Welcome Kelly Culwell!
Solution Architect, InterWorks
A few years ago, I attended a VMware classroom training session (I think it was VI 3 ICM) and learned a lot. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the name of the instructor, but he included a bit of wisdom that I will carry with me always, and that is the six Ps … P’s … Pees … what have you. Prior Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance. In some cases, the final two become Pissed-off People. While this principle is applicable to every aspect of life, not just IT, it becomes crucial when planning the implementation of a virtualized environment.
I’ve talked about this concept many times before, and I think some of my co-workers are repeating it now as well. You wouldn’t try to build a house without considering the foundation, the frame, the wiring, and the roof, so why would your infrastructure or the core of your business be any different? I don’t know how many times I’ve looked at a new client or some other environment and immediately seen the effects of over-provisioning, or improper provisioning, of their resources. Now don’t get me wrong–I am by no means claiming to be an expert on anything, but I’m good at some things, and I relate a lot of my experiences to my day-to-day grind. The purpose of this post is simply to make people think.
These days, I design virtual solutions from start to finish and provide other IT consulting services primarily within the SMB market. I have clients in every industry all across the country. I used to work for a very large (think top 10 in the world) financial institution and missed out on a lot of the inside view of what I did. We used to joke about changing the dress code to a jumpsuit with our employee ID number stenciled on the back! I learned a lot about critical thinking across environments, but I lost out on a lot of practical experience because other teams handled their own parts, and stuff would just work. If it didn’t work the way it was designed, for one reason or another, money would be thrown around to fix it.
Anyway, back to the topic. One of the most important steps in architecting a solution is listening. You can’t plan something if you don’t know the requirements, right? So why is it that this concept has been lost? We virtualize and consolidate to eliminate sprawl and stranded resources. We also do it to give new life to struggling applications limited to old hardware or inability to scale. Virtualization gives us the ability to kill two birds with one hypervisor, but you need to think about what you’re doing to accomplish that before you buy. Unfortunately, providers exist with the intent to sell as much as possible and make quotas or money without really caring for the impact to the customer. This is how companies get burned and lose their faith in service providers! We have a pretty standard offering for our SMB friends that tends to fit most of their needs, but that doesn’t excuse us from due diligence in their environments! The cost of unneeded licensing and additional hardware is a huge factor–but it should NEVER but sacrificed if it is needed for a good solution. Sometimes you have to bite the bullet and have them sign off on a cheaper product, but if you’ve exhausted your influence and have done the right thing, you accept it.
By now, if you’re still reading, you’re probably thinking “well, duh!” Honestly, I think that to myself every day as I discover something I missed during my last conversation, or something I can improve the next time I do that task. I had a stimulation conversation with a new client today…one of those times where you realize just how much you love what you do…while I was installing Capacity Planner for them. The guy is smart, IT savvy, just new to virtualization, SANs, and VMware. Kudos to him for taking the step! While CP was running test collection jobs, we actually talked about how his equipment would sit in the rack, how the cabling works, what his thoughts were as to how everything would run. I gained new insight from him as well! For me, this information is invaluable. I’m not the smartest IT guy, and will never profess to know how everything should work. The key is that I listen, and leverage co-workers and peers when necessary to again…do what is right. I was able to give my new client some new information and ways to think of things as well as answer his questions in what is a scary undertaking for a lot of companies.