The Virtualization Practice

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Desktop Virtualization is not an easy undertaking. There – I’ve said it. “But,” you may say, “I take a copy of the desktops I have, I run them on servers in the data-centre. Once that’s done, I don’t need to update those desktop devices; I can update the virtualized workspace instead far more quickly. The desktops are running on server hardware so they will be more reliable. Eventually, someone may well offer to host these workspaces on some infrastructure out in The Cloud”.

“Really, how hard can it be?”

While at VMworld 2010 in San Francisco this year, I got to meet up and talk with Robert from Atlantis Computing. Our conversation was about VDI and he was quite proud of the capabilities that Atlantis ILIO brings to the table in the VDI space. The conversation went well and got me interested in investigating a little further on the technology. Atlantis ILIO or “VDI Booster” as they like to call it, is a solution to address the complexity and high costs of VDI Deployment and management. ILIO has been architected to support most of the main VDI players like VMware View, Citrix XenDesktop, Microsoft Hosted Virtual Desktop (HVD),and Quest Software vWorkplace to name a few.

On the heels of receiving United States patent approval for its RES Virtual Desktop Extender (VDX) technology, RES Software have announced that it will also be offering VDX as a standalone product. A feature within RES Workspace Manager (formerly RES PowerFuse), VDX serves as a fundamental component in the successful deployment of virtual desktops. It enables local applications that typically do not run smoothly, or at all, in virtual environments to run seamlessly within a virtual session. However, while VDX’s functionality allows wider access to hosted desktops, organisations need to ensure that the management and maintenance of that legacy environment isn’t overlooked to the point where it impacts user experience and the organisation’s security.

The Virtualization Security Podcast on 10/7 was the second in a series of Virtual Desktop Security discussions we will are having. The special guest panelist was Simon Graham of Virtual Computer, the makers of NxTop a client side hypervisor based on Xen. On this podcast, we went into the details of NxTop.

The engineers at Virtual Computer have thought about nearly everything when it comes to a Client Hypervisor. NxTop operates as a standalone or as a centrally managed client hypervisor. The difference is fairly stark. I feel that most people in the Enterprise unless this is a one off situation would want to use the managed client hypervisor.

If we are going to start over, why not really start over and reinvent the entire infrastructure and management software industries in the process. That way we end up with an infrastructure that was actually designed for the dynamic, agile, and scalable use cases that we are trying to address with a green field approach, and an appropriate set of management tools as well. Is this going to happen? You can bet that there are already VC funded startups in stealth mode working on it.

One thing I noticed while attending this year’s VMworld in San Francisco was how many people attending the event had iPads. Actually, it was the hottest item being given away by almost all the vendors in attendance at the show. I was lucky enough to get one of the iPads that EMC was giving away. I recently heard that the iPad is the hottest selling tech item in history so far. During VMworld I got a chance to see the VMware iPad application to control your virtual environment and was really impressed. I really think the iPad might have a chance to become the tool of choice for the IT admins to monitor and administrate their environment. I am hoping that by VMworld 2011 we will be seeing a lot more client applications written and ported to the iPad and/or other mobile devices.

It is also interesting to speculate what long term role the Hyperformix statistical modelling technology will play in CA performance management and performance assurance products. VMware has puts its stake in the ground via the acquisition of Integrien that only a real time and self-learning approach will be able to keep up with variability inherent in a virtualized or cloud based system in order to provide effective root cause analysis. It is possible that over time this modelling technology will evolve into a real time self learning performance management capability analogous to what is p; provided by VMware/Integrien and Netuitive. If this occurs this will mean that CA will be the first and only one of the big four systems management vendors with an effective root cause strategy for the new dynamic data center.

Eucalyptus-based solution that is bundled into the Ubuntu installation from 9.10 onwards and allows you to install a IaaS cloud into which you subsequently install Ubuntu Server instances, rather than directly installing an Ubuntu Server. The Eucalyptus proposition is that the cloud you create is identical from an API – and therefore a tooling – perspective to an Amazon EC2 cloud, and the same Ubuntu instances can run inside it, and even can be cloud-bursted out to it. Canonical make a lot of this duality in their positioning of Eucalyptus and the Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud. It feels very-much like an “onramp” message that we hear from VMware.

I saw a question get posted on twitter that kind of intrigues me a little. The question was pretty straight forward. “How many virtual machines should I be able to run on a host?” That is really a fair question in itself but what I find intriguing is that this is the first question he asks. Is this really the first thing administrators think to ask when designing their environment? After all there is no set formula on how many virtual machines you can run on a host. You can be a little more exact when working with VDI because for the most part all the virtual machines would be set up pretty much the same way and the numbers can be a little more predictable. That would not be the case when working with server virtualization. You are going to have servers all with different configurations and amount of resources provisioned to the virtual machines. This variation is what will change your slot count and the amount of virtual machines you can run on the host.