The Virtualization Room

December 15, 2007  10:51 AM

VMware’s busy week: Virtualization Log

Alex Barrett Alex Barrett Profile: Alex Barrett

VMware has made two significant news announcements of late: the long-awaited availability of ESX 3.5, and SAP’s blessings for its applications running within VMware virtual machines.

What we failed to mention, or at least to highlight, was the release of VirtualCenter 2.5, which now supports up to 200 hosts and 2,000 virtual machines (VMs); other new features are listed here. One, in our defense, John Gilmartin, VMware senior manager, product marketing, said that the 2.5 release was largely about enabling some of the new features of the Virtual Infrastructure 3 (VI3) suite, such as Update Manager and Distributed Power Management. “Sure, there was some work underneath that ensured the scalability was in place, but primarily [2.5] is about enabling these new features,” Gilmartin said.

Taken together, these announcements underscore just how far VMware has come as an enterprise software vendor. Contrast that with the big news from the latter half of the week: Microsoft’s unveiling of the Hyper-V beta. No huge surprises there, unless of course, you count the fact that it was released ahead of schedule. We’re eagerly awaiting reviews of the latest Hyper-V; if you were among its downloaders, don’t be shy, tell us what you think by leaving a comment.

December 13, 2007  12:28 PM

VMware competition nears; Microsoft ships Hyper-V beta

Alex Barrett Alex Barrett Profile: Alex Barrett

VMware, are you listening? Microsoft’s Hyper-V hypervisor, formerly known as Viridian, is available for public beta, the company announced today. It can be obtained by downloading Windows Server 2008 RC1 Enterprise from

The beta is shipping ahead of schedule, with Microsoft previously promising it for the first quarter of 2008.

This is not the first glimpse the public has had of Hyper-V; Microsoft released a Community Technology Preview (CTP) release of Hyper-V in September. With this release, Microsoft is demonstrating additional features, notably Quick Migration, high availability, Server Core role and Server Manager integration. The final release of Hyper-V is still scheduled for release within 180 days of “release to manufacturing” (RTM) of Windows Server 2008, currently scheduled for Feb. 27, 2008.

Writing on the Windows Server Division Weblog, Mike Neil, GM of virtualization strategy, also revealed that Windows Server 2008 Standard Edition will also grant one virtual instance of the OS — which is not the case with WS 2K3 Standard edition, he pointed out.

According to the post, specific new features of Hyper-V include the following:

  • Quick Migration and cluster high availability
  • Default integration with Windows Server management;
  • Support for running Hyper-V with Server Core in the parent partition;
  • Volume Shadow Copy Service, or VSS, support;
  • VHD tools support (compaction, expansion and inspection);
  • Hyper-V Microsoft Management Console (MMC)-only installation. The Hyper-V MMC can be installed on Windows Server 2008 without installing the complete Hyper-V role enabling remote management of Hyper-V servers;
  • Support for up to four virtual SCSI controllers per VM, with 255 VHDs per controller;
  • Support for multiple network adapters per VM;
  • Support for up to 64 GB of memory per VM; and
  • Guest support for Windows 2003 x86/x64 and Windows 2008 x86/x64 (support for other guest OS platforms will arrive before the Hyper-V RTM).

A webcast detailing the new Hyper-V beta is scheduled for next week, on Tuesday, Dec. 18, at 12:30 PST; interested parties can register here.

More to come.

December 12, 2007  10:01 PM

Virtualization planning…with a little help

Rick Vanover Rick Vanover Profile: Rick Vanover

Planning your virtual environment is critically important – and should not be taken on without the proper resources.  Sure you have IT colleagues that are giving you ideas and making you wish your virtual environment was where they are now, but make sure you select the correct solution.  And if you are new to virtualization, chances are you will need help in doing that.  Take, for example,  VMWare’s Plan and Design Services for the planning and design phases of your virtualization implementation.  It is not a free service, but you will have a VMWare certified professional (VCP) available to assist in your pre-implementation decisions.  This can be nothing in comparison to the costs of a solution that is undersized, oversized, or otherwise unable to deliver your performance and functionality expectations.

As the other virtualization platforms mature, these services will become more avialable there as well.  As virtualization technology is moving towards a commodity — and management tools lead the way in value — the planning and design phases will become more important going forward.

December 12, 2007  1:10 PM

So long, SWsoft; hello, Parallels

Alex Barrett Alex Barrett Profile: Alex Barrett

It’s no secret that SWsoft, the company known for its Virtuozzo OS virtualization software, and Parallels, of Apple desktop virtualization fame, are co-owned, but now the firm has decided to streamline its identity and use only the Parallels name.

“We needed to stop using our historical guerilla tactics where we would display to the world different faces of the company,” said Serguei Beloussov, CEO. “We needed a single name.”

Despite SWsoft’s strong name recognition among enterprise customers, the firm settled on the desktop-oriented Parallels’ brand “because it’s the easiest to spell, to remember, and it’s a natural English word,” Beloussov said.

The firm also has a new tagline –“Optimize computing” — and will gradually change its product names to what it calls “descriptive” names. Thus, SWsoft Virtuozzo will now be called Parallels Virtuozzo Containers and, ultimately, just plain Parallels Containers. The firm is also working on its Parallels Infrastructure Manager and Parallels System Automation suites, which will manage not only its own virtualization platforms but also VMware’s by late 2008.

“We think there is no such business as virtualization; virtualization is part of the platform,” Beloussov said. “Our management and automation tools are how you add value to the platform.”

December 10, 2007  9:05 AM

Virtual Iron 4.2 plays catch-up with VMware

Alex Barrett Alex Barrett Profile: Alex Barrett

Virtual Iron announced version 4.2 of its server virtualization platform today, adding new features that inch the offering closer to feature parity with market leader VMware ESX Server and that represent firsts for a Xen-based platform. The features include the following:

  • multipathing for Ethernet and Fibre Channel networks;
  • LiveSnapshot, a space-efficient way to create snapshots and clones of running virtual machines for hot virtual machine backup; and
  • storage capacity management features that allow virtual disks to be managed (increased, decreased, added) without downtime.

The new version also adds support for Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 5 and Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) 10. It also includes support  for “unmodified” native versions only, shunning the early “paravirtualization” mantra of the Xen community. “Our philosophy has always been around supporting unmodified OSes,” said Mike Grandinetti, Virtual Iron chief marketing officer. “Are you really willing to break the certification of your entire stack for a 1% performance improvement? It would have to be [a] pretty mission-critical [application].”

Virtual Iron also announced that its Virtual Server tools are now packaged as an ISO image, appearing to the administrator as a virtual CD-ROM, for simple deployment. The firm also announced that its platform had been certified for use with storage systems from Network Appliance, which is currently in use at Virtual Iron customer Meganet Communications.

December 10, 2007  9:02 AM

Down and dirty with storage and networking: Virtualization Log

Alex Barrett Alex Barrett Profile: Alex Barrett

Designing the storage to go along with your virtual environment? In this tip, Anil Desai explains a variety of ways to avoid storage (I/O) bottlenecks. In his analysis, Desai covers all the bases: analyzing a virtual environment’s I/O characteristics, designing RAID configurations and fault tolerance and, finally, planning for host and guest-level backup.

Meanwhile, over at, Scott Lowe regales us with a great tip on the ins and outs of VST, EST and VGT VLAN tags in VMware ESX. He explains why VST tags are usually your best choice but also describes cases where EST and VGT might be more appropriate. The Internet is awash in virtualization content, but IMHO, this tip really exemplifies why TechTarget launched to provide VMware administrators with the nitty-gritty technical information they need to properly configure their systems. I hope it’s helpful to you.

Editors’ note: Virtualization Log is a regular feature of the Server Virtualization Blog, where we recap the news, tips and columns that were recently published on and sister TechTarget publications.

December 7, 2007  10:31 AM

Single-stop shopping for virtualization?

Rick Vanover Rick Vanover Profile: Rick Vanover

Can you get your core hardware vendor to sell you the hardware, the virtualization software, integration services, and support? Sure can. This becomes more of a benefit as you can get direct access to better resources for support and pre-sales matters. One example is to conside Dell as your single stop vendor for your pre-sales, hardware, VMware software, support, and post-installation professional services.

The Dell and VMware Alliance and the VMware from HP programs are good examples of a single-stop shopping resource you can use to streamline your process – and the best part is you have the same account/sales reps as you would for your other hardware and software need s. This could also include your notebooks, laptops, printers, as well as your virtual infrastructure. Anything you can do to make your job easier without sacrificing service and quality is a good idea.

Further, the real benefit is that you can get better pricing than you may direct from the providers – and more direct access to local resources for additional pre-sales support that can enable you to make better forward decisions.

December 6, 2007  1:14 PM

PlateSpin does VMware disaster recovery on Dell

Alex Barrett Alex Barrett Profile: Alex Barrett

Known for its physical-to-virtual (P2V) migration and capacity planning tools, PlateSpin Ltd. has claimed a virtualization first: a turnkey disaster recovery hardware appliance based on VMware virtualization.

Announced today, PlateSpin Forge consists of a dual-processor Dell server equipped with 2.5 TB of SATA RAID storage, VMware ESX Server virtualization, the underlying PlateSpin PowerConvert P2V software, and the PlateSpin Forge user interface. Together, these components can protect up to 25 “workloads,” running either Windows or Linux, within a VMware Virtual Machine Disk Format or Virtual Hard Disk format or on a physical box.

“To us, a workload is a workload,” said Cadman Chui, PlateSpin vice president of marketing. Forge, Chui explains, simply takes an image of the workload and saves it as a virtual machine (VM). Then, on a scheduled basis, Forge takes the incremental changes that have happened on the VM and applies them. How often Forge takes an image of the workload depends on its criticality.

Recovery, meanwhile, can take place directly on the Forge hardware appliance or back on another virtual or physical host once it’s available.

PlateSpin competitor Vizioncore developed a similar offering this summer called P2V-DR vRanger Pro Module, but unlike Forge, it’s a software-only product, Chui said, requiring customers to buy and configure the underlying hardware.

PlateSpin will sell Forge at a starting price of $50,000, or $2,000 per protected workload. Chui said that the company’s channel partners think Forge will be a big seller because of its ease of use. “You just press the big green button, and away it goes, doing its thing.”

December 5, 2007  4:59 PM

Virtualization book club: ‘Professional VMware Server: Programmer to Programmer’

Ryan Shopp Ryan Shopp Profile: Ryan Shopp

In’s new blog-entry series, “Virtualization book club,” I’ll post information related to our author interviews.

In today’s post, I’d like to introduce you to Eric Hammersley, author of Professional VMware Server: Programmer to Programmer, a previous CIO of the Sassi Institute, and a current engineer at defense and space company EG&G Technical Services in Bloomington, Ind.

Professional VMware Server was the first book published on the VMware product. It offers information on how to install and configure VMware Server; tips for creating base images; methods for organizing image libraries and preparing them for use; best practices for using VmCOM, VmPerl and the application programming interface; and integrate VMware Server in an existing environment and more.

Much to his welcome suprise, Hammersley was contacted by Wiley publishers to write the book.

“I was honored to have the opportunity to write Professional VMware Server,” he said. “Thankfully, it was an easy sell, and I was given wide latitude in terms of direction and content.”

Hammersley first fell in love with virtualization when he worked as a government contractor for the U.S. Navy. He was installing multiple servers and switch racks aboard U.S. Navy ships to support the Navy’s Information Technology for the 21st Century initiative (IT-21).

“With the virtualization technology being developed by VMware and impact on space, the recoverability and survivability of the infrastructure could be greatly increased,” Hammersley said. “I do not know if they ever leveraged virtualization technology as part of that program, but the robustness of the technology today would be a great asset to that ongoing project.”

Although Hammersley doesn’t have other books on the market, we should expect to see his name on the IT bookshelves sometime soon. “We always have Vix to expand on,” he said. “We’ll see what happens.”

Ironically enough, the original VMware Server author missed VMware’s IPO this past summer.

“I never get in on those things in time,” Hammersley joked. “I missed the Nvidia spike back in 2000 that I knew was coming but procrastinated, the Google IPO and now the VMware IPO. I suppose I’ll just be content with writing books and putting in my eight hours.”

December 5, 2007  4:41 PM

‘VMware, Citrix, Microsoft, oh my!’: Virtualization Log

Alex Barrett Alex Barrett Profile: Alex Barrett

With all the hype and hoopla surrounding virtualization, picking the right platform can be a scary proposition. For those of you who haven’t yet chosen VMware’s, Citrix’s or Microsoft ‘s virtualization platform, IT consultant Steve Shah explores their respective virtualization approaches (rather than their technical differences) to help you decide which one is right for you.

If you do go down the VMware road, we have a bunch of tips to get you started. Expert Rick Vanover offers advice on ensuring a successful mass physical-to-virtual migration. The takeaway: Measure twice, cut once.

Meanwhile, for the cheapskates among us, Harley Stagner gives us a two-part tip on how to get failover and high availability for a file server running on ESX without buying VMotion or VMware High Availability. In the first part, Stagner explains how to set up Windows Server 2003 as a file server on an iSCSI storage array; in part two, he describes a nifty way to use the free VMware Converter 3.0.1 and p2vtool.exe to script the failover of that file server, without incurring downtime. Neat-o.

Finally, expert Andrew Kutz helps a VMware user struggling with a script to help him shut down and power up VMs outside VirtualCenter. The answer, Kutz says, lies in the FindByDnsName method. Kutz also explains how to create a library assembly (DLL) that can be referenced from other .NET applications.

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