Selling the Virtual Data Center


I had a meeting the other day that emphasied the importance of communicating the concept of the virtualized Data Center.  I made the assumption that everyone who has been working with virtualization has come up to speed on the concept of the virtualized data center.  This actaully isn’t the case.

I was speaking with a group about segrating network traffic coming from virtual machines hosted on the same physical hosts.  I mentioned more in passing to just enable DOT1Q vlan trunking on the physical host.  Problem solved let’s move on to the more complicated stuff, right?

Not so fast there speedy.  Everyone in the room looked at me like I was speaking a foreign language.  I had the luxury of being introduced to virtualization from the approach of virtualizing the datacenter.  We were using a virtualized storage solution, Virtual Network and hosting multiple clients on the same physical hosts.  So, my first hypervisor install was within the virtual data center.  I also didn’t mention that the data center was hosted.

I’m working in an industry where technology decision makers move slowly to new technologies.  Virtualization is no longer a “new” technology from the hypervisor perspective but the virtual data center hasn’t really caught on to the mainstream non-server crowd yet.

The concepts of networks, servers and storage don’t change much when you move to a virtual platform.  What’s difficult is understanding how these concepts apply to the data center.  It’s helpful to go through some of the challenges of Cloud providers in helping to solidfy these concepts.

The server is a good place to start.  You can think through the first problem of how do I host not only multiple applications but also multiple clients on the same machine?  What problems does this present.  How about we tackle the big one – Isolation.

Security Isolation

CPU, Network and disk need to be isolated in each security zone.  How would you do this in the physical world?  You’d create separate hosts,networks and disk infrastructures to support each individual client.  How is virtualization any different?  It isn’t.  You would still create the same infrastructure but use the tools of your favorite virtualization product(s) to achieve the same goals.

I don’t want to get into the technical approach to this problem because I think this is where creativity can happen and I’d like to see how others would start.

Have you tried to sell the concept of a virtual data center or private cloud?  What has been your experience in selling it to the old guard in the form of management and even security?

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