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Monthly Archives: April 2007

Record/Replay in Workstation 6

Interesting set of articles on the Amazing VM Record/Replay Feature in VMware Workstation 6.  Steve Herrod, VP of Engineering at VMware, describes the challenge of recording and replaying the execution of a virtual machine.  At first it may seem straightforward – we all know what record / replay is – but it gets complex given the need to replay the exact timing of external interrupts to the operating system and other non-deterministic behavior. For replay to work, there is a lot of data to record.

And there are some useful implications for software development and debugging.

For those wanting even more detail, one of the development engineers on this feature describes additional technical nuggets.

Bigger Better Betas

Like any good software company, VMware is always trying to improve the quality and effectiveness of our beta programs.  We want to collect feedback from users, give early adopters insight into the new product features, and create an overall positive experience with the product. 

With these goals in mind, we’ve created a new way to interact with the VMware product experts during betas:   live weekly question and answer conference calls. 

VMware Lab Manager 2.5 beta launched this concept with hour-long calls every Wednesday starting last week. 

It’s an opportunity to talk with product management and the development manager about all aspects of the beta release.  Participants are asking  technical as well as use-case and product philosophy questions; they are picking up ideas and information from Q&A with other beta participants; and they are sharing their comments on the product.  And VMware is getting live, interactive feedback.

So, join the Wednesday Lab Manager 2.5 Beta question and answer to see how it works.

Michael Dell uses Ubuntu (and VMware Workstation)

We’re happy that Michael Dell uses Ubuntu, but if you follow the link to Michael’s official bio, you’ll see he’s using the VMware Workstation 6 beta release as well.  That really warms our hearts.

From Michael Varsavsky, Michael Dell Uses Ubuntu!:

Interestingly I just got an e mail from Michael Dell in which he says he
also uses Ubuntu
. As the link shows he went as far as to say so in his
official bio in the Dell web site. Now if Dell, the corporation goes the way of
Michael Dell, the CEO the Ubuntu distro will rise from relative obscurity to the
big league of Vista, Windows XP and MacOSX. Fans of Ubuntu should watch this
opportunity carefully Michael Dell may be coming your way just as the new Ubuntu is about to be
released.

ESX Server Patch Recall

Update (April 19, 2007): New patches are available that replace the two recalled patches.  Details on the two links below.

Normally we don’t directly blog product announcements on the VMTN Blog — instead, they are always blogged on  VMTN Top News, which is also subscribable via RSS.  But in this case, we wanted to be sure we fully communicated the recall of the latest ESX Server patch:

The 2.5.4 patch 6 (Build #41630) and 2.5.3 patch 9 (Build #41618) have been
recalled in the interest of stability for ESX servers.

In an environment where Windows and
Linux virtual machines are configured with vmxnet virtual NIC driver, when the
virtual machine is either powered off, suspended or migrated live via VMotion to
another host, a small amount of memory is not freed.  Hence, multiple virtual
machine power-offs, suspensions and VMotions may cause the host to run low on
memory.

A replacement patch which fixes this
issue will be released within a few days and posted to the same page as the
original patch:

2.5.3 Patch Download Page: http://www.vmware.com/support/esx25/doc/esx-253-200703-patch.html

2.5.4 Patch Download Page: http://www.vmware.com/support/esx25/doc/esx-254-200703-patch.html

Additional details, including workarounds, are available at the two links above.

VMware Consolidation Ratios Aren’t A Competition

Link: "VMware Consolidation Ratios Aren’t A Competition" by Bob Plankers, The Lone Sysadmin.

“I just read an article about an IBM shop that is planning a 50:1 virtualization ratio in their VMware environment,” I told two coworkers.

“What’s our ratio?”

“19:1 across our whole VMware environment.”

“Do we plan to get to 50:1?”

“No,” I reply.

“Why not?”

Will Microsoft sunset VMware?

Massimo re Ferre’ with a long think-piece on VMware, Microsoft, market forces, value-add, and paradigm shifts in the data center: Will Microsoft sunset VMware? All his points are good, but I particularly like this one:

Maniacally focused: you need to consider
that for Microsoft this is one of the many battle-grounds. Windows
Virtualization is a line-item feature in a new OS release. This has
nothing to do with the fact that, for them, this is very important or
not. It remains a fact that their overall efforts will be diluted
across a number of markets that span from OS dominance to databases,
from mail systems to development tools etc etc. For VMware this is
"THE" market. They are laser focused to provide the best x86
virtualization experience and solutions. That’s what they do and they
can afford to run full steam towards that result. Whether they will
succeed is another matter but it’s important to notice.

And in his conclusion he invokes a paradigm shift coming in how we manage complexity in the data center. Massimo is particularly excited by Virtual Appliances (as am I), but 
his vision of the future data center isn’t dependent on that.

These are the reasons for which I don’t think Microsoft is going to sunset VMware. Clearly they will pose a challenge on them (a very tough one) but I don’t see VMware as being kicked out so easily. And the number one reason is because I really think that our Datacenters needs to be re-designed from the ground up. Let me quote myself: "This is a fascinating scenario and as you can imagine it involves more than just developing a hypervisor with a management interface: it involves creating a new culture on how we deal with IT, taking all the pieces apart and rebuild our datacenters in a much more efficient way". Now if we agree that Microsoft is making a lot of money out of this "legacy" model (this is a fact) but that we need to change it (the legacy model) to become more efficient anyway … do you think that Microsoft itself could be the agent of change in this case? If they are not pushed they will try to maintain the status-quo (well status-quo with license upgrades as new product versions come along). I remember 5 years ago I went to Microsoft asking them what they were doing about virtualization since this little company called VMware was having brilliant ideas on how to consolidate servers and they told me that they response to that was Itanium and Windows 2000 Datacenter.

See also the responses at the VMTN Forums.

Remaindered Links – April 13, 2007

Recently from VMware:

New VMware employee blogs coming to Planet V12n:

General raves

General opining

How to

Interesting Stuff

The Next Big Thing

From Karl Rumelhart, Senior Product Manager and TSX EMEA presenter:

We had a fun session this afternoon at EMEA TSX called “The Next Big Thing for VMware.” I had the pleasure of hosting the event but credit for the concept and the organization go to Richard Garsthagen. Five conference attendees were invited to present a product idea that they felt could be the “next big thing.” The audience then voted on which idea they felt was the most compelling with the winner getting a 24in iMAC – along with a copy of VMware Fusion, of course. Briefly, the ideas were the following.

  • “ESX SMB Edition” proposed an offering for SMB that includes all VI3 features (and others) but removes the need for traditional shared storage by using the ESX Server hosts themselves as storage targets with striping across hosts for availability.
  • “Virtual Applications” suggested introducing an ‘Application Object (AO)’ primitive in VirtualCenter that would be the point of management and availability for the potentially numerous virtual machines running on multiple ESX Servers that make up the application.
  • “Virtual Document Management” proposed a tool to automatically generate documentation in various formats that captures the full configuration of a VI environment – “enough to rebuild the environment.” By introducing version control the tool could be used for change and configuration management.
  • “Access Control on Virtual Equipment” pointed out that VMware needs to provide the same degree of control over Networks and Datastores that it does for Virtual Machines and Hosts.
  • “Virtual Appliances as Templates in VirtualCenter” suggested that VI Client have consistent treatment (e.g. deployment wizards) for local templates and remote virtual appliances and that the virtual appliances available for download appear in the client similar to the way songs do in Apples iTunes.

The voting was secret ballot and I can report that it was very close. But a plurality of the crowd chose the “Virtual Document Management” tool. This is definitely a cool idea as it neatly links change and configuration management with a problem faced by every solutions consultant: the need to document what you build. The other ideas are also very important. In my opinion, if we had all the solution ideas available today, the ESX SMB Edition (which implies VI3 without traditional shared storage) would be responsible for the biggest change in our business.

While the votes were being counted we did another fun exercise with the audience. I proposed a series of questions and the audience members held up red or green papers to express their opinion. There were some interesting results. For example, by an estimated 70/30 split the audience felt that long term DR was a bigger market for VMware than VDI. And approximately 80% of the participants felt that within 18 months virtual appliances would be a good way to purchase, and not just evaluate, software. But an almost equal fraction felt that that is not the case today.

As with any product feedback, it is important to review who is giving it. And one of the best thing about the event for me is that fact that we were engaged with folks who are very hands on with the technology, a large percentage of them folks who consult on VMware technology for a living. In my opinion, VMware product management should miss no opportunity to engage with our technical channel. And in this case it was particularly special since the attendees were all from EMEA, folks obviously pretty far away from our base in Palo Alto.  The presenters were from Belgium, South Africa, the Netherlands, Italy and Germany. That is awesome.

And the name is… VMware Fusion™

From product manager Pat Lee:

Since August, we have been talking about VMware desktop
virtualization for the Mac, which is a mouthful to say the least.
Today, I am very happy to announce the release of the third public beta
of VMware Fusion™.

That’s right, we finally have a product name!

I am really excited about all the new stuff the Mac team at VMware
has been working on lately to make VMware Fusion the easiest-to-use,
most reliable way to run Windows and other Intel- and AMD- compatible
operating systems on your Mac.

We have lots of very happy VMware Fusion users today with our beta 2
feature set. However, users keep begging us for a way to turn off
debugging code so they can get the best performance that VMware Fusion
has to offer. Based on overwhelming user demand and more importantly
the lack of crashing bugs in Beta 2, VMware Fusion Beta 3 now gives you
the option do turn off debugging code to experience better performance.
You can turn off debugging code by going to the VMware Fusion >
Preferences menu and un-checking "Enable debugging checks".  I am
confident you will be very happy with the performance available in beta
3 with debug code disabled.

The other thing we keep hearing from the Mac community is that
people have spent a great deal of time and money getting Windows XP
installed on their Mac using Apple’s Boot Camp software. They don’t
want to have to start all over again to take advantage of the power of
virtualization. VMware Fusion Beta 3 now automatically detects your
Boot Camp partition and lets you run a VMware Fusion virtual machine
directly from the Windows XP Boot Camp partition. (We don’t support
Microsoft Vista yet in Boot Camp with Beta 3 since Apple just announced
Vista support last week, but we are working on adding support for this
soon.)

I had the opportunity to speak to thousands of potential users at
Macworld who wanted to run Windows applications, but they didn’t want
to become a Windows guru just to install Windows on their Mac. VMware
Fusion Beta 3 has you covered with Windows Easy Install. Just answer a
few simple questions, insert your Windows CD and VMware Fusion will
take care of the rest and create the optimal Windows virtual machine
for your Mac.

Additionally, there are lots of smaller improvements that add up to
an even better Mac user experience when working with virtual machines.

One of the coolest features of VMware Fusion is the ability to
suspend a virtual machine to disk (so it doesn’t take up any precious
memory or processor cycles) with all your applications open to just
where you want them. The great thing is that you can quickly resume and
get back to using your applications without waiting for Windows to
restart.  Wouldn’t it be cool to know where you left off before you
resumed? A short video is worth a thousand words.

Suspendedvm Movie

The dialog formerly known as the Welcome screen has become the
Virtual Machine Library with lots of great new features. Just drag in
existing or new virtual machines to add them to your library, reorder
your existing virtual machines using drag and drop, or use the Delete
key to remove a virtual machine from your library. You can also open a
virtual machine without powering it on to make configuration changes.

Finding the right file to double-click in a virtual machine’s folder
to start your VM is a thing of the past.  Now, new virtual machines are
created in a single tidy bundle, just like Keynote presentations.  You
can drag your virtual machine documents around, copy them, and make
backups just like any other document.

Making your existing virtual machine directories into bundles is
easy: just add ".vmwarevm" to the end of the directory name, and it
instantly becomes a virtual machine bundle.  If you are using VMware on
Windows or Linux, Mac virtual machine bundles are still fully
compatible our other products — they will just see your bundles as
directories with ".vmwarevm" at the end of their names.

There have also been a lot of great new improvements to the New
Virtual Machine Assistant. In addition to Windows Easy Install, VMware
Fusion now remembers the last folder you chose to save your virtual
machines and defaults to that folder any new virtual machines your
create. In addition, it doesn’t let you proceed until you insert your
operating system CD or disc image to start the install.

If you are a European or Japanese VMware Fusion user, you will be
happy to know that beta 3 now correctly recognizes Japanese and
European keyboards and they will work as expected in your virtual
machines.

Just don’t take my word for it, go to the VMware Mac portal, download VMware Fusion Beta 3 and see for yourself.

Then join the Mac discussion forums to help us make VMware Fusion even better for you!

More from TSX



photo: Viktor van der Berg

From Gerben’s Blog: (these are short; just go here and scroll, or go below for the individual entries)

From Eric Sloof at the airport, interviews with Eric Sloof and attendee Bouke Groenescheij

Pictures from Viktor van den Berg

And I don’t speak Russian, but do you read virtadmin.ru?