Good points! The problem of buyer literacy on the cloud and on how it differs from virtualization (or doesn't) impacts the users' ability to plan for the cloud and also the selection of optimum products.
At some point, IMHO, the cloud has to leave virtualization behind at a conceptual/service level. That means that the role virtualization plays is one of maximizing efficiency in certain specialized situations; the cloud has to be an answer to efficiency in ALL situations. Thus, virtualiztaion becomes a way of making the cloud work. Same for networking. We can visualize a cloud without virtual-network-based partitions, particularly for individual enterprise private clouds. But how do these clouds connect with public hosting or each other? We may need to define a new notion of a virtual network.
I think that's the exact question that HP is wrestling with! There are benefits to network virtualization in abstract, but making those benefits into something that actually funds a project and some purchases isn't automatic. Users today still don't think of the cloud properly according to my surveys, and that makes HP's job of promotion a lot harder.
People don't want to hear 'interdependance' when it comes to Cloud and Virtualization. They're supposed to be magic buttons where nothing ever goes wrong, and, if it does, you can lay the blame out there in the ether instead of on yourself. The thought that they have to be managed and maintained like anything else is a buzzkill. Of course, it's also the truth.
As you point out, there's a positive spin to this. If you accept this reality and do a good job with that maintainance, you can see gains in your cloud productivity. Those are the folks who are going to be happy with their investment.
You really touch on the core of the issue here, Tom. You don't want to build a cloud infrastructure just for the sake of doing it - you want it to give you some kind of capability you don't have with your existing datacenter, or that you wouldn't have had if you built a regular datacenter.
Maybe Network Virtualization of the type HP is suggesting is a way to do that, and maybe it isn't. If it isn't, then we're just back to square one - scrambling to make it look like we came up with something new when we never had to. Stacking that problem on top of itself is only going to make things that much worse, so let's hope for some useful applications.
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