The Friday Interview: Andy Hunt, VMware

13 Jan 2006

Andy Hunt, regional sales director for Northern Europe with VMware.

What is virtualisation technology?
Historically, the idea of breaking up a mainframe computer into segments is something IBM has been doing for years. Now industry standard Intel-based x86 servers are becoming the prevalent server technology and we’re beginning to see a sprawl of servers to support individual applications; for every new operating system or application, organisations are buying a new x86 server to support it. The sprawl of this technology is beginning to cause issues; server usage in some cases is running at between 5pc and 10pc. The idea of virtualisation is very simple: it allows organisations to run multiple operating systems and multiple applications on a single device whether on a server or desktop … There are a lot of costs in running an ‘estate’ of multiple servers. If you consolidate the workload on to a smaller number of machines you can raise the server usage to 75pc or more. That has huge benefits from a cost, manageability and day-to-day operations perspective. What we’re doing is allowing a server to exist as a file on a [physical] server.

Are there any reasons why a business wouldn’t consider using it?
Barriers to virtualisation tend to be internal political barriers. Customers are familiar with running hardware solutions rather than virtualised software solutions. Other reasons they’re not doing it right now are that not all workloads are suitable for virtualisation but as VMware improves its technology, more of those workloads will sit better in a virtualised environment. There should be no technical reasons why virtualisation shouldn’t be adopted. It can take three to four months for a server to be bought and installed if you go down the hardware route. To provision a software server takes between 20 minutes and an hour. That’s more of what you need more quickly and more efficiently.

Is this not just another technology for large companies or is it suitable for small firms?
It scales all the way up; any organisation that has two or more servers will start to consider if buying additional servers is what they want to do. Ireland should be a great opportunity for us moving forward because of our strength in the SME area; that’s where we get the volume of our business.

In conversation with Gordon Smith

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