by Edward L. Haletky

VMware Innovations Aren’t As Thick As They Should Be, But Impressive Nevertheless

Sep 18, 20083 mins

CEO Paul Maritz wasn't impressive in his discussion of innovation or detail, but CTO Harrod got into more of the security, fault-tolerance and other elements that are genuine ground-breakers.

If there was one thing the keynote of VMware CEO Paul Maritz was short on, it was its discussion of real innovation, rather than just redefining existing or planned technology as something new.

VMware CTO Stephen Harrod built on Maritz’ comments, focusing much more on innovation.

Among the key announcements: vLockstep and the VMware Fault Tolerance, which takes VMware ESX Clustering and goes to the next all important step to keep VMs in sync using shadow copies that are in lock step with the primary VM.

This one-click functionality is innovative. Management of fault tolerance is at the VM level, but does take more resources when VMware High Availability reboots or replaces a failed virtual machine. VMware Fault Tolerance keeps the VM running by having both VMs stay in instruction lockstep.

AppSpeed, the application performance management application VMware acquired along with BeeHive in 2007, is now integrated into the Virtual Data Center Operating System—an umbrella project name that includes nearly all the company’s upcoming product developments.

AppSpeed offers a new way to manage the virtual cloud by monitoring service levels and provisioning new instances of an application when response times dip. In addition to starting other VMs, it can assign quality of service to specific application database and other queries.

The configuration of this was not explained. It seems to be complex but incredibly powerful. Harrod described the tool as self learning and having the ability to help define Virtual Appliance Service Level Agreements.

Harrod also discussed VMware’s security infrastructure VMSafe, but didn’t say much about how to use it to protect against abuse. He focused more on how a VMsafe vApp can become the vSecurity appliance that has access to each VM through the VMsafe API. His claim was that the vSecurity and vApp service together are unhackable—a position that is audacious at best in the security world.

The new vClient technology around within the virtual desktop infrastructure and the new VMware View interface was impressive. It uses the existing Linked Clone technology to allow VMs to take up less disk space by using a Master Virtual Disk to which all the clones link. That may not be new, but it is definitely impressive to see. It is also a form of data de-duplication.

Data de-duplication on the show floor is impressive as well. The disk saving by not duplicating like blocks of disk data is a very useful technology. Similar to linked clones within VMware’s software but at the storage array.

Quite a bit of technology was released, and it will take a bit to assimilate.

But what was said will change quite a bit of how virtualization is used and architected.

Virtualization expert Edward L. Haletky is the author of “VMWare ESX Server in the Enterprise: Planning and Securing Virtualization Servers,” Pearson Education (2008.) He recently left Hewlett-Packard, where he worked in the Virtualization, Linux, and High-Performance Technical Computing teams. Haletky owns AstroArch Consulting, providing virtualization, security, and network consulting and development. Haletky is also a champion and moderator for the VMware discussion forums, providing answers to security and configuration questions.