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Untying the New HCI and Virtualization Decision Knot – Part 2

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In my first installment in this conversation, we talked about the fact that the Broadcom acquisition of VMware has disrupted the IT landscape resulting in a lot of conversation around future decisions for HCI and Virtualization.

If you’re one of those people having that conversation, I’d like to offer some insight. It doesn’t matter if you’ve deployed HCI or just compute virtualization, either way, you have more than a couple of things to consider about your current environment and what your “go plan” could look like.

Let’s begin at the beginning – where else does one start?

Consider this: What will it cost to stay where you are versus making a move? I understand that the “making a move” part of that question is still undefined because we haven’t talked about where to go just yet, but you can forecast what it will cost to stay where you are. In my experience working with customers, I will tell you it’s not chump change. With VMware, you are looking at 20% or more in costs to “do nothing” which makes it “not nothing.” And once you know your “do nothing” actuals, you have a baseline from which to make your next move.

Infrastructure Hot Buttons

As a technical advisor who has been on the operations side of things, I want to understand what my customers are comfortable with, what they want in services, and what is available through the ISVs being considered. While priorities always vary, I will start by drawing out a table of considerations. Here’s where I start:

  • Compatibility and Interoperability:
    • What are the applications in use within the current environment now, and the compatibility or hardware certification for each of those applications?
    • Will the application provider support other hypervisors or HCI solutions?
    • Do not forget to factor in backup and disaster recovery ISV requirements.
  • Flexibility of Hardware Compatibility:
    • Do you want to use your existing equipment or buy new?
    • Do you want a turnkey solution for the virtualization of compute?
    • Do you want compute and storage virtualization on the hosts or disaggregated?
    • Do you want a turnkey solution for compute and storage (HCI) and how does that impact your hardware considerations?
  • Resource Efficiencies or Overcommitments:
    • What are you doing today relative to resource oversubscriptions of memory and cores today?

The Elephant in the Room -- Your Existing Hardware

I could mean this to be literal or figurative, but honestly…an important question woven into the equation early on is, “Are we keeping the old hardware, or is now a good time to upgrade?”

Sometimes, this is the first question that comes up, and sometimes, you get backed into making this decision based on what you want. A candid assessment of what you need versus what you want and then prioritizing choices will drive this decision. Is what you need supported by the new ISV, and can you re-purpose existing equipment? Will another ISV solution be supportive of your existing environment? If you are buying new or refreshing, do you want a virtual appliance solution or hardware component flexibility? Do you want your compute and storage combined on the same hosts or aggregated? Does the new solution support aggregated storage? What might that look like in your hosting location (on-prem, in the public cloud, or managed hosting provider?) Please look carefully at your minimum and maximum requirements for compute, networking, and storage, as well as your hardware’s flexibility.

On to the Services

Now that we’ve put the “big rocks” into the jar, we can look more closely at the services you want. Are you looking for:

  • Disaster Recovery Automation: What kind and what levels of recovery do you need? How many recovery points do you need? What locations of disaster recovery are required by the business?
  • Business Continuity: Is it automatic, or does it have to be programmed within the application? Is there live migration fail-over? If you have program failover, what is the effort to do so? Will your current backup solution work with another virtualization/HCI ISV solution?
  • Centralized Management: How will you get performance reports: for each VM or just at the host level?
  • Support/Availability: Do you need multi-geo support? 24x7x365? Email or phone? Does it have ticket integration into an existing company portal like Service Now, Remedy, or BMC?
  • Security, Policy, and Governance: Enough said.
  • Scalability and Performance: Do you need automatic scaling or auto-sizing based on VM metrics?

This is obviously not an exhaustive list, but it highlights common drivers or factors to consider. I also remind my customers that if you do migrate, whether you do the migration yourself or have it done for you, there is an often-overlooked cost of “learning the new ISV.” The way things were is no longer the way things are, and flattening that curve has a tangible cost.

In our next stop on the journey, we’ll look at some of the options available with some nuggets of knowledge to be mindful of to help you narrow down the options more.

Until next time...


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