More on virtualization: Virtualization Vendors: VMware vs. Microsoft vs. Citrix
In my last update on virtualization, it was all about the server side of things. The second half of 2010 has seen more development on virtual desktops, along with some interesting twists on improvements to virtualization infrastructure.
The end of 2010 hasn't seen many new products from the three major virtualization vendors (Microsoft, Citrix and VMware) but more key acquisitions and filling out some gaps in their offerings. We'll get to those in a moment.
Two new Citrix-related announcements worth noting are Xen Client v1, which makes it easier to deploy virtual machines on laptops; and Citrixs relationship with Cisco on VDI, which makes it easier to deploy XenDesktop across enterprises. Xen Client only runs on a very limited number of laptops at the moment, however.
Two updates fromVMware are vFabric and vCloud Director. vFabric combines the Spring Java development environment (which VMware manages for the open source community) for a lightweight app server and load balancing and other infrastructure needs so that you can move things between various cloud instances. vCloud Director can be useful for managing multiple virtual machines in the creation of a virtual datacenter and setting up pre-configured app services and infrastructure.
We'll talk about these in the context of four major trends that we've seen over the past few months.
1. Hybrid public/private clouds continue to get better.First, the notion of a hybrid cloud is gaining traction. The concept of having part of your virtual infrastructure out on a public hosting provider and part inside your datacenter isn't all that new. But what is new is that many vendors are looking for ways to help IT manage these mixed environments.
Microsoft is trying to capture some of this market and has a great starting place for more information here, including a list of hosting providers that support Hyper-V.
There are more and more providers that make it easier to get start with hosting multiple instances or collections of virtual machines. One that I particularly like is Skytap, where for $500 a month you get started and set everything up in a Web browser. Vyatta has virtual firewalls and other network infrastructure gear to help secure the hybrid configuration. Appistry has its CloudIQ servers that can help you scale up or down, and GoGrid is just of many hosting providers out there that can specifically help with hybrid management.
And even Intel has its Hybrid Cloud offering. It is in limited beta for providers to offer up a server designed for managed services providers to deploy on a customer premise. It includes a variety of options, including firewall, VOIP PBX, virtual storage and management tools.
If you are going to make the move into a hybrid could, some of the things to look for include:
Can you use VPNs to connect?
Can you segment your network into VLANs easily?
Is there any role-based and granular access controls?
Are both Linux and Windows virtual server instances available?
2. Win 7 means that thin is in.As Windows 7 becomes more popular and its already installed on more corporate desktops than Vista it presents new challenges for IT managers who want to preserve legacy Web and Microsoft applications.
Win7 comes with Internet Explorer v8, which doesn't run many of these older apps. One way to postpone upgrading these apps is to make use of applications virtualization, by which a thin virtual layer of the older app is temporarily installed on the Win 7 desktop.