All posts by Andrew Wood

Andrew is a Director of Gilwood CS Ltd, based in the North East of England, which specialises in delivering and optimising server and application virtualisation solutions. With 12 years of experience in developing architectures that deliver server based computing implementations from small-medium size business to global enterprise solutions, his role involves examining emerging technology trends, vendor strategies, development and integration issues, and management best practices.

Windows 2012 Hyper-V – the hypervisor for your Cloud? Part II

DataCenterVirtualizationWindows 2012 Hyper-V is the hypervisor for the cloud, VMware’s vSphere is a dead man walking?

In Part I I shared a chunk of what I learned from Aidan Finn‘s enlightening and entertaining session delivered at the E2E Virtulisation Conference in Hamburg tastefully titled, “Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V & VSphere 5.1 – Death Match”. In Part I we looked at pricing, scalability and performance, as well as storage in questioning how bold this statement was.

Pure license-cost wise, it more straightforward to run Microsoft Hyper-V than add another licensed hypervisor: note that Hyper-V does have a free offering (although this version doesn’t cover the virtual Windows Server instance licenses). We showed that scalability wise, Hyper-V can better common competition. Storage-wise Hyper-V, as should be expected from the newest offering, supports the newest technology: 4k sector sizes, and had the largest virtual disk support. Still, if you needed greater than 2TB of storage, you could always join multiple 2TB instances together, or bypass limits by mapping a LUN direct to the VM.

Still, besides pricing simplicity, performance improvements, and updated storage what has Microsoft done for the latest version of Hyper-V? In Part II, lets question further Aidan’s premise that Hyper-V kills vSphere.

Continue reading Windows 2012 Hyper-V – the hypervisor for your Cloud? Part II

Windows 2012 Hyper-V – The Hypervisor for your Cloud? Part I

Windows 2012 Hyper-V is the hypervisor for the cloud, and VMware’s vSphere is a dead man walking. So declared Aidan Finn at a recent virtualization conference in Hamburg during an enlightening entertaining session which he tastefully entitled, “Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V & VSphere 5.1 – Death Match”.

A bold statement? Hyper-V has often been cited as a “nearly ran”; good enough for the SMB space and smaller Private Clouds, but lacking the muscle for a cloud-focused enterprise. Nice for a visit, wouldn’t want to live there.

A biased statement? Aidan Finn is highly regarded Hyper-v Microsoft Most Valuable Professional and regularly writes on his website about changes and features of the product. In Predicatably Irrational, Dan Ariely dedicates a chapter to the possibility of a fan’s judgement being clouded. And yet, the list of features now available in Windows Hyper-V is compelling. Indeed, back in March we discussed if Microsoft would drive a wedge between VMware and EMC with Windows Server 2012 and Hyper-V.

In terms of embedded services and experience, VMware’s vSphere has a significant place in many organisations’ data centres. Licensing alone is unlikely to change hearts and minds to convert, but what about features?

Can Microsoft claim that Hyper-V is the hypervisor for the cloud? What new features are available in the 2012 release, and how does it now compare to vSphere 5.1. More importantly, will  these changes drive wider adoption?

In this first installment, we take a look at pricing, scalability, and performance, as well as storage.

Continue reading Windows 2012 Hyper-V – The Hypervisor for your Cloud? Part I

Project Avalon: Will Citrix Put VMware Horizon to the Sword?

Project Avalon was announced by Citrix back in May. Project AvalonAvalon is to deliver Windows apps and desktops as a true cloud service. Since then, there has been speculation on what that actually entails. “Cloud” or “Cloud Service” can have many different connotations; indeed, for many the very term “cloud” fills their ears with a high-pitched nee and causes a yearn to live in an anarcho-syndicalist commune.

Running small-scale, departmental-level deployments of desktop virtualization is relatively straightforward. Scale past thousands to several thousands of desktops and applications, and the process of management and delivery gets much harder. More importantly, data centre technology has changed. How do you scale an environment while segregating the roles of a virtual desktop administrator from those of the storage, networking, or virtual infrastructure teams? How can the data centre infrastructure team provide the right service to the desktop team, and vice versa, so that they can optimize delivery of virtual desktops?

Citrix has FlexCast, the concept that IT should be able to deliver a variety of types of virtual instances, with each tailored to meet performance, security, and flexibility requirements. But while FlexCast gives choices for users, the simplicity of the user interface belies the rapid duck-paddling of disparate, separately developed and maintained products that organisations have to maintain at the back-end, many of which creak at the mere thought of a little bit of scaled peril.

To avoid smelling of elderberries, Citrix needs to make the administration and deployment of their Windows application and desktop delivery more straightforward and relevant to current delivery methods. Easier large/massive deployments are necessary in order to maintain large enterprise account revenue and to entice service providers to build solutions on Citrix software. Project Avalon is intended to allow organisations to effectively centralize IT to provide cost savings through scale and administration and maintain security, while enabling decentralized IT resources to utilize those central services to give users and customers a productive experience.

At the same time, the VMware Horizon Suite is intended to provide the end user with a single place to get access to their applications, data, and desktops and to give IT a single management console to manage entitlements, policies, and security.

At Synergy 2012 in Barcelona, components of Project Avalon were revealed. Project Excalibur will focus on creating an integrated FlexCast platform, and Project Merlin will deliver self-service provision, management, and service orchestration.

What will these components provide, and where will it lead customers? Will embarking on a quest to get to Avalon lead to the promised grail or just to some watery tart?

Continue reading Project Avalon: Will Citrix Put VMware Horizon to the Sword?

Citrix Remote PC: VDI complexity solved, or a kick start to a VDI project?

synergyAt Citrix Synergy in Barcleona, I got to have a look at Citrix’s latest addition to the FlexCast technology stack, Citrix RemotePC. Citrix RemotePC was released as part of Citrix XenDesktop 5.6 Feature Pack 1. While XenDesktop is Citrix’s hosted desktop solution, but Citrix Remote PC is not a virtualised desktop. Citrix Remote PC is secure brokering of a physical Windows endpoint (be that a desktop or a laptop) in your office, via Citrix’s HDX technology. Continue reading Citrix Remote PC: VDI complexity solved, or a kick start to a VDI project?

News: Browsium Catalyst Multi-browser Management Tool Released to Beta

Browsium CatalystBrowsium has released Catalyst to public beta. Browsium hopes that Catalyst will transform how organisations manage multi-browser environments.

A browser is a gateway to the Internet, to applications, to data. Many home users have multiple browsers; increasingly many corporations do, too. This might be because different browser versions are needed to maintain access to legacy applications while offering modern access to the Internet. Maybe it is to give users more choice. Maybe it is in an effort to reduce the possibility of a security breach. Maybe it is because users have just installed a second browser because they can. Regardless, managing user use of multiple  browsers—so they are working productively and not bogging down the help-desk—is a complex undertaking.

Browsium, which has developed Browsium Ion to allow management of Internet Explorer, is looking to solve this multi-browser problem with Catalyst.

Continue reading News: Browsium Catalyst Multi-browser Management Tool Released to Beta

Liquidware Labs ProfileUnity v5.2: does it out sense AppSense or haze Mirage?

DesktopVirtualizationLiquidware Labs has released an update to their user environment management product, setting ProfileUnity v5.2 out into the wild. ProfileUnity FlexApp is capable of presenting organisations with a comprehensive user environment management solution encompassing both user virtualization and a virtualized software distribution system. An impressive customer and partner engagement programme has resulted in a growing number of customers who can relate to its straightforward deployment, low acquisition cost, and its ability to manage both user profiles and data and application delivery on demand, in virtualized and physical desktop environments.

We have mentioned before that a commonality between users is their desire to be different. While embracing diversity is a Good Thing, it can be a complex and expensive process in a VDI environment using persistent virtual machines alone. A number of  vendors provide tools to decouple components of user workspaces, to provide for personalisation within a standard environment. This provides cost savings by allowing core standardisation, while reducing the need for the user to change their working practices and allowing them to be as productive as possible. Moreover, few organisations find that a VDI-only solution deals with all of their user use cases – laptops and PCs are still not dead as devices. How do you manage environments across both virtual and physical desktops?

There are more established players in this market. AppSense. RES Software. Indeed VDI vendors are introducing their own solutions. Citrix has incorporated its own Profile Management, Personal vDisks, and has recreated XenClient with their NxTop acquisition. VMware is planning to utilise its Wanova Mirage acquisition to enable IT to centralize PC images of virtual and physical machines and do single image management while users execute locally.

What new features are included Liquidware Labs’ ProfileUnity 5.2, how does it compare against other offerings and differences can it make to your organisation?

Continue reading Liquidware Labs ProfileUnity v5.2: does it out sense AppSense or haze Mirage?

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