The Virtualization Practice

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Blade Physical-Virtual Networking and Virtualization Security

I have been thinking about blades and virtualization security for some time spurred on by a conversation with Brad Hedlund six months ago. Nearly all my customers use Blades and virtualization security is a big concern to them. In my Rethinking vNetwork Security article, I touched on some of the issues in response to Brad’s comments a while back. I would like to now expand that discussion to blades.

There are three sets of blade enclosures I would like to discuss, those that use pass thru networking, those that use standard switching fabric within the enclosures, and those that use flexible interconnects such as HP Flex-10 and Cisco Palo adapters. The last is the so called physical-virtual network device.

MokeFive Suite is an enterprise desktop management platform that is used to create and administer layered virtual desktop images called ‘LivePCs’ which execute as guests on a type II hypervisor. LivePC images are authored using the MokaFive Creator which also serves as a test platform to simulate and end-users experience. LivePC images can be stored on centralized or distributed file stores. MokaFive also provides support for Amazon S3 storage, which can be of significant value in managing highly distributed environments, or run directly off USB flash drives. MokaFive LivePCs are effectively hypervisor agnostic; support is currently available for VMware’s free Player and the open source Virtual Box. Beta support for Parallels Workstation is new in MokaFive Suite 3.0, and MokaFive’s own bare metal platform will be shipping in Q1 2011.

The question of whether and how to replace DRS is really a part of the question of what is in the virtualization platform and what is not. Clearly the virtualization platform consists of much more than the hypervisor. VMware would like to define the virtualization platform as all of vSphere Enterprise Plus, and then suggest that vCloud Director and its own performance management solutions are logical extensions of that platform. Enterprises need to be careful about where they draw their own lines in this regard. As VMware is a clear market leader both in terms of product functionality and enterprise installations, VMware needs to be given full credit for the quality of vSphere and its success. However full credit does not need to imply that one is 100% locked in to VMware solution as there is room to pursue third party IT as a Service, Performance Management, and Service Assurance strategies as well as replace/augment components in vSphere.

Since its inception, virtualization has changed the information technology landscape in many ways. With all the good virtualization brings to the table, in some ways, virtualization has made things to easy. One example is the ease and speed that we are able to deploy new servers has virtual machines. No longer are we waiting on physical hardware to arrive for a new deployment. We can “clone” are golden image in a matter of minutes and be on our way.

For a developer, and subsequently the team of people that has to support certain kinds of applications in production, a PaaS cloud can be a wonderful thing. Why can a PaaS cloud be so wonderful? Because if you have a web based application based upon Java, Ruby-on-Rails, or .NET you can find a cloud provider that handles the entire hardware and software platform for your application.

DesktopVirtualization

Can you use Desktop Virtualization in your organization to improve IT delivery? Desktop Virtualization, as a concept, is straightforward – separate the desktop environment from the physical machine. This gives you benefits in terms of speed of delivery, how you can provide access to mobile and remote workers, how you can ensure security and compliance.

I had a fun day resolving a licensing issue for a client. This one was a little different than I had seen in the past. The cluster is question is an eight node cluster running ESX 3.5. The error message that I received when trying to perform a vMotion was “Unable to migrate from HostA to HostB: Virtual machine has 2 virtual CPUs, but the host only supports 1. The number of virtual CPU’s may be limited by the guest OS selected for the virtual machine or by the licensing for the host.”

If you are a hyperscale (such as for the Cloud) data center manager, one of your top concerns is always how to get the maximum amount of computing work done per Watt of power consumed. With that in concern at the forefront Cloud Providers like Google, Microsoft, and Facebook have strong incentives to explore new solutions to delivering compute cycles. Rumors coming out of Facebook suggest that it is looking to move away from its current X86 architecture platform in favor of servers based on ARM Holdings Cortex processor range. Porting an entire service to a new processor platform may not appear to be a sensible direction to take but porting to a new architecture is more a financial consideration than a technical one. If the cost per unit of performance justifies it , it is cheaper to pay a few programmers to rework the apps for a new architecture than it is to buy more servers.

Many times we virtualization experts push for backups without the agents as these backups tend to be in our opinion, cleaner and faster. But what if you could get the benefits of your existing backup tools (such as Tivoli) but gain the power and advantages of using all the possibilities within the virtual environment. For VMware vSphere this is possible using the Pancetera backup tools.

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