The Virtualization Practice

Attached as a footnote to last week’s big news of Windows 7 SP1 being released to manufacture, Microsoft also announced a new lightweight edition of Windows 7. Windows Thin PC (WinTPC) is in many respects a Windows 7-based update of Windows Fundamentals for Legacy PCs (WinFLP), a lightweight locked down version of Windows XP SP3 that was offered to enterprise customers as an encouragement to get them to migrate away from Windows 2000 without the cost of performing a hardware refresh at the same time.

Unlike last year where there were many virtualization security vendors existed at RSA Conference, there was a noticeable lack of them within booths, yet all of them were here to talk to existing and potential customers. However, there were many vendors offering identity management in the cloud for these I asked the identity management product owners the following question:

How can you prove identity in the cloud?

While we may well be on the road towards VMware becoming the layer of software that talks to the hardware in the data center – removing Microsoft from that role, this is not the end of Windows. If Windows were just an OS, it would be severely threatened VMware insertion into the data center stack. But Windows is not just an OS. Windows is also a market leading applications platform with .NET have a far greater market share and base of developers than vFabric. Windows is also in the process of becoming a PaaS cloud – one that will be living at Microsoft, at thousands of hosting providers, and at probably every enterprise that is a significant Microsoft customer. This incarnation of Windows is at the beginning of its life, not the end.

RES Virtual Desktop Extender (VDX) is now available as a standalone offering. Priced at $15 / seat RES VDX is an incredibly useful enabler for virtualised desktops. It delivers on improving the user experience and better matching the needs of the user by allowing access to applications they need to use in their workspace.

The next true IT industry revolutionary product will be software, virtualization and cloud technology that does not require underlying physical hardware resources (servers, network and disk storage). While we wait for that revolutionary technology to appear outside of marketing or computer generated animations, there remains the need to protect cloud and virtual environments and their underling disk storage. Underlying disk storage includes among others solid state device (SSD) as well hard disk drive (HDD) and Removable Hard Disk Drive (RHDD) packaged in different types of solutions accessed via shared SAS, iSCSI, FC, FCoE or NAS.

With Microsoft reporting that Windows 7 VDI environments can be up to 11% more expensive than Windows 7 with traditional desktops when will desktop virtualisation give you a return on investment? Will performance taxes, license taxes and complexity taxes mean that desktop virtualisation will never be more than a niche service regardless of the clamour from VDI vendors hailing 2011 as the year for VDI as they did in 2010?

Or, is it that the taxation can be accommodated, all be it without short term gains because your business will benefit from the representation of a user’s application set not simply from their cubicle’s monitor?

Distributed Virtual Switch Failures: Failing-Safe

In my virtual environment recently, I experienced two major failures. The first was with VMware vNetwork Distributed Switch and the second was related to the use of a VMware vShield. Both led to catastrophic failures, that could have easily been avoided if these two subsystems failed-safe instead of failing-closed. VMware vSphere is all about availability, but when critical systems fail like these, not even VMware HA can assist in recovery. You have to fix the problems yourself and usually by hand. Now after, the problem has been solved, and should not recur again, I began to wonder how I missed this and this led me to the total lack of information on how these subsystems actually work. So without further todo, here is how they work and what I consider to be the definition for fail-safe.

I have been a big fan of VMware’s Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS). VMware DRS is a service or feature that will dynamically allocate and balance computing resources across the hosts in a cluster. In all of the environments I have work with so far, DRS has been a fantastic tool for getting and maintaining that balance across all the hosts in a cluster. Recently though I have come across a limitation of VMware’s DRS that is worth mentioning.