VMware Wants To Be Your Network Operating System Of Choice

James Staten

Whenever a company changes the name of their major product you often have to wonder what level of change they are trying to signal. In the case of VMware which changed ESX to vSphere yesterday, the signal is one of intent. They could have called it vWorldDomination but that might have been a bit too caustic. So instead they chose a global metaphor. Despite the subtlety, make no mistake, this version is a direct affront to how we have traditionally run our data centers with traditional operating systems and element-centric system management tools.

They made their case initially at VMWorld EMEA when they declared that a new “operating system” is needed in the virtualized data center and that the old model no longer applies. They called it Cloud OS but didn’t deliver on this vision. vSphere is the first step towards this new model in that it significantly shifts the focus from simply virtualizing workloads to managing and automating pools of VMs and shows how management at the virtual infrastructure layer can address data center efficiency in ways other layers can’t. It also moves the VM world closer to being able to manage business services that span VMs (although other tools like HP Operations Orchestrator and BMC BladeLogic still do this better) and track and diagnose their performance with AppSpeed, previously BeeHive, (although not as well as Hyperic).

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Red Hat And Citrix Ratchet Up Open Source Virtualization Relevancy

James Staten

James StatenThe open source hypervisor landscape got a lot more interesting today after the latest announcements from Red Hat and Citrix. Both were shots across the bow of VMware’s juggernaut, but Red Hat’s volley may have overshot and struck Xen.org in the stern.

Citrix, the flag bearer for Xen.org, recently announced that two significant hypervisor features would be made available in the free version of its Xen distribution, XenServer – live migration and multi-node management. Neither of these capabilities are provided in the free version of VMware ESX and live migration won’t be available in Microsoft Hyper-V until Windows Server 2008 R2. Citrix is also busily placing calls to the major Linux distributors hoping to sign them up to commitments to replace the free Xen.org hypervisor with the free XenServer.

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Addressing Virtualization's Achilles Heel

James Staten

Jamesstaten
The benefits of virtualization are quite obvious but when you start to really increase the density of virtual machines in order to maximize utilization suddenly it ain't such a simple proposition. The latest CPUs from AMD and Intel are more than up to the task of running 10-20 or more applications at a time. Most servers run out of memory and I/O bandwidth well before processing power. Recent announcements from the leading server vendors have been made to address the memory side by packing more DIMMs onto a single motherboard (including blade server boards), but you can only add so many Ethernet cards and Fibre Channel HBAs. Oh yeah, and then there's the switch ports to go with them (blade systems help a lot here).

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Goldman: CIOs Don’t Want Cloud – Well, Duh.

James Staten

Jamesstaten
Goldman
Sachs & Co. recently released the results of their latest survey of CIOs

which showed that enterprise IT is contracting spending a bit and that cloud
computing is at the very bottom of their priority list. This shouldn’t come as
a surprise to anyone, nor should it be seen as a needle inserted into the cloud
computing hype balloon because CIOs
aren’t the target market for clouds
. Like other disruptive innovations in
the technology space, such as cloud
collaboration
, software
as a service (SaaS
) and the
iPhone
, cloud computing targets the tech savvy business developer, startup
and interactive marketer. These business innovators don’t take their technology
cues from the corporate standards set by infrastructure & operations
professionals.

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VMware Levels The Playing Field: ESX Now Free

James Staten

Jamesstaten
As predicted
by Forrester
, New
CEO Paul Maritz
announced this week that VMware will drop the price of ESXi (their base server
hypervisor) to $0 (from $495).
This obviously comes in response to Microsoft Hyper-V
pricing ($28 per server) and as competition to the free open source Xen
hypervisor.

Support is not included with the free ESXi; if you want that
it starts at $495/server
per year
.

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Cloud Maturity Is Accelerating: More Than Just Reaction To The Hype?

James Staten

James Over the past few months a flurry of announcements have begun swirling around the cloud computing space, which remains a nascent market in the overall IT realm. Do these announcements portend a fast maturity for the concept or just the typical "me too" that comes with a hyped market?

In June, RightScale, a cloud management software and consulting company that has become a bit of a poster child as a cloud integrator, announced a partnership with GigaSpaces that integrates their eXtreme Application Platform (XAP) clustering and cache solution with the RightScale automated cloud management platform for Amazon EC2 clients. The value of this partnership comes from the fact that EC2 simply provides you with a VM you can populate but no availability or scalability services. XAP is a cluster architecture that delivers these values and can be quickly and easily deployed via the RightScale tool.

Next came Elastra, a San Francisco startup building a Cloud Server, a middleware layer that turns a commodity infrastructure into a cloud (similar value to what 3Tera provides today). The first iteration deploys similarly to XAP -- as a software layer you load into EC2 VMs, that enables scale and availability to the apps you lay on top of it.

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VMware Advances DR Preparedness

Stephanie Balaouras

Stephanie

On May 12th, 2008 VMware announced that nine storage replication vendors have tested and certified their technology with VMware’s long awaited Site Recovery Manager (SRM) offering. SRM is an important step forward in DR (DR) preparedness because it automates the process of restarting virtual machines (VM) at an alternate data center. Of course, your data and your VM configuration files must be present at the alternate site, hence the necessary integration with replication vendors. SRM not only automates the restart of VMs at an alternate data center, it can automate other aspects of DR. For example, it can shutdown other VMs before it recovers others. You can also integrate scripts for other tasks and insert checkpoints where a manual procedure is required. This is useful if you are using the redundant infrastructure at the alternate data center for other workloads such as application development and testing (a very common scenario). When you recover an application to an alternate site, especially if your redundant infrastructure supports other workloads, you have to think about how you will repurpose between secondary and production workloads.  You also have to think about the entire ecosystem, such as network and storage settings, not just simply recovering a VM.

Essentially, VMware wants you to replace manual DR runbook with the automated recovery plans in SRM. It might not completely replace your DR runbook but it can automate enough of it. So much so that DR service providers such as SunGard are productizing new service offerings based on SRM.

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Dell-Egenera Partnership Shores Up Both Companies in Virtualization Market

James Staten

James_2Yesterday’s
announcement
of a partnership between Dell and Egenera has
done something unique in the business development world -- increased the
credibility of both players who were lagging in overall market presence in a
key technology area -- server virtualization.

Egenera, a
smaller server vendor, popular in financial services, public sector and service
providers, was the first to bring Unix-class virtualization capabilities to x86
systems but did so only within its unique blade server frame design. As such,
Egenera simply hasn’t been able to make much headway in the general enterprise
market. A 2005 hardware OEM partnership with Fujitsu-Siemens was a step in the
right direction but one only felt in Europe.

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Is Scale Up the New Scale Out?

James Staten

James_2A shift is
taking place in the server market that is starting to look very much like a
throw back to simpler times. As enterprises gain comfort with x86 server
virtualization, they are starting to push for higher and higher consolidation
ratios, which are driving a return to scale up server purchases. Where a
single-socket server with 8GBs of RAM was the most popular choice a few years
back when scaling out was all the rage, we are starting to see beefier
configurations become the norm to accommodate server
consolidation.

A Forrester survey from just last year showed that while adoption of x86 virtualization was ramping
quickly among enterprise infrastructure & operations (I&O) leaders, the
ratios of servers consolidated were low, averaging 4:1. But this may have been
as much a byproduct of the new technology comfort curve as it was server buying
patterns.

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RedHat Thinks Software Should Come In A Virtual Machine

James Staten

James Wouldn’t it be nice if the enterprise software world were on board with your server virtualization efforts? Imagine downloading the latest version of PeopleSoft or Crystal Reports in a virtual server format that could be loaded on to VMware ESX and would just run – no installation, no configuration hassles, just instantiate and go.

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