Is Your Head In The Clouds?


This started out as a white paper idea to warn against the promises being made by the virtual environment world. Those entities have supported the idea that virtual computing and data storage management will be the saving grace and salvation of us all. In the early days of virtualization dating back to the 1990’s, those claims fell woefully short of technology and capability. And as it has turned out, the claims were more prophetic than matter of fact. As we move forward into the “2000 and teens” virtualization and cloud computing may very well be the only or last thread many organization have that can keep their IT cost down and return on investment high

The purpose of this white paper is to provide us with some comparative data along with investment costs among tradition/logical datacenters, initial cloud efforts, and more current virtualization environments. Over the next several weeks we will discuss these influences leading toward virtualization.

Growth in IT Infrastructure

Every business and organization has information management and handling as one of its major resource problems. Stacks of paper, microfiche and printed libraries are replaced by disk, tape, or some form of digital electronic storage media.


Network Attached Storage and Storage Area Networks provide a million fold increase in storage capacity and high speed data access. Sounds like great progress? No good deed goes unpunished. These breakthrough technologies mean that we work smarter and harder. We only thought we would be working smarter and not harder. What I mean is that as technology makes us more productive, we now have time to do more, and our businesses require more productivity to stay ahead of the competition. We need more, we get more, we need more… So growth becomes a function of available capacity. Originally it was our ability to store data, and now it’s a combination of our ability to store and retrieve high value data faster and faster based on evolving business needs.

Therefore, the server rooms are beginning to take the physical appearance of the Library of Congress, substitute the rows of book shelves with rows of server racks. In the typical library, how many texts cover the same subject and occupy their own space on the shelf? What is the value of that small piece of book shelf real estate? In the server room, how many files are duplicated by dozens or thousands of users that occupy discriminate disk space. How much of that disk space is managed to ensure that “a gigabyte allocated is a gigabyte used”? If the library book had a title page and 1 thousands pages of blank paper, that is certainly an understandable and easily recognized waste of shelf space. If a user is allocated a gigabyte of space and only uses 100MB, again there’s a waste of space. How do these examples correlate? I, we, can easily see the blank pages of a book do not require any management or technical tools to recognize there’s a problem. Unused or wasted disk storage space requires resources to manage to ensure we are correctly resourced.


This is where growth in IT infrastructure explodes. As a culture, we don’t manage digital storage efficiently. Our solution is to add more and manage less. Contributing to this is the growing application based world and early virtualization technology did not solve that problem. Virtualization still makes good on the promise to collapse hardware, but to what degree is based on the ability to consolidate software and other data? That gets a little bit into virtual desktops and that technology still out on the horizon.

Space, Weight, and Power

These 3 words are finding their way into the office of every CIO. From how much additional space do I have in the racks for new servers, to what is required to house additional racks. With fully populated racks and adding new storage comes the problem of weight, which means where do I put my racks? Generally basement server rooms are the norm and how do you expand a basement?! Power… To go green or not to go green. There is no question, organizations must go green. We can’t continue to vicious cycle of adding more equipment and thus driving to the limit of maximum cooling and power. We must collapse infrastructure and economize space. Sounds pretty straight forward? HUH! Throw in the requirement for Continuity of Operation and Continuity of Business. You know the disaster recovery thing. Now did your architecture just double? As we continue to pull on this virtualization thread we will discuss that and many more issues and concerns.

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