RTFM Education – Virtualization, VMware, Citrix

Sep 15 2009   8:23AM GMT

VMworld 2009: The Future of Virtualization: Mobile Phone to the Cloud

Michelle Laverick Michelle Laverick Profile: Michelle Laverick

You might recall I didn’t actually make it to the second days keynote. I was actually lying on my bed in the Marriot recovering from the previous nights exercisions. I took to monitoring twitter and assembling a blog post even though I wasn’t actually at the keynote. How’s that for virtual blogging.

Anyway, I heard the was some news about DRS for Storage in the keynote – and I was intrigued enough to actually watch the session on VMworld 2009 where the sessions have recently become available.


My plan is to watch one of these videos each day and then blog about them. Given I only made it two sessions (and one I had to be at because I was speaking) I thought I should pay some penance for my sins.

Anyway, if keynote’s aren’t you bag – your welcome to skip this. As ever you have to work pretty hard to get something concrete from a keynote. In the past however, the keynotes have been used to showboat bleeding edge technologies – the best for being the demo of Continious Availability (AKA Fault Tolerence) made by the founder of VMware in 2007…

The session starts with an inspirational rap about virtualization. The important part of this bit was the single phrase “lets stop grabbing the low-hanging fruit, and start reaching for the pie in the sky…” I think myself and others have been “guity” of recommending going for the low-hanging fruit in the past. True, back when I began in 2003/2004 with VMware there was a LOT political opposition, and also performance limitations – that stopped us pushing for maximum virtualization percentage. The trouble is that kind of thinking is a striaghjacket now. We (by which I mean me) have to stop with the low-hanging fruit mentality. It’s time to push towards 70%, 80% and 99% virtualization.  Most companies have a “virtualization first” policy, that perfers virtualization to physicalization. The boot is certainly on the other foot, now people have to come to me to justify and excuse their need for a physical box…

Anyway, it was time for Steve Herrod to come up and do some crystal ball stuff:

The focus initially on the session was about VDI, so Steve was keen to stress the testing VMware did with vSphere4 was not just with server-VM workloads – but also Windows XP, Vista and 7 workloads too. He pointed out that in their tests the new processors from Intel allowed them to double the number of VDI VMs you could run. I doubt the technical accuracy of what he says, but you would have thought memory density would be more relavant. As ever with these keynotes there’s a tendency to name check every partner and OEM in effort to show how VMware is surround by cluster of other companies working together. Steve promised to show improvement in “policy management” surrounding View and Virtual Desktop, drawing on their ACE (Assured Computing Environment) system. That would be very welcome – because currently View3.1 doesn’t have a substantive policy system of its own. I wouldn’t be suprised that in years to come there will be some consolidation of the different desktop oriented systems – I predict aspect of ACE increasingly becoming part of View. So he spoke of ways by which a virtual desktop can be teminated if the system is abused by an end-user.

Anyway, the first big announcement was that VMware are working with RTO Soft on their “virtual profiles” technology. The ideas is separate the OS from the Applications – and both of those from the personalization data (your preferrences, mapped network drives, mapped printers). This should (theotrically) mean that the OS and Applications can be patched and updated without affecting the end-user… Again, Steve mentioned the PC-over-IP project that allows exteremely good graphics rendering to a virtual desktop. It’s part of an on-going partnership with Terridici. From what I hear currently PCofIP is not supported with the ViewSecurity brokering system – and right now you need a separate VPN facilicity if you wanted to run a View Virtual Desktop across the WAN – this isn’t the case if the desktop is run across the LAN. PCoIP is a completely software solution, but there is the option for hardware vendors to over acelaration chips to their system to squeeze even better performance. PCoIP has a progressive display – which shows text first, and loosy image, which then gets sharper and sharper as you look at it.

Herrod also flagged up the offline desktop capabilities of View which was actually launched earlier this year, and is currently only “experimentally supported”.

Heriod went on to talk about a “hosted virtualization” product that will run a virtual desktop on a client hypervisor – specifically aimed at those people who have adopted the policy of allowing employees to source their preferred laptop/device – yet still giving them access to the corporate network by a approved virtual desktop image issued say on a DVD… Heriod at this point invited “Mike” (not me!) on the stage to do a demo…

Mike loaded up a View session with a virtual desktop running locally using an early release of a Type1 “client” hypervisor – optimised by hardware from Intel. He was able to show stuff like 3D DirectX graphics, Youtube videos and AeroGlass in Vista working in a virtual machine.

He then switched over to a more conventional thin-client with a View session. To demo PCoIP he demo’d a fly over in GoogleEarth – which is a kind of 3D animated fly through to the Mike’s home town…. This was initially shown over an LAN connection, then Mike “went home” (where he likes to work in his PJ’s apparently) to show the quality of experience over the WAN. He showed how he could easily move images around in a PowerPoint presentation (specifically updating his PowerPoints to have the new VMware corporate logo). At this point he moved to using a conventional old-PC. Finally, he showed how he could connect to his desktop from his iPhone – with some new software from Wyse called “Pocket Cloud”.  The software from Wyse allows you to connect via View or RDP to your desktop – move a virtual on-screen mouse to click and right-click the virtual desktop. It also supports the iPhone screen rotate feature and the ability to resize and zoom out. This is a demo which was done from the solutions exchange.

As the talk was just about mobile access to the virtual desktop, Herrod took the opportunity to remind people of the vCenter Mobile Access Appliance. It’s a free virtual appliance which allows you to manage your vCenter environment via a mobile phone. View is managed by a web-admin front-end, and it sounds as if the engineers at VMware have been work on a version of it that will look & perform well on a hand-held device. So even when on your holiday you can still be working. Nice, huh?

Next Herrod moved over to discuss virtualizing the mobile phone. In Canne this year we were shown a PDA (or SmartPhone Or Phone – there seems to be a debate about the distinction about the 3 terms… isn’t the term PDA a little 1990′s now?) with a virtualization layer embedded inside it. Again the idea is that an employee can choose the favourite hand-held device, but then a standard corporate environment can be load up inside. So really they saying that the iPhone, Blackberry or whatever – its becoming increasingly a very small PC – because it carries out much of the same functions that the PC did/does – games, email, internet, IM etc, etc. A buzzword got coined here, but I think Herrod might have made this up on the cuff – vPhone! :-)

I the idea of this is to solve the common problem of doubling device. You have your personal phone and your work phone. With a vPhone you would need one phone – perhaps one you source yourself with a budget from corporate IT. The main OS is the one you use for personal stuff, and then on it a virtual layer is added – to allow the corparate vPhone build to then run. After this Herrod called to the stage a chap from the VISA (the credit card company…) He’s saw as way of changing the way payment services are delivered via the mobile device. There problem is the overwelming plethora of different platforms and device – a virtualized vSphone would allow them to get round this – as it doesn’t seem likely we will get any application/OS standard on a mobile device with Apple, Blackberry, Microsoft and Google Andriod all fight each other to be dominant OS on the device. Below is picture of mobile device which has the VMware hypervisor installed to it. The device has 256MB of RAM using Windows CE, and the hypervisor is about 30KB in size.

He showed the locator feature which integrates with Google maps – so you look for your nearest ATM machine. People laughed at this point because there were so many – wouldn’t probably be just as easy to “SPEAK TO A HUMAN BEING AND ASK SOMEONE!!!”

The twist in the demo was this. The VISA application was actually written for Andriod – but it was running on a Windows CE mobile phone. So see it abit like VMware Fusion if you like. Fusion allows Mac users to run Windows applications in a “hidden” Windows VM seamlessly. Windows & Mac Applications appear on the same taskbar as if it was just one operating  system running them. That’s pretty impressive I guess. But doubt whether Apple will ever allow the iPhone OS to run within a Windows Mobile phone anytime soon. :-)

Anyway, at this point the discussion moved away from client side virtualization the server-side things – from “little iron to big iron”. Herrod moved on to focus on VMotion – pointing out that for VMware moving a VM while it is powered without interuption is not new to them (although it is, ahem for others… :-) ). Because they have been doing it for 6 years it was time for anniversary (the sound track which was the “I like to move it, move it” song). It wasn’t clear how these stats were collected/validated but VMware the estimate over 353 million VMotions have taken place since this time.  Every 2  seconds the number incremements – ironically it looked like the national debt counter in NYC.  But really the early part of this was history class on what VMware has done, not will do… Whilst extoling the virtues of DRS, Herrod pointed out that VMware are looking to do similiar optimisation/controls on network and disks – but it wasn’t really explain how that would work. Storage optimisation can  tricky – if you want to improve I/O to the virtual machine – how do you find where the bottleneck – is in the HBA or is in an over-populated LUN. We all ready have plenty of I/O optimization at the HBA level from VMware’s own Round-Robin, Fixed/Preferred and MRU policies – now with vSphere the PSA model allows for vendors like EMC to produce the own load-balancers like PowerPath for VMware. Perhaps they will move a VM around from LUN to LUN using SVMotion – but its hard to see the benefits based on the penalities of actually carrying out SVMotion for performance – so far it’s been restricted to being a management utility. There was a screen grab – but the video didn’t show it.

Herrod then moved on to the benefits of DPM… and AppSpeed. I don’t know much about AppSpeed but it was interesting here that it doesn’t use agents to map out the relationship between your applications – but by sniffing IP traffic. It’s sounds like something along the lines of Capcity Planner. I wondered how well it it would cope in a multi-firewalled environment….

Anyway, at this point I was only 45 mins through 74 minute keynote, and I was beginning to loose the will. So I watched the rest, and wrote down what seemed to stick!

There was quick demo of ConfigControl. Unfortunately, the video on the VMworld 2009 gave back such poor screen grabs that it wasn’t worth trying to cut & paste them here. Basically ConfigControl gives you a full audit trail which tracks and traces all the changes in vSphere4. You can compare configuration between now and then – in an attempt to spot configuration changes that have caused problems. Many people would argue whether they should i pay for this, and point to vCenter relative poor Event/Task view tab. The example was of someone arbitarily changing a VLAN setting on a portgroup. For me if that happens it says more about the company change management policies than anything else. ConfigControl is not yet available – and will launched in the “1st half of next year”

Herrod outlined a future of self-service portals like lab manager where folks could dial up a VM like pizza hotline. It made me think of demo of such a pizza/VM hotline that Richard Garsengen talked about some years ago. Much like the idea that you allow your end users to go out and source their own laptop/phone. Why not let them source a VM from your portal suitable for their needs. Why not indeed? Are they qualified enough to choose the right type of VM for the workload – and will they come running back to me to fix/support it – when I wasn’t too closely involved in the precument process because I was regarded as bottleneck. I dunno…

After this there was quite a bit cloud, follow the sun, follow the moon, software mainframe, VDC-OS, LAAS, SAAS, PAAS stuff – where a nod was made to long distance VMotion. There’s was actually a session on this – this year at VMworld. Every week folks ask me about this – but I’ve never configured it myself. So I’m think that will be tommorows session.

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