The Virtualization Room

September 23, 2011  8:24 PM

OVA working to boost KVM exposure

Alyssa Provazza Alyssa Provazza Profile: Alyssa Provazza

The Open Virtualization Alliance, founded in May to promote KVM, has grown to more than 200 members since its launch, seeing specific interest from cloud-focused companies. But KVM isn’t exactly the first hypervisor people think of when they want to deploy a private cloud, so why the growth? 

Open Virtualization Alliance (OVA) board members credit the growth to increased awareness of the Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) hypervisor, freedom of choice, and KVM’s features. Founding members of the OVA include BMC Software, Eucalyptus Systems, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Intel, Red Hat and SUSE. Now, more than 50% of OVA members focus on cloud computing.

Despite this growth, many users are still unfamiliar with KVM. To increase understanding, the OVA is developing KVM best practices documentation. This fall, the alliance also plans to create forums for users to share best practices, as well as webinars, webcasts and learning events.

KVM deployments certainly face an uphill battle against the virtualization market leaders, and Red Hat’s KVM offerings still lag VMware in features. But for now, “[KVM] certainly will become more noticeable in the landscape,” said Inna Kuznetsova, OVA board member and vice president of IBM Systems and Technology Group.

KVM keys to success: Performance, security, management

OVA board members tout that KVM achieved the highest virtualization performance levels in SPECvirt benchmark tests, but it is KVM’s security features that appeal to some cloud providers. The hypervisor uses Security-Enhanced Linux, developed by the U.S. National Security Agency.

“Once you’re on a cloud, you have a multi-tenancy environment, so you want to have a high level of security,” Kuznetsova said. “And that’s what makes KVM attractive.”

Companies have eyed KVM for its price as well. With security features already built into the hypervisor, admins can spend less on virtualization security tools, Kuznetsova said.

Kuznetsova also pointed out KVM’s various virtualization management capabilities. The hypervisor relies on libvirt for basic management, and administrators can add advanced tools such as Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization or IBM Systems Director with VM Control. With these kinds of tools, you can manage multiple hypervisors, including VMware, Hyper-V and Xen.

The speed of innovation in open source development has also contributed to increased awareness of KVM. Because so many developers work on open source offerings, the technologies can advance very quickly, Kuznetsova said.

“The world of open source changes so fast, you always need to go back and see what’s changed,” she said.

September 22, 2011  1:32 PM

VMware networking R&D head jumps ship

Beth Pariseau Beth Pariseau Profile: Beth Pariseau

VMware’s director of networking research and development is now with a new company, Big Switch

Howie Xu was with VMware for nine years before making the move. He will lead the R&D unit at Big Switch, which is an OpenFlow company; OpenFlow is a software-defined networking protocol that introduces a management broker above the network to do sophisticated routing.

Xu was last publicly visible at VMworld 2010, discussing a network virtualization platform dubbed vChassis, which would have used plug-ins to a new software layer to manage networking elements of the infrastructure.

Continued »

September 15, 2011  2:03 PM

Cisco Nexus 1000V to support Hyper-V 3.0

Beth Pariseau Beth Pariseau Profile: Beth Pariseau

Cisco Systems Inc. is preparing to support Windows Server 8 Hyper-V with its Nexus 1000V virtual switch, which previously only supported VMware.

A newly extensible virtual switch was among the new Hyper-V 3.0 features turning heads at Microsoft’s Build conference this week, but until now, specific partners had not been mentioned. Cisco has been previewing this support at Build, and has recently made a public post on its website about the Nexus 1000V and Hyper-V.

In the post, Cisco said it will also support Windows Server 8 Hyper-V with its Unified Computing System Virtual Machine Fabric Extender feature, which uses single-root I/O virtualization to connect virtual machines to the network through virtualized physical network adapters.

As with the forthcoming Hyper-V itself, there’s no indication of when these features will become generally available. What’s being talked about at Build this week is a pre-beta preview meant for developers, not enterprise deployments.

September 8, 2011  2:28 PM

VMware teases vSphere roadmap at VMworld

KeithKessinger Keith Kessinger Profile: KeithKessinger

In future vSphere releases, VMware will focus on optimizing for the cloud and improving how clusters work.

These changes will further blur the line between a virtual data center and a cloud infrastructure, said Bogomil Balkansky, VMware’s vice president of product marketing. During an interview at VMworld 2011, he explained VMware’s vSphere roadmap in terms of three expanding circles, starting at the host, then moving out to the cluster and ending at the data center/cloud level:

Continued »

September 7, 2011  2:13 PM

VMware MVP: A good idea, but…

KeithKessinger Keith Kessinger Profile: KeithKessinger

VMware highlighted its Mobile Virtualization Platform at VMworld 2011, but I left the show feeling like the technology is little more than a novelty.

The concept itself is a good one, but the lack of Apple iOS support, VMware’s reliance on Google’s fragmented hardware partners and concerns about battery life will all be major obstacles to widespread Mobile Virtualization Platform (MVP) adoption.

Nowadays, more people are using their personal smartphones for work purposes — checking email, viewing documents, accessing corporate apps, etc. It’s convenient for users, but it creates security and management nightmares for IT departments.

With the Mobile Virtualization Platform (MVP), your IT department can run a virtual machine (VM) on your smartphone, complete with another operating system — in effect, giving you a personal phone and a work phone on the same device. Inside the VM, IT admins can use VMware’s new Horizon line of application-management tools to authorize specific applications and corporate email accounts.

Continued »

September 6, 2011  8:47 PM

VMware previews future SRM features

Beth Pariseau Beth Pariseau Profile: Beth Pariseau

In the future, VMware Site Recovery Manager will offer policy-based, multi-tenant disaster recovery for vCloud Director.

That’s according to VMware officials who previewed the Site Recovery Manager (SRM) roadmap during the VMworld 2011 conference last week.

SRM operates at the virtual machine (VM) level today, but the next version will allow for application-level disaster recovery (DR) protection according to policies set by either vSphere administrators or organizational managers, said Ashwin Kotian, a senior product manager for VMware.

“We want to … enable DR similar to how you enable [High Availability],” Kotian said. “Associate a service level, and based on the service level, SRM is going to make sure that [an application] gets provisioned to the right data stores, that it’s properly replicated and that it’s going to be associated with the right recovery plan.”

Continued »

September 6, 2011  5:51 PM

Wanted: Server Virtualization Advisory Board member

Colin Steele Colin Steele Profile: Colin Steele

We have an open spot on our Server Virtualization Advisory Board. Would you like to fill the void?

Our advisory board members are our go-to experts who keep us up to date on the latest news and trends in the server virtualization market. They share their insights with our readers by answering a topical question of the month. And they even have a fancy page that shows off their pictures and bios.

If you’re a server virtualization user or consultant — no vendor employees, please — and this sounds like your cup of tea, here’s how to throw your hat in the ring: email me by Sept. 26 with your bio and a few sentences about why you want to join the Server Virtualization Advisory Board.

We’ll choose the newest board member by the end of the month. Good luck!

September 6, 2011  2:47 PM

Red Hat has it both ways with Hybrid Mode

KeithKessinger Keith Kessinger Profile: KeithKessinger

Red Hat revealed a future feature of KVM and Red Hat Enterprise Linux at VMworld 2011 that will allow native non-virtualized applications to run alongside virtual machines and virtual desktops on a host. Called Hybrid Mode, it will eliminate latency issues associated with running workloads inside virtual machines, while still delivering the consolidation and management benefits of virtualization, said Navin Thadani, senior director of Red Hat’s virtualization business.

Virtual machine performance has continued to improve, and more companies are virtualizing tier-one applications. Even so, workloads that require low latency, such as a bank’s financial-trading applications, still have performance issues in a virtual infrastructure.

With Hybrid Mode, you can have bare-metal performance with a native Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) application on a host that also runs virtual machines and virtual desktops – all of which can be managed through the RHEL interface. At the same time, you can still improve consolidation ratios by sticking workloads normally reserved for physical servers on virtual hosts.

That said, there are some caveats. You will need to use common sense when placing performance-intensive applications on a server with other virtual machines. If the server’s resources are taxed, obviously the workloads will suffer. Also the application is native to RHEL, so it doesn’t have the advantages of virtualization, such as live migration.

Red Hat users shouldn’t get too excited about Hybrid Mode, which will not ship with Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization 3.0 this year.

August 31, 2011  6:53 PM

VMware focuses on end-user computing on VMworld 2011 day two

Lauren Horwitz Lauren Horwitz Profile: Lauren Horwitz

On day two of VMworld 2011 during the technical keynote with CTO Steve Herrod, VMware focused on end-user computing, mobility and desktop virtualization.

At the Tuesday session, Herrod devoted the first 45 minutes of his talk to VMware’s goal to bring anywhere, anytime access to mobile users. One key piece of this puzzle is Horizon Mobile, which delivers work-related mobile applications to devices such as smartphones and tablet computers, and updates to VMware View 5 to deliver a virtual desktop image to workers’ computers.

Herrod and a VMware engineer did a demo to illustrate how VMware has made it possible for workers to separate personal and work identities on phones and tablets. Other key efforts he described include:

  • VMware AppBlast. A new project that allows you to start any application in a HTML5-compatible browser on any device.
  • VXLAN. Technology that facilitates virtual machine (VM) mobility. It provides a layer 2 abstraction to VMs, independent of where they are located.
  • VMware Octopus. A Dropbox-like service for enterprises.

In the second half of the session, Herrod discussed improvements to VMware vSphere 5 to make infrastructure more reliable, available and secure — another effort to support user-focused computing.

For more on the technical keynote, check out this video.

For more VMworld 2011 conference coverage, click here.

August 30, 2011  1:06 AM

Maritz avoids vSphere 5 licensing talk

Colin Steele Colin Steele Profile: Colin Steele

VMware CEO Paul Maritz mentioned “canonical applications” and “cloud” dozens of times each during his VMworld keynote this afternoon. But there was one word buzzword he didn’t mention at all: licensing.

VMware ticked off a lot of its loyal customers last month with its new vSphere 5 licensing policy, which charges users for the amount of memory they assign to VMs. It was the biggest story of the summer, overshadowing the highly anticipated vSphere 5 launch itself.

I know VMware addressed the problem a few weeks later and seemingly placated most of the upset customers. But VMworld is the largest gathering of virtualization pros — 19,000 strong this year — and it could’ve been a good opportunity for Maritz to say how much VMware strives to please its customers and respond to their feedback.

Instead, the elephant in the room went unmentioned.

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