servers are the typical example of “something not to virtualize due to performance.” Neither local disk access nor network attached storage can keep pace with a database making a high number of disk writes. VMs no longer use local storage for storing or accessing databases, but rather use high speed SAN’s Fiber Channel connectivity to reduce disk I/O bottlenecks previously experienced when virtualizing database workloads. Low cost Storage Area Network (SAN) hardware refutes the opposition for even the most write-active databases.

The Five Perceptual Barriers to Virtualization

  • Platform
  • Performance
  • Price
  • Practicality
  • Permanence

Those with a propensity for performance-related topics will rest easy with the possibilities offered by non-local data storage.

Price

Enter the land of for the penny-wise and the pound foolish when attempting to make the “virtualization costs too much” claim. Virtualization is a penny-pinchers paradise. Leveraging inexpensive hardware to replace underperforming physical machines is a boon to those tightened pocketbooks. It’s true that there is an initial layout of money to purchase new hardware but financial relief comes in terms of fewer pieces of hardware to support, fewer service contracts, fewer points of failure, less power consumption and an overall peace of mind in knowing that your new pooled resources are more productive.

Virtualizing your underutilized physical computing resources is prudent practice.

Practicality

Anti-virtualization pundits point to virtualization’s perennial problems of server sprawl and licensing issues in order to puncture the promise of this technology’s ubiquitous uptake. Citing that this pair of predicaments places virtualization in the realm of impractical for prolonged use. A well thought-out production plan makes server sprawl a non-issue. Server sprawl, typically, arises out of having little to no virtualization experience and having no precise plan in this new area. Licensing, related to server sprawl, mitigates itself with proper planning as well.

In its simplest form, a properly conceived production plan states that “All VMs must be approved and documented prior to deployment.” Additionally, “All decommissioned VM licenses return to the available license pool.”

The same care and planning for virtual machines that you apply to physical ones makes them just as practical.

Permanence

Physical machines have a permanence about them—you see them, touch them and license an operating system for each one separately. It’s easy to see a physical machine’s concrete value. Those who are new to virtualization perceive VMs to be disposable or temporary in some way. Failure to see permanence in VMs postpones or prevents virtualization adoption completely.

Virtual machines are permanent and represent their physical counterparts in every possible way: CPU, Memory, Disk, Network, and Operating System.

Often what’s needed to change one’s perception is a new perspective on a particular subject. Proclivity for physical machines is no longer practical in today’s data centers. Virtualization deserves a bespectacled analysis to clearly perceive its true value as a prospective technology. Platform, performance, price, practicality and permanence are collectively good arguments for the adoption of viritualization. Perceptions aside, virtualization technology, is reality.

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