The company is developing a KVM hypervisor called AlacrityVM, as virtualization.info points out. The move follows in the footsteps of Red Hat, Novell’s open source rival, which moved from Xen to KVM with its latest release, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.4.
KVM is still a relatively unproven enterprise technology with a very small user base. Its biggest advantage over Xen, the leader in Linux virtualization, is that it is built into the Linux kernel. And that’s just not enough of a reason to switch for most people.
The proprietary virtualization platforms, VMware and Hyper-V, are far and away the market leaders. Behind them are the Xen platforms, led by Citrix XenServer but also including Oracle VM and others.
Red Hat and Novell are even further behind. They really have nothing to lose, so they both can afford to take a shot on KVM. If the technology catches on, they can ride the wave and prosper. If not, they won’t be much worse off.
For more on Linux virtualization trends, check out this Xen vs. KVM face-off between experts Andi Mann and Sander van Vugt.]]>
Sounds good so far, right? Well, there are a few things Red Hat neglected to mention in that press release. First, there’s this sentence buried in the Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization data sheet, about the system requirements for management servers:
“Windows Server 2008 not supported.”
Isn’t that kinda like coming out with a hot new car and saying, “unleaded gasoline not supported”?
In our recent “Virtualization Decisions 2009 Purchasing Intentions Survey,” 51% of respondents said they have Windows Server 2008 installed, and 36% said they use Windows Server 2008 for mission-critical applications. It was the second most popular server OS, behind Windows Server 2003.
Red Hat Enterprise Linux was the third most popular server OS among our survey respondents, with a 36% installed base and 29% use for mission-critical applications. And here’s the kicker: Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization for Servers won’t support that OS either!
The data sheet doesn’t explicitly say there’s no RHEL support, like it does for Windows Server 2008, but the management server requirements specifically say that you need an x86 server with the U.S. English language version of Windows Server 2003 R2 SP2, .NET 3.5 or later with the Application Server role installed.
Red Hat is trying to become a bigger player in the virtualization market. The company has taken a different approach, embracing the KVM hypervisor over Xen. And this new Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization for Servers platform is its most ambitious attempt yet.
But by not supporting management servers that run Windows Server 2008 or RHEL (or any other OS besides Windows Server 2003), Red Hat cuts out a huge chunk of potential customers and makes its uphill climb in the market even steeper.
Hat tip to @nickyp, who pointed out the Windows Server 2003 requirement on Twitter.]]>
I know, it seems ridonklulous to think that Microsoft would give up on its Windows operating system — a product that dominates its market like few others in IT or any other industry. But in light of Microsoft’s recent Linux outreach, it’s a legitimate question.
Before I explain, here’s the back story for those who have been living in a cave this week: Microsoft released three Linux drivers Monday under GPLv2 (a first). The drivers are supposed to help Linux guest operating systems run on Hyper-V.
Some IT folks think this move marks the beginning of a seismic shift for Microsoft: from a focus on the operating system (Windows) to a focus on the infrastructure (Hyper-V).
“As they’ve probably noticed, their future is not in operating systems anymore,” Mark Grand, a systems administrator at Emory University, told SearchITChannel.com this week.
And Frank Basanta, technology director for Systems Solutions in New York City, had this to say: “Microsoft wants to make sure you can run all your stuff in their environment.”
In some respects, this idea makes sense. VMware has clearly taken the infrastructure-first approach, and the company is only emphasizing that more with its latest release, vSphere 4. (vSphere, by the way, was originally called the Virtual Data Center Operating System. Wonder if that had anything to do with the name change?)
Other tech giants are following suit. Cisco has its Unified Computing System, and Google is placing its bets on cloud infrastructure. So it’s only natural for Microsoft to want in on the action.
Still, to give up on Windows so quickly and easily would be foolhardy on Microsoft’s part. I attended last week’s Worldwide Partner Conference and left with the impression that Microsoft is sticking with its operating system focus for the foreseeable future, thanks to the bright spotlight shone on Windows 7 throughout the event.
But Microsoft has a long history of sending mixed messages about its products. Just days before the release of the Linux drivers, for example, COO Kevin Turner spent a good chunk of his WPC keynote criticizing open source software.
Now, when the question comes to Microsoft’s strategy — operating system or infrastructure — it appears that mixed messages will rule yet again.]]>
To go to the start of why … a long time ago, back when my office primarily used VMware GSX3 for virtulization at the server level, I had a real need to do backups of the virtual machine disk files (VMDK). My GSX hosts were Linux servers and I used a simple cron job to launch scripts on a schedule, which triggered a suspension, tarring of the VMs and scp-ing of the tarballs to a network-attached storage (NAS) box before re-starting the guests. It let me avoid buying backup licenses for my guests (which were mostly pre-production units, image builds, etc.) and gave me a complete point-in-time recovery solution better than anything I could buy off the shelf (at the time). It ws so efficient that when my company joined the Core Customer Program, I was asked to give a webinar on the topic. Sadly, that webinar is now so out-of-date that it’s been pulled from VMware’s site and I can’t find it on archive.org.
Now why would I kick myself? Because that simple idea is at the root of esXpress. It does it a lot better than I did and focuses on ESX rather than GSX/Server, but at the core it’s very similar. It gets around the need for downtime and uses gzip under the hood rather than tar, but it has a Linux OS guest that essentially copies, compresses and offloads other guests. I was pretty impressed by how simply and efficiently the product works, though I must admit to being bit jealous — if only I had realized there was a <i>product</i> there in that idea.
So kudos to esXpress for taking a good idea and making a good product out of it!]]>
When VMware Inc. announced there would be 14,000 people attending VMworld 2008 this week, they weren’t blowing smoke. Last year’s show in San Francisco held about 10,000 attendees and that seemed like a lot. Apparently, that was just the beginning.
The volume of IT administrators who are here in Vegas this week makes me wonder in a slight panic, who is manning all of the servers?
It reminds me of an episode of the cartoon American Dad, where the main character, a CIA agent named Stan Smith, storms into a Sci-Fi convention looking for someone and sees a place swarming with stereotypical techie types. “Good God, who is manning the Internet?,” he gasped.
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/ARkg55EkPw8" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
Joking aside, the not-subtle point I am trying to make is that the huge turnout at VMworld 2008 signals how popular virtualization is today, reminiscent of the earlier days of Linux when LinuxWorld was a huge show.
Though the LinuxWorld organizers claimed there were 10,000 people at the show in San Francisco last month, it didn’t seem that way. “When Linux was an emerging technology that people were excited about, those LinuxWorld shows were like [VMworld] is today,” said AMD’s commercial products director Margaret Lewis. “But now Linux is mainstream, so the excitement is gone.”
She said AMD didn’t set up a booth at the LinuxWorld show floor this year because turnout the previous year was low. And by the way, AMD has a monster booth set up at VMworld this year.
Which means that when virtualization becomes mainstream, VMworld will no longer be “the place to be.” Maybe VMware 2015 will be held at a small conference center in a small state, like Rhode Island (which is great, by the way).
But for now, VMworld Las Vegas is it.]]>
Like VMware VI, VirtualIron and XenServer, Proxmox Virtual Environment (PVE) is a bare-metal, type-1 hypervisor that installs onto a fresh server and turns the machine into a dedicated virtualization host. It is an open source product based on open source products, making it transparent to developers, and thereby it has all the advantages and disadvantages associated with OSS deleopment projects (I find few disdadvantages myself, but I’m admittedly biased because I think that the transparency of OSS is highly valuable.) The goal, outlined in their vision page, is to create an enterprise-class virtualization platform that affords unparalleled flexibility (my words, not theirs.)
The short-list of what PVE supports:
This is one of those will-be-great-if-it-lives products. It has a lot going for it, particularly in the ability to manage multiple types of virtualization platform strategies. That said, there are still many drawbacks, as expected of a pre-1.0 release (currently at 0.9). As such, it’s got it’s share of issues to get through before it’s really ready.
PVE currently doesn’t seem to have much in the way of granular user management for the web interface (though the forums do state that it is on the roadmap). Physical-to-virtual (P2V) capabilities are still a little raw, without any in-house tools to handle migrations. The Wiki site for PVE does explain how to use existing tools such as vmzdump, VMware Converter, etc. to migrate servers into formats that PVE can handle. There’s nothing in the way of DRS/HA equivalents, and while PVE does have tools for Live Migration, they don’t work due to a”kernel error”, according to the Wiki. KVM backup is limited to using LVM2, whereas OpenVZ has that option as well as vzdump, though a tool for KVM on the roadmap for 1.0. Guest SMP is described as unstable, as well.
The cluster management feature looks a little like this image, from their website:
The more day-to-day function of creating a new virtual machine looks like this:
Because it’s a Debian operating system, storage choices are limited only by the availability of drivers for the hardware platform. iSCSI, NFS, and other remote storage file systems can be mounted and used to store virtual machines.
The product looks like it will shake up some thinking in the virtualization platform market and may get people thinking more about what it means to be limited to only one type of virtualization option. When it hits that magic 1.0 mark, and most of the major flaws above are fixed for the majority of users, this product could really shine. Overall, I rate this product a seven poker for stirring things up, down from nine because it’s still cooking.]]>
Portland, Ore.-based Tripwire ConfigCheck is a free Windows and Linux based utility that assesses the security of VMware ESX 3.5 hypervisor configurations compared to the VMware Infrastructure 3 Security Hardening guidelines, which were released in February.
The Security Hardening guidelines explain in detail the security-related configuration options of the components of VMware Infrastructure 3 and how security affects certain capabilities.
Tripwire ConfigCheck makes sure ESX environments are properly configured according to these guidelines and lends insight into vulnerabilities in virtual environments. It also provides the necessary steps towards full remediation.
Dan Schoenbaum, senior vice president of marketing and business development for Tripwire
said the utility is being offered for free to encourage the proliferation of VMware’s Hardening guidelines and to increase virtual machine (VM) security.
Tripware hopes that by giving a taste of their technology for free, users will become familiar with them and invest in their software products with more security capabilities, Schoenbaum said.
Colorado Springs, Co.-based Configuresoft Inc. also provides a toolkit for compliance with VMware’s security hardening guidelines. The toolkit consists of a set of rule-based templates, reports and dashboards that plug into Configuresoft’s Enterprise Configuration Manager (ECM).]]>
While VMware has not officially announced any plans to develop cross-platform versions of the VI Client or any of its other Windows-only applications, the above-mentioned thread includes one response from a VMware employee who hints that VMware may eventually release a Linux version. A Linux version of a VI Client would be considered a welcomed addition by many VMware customers, if not as an essential feature for those that are using ESX servers in non-Windows environments.
Many customers have also been wanting a Linux version of VirtualCenter, VMware’s centralized management product for ESX, and support for open source databases like MySQL. VirtualCenter will only install on a Windows server and its required database only supports Microsoft SQL Server or Oracle databases. You can also use SQL Express with VirtualCenter, but it is not recommended or supported for production environments. Because of this limitation, customers that wish to use VirtualCenter must also plan on the additional expense of Windows operating systems licenses for the VirtualCenter server as well as a database license if they do not already have an existing SQL/Oracle database server that they can use for the VirtualCenter database.
Unless more customers speak up and request that VMware produce cross-platform versions of their current Windows-only applications, they will probably not end up developing them. If the demand exists, there’s a better likelihood of it happening. Having Linux versions would also help VMware compete in an increasingly competitive virtualization market. If you would like to see VMware develop a Linux version of the VI Client and other applications, contact your VMware sales representatives and let them know.]]>
Sun’s VDI 2.0 provides interfaces to PCs, mobile devices, and thin clients including Sun’s own Sun Ray thin client offering. With it, centralized desktops can be delivered through the LAN or WAN to Windows Vista, Windows XP, Mac OS X, Solaris or Linux on the desktop, which is fairly unique in the Windows-centric desktop market, said Chris Kawalek, Product Line Manager, Desktop & Virtualization Marketing, Sun Microsystems.
Sun’s VDC, meanwhile, is is more or less a connection broker that interfaces with ESX 3.5 and 3.0.x and Virtual Center Server 2.0.x and 2.5 (VMware infrastructure 3) to create pools of virtual machines that can be defined based on templates.
With Sun’s updated VDI offering, administrators can statically or dynamically assign users to specific VMs, either for a set number of days or indefinitely. Another feature is the ability to ‘reset’ end users’ virtual machines (VMs) if problems arise. For instance, if the user contracts a virus while on the web, the VM can be reset to a date before the issue occurred and operate as it did on that date, Kawalek said.
The tight integration with VMware virtualization software can be attributed to the OEM agreement Sun signed with VMware Inc. in February. Thus, with VDI 2.0, users can actively manage VMware virtual machines, but VMs from other vendors like Virtual Iron can only be statically created and assigned, Kawalek said.
Kawalek said Sun moved into the VDI space last year because it embodies Sun’s ‘the network is the computer’ message. Another reason? It’s the popular thing to do. “Everyone is very interested in centralizing their desktop environment, which is why vendors like Hewlett-Packard and VMware are in this space,” he said.
Sun’s VDI Version 2.0 became available March 18 at $149 per user, including one year of support. Sun Ray thin clients start at $249. Directions on how to install VDI 2.0 are available online, and a free trial can be downloaded from Sun’s website.]]>
This how to (and my prior post) should also work on other RHEL clones (like Whitebox, when they get WBEL 5 out). It should also work on RHEL.]]>