Why Microsoft?

This is a question that can be explored from many different angles, but I’d like to focus on it from not JUST a virtualization perspective, and not JUST a cloud perspective, and not JUST from my own perspective as a vExpert joining Microsoft, but a more holistic perspective which considers all of this, as well

Top 6 Features of vSphere 6

This changes things. It sounds cliché to say “this is our best release ever” because in a sense the newest release is usually the most evolved.  However as a four year VMware vExpert I do think that there is something special about this one.  This is a much more significant jump than going from 4.x

vSphere 6.0 Public Beta — Sign Up to Learn What’s New

Yesterday, VMware announced the public availability of vSphere 6.0 Beta 2.  I can’t tell you what’s all in it due to the NDA, but you can still register for the beta yourself, read about what’s new and download the code for your home lab. There’s some pretty exciting stuff being added to vSphere 6.0 in

Will VMware Start Selling Hardware? Meet MARVIN

The Register is running a story that VMware is preparing to launch a line of hardware servers.

VMware Pursues SDN With Upcoming NSX Offering

Earlier this week VMware announced VMware NSX – an upcoming offering that takes network virtualization to new levels. NSX appears to be somewhat of a fusion between Nicria’s SDN technology (acquired last year by VMware) and vCloud Network and Security (vCNS – formerly known as vShield App and Edge). Since I already had intentions to

What Really Is Cloud Computing? (Triple-A Cloud)

What is cloud computing?  Ask a consumer, CIO, and salesman and you’ll likely get widely varying responses. The consumer will typically think of the cloud as a hosted service, such as Apple’s iCloud, or uploading pictures to Photobucket, and scores more of like services (just keep in mind that several such services existed before it

Agility Part 2 — The Evolution of Value in the Private Cloud

When an IT project is commissioned it can be backed by a number of different statements such as: “It will reduce our TCO” “This is a strategic initiative” “The ROI is compelling” “There’s funds in the budget” “Our competitors are doing it” Some of these are better reasons than others, but here’s a question.  Imagine a

Stacks, the Vblock and Value — A Chat with EMC’s Chad Sakac

…I reached out to EMC’s Chad Sakac to gain more insights from his perspective on how the various stacks…well…stacked up….

Manage vSphere from your iPad

I may live near the Big Apple, but I’m not a big Apple person ( I like to think different).  But this vSphere management app for the iPad seems rather handy.  Hopefully there will be an Android version as well, for devices like the Dell Streak.

Question: Will the cloud be stormy for proprietary platforms?

There remain versions of UNIX in the market place that are proprietary to specific non-x86 hardware.  

I make no claim to be an expert in this area, but I have to wonder about the viability of these platforms as the IT industry increasingly gravitates towards the cloud computing model.  My initial reaction is that these platforms already have a high cost structure and that the benefits and agility of cloud computing will be more difficult to obtain using such proprietary platforms. 

What do you think?  I’d love to hear some feedback from others who have looked at this issue.

Synergy: Vblock + UIM + vCloud Director

Let’s take a quick overview of three separate products:

  • Vblock:  Infrastructure as a utility.  Need more capacity?  Purchase servers/storage/networking as a single rack – no engineering required.
  • EMC Unified Infrastucture Manager (UIM):  Single point of management for vBlock infrastructure with policy-based configuration and change management.
  • VMware vCloud Director:  Pool infrastructure into private clouds to quickly deploy and manage applications

What happens when you put all three together?  Synergy and business agility.

EMC’s Chad Sakac posted this video demoing deploying an application using these components in just minutes (the stream below is in HD — expand the window to see the detail):

More details in Chad’s post here.  This is a very exciting vision of how new efficiencies and business agility can be achieved.  These may be 1.0 products but they will only mature over time — the beta for EMC UIM 2.0 has already been announced some more capabiltities continue to be developed to support this vision.

VMworld — Keynote Live Blog

This is my first attempt at a live blog.  Let’s see how this goes….

12:05 — mind-opening images and music playing

12:06  Azure skys?  LOL

12:08  There’s the “Matrix” reference while explaining the cloud

12:09  Rick Jackson, Marketing takes the stage

12:10  VMworld has grown to 17,021 attendees despite the 2nd European Conference — was 14,000 last year

12:14 Hybrid cloud supporting VMworld this year — over 3700 labs services yesterday, over 4,000 VMs per hour.  Over 100,000 VMs will be provisioned during the week.

12:15  Chris Wolf (Gartner) tweets “VMware sounding like McDonalds – over 40 gazillion VMs served. Seriously – i get it though. VMware is scalable and numbers are impressive.”

12:19  The 3-stage private cloud journey is introduced

12:20  Phase 2 is about Quality of Service — customers say Sharepoint, Exchange, SQL, Oracle run better virtualized

12:22  There’s my favorite phrase — Phase 3 is about Business Agility

12:24 Customer quote from Levi Strauss stating how the cloud can “enable the business to be innovative and agile”

12:25  There’s the ITaaS slide…Optimizing the Production of IT Services

12:26  Could not agree more.  The financial benefits of Phase 3 dwarf those of 1 and 2.

12:27  CEO Paul Maritz takes the stage

12:28  Tipping point has been reached…most new servers are now virtualized.  10 million VMs growing at 28% annually.  190,000 VMware customers

12:29  Beer and tasty cake (reviewing customers around the globe)

12:32  The virtualization layer is the focus for innovation in the industry

12:33  Decrease OpEx with automation

12:34  Security used to be checks at physical boundaries.  This no longer works!  Focus will shift to logical boundaries within virtual infrastructure.

12:35 Virtual datacenter is a key concept for the private cloud

12:36 purchasing datacenter infrastructure in a Just-In-Time fashion?  this is the goal.  Standards and compatible management will be key requirement.

12:38 Secure Hybrid Cloud will be the most common model — it will happen with or without VMware

12:39 Old Apps on New Infrastructure is not enough.  Batch oriented code will not be effective.

12:41 Developers moving to new frameworks like RoR (Rails) and SpringSource

12:41 Hardware management is moving to virtualization layer.  The OS will not disappear but will be a component within cloud infrastructure

12:43 New API’s will enable portability to move either in to or out of the cloud, or to other clouds

12:45  SaaS adoption is here (” I have 15 and approved none”) and IT will be left holding the bag

12:46 Flood of non-Windows, non-PC -form factor devices (iPads, smart phones, etc).

12:48  Yesterday the desktop was the foundation for IT work.  Applications now must “float away” from devices.  Steve Jobs will try to sell you a new iPad every 6 months….

12:50 Steve Herrod takes the stage

12:52  Referring to a single logical datacenter as a “virtual giant”

12:53  A single vSphere cluster can support more than one million websites

12:55  vMotion improvements.  More concurrency up to 128 concurrently and up to 5x faster

12:56  Storage I/O control as a way to guarantee SLAs

12:57  Same goes for new Network I/O control

12:58  vStorage API!  Getting into VAAI and SAN offloading of operations

1:00 New Acquisition announcement.  Abstracting the virtual giant into a single pane of glass.  Missed the name….

1:01 Name of company acquired is Integrien.  Looks like a VERY nice maangement tool

1:03 Moving to social media….or is this about the Horizon Project?

1:05  Yup…sounds like Horizon Project — unified identity management (and security) across private and public clouds.

1:08 Chargeback — the economics will make chargeback a requirment for most everyone.

1:10 Project Redwood = vCloud Director

1:11 Cloud Security — physical boundaries are less relevant and obsolete.  Security needs to be within logical points within the virtual infrastructure

1:13 new vShield products (App, Shield, Endpoint) introduced.  I expect these to be very significant products

1:15 vCloud Datacenter service announced.  Verizon is a partner.

1:16 Starting vCloud Director demo….

1:18  Scooters on the stage with music to wake up anyone who may have dozed off….

1:19 vCloud Director will aggregate across multiple vCenter servers

1:20 Setting up a VPN tunnel across clouds

1:23 SpringSource adoption has increased.  New UI’s and datatypes.

1:25  vmforce and Google integration discussed.  Cloud portability is key.  RoR and PHP mentioned for future compatibility.

1:27  vFabric — portability across clouds, multiple software languages

1:28  VMware View 4.5 discussed.  This will really increase VDI adoption.  Offline (airplane mode) for hosted virtual desktops.  Major scalability improvements and agentless antivirus.

1:30 Desktop acquisition costs under $500 with VDI

1:32 ok..NOW we are onto project Horizon

1:35 instant user provisioning with SaaS (i.e. Saleforce.com)

1:37 Touch gestures for VMware View on iPad.

1:38  Nice!  virtual desktops from the iPad with VMware View 4.5

1:40  Instant user identify provisioning.  Click an app in VMware View and the user is provisioned with the SaaS app

1:41  Support for Andriod devices coming

1:42 That’s a wrap folks!

1:43  A good keynote.  It must have been a challenge to target the content at all different audiences, but there’s a lot here that everyone from the CxO to the enthusiast should be excited about.  Much more detail in the super sessions.  Hopefully the VMware View super session will be available via webast.

Get Ready for the Keynote

The live keynote starts in less than an hour.  I’ll link to the recorded session when it is available, but if you’re not in SFO (like me) you can watch it live here.

Follow @BlueShiftBlog for live tweet coverage.

Pre-Keynote Product Announcements

Here’s a quick summary of some product announcements and links.  At a future time I will take a closer look at several of these new solutions.

Some big stuff here! Below is an excellent video on the RSA Cloud Security solution

vSpecialist’s Delight (Video)

This is worth a quick blog post.  Chad Sakac’s army of vSpecialists put a lot of effort into this project.  They even went so far as to rent a gorilla suit (don’t miss the dance at the end!).

This might just be the first rap song for which I actually get all the lyrics to……

VIS: Dell’s answer to Vblock?

Was that a provocative title?

I know, I know….there’s a LOT of differences between Dell’s VIS and Vblock but they both do attempt to reduce Operational Expenses (OpEx) and improve deployment times for the customer — and it is in this sense I think that they are similar.  The Vblock does this partly by taking the responsibility for many engineering decisions and tasks away from the customer, while Dell’s VIS strategy takes a different approach using heterogeneous hardware.

Dell had a session this morning covering their new VIS (Virtual Integrated System) strategy to managing both physical and virtual servers.  It fits well into the ITaaS concept where the datacenter is one giant logical computer, brought together with automation tools.  The VIS strategy is based on 3 different tools sets:

  • Infrastructure — deploys servers, storage and networking from multiple vendors as a single pool of resources
  • Integration — Integrates Dell hardware management with virtulization tools (i.e. vCenter, MSVMM, Xen Center).
  • Delivery — enables automation and standardization for quick deployment of business applications

I know first hand how at some companies it can literally take weeks to traverse the different silos of storage, networking, and server infrastructures to get everything in place for a new application (there’s a management lesson here, but that’s another post).  Dell VIS attempts to provide automation and standards to these tasks, and thus empower the enterprise with agility.

The video below provides an overview of Dell Advanced Infrastructure Manager (AIM) in action, which is a part of Dell’s VIS strategy. A good example of leveraging both standards automation to increase enterprise agility.

You can read more about Dell’s VIS strategy here

VMworld from the East Coast

I was hoping to have the opportunity to talk to several experts, vendors and customers and discuss new storage/virtualization/cloud offerings, but doing so from the East Coast is a bit of a challenge!  For reasons beyond my control I was unable to attend VMworld this year, but the silver lining is that I’m a bit removed from all the noise and neon lights so hopefully that will only improve my analysis 🙂

I’m going to be relying largely on social media and press releases to keep informed so I won’t have much opportunity to blog about sessions or many of the new vendor offerings, but there should still be plenty to write about (if you’re a vendor and you have a few minutes, drop me a line!).  Already we’ve gotten some hints about some exciting product launches and other announcements which will be made public tomorrow.  

Earlier, Scott Hanson (@DellServerGeek) tweeted this slide which I think goes a long way to simplifying what cloud computing (public, private or hybrid) is all about:


It should be an exciting day tomorrow with some mind-bending announcements!

Citrix to Acquire VMLogix

SearchServerVirtualization is reporting that Citrix will announce their acquisition of VMLogix later today.  The acquisition gives Citrix their LabManager and StageManager products which support VMware, Hyper-V and of course, XenServer.  Not really a private cloud move, but it gives Citrix more tools in the OpEx (Operational Expenses) space.

The Evolution of VMware: Empowering Enterprise Agility With the Private Cloud

The Evolution of VMware: Empowering Enterprise Agility With the Private Cloud

VMware, with its parent company EMC, is now positioned to empower the enterprise with new efficiencies, flexibility and agility.  How did VMware evolve from a niche tech player, to an IT leader which is heading up an industry wide paradigm shift in how IT itself is approached?   

Last week I made the following tweet, quoting VMware CEO Paul Maritz in an InfoWorld article:    

Paul Maritz:”we go from being a …CapEx play to really being an OpEx play to being a ‘here’s how you do IT’ play ” http://bit.ly/aS3oZc

Here, VMware CEO Paul Maritz breaks down VMware’s evolution into three stages. Let’s take a look at each of them.

VMware as a CapEX play

This is the original benefit of VMware (and virtualization) — reduce capital expenses (CapEx) by running more servers on less hardware.  By using virtualization for consolidation, not only are you reducing servers, but you are reducing power consumption, cooling expenses, datacenter space, switch ports and more.  The power savings alone have been so significant that several utilities are offering discounts for companies that use virtualization.  As reported by GreenBiz.com, in 2008, NetApp was awarded a $1.4 million rebate from PG&E for virtualization efficiencies and Fortune Data Centers received $900,000 in rebates in 2009.    

This original benefit of virtualization continues to grow today as both hardware and software improvements are leading to even greater consolidation rates.  Chris Wolf at Gartner recently explained:   

“We had one client that was able to justify a complete server hardware refresh because it could upgrade without having to buy any additional VMware server licenses.  They moved from servers with four cores to servers with 12 cores and were able to run more VMs on fewer servers at a significant cost savings.”  

The consolidation benefits to virtualization are very clear and readily accepted. Some organizations stop here on their virtualization journey, but VMware and others are working hard to educate customers that there are many more benefits to be gained.  

VMware as a OpEx Play

For environments that are virtualized, there are additional benefits that can be exploited to reduce Operational Expenses (OpEx). One of the first and simplest examples is provisioning. Utilizing templates it is possible to deploy a new server in just a few minutes as opposed to days. And of course there are solutions available that take this further by enabling lifecycle management, instant lab resets, chargeback and much more.

Of course there is much more than just provisioning. There’s new efficiences with backups, disaster recovery and from my own experiences, using virtualization to move your datacenter. 

The Vblock takes the OpEx play a bit further by integrating servers, storage and networking in a single rack using Cisco, EMC and VMware components that are fully integrated and are designed to work together as one.  IT departments leveraging vBlock would no longer have to spend significant engineering cycles and expenses to get all the components to work and to maintain them going forward.  Companies can now by datacenter infrastructure as a utility — when they need more capacity they can just add another vBlock.  This approach can significantly accelerate execution times and reduce the operational costs of rolling out new infrastructure.  




VMware as a “How to Do IT” play   

Before we get to things like the cloud and SaaS, let’s take a look at how virtualization enables a new approach to managing your applications and infrastructure.   

Imagine that within your virtual infrastructure is a giant computer with rich API’s in the hypervisor that bring about new capabilities.  Paul Martiz explains that “you’ve got to have [a] console for the giant computer…and we’re trying to take all our management tools and pull them together at the infrastructure layer around this notion of a common console or command center for the giant computer.” And of course this common console is vCenter for which there are plugins for everything from security, to high availability, to storage provisioning.   

It’s not just about operational efficiencies now, but all the disparate monitoring and management tools can start to be brought together into a unified management layer, and a hypervisor with the API’s to support it can provide this foundation. We already have virtual Cisco switches that integrate with the hypervisor and more networking capabilities and integrations will be announced this week at VMworld. And here’s a few more examples:   

  • VMware’s AppSpeed product which can monitor applications and infrastructure to detect not only SLA violations but the root cause as well.
  • vCenter Application Discovery Manager can map application dependencies right from vCenter.   
  • vCenter Configuration Manager can help with configuration drift and compliance.   
  • VMware Service Manager can promote ITIL compliance with incident management, change management and more.   

And these are only VMWare products — at VMworld you’ll see many more companies that offer solutions that harness and unify the capabilities of the virtualized datacenter.   In the future we will likely see more API’s implemented within the networking hardware to better faciliate application management within the cloud.

Enterprise Agility   

A few years ago MIT’s Director of Information Systems Research, Peter Weill, co-authored Enterprise Architecture as Strategy which demonstrated how organizations can use a well designed IT architechture as a foundation for profitability and growth. The graphic below shows some of the book’s principles in action:   

With the right IT infrastructure, the enterprise has a foundation from which it can quickly execute on new strategic initiviaties and effectively support them going forward. Virtualization (and cloud computing) are technologies that can be integrated with business models to provide the enterprise with agility to execute quickly and effectively.   

Michael Hugos at CIO Magazine has called this the start of the agile decade. Companies want to be first to market and the first to adopt to market changes and to execute strategic objectives. Michael explains:

IT needs to deliver now because it is so central to everything business does. If CIOs want a seat at the table they need to be seen as the trusted and reliable partner of business. Agile is the best way to do that. It has been happening slowly as teams of developers started using agile on their own. Now their example and their success is driving enterprise adoption.

Virtualization and Cloud Computing can both be used to provide increased agility to data center, and by extension, to the enterprise.

The Private Cloud:  The Revolution Will Be Virtualized

No that’s not the kind of private cloud we are talking about, but sometimes it might as well be given how much confusion abounds surrounding the concept of cloud computing and the private cloud. The private cloud is based on the idea that the data center becomes nimble, flexible and agile by exploiting new models and technologies.  The private cloud does not mean that you have to move your datacenter to the cloud, but rather that you’ve adopted cloud computing concepts within your data center(s).   

Vittorio Viargendo , VP of desktop products for VMware, wrote in Forbes magazine earlier this week about how virtualization is an enabler for cloud computing:   

In a virtualized data center, these tasks [provisioning and load balancing] can be fully automated because of the flexibility of the underlying virtualization layer. Once applications are freed from the underlying hardware and run on the virtualization platform, it is possible to enrich them with new cloud-like capabilities–even if these legacy applications were designed and built years ago. This evolutionary approach is probably one of the most compelling advantages of the virtualization journey….customers who are past the early stage of adoption and are steadily moving their mission-critical applications and database to the virtual environment tell us that both new and legacy applications run better when virtualized.

VMware started with a focus on abstracting resources from the physical layer, but has evolved into a much broader vision of empowering the enterprise to become more agile by adopting and fully leveraging the benefits of virtualization and cloud computing.   

This paradigm shift is still in it’s infancy and it should be an exciting VMworld this week as we learn more about the journey to the private cloud.   


Application Consistent Quiescing on vSphere 4.1

Windows 2008 guests that were created on vSphere 4.0 may need to be modified before the application consistent quiescing support for Windows 2008  in vSphere 4.1 can be used. 

I prevously posted a two-part series on backups and VSS considerations which explored the challenges of ensuring that VM’s — and especially transactional applications — are backed up in a consistent state.  vSphere 4.1 added full VSS support for Windows 2008 guests, but this is automatic only if the guest was created on a vSphere 4.1 host.  If the VM was created on vSphere 4.0 and later moved to a vSphere 4.1 host (or upgraded), manual changes may be necessary before the application quiescing will work. 

I first learned about this issue from a post at Bist Virtual.  I did some searching and while I was unable to locate any KB article on the topic I was able to find the proceedure in two different VMware documents:    

 Each of these documents contains the following text on the issue and how to resolve it:  

Application consistent quiescing of Windows 2008 virtual machines is only available when those virtual machines are created in vSphere 4.1. Virtual machines created in vSphere 4.0 can be updated to enable application consistent quiescing by modifying a virtual machine’s enableUUID attribute.

For information about VSS, see the Microsoft TechNet article, How Volume Shadow Copy Service Works.  For information about Security Support Provider Interface (SSPI), see the MSDN Web site.

Enable Windows 2008 Virtual Machine Application Consistent Quiescing

1 Start the vSphere Client, and log in to a vCenter Server.
2 Select Virtual Machines and Templates and click the Virtual Machines tab.
3 Right‐click the Windows 2008 virtual machine for which you are enabling the disk UUID attribute, and select Power > Power Off.  The virtual machine powers off.
4 Right‐click the virtual machine, and click Edit Settings.
5 Click the Options tab, and select the General entry in the settings column.
6 Click Configuration Parameters…
The Configuration Paramters window appears.
7 Click Add Row.
8 In the Name column, enter disk.EnableUUID.
9 In the Value column, enter TRUE.
10 Click OK and click Save.
11 Power on the virtual machine.

Application consistent quiescing is available for this virtual machine now that the UUID property has been enabled.  

If you are backing up any Windows 2008 guests that were created on a 4.0 host or earlier, please consider the above steps to ensure that application consistent queiscing is properly functioning.