Why In Virtualization, Abstraction Might Be a Misnomer
- Date: 27 May 2014
- Author: broyer
- Category: Apps worth a look, compliance, Network, News, Services, Virtualization
When you consider building and launching a new (or greenfield) application versus making attempts to virtualize, abstract, transform or upgrade an existing application/system at first it makes sense. After all, no one, as Joe McKendrick writes on zdnet.com, wants to mess with an application and leave end-users waiting for days or weeks until things are ready to go again on a new platform.
Then again, as McKendrick writes in quoting Edward Haletky, president of a consulting company and author of two books on VMware enterprise virtualization in a recent post in The Virtualization Practice, there’s really no such thing as a greenfield project, unless you’re starting a company from scratch. The reason: even when launching new applications or services that never existed before, there are still integration issues that need to be considered. “What is defined as greenfield is really just a grain of sand on an island of technology that still needs to integrate into the greater organization,” he points out. To which Haletky adds:
Let us look at The Virtualization Practice’s environment. We use a part of a 100% virtualized environment that extends into the cloud. As such, anything that is placed into that environment must work within the virtual environment or the existing cloud environment, whether the item placed there is a security device, converged infrastructure, storage, management tool, performance tool, or even a new hypervisor. These must all integrate into an existing deployment. Most other enterprises of all sizes are the same way. Understanding how these tools and devices integrate is crucial to the development of new products.
To get where The Virtualization Practice is today, we went through four upgrade stages to convert many different physical boxes and tools into a virtual environment that extends into the cloud. Part of each step was addressing how to get closer and closer to a 100% virtual environment. Once there, we do not have to worry too much about hardware, but rather we must focus on the applications we need. However, now that we have tools such as VMware NSX and VSAN, we need to consider yet another upgrade process if we want to make use of these new tools. We will need to consider the following:
- Our existing local disk deployments
- Our existing network deployment
- Our existing hypervisors
- Our existing performance monitoring tools
- Our existing management tools.
When we look at all of these, a plan emerges on how to upgrade in an existing deployment. We could, of course, buy absolutely new gear, but then we would be faced with a migration deployment. Migrating from old to new is still not, in my opinion, a greenfield deployment. Yes, the kit may be new, but the software in use will not be. We are expanding our functionality with new gear, not just replacing what is already there.
This is the normal method of adding functionality, I have found. We add to our existing environments. Granted, we may be a few seed units or we may update a few units to be those seed units. But seed units are still not greenfield deployments. They are seeding the upgrade or install of new software, hardware, etc. Once more, this is migration/integration.
In other words, while abstraction and application development is a legitimate synonym for virtualization and greenfield an outcome of best practices, all of it — whether a security device, converged infrastructure, storage, performance tool or even a new hypervisor —must still be integrated into an existing deployment.
The bottom line is more information and transparency is needed. Any and all new services and applications need to fit into an existing data center infrastructure, and may even require changes to underlying services or tools, Haletky points out. Vendors need to provide more support in this regard as well, with integration instruction and assistance, as well as reference architectures, he says. “Vendors can reuse existing architectures, but they should tell us how they differ from past products and what hardware is required to make them work.”
So while the term “greenfields” might indeed be a misnomer, from where I sit how and where new applications or services fit into an existing ecosystem, demands the recognition and respect that, ultimately, they need to be compliant with existing and tested infrastructure and technology to make things run as they should.