Virtual and distributed computing technology and applications
Ken Novak's Weblog
Tuesday, September 28, 2004
Topspin Communications, Inc.: "Topspin Communications today debuted Grid-to-Go, a program to deliver an open standards-based starter-kit for rapid, easy deployment of utility computing in the enterprise. Grid-to-Go can be used with commodity servers, and includes all of the infrastructure and software required for a grid architecture that unifies applications, servers, and storage. Compared with existing proprietary utility computing solutions, the Topspin solution offers comparable functionality with better performance and greater scalability-- all at as little as approximately 1/20th the cost.
Topspin server switch technology creates a scalable, flexible fabric for building a grid out of industry standard server, storage, and I/O resources. Whether attached via Ethernet, Fibre Channel, or InfiniBand, the server switch can seamlessly map these resources together into virtual servers, which can then be automatically provisioned with the right application(s). With Topspinâ019s VFrameâ122 software, the server switch can be programmed with business policies to determine the conditions for creating different types of virtual servers and with which applications to load them. " The kits includes software, 10Gbps InfiniBand Host Channel Adapters (HCAs) for PCI-X with remote boot capabilities, and an Infiniband switch. 8:42:33 AM
Friday, September 24, 2004
Develop, Test, and Deploy Faster with VMware Software:
This whitepaper claims that VMware is very widely used in large enterprises. "Used by 80 percent of the Global 100
companies’ IT organizations, VMware virtual infrastructure software simplifies test configuration management and eliminates the need for a physical machine for each configuration to be tested." 8:40:26 AM
Thursday, September 23, 2004
VMwarel Case Study at the Spring Independent School District
: Replacing 40 Novell and light-duty Windows servers with four VMware multi-processor systems. "VSM:
How has server virtualization affected hardware purchases? PD:
The first six servers were old 933 MHz/1GHz boxes with 1GB of memory. We were in the process of getting rid of them. We were able to use them for VMware GSX servers. We added an additional processor and they work great for hosting four VMs each. Later, we added an additional 1GB of memory and reduced the number of physical servers to four, hosting 6-7 VMs each.
We recently decided to purchase two quad Xeon servers with four 73GB HDD and 12GB of memory to host up to 32 VMs each. Instead of buying additional servers for new projects that require low usage servers, we can make VMs on the ESX servers or use the old dual 933/1GHz servers with 2GB RAM. " 11:40:31 PM
Dell bundles VMware on PowerEdge
: "Dell also announced yesterday that it would be pushing VMware's ESX Server virtualization product on its PowerEdge 1850 (1U) and 2850 (2U) Xeon-64 servers. While Dell has had a partnership with VMware for quite some time to sell its GSX Server and ESX Server, this offering goes a little bit further in that Dell is selling pretested systems (but not preconfigured) that have been certified to run specific VMware virtualization software and offering front-line technical support for the whole shebang. Dell is only offering ESX Server as part of this deal, which is the low-level virtualization software from VMware that has the best isolation between virtual machines, in that it runs on the bare metal server, not within another operating system that could, in theory, fail and take down all of the virtual machines. Dell is selling ESX Server 2.1.2, which has been tweaked to support the 64-bit "Nocona" Xeon processors, as well as VMware's Virtual Center Management Server. Dell is also supporting the CX300 and CX500 SAN arrays that it makes in conjunction with EMC. Dell pricing for ESX Server starts at $4,688 for these two PowerEdge servers, including Dell support, which is backed by VMware's Platinum support. Dell is also supporting the Virtual SMP features of ESX Server (which allow a single virtual machine to span across two physical processors) and VMotion technology, which allows the workload running inside one virtual machine on one physical machine to be transported across the network to another partition on another machine. This offer is available in the United States and Europe.
Dell is not, by the way, offering pretested GSX Server configurations on these machines, although GSX Server will work on it. GSX Server allows multiple virtual machines to run inside a host operating system." 7:44:35 AM
Wednesday, September 22, 2004
IBM mulls blade desktops: "Blade desktops were pioneered by US company ClearCube, which sells racks of blades, each one containing a motherboard, processor, memory and hard disk. ClearCube's solution has a small user port sitting on each desk, to which as many as four monitors, plus a keyboard and mouse are connected, with a Category 5 Ethernet cable running back to the blade where all the work is done.
IBM already resells ClearCube hardware, but is now looking at the possibility of manufacturing its own as it looks for an ever larger market for its blade server infrastructure .. [one way] "would be to virtualise the whole blade centre and give a piece to everybody." Wandarugala said IBM is looking to VMWare for virtualisation software.
IBM was a relative latecomer to the blade market, but since its first launch has grabbed 44 percent of the market, according to analyst firm IDC. .. Last week, IBM and Intel announced that they have opened their BladeCentre specification, meaning that anyone can now make blades to fit in the company's chassis. However, development of the BladeCentre technology remains firmly in IBM and Intel hands; although the plug-in interfaces have been openly published, the chassis design remains closed, meaning that only IBM, Intel and their business partners will be able to sell them." 9:10:02 AM
Tuesday, September 21, 2004
Lisencing under Virtual Server
: "This brief describes virtualization and alternative technologies, covers several volume licensing issues related to virtual machines" 5:53:16 PM
Saturday, September 18, 2004
vmktree for VMWare ESX server
: "vmktree is a free
web tool that shows you the graphs of resource usage of VMWare ESX Server
. .. While vmkusage does a descent job of collecting performance data, vmktree is presenting this information in a slightly different and more flexible way. vmktree generates graphs interactively as needed while vmkusage generate static graphs every five minutes. Screen shots are available here: Screen shot 1 Screen shot 2
" 7:47:14 AM
Friday, September 17, 2004
: "What are the best practices for creating copies of my Windows 2000 virtual machines?" 11:37:05 PM
Wednesday, September 15, 2004
VERITAS First to Deliver Wide Area Disaster Recovery Capabilities for Microsoft Virtual Server 2005
: "VERITAS Software Corporation (Nasdaq: VRTS) today announced that VERITAS Storage Foundation™ HA for Windows software is the first to deliver the combination of enhanced high availability and wide area disaster recovery capabilities to Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 customers (see today’s Microsoft news release). VERITAS Storage Foundation HA for Windows integrates VERITAS Volume Manager™, and VERITAS Cluster Server™ the industry’s leading1 independent heterogeneous clustering and availability software, to help ensure continuous availability of mission-critical applications and data." 12:45:39 AM
Monday, September 13, 2004
GSX Server review:
Short note, interesting comment: "There are no hard limits to the number of concurrent virtual servers outside of available RAM and disk space, and I had no trouble running four to five concurrent virtual servers on a dual 2.8GHz Xeon server with 4GB of RAM. Individual server performance can definitely suffer when other virtual servers are heavily engaged, but at no time did any virtual server suffer systemic problems. For host servers running multiple processors however, there is a caveat; if Intel processors are used with hyperthreading, a guest OS can only use a single CPU thread rather than the entire CPU. On a four-CPU system, this limits each guest OS to 12.5 percent of the host OS CPU resources. Therefore, it is generally best to disable hyperthreading on VMware host servers." 11:58:24 PM
Microsoft Virtual Server Migration Toolkit (VSMT): Microsoft "announce the release candidate of the Virtual Server 2005 Migration Toolkit (VSMT). You can download the release candidate from the VSMT beta site. The release candidate includes support for migrating VMWare GSX virtual machines to Microsoft Virtual Server as well as fixes to bugs encountered with the beta build. Sign up for Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 Migration Toolkit Beta.
Details: "VSMT automates the migration of an operating system and installed applications from a physical server to a server running within a virtual machine that is provided and managed by Virtual Server 2005." Primary usage scenarios involve general server consolodation, esp for legacy Windows NT systems.
Microsoft releases virtual server, sets low price: "VMware may have gotten a three-year head start on Microsoft with its server virtualization software. But Microsoft is aiming to make a splash based on price. .. Eric Berg, a Microsoft group product manager .. said Microsoft evaluates customers' needs based on workloads, focusing on three areas: software testing and development, legacy application rehosting and targeted production workloads, such as Active Directory domain controllers, networking and departmental applications.
Berg said Microsoft has a Component Object Model application programming interface that can be used to create scripts to automatically deploy new server builds and "great integration" with its server management tools, so customers don't have to buy a specific tool to manage both virtual machines and physical servers.
Tom Bittman, an analyst at Gartner Inc., predicted that VMware will keep 80% market share for the consolidation of servers to run production-ready applications. But he added that Gartner expects Virtual Server to command at least 50% of the market for test and development workloads by the end of 2005. "The price differential is going to kill [VMware] unless they change it," Bittman said. ..
Dan Kusnetzky, an analyst at Framingham, Mass.-based IDC, said the underpinnings of what Microsoft is doing are different than what VMware is doing. He said Microsoft is using its Virtual Server technology to help customers running older stacks of applications on Windows NT 4 migrate to new hardware rather than continue to run them on separate machines. Kusnetzky said VMware's focus is to help users move to a highly virtualized environment "so they can tune what they do to their business needs" and assign IT resources as needed. " 10:58:30 AM
Microsoft Announces General Availability of Virtual Server 2005
: "Sept. 13, 2004 -- Microsoft Corp. today announced the general availability and pricing of Microsoft Virtual Server 2005. .. Virtual Server 2005 Standard Edition supports up to four processors, with an estimated retail price of $499 (U.S.). Virtual Server 2005 Enterprise Edition supports up to 32 processors, with an estimated retail price of $999 (U.S.). Both versions will be available within 30 days through retail and volume licensing and will be licensed on a per-physical server basis." System images are compatible between the two editions, and with a small change to virtual PC 2004 images. Enterprise edition is available for 180-day downloadable evauation. FAQ is helpful
. 10:55:58 AM
Hardware: IBM, Intel Open Blade Server: " IBM and Intel jointly announced that the design specifications for the eServer BladeCenter platform would be made widely available to other vendors to encourage hardware support [and] more third-party hardware and software. The companies said they will both provide technical support to assist product development, including design guidelines and fee-based support. ..
IDC analyst Jean Bozman told TechNewsWorld that the lower-end blade server market has typically had high numbers of shipments and lower revenue figures in the overall server market, where blades accounted for an estimated 8 % of server sales in 2004. By 2006, that market share is expected to be at 18 %, with wider adoption, more solutions from more vendors and announcements such as the one from IBM and Intel, according to Bozman." 8:49:59 AM
SAVVIS offers Egenera/VMware virtual computing service:
from WSJ: IBM, EDS and others "typically employ a team of consultants to evaluate and manage a client's infrastructure. While most clients still find that less expensive than running an in-house information-technology department, the consultants don't come cheap. ..
Savvis doesn't send a team of consultants to evaluate a company's infrastructure, although it does have staff on call to help clients with questions. "I can have a new server up for you in a minute, not a month," Savvis Chairman and Chief Executive Rob McCormick says. "Now it's just a simple software command to bring someone online. We give you a slice of a big carrier-class" machine. ..
Gartner's Mr. Chamberlin [says] the cost reduction from Savvis's service could reach 70%. The consulting-heavy model used by IBM and others saves only 15% to 30%, the analyst estimates. IBM and EDS declined to comment. Savvis's low-cost model lets it consider contracts too small for IBM to bother with, contends IDC analyst Melanie Posey. "There's a certain contract level where it's not worth IBM getting out of bed." ..
The new Savvis service, unveiled earlier this month, runs tasks for all clients on the same set of powerful computers. Running everything on Savvis's own hardware and doling out resources as needed — as opposed to clients having their own dedicated machines — eliminates waste.. Savvis can activate programs that run a wide variety of applications, including e-mail, Web sites and billing software. Savvis can also activate a large-scale network, complete with software defenses against security breaches. The company guarantees that data from different clients will remain separate and secure. ..
Savvis has built a platform whose core, the processors that drive the system, doesn't care what software it is running. These so-called blade servers are made by Egenera Inc. The brains that tell the blade servers what to do reside elsewhere on the Savvis network. ..
Getting potential customers to trust Savvis to handle their critical technology infrastructure may be a tricky proposition, given its financial history. Savvis, which was split off from Bridge Information Systems Inc. in February 2000, has had $534 million in losses on $918 million in sales from that year through 2003." 8:43:15 AM
Friday, September 10, 2004