The politics of VMware deployments

There are many reasons that storage administrators lean towards deploying VMware. Many are technical, but there are also political and emotional reasons too.

Healthcare VAR Advances in Technology has rolled out server virtualization in its customers' environments, but CIO Rich DeBrino is still deciding which server virtualization software to use, as well as which storage products to use with it.

According to DeBrino, Advances in Technology is leaning toward VMware for political and emotional reasons as much as technical ones. "VMware has its own version of Kool-Aid, and there are IT people everywhere drinking in gallons," he said.

VMware's free downloads of its software and show-floor presence at conferences are often what first get IT administrators excited, and DeBrino said that VMware's brand recognition blinds them to other options that exist. VMware, he said, "is sexy to IT people in a way storage has never been."

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Also worth noting is that professional development is at stake for many IT administrators when it comes to VMware. Recent market research suggests that VMware-certified IT professionals stood to gain more in salary with that qualification than any other.

The tension between storage virtualization and VMware value propositions is also holding up the process, DeBrino said. "VMware really does cut into the value proposition of some storage virtualization solutions," he said. "It's kind of what's put our process on hold—do we need to spend as much on storage if some of the bells and whistles are useless anyway?"

Another recent development giving DeBrino pause was the announcement of Citrix XenServer's connector for NetApp storage. At the time of the announcement, DeBrino indicated that his company would be re-evaluating XenServer, thanks to the new integration.

Still, he predicts that Advances in Technology will probably end up going with VMware. DeBrino, like many others in the industry, brings up a comparison with Microsoft when referring to the company that dominates the server virtualization market. "In a lot of ways, it's a lot like Windows vs. Mac," he said. "There might be better stuff out there, but Windows dominates the market."

This was first published in July 2008

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