Whilst I was at VMworld 2007 this year there was a session I never got around to attending or watching on the VMworld website. Its subject was about the myths of virtualization/VMware. In recent months I’ve seen that as virtualization and VMware’s star have risen, there has been a rise in urban myths and FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt).
FUD was a new word in vocab until a couple of months ago. If it's new to you – then here’s a quick definition. Companies that sell substandard products often get nervous about a loss of market share when a new kid on the block comes along – and does it better than them – in terms of features, function, performance, scalability, reliability, TCO, and ROI. To combat this unprecedented competition, what some companies do is crank up their FUD PR-Machine. Spreading Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt about the said competition. This is seen as faster than actually waiting for their own product to improve. You notice I’ve not mentioned any names here.
Anyway, so here’s my list of myths about VMware and Virtualization:
- You need to know Linux. You need a Linux guy to run it. Answer: Not so. 99% of the admin of Vi3 is done through 32-bit graphical client and server using Windows as the management platform. Installing ESX takes about 9-10 minutes manually, or 3-4 minutes once scripted. In fact the install of ESX is significantly quicker and simpler than Windows. If you can’t install ESX then you should consider an alternative career. Sure, if you want to dabble under the hood of ESX then some command-line knowledge is required. That said 99% of the commands would not be found in Linux either. If you can net stop a service from MS “Command-Prompt” then you shouldn’t worry about the ESX console.
- Even if this is true, there are still more Windows people around than VMware people. Looking at the cost, it will always be cheaper to support a MS solution over a VMware solution.
Yes. There are more monkeys out there who know about peanuts, than there are geniuses who know about quantum mechanics. But should your selection of any product be based on the rationale that it is cheaper to employ an idiot who knows where the reset button is – rather than an engineer who actually knows what he’s talking about?So if you want to employ useless people to support useless products then something other than VMware might be an idea. Like any product, niches do drive up cost of licenses, support and consultancy fees. But virtualization is like any party, once everyone is at the party thinking they have a license to print money – the cost of these services will come down. Just like how MSCE or Cisco engineers are now a dime a dozen where once their skills were charged at a premium…
- My Exchange/SQL/Oracle [insert another application] guy says his applications don’t run in Virtual Machines Answer: Not so. They do run. The question really is will they perform well? There is no blanket NO/YES box to be ticked with any application regardless of whether it is resource intensive or not. Caution is recommended, not blinkers which say “thy shall not virtualize application X”. More often or not the real root of hostility towards virtualizing anything is because it is “new” and “different”.
- Virtual Machines will always run slower than if they ran on physical machines Answer: Not so. You might actually find they paradoxically run faster. Given your P2V-ing systems of Jurassic era hardware on to a brand new physical box – you may be pleasantly surprised. It all demands on how much resources you choose to allocate. That’s you. It’s your choice. Rather than ALL applications receiving ALL the hardware whether they need it or not.
- You VMware people are worse than Apple/Linux people - biased and hate Microsoft.
Answer: Yes and No. I’m not biased but I do hate Microsoft. No seriously, I don’t actually care as long as I keep on making a living up to my retirement – and don’t tend to care too much which technology pays the bills or my sub-prime mortgage. Actually, like many I want to see MS and Xen and/or others come to the market with serious offerings. This will drive up competition which will hopefully make VMware more innovative (than they already are) and more competitive in their pricing. Right now VMware has a big % of the market, but the potential growth of that market (people who haven’t virtualized yet) is enormous. There is plenty of room to have VMware-Virtualization, MS-Virtualization or Xen-Virtualization side-by-side - and for them all to make heaps of cash. Just like there is more than one vendor of backup software, storage and servers. This will be good for customers.
- VMware will become like Novel or Lotus
Answer: Not so. What? You mean VMware might buy a wordprocessor or spreadsheet application – and go head-to-head with MS in the biggest software miscalculation of the decade? I call this “Fear of the Niche”. The fear (rememeber FUD) goes like this. Niches or “Best of Breeds” always fail and always become incorporated into their competitors products. ERGO. This happened to Novell and will happen with VMware. The problem here is not the idea – but the assumption that it WILL happen. Nobody can predict the future, not even me. Certainly no company has a God given right to anyone's money. To remain at the top of a competitive pile you must not – ignore or take for granted your customers – and you must innovate to survive and constantly review the cost of your product against its perceived value in the customers mind.
For years people told me as a Citrix guy – that Citrix was “dead”. They said this with NT4TSE, MS2000 and MS2003. You know what? They have been saying this about Citrix for nearly 10 years. You know what – it still isn’t true. Perhaps with Win2008 Microsoft have come close to matching mighty MetaFrame. But look where Citrix are at. Citrix NOW, is a different company compared to back THEN when really MetaFrame was all they had to offer/sell.
- Microsoft doesn’t support you running Windows in VMware Virtual Machine
Answer: Not so. Although there are two support documents – they both boil down to the same mumbo-jumbo that tipifies that a “bug” is actually a ”feature”. Basically, we will “try our best” (whatever that means) and when that fails – you can reproduce that problem on hardware… to find the problem is still there, and had nothing to do with the fact it was running in VMware Virtual Machine, MS Virtual Machine or Xen Virtual Machine or Virtual Washing Machine.
The Microsoft support KB speaks volumes about how they came late to the Virtual Machine party – and how more importantly they still really don’t get it either… If they had any sense they would drop this kind of garbage – embrace virtualization with a passion – and do what they do best – SELL WINDOWS LICENSES!
- Microsoft will use their ownership of Windows to make it perform faster/reliable than in any other VM
Answer. Not so. In fact the vast majority of improvements in performances and stability will probably not be delivered by a hypervisor. They are going to come from Intel, AMD, Qlogic and Emulex amongst others adding HW assists – to which the hypervisor has awareness. The second problem with this myth is it misunderstands where virtualization is going…. You see the platform war is over. VMware won. It’s called ESX. All the other guys are playing catch-up. Even if they do VMware is not standing still. The future is really not about the best platform for running a VM. That was Virtualization 1.0. The future is ease management, availability and automation. That is the story of virtualization 2.0