VMware DPM usage – My view

So you would have thought that my first real post following being awarded a vExpert award would be all songs and praises for something to do with the big V? Well maybe it isn’t…I have noticed a lot of dialogue over the last week on twitter between a few VMware employees and VMware end users on whether DPM can add value and whether the Distributed Power Management feature in vSphere brings reduced TCO to an IT infrastructure. It appears mixed views are present, obviously the evangelists of the technology say it can be used to provide great cost savings and reductions in Opex cost of power and cooling requirements in the datacentre, others (mainly on the customer side) seem to be more negative towards DPM and advocate that strategy such as high density compute is better to sweat the underlying assets or DPM isn’t able to fit into there current IT model.

DPM technology is excellent and to be honest plain common sense, it has moved from being experimental into full blown production supportable within the later versions of ESX and now as a de facto proven product within vSphere. Core Main benefit of DPM is simple, it will dynamically turn off virtual hosts that are not needed at non peak times which is great, it avoids the cost that would have been occurred by running even vSphere hosts in an under utilised state. So I’ll get to the point do I think DPM is capability that can be used it to obtain the saving to anyone? well not really to be honest, I am in the non enthusiastic camp when it comes to DPM and the reasons I think this are as follows;

IT Service Providers

This is something that immediately springs to mind when aligned to my existing environment. Large amounts of organisations Outsource management of Virtualised environments, it is common for the agreed managed service contract to be setup over a Five year period with a pricing schedule built around things like Price of management of the VM’s in the environment, ESX host management etc etc. Organisations that outsource to managed service and hosting organisations very rarely share infrastructure with other customers. Based on this factor why should an organisation using a hosted DC care about the power costs being incurred? The cost of Power and Cooling is already present within the pricing schedule that they agreed with the outsourcer so it is extremely rare that DPM is going to be deployed in this type of environment.

Longer term and as with most IT infrastructure developments I expect service providers will start to push customers to adopt DPM to reduce there power costs (and the customers), however at the moment this is currently the case and most are subjected to older pricing models.

Capital Expenditure

Organisations likely buy or leases underlying Infrastructure themselves or they potentially lease the hardware from the service provider. This of course means the organisation or the outsourcer has to purchase server hardware with CAPEX.

DPM falls short here, organisations simply don’t like to waste capital investment especially when they are paying a service provider to manage that environment 24/7 and not just at peak times. This dosn’t mean I agree with where DPM falls short here, it is merely a fact that is present in most outsourcer agreements.

Change control

This might seem harsh and vintage but some organisations are still very low on the maturity level when it comes to aligning change to the great dynamic capability available within VMware environments. Functionality such as Vmotion and SVMotion are just starting to be accepted as something that dosn’t require change. I am skeptical as to whether change boards would be happy with underlying server hosts turning on and off at certain periods of the day/night.

Additionally in hosted datacentre’s you can struggle to even be able to turn on physical infrastructure at certain periods of the day, this is mainly for M&E reasons such as potential power spikes or sudden dramatic increases of power draw from the UPS.

DPM is yet another dynamic feature within the VMware suite that will again need excessive volumes of education and evangelising from people like you and me for change boards to understand and accept.

TCO Evidence

The jury is out as to whether TCO cost savings in OPEX for power and cooling is percentage wise worthwhile the time and effort. Think of it this way, how much cost is incurred in designing, planning and operating an environment that is DPM enabled? As much as I trust VMware it is still software and still potentially prone to failure at some stage, so does a DPM environment need someone to be monitoring it more to ensure that it actually is working effectively?

Being an Architect I question whether it is more cost effective to plan for more higher density DRS pools in the first initial design phase as apposed to just installing hosts and using DPM to turn them off when not needed?

Also remember when your hosts are not being used and are turned off by DPM algorithms you still are paying for the Licensing and Hardware cost to sit basically turned off!

If DPM has true capability to reduce TCO then Maybe VMware should introduce a TCO calculator or build in something to highlight to give organisations the piece of mind?

So where is DPM suited?

At the moment I think DPM is suited to and should only be employed within some of the following areas;

  • Organisations that internally manage there own Virtual environment from the Infrastructure level up,
  • Are not subjected to OPEX cost for management of hosts and have to pay with facility budget for power and cooling.
  • Has management and bean counters that embrace such technology
  • Can demonstrate and measure the cost saving on Power and Cooling. Main crux of this is you should not install or enable technology if you cannot measure and justify the reason you are doing it.
  • Has acceptance and clarity with CAB’s and other service management teams

Future hope is present for DPM to grow in popularity with the predominant growth of Cloud and multi tenant hosted environments. Cloud or shared utility models mean that turning off non used hosts within a cluster will become more realistic and crucial to the finance model of the cloud service provider, in a cloud IaaS environment the customer will only pay for VM’s and will not be concerned about wasting CAPEX, that will be the Cloud service providers problem!


Please do not think I think that DPM is rubbish, it is excellent innovation and great plain common sense thinking from VMware, I do feel though that awareness is needed to understand that it is not functionality that can simply be just ticked and used to reap reward, there are various factors that limit its potential within most larger enterprises and certain IT models.

A surprise award…..vExpert 2010

Well this announcement came into my email yesterday and its a mega shock with it all still sinking in!

Now here is the Oscar speech;

My thank you’s

  • I thank the person that nominated me, this means I am obviously doing something right!,
  • I have a special thanks to the guys that I’ve been fortunate to network with i.e. @storagebod, @ianhf and @chrismevans and the #storagebeers crew, these guys are Storage guys, however it has exposed me when it comes down to Virtualisation which has meant an increase in confidence,
  • Thanks go to @stevie_chambers for his constructive critism about blog content and also for reminding me my English grammar is diabolical (which unfortunately I am aware of :),
  • All the top notch people I see on a 2-3 monthly basis at London VMUGs, it is a great honor to now be a fellow vExpert with the top dogs such as @vinternals, @tom_howarth, @kiwi_si, @simon_long, @vinf_net (and the list could go on),
  • @john_troyer for making vExpert what it is today, I am honored to be within the first 3-500 EVER vExperts and hope my number continues to remain the same!

So, speech is over, now I am a vExpert it means I have a duty, this duty is to provide you with some of the following (given time and brain power)

  • More blog content which is focussed on my view of the futures of the technology we love and crave of Virtualisation, Unfortunately though I am a namby pamby Technical Architect which means in my day time I am not hands on, that withstanding I will endeavour to ensure that I meet most user requirements,
  • Views and feedback (mainly to fellow vendors), yes I am now a vExpert but it doesn’t mean I am a salesman for VMware. To be blunt if I don’t like something I will be constructive and ensure that my opinions are known,
  • I endeavour to build some reference templates within a section on my blog, these will not be technical in the operational sense but will be approaches that can be made to things such as IT Roadmap, Blueprint strategy and many other areas that I currently get involved in on a day to day basis,
  • Honest advice, if you see me at a VMUG or an event then talk to me, I will be more than happy to help you or provide advice, as i’ve said this may not be to a technical level that some of the other vExperts are at but if I can’t answer your problem/barrier “I know a man who can”.

So, speech is over I am sure I have missed something/one so if I have many apologies….after receiving this vExpert award I guess the hardwork has to begin of doing all of the above and retaining it for 2011!


C2C design approach

Ok I am feeling in a bit of a Bob Geldolf/Al Gore inspired mood today after catching a documentary on TV that talked about the design approach of “Cradle to Cradle” or C2C. Yes I know, this is a touchy subject for me, I work for an Airline and although I work for an airline my employer does have an awareness of sustainability.

C2C is interesting and brings up many pondering thoughts relevant to our current working world of the typical IT Landscape. C2C uses a design methodology that ensures that the item being designed is built with components and material that has a real recycling and reuse capability. You may think that programs such as the WEEE directive will take away your end of life hardware components, recycle them and then end up in a 12-18 month period as a new hardware component, but it appears not. WEEE Recycled items such hardware components experiences severe degradation and have a limited amount of reuse capability when they are recycled in this process, I would imagine this is the case for a large percentage of anything that is generally recycled.

So where am I going with this? The reality is this (unless I am missing something in the industry), the hardware within our IT landscapes is designed with very little consideration for initiatives such as a C2C methodology approach and has been this way inclined since the industrial revolution of IT began, we have removed a small proportion of our guilt factor when it comes to disposing of old hardware but it certainly isn’t a silver bullet. So with this thought in mind the main questions I have to IT Vendors are as follows;

  • When will you begin to design your portfolio offerings with a design methodology that we see within examples such as C2C?
  • When will the industry be able to buy Infrastructure that is infinite future generation compatible?

These Two questions probably indicates what I am getting at here…I want to see radical change in how my IT Infrastructure is designed. Most technology today basically lasts for Five years, most of which I would like to see radical transformation and this Infrastructure to be designed in a C2C fashion so it can reduce;

  • The excessive volume of longer term environmental damage due to apparent loss of material quality in the Recycling process,
  • Wasted cost to both the customer and also I expect the vendor with introductions of new generation of Hardware infrastructure
  • Refresh programs that cost organisations and effect the environment in also indirect areas such as people and implementation costs,
  • Removal of EOL or “Wear and Tear”, although not as prevalent in the Datacentre infrastructure landscape in the desktop space this is immensely problematic.

I am not aware that hardware vendors like Dell, EMC, HP and Netapp are designing infrastructure product offerings to meet a C2C Criteria, if you are then please comment. Lets just hope that for our future generations sake that we see a sharp radical volume of R and D from top tier organisations going into designing technology portfolio that is geared towards a C2C methodology for everyones benefit (including them). It is only a matter of time before we see yet another change in how IT sustainability rules are enforced which I am sure will be beneficial but will it be beneficial to actually make considerable amounts of difference to the planet that we all live and depend upon?