Virtualization Industry Survey 2008: The results – Part 1

Today can finally publish the results of our Virtualization Industry Survey 2008 about hardware virtualization adoption.

The survey was open at the end of October just for our Vanguards members, then extended to all our readers.
In a little more than one month 1050 responses were collected and, as promised, we are publishing today the surprising results:

Q1 – What is the size of your company?


Read more

Is Microsoft supporting Windows on (the Cisco version of) KVM?

cisco logo

One of the biggest challenge when adopting a new virtualization platform is securing the ISVs support.
Without it moving from the market leader to a more innovative or cheaper solution is a risky business.

It’s the case of KVM, the open source virtualization platform that is part of the Linux Kernel since version 2.6.20 and that is attracting a large number of developers (away from Xen, we were told).

KVM may be very cool, and the fact that Red Hat acquired its maintainer, the startup Qumranet, certainly ignites high hopes for the platform.
But the reality is that, at today, KVM is still too young to feature the ISVs support that VMware, Citrix or Microsoft can offer.

Excluding IBM, which just started to its Lotus Notes, Symphony and a bunch of other applications on the Virtual Bridges implementation of KVM, no other major IT vendor is officially endorsing KVM.

As often happens, Microsoft is the key to change this situation: it’s now more than clear that virtualization is being used across the globe to virtualize and consolidate in large majority Windows boxes.
If Microsoft officially supports Windows in a KVM virtual machine then the other ISVs will follow, and the customers can start adopting the solution with confidence.

With much surprise it’s possible that the unlikely event already happened.

Read more

Microsoft launches MED-V 1.0 beta

microsoft logo

As promised in November, Microsoft launched yesterday the first beta of Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V), formerly known as Kidaro Managed Workspace.

Microsoft acquired Kidaro in March 2008, but as usual the product must be re-engineered to meet the software development criteria and quality standards that the company enforces before it can be rebranded and sold.

Managed Workspace is a platform wrapper for Type-2 VMMs (non bare-metal virtualization platforms, like Virtual PC or Virtual Server) that envelops virtual machines in a security layer where the administrator can define granular corporate policies, deciding which physical networks can be accessed, when the VM expires, if the virtual hard drive is encrypted, etc.


Read more

Citrix invests in Open Kernel Labs, acquisition next?

okl logo

Yesterday the embedded virtualization vendor Open Kernel Labs closed its first round of investments: $7.6 million kindly provided by Chrysalis Ventures, Neo Technology Ventures and Citrix.

The interest of Citrix in mobile virtualization is very high and goes well beyond the port of its ICA client on the iPhone.

Xen, which powers XenServer, is being ported on ARM architectures by Samsung since a couple of years now and Citrix seems ready to leverage the opportunity.
Just two months ago Ian Pratt, CTO of Xen and Vice President of Advanced Products at Citrix, clearly stated his interest in mobile virtualization.

On top of that the VMware’s acquisition of Trango, a well-known Open Kernel Labs competitor, is further igniting the interest.

Some are already speculating that Citrix may proceed with an acquisition after this first investment.

Has Sun a virtualization identity crisis?

sun logo

Yesterday Sun announced a new offering for the SMB segment: a bundle of some of its mid-range servers and SANs with VMware ESX or Microsoft Hyper-V.
Exactly: Sun, which is investing million of dollars on its own hypervisor, is actively pushing two leading competitors.

What’s the strategy behind this initiative?

This is not just a typical offering to pre-install the hypervisor of choice inside a brand new server like every major OEM does since a while now: Sun issued a press announcement, published a dedicated website, highlighted the differences between the two virtualization products suggesting which one is better in which scenario.

An agreement to resell competing hypervisors would make sense if Sun was three years away from releasing xVM Server. But while in late, xVM Server is almost here (as the available documentation demonstrates).

Supposing that Sun can successfully sell ESX and Hyper-V to its customers, what its sales reps will tell them when xVM Server will be out? “Do you mind throwing away the investment that we suggested and that you just made and switch to our hypervisor?”

Read more

Bringing virtualization to the attention of the US President Barack Obama

Official portrait of President-elect Barack Obama on Jan. 13, 2009.

(Photo by Pete Souza)

As most US visitors know, the new President of the United States, Barack Obama, is using technology extensively.

Besides uploading his public speeches on YouTube (through over 1,800 videos, watched more than 110 million of times) and spending money on videogame ads, one of the most significant uses of Internet he has made thus far is publishing the transition website, where US citizens can use Google Moderator to submit questions and ideas (and vote on existing ones) about a number of topics, from Economy to Healthcare.

This part of his Open Government initiative is so popular that more than 30,000 questions have been submitted so far.

Among them, one in the Energy and Environment category may be specially interesting for readers:

Going green on carbon with IT Virtualization

Push a government-wide IT virtualization initiative to reduce the carbon-footprint of our planned digital health records system by 80+%.
Mandate a review of existing federal IT infrastructure to find opportunities for consolidating servers and reducing datacenter energy requirements with a minimum 10 to 1 consolidation ratio.

Is it worth voting?

Amazon announces its new EC2 web console

amazon logo

In October 2008 Amazon finally declared its Xen-based Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) ready for production, introducing a Service Level Agreement, the availability for 32 and 64bit Windows Server 2003 virtual machines, and the support for IIS and SQL Server inside each guest OS.

At that time the company also hinted at a new management console that customers could use to manage their virtual infrastructure in the cloud, but the product remained unveiled until last week.

Simply dubbed Web-based AWS Management Console, the product is a feature-rich control panel that allows to create, launch, find and manage virtual machines (called Amazon Machine Images or AMIs), create and manage volumes and snapshots (called Elastic Block Store or EBS), and even manage the security permissions and the firewall settings.

The product is still in beta but its AJAX interface seems pretty valid and Amazon seems to have created an interface even better than the popular Elasticfox extension for Firefox:

Read more

KVM gains AMD IOMMU support

redhat logo

Yesterday the open source virtualization KVM reached another milestone: the build 83 now includes support for the AMD Input Output Memory Management Unit (IOMMU) technology.

An IOMMU makes I/O virtualization more efficient by allowing VMMs to directly assign real devices to guest operating systems. It’s not possible for a VMM to emulate the translation and protection functions of an IOMMU, because the VMM can’t get between kernel-mode drivers running on the guest OS and the underlying hardware. So, in the absence of an IOMMU, VMMs instead present an emulated device to the guest OS. The VMM then translates the guest’s requests, ultimately, into requests to the real driver running down on the host OS or on the hypervisor.

Less than one month ago the version of KVM that is included in the Linux Kernel 2.6.28 introduced the support for Intel IOMMU called VT-d.

Now both implementations are supported and the AMD patch will soon reach the mainstream kernel (probably 2.6.29).

SANS launches its first training course about virtualization security

sans logo

The well-respected SANS (SysAdmin, Audit, Network, Security) Institute, famous for its security training and certification program, launched today a new interesting course: Virtualization Security and Operations.

The description is promising:

Attendees will learn about virtualization security fundamentals, with an in-depth treatment of today’s most pressing virtualization security concerns: known attacks and threats, theoretical attack methods, and numerous real-world examples. Then we’ll turn our attention to today’s most popular enterprise server virtualization product, VMware Infrastructure 3. Attendees will learn about every aspect of locking down ESX Server and VirtualCenter management server, as well as best practices for securing the virtual machine guests that reside on ESX platforms. We’ll also cover virtualization networking techniques in detail, laying out proven strategies for proper segmentation, virtual switching and routing considerations, network access controls and layer 2 policies, as well as how to build virtual DMZs and integrate with existing network infrastructure.

Finally, attendees will learn essential strategies for securing storage interfaces to Virtual Infrastructure 3, as well as best practices for backup, recovery, and redundancy. We’ll then wrap up with extensive information about compliance ramifications from virtualization, strategies to create and maintain compliance-focused controls using VMware, and operations processes and concepts to focus on, such as change and configuration management, separation of duties, and least privilege…

Read more

VMware announces its own award program: vExpert

vmware logo

Microsoft launched its Most Valuable Program (MVP) a long time ago and recently updated it to include a Virtual Machine category.
Citrix has its own Citrix Technology Professional (CTP) program.

These programs are developed to influence the influencers, engaging them as much as possible with gifts, partial involvement with the company development teams, and more.

This kind of approach to reach the masses has several benefits.
First of all it keeps the influencer’s perception of the company as high as possible, in a way that, over time, he can move from an unbiased position to a slightly enthusiastic one.
Secondarily, it encourages the influencer to do a number of activities for free: testing and reviewing beta products, translating knowledgebase articles, maintaining support sites, speaking at conferences, etc.
The ultimate purpose of these programs anyway is to control, or at least influence, the way the influencer delivers a message about the company to his large audience. And most of times it works very well.

Read more