For nine days I have been traveling about the edges of Europe, visiting Dublin, Ireland, London, England, and Helsinki & Turku in Finland. I’ve spoken to dozens of fellow employees on the Dell OEM Solutions team, had refreshing conversations with a few publication editors, and spent many hours at the meeting table with several customers.
In my conversations I tried to determine the importance of a few specific technologies in the markets where Dell OEM Solutions delivers solutions. What is the importance of true long-life PC platforms? How many of our OEM customers need to sell complete virtual-appliance solutions to their markets? Is there a need for custom services to convert standard-install applications into fully-hardened appliance platforms mated with “locked-down” operating systems?
While I am not sure I have learned all the answers, I am starting to get a solid feel for the virtualization requirements of the appliance market today and for the few years. A certain percentage of IT shops converted to the religion of virtualization and are demanding every PC-based application — standard off-the-shelf enterprise apps or hardened-security appliances — be run as virtual machines on the large virtual-server farms they are already investing heavily in.
Meanwhile, another some IT leaders are not confident enough in virtual technology to switch any of their core services over. They are still demanding hardware-based solutions from the software appliance suppliers to ensure performance, quality and reliability. Yet other IT shops have plans on pursuing mixed solutions, with some virtualized applications where most appropriate and some single-use appliance servers when that makes more sense to them.
So, the answer is that the market is too mature in some respects to unanimously agree on a single solution for IT infrastructures. Since IT capabilities are constantly expanding and business leaders are inherently discovering the value of robust and expansive IT capacity, the market for new solutions is still growing quite rapidly – even in the down economy.
As I fly to Israel to learn more about the OEM PC-hardware market from some amazing solution developers, I hope to get even more knowledge and understanding. But I am pretty certain I will not walk away from this long and spectacular journey with any simple answer. Sometimes end-user IT shops want to virtualize, sometimes they want dedicated hardware, and sometimes they want a hybrid solution. I will continue to assist with all approaches and refrain from encouraging any single direction as a general rule.
While I will refrain from providing my opinions of the subject, it would be great to hear yours. Do you think hardened solutions are still necessary? To what degree?