Physical Server Dumpster Dive, Round Two

Virtualization and cloud computing are here to stay. Negative commentary and paranoia won't change that.
Written by Ken Hess, Contributor on

From the sophomoric roasting of my "Don't Throw Away Your Physical Servers Just Yet" post last week, I'd say that I need to clear up a few things--about the post and some of the commentary about that post. Speaking of the commentary, I'm reminded of a quote by Mr. Spock from Star Trek: "In an insane world, a sane man will appear to be insane."

But, before I get into the technical aspects of my rebuttals, I'll address the other, less tasteful bits.

It's amusing to me to read through the comments from those whose arrogance leads them to believe that their opinion is the correct one. And, therefore they must post their rancid dialog and pompous scribblings for all to see. Perhaps that's the only way some people will ever get into print. That's OK, I'll allow you to use your virtual chalk to scrawl graffiti on the wall, if that's what you really want to do.

Then, there are those who wish to toss their barbed banality at me, as if to harm me in some obscure way to where I might find a tender moment of introspection and exclaim, "OMG, that guy is right. What's wrong with me for thinking that virtualization and cloud computing are anything but the government's attempt to get at my valuable data?"

Finally, there are the other semi-technical types who wish to build themselves up by bashing me and my expertise. Those are the most fun of all. Probably because they aren't totally brain dead but yet aren't really equipped to debate me on the topic. This group of individuals, though small in number, believe that they can bring a knife to a gunfight and have a sporting chance. Sorry, you don't.

And, as a side note, I'm not sponsored by any company or group to write what I write about virtualization, cloud computing, data centers or anything else. If I were, I'd probably have a better car. What I write about isn't sponsored or prompted by anyone other than myself.

Now, on to the good stuff--the technical, the non-emotional and the sane reasoning behind my assertions.

Server virtualization is an IT trend. It's a good thing. Transferring physical workloads to virtualized workloads is the result of server consolidation projects, IT greening, cost savings efforts and the changing scope of computing. Business owners realize that they don't need local control of the hardware that makes their web sites, mail servers, database servers or file servers run.

It's a maturing of the IT business. It's a realization that most workloads just absolutely do not deserve dedicated hardware on which to run. But, yes, of course, I know that virtual machines have to run on physical hosts. I never said that they don't. What I actually said was that, "I’m not pessimistic about virtualization, the cloud or server consolidation. But, I am pessimistic about your company’s ability to wean itself off of physical systems."

Maybe I should have been extremely explicit in the explanation of that statement.

A web server doesn't need to be a physical system. You can create a virtual machine to run that workload. And, the same goes for almost any other workload in the data center.

I think that people who believe that--virtualization is bad, that cloud computing is bad, that their use is somehow taking away some freedom or that the government wants to spy on you through your cloud-based systems--just aren't listening or just don't care to listen to what's happening in the world. Even Apple has embraced the cloud with iCloud.

Lots of people use Dropbox, Carbonite, Ubuntu, Amazon, Salesforce.com, QuickBooks Online and other cloud-based services. I feel like the guy who was writing about horseless carriages (cars) at the turn of the 20th Century. I can only imagine the commentary that arose out of those articles. And, that's why I made the comment about keeping a horse and buggy around.

Lose your paranoia folks, it's 2011. Virtualization and the Cloud are here to stay. And, please don't tell me that "virtualization and the Cloud are nothing new." I know that already. There's no point to saying that they're nothing new. It doesn't matter that they're not new. And, it doesn't really matter that you don't like virtualization or cloud computing. Once Apple goes completely virtual, everyone will jump on the bandwagon and it will be the greatest thing since World of Warcraft or whatever cloud-based, online video game you play.

It's laughable that I have to defend virtualization. Mine is not a radical view, people, it's the normal view. If the semi-technical among you want to again counter with, "It's nothing new," then why do you fear it so fervently?

It's also funny how the real experts agree with me. I'd say that I'm in good company with the likes of Amazon, VMware, HP, IBM, Red Hat, Citrix, Parallels, EngineYard, Desktone, Solarwinds, Oracle and many others who know better than a gallery of naysaying commentors about what's right and wrong in the world's data centers.

Now, if you can give me some technical reasons why some workload shouldn't be virtualized, we can debate that--or perhaps I'll agree with you. I welcome lively, technical debate. Empty and valueless commentary or weird paranoia will be ignored. I now return you to your cache of duct tape and dehydrated water.

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