The Virtualization Practice

Virtualizing Business Critical Applications – A Reference Architecture

Virtualization Security, Configuration Management, Service and Capacity Management, Provisioning and Lifecycle Management, and Backup/Recovery are essential functions that must be added to a virtualization platform when virtualizing business critical applications. VMware vSphere is clearly the market leading and most robust virtualization platform – and clearly the virtualization platform most suitable as the foundation of a virtualization system designed to support business critical applications. However, the virtualization platform must be complemented with third party solutions in these areas in order to create a system that can truly support business critical applications in an effective manner.

The Virtualization Security Podcast on 7/22 was all about the news of the week with our panelists discussing how this news affects everyone and anyone with respect to Virtualization Security. The news discussed:

* NIST Released their Guide to Security for Full Virtualization Technologies (Draft)
* There is a Security issue with VMware vSphere 4.1
* VMware discussed the new vShield Zones Edge and vShield App products
* HyTrust and Catbird announced a cooperative effort

When you hear the term “host” when talking about virtual environment, what is the first thing you think of? For me, the answer is simple, a host is an appliance. For years now I have been standing on my soap box and preaching the power and fundamentals of automation in building and configuring your virtual environment. I came across a thread on the VMware VMTN Community Forum where a concerned individual was in a position that he was going to have to rebuild his host from scratch. What he did to get himself into this position was to run a hardening script on the host and then the host became broken and unusable. This person was concerned that he did not have a backup of the host and was looking for a way to rollback.

Cloud and hosting providers are aggressively investing in new Intel Xeon servers that can have as many as 32 cores per server (4 processors with 8 cores per server). Some of this investment is in response to current demand for actual capacity from customers. Some of it is investing ahead of the curve so that the cloud vendor is properly positioned when the demand arrives. The growth and the hype in the cloud is such that there is highly likely to be an overbuild of capacity at some point and then a crash and a period of consolidation – just as there was with ASP’s and the .com companies.

When you read books on virtualization, cloud computing, security, or software product sheets a common word that shows up is Policy. Tools often claim to implement Policy, while books urge you to read or write your Policy. But what does Policy imply?

Webster (webster.com) defines policy as:

1 a : prudence or wisdom in the management of affairs b : management or procedure based primarily on material interest
2 a : a definite course or method of action selected from among alternatives and in light of given conditions to guide and determine present and future decisions b : a high-level overall plan embracing the general goals and acceptable procedures especially of a governmental body

When you read policy in product literature and books we are looking at definition number 2 and often a over b. But what does this mean to those who administer and run virtual environments or make use of cloud services?

Unless you have been on vacation or hiding under a rock then you have heard the latest buzz in the industry that vSphere 4.1 has been released. There have been a lot of blog posts on the topic already. You can find one example here, here and what we at virtualizationpractice.com posted here. The thing I want to hit on for this post is the fact that this release will be the last release for full version of ESX. Moving forward on any new releases of ESX will be strictly ESXi. Anyone that knows me over the years knows that I have not really been a big fan of getting rid of the full version ESX Server. Call me old school and the fact that I have spent a great deal of time developing the automation used in the environments that I have supported over the years and have been really happy with what I was able to accomplish via kickstart and bash.