Friday, July 31, 2009

Virtual Walks

I have been looking at some solutions recently. They were simple. No special requirements but needed a little thought. Real problems that required a real solution. I approached several well known companies and guess what, they all wanted to supply virtual solutions. Is that not a little silly?

Virtual was used in the sense of "as good as" or "almost". So a program that is virtually complete is one that is as good as or almost complete. Think about it. A virtual solution is not a better solution. Virtuality relies on the fact that the solution is almost as good! A quick google shows 66 million+ results for web pages associated with virtual solutions but these solutions are as good as what?

My solution required more computers, not a problem in the "virtual" world. These can just pop up out of my current infrastructure. I am assured that my disc requirements would be better met if I used a virtual solution. There are virtual printers, virtual network routers and you can even get virtual finance! Yes, look that last one up on your favorite search engine. At the moment you could spend hours attempting to find real hard cash.

I can see how the use of emulation on computer systems helps. I can even see that today the emulation of other systems is very sophisticated. Why do we need things that are almost the solution?

In the case of my problem I certainly did not need the power of a quad core processor. But I did need a little bandwidth for certain components. This meant that the Virtual solutions were not solutions in this case. I stuck out for real systems. I have to say that they will end up on a SAN, using virtual discs and tapes. Many of the local services will be provided by servers that are virtual.

The current fashion is to take on the concepts of virtual components. Do we need to follow the herd? We don't but before we discard the concept it is worth looking at what it can provide. In my case I discarded the concepts as they did not help me. Then I took an about turn and used the virtual components that helped my solution.

In other cases I have picked up the virtual soap box and stood with those who shout for something (almost) as good as the real deal.

Not going with the fashion may sound typical of the crotchety old man. It is not my cantankerous nature that brings this on but a careful analytic process. I will use the virtual world but only when it produces results that fit into the environment in which I work. I can say that I have virtually taken up the virtual world. What we should realise is that the word virtual is almost as much use as the word nice. The word can virtually be used in any situation without altering the meaning at all.

My point? Why invent terms using innocuous words? Why not use the term emulator? After all the purpose of our virtual component is just to emulate the real deal. Why not? Because the early emulators were not the best, the name became associated with poor performance. The marketing teams reacted.

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