RE: The Changing Role of the VMware Admin

I found myself in an interesting discussion on Twitter the other night around the evolution of the VMware administrator. Chris Colotti then posted this blog. So I thought I would chime in with my 2 cents.

I started out, very much like Chris, as a Windows Administrator that learnt about virtualization. In a way I was lucky, our team was small, so I was exposed to everything from server and datacenter administration, to “basic” network and storage. On the other hand I was also unlucky, as it meant I couldn’t get deep into the technology I was working on. As soon as one problem was solved my priorities were invariably changed onto the next pressing need. A word to describe my life as an admin was “reactive”.

My Take

Without a doubt, within bigger teams more silos exist. This has been the case for years, and it will be for years to come. Bigger environments need more “specialists” to keep things ticking along. An admin this is “siloed” into an area of responsibility has the ability to specialise, but I have found that they often start to ignore the bigger picture too. 

So to link this back to the original conversation…

Rob Quast @robertquast: “@scott_lowe @ccolotti I think “generally” the concepts of GRE and networking encapsulation are foreign to VMware admin’s

As we head further into the “virtual” future, new technologies are coming out and things are getting more “complex”… or are they? Don’t get me wrong, when new technologies come along they can look complex but I believe once they become the norm, they are not so intimidating. I think it’s a lack of BASE virtualization experience in the other silos that is the real problem. A question to ponder… Should there really be generic “Virtualization Admins” or should all IT admins understand virtualization to a certain point?

To put a different spin on it, as we go forward and abstract / virtualize / “software define” more components of the data center, admins from ALL areas will need to understand how virtualisation works and fits into their respective area. Too many times  the “virtualization admin” has to be the mediator between the other teams to get the job done. Is this because other silos are more “pure” or is it because virtualization admins have a greater understanding on the whole stack… or is it just because they are the new kids on the block?

Advise

What I would like to see is IT organizations realizing that virtualization isn’t another silo that they need to manage like storage or networking. Virtualization is becoming pervasive into EVERY silo. If you’re a siloed admin that does not use virtualization often I suggest you educate yourself. As the industry defines more datacenter components in software you WILL need skills in this area!

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