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As a virtualization plan expands, competitive advantages multiply

In part two of this SearchCIO Q&A with VMware User Group President Mariano Maluf, he discusses 100% virtualization and how it enables innovation.

At the 10th annual VMworld conference in San Francisco, SearchCIO sat down with Mariano Maluf, the president of the 80,000-member VMware User Group (VMUG) and cloud ecosystem architecture lead of Coca-Cola Co. in Atlanta, to get his take on an array of new and updated products and services being introduced by the virtualization giant. In this second part of a two-part Q&A, Maluf discusses the variable nature of a virtualization plan, risk-taking and the effects of virtualization on innovation.

Mariano MalufMariano Maluf

I've talked with CIOs at various stages of virtualization; some are looking to go further, but some have no stated interest in ever getting to 100%. How realistic is full virtualization and what's the interest level you see?

Mariano Maluf: We see the same variability in our community. Our users are from small shops to the large global international corporations, and so they have different levels of consolidation ratios in their virtual environments and penetration of their virtualization efforts. There are companies that are at 80%, and they will remain there because there's just no way they will go to 100% to virtualize things that need to run on proprietary platforms; if you look at their overall environment, that 20% will remain the way it is. In other cases, they're pursuing a more extreme virtualization plan where they're saying: 'I don't really care if I gain 1:1 or 2:1 consolidation ratio; if I run an operating system on one piece of hardware, but it's virtualized, I still get the benefits of being able to do DR [disaster recovery] and, through encapsulation, I can move those workloads around in much more flexible way. I also get high availability. So I am willing to forego the financial benefit, but I have a lot of flexibility around that infrastructure; 100% for me is viable.' So those are the two ends of the spectrum where people are saying, 'We can't go beyond 80% because there's too much risk, or there is a technology feasibility issue.' And then there are the people who are embracing it wholeheartedly and saying, 'Even if they get 1:1 ratio, they're still winning, so they're doing it.'

If IT organizations don't innovate, there is a price to pay for that, just as there's a price to pay for waiting for a technology to mature before reaping the benefits from day one.

Mariano Maluf,
president, VMware User Group

You mention risk. What are the risks related to virtualization?

Maluf: The risks are more internal than technology-related. For example, there may be an application that ... runs on a proprietary platform that provides fault-tolerance, non-stop type of functionality and is super critical. There's hesitancy from some layers in IT to migrate from that platform -- it's a known world. So the risk is articulated as, 'If we put this in a platform that is different, will it perform? Will it be reliable?' And you see that in some enterprises. But I think in general people are realizing that virtualization is a very mature technology; it's enterprise-grade, it's proven, and you see some of the more aggressive customers who've taken the journey and are going all the way.

What do you see as the potential innovation-related benefits tied to these technologies?

Maluf: Innovation is fundamentally tied to the ability for IT to react to business demands. If IT organizations don't innovate, there is a price to pay for that, just as there's a price to pay for waiting for a technology to mature before reaping the benefits from day one. So if IT organizations don't innovate quickly enough, the business will find ways to get the services they need from somewhere else -- so you get shadow IT. That just brings further problems for IT to solve, problems they didn't create directly, but they did create indirectly by not being able to get ahead of the demands of the business. Generally speaking, IT organizations can innovate internally through their own capabilities or through partnerships.

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For example with NSX, companies that are jumping on that bandwagon are getting a lot of benefits at a large scale: The ability to start eliminating dependencies to physical devices and handling things through software gives them tremendous speed to react. In some cases, for example on the IT as a Service front, it allows IT to be in front of the demands of the business and that's something CIOs are going after in a radical way. They want not only to be able to react and respond quickly enough, but to anticipate the needs of the business.

You have to be ready for when applications start appearing in the environment and be able to govern them. Application teams will go outside of IT; they will get a solution approved somehow. Then when it breaks, IT needs to go to the rescue, but they have no governance on that workload; they have no visibility; they have no monitoring because they didn't approve it; it's not certified; it's not secure. All that causes friction and IT has to devote more cycles to fix and maintain. The more you have to fix these outside-of-IT-issues, the less time and cycles you have to devote to innovation and the further back you are in terms of being able to get in front of the business demands, which is absolutely critical.

Read the first part of this Q&A in which Maluf discusses what CIOs need to know about VMware's latest offerings in networking and storage.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Karen Goulart, senior features writer.

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