Join the Conversation on Virtualization
Tue, 25 Apr 2006
Virtualization is the COOLEST thing
Continuing on our topic of virtualization of development environments:
TallSails asks the question "What do you do with 18 servers, containing 22 power supplies, 26 processors, 31 gb of memory, and 51 disk drives, consuming over 14,000 watts of power?" His answer:
Replace it all with one SUN 4100. Thats what my company did and we couldn't be happier. Using VMware and virtual machines running all the same applications, Operating systems, licensed third party stuff we did before.
My developers, who chew up servers like skittles, love centralized workstations in VMs on the servers too - they can work from home, from a park, they can collaborate several folks for a few minutes on the same VM (they don't like working together for more than a few minutes....). Our multi-city development is doing great. Centralization is now hip, even with the "I want big iron on my desk" crowd. The large number of servers it takes to support older versions of our applications in the field - virtualized. Its eco-friendly and they spin up in seconds - much faster than a cold boot.
The hardest part of the whole project? Finding out what to do with the other 50% of the SUN 4100 - its running well below 50% capacity.
Again, read the whole thing, as they say. TallSails is enjoying his new virtualized environment -- don't spend that projected $30,000 in power savings all in one place!
posted by jtroyer at: 17:15 |
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A few recent notes on virtualizing your development environment:
Shawn Riesterer at Obishawn says that being able to
archive your build box is a very good thing.
Where I work they have the concept of freezing build boxes with every release. So at the end of a release, that build box is frozen and a new box is purchased for the next version. This was a new concept to me. However due to some events that unfolded when we did not freeze a build box and decided to build that version's two service packs on the same box. Bad things unfolded. Suffice to say, I now am all for the freezing of build boxes. The problem is that process gets expensive and time consuming (setting up and maintaining those boxes and providing disaster recovery for all of them).
So when we got close to the end of our last version, I proposed to our project manager that we go virtual with our build environment.
Cass McNutt at ThoughtsOnThinking has built up a
virtualized development environment of Delphi components:
One of the things that makes Delphi such a powerful (in my opinion) development environment, is its component framework. Where this technology really pays off is not so much in the initial out-of-the-box component set that comes with Delphi (though that is nice); it's in how easily it can be added to, via customizing/inheritance, from-scratch creation, or the purchase of third-party components.
The downside of all this, though, is that re-installing a built-over-years component library into Delphi's IDE can take a huge amount of time. It's literally not unlike having to do a full, manual format-and-reinstall of your day-to-day Windows PC, with lots of little details and nits that can get in the way. ...
The beauty of it, though, was when I did a full wipe/restore on the whole laptop a few weeks ago (sped up considerably via Ghost). My entire "development computer" had been copied off as a single file to an external USB drive prior to the format/restore, and once I had my laptop's OS and VMWare up and going, all I had to do was copy that virtual machine file over, and I was back in business. Worked like a charm...
Jeffrey Palermo writes about their development environment
We have CruiseControl.Net and FitNesse installed on the host machine, and we run 6 or 7 development servers all the time as virtual machines on Virtual Server 2005. We need all the development servers, and it's a lot easier having one physical server than it is to maintain a whole rack. When a situation arises where we need another dev server, it's no problem.
posted by jtroyer at: 17:11 |
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Mon, 24 Apr 2006
New VMware employee blog -- The Virtual Side
New on the VMware employee blogroll: Puneet Chawla with The Virtual Side.
His blog's title is 360 Degree view of Utility Computing: Utility Computing with Virtualization is an irreversible transformation, which gives you an idea of where he's coming from.
Today's post ties into VMware's new announcement about
Desktop Infrastructure in the context of security and manageability.
My friendly neighbour CIO likes to swear at the notion of flat world. He claims that the flat world is only the people side of the picture. What about the data? Business works on information and even though people are mobile and spread all across the park the problem is that the data is still at the headquarters. He also claims that things will remain the same for quite some time to come.
Does the classic terminal server model solve the new problems of the flat world?
And his blog kicks off by talking about Utility Computing and virtualization:
Software running on the box will never be able to grow the box with the changing requirements on its own. Operating Systems are designed to control the hardware. They are not designed to satisfy the fluctuating demands of the service.
The new box has to sit below the old box. The new box has to promise that it will focus on new problems. The new box is not constrained. The new box offers mobility. The new box is not only Systems. The new box is the Application. The new box is Utility Computing.
The new box in town is Virtualization !
Read the whole thing, as they say. And welcome another voice from VMware into the blogosphere!
posted by jtroyer at: 17:28 |
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Thu, 20 Apr 2006
VMware at BayLISA tonight
If you're in the Silicon Valley area, drop by April's BayLISA meeting 7-10pm tonight, April 20.
- Virtual Infrastructure Methodology (Assess, Plan, Build, and Manage) and the VIM Center of Excellence. (Rich Hogan, VMware Professional Services)
- Virtualization Assessments: Qualification of Virtual Machine Candidates. (Jeremy Porter, Entisys)
- New Features in ESX Server 3 and VirtualCenter 2. (Russ Henmi, VMware Education).
- The Ultimate Virtual Appliance Challenge and Virtual Appliance Directory. (John Troyer, VMware VMTN)
Also presenting will be Peter Bowen from Novell on Common Platform Enhancements for Desktop and Server environments.
Free and open to the public. RSVP required via Mollyguard or
Apple Campus in DeAnza 3
10500 N DeAnza Blvd Cupertino, CA 95014
Garage 1 in Building 4
posted by jtroyer at: 09:23 |
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Fri, 14 Apr 2006
On Virtual Appliances
Today's guest blog entry is from Matt Ginzton, a member of the
technical staff here at VMware and a regular on the
We have some recent new pages on
appliances if you want more background, and of course come
visit the newly remodeled
Virtual Appliances directory
What are virtual appliances and why are you excited about them?
There are three questions here: what do we mean by appliance,
what makes a virtual appliance, and why is the idea useful.
You're familiar with old-school appliances that have nothing to
do with computers, like toasters, dishwashers and
refrigerators. You probably use several every day. They perform
one function and are designed around that one function, so they
don't require configuration, and you don't have to be an expert
to use one. It almost sounds silly to talk like this -- everyone
knows that, right? It's easy to take for granted in the everyday
world, but not so easy when it comes to computers. The modern
computer does many many things, and isn't designed for any
single purpose but rather for flexibility, and with this
flexibility comes complexity, and with the complexity comes
instability, complicated setup and configuration requirements,
and the need for training and expertise. One way to attack this
problem is by using several single-purpose systems, instead of
one multi-purpose system. The system designed for a single task
will be simpler to set up and simpler to use.
And there you have the concept of appliances as applied to
computing. Already, appliances are available for many computing
areas such as storage and networking. For personal use, consider
the network switch/router/firewall/wireless access point you
likely have at home -- all of these tasks are possible with
software running on your PC, if you're willing to configure it,
but nearly everybody is happier running this on a small box that
costs less than $100 and requires minimal setup or
configuration. For business use, sophisticated multilayer
systems for search, email, and other services have been
integrated into single appliances that provide exactly that
service, again abstracting away much of the
But what about flexibility, and is it really a win to replace
one piece of equipment with several, and do you really want to
buy a new box every time you want to perform a new task? Now
they each require space and electricity (each business-class
appliance is typically a 1U or larger rack-mounted system). So
we like the functional benefits of single-purpose appliances,
but we like the efficiency of it-slices-it-dices combination
machines. Luckily, when it comes to software, you can have it
both ways: virtual appliances offer the purpose-built usability
of physical appliances, but thanks to the magic of
virtualization, you don't actually need to add hardware
resources each time you add an appliance.
So by taking the "do one thing, and do it well" idea from
household appliances, and marrying it to the electronic
distribution and resource friendliness of virtual machines, you
get a new way to structure software, allowing simplicity and
flexibility to exist side by side instead of trading one for the
To recap: a virtual appliance is a complete set of software
designed for a single task, requiring minimal setup or training
or maintenance, self-contained, running virtually on the
hardware you already own.
posted by jtroyer at: 18:24 |
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New Appliance Directory
Check out the new VMTN Virtual
Appliances Directory. We've added an interactive interface to the
existing listings. You can slice and dice the appliances by category,
and you can also sort by fields like date or title or size.
Later this month, you'll be able to submit and update your virtual
appliances through the online system, instead of coming through me.
We'll also make sure we capture more information about the appliances
in the database
-- ever not been able to find the username and password for a downloaded
appliance? Well, you're not alone.
If you are an existing publisher of a virtual appliance we have listed
on VMTN, drop me a line and tell me your VMTN username. I'll make sure
you can start to edit and update your existing listing.
Next week, you'll be able to start submitting entries to the
Ultimate Virtual Appliance Challenge. If you pre-registered, you'll get an email letting you know.
We've got our SANs all spun up for you to upload your appliances and are
just sweeping the floor and making sure the punch is cold.
posted by jtroyer at: 18:20 |
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Thu, 06 Apr 2006
A few things that have crossed my browser in the past week:
- Geert Baeke on P2V Assistant:
That was it. Everything went very smoothly and easily. Attached to this post is a procedure with screenshots that goes over the whole process.
Sun's Eric Boutilier blogs about using VMware software
to try out Solaris. Absolutely! He also links to a pro/con summary from Bill Walker, where the cons were memory usage and the cost of Workstation. Bill, try
out Player or Server! In a follow-up posting, Eric points
to a comment from Stephen Potter, where he is trying Server, but finds it is slow. What Stephen doesn't realize is that the beta versons of VMware Server are
permanently set to debug mode, which will affect performance. When the
general release comes out, please give it a whirl -- it's performance
should be at least as good as Workstation's.
In other Solaris news, check out this new
virtual appliance containing
NexentaOS, which is
"a complete GNU-based open source operating system built on top of the OpenSolaris kernel and runtime."
saves the day for these fine folks:
We have been having issues with some production hardware for some time. ...
Rebuilding the box was out of the question since it would take way too long to do so. Since it was an application that is slated to be retired in a few months, it isn't worth putting in tons of man hours setting up a new box, but we need the app in service. Rolling the dice and hoping the machine stayed up was not a risk anyone was willing to make. ...
Then the solution came to us. Lets virtualize the machine.
Patrick Mueller tries out VMware Player and the Ubuntu downloadable appliance. Unfortunately, I don't believe that the Ubuntu appliance has the VMware Tools installed. Patrick, try the Browser Appliance --
it's also built using Ubuntu and has the Tools installed, which makes for a
better user experience. It is stripped down, but has Synaptic ready to go to
fulfill your apt-getting needs. We're working with the various appliance
publishers to ensure that VMware Tools gets installed in all of them.
Have you installed it in all your virtual machines? If not, please do! It's
available bundled with VMware Workstation and VMware Server.
- JL Gray at Cool
Verification notes the VMTN virtual appliances, but grouses a bit
that the Bugzilla appliance is stripped down. My reaction: (Mostly) Good!
The whole thing is 42MB! I'd encourage everybody not to build 1GB appliances -- just build it big enough to do one single thing. The (Mostly) part
is because, as JL notes, there's not even a gcc or a make in there. In
general, it's good at this (early) stage of the appliance game to make the
appliance upgradable. For instance, the Browser Appliance is 300 megs, and I'd like to see a small version, but I'd hate to lose Synaptic, since that has let me build the
BA on my desktop into a working unix box that I use all the time. Going back to bugzilla, you can always build a more complete version and offer it back to
the community. Use BitTorrent if you don't have the bandwidth to host it yourself, or submit it in our Charlie at x(perts)64:
[D]ual booting Windows XP Pro x64 with an earlier version of Windows is one way to get around compatibility and driver issues. But more and more I find it annoying and counter productive. I have to completely quit what I'm doing, close all my files, and shut down my PC, then boot into 32-bit Windows XP, run my application or connect to my camera, and then boot back to Windows XP Pro x64 to get on with my work. To me, that's just a total waste of time.
posted by jtroyer at: 18:58 |
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