Top virtualization blogs of 2008

As our readers know tracks the evolution of the since 2003 thanks to the huge help of an overwhelming number of news sources, including mainstream news portal, corporate and personal blogs, web forums and newsgroups.

While most news sites don’t shine for their analysis, the overall quality of the blogs is very high.
This year a number of them really impressed for the value of the content and the knowledge of their authors. recommends (in no special order): – Authored by Scott Lowe, National Technical Lead for Virtualization at ePlus Technology

IT 2.0 – Authored by Massimo Re Ferrè, Architect at IBM

Mike D’s Blog – Authored by Mike DiPetrillo, Principal Systems Engineer at VMware

Rational Survivability – Authored by Christofer Hoff, Chief Security Architect at Unisys

Virtual Geek – Authored by Chad Sakac, Senior Director of VMware Strategic Alliance at EMC

Only 3 days left: Virtualization Congress 2009 Call for Papers

At the beginning of this month announced the Virtualization Congress 2009, to be held at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, from May 5 to 7.

This year the event will be co-hosted with the Citrix iForum, Network World Live! and Geek Speak (this last one will be offered as part of the Virtualization Congress ticket). More information about this are here.

To build the agenda we issued a Call for Papers that ends Dec. 31, 2008.
We accept proposals from any industry entity, including independent professionals, solution providers and of course virtualization vendors.

So far we got over 50 submissions that we’ll publish next Monday (January 5th) here, asking our readers to vote for the most interesting ones.

Our pre-registrations highlight a special interest for best-practices and designing sessions about most topics around virtualization (from application virtualization to virtual lab management, passing through chargeback), and so we urge the brilliant virtualization architects and engineers that make our readership to share their experiences and submit a presentation during these last three days.

We are keen to bring on stage some independent voices to build some real-world knowledge.
If you are an expert about one specific vendor it’s great.
If your presentation crosses the boundaries of a certain product it’s even better.

Submit here:

A new player enters the empty OS virtualization market

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The evolution of the virtualization industry in the last five years clarified how the market prefers hardware virtualization over any other kind of approach.

Application virtualization certainly is the next big step towards a “liquid” data center, but so far it’s still far away from the mainstream adoption.

The third platform virtualization technique that we track at, something we called for a long time OS partitioning, is the OS virtualization.

As our Virtualization Industry Radar highlights the only commercial players in this segment are Sun and Parallels (formerly SWsoft).
But the Sun presence in this space is very limited: its Solaris Containers (aka Zones) are available only for Solaris 10 and while the product became very flexible in the last two years, it’s clear that the company is moving its investments on hardware virtualization.

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Virtual Computer shows 3D graphics in its client hypervisor

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The US startup Virtual Computer continues to unveil bits of its upcoming product, NxTop, which manipulates server and client virtualization to build an innovative VDI environment.

At the beginning of this month the company launched a private beta program and now it demonstrates some high-speed 3D graphics on virtualized laptops.

One of the biggest challenges in adopting a hypervisor on consumer equipment like workstation or notebooks is granting satisfying performance that won’t damage the user experience.
But the hypervisors developed so far for server virtualization just emulate most of the physical devices so that quality display or audio cards are just unusable.

Virtual Computer developed a special version of Xen to address this shortcoming on client side, and now it’s ready to show how it works when dealing with a 3D video cards and some graphic-intensive software like Quake and Google Earth:

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KVM in Linux Kernel 2.6.28 features Intel VT-d support, soon nested virtualization

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The just released Kernel 2.6.28 includes more than 104 patches for the virtualization engine KVM, included in Linux since 2.6.20.

One of those patches is specially important as it allows the mapping of physical PCI device to a specific virtual machine through the Intel Virtualization for Directed I/O (VT-d) technology.

Intel introduced VT-d in early Q1 2006 but so far only Novell and Oracle supported it in their Xen implementations (as the Buyer’s Guide highlights).

The PCI direct access grants higher performance but lower flexibility in a virtual infrastructure: for instance a VM can only map as many devices as are physically present in the platform.
Nonetheless it’s a critical step to bring high-performance virtualization on consumer equipment (something often called client hypervisor) like laptops.

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Morgan Stanley on VMware: they may struggle to hit consensus

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Just like most IT companies, the VMware stock performance is not exactly outstanding.
A little more than one year ago VMW reached $124.83 per share, and now it is near its minimum at $22.32.
But things can go worse.

Before Christmas Techworld reported an interesting note appeared in the last Morgan Stanley research about VMware:

First, Q4 is off to a slow start and we believe VMW may struggle to hit consensus. Second, ELA (VMware’s Enterprise Licence Agreement) momentum is slowing, which likely removes a major driver of license growth. Third, headcount will weigh on margins in the first half of 09.

This comment led to a “Sell” recommendation on VMW shares.

Morgan Stanley is not alone: even UBS cut its rating from “Neutral” to “Sell” last month as reported by ServerWatch.
But the fact that UBS is the largest VMware stockholder after EMC raises some additional concerns.

VMware forms a panel to review the VMmark benchmarks

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One year and a half after its launch, the benchmarking platform that VMware called VMmark got some serious traction among OEMs.

The results page shows more than 30 analysis submitted by the biggest OEMs, including Dell, HP, IBM, Sun and Unysis.

Easily to predict, VMmark got zero acceptance from the other virtualization vendors, making the tool only partially useful.
Despite that, VMware competitors, did nothing to seriously develop a common standard or at least to adopt the only alternative available today: Intel vConsolidate.
Their only action in the last 18 months has been to join the SPEC virtualization benckmarking group. It’s unclear what progress the project made so far.

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HowTo: Live backup Hyper-V virtual machines with Windows Server Backup

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One of the biggest limitation of Virtual Server 2005 was the impossibility to backup the running virtual machines with NTBackup.

When Microsoft moved to Windows Server 2008 and Hyper-V this limitation was finally removed, but the capability is not exactly out of the box.

To achieve the goal customers must manually create some new keys in the Windows Registry so that the Hyper-V Volume Shadow Service (VSS) writer can interact with the new Windows Server Backup (WSB).

The configuration also has some serious limitations:

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HowTo: Configure a two-sites recovery for VMware vCenter Site Recovery Manager in a laptop

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Did you see the new VMware video about vCenter Site Recovery Manager (SRM) and would like to try it firsthand?
You only have three choices:

The last scenario may sound a little hard to realize (and certainly not the best one for some serious evaluation) but it can be done: VMware published an official 20-pages guide describing all the steps to configure a two-sites environment with SRM in a single consumer box.

To achieve the (magic) goal VMware suggests to use a 64-bit laptop with Intel VT and at least 3GB RAM, VMware Workstation 6.5, LeftHand Network virtual SAN, and of course VI 3.5 plus SRM 1.0.