The Virtualization Practice

Author Archive for Mike Norman

Mike Norman
Mike NormanDr Mike Norman, is the Analyst at The Virtualization Practice for Open Source Cloud Computing. He covers PaaS, IaaS and associated services such as Database as a Service from an open source development and DevOps perspective. He has hands-on experience in many open source cloud technologies, and an extensive background in application lifecycle tooling; automated testing - functional, non-functional and security; digital business and latterly DevOps.

VMworld is clearly the largest dedicated virtualization conference, and yet from an Open Source perspective it is slightly disappointing because the VMware ecosystem naturally attracts proprietary software vendors, and also some of the more interesting activities in Open Source are through multi-vendor foundations which do not have the same marketing budgets as vendors themselves.

Nevertheless, there are a number of key Open Source players, and some interesting smaller players, represented at VMworld.

Cloud.com had lined itself up with Citrix by using only XenServer in the commercially-licensed version of its IaaS product, and now is being used by Citrix to ensure OpenStack supports XenServer (which it doesn’t at the moment), presumably to keep Red Hat’s KVM under control and VMware out. We’ve also been trawling through the available OpenStack documentation to understand why NASA thinks its cloud is more scalable than Eucalyptus. It seems to be all to do with how the state information is passed amongst the various servers that make up the system. GPL-based Open Core models break down when you move to multi-vendor foundations because the cross-licensing of IPR under GPL immediately infects the recipient codebase, and precludes commercial licensing of the resulting combined work. The result is that the GPL Open Core business model doesn’t work in the same way, and both Eucalyptus and Cloud.com cannot apply their current business model in these multi-vendor foundations. It is a big blow for Eucalyptus. They have turned their biggest potential customer into a massive and credible competitor, built in their own image (only – at least from a PR perspective – much more scalable).

In OpenStack the API is implemented in a separate service which translates external http requests into commands across the internal message bus, and so it looks (on the face of it) possible for someone (preferably Oracle) to implement the Oracle DMTF submission as a separable new API server module without disrupting the OpenStack architecture. In OpenStack the API is implemented in a separate service which translates external HTTP requests into commands across the internal message bus, and so it looks (on the face of it) possible for someone (preferably Oracle) to implement the Oracle DMTF submission as a separable new API server module without disrupting the OpenStack architecture.

Whilst I have been away on vacation, something fairly interesting has happened in the area of Open Source initiatives for Infrastructure as a Service in the form of a new initiative from NASA and Rackspace called OpenStack. You may remember in our last post in this area, we noted that there was a proliferation of offerings in the IaaS space, and it was in the customer’s best interest for there to be effective migrateability (or even mix and match) amongst public and/or private clouds. However, the API standards to support interoperability are proving elusive.

We’ve been following Eucalyptus over a series of posts, and recently seen the company strengthen its management team with the appointment of new CEO Marten Mickos the (only) ex-CEO of MySQL. This week they have released a new version of the Eucalyptus product, Version 2.0. which carries some of his strategy, particularly in putting clear water between the Open Source and the Enterprise version of the product.

I you buy vSphere 4 (or 4.1) after June 9th, you get a free copy of SLES to run on any CPU on which you have a valid license for vSphere. This lines up SLES on vSphere alongside Windows on Hyper-v, in both cases the O/S and the hypervisor are supplied under the same license. This obviously lines up SLES on vSphere alongside Windows on Hyper-v, in both cases the O/S and the hypervisor are supplied under the same license. In the long term, Licensing SLES leaves out a tantalizing prospect that VMware can build its own semi-official version of Azure, using vSphere, SLES and Mono, without a Windows server operating system in the mix.

As of Service Pack 1, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 (SLES) supports KVM for SUSE guests. This post follows on from our previous post regarding the demise of Xen in Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and perhaps suggests the beginning of the end for Xen-based virtualization in Linux, but the story is far from clear. A complex set of agreements with Microsoft mean that Novell is bound to preferentially support Windows guests, and it may be a while before KVM support is adequate, although Novell has a project called Alacrity to help get it there. In the meanwhile Novell may get split up into pieces by a private equity house and SLES find itself a new owner.

Virtualize Java without an Operating System

When we put a .NET application on Windows on Hyper-V (or a Java application on Linux on ESXi) we are actually virtualizing twice. Can we virtualize only once, by putting the CLR or the JVM directly on the VM Host? In this action of course we remove the operating system. Oracle is taking the lead in this area with JRockit VE JVM. There is no VMware support, the only hypervisor it supports is Xen, or more precisely Oracle VM. it only comes bundled only with an Application Server, namely Oracle WebLogic Suite Virtualization Option. The entire stack inside the virtual machine is in “User Mode” in other words the JVM and the drivers are all in the same memory address space and you don’t need to switch contexts into Kernel Mode in order to perform I/O or network access. Does VMware have a strategic initiative (or even a skunkworks) to engineer a similar bundle for its SpringSource runtimes? Or are they just concentrating on scaling out with as per the Google announcement?

The Red Hat 6 Beta is out, and there is no Xen in it, only KVM. It can operate as a guest in an existing Xen environment, but it cannot act as a Xen host. A few minority interests still cling to Xen, but ultimately it makes no sense for most Linux distributions to ship with Xen. Novell will stick with Xen for a while, and also Oracle, because they are no friend of Red Hat, but when the hypervisor wars become old news, they will quietly move to KVM. It’s easier. In future we fully expect to be talking about Xen/Linux in the past tense.

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