The Chef and his cooking – Story of VMware Admin

I see a lot of VMware Admin/Engineers/Architect at end-user environment do not extend his/her influence beyond architecture. I think that’s a lost opportunity because Operations and Architecture are like Yin and Yang. Or Mobius strip.

I shared the idea that as the creator of the platform, we have to have interest on how it’s operated. It was an impromptu presentation at our VMUG Singapore back in mid 2014, hence no slide.

I used analogy about restaurant.

The restaurant business provides a good analogy to our Infra-as-a-Service business. We (Virtualisation Architect/Engineer/Admin) are the Chef. In that end-user environment where you work, you are the expert in producing what your customers want. You architect and design a solid platform, where your customers can confidently run their VMs. If there is an issue, you often get involved, restoring their confidence in your creation. You are seen as the VMware guy, or the virtualization expert. Yes, you may engage VMware PSO or SI, but they are not working for the company. You are the employee. As far as your customers concern, the buck stops at you.

You do not sell hardware nor software. You charge your customers per VM. In fact, to ensure that your customers order the right kind of VM, you need to charge per vCPU, per vRAM and per vDisk. The chargeback model is something that I very rarely see we discuss. We tend to stay in technical discussion. We need to realise we are no longer just a System Builder. We are Service Provider. By not extending our circle of influence into how App Team should pay for our service, we created the issue we have today (Oversized VM, dormant VM, VM sprawl). We need to “step out from the kitchen” from time to time. We need to be like Chef who step out to the dining area, building relationship with his customers, explaining the reason behind his cooking.

As the Architect/Engineer, we are the best person to determine how much it should be charged. We build this thing. We know the costs, and we know the capacity. Not convinced? Put it this way, would you rather someone else determine how much your creation is worth?

We all know that IT exists because of Business. It starts with the Business. Some of the issues we have are caused by unsuitable chargeback model and incorrect Service Tiering. The VM in Tier 1 (mission critical) platform cannot cost the same with the VM in Tier 3 (non prod). I’d make sure there is distinct difference in quality between Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3, so it’s easy for business to choose. Need a good example? Review this.

Using the restaurant analogy, say you cook fried rice. It’s your dish. You need to determine the price of the fried rice. You also need to be able to justify why you have normal fried rice and special fried rice, and why the special one costs a lot more for the same amount.

To me, the Chargeback model and the Service Tiering serve as Key Drivers to our Architecture. I will not consider my architecture complete unless I include these 2 in my design. We are architecting to meet the business requirements, which are “defined” in the chargeback model (e.g. the business wants a $100 VM per month, not a $100K VM per month), and service tiering (e.g. the business wants 99.999% and 3% CPU Contention).

As shared, I see a chance for us to STEP UP and STEP OUT.

Step out of the kitchen and network with your customers (the App team). Educate and fix the problem at the source. Step up from pure IT architecture to business architecture. Architect your pricing strategy and service tiering.

The good thing about pricing is…. your benchmark is already set.

Azure, AWS, Google, and many SP have to a certain set the benchmark. Your private cloud cannot be too far from it. Too low and you will likely make a loss (it’s almost impossible to beat their efficiency). Too high and you will get a complain. Another source of benchmark is physical.

If you are pricing your VDI, the cost of a PC sets your benchmark. You can be higher, but not by a huge gap. A PC costs $800 with Windows + 3 year warranty + 17” monitor. Add your IT Desktop cost, and you meet your benchmark

Hope the above provides clarity. I’m keen to hear your thought.

2 thoughts on “The Chef and his cooking – Story of VMware Admin

  1. Pingback: Operationalize SDDC program

  2. Pingback: Capacity Management: it’s not what you think! - virtual red dot

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