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Hyper-V 3: A Windows Server 2003 Remix?

Remember the days of Windows NT Server? I was among the many who mocked it as a serious data center server operating system. Then came Windows 2000 Server, and perceptions began to change. With the release of Windows Server 2003, Microsoft turned the tide of server OS dominance in the data center, placing Microsoft on a path to where the majority of servers would run a Windows OS. What initially seemed like a pipe dream became reality, and I was among many who were wrong about Microsoft’s chances as a dominant server OS vendor. That takes us to last week’s Microsoft Build conference, where Microsoft demonstrated several significant feature enhancements coming to the next generation of Hyper-V. If you compare Hyper-V maturity to Windows Server OS maturity, this could be the equivalent to Windows Server 2003. Microsoft unveiled many new features that positions Hyper-V as a serious enterprise-grade virtualization platform. I was most impressed by the improved virtual switch architecture and extensibility features. For years, I had seen the lack of extensibility and monitoring capabilities in the Hyper-V virtual switch architecture as a barrier to supporting multitenant environments. While Hyper-V today can offer unicast isolation for traffic on shared virtual switches and support VLANs, it does not support any type of port spanning or promiscuous monitoring. That made it difficult to monitor and enforce network security in Hyper-V virtual networks, and have made the hypervisor ill-suited for some large enterprise and many cloud IaaS scenarios. Those barriers are removed in Windows 8. In addition to rich network monitoring and enforcement capabilities, Hyper-V’s extensible switch architecture opens the door for technology partners in the networking and security space to reside in the Hyper-V fabric. Cisco has already announced support for the Nexus 1000V on Windows 8 Hyper-V. I expect other leading players in the networking and security space to follow suit. Juniper, HP, Riverbed, and F5 are good candidates to also offer Hyper-V virtual network appliances. Citrix is already there (i.e., NetScaler VPX for Hyper-V). One other architectural element of significance is that virtual networking and security requirements are embedded in each Hyper-V VM’s metadata file. So prior to any live migration job, for example, a VM’s underlying third party dependencies are validated on a target host. Keeping relevant network and security metadata with the VM ensures that mobility constraints can always easily be validated before any migration job. These features are significant. Having an extensible network architecture, extensible VM metadata, and extensible management (i.e., via the System Center suite and third party integration) isn’t Microsoft following VMware. It’s leadership. I have communicated extensibility requirements to VMware for years, and I’m happy to see Microsoft stepping up and addressing...

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VMworld 2011: If Amazon is the Benchmark…

In a recent Gartner field search study, two early internal IaaS cloud adopters noted that if Amazon was the benchmark by which they are measured in terms of cost, then they had to make tough decisions regarding best-of-breed vs. good enough. In particular, the two clients cited whether deploying a third party virtual switch (i.e., Cisco Nexus 1000V) was absolutely necessary, especially if the cost made the internal cloud less competitive with Amazon. These organizations weren’t doing apple-to-oranges comparisons either. They came up with a per-VM cost broken down by both infrastructure and management/operations software. The cost of operational software was added to the Amazon cost to create an apples-to-apples comparison. Enterprises are having to make tough choices regarding virtualization technology and all associated infrastructure and management products. To deliver cloud services, the enterprise has to be able to provide services quickly, securely, and reliably. In other words, the cloud service should come with the expectation “that it just works.” That’s a tall order for increasingly complex data center infrastructures. At this point, you may be wondering what any of this has to do with VMworld. Let me explain. VMware made numerous data center and cloud related announcements at VMworld, including: New VMware vCloud® Offerings Accelerate Journey to the Enterprise Hybrid Cloud NetApp and VMware Help Transform IT, Make Cloud A Reality VMware Introduces New Platform for Enterprise Database as a Service VMware and Cisco Collaborate on Cloud Innovation Dell Announces Its First Public Cloud Offering; Dell Cloud With VMware vCloud® Datacenter Service Harris Corporation and VMware to Deliver Trusted Enterprise Cloud to Federal and Commercial Customers I’m not here to dissect all of the announcements. For good perspectives on the vCloud Connector and Global Connect announcements, take a look at Lydia Leong’s and Kyle Hilgendorf’s posts. That being said, I wanted to comment on the body of work. VMware’s vCloud web site lists a growing number of provider partners, and many VMware customers I speak to about hybrid cloud state concerns about the need for hypervisor parity. That’s because they include the hypervisor as part of the application QA processes. As a result, they see it as less costly to move a VM between the same hypervisor type. I had blogged about this subject before. Bottom line – for many enterprises seeking mobility between data centers and cloud, VMware has a home court advantage. Other providers (e.g., Amazon) maintain the advantage for applications deployed straight to the cloud, with the enterprise having no intention to pull them back in. VMware’s hybrid cloud strategy is quickly evolving, many customers are onboard with it, and at the same time, those customers are starting to question where they can save costs. Competitors such as...

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VMworld 2011: Dancing on Citrix’s Doorstep?

VMware recorded a pretty humorous video that was unveiled at this week’s VMworld North America conference. A few minutes into the music video, VMware folks are literally shown dancing on Citrix’s doorstep (outside the Citrix office in Santa Clara). While this could be taken as a simple competitive prank, multiple conversations I’ve had with VMware’s end user computing team led me to believe that the dance was more of a metaphor for VMware’s confidence in their product portfolio. At the Gartner Catalyst North America 2011 conference, VMware announced that View 5.0’s PCoIP protocol enhancements would reduce bandwidth by up to 75%. Citrix’s Tal Klein quickly responded with his own take. Gartner is reserving judgment on the noted improvements until we complete our own thorough analysis and speak with early adopters in the field. That being said, VMware is clearly trying to send Citrix a message. For the past couple of years, Citrix has had VMware on the defensive regarding endpoint clients and WAN support. Gartner’s own View 4.5 assessment also noted that View could not support the WAN requirements (e.g., >150 ms latency) common in many large enterprises. With View 5.0, VMware is taking a position that the last remaining holes in its architecture have been addressed: low bandwidth/high latency WAN support, and endpoint clients (e.g., iPad, Android, and Mac). I have been running View 5 in my lab for the past couple of weeks and have connected to my virtual desktop from my iPad at various locations and over various networks (e.g., conference Wi-Fi and AT&T 3G), and the performance has been solid. Desktop virtualization strategy requires more than a few checkboxes, and VMware clearly gets that too. In previous years, VMware had not done a good enough job of articulating a complete vision to prospective customers.Most organizations realize that investments in technologies like virtual desktops require long term commitments. So many organizations are not basing purchasing decisions exclusively on what is available today. VMware needed to better articulate its strategy and roadmap, and they did it at VMworld. The problem we are trying to solve is relatively straightforward – connect users to applications and data. However, we now have a lot more moving parts than we used to. Application delivery can come in many forms, including local installation, application virtualization, virtual desktops, server-based computing, and software-as-a-service (SaaS). In addition, user expectations have changed to where they expect to access applications and data from a variety of devices. So we’re no longer simply delivering applications to devices’; we’re delivering them to people. Inside Gartner, we often call this people centric computing. To many vendors in the space, this paradigm shift spells opportunity. Here’s another example, I recently talked with an IT...

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