Everyday Virtualization

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A Decade of Virtualization

Earlier this year, I wrote that virtualization has changed my life. I think it is also a good time to look back on how virtualization has come into my life over the years and how it has changed my life as the technologies and my exposures have developed.

In 2000, I was working with a large company providing internal LAN, PC and server support. VMware Workstation came up as a really cool tool. I remember conversations like, "look at this, there is a separate BIOS contained in this file." I really didn't grasp exactly how powerful virtualization was at that point. Mostly, I used it to practice Windows NT-to-2000 migrations. In that era, it was difficult coming up with systems with enough RAM to double the workload.

For this block of years, I found myself becoming more and more creative with VMware virtualization products. I remember one particular requirement where VMware Workstation filled a big gap. At the time, I was working for a large supply chain automation company and our challenge was to create a demonstration system for sales. The issue was, that this mobile picking system unit only had room for one PC in the built-in chassis. The application had a client interface and a server engine that had a database. The application could not be installed on the same instance of Windows as the server due to conflicting ports. Creating a virtual machine with the server was the perfect solution. Further, with a snapshot the orders for the demonstration were always the same and repeatable.

While in this role, I also started to use VMware GSX and then VMware Server. These tools became critical to test client configurations without scores of hardware for the diverse customer base that I worked with. These configurations also extended to creating test environments before critical updates were applied to these custom software solutions.

2007 to Now
In 2007, my responsibilities shifted back to the realm of internal infrastructure. This prime time for infrastructure showed me how to solve the problem of a crowded datacenter and save thousands of dollars per server in the process. My virtualization practice has extended to many levels of datacenter server consolidation. I've learned quite a bit about shared storage and have been able to talk ROI with decision makers in organizations of many sizes.

2010 and Beyond
Virtualization isn't done yet. Not by a long shot. What will the next big step be in my virtualization ladder? Who knows. In the early part of this decade, I would have never have imagined what has transpired from the measly preview of VMware Workstation.

How has virtualization impacted your IT practice over this decade? Share your comments here.

Posted by Rick Vanover on 12/22/2009 at 12:47 PM


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