The Virtualization Practice

Data Center Virtualization

Data Center Virtualization covers virtualizing servers, networks, and storage delivering server consolidation, CAPEX savings, IT agility, and improved management. Major areas of focus include the tradeoffs between various virtualization platforms (VMware vSphere, Microsoft Hyper-V and Red Hat KVM), the evolution of hypervisors into data center management platforms, ...
VMware’s Software Defined Data Center strategy, and how the SDDC is spurring innovation in storage, networking and server hardware. Covered vendors indlude VMware, Microsoft, Red Hat, CloudPhysics, Hotlink, Tintri, and VMTurbo.

I got a call from a client today that is running a VMware ESXi server as a proof of concept in their SMB environment. The admin that setup the VMware ESXi Server configured the ESXi server to boot and run ESXi from a USB memory stick. Things have been running fine but the company and the administrator that setup the server had a falling out, so to speak, and the administrator left the company and took the USB memory stick with him. The server continues to run fine as ESXi basically runs from memory but, rebooting this host is now not an option since there are no files available for the host to boot from. So what is the best way to recover and get things back to normal? I did a little research and the information that I have found will work will both ESXi 3.x as well as vSphere ESXi.

The Freemium sales model is a business model innovation best suited to inexpensive products that are very easily understood (and therefore not very new or very different) and that solve an obvious problem in a manner that is more convenient for the customer to acquire and implement. There are not many new virtualization and cloud technology companies who set out to produce undifferentiated products which suggests that a general application of the Freemium model to startups in our ecosystem is ill advised. Enterprise customers should pay great attention to products that are being marketing in this manner to ensure that they do not end up growing the use of something that was purchased in a tactical manner into a strategic use case.

When I first got started in virtualization it was a very new technology and during that time there were not that many resources available to the virtualization administrator and sometimes it would have been nice to be able to see what others were doing and to be able to share my thoughts and ideas with others to make sure I was presenting the best possible solution to my customers. During these early years the VMTN Community Forum was established and these forums were the place to do this collaboration. I found this to be one of the best arenas to ask questions and share ideas. The VMTN Community area quickly took off and in a lot of cases was the quickest way to find an answer, solution to your problem or issue you were trying to resolve.

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.

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.

Although virtualization technologies have been a great help to data center managers looking to reclaim power in an overburdened environment, virtualization can also create problems. As IT organizations complete their server virtualization initiatives and as their virtualization management skills mature, use of the physical server power management features and dynamic workload shifting capabilities will increase. This, coupled with increased adoption of server hosted desktop virtualization, will create new opportunities for improving the efficiency of data center power and cooling systems, as well as new challenges for keeping up with increasing demand.