Monday, December 7, 2015

Lies, Damn Lies, and Virtualization

Having used virtualization in a variety of scenarios over the last 10-15 years, I still find some misconceptions about the value proposition and how to use it. At best these are just marketing misconceptions, but at worst they can lead to counterproductive activities that HURT your solution. So, not in any order, here three things I hear people say that are just normally not true. Yes I understand that there are some scenarios where they are, but for the most part in my experience these ideas have been taken too far and now create problems.

Virtualization helps me scale my solution

I hear this so much I really just get tired of reexplaining how this isn't true. While based on a grain of truth, in the general sense at the datacenter level, it's completely false. For a single application it is easier to add cores to a virtual machine than it is to buy new hardware...but...people forget that the hypervisor is running on real honest to goodness hardware and adding a new Virtual Machine on existing hardware actually REDUCES the capacity of the other virtual machines. Couple this with over provisioning and you could end up where 4 virtual cores giving you the capacity of a single core (or less). Worse yet, if you're just the "customer" you may need 4 virtual machines to get the capacity of a much smaller piece of hardware.

Hardware virtualization doesn't have any overhead

This is just silly, of course it does... Sure hardware is going to be much lower overhead than software, but scheduling Virtual machines on and off of shared CPU, Memory, Cache is overhead...again if over provisioning against underlying hardware is your "enterprise scaling strategy" be prepared for performance impact. Virtualization has overhead.

vMotions are undetectable and have no performance cost

I normally don't use profanity, but there's one word for this "Bullshit" (OK, maybe that's two words). For some reason, this lie propagates to the point (I blame vmware marketing for doing too good a job) that people have an almost religious belief in the "all holy magic" of Vmware;s ability to magically move state of a virtual machine with "zero impact on performance". Just stop believing, while it's transferring and maintaining state of a virtual machine from one piece of physical hardware to another...things slow down. End of story, don't believe me, drive a virtual machine to some nontrivial level (and measure the application performance...i.e. how LONG do my non trivial business transactions take?...don't forget that...many people do) and the motion it...if you're lucky it will only be a minute or two of "holy crap! what happened?"

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Sideways customer service

After reviewing my credit card statement, I realized I was paying every month for efax (a service I used twice in 2006, one more time in 2013, and subsequently just missed on my billing statements every month for the last...yes...9 years...). The following is the somewhat surreal interaction I had when I cancelled...

 Greg Curtis: Thank you for providing the information. Please allow me a moment while I pull up your account. 
In the meantime, please type the number corresponding to your reason for cancellation:
1) Moving to another provider
2) Bought a fax machine
3) Business or role changed
4) Short term project completed
5) Financial reasons
6) Problems with faxing or billing
7) Dissatisfied with quality of service
8) Too costly
me adding my own answer
 Michael Mainguy: 9) only needed it once 2 years ago and forgot to cancel :) 
 Greg Curtis: As we'd like to keep your business, I can offer you a discount and also waive your subscription fee for 1 month. The discounted monthly fee would be $12.95 per month. This new plan includes 150 free inbound and 150 free outbound pages monthly. 
 Greg Curtis: There is no contract and you may cancel anytime. Shall I switch you to this 1 month free $12.95 monthly plan? 
 Michael Mainguy: No thank you. 
 Michael Mainguy: I literally need to fax once every 3 or 4 years 
 Greg Curtis: I completely understand your wish to discontinue. Conversely, I can offer you a discount and also waive your subscription fee for 2 months so that you can re-evaluate your needs. After the free period, pay just $12.95 per month. This new plan includes 150 free inbound and 150 free outbound pages monthly. 
 Greg Curtis: There is no contract and you may cancel anytime. Shall I switch you to this 2 months free $12.95 monthly plan? 
 Michael Mainguy: No thank you 
 Greg Curtis: OK, I will go ahead and cancel your account.
An email confirmation will be sent at your registered email address.

Is there anything else, I may assist you with? 
 Michael Mainguy: No, thank you very much 
 Greg Curtis: Thank you for contacting online Fax support. I hope you found our session helpful. Goodbye and take care. 
 Greg Curtis has disconnected. 

My evaluation...they do not understand the needs of an occasional user who would be willing to pay a premium to send 1 or two pages of faxes every couple of years (as only ancient banking institutions and outdated consulting organizations do this any more...but I digress).