Great article and debate concerning the benefits of virtualization for small business over at InformationWeek SMB (Virtualization for Small Business: When Does It Make Sense? by Fredric Paul) The same VMware survey that I discussed a few days ago in this blog is what raised the debate.
What Paul does in his article is raise the issue that virtualization may not be appropriate for smaller businesses. How small? That gets fuzzy in the article; however, the author goes to Dell and gets an opinion that if you have five servers running at 30%-45% capacity and everything is going smoothly, that you don’t need virtualization.
I’m not sure that this is all that controversial. But then Paul quotes Gene Mark as saying
“Most of the 27 million small business owners in this country have little need for virtualization. Dithmer gets that most of us have fewer than five or six servers in our companies. He understands that most of us are not running high-growth, high-storage-type applications.”
This isn’t that surprising. Dell wants small and medium businesses to buy more servers. VMware wants small and medium businesses to buy its software and thus buy fewer servers. The reality of which is the best strategy for a particular company depends primarily on the specifics of the small and medium business itself.
But then VMware overreaches in the article and claims that one of the benefits of virtualization is “integrated backup, business continuity, and high availability.”
Integrated backup? Okay, first, in terms of VMware vSphere 4, the only thing that VMware could be talking about would be its Data Recovery virtual appliance. This is a pretty interesting definition of “integrated.” Data Recovery is a separate appliance that requires a separate storage suite. Moreover, it is incredibly processor intensive – putting it on the same physical server as your other virtual machines is going to give administrators tremendous headaches in terms of managing CPU and I/O performance. It’s no more “integrated” than my iPhone is integrated with my Mac.
It’s the nature of technology companies to overreach in terms of competing with each other. Nature of the beast. But when you start misrepresenting technology to buyers and customers in a desperate bid to drive market share – it’s short-term foolish and long-term disastrous.