Join the Conversation on Virtualization
Thu, 31 Aug 2006
Remaindered Links - 8/31/06
Here's what I have open in my Firefox tabs this week:
posted by jtroyer at: 17:25 | | | permanent link
Tue, 29 Aug 2006
The thin embedded hypervisor in your future
Ron Oglesby of RapidApp hits it out of the park again with his latest on brianmadden.com, Where is all this virtualization going? Ron talks about a future where the hypervisor is commodified, and what you think of as your "desktop" or "server" is really a collection of cooperating virtual machines:
In order for a future like this to happen -- with an embedded, thin hypervisor and a full mix-and-match set of virtual appliances cooperating on your desktops and servers -- the hypervisor must be independent of the underlying operating system. To get real freedom of choice, and to unburden the hypervisor from the overhead of a traditional OS, you can't be running at the base of your stack Microsoft Windows Viridian hypervisor or even a Xen-enabled Linux from Red Hat or Novell. You're just dragging along decades of legacy if you do that.
This also ties in to the latest analyst cannonball in the pool from Gartner: Windows Vista the last of its kind. (Was there any good commentary on this Gartner-vision from anyone in the trade journals or blogs? It all kind of blended together for me into a dull buzzing.)
Ron's is a longer-term vision, but shipping a "pre-virtualized" box soon is the kind of thing that ZDNet's David Berlind is advocating in a recent entry.
Well, how about this? Dell can think about taking us there, particularly on the client side. How about delivering Dell desktop systems pre-virtualized and then come up with a management utility so that when the time comes to move to a new system, it's as simple as copying a virtual machine from the old system to the new system (and taking care of all that complicated licensing management stuff caused by Microsoft's Windows Genuine Advantage program).
posted by jtroyer at: 18:16 | | | permanent link
Appliances Rock II
Although we just touched on it, here is more recent chatter on virtual appliances. Virtual appliances, both as objects-in-themselves, and in their implications for the broader landscape, really seem to be something that people are internalizing and understanding.
Returning to the scenario of a single application per virtual machine. what if you could purchase these preconfigured "personalities" -- customized VMs -- that plug into your virtualized client system. There is a clear opportunity here for the industry to seed the market with a variety of purpose-built VMs. I think this vision around virtualization is key to driving Linux adoption on the client. In fact, I challenged the Linux community in my April keynote to seed the market. In this new world, we will find Linux co-existing next to Microsoft on the same platform.
From Michael Gibbs of Network World: Excited about virtual appliances.
From Michael Ryan: Asterisk in an Hour.
exjoburger at Technofile urges us to consider switching to Opera because it lets him download virtual appliance torrents more easily:
The only web browser which may have a chance of dethroning Firefox as my browser of choice is Opera. Completely free since version 8.5 or so, Opera features everything Firefox has and more. Since version 9 Opera has a built-in BitTorrent client - useful for downloading "Virtual Appliances" for VMware, which are often only available in BitTorrent format.
Keystone IT is going to use VMware Server with a network monitoring appliance:
VMWare has a nice directory of submitted “appliances” as they call them. Unfortunately it relies on bit torrent for most of them, which alienates a lot of firewalled potential users. I did find an excellent VMWare network monitoring appliance hosted via http that I am already using. Thanks to Rich Trezza for that. It is a fully functioning nagios installation that works as soon as you turn it on. Nagios is more than a little difficult to set up from scratch.
From Dave Marshall at InfoWorld talking about the implications of VMware Relaxes Tools Distribution Policy:
Is Microsoft missing the boat on this one? At every turn, it looks like VMware and other software manufacturers are praising virtual appliances for what they can do and what they offer. But with Microsoft's licensing restrictions that are set in place, it becomes impossible for anyone to build and distribute a virtual appliance that is created on top of a Microsoft operating system. Even beyond licensing and serial numbers, programs to help stop piracy such as Windows Activation and Windows Genuine Advantage will further hinder the creation of a Windows based virtual appliance.
Damien Murdoch at ozvms with What is a virtual appliance?:
So in theory you could have a swiss army knife of appliances ready to go for any consulting engagement if you were in this position. What a boon for solution providers! In fact it is a boon for everyone in general. For instance, one of the best virtual appliances that I have seen was a caching appliance for web content. This could be used on a large corporate intranet and ready to go at a standby's notice for multiple cache server deployment or expansion. Great in an enterprise environment or for companies who need to scale infrastructure quickly for any number of reasons.
Denis blogs about VMware as an open source adoption accelerator:
But was is really interesting is that on 169 VM available from this contest on http://www.vmware.com/vmtn/appliances/ , 169 run on top of a Linux instance. Yes. 169/169. Of course this is to eliminate the licencing problems of commercial operating systems like Windows. With such a hit ratio, be sure than may people will discover Linux. They will start to be used to it. They will start to find normal that a serious, ready to used system, run on Linux. With full of open source apps that, well... just work.
And Chris Kelley has found a new way to run the labs:
I just posted about the labs site I am running to try out some of the more interesting web2.0 tools that you can run yourself. Now I have found a way to stand them up without runing my main server environment and without wasting time trying to track down pre-req's. Now that VMWare server is free, I have added that to my home server and have added a few appliances (Zimra and TriBox) to try out. Very nice so far, although I think I will need a bigger server soon.
posted by jtroyer at: 17:52 | | | permanent link
Wed, 23 Aug 2006
Audio, video on virtualization
Here's a great podcast on virtualization and VMware. If you're only familiar with our Workstation product, this is a nice introduction to the technology going on underneath and also listing some of the differences that are in our enterprise-level Virtual Infrastructure offering.
Security Now! 53: Virtualization Part 2 with Steve Gibson with Leo Laporte:
This week on Security Now! Leo and Steve revisit the topic of virtualization in the second part of their series discussing it. The panel focuses on VMWare and its associated technologies this week, talking about entire operating systems and virtual machines running inside containers, and the security benefits, risks, and tools that can be used in this area.
See also the transcript. I have a few nits I'd correct (virtualization is not being subsumed into the OS, ESX Server did not start with a version of Linux years ago, and the virtual appliances directory has almost 300 entries, not 50 or 60!), but for the most part, it's a great overview.
If short bites are more your style, start subscribing to the InfoWorld Virtualization Report podcasts. At about five minutes each, Dave Marshall gives you the top one or two stories of the day. Recent topics include:
Moving to video, last week Dell's new-ish Direct2Dell blog showcased some video of Dell CTO Kevin Kettler whiteboarding on virtualization. Not much new for regular VMTN readers, but he does talk about the concept of appliances and predicts a ubiquitous hypervisor layer shipping on all machines. I approve. I am surprised that Kevin doesn't mention VMware by name. We're the magic gnomes that make all his whiteboard boxes a reality.
posted by jtroyer at: 17:05 | | | permanent link
Tue, 22 Aug 2006
While Hardware Appliances are nice, there are situations where you might not want to actually have a power guzzling, big and bloody noisy chunk of server standing in your office. Maybe you'd rather have the software use part of the capacity of your 32 CPU SMP machine with that quarter terabyte RAM and who knows how much hard disk capacity. With the Software Appliance, you simply install the Virtualization solution that the appliance uses ... and the installation is done.
Do you ever wish you didn't have to port your application and test it on several different operating systems? Are you intrigued with the simplicity of "hardware appliances" like NetApp filers and the Google Search Appliance but don't want to get in the business of selling hardware? rPath would like yourPath to consider bundling your programs into a "software appliance" that can be installed on almost any x86 type of machine (real or virtual). At Linux World today they announced rBuilder 2.0, a bundler that will combine your software plus a trimmed down version of Linux into a package that can be installed on hardware your users already own.
Anyway, whilst that's compiling I came across something new to me. The Python Web Developer Appliance is a project to distribute all the major python web frameworks, together with back-end databases and other handy open-source tools, running on BSD, so that development doesn't end up being sys-admin for the first three days of trying a new technology. This is done by distributing the whole thing as a VMware virtual machine.
posted by jtroyer at: 17:31 | | | permanent link
Remaindered Links - 8/22/06
It's not Friday, but there's always time for: remaindered links.
We use Vmware Server quite heavily at RedBalloon and it gives us a huge amount of flexibility and scalablity without breaking the budget. An example of this flexibility is how we dealt with a recent problem where one of the drives on our Domain Controller was too small, but we had space available on the underlying Ubuntu Linux VMware Host. So the plan is to shut down the server, increase the size of the virtual drive, resize the filesystem and we should be good to go. BTW - this is not for the faint hearted and if done wrong can hose your system.
I've been spending some time again moving Virtual Machines from Virtual PC into VMware Server for a client, when and old problem came back to say 'hello'. You see for most vanilla virtual machines (straight next, next, finish with no tweaking) the import will just work -- make sure you merge any differencing disks, and remove undo drives. ... However, to get smaller VMs - you need to tweak.
Any way, the first and biggest problem I faced using fedora core 5 on a VMWare session was the problem of file sharing between windows and WMWare. WMWare (at least its free player version) doesn't read host system's directories. No NTFS access (which a native linux installed as dual boot can do), no shared directory, nothing. I'm not sure, but they may have reserved it for their non-free versions.
The CEO of Win4Lin, Jim Curtin, starts a blog:
But, what of the transition period? What does and architect or CIO visionary do with all the .state. already stuck out there? The fortune invested in legacy PC applications? This is where desktop virtualization comes in. Lifting up the state and re-hosting it, consolidating it, on cost-effective Linux infrastructure, this is what I will be talking about, for the most part, in this blog.
posted by jtroyer at: 17:26 | | | permanent link
VMware: I'm Loving It
I try hard to find problems and complaints about VMware in the blogosphere; I then try to either address them directly, notify the person responsible inside VMware, or send it up the food chain if appropriate. And we're not perfect; far from it. But most of the time, people agree on VMware: "I'm lovin' it!"
I'm very excited about all the possibilities of services we will be able to offer now that we wouldn't have been able to do previously. If we can dream it, we can make it happen.
posted by jtroyer at: 16:35 | | | permanent link
Wed, 16 Aug 2006
Ultimate Virtual Appliance Challenge Winners Announced
I've been working on The Challenge much of this year, building the website and working with the entrants. Expect more information soon about the winners, how and why they built what they built, and hopefully some commentary from the judges as well.
I think the results were great, and definitely pushed the state of the art in virtual appliance creation forward. The appliances are getting slimmer, easier to use, and more powerful. At least two people came up to me at LinuxWorld, and without me bringing it up (or knowing that I was even involved with its creation), told me how great the appliances directory was.
And yes, VMware's own Browser Appliance is getting a bit long in the tooth; we need to revise it. In the meantime, check out the new search we're putting into the appliance directory:
posted by jtroyer at: 17:47 | | | permanent link
Slashdot is all virtualization, all the time
It's been a banner week on Slashdot, talking about virtualization left and right. They also tied in to several topics from VMTN last week. Yes, the kids may be into Digg and reddit, but to actually get some good discussion on a deep topic, Slashdot readers still come through.
More on the Blue Pill
And the Slashdotters weighed in.
More on Hardware vs Software Virtualization
(For the record, Keith would like to state that this was a research paper, not a white paper.)
On the Ultimate Virtual Appliance Challenge
And today they also surfaced a pointer to the winners of the Ultimate Virtual Appliance Challenge. We'll be covering this further on VMTN, but for now two of the winning teams chimed in there; here's a comment from the winning team:
posted by jtroyer at: 17:35 | | | permanent link
Virtualization, Licensing, and Microsoft's "Windows Genuine Advantage"
ZDNet's Ed Bott and David Berlin are doing yeomen's work investgating Microsoft's increasingly-visibile Windows Genuine Advantage licensing validator and how that will interact with virtualization. Moving a virtual machine from one processor to another can trigger a false positive piracy trigger. Here's David's Ed Bott's WGA woes signal the big challenges with virtualization:
In fact, that very thing happened to me when I moved a Windows-based VM guest from an AMD-based system to an Intel-based system. This scenario introduces even more complexities into a WGA-like system since it seems perfectly reasonable to want to move VMs from one system to another to get your work done, particularly if a system is failed and you're simply using virtualization technology to recover from a fault. Or even if it has nothing to do with a fault. Let's say you're going on a trip somewhere and you don't want to haul your computer around with you. So, you put your entire VM on a USB-key along with virtual machine runtime (in VMware's world, this is called a "player" because you're literally playing the virtual machine the way you'd play a song) and you take your PC with you in your pocket. But, because of licensing technologies that are largely out of lockstep with technology, you're prevented from doing something that you should be allowed to do.
posted by jtroyer at: 17:01 | | | permanent link
Steve Herrod on upgrading, virtualization and the OS, and grid computing
Steve Herrod has a nice little interview in TechTarget's SearchServerVirtualization site. He covers upgrading to VMware Infrastructure 3 and virtualization's use in grid computing, but I thought this nugget on the relationship between the hypervisor and the operating system was quite insightful. This is a topic that Diane Greene has also spoken on.
posted by jtroyer at: 16:54 | | | permanent link
Thu, 10 Aug 2006
Blogger? Going to VMworld?
Do you have a blog? Are you going to VMworld? If so, drop me a line (email jtroyer) or leave me a comment. I want to make sure that the conference is blogging-friendly -- in infrastructure onsite, in access, and on the web. Your input will be very much appreciated.
posted by jtroyer at: 17:03 | | | permanent link
VMware at LinuxWorld next week
VMware will be in force at LinuxWorld in San Francisco next week. Along with announcing the winners of the Ultimate Virtual Appliance Challenge, we'll have a booth and be speaking at a few sessions.
At the booth on the expo floor, you'll be able to take all 169 aforementioned Ultimate Virtual Appliance Challenge entries for a test drive, as well as check out the complete product line. Rotating presentations will include: " VMware Infrastructure 3: features and highlights," "Virtual Appliances: A new paradigm for solution-oriented software delivery and deployment," and "Business Continuity Through Virtual Infrastructure: Cost-Effective, Simple, and Reliable Solutions for Your Business." VMwarites will also be showing up in other booths, most notably giving some presentations in the theater of mothership EMC.
We will be speaking at two sessions:
And yes, there will be T-shirts.
posted by jtroyer at: 16:09 | | | permanent link
New paper on hardware, software virtualization
Their paper, "A Comparison of Software and Hardware Techniques for x86 Virtualization," is the most detailed description of VMware's virtual machine monitor (vmm) available. It also examines the vmm implementation trade-offs as the CPU vendors directly support x86 virtualization with architectural extensions.
From the paper's abstract:
We find that the hardware support fails to provide an unambiguous performance advantage for two primary reasons: first, it offers no support for MMU virtualization; second, it fails to co-exist with existing software techniques for MMU virtualization. We look ahead to emerging techniques for addressing this MMU virtualization problem in the context of hardware-assisted virtualization.
Previous entries on Keith's blog: Intel quietly backing away from VT performance claims, VT Coverage: Predictable and Complete Confusion, VT hits the streets.
VMware continues to do cutting-edge research on virtualization. Our academic programs page collates our papers published to date.
posted by jtroyer at: 15:42 | | | permanent link
Blue Pill Poppers?
Although we've posted about hypervisor-based rootkits here before, recently some folks have been making a lot of noise about a "Blue Pill" partial prototype of same:
I'm no expert, but even from the titles of the articles, it seems like there might be some hype going on. Now, let's check in with some folks who are knowledgeable about virtualization and see what they have to say. (This is the fun part.)
Tom Yager of InfoWorld: Blue Pill is an attention-whoring non-threat, period
Kurt Wismer at anti-virus-rants: the blue pill leaves a foul aftertaste
so imagine my surprise and disappointment to read that in order for anti-virus companies to get additional information they'll have to pay money... yes, that's right, av companies are expected to pay for access to malware... as if malware creators don't already have enough of a financial incentive these days... by paying for malware, anti-virus companies would be giving malware creators (academic or otherwise) more reasons to create even more malware... that is not something av companies should ever be contributing to as it makes them part of the problem rather than part of the solution...
Keith Adams of VMware: "Blue Pill" is quasi-illiterate gibberish.
I told you that would be fun.
posted by jtroyer at: 11:55 | | | permanent link
Wed, 09 Aug 2006
Unplugged: VMware's Diane Greene podcast
In this special edition of the Dan and David Show we interview to VMware President Diane Greene. VMware just announced a future product designed to enable Mac OS X users to run multiple PC operating systems simultaneously without rebooting. David has been hot on the virtualization topic lately, and peppers Diane with questions about standards, hypervisor and operating system changes, Microsoft, Xen, Linux kernal patches, hardware-based virtualization and virtual appliances.
posted by jtroyer at: 15:15 | | | permanent link
Becoming an Oracle Master
Howard Rogers of Dizwell Informatics looks at VMware Server performance with Oracle in detail:
Workstation is much more capable in virtual machine creation and management, with snapshots and linked clones. You can think of Workstation as the dev/test platform, with more features and richer APIs coming. Server is a great way to deploy virtualization cheaply and on a wide variety of hardware. ESX Server is the bare metal platform that has the scalability and manageability required for enterprise deployment.
VMware Server beta releases had their debug mode turned permanently on, which impacted performance. Now that it is released, performance for Server is the same as Workstation (which is as it should be, since it's built off the same codebase).
Also, in another entry, How to become a Master of Oracle:
And to that end, Tarry Singh is back with his RACing ahead with Oracle on VMware, Part 15: Creating database using DBCA on Redhat 4.2 Advanced Server. Go back to Part 1, follow along, and you too will soon be an Oracle Master.
posted by jtroyer at: 15:04 | | | permanent link
Mon, 07 Aug 2006
Love your Mac?
We also agreed early on in the design process to make sure that your experience of running a virtual machine is very close to native, in terms of performance and use of hardware/devices. To that end you will notice excellent performance when running a virtual machine on OS X. Since most Macs now have Intel.s Duo with two cores, we added Virtual SMP capabilities so that you can assign more than a single CPU to any virtual machine to gain additional performance. One of the cool things that I like about my Apple (albeit an older one with PowerPC chip) is the simplicity of doing any multi-media work. I can record movies or use iChat quite easily without the need to buy additional software. We wanted to make sure you have access to all those devices from your virtual machine as well so we spent a lot of time on making sure devices work well. You can use USB 2 devices like video cameras, etc.
Register for early access to the beta.
posted by jtroyer at: 08:00 | | | permanent link
Fri, 04 Aug 2006
Remaindered Links: Aug 4, 2006
Friday catches up to us again:
posted by jtroyer at: 18:35 | | | permanent link
Win a copy of "Advanced Server Virtualization"
Dave Marshall, of Surgient, VMblog, and InfoWorld Virtualization Report fame, and his colleague and co-author, Wade Reynolds, are holding a webinar. Attendees will get a chance to win a copy of their book, Advanced Server Virtualization: VMware and Microsoft Platforms in the Virtual Data Center. Dave and Wade have been in the virtualization game for years, and know their stuff. The book has been well-received, and I'm sure the webinar will be worthwhile as well.
More information about the webinar is here.
posted by jtroyer at: 18:02 | | | permanent link
VMware, Xen, and Linux paravirtualization
Steve Herrod talks about paravirtualizaton in his latest blog entry:
First and foremost, some have implied VMware is trying to slow down virtualization competition in the Linux space. This couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, we're extremely motivated to accelerate the industry to a generally accepted, technically sound, and open approach to paravirtualizing Linux as soon as possible. The motivation for proposing VMI as an alternate approach to Linux paravirtualization was to help ensure that Linux gets a sustainable, customer- and ISV-friendly set of interfaces. We think this is in the best long-term interest of the community. Obviously we're also quite interested in making sure that Linux's paravirtualization implementation is independent of any specific hypervisor implementation allowing VMware, Xen, and others to compete in this space. Virtualization competition is good for the customers and for Linux's continued growth.
posted by jtroyer at: 17:50 | | | permanent link
vThere - A Second Look
Bob Roudebush gives an overview of vThere from Sentillion, a solution aimed at mobile and remote workforces and built on VMware Player.
The vThere team's assertion is that a standardized virtual desktop is easier to deploy and manage in a distributed environment and allows for better security as it is not susceptible to the same sorts of attacks that plague physical desktops - i.e., the VM isn't exposed to the physical network (a VPN connection is established) and the virtual machine makes doing things like capturing the physical host's keystrokes difficult. Part of the first assertion regarding management is supported by the two other parts of the vThere solution - the vThere.NET service and the vThere Image Creator.
posted by jtroyer at: 13:24 | | | permanent link