Summer 2005 virtualization round-up

Posted by Staff   |   Sunday, August 14th, 2005   |  

So wasn’t updated from end of May to end of August, but what happened meanwhile in the virtualization world? A lot. Really.

Two bigs took a lot of attention this period for different reasons.
At one side Microsoft confirmed its new hypervisor technology but explained it won’t be part of any codename Longhorn betas. We all should wait for a dedicated beta program after Longhorn Server release (likely happening on 2007), asking ourselves if Virtual Server is really going to die for that time.
A consolation: Vista (codename Longhorn Client) will include Virtual PC in some way.

About Virtual Server: it’s evolving very slowly. It now works well with Windows 2003 guests but as you probably know the only other change planned is the Service Pack 1 release (at the end of year) that will bring Linux VMs support.

At Redmond anyway problems are rising with VMs technologies implications and licensing so someone is start thinking a new, more modern licensing model.

Microsoft also took the world press online pages for a new security project called HoneyMonkeys, where a bunch of automated VMs actively surf the web looking for malicious sites and 0days attacks.

Closing about Redmond company I remind you that Virtual PC 7.0.2 for MacOS 10.4 is out (fixing some Tiger issues).

At the other side Cisco is supposed to be on acquiring EMC Corporation. In the last period the networking giant demostrated a vivid interest for virtualization since this year after the Topspin acquisition. They even hosted a webcast about virtualization benefits.
This could be an earthquake in the VMware world so we should follow this move very carefully.

In between AMD finally released technical specifications about its virtualization extension, Pacifica. But I hardly believe anyone could find anything readable inside the paper.
Luckily someone provided some details about it.

To speed up Pacifica adoption few days ago AMD also released the SimNow AMD64 simulator for free, simplyfing developers task to tune their applications for 64-bit real and virtual architectures.

VMware, which is now mentioned in Wikipedia, has been as usual one of the most active player: the Palo Alto company first released a new bug fixing wave of products: ESX Server 2.5.1, GSX Server 3.2.0, P2V Assistant 2.0.3 and ACE 1.0.1 (eventually bundled with LANdesk Security Suite).

Then arrived the announcement of a serious improvement of its already very active virtualization community, now called VMware Technology Network (VMTN). Changes aren’t only at the design level: VMware introduced a cheap subscription for developers to gain all company products at a discounted price (it really mimics Microsoft MSDN subscription) and a new Virtual Machine Center where you’ll find some pre-installed VMs with various OSes and enterprise servers.

This new VMTN already produced good things: a paper about new Workstation Teams technology, one about Clones usage in development, another one about timing inside VMs (I was waiting this since 2 years), another about ESX Server software architecture and a last one about Virtual SMP best practices.

Inside the VMTN also born a couple of interesting (but unsupported) projects: Virtualization Toolbox, aimed at maintainance of ESX Server, and LDAP_search, which simplify ESX Server integration with Microsoft Active Directory.

While Microsoft is facing licensing doubts, VMware announced that its licensing model will be per-socket instead of per-core. This is a great news for anyone is buying now AMD dual core CPUs.

The two biggest news anyway were given few days ago:

  1. VMware opens up its source code (actually ESX Server) for partners, permetting them to customize products as needed (this is going to be strictly controlled), trying to enstablish some virtualization standards
  2. the whole product line is going to support paravirtualized Linux OSes and Sun Solaris (isn’t clear if Solaris will be also able to act as HostOS)

There is another huge news connected with VMware Workstation 5.0.1 beta but I’m under NDA so you’ll have to wait an official announcement or an open beta.

On the events front VMware called for presentations at VMworld 2005, detailed the agenda and sent out invitations for the Technical Solutions Exchange (TSX) 2005, the annual technical conference for partners (sessions are oriented to VPCs), taking place at Vienna this year.

On the partnership front VMware joined a new community around blade technologies started by IBM:

As last news I can tell italian readers that the wide known italian distributor Itway is now became also a VMware distributor.

PlateSpin is the forth most interesting virtualization company of the period. They first announced a new OS Portability technology, then released the evolution of the acclaimed PowerP2V based on this technology, called PowerConvert.
PowerConvert seems really flexible, permitting to save a physical server/VM on an image compatible with market leaders products formats (Symantec Ghost, Acronis TrueImage, etc.), and re-deploying it anywhere in a physical or virtual environment. I hope to try it soon.

By the way PlateSpin products are now distributed even by Magirus (in Italy too).

Also SWsoft hit the press: Intel decided to invest on the company and signed a technology agreement aimed to bring Virtuozzo able to use Intel Virtualization Technology, Dual-Core and EM64T.
Virtuozzo Server (the Linux edition) hits now 2.6.2 release version and shows a brand new P2V embedded techology called VZP2V.
If interested I suggest you to read their new whitepaper about OS virtualization.

Another start-up announcement hit the press: Virtual Iron declared general availability of its product and the plan to expand its management layer for approaching Xen technologies.

Xen meanwhile continue on its way, focusing more on security, reaching version 2.0.7 and disclosing more news about 3.0 release which should bring many wanted features like support for virtual SMP and AMD/Intel virtualization extensions.

As you know actually Xen cannot provide support for Microsoft OSes in its domains. So here it comes Win4Lin announcing they will fully support Windows 2000 and XP platforms inside Xen (you have to install Win4Lin on DumU).

Even Red Hat gained press attentions thanks to Xen which is now embedded on just released Fedora Core 4 (even if has some glitches) and is expected to be included in Red Hat Enterprise Linux too.

Solaris 10 too is connected to Xen since some Sun developers reached to run their new OS inside a Xen domain, while their company plans to resell VMware products.

Novell, like Sun, is trying to walk with one foot in two shoes, working on Xen and announcing an expanded partnership with VMware.

Another famous open source project about virtualization, Bochs, went out from letargy with the 2.2.1 release.
By the way: a crazy man just achieved to run Windows 95 and Linux on a Playstation Portable thanks to Bochs.

Also Apple had a small space in virtualization news: since Steve Jobs announcement of MacOS x86 various leaked ISOs circulated on the Net. But the OS checkes for an hardware key so it’s eventually useless. At least till now: someone has been nice enough to hack the hardware check and release a VMware image on torrents. I cannot confirm if it exists or works but the news seems real.
On various sites you should be able to find even MacOS x86 running on Intel screenshoots: these are supposed to be fake instead.

Still talking about Mac, emulators, after PearPC, are reproducing fast and so appeared Guest PC 1.5, which emulates a x86 architecture, and Mac-on-Mac, which permits to run a second MacOS instance.

Least but not last the big blue, IBM, announced its Virtualization Engine 2.0.

Ok folks, this should be everything till today. I finally can delete 250 news messages holding on my virtualization mailbox :)

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