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Matthijs from VirtualFuture wrote a very thoughtful response to my blog entry “Is The VM Admin Really Dead? Sure Seems Unlikely To Me…” It made me rethink some of my assumptions, and compels me to restate my position more clearly (and, I believe, makes it more accurate.)

Thank you, Matthis!

Here’s an excerpt of his fantastic thesis:

Gene,

Do you see that you’re actualy saying that the VM Administrator is dead? When you ask me you’re saying that Virtualization concerns so many different aspects within your IT organization that a normal administrator cannot oversee it. I do agree with you if you mean that the VM administrator will/has to shift to a Virtual Infrastructure Architect.

I think as hypervisors are becoming comodity and virtualization will be in every IT organization within a couple of years, every “administrator” (security, network, storage and so on) will needs to update his or her skills concerning the virtual infrastructure. As said before I do agree that you need some kind of Virtual Infrastructure Architect who oversees the big picture but hey; you always need an architect in the bigger organizations.

I don’t think you’ll see dedicated VM Administrators in the future because what should they be doing?

Creating vSwitches or VLAN’s ?
That’s being done by the network dudes who have updated their skills with network virtualization.

Creating VM’s ?
Sure, there’s somebody who initially sets up a couple of templates but in the future every user will be able to “create” a VM by requesting it via a portal which results in an automated deployment of a VM.

Setting up new VM hosts ?
That’s so easy, even nowadays, to automate so you won’t need dedicated administrators for that either.

So I think we are both concluding that people who are VM Administrators now should work on becoming a Virtual Infrastructure Architect (excuse me for the VMWare related name but it’s simply the best description) otherwise they’ll be out of work. Do you agree ?

Matthijs, I completely agree with your characterization and your conclusion, with some minor qualifications.

You wrote: “people who are VM Administrators now should work on becoming a Virtual Infrastructure Architect (excuse me for the VMWare related name but it’s simply the best description) otherwise they’ll be out of work. Do you agree ?”

Yes, indeed I do agree! My claim is that your average VM admin may or may not be conscious of the fact that they are suddenly more than just administering VMs. To do their job effectively, they will need to have expertise in architecture, storage, networking and security. Or horrors, if they don’t have this expertise, they will actually have to interact with people who do have those skills! :-)

I suspect that not only are the VM admins not fully aware of this, but neither are the peole who are creating and filling these roles. Who are then putting people in these roles who don’t have adequate experience or training.

There are very real security implications to this, as having an adequate control environment requires people making good and well-informed decisions on all these aspect.

Matthijs, you’ve inspired me. I think the real title of that article should have been “The VM Admin Is Dead – Long Live the VI Architect.” Consider this mistake duly corrected. :-)