Microsoft to launch its cloud toolkit in March 2010, Azure IaaS too?

microsoft logo

At the last Microsoft PDC conference, the company’s Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie said that customers will be able to upload their (Hyper-V) virtual machines inside the soon-to-be-launched cloud computing platform Windows Azure.

More clearly, Ozzie said that Microsoft will support the hosting mode offered by Xen-based (like Amazon EC2) and VMware-based cloud architectures, but, besides that, the company didn’t provide any detail about the availability of this IaaS component or the way it works.

The only thing we know for sure is that Microsoft is preparing a toolkit to guide its customers to extend their virtual data center into the Azure cloud.
Now we also know that this toolkit is going to be available in March 2010.

The Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) component of Azure will be launched January 1, 2010. Maybe Microsoft plans to announce an Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) part too, and that one will arrive in March.

The impact of storage in Virtual Desktop Infrastructures

Herco van Brug, Senior Consultant at PQR, last week released an interesting paper about the storage implications in VDI environments.

The 14-pages paper, titled VDI & Storage: Deep Impact, covers an area of virtual desktop infrastructures that is not investigated enough most time:

…when implementing a VDI infrastructure certain points need to be addressed. First of all, the TCO/ROI calculation may not be as rosy as some people suggest. Secondly, the performance impact on applications, specifically multimedia and 3D applications, needs to be investigated. And finally, don’t forget to check licensing aspects, as this can be a very significant factor in VDI infrastructure.
While centralized desktop computing provides important advantages, all resources come together in the data centre. That means that the CPU resources, memory resources, networking and disk resources all need to be facilitated from a single point – the virtual infrastructure.
The advantage of a central infrastructure is that, when sized properly, it is more flexible in terms of resource consumption than decentralized computing. It is also more capable of handling a certain amount of peak loads, as these only occur once in a while on a small number of systems in an average data centre.
But what if the peak loads are sustained and the averages are so high that the cost of facilitating them is disproportionate to that of decentralized computing?
As it turns out, there is a hidden danger to VDI. There’s a killer named “IOPS”…

Security: RSA SecureBook for VMware View 4.0

vmware logo

RSA, the EMC security division acquired in June 2006, just published a recommended reading for any VMware customer interested in VDI: A Guide for Deploying and Administering the RSA Solution for VMware View.

This is a massive 110-pages paper that describes the architecture and step-by-step implementation of a VMware View 4.0 environment secured by RSA products and managed by the EMC Ionix Server Configuration Manager.


Read more

Release: Citrix Essentials 5.5 for Hyper-V (with StorageLink Site Recovery)

citrix logo

After a couple of months in beta, Citrix releases Essentials 5.5 for Hyper-V just before the holidays.

This version of the management platform for the Microsoft hypervisor includes a new technology called StorageLink Site Recovery.

This feature allows the Hyper-V administrators to control the replication features that their SAN arrays without using multiple consoles. From the Essentials console they can test the recovery process with what-if analysis, and restore the protected VMs in isolated, test networks.

The notable thing is that StorageLink Site Recovery is available for every version of Essentials, including the Express one which is free of charge (but it won’t appear there before Dec. 23).
HP announced its support for this technology a long time ago and now confirms integration with StorageWorks SANs.


Read more

Release: Cisco Nexus 1000V 1.2

cisco logo

Since the release in May, Cisco updated its virtual switch for VMware virtual infrastructure, the Nexus 1000V, a couple of times.

The second update arrived last week, introducing a number of key features. Most of them are security-oriented and very welcome.

The most prominent anyway is a JAVA-based GUI installer for the Virtual Supervisor Module (VSM).
The GUI allows to perform several actions like create the VMware port groups, VLANs, enable the SSH service, register the Nexus plug-in inside vCenter Server and restart the VSM.
Cisco published  a video to show it in action:

Read more

Release: VMware vCenter AppSpeed 1.2

vmware logo

Today VMware released version 1.2 (build 41671) of its application performance analyzer AppSpeed, announced in January and released for the first time in July.

AppSpeed, acquired from B-Hive in May 2008, is a performance analyzer tool that sniffs the network traffic and learn how the applications inside virtual machines usually perform, so it can help to understand the reason of performance issues.

Read more

Release: HP Sizer for Microsoft Hyper-V R2

hp logo

HP always offered a basic capacity planning tool to its customers that want to use ProLiant servers for virtualization.
In November 2005 it released one for Microsoft Virtual Server 2005. In March 2007 it released one for VMware VI 3.0.

Yesterday the company released also one for Microsoft Hyper-V R2. This one is not a web tool like the previous versions, but a 50MB Windows application that customers can download and use without restrictions.

To collect data from physical servers, the Sizer tool interacts with the Microsoft Assessment & Planning (MAP) Toolkit (both 3.x and 4.x are supported) or the Windows Performance Monitor, but it can also import information from other tools.
Once data is available, this tool produces a detailed Bill of Materials (BoM) that includes servers and storage equipment, with pricing specified for the customer’s country.

Read more

Release: Microsoft Offline Virtual Machine Servicing Tool 2.1

microsoft logo

A few Microsoft customers know that the company is offering a patch management solution for offline virtual machines since July 2008.
The tool is called Offline Virtual Machine Servicing Tool (OVMST) and uses PowerShell, System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM), System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM), and Windows Server Update Services (WSUS).

Despite the importance of this product, which is released for free, so far Microsoft spent minimal effort in developing and promoting it.
Version 2.0 was released exactly one year ago. And today OVMST only reaches version 2.1, introducing support for the R2 wave of products.
This includes Hyper-V R2 (released in July for partners, in October for public), SCVMM 2008 R2 (released in August), SCCM 2007 SP2, WSUS 3.0 SP2, and Windows 7/2008 R2 guest OSes.

It’s very concerning to see that Microsoft doesn’t recognize the security of virtual data centers as a top priority.
The company should do much better that this to build confidence in its upcoming Azure-based private cloud offering.

Release: VMware Fusion 3.0.1

vmware logo

Last week VMware announced the availability of Fusion 3.0.1 (build 215242). 
While it seems just a minor update, it introduces a couple of key improvements.

First of all, the Windows virtual machines gain now from 20% to 80% better performance on Mac OS X 10.6 (codename Snow Leopard) for 3D and video tasks.
It seems that part of the slowdown experienced with Fusion 3.0 on Mac OS X depends on the VMware Tools which are now improved.

Additionally, Fusion 3.0.1 introduces a brand new 64bit networking stack, which was not available when VMware launched the Fusion 3.0 64bit engine.

Finally, the new product supports Ubuntu Linux 9.10 (codename Karmic Koala) as guest OS and Parallels Desktop 5.0 virtual machines for importing.

Microsoft acquires Sentillion

microsoft logo

sentillion logo

With a surprising move Microsoft today announced the acquisition of Sentillion, the US startup that launched in summer 2006 the virtualization product called vThere.

The company’s press announcement doesn’t mention at all vThere, solely focusing on the startup presence in the healthcare industry and its solution there.

vThere is what we call here at a platform wrapper. It’s a piece of software that integrates with a hosted virtualization platform and wraps its virtual machines in a security layer.
The wrapper enforces corporate policies defined by the administrator like the VM expiration date, the encryption of the virtual hard drive, the capability to join certain networks, etc. 

Read more