Custom Application Development

Mar 17 2008   2:26PM GMT

Virtualization Revisited

SJC SJC Profile: SJC

With much anticipation I find myself preparing my laptop once again to be used as a tool to demonstrate capabilities of software which I developed.  This is no ordinary preparation.  I will soon start an extended road trip during which I will be doing both development and demonstrations.  Last October I wrote in this blog about how valuable virtualization has become in my environment.  Since then, it has become an even more powerful tool which I use daily.  My use of virtualization technology has become a staple component of my development environment.

In that previous post I did make reference to having a network on my laptop.  My references back then were mainly around using a virtualized environment for testing applications.  However, as I am preparing my “laptop network” for this road trip, it occurs to me how very useful this “laptop network” would be to any salesperson who is demonstrating software applications.  The ability to have it all in one place, it all of course referring to a whole network, is a valuable timesaver — allowing demonstration of capabilities far beyond that of a normal PC, and providing a controlled environment in which to run the demo.

How many of us have been in situations where we’ve gone to demo product, only to find the resources we assumed would be available suddenly were not.  Common resources such as an Internet connection are generally expected to be available.  It can be a major upset to suddenly find that it is not, and therefore your demo cannot proceed as expected.  Through virtualization, and creating a network on your laptop, it provides a controlled environment which can be totally preconfigured prior to your demo.  It doesn’t get any better than that!

Virtualization has become commonplace today.  While there is some learning curve to setting up and using a virtualized “laptop network”, I have not found it to be particularly difficult.  I believe it is well within the capability of most developers to create it and certainly worth the time investment.

When I first started using virtualization, I began with VM Ware.  It has served me well.  However, as Microsoft has become more engaged in virtualization, certainly their virtualization products are an excellent choice as well.  Whichever environment you choose to start with, there is a free version.  Go ahead and be daring, check out both of them.  Determine which is best for you — and run with it.

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  • Wrobinson
    Hi Joe, great article on the benefits of virtualization. I too, use virtualization for demonstrations and test labs. The ability to convert physical computers to virtual machines, a process called P2V is also a great way to clone it for backup purposes or to enable its use as a utility to be used by others, as you mentioned. Today, in addition to 'machine' virtualization which typically encompasses a physical machine, its OS and applications, there are also products on the market from EMC Rainfinity and Microsoft SoftGrid that offer file and application virtualization respectively and opens the door to yet another completely new and different world of opportunity. With Microsoft's Hyper-V built into Windows Server 2008 which can run within Server Core without a GUI and only the components and services required to function according to a server's desired role(s), Microsoft is poised to give VMware a run for its money.
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