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Dealing with the virtual hype

Teasing the education from the evangelism

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Lab There are few if any technologies that have garnered as much industry coverage as virtualisation has enjoyed over the last few years. Okay, maybe ‘Cloud Computing’ has too, but that’s more vendor talk than action right now. As far as real-world activity goes, virtualisation is a hotbed of activity and a magnet for vendors to prove their worth/disprove the worth of others and help/hinder those trying to harness the technology to benefit their organisations.

The spread of familiarity and use of virtualisation technology has also raised awareness of less mainstream topics too. I’m willing to bet that many IT professionals today are ‘more aware’ of the virtues of mainframe technology than several years ago. This is thanks to certain shared characteristics and parallels that can be drawn between the ‘old skool’ and ‘new-fangled’ virtualisation technology. Much of this has been brought to the surface of the collective consciousness because we’re talking about new ways of doing things which, from certain angles, look much like old ways of doing things. Such is the way of this fabulous industry.

The point is that while much of the hype is a distraction, there is also a lot of useful stuff out there. As the tide rises, it picks up all sorts of things you might not expect. Looked at in the right way, we can actually be grateful to ‘the virtualisation debate’ for reminding us that there are now lots of choices open to us when it comes to modernising and optimising IT infrastructure.

The challenge is how do you wade through, sort and assimilate all the external stuff without neglecting the fact that you have a real job to do? The answer might be quite close to home. The careers and working lives of many Reg readers do not involve direct touch with the ‘big guys’, even if it’s their technologies that are being used to kick off the next generation of how IT is done. For many (if not most), the closest touch point is going to be the local IT reseller or systems integrator. Depending on their model, they may have taken the time to get to know your business so that rather than just selling stuff they are in a position to help you engage with the most appropriate solutions for your requirements. It’s a good principle – we know however that it can be just as hard to get educated about the latest and greatest if you are a local IT shop. Not all vendors have fantastic channel education programmes, and it can be just as hard to pick through the hype if you are a reseller as an IT pro in an end-user organisation.

As we’ve discovered during this workshop series, the current requirements of the market span a very broad spectrum: from organisations just getting started and looking for simple, practical advice, to experts looking for tips and tricks to optimise their infrastructures even further, or to find new applications for virtualisation technology. But despite all the hype the majority remain in the former camp – that is, having tested out virtualisation, they are perhaps on the brink of taking it to the next level – which would suggest the need for solid, down-to-earth education is as great now as it will ever be.

The bottom line is this: there’s a lot of messaging and posturing out there, and some decent advice mixed in too. We’re interested to know whether you feel your needs are being met. If you are working for an end user organisation or as a channel partner, do you feel educated or bombarded, or left alone to pick through the morass of information? What’s doing it for you, what’s not and what’s missing? Do tell. ®

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