CIO Reality Check: Linux and Virtualization

In a new series, "CIO Reality Check," we're talking to CIOs about today's most important IT decisions. We set out to find and speak to CIOs from a variety of industries to gain their perspective on the topic of Linux and open source virtualization.

We spoke to Clyde Williams, Infrastructure Systems Manager for Southeast Alabama Medical Center; Walt Cornelison, Director of Information Technology for Tropitone Furniture - a manufacturer or high-end outdoor furniture; Jason Ford, CTO of BlackMesh Hosting and Solution - a managed hosting and managed services firm; Keith Parnell, CIO of Stratum Marketing - a marketing communications agency. Here's how our conversation went:

LinuxWorld: Do you think of virtualization as a "product" or a "feature"? How seriously are you looking at KVM and Hyper-V?

Clyde Williams, Infrastructure Systems Manager for Southeast Alabama Medical Center (CW): Interesting question, because I feel like virtualization is currently transitioning from product to feature as we speak. As long time VMware customers, while we do keep abreast of alternatives, we're not looking too seriously at any.

Walt Cornelison, Director of Information Technology for Tropitone Furniture (WC): Mainly as a product. Not considering KVM or Hyper-V, as they are early in product life at enterprise level and are not clearly defined as to differentiation with VM products we now use. We use so much of it right now - the pre-Hyper V virtual machines and appliances - that I haven't seen enough in there to justify us moving in that direction.

Jason Ford, CTO of BlackMesh Hosting and Solutions (JF): Definitely a product. Even though virtual services are purely logical, the set of requirements and outcomes from setting up virtual environments is very physical. Virtualization should be considered as a standalone product and not a feature with another operating system. Those systems created by a virtual product run and produce the same results as a physical server.

Keith Parnell, CIO, Stratum Marketing (KP): To our needs, hardware virtualization is a product. Virtualization will become as much an OEM-produced product as single-partition hardware in days past. Considering virtualization as a feature from a small business standpoint, rings of extra or excess costs against limited budgets.

Microsoft's Hyper-V technology launch has been on our radar for quite a few months. Lower overall costs for hardware purchases, server maintenance and system management could open doors we've not been allowed to factor into our current budgeting.

We currently run side-by-side systems with almost identical hardware configurations to accommodate Windows-based web services and applications and separately Linux-based web services and applications. Hyper-V will bring scalability and expandability to the forefront within our small enterprise that before we were not able to afford.

LinuxWorld: Are you using virtualization to consolidate the same server images you have had in the past, or to add new capabilities?

CW: Some of both, I think. While we continually look to consolidate existing workloads, the ease and flexibility of deploying virtualized servers makes us more willing to add applications for our end users that would have cost much more in the past.

WC: Yes - Both. We started using virtualization with that in mind.

JF: We use virtualization to do testing and training. Almost all of our production requirements exceed what a single server can produce so adding the virtualization overhead to any of those functions would not make business sense.

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