Are You Holding Onto Old School Virtualization?

By Mike Wronski
| min

No one argues the important role virtualization plays in hyperconverged infrastructure solutions and in how enterprise IT delivers applications and services. Most enterprises invest significantly in software licensing, domain-specific training, and manpower to support an IT function that is dominated by a single vendor.

What IT executives have begun to question, however, is the return on that investment.

Ten years ago, VMware was way ahead of competing solutions and the choice to utilize their solution was more obvious. Today, many would argue the core technology in virtualization—the hypervisor—has become a commodity function. But is it really? Are there viable alternatives that can deliver enterprise applications?

Popular public cloud services have demonstrated that hypervisor choice is not a primary concern. For instance, if your organization uses Google Cloud Platform (GCP), Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Microsoft Azure, how much attention, if any, was given to the virtualization technology used by those platforms?

The success and rapid adoption of public cloud is a strong confirmation that VMware is not unique in its ability to provide enterprise-grade virtualization. So why the disconnect between traditional on-premises IT and public clouds, with enterprises insisting on a specific brand in-house, but not showing the same strong preferences when moving into public cloud? Could it be just nostalgia or a bad case of “we’ve always done it that way,” or is there a value proposition or benefit that has enterprises looking to public cloud for solutions?

In our recently-published guide Are You Still Paying for Virtualization? we dig deeper into how deployment and consumption models for enterprise datacenters have changed, and how it impacts virtualization options. As a very quick rundown, here are the attributes of public cloud that cannot be found in most datacenter IT offerings, the most impactful being ease of use and reduction of complexity.


If you’ve worked with VMware for many years, you are likely aware of how complex the ecosystem has become. Even modest VMware environments can require multiple products to be installed, configured, and maintained, adding to your workload and the complexity of your virtual environment. License restrictions may impose limits on the functionality of the installed components. Teams find themselves spending valuable time managing the management tools required to operate virtualization. Though sold in bundles or suites, most of the tools are loosely integrated independent software packages (many from acquisitions) with their own management consoles and software lifecycles. Just take a look at the amount of documentation that is dedicated to simply ensuring vSphere upgrades are performed in the correct order, as an example.

Consumption models

Another common reason for considering a public cloud is the consumption model, wherein cloud services are consumed in increments that are proportional to the need. We commonly call this “fractional consumption.” This is very different from the more traditional on-premises IT model where IT assets are bought in large pools with a typical runway of 3-5 years. Beyond the large upfront capital expense, the forecasting for such long-term views is typically very inaccurate. Organizations have looked to public cloud to either provide easy access to seasonal capacity or completely shift to the cloud model. In some cases, these strategies can work, but many are also finding that the costs for IT at scale in a public cloud are not as expected. There are countless stories of unexpected charges or even wholesale migration back to a traditional datacenter because the 100% cloud model just didn’t meet business objectives. Hence, the appeal of hybrid as the deployment model of choice, and the way to get the benefits of both private and public cloud in one.

Service/application-oriented offering

In traditional datacenters, the focus is typically heavily biased towards infrastructure and many private clouds are modeled after infrastructure as a service (IaaS). When considering public clouds, the infrastructure is mostly abstracted and only services are advertised. The strongest way to achieve true hybrid cloud is to model on-prem after the public cloud. This means that the focus must be on the services and applications—not the infrastructure. Ideally there will be 1:1 analogs with public cloud services. In terms of what Nutanix offers, AHV—a built in, license-free hypervisor—provides the VM virtualization service, and our Acropolis software provides multiple storage (VM, block, file) services along with support for the newer DevOps-focused container services (Docker, Kubernetes). And there are even more service-based offerings on the way.

Is cloud an all or nothing proposition?

What if you could transform your datacenter to have the attributes of public cloud, removing complexity, increasing agility, and likely lowering costs? By going “all in” with Nutanix and AHV, your organization can not only eliminate the direct costs associated with hypervisor licensing (e.g., ESXi), but also drive down soft costs and reduce OpEx associated with virtualization—all factors in the transformation of a traditional datacenter to becoming a true private cloud and taking a major step towards the hybrid future of enterprise datacenters.

What can you do with this newfound information?

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