I just returned from the Novell BrainShare 2007 conference in Salt Lake City, and I have to say that I was very excited about the amount of attention that virtualization received at the conference. Here are some of the highlights:
- Novell and Microsoft partnership – both Microsoft and Novell representatives co-presented on both virtualization and directory service integration
- Plenty of talk on paravirtualized device drivers – with PV drivers, Microsoft Longhorn Server virtual machines will run at near native performance on Xen running on SLES 10 SP1. With the planned official support for Windows 2000/2003 PV drivers, Xen on SLES 10 SP1 is emerging as a serious choice for virtualization.
- Failover support for Xen on SLES 10
- Virtualized NetWare 6.5 support in Xen
- Cool management on the way – ZENworks Virtual Machine Management (beta coming soon) offers centralized management for VMware, Xen, and Microsoft virtualization engines
I have always been a big proponent of dynamic failover support when it comes to running virtual machines in production environments. With Heartbeat 2.0 integration, Xen VM failover support will be a part of SLES 10 SP1. I dug a little deeper into the heartbeat integration and currently failover will progress in the order of cluster node names. If a target node does not have the resources to support an additional VM, then the VM will fail over to the next node in the cluster (and repeat the process until it has found a suitable home). Novell engineers are working on better automation for failover, so a VM’s first failover target will be a physical host system that has the capacity to host the VM’s required resources. If you’re planning to build a 2 node Xen failover cluster, then this is really no big deal. However, if you’re planning an 8 node cluster, you’ll definitely want tighter control of the failover process. Still, this has been a big year for Xen, and I would not be surprised if Novell’s Xen failover automation isn’t rock solid by the end of the year.
On my Novell Xen wishlist…
- Migration tools – I would love to have a tool that automatically converts a physical NetWare 6.5 server into a virtual machine. If Novell will not offer a migration tool, I’m sure that a vendor such as PlateSpin would love to jump in and help.
- Improved failover (see above)
- Consolidated backup support – I would love to see an answer to VMware’s VCB. Give us a well-documented backup scripting API and integrating Xen backups into enterprise backup software backup jobs will be a piece of cake.
- Common management APIs/metadata – It would be much easier for all of us (admins, ISVs, etc) if there was a single common management API set for all virtualization platforms. I’m hopeful that a common management API set will be produced as a result Microsoft/Novell partnership. However, getting all of the major virtualization vendors to agree on a common format would open plenty of new doors in terms of more robust backup methodologies, centralized management, and reporting.
I’m sure that time will tell whether or not my wishes are granted…