Gerben’s Blog on Virtualization

Virtualization is becoming a standard

April 1st joke about SUN buying Parallels

Posted by Gerben on 04/4/2008

Last Tuesday I read about this announcement and while reading I got this feeling there could be something wrong about this message. What was I right.

Thanks guys for the pratical joke.

I had a good laugh…

Here is the link at virtualization.com again:
Permanent Link to Sun Microsystems To Acquire Parallels For $ 205 Million (Updated)

Make sure you get the updated part.

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Release: VMware Workstation 6.5 & ACE 2.5 Public Beta

Posted by Gerben on 03/4/2008

This week VMware announced their public beta program for VMware Workstation version 6.5 and VMware ACE 2.5. With the release of these BETA products VMware also introduced a new Beta Portal for these two products (click on the picture for the link to the Beta Portal):

public beta portal_new

What’s New in VMware Workstation 6.5:

  • Use Unity to integrate your guest apps with your host
  • More Powerful VM Record and Replay
  • Support for Smart Cards & Smart Card Readers
  • Enhanced ACE Authoring
  • Link State Propagation Networking
  • Improved 3D graphics Support
  • and more… click here for the release notes

After the introduction of “Unity” in the Apple world – Unity is part of VMware’s Fusion product – the concept is now also available in VMware’s Workstation product. So what is Unity? With Unity you can:
Integrate your favorite guest applications with your host. Open the application window, enter unity mode, and then minimize the Workstation window. The guest application windows look just like host application windows. You can access the virtual machine’s Start menu (for Windows virtual machines) or Applications menu (for Linux virtual machines) by placing the mouse pointer over the host’s Start or Applications menu.

Link state propagation is especially useful for mobile users running virtual machines. When changing from wired to wireless the ip-addresses are automatically renewed when using the bridged networking for your VM’s.

VMware ACE authoring features are now fully integrated with Workstation, and no special ACE Edition is required.

This new version also has support for additional host and guest operating systems such as CentOS, Oracle Enterprise Linux, Asianux, and newer editions of operating systems already supported. Windows Server 2008 is experimentally supported as a guest.

The new version of virtual hardware now supports adding or removing some virtual devices while the virtual machine is powered on (“hot-plug”). E.g. hot-add virtual cpu’s and memory to a Windows 2008 guest.

What’s New in VMware ACE 2.5:

  • Seamless Applications
  • Network Mobility
  • Smart Card Authentication support
  • Enhanced Pocket ACE Performance
  • Usability Improvements

Previously, ACE-specific user interface controls were available only in Workstation ACE Edition. In VMware ACE 2.5, these controls are available to all VMware Workstation customers. The ability to use ACE instances on computers where Workstation is not installed still requires an ACE license, as does the ability to manage ACE instances with the ACE Management Server.

  • Usability improvements — The process of creating virtual machines for end users is now simpler and more intuitive. The required tasks are clearly ordered and made available on the summary view for an ACE-enabled virtual machine. The concept of an ACE master has been removed in favor of simply enabling ACE features for a virtual machine.
  • New Pocket ACE cache and exit behavior settings — You can now configure runtime settings so that Pocket ACE files are always kept on the USB device and never cached on the host computer. This feature is convenient if disk space on the host is very limited or if the files must remain only on the USB device for security reasons. You can also configure exit behavior so that when users power off a virtual machine, changes are automatically synchronized with the host.
  • Improved Pocket ACE performance — The time it takes to synchronize a Pocket ACE with the host during power off has been greatly reduced.

In addition to these ACE-specific features, VMware ACE includes all the new features of Workstation 6.5, including unity mode, link state propagation, smart card support, and full screen switching in VMware Player.

Check the VMware ACE 2.5 release notes for more information.

 

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Release VMware Lifecycle Manager 1.0

Posted by Gerben on 31/3/2008

lcm 
Today I was noticed that VMware Lifecycle Manager (LCM) 1.0 (build 360) is available for evaluation download (60 days evaluation).

VMware Lifecycle Manager is the rebranded Dunes VSO/Lifecycle product which was acquired through the acquisition of Dunes by VMware at the end of 2007.

VMware Lifecycle Manager enables the VI administrators to track and control virtual machines through a consistent approval and deployment process across the entire virtual machine lifecycle. From provisioning to operation to ultimate decommissioning of the virtual machine, VMware Lifecycle Manager addresses the need for compliance with existing IT and business procedures. Responding to one-off requests in addition to using manual procedures to deploy virtual machines can be eliminated and replaced by a consistent process that can be followed across the entire business. Lifecycle Manager can also be customized to work with existing IT operational tools such ticketing or change management systems.

LCM_Process

The trial includes:

  • VMware Lifecycle Manager 1.0
  • Note: VMware ESX 3.5 and VMware VirtualCenter software must be running in order to evaluate Lifecycle Manager. Neither VMware ESX 3.5 or VMware VirtualCenter software is included in this trial. If you want an evaluation version of either of these products, please evaluate VMware Infrastructure 3 separately to obtain those products.

VMware Lifecycle Manager comes in two different delivery options standard and customized (names may differ in the future).

Standard (boxed) vs Customized:

As you can see in the image below the Standard product will be a packaged product with the platform locked down (customization is NOT enabled). In this edition the workflows are standardized, if you want to fully customize your workflows to meet the workflows of your enterprise you will need to switch to the Customized product. However some limited (presentation) customization is possible, the web front-end can be customized to include your company logo and you can even customize the css-file for it.

lcm_deliveries

Pricing will be per 2 -sockets (ESX hosts) for the standard edition.
For the customized version you will have the same pricing as Standard plus a fixed fee for the customization option (and probably some consultancy fees).

When registered for evaluation, on the the download page you will see three different downloads available.

  1. Windows installable
  2. Linux installable
  3. Virtual Appliance (OVF + three (vmdk) disk-files) (vService compatible?)

LCM_downloads

Go and Try Lifecycle Manager (http://www.vmware.com/go/trylifecyclemanager)

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NetApp Storage Session

Posted by Gerben on 18/3/2008

netapp_logo

This evening I attended a company session hosted by NetApp in their office in Schiphol-Rijk, the Netherlands. It was quit a trip, due to all sorts of reasons I decided to go by train. At first I was somewhat sceptic about going by train, but by the time I was half way there I felt it was quite nice, I even closed my eyes for a couple of minutes.

Looking out the window on the motorway lying just next to the railroad track I was even more pleased with my decision taking the train. I saw a major traffic jam near Amsterdam which I probably had to deal with when I  travelled by car.

The traveling time by train was significally longer (when the railyway track was build there was no motorway where there is now, back then it was all water.) almost two and a half hours and that was one of my reasons not to take the train. But when a collegue offered a ride half way the trip home I was eventually pursuaded to take the train.

If I travelled by car you probably did not get to see this message due to lack of time, I’m actually writing this offline in the train.

Ok, enough travel talk.

Back to NetApp, they are located at the businesspark at Schiphol-Rijk which is next to Schiphol International Airport. Nice to know a lot of major US-based technology firms also have an office here e.g. Microsoft, Juniper etc. Because it is so close to the airport it is an attractive location for firms that do have employees who travel a lot between different locations by plane.

The evening started with a dinner in the restaurant which appeared to be the session room also (my compliments to the catering it was excellent!). The building is relatively new and well equipped as far I could tell of course (only been at the restaurant). And believe me dinner came at the right time for me because after taken the train… – now that was a slip of the tongue.

After being welcomed by our collegue Marcel and our host Bram of NetApp it was time to get rolling. Amzar kicked off with a outline of the proof of concept (POC) he did at a large international customer with NetApp storage. Goal for this POC was to determine if VI-3 at remote sites (10-25 servers) could rely on ISCSI and NFS storage compared to the FC connected SAN storage used at the large sites. The interesting conclusion of the POC was the advice of using NFS for storage at remote sites. The nice thing in that situation is that they already use NetApp solutions at remote sites. As NetApp explained later on the boxes can present almost every kind of storage to a client from NFS,ISCSI FC and even CIFS for example homedirs. The desicion to advise NFS was based on flexibility (re-use of existing hardware and simple expansion of NFS volumes), cost effects and simple file based restore. Performance was not an issue.

 

The next presentation by Mark from NetApp covered the NetApp products and solutions as there are differentiated in Store, Manage, Protect, Retain and Secure. I’m not going to deliberate on that for more information I would like to refer to the channel guide which outlines NetApp Products and Solutions.

One thing which I think is important to adress is the uniform managebility across all storage products levels. There is no difference in management of entry level systems compared to mid and high-end level, so no training issues when you decide to upgrade to higher (or lowel) level systems. The determining factor choosing the system level most likely will be the amount of IO’s per second you need.

Also very important is the deduplication of data which is now free of charge (announced last week) and delivered out of the box, this can reduce your storage space up to 50%. It works at block level and searches for duplicate blocksets and uses pointers to adress the data, also usable for homedirs (e.g. CIFS).

Not covered in the session but to give you an idea about the power of deduplication take a look at the video I found on youtube: a nice demo of deduplication in a virtual infrastructure in combination with VDI:

 

Also announced is Snapmanager for Virtual Infrastructure; quote from same article: “which lets users take snapshots of VMware virtual machines. “It’s fully integrated with VMware and it allows you to use NetApp snapshot and restore capabilities in a VMware environment,” says Rogers. “[Before] there wasn’t a simple, non-disruptive way to snapshot a VM.” “. Snapmanger will be released for the public in May 2008.

The last presentation of the evening was from Jan also from NetApp taking a deep dive in technology. Interesting was the comparison of VMFS (on FC) and NFS showing lower (better) latencies with NFS and higher throughput (400 mb/s) compared to vmfs (180mb/s). Also nice was their Raid configuration called RAID DP (default 14 + 2 ) which is 200 times as reliable as 2 times RAID 5 (7 + 1disk) for RAIDgroups.

Concluding: A very nice Session at a nice setting and lots of information.

At April 3 2008 NetApp organizes an annual one day (free) event called “Innovation 2008” at Van Nelle Ontwerpfabriek in Rotterdam in the Netherlands. For more info and registration look at www.netapp-innovation.nl .

 

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Microsoft Acquires Kidaro – a Desktop Virtualization Management Company

Posted by Gerben on 13/3/2008

Microsoft Presspass (microsoft.com):
microsoft

Microsoft Corp. today announced its intended acquisition of Kidaro, a leading provider of desktop virtualization solutions for enterprises. In combining Kidaro’s virtualization technology with its suite of desktop management tools, known as the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack for Software Assurance, Microsoft will enable IT professionals to optimize their desktop infrastructure by providing management capabilities for Virtual PCs, streamlining deployments and easing application compatibility issues.

“The acquisition of Kidaro is an important component of our virtualization strategy, and it delivers a powerful new tool to help enterprise customers optimize their desktops,” said Shanen Boettcher, general manager of Windows product management at Microsoft. “Virtual PCs can help businesses address a number of challenges around application compatibility, mobility and business continuity. Kidaro’s seamless user interface and management capabilities allow enterprises to more easily use and manage Virtual PCs. Incorporating Kidaro’s innovative solutions into the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack further enables virtualization across the enterprise, and is another example of how we are helping customers keep up with the changing needs of their business.” …

Read more at source 

What is Kidaro(www.kidaro.com):
kidaro

Kidaro delivers innovative virtualization solutions to address desktop computing challenges at an enterprise scale. With Kidaro, you can deploy secure, corporate-managed virtual desktops that run locally on enterprise or 3rd-party PCs, enhancing IT agility while eliminating cost and risk.

Kidaro’s Managed Workspace product allows enterprise data and applications to run within a "transparent virtual machine wrapper." Kidaro’s product is built upon Microsoft Virtual PC, and the wrapper provides "enterprise class" management, deployment and a clean user experience. You can read more on Kidaro’s site. With this acquisition, the wrapper becomes Microsoft Virtual PC.
(Microsoft Virtualization Blog: http://blogs.technet.com/virtualization/)

Kidaro was the only one offering a virtualization agnostic product plus two fundamental capabilities that Microsoft can further enhance and leverage: the seamless window (just introduced with Windows Server 2008) and the VM image streaming (which could be combined with application streaming).

Kidaro’s mobile desktop virtualization platform leverages a choice of industry-standard virtualization engines (e.g., VMware®, Microsoft®, this will probably brought down to Virtual PC(Microsoft) only) to create a corporate-managed encrypted workspace, delivered for local use via DVD, over the network, or for ultimate mobility, via the Kidaro ToGo™ virtual desktop on a USB flash drive. All virtual machine management, deployment, and policy enforcement is automated and centrally controlled. This allows IT groups to manage a single virtual desktop, instead of managing thousands of unique desktop images and hardware configurations.

Microsoft plans to offer this technology only through the Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) like it’s already doing for Application Virtualization (formerly SoftGrid).

Competitors:

VMware ACE

vmware_ace

Sentellion vThere

Sentillion_vThere
Sentillion mainly focusses on the Healthcare business servicing specialized apps.

vThere provides caregivers with a client-hosted virtualized clinical desktop that is identical to what they use inside the hospital. Caregivers can remotely access all of their clinical applications while maintaining patient privacy and data security exactly as if the caregiver were physically in the hospital.

vThere has three primary components: an admin station/Image Creator for generating customer VMs’ vThere.net to host customer VM image repositories; and the vThere player, a tweaked instance of Parallels workstation running on top of a Windows platform.

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VMware VI Toolkit (for Windows) will Beta this month (march 2008)

Posted by Gerben on 11/3/2008

vi-toolkit

Carter Shanklin from the VI Powershell team at VMware published an item on the VI Powershell Blog about the Powershell lab at VMworld Europe 2008 in Cannes two weeks ago. In this item he announces the public Beta of the VI Toolkit (for Windows) to become available in march 2008.

Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to attend the hands on lab with the VI Toolkit. Luckily for you and me the hands-on manual is available through a link at the VI Powershell BLOG item, click here.

Enjoy…

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Virtualization.info announces Virtualization Congress

Posted by Gerben on 06/3/2008

Virtualization.info announced its first independent conference about virtualization techologies.

It is due for October 14-16 2008. The place to be in October will be London at the ExCel Conference Centre (www.excel-london.co.uk). The maximum number of attendees based on the number of seats available in the main auditorium will be approximately 1000.

The first day (Oct 14) is reserved for resellers.

Keep track of the agenda as it will become available here: http://www.virtualization.info/virtualizationcongress2008/agenda.htm

More at virtualization.info

virt_congress

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VMworld Europe VMware Application Virtualization (Thinstall)

Posted by Gerben on 06/3/2008

The first breakout session at VMworld Europe I attended was the session about the newly acquired Thinstall. Unfortunately the time for the presentation was brought down to half an hour, nevertheless a neat session. Project North Star as VMware calls the beta program of VMware’s Application Virtualization is available as beta download since last week at: http://www.vmware.com/beta/northstar/

The product addresses the application deployment lifecycle.

With snapshot technology – you take snapshots of a system before installation and after installation of the application – you can create a single executable which contains the desired “thinstalled” application. Over at www.thinstall.com you will find a flash demo that shows the process of "thinstalling" an application. A virtual operating system (VOS) is embedded in each executable. Thinstall redirects all changes intended for the host PC’s file system and registry to a private per-user sandbox.

You can easily make this executable accessible through a network share. Also it is very easy to plug a "thinstalled" app into every available ESD product (Electronic Software Distribution like SCCM, Tivoli Software Distribution, Altiris etc.).

Thinstall / Project North Star can make your VDI solution better by separating the application from the desktop image. Resulting in fewer desktop images and reduction of storage costs through the placement of the applications outside the VDI image.

Currently VMware Application Virtualization Project Northstar is the only application virtualization product supporting Side by Side execution SxS. SxS is a relatively new OS feature supported by Windows on XP, Windows 2003, and Vista. SxS is a must-have feature in order to deploy most modern software products such as Microsoft Office 2007, Adobe Reader 8, and .NET 2.0/3.0.

With SxS technology, applications can install DLLs to version specific directories and tell Windows what version of the DLL should be used when they load a DLL by that name. Thinstall 3.0 has built-in support for SxS and manifest/policy file handling, so if you capture the installation of an application that installs SxS dlls it works perfectly on every platform with zero installation.

There is one risk that did not get answered (yet) though…

Let assume you’re in a company and successfully have implemented the VMware Application Virtualization solution (read Thinstall). You provide the applications through a network share.

Suddenly you find your packaged "Thinstalled" app everywhere on the internet (your company name and/or license key is in that file). Because the application (and VOS) is now encapsulated in one executable it is extremely portable. In fact portable in a way that someone has put it on a usb device and distributed it on the internet.

What countermeasures should you take to mitigate this potential risk? Possibly you could prevent your company users to use USB devices, but there are definitely more, I encourage you to comment your ideas…

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Parallels Server Public BETA is here

Posted by Gerben on 06/3/2008

Ben Rudolph at The Parallels Consumer Tech Blog announced the availability of Beta 2 of Parallels Server which is now open for the public. Download a copy at the beta site.

new:

  • A full bare-metal hypervisor
  • An integrated toolset (vm-tools, p2v tooling)
  • Virtual Support for 4-way SMP

more details at Parallels Server Beta Page

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

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Has the price war begun part 2

Posted by Gerben on 01/3/2008

A week ago I posted an entry quoting the Windows Virtualization blog about the publication of a report by the Yankee Group. Last week I learned that this report contains some factual errors.

The guy’s and gals at VMware did a good job by posting an article about it:

"Therefore, VMware is listing the factual errors and inaccuracies in the report because they distort the true cost and value of VMware’s solution" read further…

Those Darn Details… Issues in Yankee Group’s Virtualization Report

Comparing prices between the different vendors often leads to comparing apples and oranges. If you really want to compare prices the right price to compare is the costs per Virtual Machine, this way the number of vm’s you can run on one piece of hardware will also be taken into account.

Even if you compare prices as described, you should keep in mind that the vendors do not provide equal features in their product portfolios.

Some examples:

  • workload isolation
  • file isolation
  • vm movability between hosts(downtime vs no-downtime)
  • complimentary products
  • storage implementations

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