The Virtualization Practice

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.

MultiPoint Server is the Cinderella of the Windows world, locked away in the cellar education sector, kept away from the bright lights of publicity and severely limited in what it could offer. But that could well be changing given Microsoft’s recent efforts to revamp the product. Although not yet quite ready for shipping, Microsoft has been working hard to add value to MultiPoint Server and when it ships in March it looks like Microsoft might have a winner on its hands.

Todd Nielsen has already succeeded twice at what he is now being asked to do at VMware – once at Microsoft and once at BEA. This time what hangs in the wind is VMware’s ultimate destiny. Will VMware be the device driver to the dynamic data center (vSphere), or will VMware be that and the next generation application platform for IT as a Service and Public Cloud based applications?

Application Virtualization allows users to use potentially conflicting software in the same workspace. Towards the end of 2010 there was a great deal of discussion about the complexity of using application virtualization to finally let corporations end their dealings with the recalcitrant Internet Explorer 6.

In Virtualizing Internet Explorer: Microsoft takes the ball home and goes home we discussed why solving IE6 issues with Application Virtualization is difficult. Then, in December we reported that Browisum had crafted a lifeline and suggested a release date around the end of 2010.

To quote Robert Burns “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men Gang aft agley”. Still, Browsium have announced the release candidate to their beta testers. With its release is it time to put IE8 compatibility issues to bed?

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