During Interop, I attended two sessions on disaster recovery and backup in the virtual world, topics that are near and dear to my heart and also top of mind for infrastructure and operations professionals (judging by the number of inquiries we get on those topics). First up was How Virtualization Can Enable and Improve Disaster Recovery for Any Sized Business which was very interesting (and very well attended). The panel was moderated by Barb Goldworm, President and Chief Analyst, FOCUS, and the panelists were: George Pradel, Director of Strategic Alliances, Vizioncore; Joel McKelvey, Technical Alliance Manager, NetApp; Lynn Shourds, Senior Manager, Virtualization Solutions, Double-Take Software; and Azmir Mohamed, Sr. Product Manager, Business Continuity Solutions, VMware.
Barb kicked off the session with some statistics on disaster recovery that can help people build the business case for it: 40% of business that were shut down for 3 days, failed in 3 years. She also cautioned that you have to test DR regularly and under unexpected circumstances.
VMware And salesforce.com Join Forces To Push PaaS To Mainstream Adoption With vmforce
salesforce.com and VMware announced today the development of a joint product and service offering named vmforce. Forrester had a chance to talk to executives at both companies prior to the announcement, and I am quite impressed by the bold move of the two players. Most developers in corporate environments and ISVs perceive the two stacks as two totally different alternatives when selecting a software platform. While the VMware stack, with its Tomcat-based Spring framework, reached mainstream popularity among Java developers with its more lightweight standard Java approach, salesforce.com’s Force.com stack was mostly attractive to developers who liked to extend CRM packaged apps with individual business logic or to ISVs that created new applications from scratch. In some cases, the Java standard and the more proprietary APEX language at Force.com even appeared as competitive options.
Like many movements before it, IT is rapidly evolving to an industrial model. A process or profession becomes industrialized when it matures from an art form to a widespread, repeatable function with predictable result and accelerated by technology to achieve far higher levels of productivity. Results must be deterministic (trustworthy) and execution must be fast and nimble, two related but different qualities. Customer satisfaction need not be addressed directly because reliability and speed result in lower costs and higher satisfaction.
IT should learn from agriculture and manufacturing, which have perfected industrialization. In agriculture, productivity is orders of magnitude better. Genetic engineering made crops resistant to pests and environmental extremes such as droughts while simultaneously improving consistency. The industrialized evolution of farming means we can feed an expanding population with fewer farmers. It has benefits in nearly every facet of agricultural production.
Manufacturing process improvements like the assembly line and just-in-time manufacturing combined with automation and statistical quality control to ensure that we can make products faster and more consistently, at a lower cost. Most of the products we use could not exist without an industrialized model.
One of my favorite jokes about security people is that you can divide them into two types: Builders and Breakers. Builders like to make things, like web applications or identity management infrastructures. Breakers like to find holes in things. They tinker and hack. Usually, you gravitate towards one skillset or the other; it is extremely rare to find someone who does both well. It’s like running: you either sprint, or run marathons.
So it was with great curiosity that I read about the announcement of the Qubes OS by Invisible Things’ Joanna Rutkowska. Joanna is best known as the bête noire of the virtualization world; her “Blue Pill” hypervisor-breaking software was widely noted, even by us. Her Black Hat speeches are legend. She is clearly in the Breaker camp, and one of the best ones too.
Qubes is a new operating system based on Linux and Xen that divides up the operating system into multiple isolated VMs that work together. It allows arbitrary portions of the operating system, such as the web browser, to run in one VM while other portions run in other VMs. Certain functions, like networking and storage, run in their own VMs. The VMs share a GUI (again, compartmentalized from the other VMs) and can exchange files. I won’t attempt to describe it in detail — the architecture document does that well enough: