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Monthly Archives: July 2007

Leveraging virtualization for application availability

Link: Virtual Strategy Magazine – Key Considerations for Leveraging Virtualization and Keeping Your Applications Available.

Disaster recovery represents an innovative application of
virtualization technology. Traditionally, disaster recovery has been
achieved through the use of redundant infrastructures and systems
housed in remote locations, away from primary datacenters. While an
effective strategy, many IT organizations find it difficult if not
impossible to buy and maintain “two of everything.”  …

Neither virtualization nor virtualized DR is a panacea. Rather, they
are complex initiatives requiring careful, ongoing consideration of key
issues, including:

  • Increased criticality of virtual servers
  • Increased complexity for server administration and management
  • Change management and architecting the infrastructure migration from physical to virtual environment
  • Balancing investment versus higher utilization rates
  • Need for new skill sets and processes

[via vmblog.com]

Two VDI topics: new webinar + VDI & RemoteApp

Two interesting posts from Warren on the Virtual Desktop Blog:

VDI – Cardinal Healthcare – Webinar.

One of the most innovative things I feel they accomplished was in how they executed their client side strategy. After evaluating different alternatives from PC’s to thin clients. They decided to go with low-end PC’s. Because VDI was new at the time, Justin’s team had to create their own custom image. The image is PXE booted from the network by each of the client end points. In essence this enabled them to create their own low cost unmanaged client end point. When a device is powered on it downloads its image from the network. Once the boot process is complete, the user is given a chooser created by Justin’s team for selecting the environment they need. Once the user has made their selection, a connection is established to their hosted virtual desktop. Simple, clean and affective.

Warren’s post on using the new Longhorn Terminal Services feature RemoteApp engendered some lively discussion, including some illuminating comments from the CTO of Provision Networks. VDI + RemoteApp = Match made in heaven

One of the features I
have been waiting to see from 2008 server and the Terminal Services
team is RemoteApp. RemoteApp is a new feature that introduces usability
concepts that have been around for a while, but have really started to
take off even more, as the desktop environment continues to change.

So
what is the concept? A RemoteApp application accessed from a Terminal
Server displays as if it was another application loaded on the user’s
local desktop. This concept is nothing new
really. On the Terminal Services front there have always been seamless
windows from Citrix. Sun’s SGD product had the concept of the
integrated client that took the seamless windows concept a step further
by integrating the applications into the start menu and desktop. On the
virtualization front, its similar to the Unity feature of the VMware
Fusion product for MAC.

And a highlight from the comment of Peter Ghostine, CTO of Provision Networks:

One of the reasons why many IT organizations are favoring VDI over TS
is because VDI mainly revolves around hosting a "standard" Windows
desktop OS. Therefore, no special TS know-how is required. And it’s not
just about TS know-how, but also about the myriad apps out there that
just won’t work out of the box on TS without drastic steps to mitigate
multi-user conflicts. There are many use-cases that I’ve documented
over the years.

Virtual Videos keep coming

The VMware video contest continues to roll along. You still have another 3 weeks to upload your masterpiece and win $15 grand, an Alienware laptop, or an iPhone. And be virtually famous, of course.

The two top videos right now are Inconceivable Productivity, which features some wicked fast typing and Adventures of VM Man, which features some wicked wakeboarding. I’m not sure if that makes the bar to win low or high, but I think that any good video will get some good buzz. My favorite is still Mike Laverick’s VMware is esxy, but I’ve been known to have a sophomoric sense of humor. Here are the top two so far:


You got your ESX in my Workstation!

Long ago in January, richard6121 started a thread in the VMware Forums suggestion box entitled Ability to run ESX as a Workstation guest. VMware’s own Petr confirmed that with just the right knob twiddling and the right chip, you could convince Workstation 6.0 to run ESX Server inside of it. The race was on and the next few months were filled with through-the-looking-glass moments (yes, it even works on Fusion) and probably a bit of actual work as well — you probably wouldn’t want to run your production servers on it, but it’s great for training, configuring, demos, and experimentation.

In June, the gentlemen behind the always-excellent xtravirt.com unveiled their own whitepaper in this thread.

Now they’ve just released their follow-on paper in this thread:

I’ve written a follow up white paper to the Xtravirt "ESX3 on
Workstation 6" white paper, outlining the steps to install an iSCSI
Enterprise Target Server in a VM and configure your ESX3 VMs to use
this iSCSI storage for a ‘VI3 in a box’ configuration.

Great if you want to demo VI3 Enterprise features like
VMotion, HA and DRS without having demo server kit available – you can
run all of the required compenents on a single physical machine. This
will also run on well specced laptop for mobile demonstrations.

Enjoy.

Comparing Dual-Core vs Quad-Core using VMmark

From Bruce Herndon in the VMware performance group: Comparing Intel Dual-Core and Quad-Core Using VMmark

The systems achieved nearly identical benchmark scores for one and two tiles. This behavior was expected since neither system had exhausted its CPU resources. At three tiles, the dual core system was fully utilized, which limited the score, while the quad core systems continued to scale well due to the additional available CPU resources. The quad-core system delivered a 28% higher score with three tiles. The quad-core system became saturated at five tiles and ultimately achieved a score 70% higher than the dual-core system while supporting 67% more VMs.

Four Solaris Virtual Machines

Link: Tucker’s Tech: Solaris 10 in a VM.

There are now four Solaris VMs
available from Sun, including S10U3 and Solaris Express (aka Nevada)
build 55.  VMware tools are pre-installed (at least in the two I
downloaded), but the VMs are still using IDE disks so they won’t work
for ESX/VI users.

The four virtual machines are: Solaris 10 1/06, Solaris 10 6/06, Solaris 10 11/06, and Solaris Express Developer Edition 2/07.

Assorted VMware Tools

Link: Assorted VMware Tools » blog.scottlowe.org.

Over the past few weeks, a number of VMware-related tools have been released.  All of these tools are third-party tools written by avid VMware fans or ISVs, and as far as I am aware all of these tools are available at no cost.

Scott lists:

  • VMX Extras
  • VCplus
  • Veam EsxDiag
  • VMware MKS Client

More on MKS client from Mike Laverick at RTFM Education:

This tool prompts you for you VC username and password – and lists
in the menu the VMs you have rights to. All it does it allow to open a
“Remote Console” session on the VM and login, and interact with it.

I just installed it on my laptop and it worked straight away – which
is good sign. Its a pretty cute tool, which might make me move away
from using RDP to manage my Windows VMs.

[Update: via VMblog, a new release of ESXguide's ESX Manager 2.1:

Virtual Center independent
Keeps track of Virtual Machine Host Registration, Migrations and Status
Manage Virtual Machine Configuration

Display and work in the Virtual Machine Console
Kill Virtual Machine Process (if the VM can't be powered off)
Rename Virtual Disks of registered Virtual Machines
Move Virtual Disks and keep the disk attached to the Virtual Machine

Virtual Machine Registration, Start , Restart , Reset, Power Off, Suspend
Extend Virtual Disks

View-Search-Filter Logfiles on the ESX Host.
Define and save custom SSH commands with Parameter handling
Publish and share custom SSH commands with other ESX Administrators

Enjoy. -jmt]

Get Juiced (and win a pass to VMworld)

The Virtual Appliance Marketplace is having a contest — just check out the appliances, register, and you will be entered into a drawing for a free pass to VMworld 2007 in San Francisco on September 11. In related virtual appliance news, Srinivas Krishnamurti talks about the "Just Enough OS" concept, JeOS, in The Console.

By ripping out the operating system interfaces, functions, and
libraries and automatically turning off the unnecessary services that
your application does not require, and by tailoring it to the needs of
the application, you are now down to a lithe, high performing, secure
operating system – Just Enough of the Operating System, that is, or
JeOS. 

Why should you get juiced?

An OS finely tuned to the application it supports is smaller, more
secure, easier to manage, and higher performing than a general purpose
OS.   A smaller footprint means IT organizations can run more instances
per server.  Tailoring the OS specifically to the app enables the
removal of vulnerable components such as the browser from Windows and
therefore significantly reduces the number of vulnerabilities and
patches required to address those vulnerabilities.

End score (consolidation, power etc.)

Martijn Lohmeijer has been documenting his progress on a server consolidation and VDI project. Here he sums up the benefits they’ve seen so far:

Link: End score (consolidation, power etc.) « Documenting a virtualization project.

Real estate saved (focusing on servers only, not the VDI):

  • Total rack units used for VI: 30
  • Total racks used for VI: 2
  • Total rack units saved: 240
  • Total racks saved: 8
  • Total sq. meters saved: 50 (we would have had to move into a datacenter suite twice as large to accomodate for growth)
  • Total real estate cost (OTC) saved: € 30.000 (approx.)
  • Total real estate cost (MRC) saved:  € 6.000 (approx.)

    • OTC: One Time Charge
    • MRC: Monthly Recurring Charge

Power savings:

  • Extrapolated extra power requirement: 10 – 15 KiloWatts
  • Estimated monthly power savings: € 1500 – 2500

There are also additional benefits like the massive increase in
continuity, the time saved on provisioning new servers and the
transparency in costs.