Cisco UCS vs HP Matrix

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In the past months documented how the Cisco entrance in the server market with its Unified Computing System (UCS) is having a major impact on the landscape.

The move is especially dangerous because it involves powerful allies like EMC and VMware, and delivers a platform that is designed from scratch to be a virtual data center in a box.

The most nervous among its competitors seems HP, which openly criticized the UCS and then acquired 3Com to strengthen its networking offering.

HP also released a competing platform, called BladeSystem Matrix, which doesn’t bundle yet with any specific virtualization platform (VMware vSphere support is still experimental).

The first public comparison between the two blade systems comes from Steve Kaplan, Vice President Data Center Virtualization Practice at INX.
his technical analysis is well worth a read.

Citrix added over 35K new customers in 2009, plans to deliver over 100K virtual desktops for 2010

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While addressing the nth skeptic article about the destiny of XenServer, the Citrix CTO of Virtualization and Management division Simon Crosby provided some details about the company’s performance in 2009 and its plans for 2010.

Specifically, Citrix added over 35,000 new customers this year (it’s not clear how many of them bought XenDesktop and how many just XenServer) and plans to serve over 100,000 virtual desktops for next year.

With these numbers Crosby clarifies once again that Citrix has no interest in dropping XenServer to adopt Hyper-V and limit itself to deliver XenDesktop and Essentials for the Microsoft hypervisor.

Chris Wolf too, Senior Analyst at Burton Group, answered the article above, and his tweet seems to suggest that the upcoming version of XenServer will highlight the commitment on the product:

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Novell’s strategy: we’ll bet on multiple hypervisors adoption

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So far, the Novell strategy about virtualization has never been too clear.
The company offers its own version of Xen since October 2005, made more appealing thanks to a multi-year agreement with Microsoft to support Windows guest OSes and interoperate with Hyper-V.
It has a feature-rich orchestration framework, ZENworks, which supports multiple hypervisors but that is almost unknown in the virtualization community.
In February 2008 it acquired the Canadian startup PlateSpin, which now enriches the Novell portfolio with a P2V migration, disaster recover and capacity planning tools.
It also plans to release additional products for performance monitoring and configuration management.

Despite that, it’s still unclear where Novell will be in the virtualization market within the next few years.
One of the PlateSpin products, Forge, still uses VMware ESX rather than SUSE Linux with Xen to host the P2V’ed virtual machines for disaster recovery.
The stand-alone Xen platform that was announced in March 2008 never came out.
A lot of former PlateSpin executives left the company, the development of virtualization products has been moved to India, and just a couple of weeks ago Novell definitively phased out the subsidiary website (the brand still leaves in the products’ names).


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Release: Quest vWorkspaces 7.0

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While Paul and Peter Ghostine are now busy working on a stealth-mode cloud computing startup, their former employer Quest releases vWorkspaces 7.0 just before the end of the year.

The new release introduces a number of interesting features, including:

  • Inclusion of Flash redirection (for 32bit Internet Explorer 6, 7 and 8) in the Experience Optimized Protocol (EOP) [demo]
  • Bandwidth and compression control for USB devices (Virtual USB Hub)
  • Integration with VMware Linked Clones [demo]
  • Customization of Sysprep procedure
  • Support for reprovisiong VMware virtual machines at logoff
  • Support for 32/64bit Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7 [demo]

vWorkspaces 7.0 also includes the experimental capability to redirect Internet Explorer to the client.

Release: Citrix XenServer 5.5 Update 1

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Just before the Christmas break, Citrix has released the first updated for its XenServer 5.5, which introduces a number of improvements and addresses a critical issue with the LVHD snapshots:

When LVHD snapshots are deleted, disk space is reclaimed by freeing unused snapshot data. This is provided automatically by XenServer while VMs continue to run. However, there is a known limitation in the 5.5 implementation of this feature: when all snapshots are deleted for a given VM’sdisks, some disk space allocated to these snapshots may remain. To address this limitation, Update 1 includes an ‘Off-line Coalesce’ tool that can reclaim all disk space previously allocated to deleted snapshots while the VM is temporarily set offline.

Release: Citrix Workflow Studio 2.0.1

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Just before the Christmas break, Citrix released a minor update for its orchestration framework Workflow Studio.

The new version 2.0.1. doesn’t introduce any change in the product but extends the existing activity libraries and delivers a couple of new ones.
Here’s the extended/new libraries about virtualization:

  • [NEW] Citrix XenDesktop Activity Library
    • Activities that create, delete, and retrieve desktop definitions and manage desktop groups.
  • [EXTENDED] Citrix XenServer Activity Library 
    • Automate the process of taking snapshots, backing up VMs, and backing up VM metadata for site migration and disaster recovery scenarios.
    • Automate the installation and update of tools on guest VMs.
  • [EXTENDED] Citrix XenApp Activity Library
    Now includes activities that support automated application streaming packaging and application management.

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Microsoft acquires Opalis Software – UPDATED

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Last Friday Microsoft announced the acquisition of Opalis Software, a run-book automation company founded in 1998 in Canada with 70 employees (according to LinkedIn) and over 300 customers (according to Opalis).

Data center orchestration is one of the most important areas where virtualization will expand in the coming years, as soon as customers will realize that their virtual infrastructures are reaching such a scale and complexity to become inefficient.

VMware and Citrix already invested in this area.
VMware acquired the Swiss startup Dunes Technologies in September 2007, and it’s now offering their solution for free, as part of vSphere 4.0 platform, under the name of Orchestrator.
Citrix offers an orchestration framework called Workflow Studio since January 2009.

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Release: Veeam Backup & Replication 4.1

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Yesterday Veeam released version 4.1 of its disaster recovery solution Backup & Replication.

The major new feature is that the product can now replicate the paid/licensed version of VMware ESXi leveraging the VMware vStorage APIs (so far it could only backup it).
The replication of free version of ESXi is not available, according to what VMware required in June.


Backup & Replication 4.1 also introduces SNMP notifications (reporting the status per-job and per-VM) and a brand new, stand-alone utility, available for Windows and Linux, called Extract that customers can store on tapes with saved data, to accelerate the restore process.