The Virtualization Practice

Author Archive for Edward Haletky

Edward Haletky
Edward HaletkyEdward L. Haletky, aka Texiwill, is the author of VMware vSphere(TM) and Virtual Infrastructure Security: Securing the Virtual Environment as well as VMware ESX and ESXi in the Enterprise: Planning Deployment of Virtualization Servers, 2nd Edition. Edward owns AstroArch Consulting, Inc., providing virtualization, security, network consulting and development and The Virtualization Practice where he is also an Analyst. Edward is the Moderator and Host of the Virtualization Security Podcast as well as a guru and moderator for the VMware Communities Forums, providing answers to security and configuration questions. Edward is working on new books on Virtualization. [All Papers/Publications...]

During the Virtualization Security Podcast on 5/13, IBM’s David Abercrombie joined us to discuss IBM’s Virtualization Security Protection for VMware (VSP) which contains several exciting uses of the VMsafe API for VMware vSphere. These being:

* Network: Network Monitoring, Firewall, Access Control, and a Protocol Analysis Module
* Memory: Rootkit Detection

The panel of the Virtualization Security Podcast on 5/27/2010 was joined by an attorney specializing in the Internet space. David Snead spoke at InfoSec and made it clear that there was more to secure multi-tenancy than one would imagine. The first question was “how would you define tenant?” which I believe is core to the discussion of SMT as without definitions we have no method of communicating. Before we get to David’s response, we should realize that nearly every one has their own definition of Tenant for a multi-tenant solution.

PhD Virtual has gained its second round of funding with investment from Citrix amongst others as discussed within our post News: esXpress is no more but what does this mean for XenServer? Up until this point it looked like Citrix was out of the server hypervisor wars and backing Microsoft’s Hyper-V play. Yet this looks on the surface like a basic shift to that direction. Yes, XenServer was placed into the OpenSource community and the latest improvements, such as the Open VSwitch integration and a new releases emphatically say that XenServer is alive and well and that its ecosystem is growing for that matter so is Hyper-V’s.

Java based applications can now be moved between not only a SpringSource TC-Server Java platform on VMware vSphere, but also between the same platform on VMForce, and now Google AppEngine. This level of support from VMware, Salesforce.com, and now Google is starting to make SpringSource look like the early leading technology for PaaS Clouds. This is a significant advance in the state of PaaS clouds as there were previously no examples that offered such broad support for one platform by such a diverse set of industry leaders. However as is always the case, platform advances have outstripped security, management and performance assurance capabilities.

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?

Due to what I stated during GestaltIT’s TechFieldDay, I was invited with Bas Raayman and others to discuss Secure Multi-Tenancy (SMT) in more detail with Chuck Hollis at EMC World. In addition, during one of the Keynotes SMT was renamed from Secure Multi-Tenancy to Simple Multi-Tenancy. The current Cisco VMware Netapp solution is plainly not secure. During the TechFieldDay at Cisco, Cisco even claimed “we did not think about security” when designing the initial solution. Cisco is worried about Quality of Service, I.E. Bandwidth through out the system to the disk. Furthermore, their definition of ‘Tenant’ was quite a bit different than my own. So we should first start off by defining Tenant.

Just like a Telco, the ‘last mile’ of Virtualization is often the most difficult, I would say even more difficult than the initial phase of virtualization. What do I mean by the ‘last mile’?

The 5-10% of systems that you have LEFT to virtualize.

These systems are your most highly used, too X to virtualize, the most complex to migrate, dependent upon specific hardware, or travel around the world (such as laptops and other hand held devices). These issues are also highly political as well.

Many of us have to demo virtualization technologies to our customers and colleagues, run classes, develop code for virtualization, or just play around. For many of these cases, a cloud based virtual environment may be fine. However, what do you do when the network connection to the cloud is flaky at best? You have to rely upon your local system to do the job for you. Some solve this problem by having a ready slide deck, others solve this problem by using a fairly high end laptop, and still others tether their laptops to their phones and other cell phone cards. Which method is best?

I have always found local access to my laptop has always been the better way to run demos, classes, and presentations for my customers, colleagues, and friends. As I write software for and books about virtualized environments I almost always need access to various virtualization systems. Where I can I use network connections as going back to the office lab is in most cases much faster than local, but when I have to run things local due to telecommunication issues a high end laptop is a requirement. But which one?

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