Last year we ran a little series called Ask the Experts where you all wrote in your virtualization related questions and we got them answered by experts at Intel, VMWare as well as our own head of IT/Datacenter - Johan de Gelas.

Given the growing importance of IT/Datacenter technology we wanted to run another round, this time handled exclusively by Johan. The topics are a little broader this time. If you have any virtualization or cloud computing related questions that you'd like to see Johan answer directly just leave them in a comment here. We'll be picking a couple and will answer them next week in a follow up post.

So have at it! Make the questions good - Johan is always up for a challenge :)

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  • lyeoh - Monday, March 21, 2011 - link

    1) What would be your advice on how to decide whether to roll your own "cloud computing" stuff or to use a 3rd party like Amazon EC2, Microsoft Azure, Google App Engine, etc.

    2) What would the benefits and disadvantages be for moving a site like Anandtech to:
    a) Amazon EC2
    b) Microsoft Azure
    c) Google App Engine
    d) Some other cloud computing platform that you'd like to use as an example.
  • lili75 - Monday, March 21, 2011 - link

  • lili94 - Wednesday, March 23, 2011 - link

  • schuang74 - Thursday, March 24, 2011 - link

    I think its a misconception to believe that larger companies have larger virtualized implementations. Especially in today's economy where big companies do not always equate to "big budgets" also in most cases those big budgets are their to maintain only as the cost of maintenance is usually over 50 percent of the average IT budget. Last year I sat in a room with other professionals representing various companies, some much larger than ours. When the question was proposed as to who had X% of their environment virtualized, it wasn't unusual to see that many of the larger companies had anywhere from 0 to 5% virtual. Most were just there to understand the concept. From my experience larger companies tend to move more methodically, its much harder to shift gears on a large infrastructure than a smaller one.

    Virtualization and in this case Vsphere, is very compelling however it is definitely not for the gun shy. I had my team virtualize over 30% of our environment before I even let my CIO know we were doing it. I knew had he found out ahead of time he would have slowed us down. After converting several key systems and not hearing any complaints, I filled him in on what was going on. At that point he was very much for our endeavor. Granted I am not suggesting that everyone go out and do things in secret. its just that when Virtualization hits an environment I understand why some may feel cautious and thus not pull the trigger on a lot of their systems. I still refuse to virtualize Exchange, and only as a proof of concept have I virtualized a SQL 2008 server. Still even in that instance it is the only VM occupying a redundant host pair. The problem with HyperV? Overhead and management. Still immature compared to VMWare. Just virtualizing an OS isn't enough for a production environment. You need the ability to fail over, migrate, and expand and contract at will.

    What I see is a convergence of higher level technologies. In the past topics like Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity as well as Security pretty much dominated public forums and marketing material. Security is a becoming a moot point (I know so un politically incorrect to say). Most companies spend an incredible amount of money annually to protect themselves from themselves. The human factor is the biggest cause of security problems. Missing backup tapes, stolen laptops, disgruntled employees downloading everything to a flash drive before they leave. Thats the most common forms of security problems companies face today. Granted there are ways to prevent all of that however once again, more money spent to protect your self from yourself. At the end of the day companies weigh what the truly are willing to risk and what is unacceptible, in the end most companies will risk more than they will prevent.

    Today it's the "Cloud". Pushing all marketing BS aside, the true implementation of the cloud pretty much makes the previous era technology focus and pushes them back from the headliners to the feature list. Hosted storage, application virtualization, and hardware / OS agnosticism all hold DR, BC and Security features that businesses need and they come built in as "features" to a $50 a year per user product (Google Enterprise Apps) rather than hundreds of thousands of dollars of infrastructure along with hundreds of thousands of dollars annually for maintenance costs. The true argument in a business will be the psychological battle between freeing people from their Microsoft products and changing the way we distribute documents and collaborate. Unify the applications and products and make it accessible with a familiar interface find a alternative but intuitive method to collaborate and distribute documents and you pretty much eliminate the file format war.

    IT's biggest fight comes in the form of the "invasion" of consumerism (ipads, Iphones, droids, zooms) which were designed to free the consumer but lack the controls IT departments require to maintain compliancy and information security. Virtualized application environments may solve that especially if they are hardware and OS agnostic. In this instance the application and files still exist in a cloud / data center environment with the device used only as the viewer. Thus devices that are traditionally consumer now become more acceptable in the work place.

    Anyhow my brain dump.
  • schuang74 - Thursday, March 24, 2011 - link

    Wow I just read my post above... i am really tired. In retrospect. Sorry for the grammatical and spelling errors ;)

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