Virtualization Is F.A.B.

Virtualization Is F.A.B.

I have BEEN thinking about the Thunderbirds. For months now, suppliers and CIOs have been battering my ears about the latest consolidation idea of getting lots of applications to share the same hardware. I thought they were calling it Virgil-ization. Given the only Virgil I know is the pilot of Thunderbird 2, you can understand my confusion.

Having previously adopted the strategy of nodding vigorously in agreement and arguing strongly for or against it depending who I was with, I thought I should find out what it actually means (and how to spell it).

I researched it thoroughly - that is, I typed virtualization into Google - and was quite pleased when only 41,300,000 entries were returned. Armed with this enormous amount of data from Google, I was now more confused than before, and recognized the compelling need for a simple way to explain virtualization. I remembered my original Thunderbirds thought, and realized this is the perfect analogy.

Return to Tracy Island

Virgil's Thunderbird 2 is the craft that carries all the specialized equipment. Although everyone only sees the one large green machine, there are a host of capabilities hidden under the covers able to be activated, which explains the overall concept of virtualization.

The Thunderbirds are International Rescue, which also fits: international in that there's a global push into virtualization, and rescue as the pressing need of most IT departments is to be saved from their ever-expanding inventory.

When the Thunderbirds are "go", each of the Tracy lads head to their individual chute, which takes them directly to their defined machine (or resource). This is system partitioning, where each work request is handled by its pre-defined server. In times of high demand, Alan might share Thunderbird 1 with Scott (dynamic allocation). If all the Tracy boys are fully utilized, Brains can join the crew in one of the Thunderbirds (capacity on demand).

Thunderbird 5 is the orbiting space station, with John Tracy as its space monitor. This obviously represents management and monitoring systems.

No matter where they go in the world, the Thunderbirds can communicate easily with the locals, irrespective of the native language, having apparently solved the problem of translation between different environments. This is akin to virtual file systems, where any operating environment can read every file, no matter the format it was originally created in. Maybe they're using Star Trek's universal translator.

The problem in setting up Virgilization is the high start-up costs. Before any Thunderbird rescue could commence, the buildings on Tracy Island had be constructed, additional hardware such as sliding swimming pools were needed and specialized equipment like self-tilting palm trees installed. Like Tracy Island, virtualization has the overriding requirement that, at the end of the building phase, it looks to everybody like nothing has changed. This can make it tough to justify the expense. At least, unlike the Thunderbirds, an IT virtualization doesn't need to be secret, unless you've not actually mentioned the project to your CEO or CFO.

Having looked at virtualizing my servers, I considered what else I have lots of that weren't fully using their capacity, and hit the jackpot. I consolidated all desktops in each department onto one large departmental desktop running Virgil Management softWare. The grumblings I got from internal staff were nothing compared to the complaints I got from our field sales staff when I consolidated them onto one big laptop, which they can access on a time-share basis. (Holiday properties have used time-share for years, so there's no reason why it shouldn't work with the properties of the IT department?)

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