Posts Tagged ‘Virtualization’

Cloud computing explanation that anyone can understand

January 7th, 2009

2009’s datacenter trend (which really impacts virtualization and beyond) is cloud computing. Right now there are approximately 1,001 interpretations and explanations of what people think cloud computing is, which for me has made things excessively confusing. It’s still a lot of fluff until I see the SKUs and installable components, then I’ll be able to see where the rubber really meets the road.  For companies like Amazon, the cloud is already reality and it’s catching on quickly with other big names like VMware, Google and IBM.

One of my many goals in 2009 is to get a firm grasp of cloud computing.  It starts today.  Following is the best explanation I’ve come across yet (thank you for the link John Troyer) where cloud computing is explained to me like I’m a five year old so I could understand it better.  I know there are others that “don’t get it”.  I hope this helps.

Virtualization, Dilbert style

January 6th, 2009

Along with The Far Side, Dilbert is one of my favorite comic strips.  I was unaware Scott Adams produced a short series on virtualization back in February 2008; I’m ashamed to say I hadn’t seen them.  So this may be old news but there is absolutely NO WAY this isn’t getting posted on my blog.  I consider it essential. 


Introducing: IT Knowledge Exchange/TechTarget

December 18th, 2008

Have you seen TechTarget’s IT Knowledge Exchange? If you are an IT staff member in search of answers or excellent technical blogs, ITKE is one site you’ll want to bookmark. Their award winning editorial staff include virtualization bloggers such as Eric Siebert, David Davis, prolific VirtualCenter plugin writer Andrew Kutz, Rick Vanover, Edward Haletky, and many more.

Search or browse by hundreds of tags covering hot IT topics such as Database, Exchange, Lotus Domino, Microsoft Windows, Security, Virtualization, etc.

Their value proposition is simple: provide IT professionals and executives with the information they need to perform their jobs—from developing strategy, to making cost-effective IT purchase decisions and managing their organizations’ IT projects.

One month ago, was purchased by TechTarget. I think this addition will be a nice shot in the arm for ITKE. In one transaction they integrate an established rich Citrix/Terminal Services/Virtualization knowledgebase and talented staff of bloggers that it can in turn use to help its readers and advertising clientele.

TechTarget has over 600 employees, was founded in 1999, and went public in May 2007 via a $100M IPO.

12-18-2008 8-27-33 AM

A great disturbance in the Force

December 15th, 2008

Today I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices cried out in terror.  Mohamed Fawzi of the blog Zeros & Ones posted a VMware vs Hyper-V comparison that I felt was neither fair nor truthful.  In fact, I think it is the worst bit of journalism I’ve witnessed in quite a while and even in the face of the VMworld 2008/Microsoft Hyper-V poker chip fiasco, I don’t know if Microsoft would even endorse this tripe.

I didn’t have a lot of time today for rebuttal and thus following are my brief responses:

Cost: It is impossible to summarize cost of a product (and TCO) in one short sentence as you have done.

Support: VMware was the first virtualization company to be listed on the Microsoft SVVP program.  Enough said about that.  If you want to talk about Linux, VMware supports many distros.  Hyper-V last time I checked supports one.

Hardware Requirements: No comparison.  Microsoft does not have VMotion/hot migration or similar.  New server “farms” are not necessarily needed, although a rolling upgrade can be performed using Enhanced VMotion Compatibility where the majority of the technology that will allow this comes from the processor hardware vendors.

Advanced Memory Management: Content based page sharing is a proven technology that I use in a production environment with no performance impacts.  Microsoft does not have this technology and therefore forces their customers to achieve higher consolidation ratios by spending more money on RAM than what would be needed in a VMware datacenter.  Other memory overcommit technologies such as ballooning and swapping come with varying levels of penalty and VMware offers the flexibility to the customer as to what they would like to do in these areas.  Microsoft offers no flexibility or choices.

Hypervisor: ESXi embedded is 32MB.  ESXi installable is about 1GB.  Hyper-V’s comparable products once installed are 1GB and in the 4-10GB neighborhood.  Your point of the Hyper-V hypervisor being 872KB, whether truth or not, bears no relevance for comparison purposes.

Drivers Support: VMware maintains tight control which fosters platform stability.  Installation of XYZ drivers and software adds to instability, support costs, and down time.

Processor Support: False.  ESX/ESXi operates on x86 32bit and x64 64bit processors.  Current 3rd party vendor neutral performance benchmarking between ESX and Hyper-V shows no performance degradation in ESX compared to Hyper-V as a result of address translation or otherwise.  A more truthful headline to be exposed here is Hyper-V isn’t compatible with 32-bit hardware.  Why didn’t you mention this in your Hardware Requirements section?

Application Support: I don’t see any Windows support issues.  Again I remind you, VMware is certified on the Microsoft SVVP program.  Another comparison is made with a particular VMotion restriction.  I’ll grant you that if you admit Microsoft has no VMotion or hot migration at all.

Product Hypervisor Technology: We already covered this in the Drivers Support section.

Epic virtualization and storage blogger Scott Lowe provides his responses here.

Mohamed Fawzi, while it is nice to meet you, it is unfortunate that we met under these terms.  Having just discovered your blog today, I hope you don’t mind if I take a look at some of your other material as it looks like you’ve been at the blogging for a while (much longer than I).  I hope to find some good and interesting reads.

hgfs registry value causes issues with Terminal Services VMs

December 13th, 2008

I originally brought this up back in October with my Tip for virtualization Citrix servers invovling user profiles post.  I’m bringing it up again because this week VMware updated their knowledgebase document 1317 Windows Guest Cannot Update hgfs.dat and it’s missing a piece of key information that administrators need to be aware of.  I’m not going to rehash the whole hgfs registry value again.  You can read the details about that in my October post linked above.  The workarounds for hgfs issues caused by VMware Tools do work, however, what’s not mentioned is that a re-installation or upgrade of VMware Tools will re-install the hgfs value back in the registry thus introducing problems again.  With the amount of ESX/ESXi version upgrades coming from VMware lately, which in turn cause VMware Tools upgrades, this scenario is not going to be uncommon for anyone who is virtualizing Terminal Services or Citrix.  Add to that, VMware even recently released an interim VMware Tools upgrade patch subsequent to ESX 3.5.0 Update 3 (ESXe350-200811401-T-BG).

It should be noted that the hgfs registry value is associated with VMware shared folders technology (not used with ESX/ESXi) and only gets installed during a Complete installation type.  A Typical installation type will not install the hgfs registry value.  I perform Complete installation types of VMware Tools because I make use of the VMware Descheduled Time Accounting Service.  My virtualized Citrix servers have been impacted by this twice:  The first time when I orginally rolled out the virtualized Citrix servers.  The second time a few months later I discovered hgfs was installed again after a VMware Tools upgrade.  I’ve asked VMware to update hgfs related KB articles with the piece about the VMware Tools upgrades.  As I pointed out in my October article, one of the nasty side effects of the hgfs value on Terminal Services VMs is the constant growing of the user profile folders under \Documents and Settings\.  Left undiscovered for a while and it becomes a pretty big mess and the speed at which ugliness infiltrates \Documents and Settings\ is compounded by the number of Terminal Services users logging on to the server throughout the day every day.

VMware ESX Essentials in the Virtual Data Center

December 11th, 2008

I just finished reading VMware ESX Essentials in the Virtual Data Center by David Marshall, Stephen S. Beaver, and Jason W. McCarty (ISBN: 978-1420070279).  If memory serves me correctly, one of the authors billed this book as “The 101 things you need to know about VMware ESX”.  I think that is a fairly accurate description.  Translation:  This is not your 800 page Advanced Technical Design Guide deep dive, however, it’s going to give you most, if not all, of the essentials using no-nonsense straight talk.  From an audience perspective, I felt it is a beginner to intermediate level book which talks in moderate detail about each of the integral components of VMware Virtual Infrastructure.  Some sections go into more advanced discussion, but not so much to the point that the book will lose the reader’s interest or accelerate beyond the intermediate level which I think is important.

It was a good read and I enjoyed it thoroughly.  Some chapters were difficult to take a break from reading.  It’s one of the few books available that cover ESX 3.5 which is the current version.  One of the sections I liked is at the very beginning where they discuss the history of virtualization.  I picked up quite a bit of background information from this chapter and learned where the roots of virtualization are.  It’s hard to believe virtualization as a concept has been in existence for nearly half a century.  Another chapter I picked up quite a bit of background knowledge on is the Automating and Extensibility where they talk about the VI SDK, VI Perl Toolkit, VI Toolkit for Windows (Powershell), CIM, etc.  I’m not much of a developer and frankly these had been areas I have avoided looking into out of lack of interest.  Again, the detail level didn’t convert me into a successful developer or scripter, but it lays down a nice foundation or primer on which to build knowledge.  VMware Virtual Infrastructure beginners will enjoy the back sections of the book where several 3rd party complimentary tools are discussed as well as the appendices which contain useful charts of information such as TCP/UDP port usage, Windows to Linux command conversion chart, plus log file location and discussion.  Technically speaking, the content of the book was dead accurate.  I had only a few sections marked up with wording changes I would have made to alleviate confusion plus a bulleted list that had been copied and pasted twice.  I’ve checked with the authors to see if they are set up for taking comments and making an errata resource available.

I wouldn’t be completely honest with the pool of talented authors whom I know and respect if I did not mention that at 237 pages, I felt this book was a bit on the pricey side as I paid the full $59.95 plus tax at the VMworld 2008 bookstore.  You can find it at for a good discount and free shipping.

For those that are attending the 12/19/08 Minneapolis area VMware Users Group meeting (VMUG), I’ll be raffling off two copies of this book which were generously donated by the authors.

Maintenance tonight

December 9th, 2008

The blog, web, and Team Fortress 2 servers will be down briefly tonight for a little maintenance on the virtualized gateway router.  Duration should be about half an hour at the most.  I apologize in advance for any inconvenience.

Speaking of maintenance, I doubled my hosting bandwidth over the weekend from 5Mbps down/512Kbps up to 10Mbps down/1Mbps up.  I performed a little bandwidth speed testing last night and initially I wasn’t overly pleased the results.  Depending on the remote host I tested speed against, I wasn’t seeing the numbers I should be on the download side.  Eventually I did find a remote host that proved I had a 10Mbps down pipe (I don’t have bursting AFAIK).  On the up side (which is what really counts for hosting performance and you readers), I wasn’t able to find any remote hosts that showed I had upstream bandwidth beyond 512Kbps.  I’ll be performing more tests and I will contact my service provider if I am not completely satisfied.  For what I’m paying for business class broadband, I insist that I be consistently getting the 80% of the promised speeds which I believe is the SLA with my provider.

Trust me, I could go really hysterical with regards to my provider but you readers deserve better so I’ll keep it bottled up for now.  Thank your lucky stars for whatever provider you have because chances are they are much better than what I have to work with.


Update: Bandwidth is looking good.  Explanation in comments below.

12-9-2008 9-45-07 PM