The Virtualization Practice

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There is a great debate on which hypervisor vendor works with ISVs and which do not. You have a number of ISVs working with VMware that are just now starting to work with Hyper-V. A number of ISVs that are struggling to catch up in the virtualization space. Hypervisor Vendors that are directly competing with ISVs as well as welcoming ISVs. This story is not about any of this, but about how easy is it to launch a new product for each of the hypervisors available with or without help from the hypervisor vendor. In essence, is there enough documentation, community, and code out there to be interpreted as welcoming ISVs.

In the fog of the datacenter virtualization war, it is difficult to see clearly who will end up on top, and yet the outcome is almost certainly determined, and the victorious generals are even now moving on to fight new battles. Here at the Virtualization Practice we too would like to think we can see through the fog to work out who has won, so here are our thoughts, take account of them as you wish. They concern, primarily, the big four protagonists: Microsoft/Hyper-V, Citrix /Xen, VMware/vSphere and Red Hat/KVM.

While at VMworld I was suddenly hit with a blast of heat generated by the 40,000 VMs running within the VMworld Datacenter of 150 Cisco UCS blades or so. This got me thinking about how would VMsafe fit into this environment and therefore about real virtualization security within the massive virtual machine possible within a multi-tenant cloud environment. If you use VMsafe within this environment there would be at least 40,000 VMsafe firewalls. If it was expanded to the full load of virtual NICs possible per VM there could be upwards of 400,000 virtual firewalls possible! At this point my head started to spin! I asked this same question on the Virtualization Security Podcast, which I host, and the panel was equally impressed with the numbers. So what is the solution?

In trying to re-use some old server hardware I re-vsisted VirtualBox/Ubuntu, a viable and completely free Open Source option for non-virtualization-enabled hardware. It is a neat solution, simple and well-supported, but the open source version of VirtualBox is nobbled to make it extremely awkward to use, in a different way to VMware’s nobbling of the non-Open Source (but also free) ESXi.

Now is the time, for Oracle/Sun to put all the features of VirtualBox into the Open Source version, and let it live on, perhaps not for use on Linux servers, but as free virtualization platform for other operating systems on Windows. If Apple ever loosens up the licencing on MacOS, it could turn 15 million PCs into Macs – overnight.

VMsafe – Vendor Implementations at VMworld

With the advent of existing VMsafe products from Altor Networks, Reflex Systems, and ones on the horizon from Trend Micro and others in the security space, all administrators should have a clear understanding of how they work under the covers. Where does VMsafe appear within the stack? Is VMsafe on the incoming physical NICs, within the vSwitch, portgroups, or before or after the vNIC? Can we expect the other aspects of VMsafe to be the same? While I was discussing VMsafe with the vendors, VMware was also going around and talking to all the VMsafe vendors for VMware TV shots.

Today (see below) CA announced that it is acquiring NetQos. The combination of the previously acquired Cassatt and Wily assets with the NetQos assets now give CA the full set of components needed to field a comprehensive performance management solution for virtual and cloud environments. The only question that remains is whether or not CA will be able to effectively position and sell these solutions into the virtualization marketplace against experience competitors like VizionCore and Veeam who have signficant channel and customer presence in this market.

The Linux Kernel Virtual Machine (KVM) has been available for some time in, for example, Ubuntu 8.0.4 LTS (Released April 2008). KVM is widely used and stable and it is high time that Red Hat who acquired KVM when they purchased Qumranet in September 2008, started to move their customers onto it – at least to remove the uncertainty in the customer base.