In talking to many people at VMware, I’ve often heard them say,”..almost anyone can virtualize the first 300-400 servers, but after that it takes a true mix of skill, technology and planning…”. I bring up this anecdote for a couple reasons. First, I’ve heard several people ask if Vblock was only useful for the largest customers or largest deployments. It’s not a coincidence that we target a Vblock 0 (the smallest version) to begin around 300 VMs. Vblock operates differently.
The second reason is that I was reminded of this again this morning as I spoke with a large Enterprise customer. The customer is an early, existing Vblock account, with several thousand servers yet to be virtualized. Their technical staff had engaged the VCE team in weeks/months of rigorous technical debate about the inner workings of Vblock. They had already deployed just north of 400 VMs and were pushing back at a different operational model. So when I asked their leadership why they finally decided to more towards a VBlock architecture, their answer was, “We got to 400 VMs through far too many exceptions in process. We couldn’t move to the next level without a forcing function to align our business needs with our technology organization.” In essence, they needed a solution that combined the right technology with the right process. They didn’t believe they would get there with the current model.
The interesting thing about this account is that the technical staff is as engaged as ever in finding ways to push the system. They have some very unique requirements as we move them from physical to virtual. They are driving us to solve their challenges today, but also helping us shape the Vblock of the future. But the conversation has changed over the last six months. The conversation is now solution-centric, with a cross-trained staff understanding the dependencies within a Vblock much better than in the past. They believe that Vblock has helped them take the first step in moving to a more efficient and coordinated model.
300-400 VMs is by no means a defined hurdle that IT must over come. For some companies it might be 50-100 VMs. For others, it might be 1000 VMs. But like anything at scale, rapidly virtualizing your IT environment takes proper architecture and planning. In some cases, Vblock might be the right architecture. We’d be interested in hearing your feedback about when you hit those thresholds that told you it was time to do things differently…