Archive for the ‘XenServer’ Category

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Quick Take – VMware PartnerExchange 2010: Day 3

February 10, 2010

With about 2.5 hours of sleep and the VCP410 test looming, Tuesday took on a different tone than the previous two days. My calendar was full:

  • 5:30 – Wake-up and check e-mail/blog/systems back in CST
  • 7:00am – Breakfast at the VMware Experience Hall
  • 8:30am – Keynote with Carl Eschenbach, EVP Worldwide Sales & Field Ops, VMware
  • 10:00am – ESXi Convergence Roadmap Session
  • 11:15am – View4 Workload Sizing and Testing
  • 12:15pm – Lunch in the VMware Alumni Lounge
  • 1:30pm – vSphere4 Advanced Configuration Topics
  • 3:45pm – VCP410 Test
  • 5:15pm – View Composer Tips, Tricks and Best Practices
  • 6:45pm – Check-in at home
  • 7:00pm – Update blog and check/respond to e-mail

First, the keynote with Carl and the gang was awesome! VMware took a really aggressive attitude towards the competition, including Citrix (virtual desktop) and Microsoft (virtual data center). To sum up the conversation: VMware’s intent on carrying on the Q4/09 momentum through 2011, extending its lead in virtual data center and cloud computing capabilities. But Carl’s not happy with just the traditional server market, and VMware wants to own the virtual desktop space – virtually putting the squeeze on Citrix as the walls close-in around them.

With over 60-70% of net new Citrix VDI builds being deployed on VMware’s ESX servers, it make me wonder why Citrix would drive its XenApp customers to VDI – in the form of XenDesktop4 – by offering a 2-for-1 trade-in program. Isn’t this like asking their own clients to reconsider the value proposition of XenApp – in essence turning vendor-locked accounts into a new battleground with VMware? If the momentum shifts towards VMware View4.x and VMware accelerates the pace on product features (including management and integration) as suggested by Carl’s aggressive tone today, where does that leave XenDesktop and Citrix?

The VMware Express Trailer

The VMware Express Mobile Data Center

The VMware Express: Coming to a City Near You!

VMware introduced its “data center on wheels” to the PartnerExchange 2010 audience today and I got a chance to get on-board and take a look. The build-out was clean and functional with 60+ Gbps of external interconnects waiting for a venue. Inside the Express was a data center, a conference room and several demonstration stations showing VMware vSphere and View4 demos.

6 ton Mobile A/C for Express' Data Center

6 ton Mobile A/C for Express' Data Center

VMware rolled-out the red carpet to the PartnerExchange 2010 attendees. To the right – above the 5-th wheel – is the conference room. All the way in the back (to the left) is the data center portion. In-between the data center and the conference room lies the demonstration area with external plasma screens in kick-panels displaying slide deck and demonstration materials.

The Express' Diesel Generator - Capable of Powering Things for Nearly 2-days

The Express' Diesel Generator - Capable of Powering Things for Nearly 2-days

Up front – behind the cab – rests 6-tons of air conditioning mounted to the front of the trailer. This keeps the living area inside habitable and the data center (about 70-80 sq. ft.) cool enough to run some serious virtualization equipment. Mounted directly behind the driver’s cabin is the diesel generator – capable of powering the entire operation for better than 40-hours when external power is unavailable. Today, however, the VMware Express was taking advantage of “house power” provided by Mandalay Bay’s conference center.

Where the rubber met the road was inside the data center: currently occupied by an EMC/Cisco rack and a rack powered by MDS/NetApp/Xsigo. Both featured 12TB of raw storage and high-density Nehalem-EP solutions. In the right corner, the heavyweight EMC/Cisco bundle was powered by Cisco’s UCS B-series platform featuring eight Nehalem 2P blades per 6U chassis fed by a pair of Cisco 4900-series converged switches. In the left corner, the super middleweight MDS Micro QUADv-series”mini-blade” chassis featuring an eight Nehalem 2P blades per two 2U chassis fed by a pair of Xsigo I/O directors delivering converged network and SAN tunneled over infiniband interconnects.

Still More Capacity for Additional Hardware Sponsors

Two-of-Three Racks are Currently Occupied by EMC/Cisco and MDS/NetApp/Xsigo

It will be interesting to see how the drive arrays survive the journey as the VMware Express travels across the country over the next year. Meanwhile, this tractor trailer is packing 60-blades worth of serious virtualization hardware destined for a town near you. VMware is currently looking for additional sponsors from the partner community to expand its tour; and access to the VMware Express will be prioritized based on partner status and/or sponsorship.

VCP410 Test Passed – Waiting for Official Notification

With the VCP410 test in the books, I’m now waiting for official notification from VMware of my VCP4 status. According to my “Examination Score Report” I should receive notice from VMware within 30-days having met all of the requirements for “VMware Certified Professional on vSphere 4 Certification” and testing above the Certified Instructor minimums.

As a systems and network architect, I found the “interface related questions” somewhat more challenging than the “design and configure” related fare. However, the test was pretty well balanced and left me with well over 25 minutes to go back over questions I’d checked for review and finalize those answers. I logged-out of the exam with 18 minutes left on the clock. My recommendation to those looking to pass the VCP410:

  1. Work with vSphere in a hands-on capacity for several days before taking the test, making good mental notes related to interface operations inside and outside of vCenter
  2. Know the minimums and maximums for ESX and vCenter configurations
  3. Understand storage zoning, masking and configuration
  4. Go over the VCP blueprint on your own before seeking additional assistance
  5. Remember the test is on GA release and not “current” release so “correct” answers may differ slightly from “reality”
  6. Get more than 2.5 hours sleep the night before you take the exam
  7. Schedule the exam in the morning – while you’re fresh – not the afternoon following meetings, etc.
  8. Dig into topics on the VCP Forum online

That about does it for day number three in Las Vegas, Nevada. It’s time to shuffle-up and deal!

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Quick Take: Virtual Iron Amnesty from VMware

July 7, 2009

From now until September 30, 2009, Virtual Iron customers will be able to cash in their licenses for a 40% discount on comparable VMware products including:

  • VMware vSphere™ 4 Advanced Edition
  • VMware vSphere™ 4 Enterprise Plus Edition
  • VMware vCenter™ Server Foundation, and
  • VMware vCenter™ Server Standard

Support and Subscription Contracts are eligible for a 10% discount as well – longer terms are not eligible. Virtual Iron customers should check with their VMware integrator for more details and migration options. VMware’s has posted its entire offer – including exceptions and rules – on the VMware website.

Such an offer begs the question: should Virtual Iron customers migrate to VMware or XenSource? While both Virtual Iron and XenSource are based on the Xen VMM, the capabilities of Virtual Iron Extended Enterprise Edition would suggest either VMware Enterprise (about $4,175/2P server with 1-year support and announced discount) or XenSource Enterprise Essentials (about $4,250/2P server with 1-yr support) – or 2.5 times their current Virtual Iron investment.

On the VMware side, the switch will add DPM, Fault Tolerance, VCB and Storage vMotion to the equation plus a significant number of additional non-Windows guests. On the XenSource side, the switch will add XCB and some additional guest support.

SOLORI’s Take: Virtual Iron customers may eschew the “for pay” route altogether and either pocket the money awaiting a more valuable market shift, or evaluate the remaining “no cost” alternatives to VMware and XenSource. Our recommendation is to consider any shift in vendor based strictly on ROI and need. There will be many of the (reportedly) 3,000+ Virtual Iron customers that will show no immediate need to shift over the next 6 months.

Between their remaining support contracts and the relationship with their virtualization infrastructure reseller, very few Virtual Iron customers will be left in the dark. The death of a VMM is much like a server model being discontinued: the server keeps working well after the factory shuts down and so will the VMM. However, as newer features and capabilities move forward with the competition, the old server starts to show its age…

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Quick Take: Vyatta Takes Virtual Networking to Cloud

June 22, 2009

Earlier this month, Vyatta announced completion of its Series C round of financing resulting in US$10M in new capital led primarily by new partner Citrix. Vyatta provides an open source alternative to traditional networking vendors like Cisco – providing software and hardware solutions targeted at the same routing, firewall and VPN market otherwise served by Cisco’s 2800, 7200 and ASA line of devices. Its software is certified to run in Xen and VMware environments.

In a related announcement, Citrix has certified Vyatta’s products for use with its Citrix Cloud Center (C3) product family to “make it as easy as possible for service providers and enterprises to use Vyatta with Citrix products such as XenDesktop, XenApp, XenServer and NetScaler.” With the addition of Citrix Delivery Systems Division GM Gordon Payne to the Vyatta board of directors, the now “closer coupling” of Citrix with Vyatta could accelerate the adoption of Vyatta in virtual infrastructures.

SOLORI’s Take: We’ve been using Vyatta’s software in lab and production applications for some time – primarily in HA routing applications where automatic routing protocols like OSPF or BGP are needed. Virtualizing Vyatta provides additional HA capabilities to cloud environments by extending infrastructure migration from the application layer all the way down to layer-3. In applications where it is a good fit, Vyatta provides an excellent solution component for the 100% virtualized environment.

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Quick Take: Battle for the Presentation Layer

March 18, 2009

The battle lines are drawn in the war to determine who will control your desktop in the future – and it’s not about what operating system (OS) you’ll be running – it’s about who will pull the virtual strings behind the OS. Up to recently, Windows users had RDP and ICA as the main “enterprise” desktop remote access services along with a protocol soup of new alternatives.

Today, there is a foray of alternate access technologies flying the banner of Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) and a confusing mess of protocols, features and limitations. Most recently, this even includes traditionally security focused Symantec and its “Endpoint Virtualization” product. While this serves to bolster our prediction of a Microsoft/Citrix merger – based on the sheer number of vectors competing for the platform – it also presents a familiar case of “who’s approach will win” for end users and adopters.

Brian Madden’s blog recently touched on this competition and where the major players – in his opinion – stand to lose and gain. It’s worth the read as are the related posts from his blog on the topic.

SOLORI’s take: this war’s been brewing for some time now, and it’s only going to get ugly before things settle down. So far, it’s all packaging and management with no new vision towards an “innovative way” of application deployment – just better ways…

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Citrix Waving the White Flag? XenServer now free – as in ESXi…

February 23, 2009

According to a recent announcement from Citrix, XenServer (without advanced features) is now Free (as in April 2009). The question now? How does XenServer/Free match-up to ESXi/Free and what does it mean for the enterprise customer?

See the community announcement here… and the official press release here…

According to their approach – which reads more like ESXi plus motion – the “free” server still needs a significant investment in “management” products to be “enterprise worthy.” This still means an “enterprise-class” virtualization product WITH live motion technology can be had for the U-build price, but the revenue shifts from “product license” to “management and service license.” Who does that sound like? VMware (ESXi) and RedHat (CentOS).

Since Citrix will retain the intellectual property rights to its closed-source version of Xen, there is no reason to believe a huge number of open source offerings will immediately crop up. It is more likely this is the first salvo in an ever increasing spiral towards Microsoft’s acquisition of Citrix and wholesale incorporation of XenSource into its product line.

Still, the “free” tag line is compelling. Citrix is claiming that for “free” you will get from Citrix and XenSource what you would have to pay $5,000 in licensing to VMware. However, the free version of XenSource will NOT have HA, detailed monitoring or cluster management. You will need their $5,000 “Essentials” license for that…