Size Labels for Virtual Environments – A Proposal

“How big is your virtual environment?”

I love that question. Find a virtual environment and ask ten people who work on it, and they’ll give you ten different answers. “It’s pretty big,” one person will say. The next person will say “oh, we’re small.” The next two people asked will argue with each other until you shake your head and walk away. It’s all relative, too. If most guys you know have 50 virtual machines, and you have 200, you’re big, relatively-speaking. You’ve got problems they don’t have, and you’d probably like to talk with others that have had those same problems. Talking to a guy who has 2000 VMs isn’t going to help you much, though. He’s operating at a whole different scale, size, and budget level.

I spent some time this morning answering questions for a fellow who wants to build a large virtual environment. He didn’t have a lot of specifics to start with, but was really balking at what I was suggesting he look into for storage, servers, etc. As it turns out, “large” to him was really only 50 virtual machines in the next three years. That’s a big difference from what I perceive as large, which means many thousands of dollars, different storage and software strategies, completely different P2V approaches, etc.

As such, I propose some simple terminology, based on a logarithmic scale, to help sort out sizing:


I have 300 virtual machines, so I consider myself to be medium-sized. When I get to 1000 VMs I’ll be large.

Complexity is a whole different problem. From a complexity perspective my environment is pretty simple. The thing is, someone can take a small environment and make it really complex. And some of the biggest environments I’ve seen have been pretty simple, overall. It’s only scale I’m proposing labels for.

At any rate at least I have a graph to point to when I’m talking about this stuff. 🙂

3 thoughts on “Size Labels for Virtual Environments – A Proposal”

  1. What about factoring in the number of hosts too?

    Oh…that will make Hyper-V installations seem “bigger” than VMware installations with the same number of VMs as more hosts are required with Hyper-V and then MS will jump on the fact that they have “bigger” installations than VMware 🙂

  2. @Chris, I’ve been mulling over a “complexity rating” as well, and I think hosts would fit into that.

    @Aaron, my original label for 100k was “Wow.” Then I changed it to “Crazy.” Finally I settled on “Giant.” Realistically, I’m speculating that a place with 100k VMs isn’t likely to advertise that they have that many.

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