The Virtualization Practice

Author Archive for Mike Norman

Mike Norman

the Cloud is increasingly being used to provide external security testing services (such as AVS, Application Vulnerability Scanning). The argument of the proponents of such services is that security threats come from the cloud, and thus it makes most sense to embed the AVS in the cloud. However after very detailed examination of the options we have come to the conclusion that the Cloud it isn’t necessarily the right answer for many enterprises, and that the AVS service may best be delivered inside the datacenter.

Development tools like Eclipse and Visual Stuio are being built to ensur applications can be deployed in to the cloud on application servers. Key challenges include the manageability and scalability of application servers. Innovations include the use of non-java languages like Groovy and Jython and even PHP and Javascript on JVMs, and the final demise of SQL as object caches offer more natural scalability.

We recently received a presentation on a combined solution from Eucalyptus and Terracotta. Initially we were suspicious because they clearly share an investor – Benchmark Capital. Was this a PowerPoint integration dreamt up by two Venture Capitalists over a power breakfast? However, the combined solution was presented by some very plausible techies with a real-live demo and does look as though it starts to provide a generally-useful abstraction over which to deploy scalable applications (specifically Java stacks), and it too works with commodity hardware. It’s not as slick as the 3Tera solution, more of a command-line approach, but it potentially has the edge in scalability.

Microsoft Windows MultiPoint Server – globally available from March 1, 2010 – is a “shared resource computing solution designed for educational institutions”.  It is a Presentation Virtualization solution based on Windows 2008 server, and sharing codebase with Remote Desktop Server (i.e. the product formerly known as Terminal Services). It is designed to deal with a specific…

The acquisition of 3Tera by Computer Associates signals an intent to move beyond traditional Systems Management, into something that may almost be viewed as Operating System: a layer of software called AppLogic that sits above the virtualization stack, and provides a consolidated abstraction against which composite applications may be built within the Cloud. Essentially the AppLogic layer deals with the nuts and bolts of configuring and connecting virtual machines, all you do is choose from a menu of virtual appliances you want, and use a visual interface to show how the appliances interconnect at a software level.

In a slightly strange “didn’t they already have Xen in the kernel” kind of way, Novell has certified Suse Linux Enterprise Server as a “perfect guest” running on Citrix XenServer, allowing joint support of the combined solution. The deal is asymmetric (it wouldn’t really make sense to run XenServer on SLES) but it reflects an open approach characteristic of the way Novell operates, in embracing the reality that customers will want to use one of a number of possible hypervisors, and that Novell has to get along with everyone. In return Novell is starting to push it’s PlateSpin Recon product through the Citrix channel.

Whilst new SMBs may be dabbling with online application suites, the bulk of the established SMB workload, however, is done in desktop applications, typically Microsoft Office, running in various flavours of Windows with a Windows Server. This is definitely not in the cloud, and there are lots of very good reasons why it won’t be, and less radical solutions are likely to offer more benefit.

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