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Monthly Archives: March 2007

New blog alert from SearchServerVirtualization

A new blog just showed up in my Google Blogsearches today: the Server Virtualization Blog from SearchServerVirtualization. It’s been going since Jan 18, but I just found it. It’s good. It’s a group blog, but it has a good voice and gives great context on the articles they write and commentary on what’s going on elsewhere. The last few entries are VMware-centric, but they cover the whole industry:

In general, SearchServerVirtualization has good articles, but I tend not to link to them because (1) the rest of Planet V12n finds the good stuff so I don’t have to (you are reading Planet V12n, right? Even if you scan it once a week, you’ll be up to date on this crazy business we call virtualization.) and (2) their article RSS feeds seem to be manually created, and so sometimes their new articles don’t show up for days or weeks, and who wants to blog about a two-week old article?

I’m hardly King of the Virtualization Bloggers or even Host of the Virtualization Blogosphere, but let me be a bit presumptuous and welcome Server Virtualization Blog to the party!

–jtroyer

DB2 Enterprise 9 on ESX Server

Link: Set up DB2 Enterprise 9 on a Linux virtual machine using VMware ESX Server.

There are a number of reasons why you might want to set up DB2 9 on a virtual machine. For example, you may need to consolidate your servers and make full use of the hardware your company has already purchased. Or, maybe you are trying to set up a test environment that needs to be completely isolated from the production environment. Or perhaps you are trying to test out legacy applications on new operating systems.

If you find yourself in any of these situations, then this article should prove to be a handy reference. We will walk you through setting up a Red Hat Linux (64-bit) virtual machine using VMware ESX Server, and then continue with details on installing DB2 Enterprise 9 64-bit in that image. This article also provides you with tips and techniques on configuring your newly created image and discusses some of the possible configurations or scenarios that you could plan for using the VMware ESX Server product.

Virtual Machines for the Web Worker

Everybody reading the VMTN Blog knows how virtualization
can save your bacon and give you superpowers at the same time, but feel
free to drop by and give the Web Workers the benefit of your
experience. Mike Gunderloy writes at Web Worker Daily: Virtual Machines for the Web Worker.

Virtualization software has come of age. Using virtualization, you can run an entire second computer (a virtual machine)
as an application inside of your primary computer. The technology has
caught on in the data center, where virtualization allows IT managers
to make more efficient use of hardware resources by combining multiple
logical servers into a single physical server, which has benefits for
reliability and scalability. But with software like Microsoft Virtual PC and VMware Workstation for Windows, Parallels Desktop and VMware Fusion for the Mac, or VMware Workstation
for Linux, this technology is available to the digital Bedouin as well.
Here are four ways that I’ve found to incorporate virtual machines into
the hectic web worker lifestyle.

Mike’s Larkware Daily Grind is very worth checking out for developers. Also, remember if you are one of those Web Workers getting ready to buy your first
Workstation license, you can purchase version 5.5 now, you will get an upgrade to Workstation 6.0 when it is released.

Pirillo: Vista — works better with VMware

If you’ve been awake the last few weeks, you’ve seen that some folks (and let’s be fair, not nearly everybody, but definitely some folks) have been having difficulties with Microsoft Vista. The usual culprits are various device drivers that are not quite bulletproof yet. Chris Pirillo, A-list blogger and LockerGnome impressario, washed his hands of Vista two weeks ago, but last week decided to give it another try, this time in a VMware Workstation 6 virtual machine. It seems to be working out for him so well he has a modest proposal: bundle Vista as a VMware virtual appliance!

Link: Windows Vista Help ~ Chris Pirillo.

Microsoft: it’s not too late to save your users from further frustration. The only lucid proposal is the near-immediate deployment of a limited edition VMWare virtual machine with “N” pre-installed and ready to go. And don’t tell the world that you’re working on a new version of Virtual PC. Fact of the matter is: I got it working today, and I really believe that you can make it equally as simple for novices to do, too. …

Let me put it to everybody else another way: I can only recommend
Windows Vista with VMWare 6.0 Workstation (beta or beyond). So, if
Microsoft (or VMWare) doesn’t give it to you, you’ll have to spend an
additional $200 to acquire a license – possibly more if you don’t
already have a copy of XP on hand. …

VMWare solved my frustrations – VMWare brought me back to Windows
Vista (which, as I’ve already stated in previous conversations, is
fundamentally better than XP).

Time for a new VMware Workstation slogan? Vista — works better with VMware.

When to use VDI, when to use server-based computing

Brian Madden on VDI and Ardence. Link: When to use VDI, when to use server-based computing, and how the Citrix Ardence dynamic desktop fits into all this.

VDI, or Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, is quickly entering the buzzword danger zone. At the most basic level, VDI technology is a new method for delivering desktops to users. Of course users have been using desktops for years, at first running locally on their own PCs, and more recently by accessing remote server-based computing (SBC) desktops running on Microsoft terminal servers or Citrix Presentation Servers.

Now that various VDI technologies have hit the market, peoples’ reactions are all over the place. Some people are talking about how VDI will replace or compete with SBC and traditional technologies. In this article I’ll explain why this isn’t the case, and how all three technologies (VDI, SBC, and traditional desktops) can be used together to provide a holistic desktop delivery solution for a company of any size.

I’ll also explore the technology that makes VDI a reality and discuss some of the roadblocks that may be encountered along the way. I’ll talk about the emergence and importance of a concept known as the “dynamic desktop,” and why this is needed for a “true” VDI solution.

Finally I’ll provide a quick overview of Citrix’s Ardence solution and describe how it can enable organizations to truly realize the “on demand” desktop, whether it’s VDI-based or traditional PC-based.

[via thincomputing.net, VMblog, and virtualization.info]

Virtual security: brave new world or more of the same?

Greg Ness, VP of Marketing for Blue Lane Technologies, wrote an article that talks about the increased security complexity that comes with virtualization. Not so coincidentally, Blue Lane has a product that can address these complexities! (Disclaimer: Blue Lane is a VMware partner, has a very cool product, and is going to release a virtual appliance.) Link: Virtualization: The Beginning of the End of Static Security

One of the more subtle outcomes of the hypervisor layer is that the
network is now exposed on the server. This is good news and bad news –
good in that it allows a new guard post on the servers, which can
provide “zone defense” for the VMs without any footprint on the VMs;
bad in that it presents a new target that can be exploited by
hackers. It has been said that virtualization is changing
everything. Security is obviously no exception.

In the virtual world, vulnerability scans can be rendered obsolete in
an instant as new server images move from offline to online. Server
sprawl means security solutions built on the assumption of the slower
and more orderly changes inherent in the hardware-driven world will
have a lot of catching up to do. You don’t want to be the last on your
team to know that you’re not in Kansas anymore.

By de-coupling hardware from the
operating system, virtualization challenges traditional network
security solutions with location-specific rules of protection. For
example, when new virtual servers are created and dynamically moved
behind this important layer, they can inadvertently break static
firewall rules. Security solutions for the virtual environment must
automatically address dynamic moves and changes.

These are actually insightful observations around a new technology (virtualization) enabling new behaviors (resources coming on- and offline dynamically) which can have unintended consequences (security and monitoring applications may not know about these new machines on the network).  However, many times when an article talks about virtualization and security they start going on about patching all your Windows boxes, which seems to be exposing holes in your business processes and your virtual server sprawl more than anything inherent in virtualization (other than the aforementioned increased dynamicism). Scott Lowe, who evidently has his servers under control, weighs in. Link: Virtual Security Concerns

Generally speaking, anything that adds security to the
infrastructure—virtual or physical—is usually a good thing, so I’m
excited to see more vendors creating security solutions that are aware
of virtualization solutions.  What I’m not so keen to see, though, is
the trend among security vendors (and some analysts) that the addition
of server virtualization completely changes the security picture. …

“Special consideration for patching and updates”?  Huh?  How is patching a virtual instance of Windows Server 2003
any different from patching a physical instance? Administrators will
still need to maintain virtual instances just like they maintain
physical instances—both will need to be patched, reviewed for insecure
configuration, scanned for malicious software, etc., generally using
the exact same processes in both cases.

So go over to his site and let Scott know what you think. IANAITSE (I Am Not An IT Security Expert), but it seems to me that Scott is precisely correct, until you reach the dynamic resource pool stage of your virtual infrastructure, where you may not be able to ensure that all those dormant images sitting on your SAN somewhere are fully patched.

RapidApp’s Quick Start guide to ESX 3.0

At VMworld 2006, one of the hottest items on the expo floor was a little booklet that RapidApp was giving away at their booth. It’s now available in electronic or dead tree version. Link: RapidApp’s Quick Start guide to ESX 3.0

VMTN Forums regular Jason Boche gives it two thumbs up:

This book is a fantastic resource for those with moderate to expert
experience (the more, the better) with VMware VirtualCenter 1.x and
VMware ESX 1.x/2.x. I planned much of our corporate VI3 implementation
based on this book. The Quick Start Guide is not a replacement for all
of the VMware .PDF documentation of which there is easily over 500
pages, maybe over 700. This book is also not an Advanced Technical
Design Guide. It’s a quick and dirty substitute boiled down to 171
pages for those who can hit the ground running with VMware, and it will
fit in your back pocket. As with any first edition, I cannot say this
book is without some spelling/grammar mistakes and more importantly a
few technical inaccuracies, but they are few and far between and I look
forward to them being corrected in the 2nd edition. I obtained a copy
of this book at VMworld 2006 but that copy is nearly worn out so I
purchased an additional copy. I highly recommend this book. Two thumbs
up!

[via DABCC]

Remaindered Links – March 14, 2007

It’s been a while. Here’s what I’ve been bookmarking:

How To

Preview chapters of the next version of the VI3 ESX Server Advanced Technical Design Guide by Herold, Oglesby, and Laverick at www.vi3book.com

(Auto)patching your ESX host using a Perl script to automate an HTTP Update Depot. See also this thread.

Installing ESX Server from a USB drive [via vmwarewolf]

Thinking about taking a VMware Infrastructure class? See kmehnert’s take: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4

Backing up a virtual machine manually using bzip and split

Adding a Comtrol Rocketport serial card to ESX Server and configuring serial ports in the VM’s

Clone your Active Directory in 12 minutes using VMware

Virtualisation On The Cheap using iSCSI

From Petr.co.il: Five Reasons You Should Virtualize Your Servers With VMware Server, VMware Disk Files ExplainedUnderstanding VMware VMX Configuration Files (see also Ulli Hankeln’s sanbarrow.com)


Convert Physical Windows Systems Into Virtual Machines
To Be Run On A Linux Desktop

VMware Server VM Startup Slowdown

VMware Console won’t connect across subnets workaround

Real World

VMware solution for my university

VI3 — A 90 Day’s Review from Andy Murrey

Well,
I have been running VI3 for a little over three months. So
far I would l have to say that I am very impressed with the new
functionality included in this release from the ESX Server side of the
house. I am however, not so impressed with Virtual Center 2.01. It has
a lot of potential, but leaves a frustrating user experience behind. …

What
really makes this software great for me is the community that supports
it. Usually you would see this type of support for an open source
application, and few of them if any. VMWare has done a great job in
rewarding its community and maintaining a superb VMTN site. [Thanks! -JT]

Commentary

KVM steals virtualization spotlight. Lucid overview of this new open source Linux kernel.  virtualization technology from Stephen Shankland of CNET. Tarry’s take. Ulrich Drepper responds.

Slashdot on the Microsoft brouhaha. A VMware user gives the smackdown. "I manage 100s of VMs with VMWare’s Virtual Infrastructure, and I call bullsh*t on your whole post my good man."

SQL Server in a VM (licensing etc. Be sure and read the comments.)

Lab Management for the rest of us

Virtually Secure?

Bakman’s Blog on VMware Security, now with podcasts

Mark Cuban (yes, that Mark Cuban) on the future of personal computing (VM’s on your gaming console)

Michael Parekh on IT: On Microsoft and Apple vs VMware and Parallels

With increasingly powerful hardware available at more affordable
prices every day, virtualization then allows me to pick and choose the
OS and/or JUST the OS feature I wish to run in order to,

  • run specific computer applications and/or web applications that I can’t run on another OS,
  • access certain peripherals that I can’t use on another OS using the same hardware,
  • get certain OS features that are not available on another OS. …

Having the OS company try and offer virtualization as a "feature" is
fairly contradictory and self-serving from the ultimate user/customer’s
perspective in the long-term.

rPath’s Billy Marshall on OS licensing in a world of dynamic virtual appliances:

For example, a payroll application might run for a couple of days every
month, but otherwise, it is not needed. With software appliances, the
payroll software appliance would be deployed to a computer (atop the
hypervisor) to run during the days before payday, and then be removed
from the machine to make room for other applications to run more
speedily during the rest of the month. Should the customer pay for a
“full time” license to the operating system that is inside the payroll
software appliance? Or should they have a “part time” license that more
closely reflects the manner in which they use the payroll software
appliance?

ACE 2 Beta: favorite new features

The ACE 2 public beta started this week. Although much of the attention was focused on Pocket ACE, there’s actually quite a bit of new functionality in this long-awaited release. Warren Ponder from the VMware desktop team gives his perspective:

I wanted to take a few seconds and mention the ACE 2.0 Beta is
now live. Everyone has been hard at work getting this release ready. All the
hard work and feedback from customers is really starting to payoff.

Existing customers and potential new customers have a ton of new
features and enhancements to look forward too. Here are my top three favorites.

  • ACE Management Server Appliance – The ACE Management
    server appliance is a true virtual appliance. It comes packaged as a virtual
    machine, with the OS and management server pre-installed and ready to go. This
    approach greatly reduces the time to deployment in your environment. No OS or
    applications to install. Simply power on, configure through the web based
    management interface and your done.

  • Pocket ACE – With Pocket ACE you can now deploy ACE’s to a
    USB flash stick using a simple wizard. Once distributed, an ACE user simply
    plugs their USB stick into any available system to access their ACE
    instance.

  • ACE Management Server Help Desk – The new Help Desk
    feature allows users to submit problems for common issues such as lost passwords
    and expired ACE instances. Using this allows an administrator or help desk to
    quickly respond to an issue a user might be having that is preventing them from
    working.

There are a lot of other new features a well, including expanded
Linux distributions supported as guests, and Linux being supported as a host.
There is also the ability now to join Windows clients to a domain remotely over
a secure VPN connecting and much, much more.

We also wanted to thank the customers that have been testing the
beta already and providing us extremely valuable feedback so far.  We would like
to invite everyone interested to come join the beta, participate in
the ACE 2.0 beta forums, and give your feedback and suggestions.

Warren Ponder
Senior Technical Marketing Engineer
Enterprise Desktop Products and Solutions
VMware

New blogs: Blade Watch, Vitrix

New blogs in the truly globe-spanning Planet V12n:

Vincent Vlieghe’s Virtrix. Vincent works for the Belgian IT consulting company Xylos (as does fellow Planet V12n blogger Geert Baeke). Vincent has hands-on experience with VMware products, and his blog reflects that with practical tips and advice. Recent posts include:

Martin MacLeod’s Blade Watch. Martin is a UK-based consultant specializing in, you guessed it, blades, along with high-performance, grid, and of course virtualization. He’s got wise things to say about the business process side of the data center, and lately he’s been covering power savings as well. Recent entries:

Both of these blogs cover more than just virtualization (Virtrix also covers Citrix and other server-based/thin-client solutions, and Blade Watch has lots of blade info), so if you’re interested in the topics, go straight to the source and subscribe!