Posts Tagged Virtualization
Going into VMworld this year, I wanted to hear from customers and vendors the real state of desktop virtualization (also called virtual desktop infrastructure or VDI). Server virtualization may have hit a tipping point in 2009 (with more virtual applications deployed than physical applications), but while VDI has been talked about a lot, actual customer adoption has been slow. The solutions for virtualizing desktops are continuing to improve and the management of end-user devices will become more important to IT organizations with the added dynamic of increased mobile and tablet usage.
Every era in IT has the big players that drive the market – from IBM in the mainframe, to Windows and Intel in the PC era. VMware is led by Paul Maritz who knows all about dominating the marketplace from his days at Microsoft. With Maritz at the helm, VMware looks to take its market lead in the server virtualization space to be one of the key players in the cloud computing market. Today at VMworld, VMware made a number of announcements that strike at some of the hurdles for cloud computing to becoming a mainstream solution. I heard from VMware staff that Maritz personally tasked the company to address security issues, which along with management, are the biggest concerns of practitioners looking at cloud deployments. The solution that was announced today is the vShield family of products. The vShield products build on VMware’s existing VMsafe security APIs – providing three new products – vShield Edge, vShield App & Zones and vShield Endpoint.
Cloud computing creates a different business relationship with IT, transforming technology from a pay upfront, heavy CAPEX model to a pay-as-you-go, on-demand model. This model can be implemented internally as a private cloud, externally to a public cloud, or as a hybrid of the two (see: private vs public cloud comparison).
This shared model brings many technical and organizational challenges, including how to share, how to secure, how to provision, and how to charge.
The starting point is how to share resources. Virtualization is required of data center resources, so that the same resources can be shared across multiple users, and if necessary a single user can scale workloads over multiple resources in multiple locations.
VMware is taking a page from cloud service providers – delivering a change in pricing that maps to more of a pay-as-you-go model. Wikibon CIOs consistently are looking for ways to deliver on-demand services and this move by VMware is a step in that direction. Since Wikibon launched there has been an emphasis in coverage on the consumerization of IT and this new pricing change by VMware advances that philosophy. Internal IT organizations increasingly must benchmark themselves against cloud service providers and honestly assess the merits of outsourcing. The move by VMware underscores the need for more judicious management of virtual machines and transparent chargebacks that provide visibility on resources consumed. Customers that do not pay close attention to this issue will end up paying more for virtualization software– so buyer beware.
There are a lot of pieces to today’s announcement of VMware vSphere 4.1. The biggest part of the announcement is the vStorage APIs for Array Integration (VAAI) – it is also well covered through press releases and blog posts. I’m going to capture the impact on storage networking (FC, iSCSI and FCoE). VMware also has a reference center which includes many papers discussing the new functionality. VMware’s full support of FC, iSCSI and FCoE is an area that differentiates it from Microsoft. Microsoft is a strong proponent of iSCSI and does have full support of FC, but it is lacking with FCoE.
Current network topologies are inadequate to meet the flexibility and scalability demands of burgeoning virtualized data center environments. New switches and new network architectures are emerging that transform the data center to Infrastructure 2.0 (comment or edit a vendor-independent definition of Infrastructure 2.0 on the wiki). Users should be aware that moving to this new environment is a disruptive, rip and replace initiative that requires substantial planning. Despite this caveat, a modernization process provides the opportunity to streamline current siloed infrastructure spanning network and servers in a virtualized context.
When companies plan their data center infrastructure, there is always uncertainty. When servers, storage and networks are deployed, there is usually a lot of guessing around the memory, bandwidth and storage required. The growth and changes in an environment are also very difficult to predict and manage. Host adapters – including NICs (Ethernet), HBAs (FC), HCA (InfiniBand) and CNAs (FCoE) – and the appropriate cabling is a piece of the infrastructure that can see a lot of variability. Historically, each deployment gets the type and number of adapters that are believed to be necessary for a deployment. The initial cost of the adapters and cables must be justified. Separate adapters are often required for each application according to management or security best practices. As the environment changes, new adapters and cables are added. The problem with this seemingly flexible environment is that adding/changing adapters and moving cabling is a very manual and time consuming process.
Isaac Asimov, one of the greatest science fiction writers of all time, wrote a short story entitled “The Last Question” in 1956. It begins:
The last question was asked for the first time, half in jest, on May 21, 2061, at a time when humanity first stepped into the light. The question came about as a result of a five dollar bet over highballs, and it happened this way …
EMC announced today several enhancements to their Clariion product line ranging from optimizing the Clariion CX4 virtualized experience, to increased connectivity and scale in the virtual environment to the introduction of an energy efficient spin down feature.
This announcement details a number of innovations that raises the competitive bar for EMC’s midrange competitors particularly in the virtualized storage space which will no doubt inject energy into this platform. Guess the close relationship with VMware does have tangible advantages. I appreciated the toggling feature of RecoverPoint as innovative and offers a neat solution to demand spikes.
Earlier this month I had the pleasure of attending the NetApp annual analyst meeting. This was the first I had attended and was well worth the investment. It was very well organized and orchestrated and my congratulations go out to Kris Newton and the team for a job well done.
The initial main tent session on the first day was focus on delivering a snapshot of company performance with Dan Warmenhoven (Chairman and CEO) kicking the session off followed by Tom Georgens (COO) and the rest of the senior executive team. Some of the key points delivered were: