Two paths to a virtualization infrastructure solution: DIY and vStart

This post written by Scott Stanford, Dell Systems Principle Engineer

 In my last blog post I shared a few insights about the value adds that the vStart Engineering Process brings to the vStart Solution.

As someone who's spent many years working in the competitive industry standard benchmarking and virtualization solution spaces, and who's navigated through many unknown trails in the technology industry, in this post I'd like to share a few insights and approaches for choosing a path and some of the tools you may need along the virtualization infrastructure and solution journey. 

 Before You Begin

During the early ’90s while working as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Nepal, some of my projects involved surveying natural spring system and rural infrastructure resources. Many times I'd start out on a mountain trail that I knew, and then cross into unknown trails toward the ultimate destination. I didn’t know what to expect along the way, and had to rely on my intuition, experience, Nepali language skills and other people I found along the trail to figure it out. Over time I developed a sort of proverbial toolkit, or process by which to not get lost and safely arrive at my destination. I also figured out which tool or combination of tools worked best and, depending upon the trail I was on.

Navigating the path toward a virtualization solution infrastructure is similar. Knowing which path to take, and the tradeoffs and benefits that each can provide is important before starting your journey. When talking with customers who are ready to start down the virtualization infrastructure path and perhaps considering a vStart, there are primarily two paths that I recommend. 

  •  A Path Well Worn: The first path that you can take is on a known and well-defined trail that leads to the destination. When you arrive at your destination, you'll see in front of you the predefined virtualization infrastructure solution that has a known set of features, attributes and capabilities.
  • Blazing a Trail: The second path you can take is toward an unknown destination and along a trail that you've never seen before.  You have to fall back on your intuition, trust that your general sense of direction is good, and hope you come across a fellow traveller or a house in the distance.

Choosing a path

Taking a well-worn path, or blazing a new trail can be a valid option depending upon your circumstances, knowledge level, available resources, timetable, tolerance for risk and the expectations placed upon you by your organization. Before embarking on your journey you should be clear about the goals you want to achieve, where you want to go (the virtualization infrastructure solution) and how you want to get there (the path).

  • A Path well worn: This path blazes the trail for you by providing a predefined set of virtualization infrastructure building blocks and integrated software features that provide a better together solution that can benefit your IT organizations and end users right away. Since you know the process, you minimize the risk of being late or delivering something other than expected. You also arrive rested and refreshed knowing that the virtualization infrastructure solution has already been pre-designed, pre-configured, and pre-validated — freeing you up to focus on optimizing your virtualization infrastructure and compute resources. 
  • Blazing a Trail: This path is designed from the ground up with no preexisting map or toolkit. Much time and effort is spent walking toward a design that you think most closely matches your customer’s requirements and needs around known workload and key lifecycle solution parameters. This path can be fitted and molded as the needs become clearer during the discovery and planning process. A potential pitfall, though, is that you may have to backtrack a few times on the trail, adding to the time and resources it may take for you to design, deploy, and validate the solution to ensure that it meets the desired capacity and scalability requirements that your organizations virtualized workloads and related SLA and lifecycle management elements require. 

The vStart Path

If you do have the time, resources, and expertise then I certainly encourage IT organizations to blaze a trail. Looking back, I learned much about how to get out of jam and grew personally by being lost more than one time while travelling around Nepal – just be prepared for some surprises and detours along the way and have the agility, perseverance, and perspective to manage and message the implications to your customers.

Dell's vStart Engineering team intimately understands the complexities and challenges along with the opportunities that each path presents to customers. We've blazed a new trail, and at first may have gotten lost, been tired, sick, maybe worried and sometimes encountered perplexing situations. But we've stuck with it, learned from the past, grown and, looking back, I believe we've built and continue to build a robust toolkit and a near-perfect map that can help you along on your journey, and free you up to enjoy the moment. 

For whitepapers and other information on our process, visit our vStart Tech Center page.

About the Author: Lani Dame