VMware 'YouTube Fiasco' Put to Rest

Hopefully the VMware YouTube saga has now seen its last chaper. Scott Drummonds, the VMware employee who posted a highly provocative YouTube video showing Microsoft's Hyper-V hypervisor repeatedly crashing under a workload, has publicly apologized for the matter.

"I made a bad call," states Drummond simply. He continues:

"...my intention to stir the pot with eye-poking banter has put my credibility and by association VMware’s credibility in question among some of you.  For this I apologize.

I’ve removed the video from YouTube.  I’ve also sent a note of apology to Jeff Woosley at Microsoft."

These are very gracious comments, and speak highly of Drummonds and VMware. He doesn't try to defend his actions or pass the blame onto anyone else. He mans up and admits his error. Removing the video was a key remedial action as well. One can argue that it should have been taken down long ago, but the fact is that it is down now. In the end, it ended up rebounding on VMware like a razor-edged boomerang. People are now sophisticated enough abou the Internet to realize naked FUD when they see it (much like the Microsoft "Busting VMware Myths" video).

Still, there's not a person reading this that hasn't made a mistake or two (or two million and two, in my case); Drummonds' classy apology should close the matter, as far as I'm concerned.

Hopefully, it will also serve as a warning to other vendors: work on making your own products better, instead of spending time bashing the competition. It's wasted, and counterproductive, energy.

Posted by Keith Ward on 06/11/2009 at 12:48 PM8 comments

VMM Release Candidate Out

Life is good these days if you're doing Microsoft-based virtualization. System Center Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) R2 is at the Release Candidate (RC) stage.

With the upgrades in Hyper-V R2 for greater scalability, it makes sense that the management piece be able to handle all that. Some of the things admins will be looking forward to most include support for Live Migration and Cluster Shared Volumes.

But VMM R2 goes beyond supporting new Hyper-V R2 functionality to adding additional capabilities, including Quick Storage Migration and support for third-party clustered file system solutions, like Sanbolic's MelioFS.

Now, is VMM the management equivalent to vCenter? No. Will it be good enough for many shops, especially those with a Microsoft virtualization focus? You bet.

One thing that's clear is that the virtualization management space just got a lot more interesting. I'm interested in your take on this. Will you be downloading the VMM R2 RC? If you've been using it in beta, and also use vCenter, I'd love to hear from you.

Posted by Keith Ward on 06/09/2009 at 12:48 PM2 comments

Citrix: We Don't Restrict Competition at Shows

In an effort to set the record straight, I have an update on the VMworld controversy that I wrote about earlier this week. In my last post, I quoted a VMware employee who said that the rules restricting booth space for major competitors (specifically, Microsoft and Citrix) at their shows were similar to VMware's (i.e. 10' X 10' booths).

That is apparently incorrect. I was informed by Citrix' John Fanelli that Citrix sets no such limitations. From Fanelli's e-mail, which he has permitted to be reprinted here:

"I would like to officially correct the record by confirming that our sponsorship contracts at Citrix Synergy contain no language prohibiting competitive exhibitors. Citrix does not restrict the booth size of any exhibitor or include restrictions that prevent them from demonstrating competitive products. While some competitors may choose to purchase only a 10x10 booth at Synergy, that decision is entirely their choice to make."

Fanelli also stated that he supports VMware's stance on the matter of booth size:

"For the record, I would like to confirm that Citrix fully supports VMware’s right to set the rules for their events in whatever way they choose and note that we have no official comment on the recent changes they have made to their event contracts."

Note that I'm not trying to prolong this discussion, but I do think it's important to get our facts right, and report as accurately as possible.

Posted by Keith Ward on 06/04/2009 at 12:48 PM1 comments

Windows 7 in October? Wow

There's really only one word that can properly describe Microsoft's push on Windows 7: breathtaking.

Microsoft has announced that Windows 7 will be available on Oct. 22. That is truly remarkable, given Microsoft's track record of OS release delays (Vista, anyone?) It's also accomplishing another of Microsoft's unstated aims -- making people forget about the aforementioned Vista. Soon, Redmond hopes, Vista will be a dim memory, a pothole on the long Windows road.

It will also, of course, be out in time for the holidays. That surely excites Microsoft, probably even more than the general public. Not in time for back-to-school, but for all those laptops under the Christmas tree.

At the very end of the Windows 7 posting was another announcement that got surprisingly short shrift: "We also expect to be able to make RTM code for Windows Server 2008 R2 available to our partners in this time frame as well." To me, and the virtualization community, that should be just as exciting, because it means Hyper-V with live migration. Can I get an Amen, brothers?!

I'd be willing to bet that the latest versions of Hyper-V and System Center Virtual Machine Manager (expected around the same time) are priorities nearly as high on Microsoft's list. It knows it just can't afford to fall further behind VMware and vSphere, which is threatening to lap the competition with its new features and performance enhancements. This breakneck development of virtualization technologies tells me Microsoft knows the score, and is driven to catch up ASAP.

What do you think? Are you looking forward to Windows 7 and Hyper-V R2? Shoot me an e-mail or respond below.

Posted by Keith Ward on 06/03/2009 at 12:48 PM9 comments

VMworld: Poetic Justice for Microsoft and Citrix?

I wanted to follow up with my VMware rantings by mentioning something VMware's Mike DiPetrillo pointed out on Scott Lowe's blog about this fiasco. Mike says:

For what it’s worth, the VMware booth has always been restricted to a 10×10 at every Microsoft and Citrix event as well. And you want to know where some of this “industry standard” language came from just grab one of their exhibitor agreements. Not saying if things are right or not but this isn’t just a VMware thing.

If this is the case (and let the record show that I'm taking Mike's word on this, because I know him and he's a trustworthy source), I would say that it's stupidity on everyone's part. Open your show up to everyone who wants a booth (and whatever size booth they can afford), and let the market sort out the winner.

One argument put forth by those in the pro-VMware camp is that each vendor, at its own conference, has the right to decide who can have what size booths. But I align with those who believe that when VMworld positions itself as more than a VMware show, and instead a virtualizattion industry event, that it has an obligation to extend that objectivity to all vendors.

OK, enough of this VMworld stuff. I'll leave it alone, unless something new arises.

Posted by Keith Ward on 06/02/2009 at 12:48 PM4 comments

Cutting Off the Competition's Air Supply?

One thought occurred to me as I was writing the last blog about VMware's attempts to restrict competing vendors at VMworld.

VMware CEO is Paul Maritz. Paul Maritz is the former No. 3 at Microsoft, and a key player in the late-90s U.S. Department of Justice anti-trust trial. It was Maritz who allegedly made the famous threat about "cutting off Netscape's air supply." It's important to note that Maritz has denied saying it (an Intel executive during the trial said he heard Maritz make that statement during a meeting), but it played a key role in the case.

VMware's handling of this issue is disconcerting, and certainly has echoes of the "Netscape" sentiment, especially in light of its weak attempt to backtrack on its brazen approach to competing vendors at an "industry" event. I think it would be wise of VMware to completely eliminate that language in the vendor contract, and issue a general "Hey, we fouled up, and it won't happen again" public statement.

Posted by Keith Ward on 06/01/2009 at 12:48 PM6 comments

VMware's Bush-League Attempts to Stifle Competition

NOTE: Please click here to read an updated post on this topic.

VMware continues to suffer hits to its image by doing dumb things. First it was the YouTube fiasco, in which a VMware marketeer who didn't identify himself showed a no-context video of Microsoft's Hyper-V crashing everywhere. Now, it's appearing to stifle competition at its "industry" show, VMworld.

Brian Madden broke the story about VMware's new contract language for show vendors. Basically, it stated that you weren't allowed in if you competed with a VMware product. Considering that VMware proudly touts its complete, end-to-end virtualization solutions, that would be pretty hard to avoid.

After getting busted, VMware published a completely lame response on its blog. Here's a relevant passage:

As you'd expect, Microsoft and Citrix have already signed up and will of course be participating in the conference this year, as well as hundreds of other companies.

Um, yeah -- except, as the intrepid Madden pointed out, non TAP vendors are limited to a closet.

Come on, VMware -- you're better than this. If your products are so much better than the competition, open up your show to every vendor, including giving them whatever size booth they want to pay for, and prove it. In fact, you could argue that doing so is beneficial for your company -- giving companies space to tout their inferior offerings will only make you look better, right?

I wonder if the some of the arrogance that comes from being the top vendor in a space is starting to infect VMware. The evidence is mounting that that might just be the case.

What's your take? Let me know or comment below.

Posted by Keith Ward on 06/01/2009 at 12:48 PM7 comments

Cisco Buying Citrix?

A blog entry in The Motley Fool speculates that Cisco could be eyeing Citrix as a possible acquisition.

Although they provide no data or sources to back up their statements, it could be a good arrangement for Cisco. Citrix is developing some serious virtualization wares, but is having some trouble making significant inroads in that market. Having the brand recognition and marketing muscle of Cisco would certainly help Citrix' profile.

And, of course, Cisco now has a hardware platform for which it needs virtualization. Of course, the Unified Computing System (UCS) is going to go out with vSphere early on in most cases, but that could be easily changed in time.

We're definitely entering the buyout era in virtualization.

Posted by Keith Ward on 05/22/2009 at 12:48 PM2 comments

The Laptop Goes Back

Some of you have been following my recent purchase of a laptop for virtualization, and attempts to solve attendant problems. Well, I thought I'd cured the disease with an OS reinstall, but no such luck. The bluescreens and system freezes returned. Because of that, I'm returning my Studio XPS to Dell and getting an identical replacement unit.

The frustrating thing is that I love everything about the computer, except the crashes. Whenever I work on it, I literally save after every paragraph I write. That ain't gonna get 'er done. It doesn't matter how great a device is if it's unreliable. And for the moola I spent, it should be as rock-solid as my Mac (well, maybe that's setting too high a bar...)

In any event, this is your last chance, Dell. Mess this one up and that's it.

I'll update you after the new laptop comes in and I've had a chance to put it through the ringer.

Posted by Keith Ward on 05/22/2009 at 12:48 PM3 comments

vSphere Released

vSphere, in case you didn't get the memo, is now in general availability. That makes it a pretty big day for the virtualization community.

vSphere, formerly known as VMware Infrastructure, is exciting from a technology viewpoint. One thing that many techies are looking into are the claims of incredible I/O. Scott Lowe is reporting that EMC (VMware's parent company) and VMware are seeing "350,000 I/O operations per second (IOPS)." Those are mind-boggling numbers, even in a specially-tuned environment. Of course, your mileage will likely be much lower than that, but it does show us what's possible, and that the goal of a 100 percent virtualized environment isn't that far off (and, in fact, may be here now).

New pricing will also make it more affordable for non-enterprise shops. The question is whether an environment will shell out for vSphere when it can get more functionality from Hyper-V and XenServer for free.

Will vSphere speed the creation of cloud computing? That's another question for wiser minds than mine. Right now, cloud computing has all the buzz, but very little practical implementation. It could be because good solutions don't exist, or the need for it isn't as great as some would have you believe.

In any event, vSphere is here. Please let me know what you think of it.

Posted by Keith Ward on 05/21/2009 at 12:48 PM1 comments

Excitement Builds for Client Hypervisors

I've been doing a lot of reseach, reporting and writing for an upcoming cover story on bare-metal client hypervisors, and the more I dig into this topic, the more I'm becoming convinced that they could well be the key to virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI).

A number of major vendors are developing them, including VMware, Citrix and Red Hat. There are already several on the market, from Virtual Computer (although in a "controlled release" program that requires an invitation) and, interestingly, from Phoenix Technologies -- yes, that Phoenix, the BIOS guys.

The advantages these client hypervisors give to admins are substantial, starting with security. I talked to one admin in the Virtual Computer pilot program who listed the NxTop hypervisor's ability to encrypt a disk as the No. 1 reason he went with it. That's something I hadn't much considered before.

When you add into that the ability to run multiple OSes side-by-side, including running two different versions of the same OS, one locked down for corporate use and one for personal use, the advantages of the client hypervisor get more obvious.

It's also true that the ability to run a desktop on any device, including smartphones, is intriguing. But most of my research so far doesn't indicate that functionality as being a top reason for using a client hypervisor, despite VMware's touting of that use of the technology.

In any event, I'm becoming more convinced that bare-metal client hypervisors are one of the "coming things" in virtualization. Are you? Tell me or comment below.

Posted by Keith Ward on 05/19/2009 at 12:48 PM6 comments

Hyper-V R2 Promises Big Changes

Microsoft has published a list of upgrades with Hyper-V R2, and I've got to say it's one impressive list. Although Hyper-V is still behind ESX (and further behind vSphere), it's clear that Microsoft has listened to its users and added the most-requested features (something that doesn't always happen, despite Microsoft's claims to the contrary).

They start, of course, with Live Migration. Since we now know that Windows Server 2008 R2 will be out by the end of the year, the wait is almost over for the single most-anticipated new technology.

But Microsoft has gone beyond just moving VMs from server to server with negligible downtime; it has introduced processor compatibility, allowing VMs to move between servers with different physical hardware, as long as they share the same brand of processor, i.e. Intel or AMD. Very, very nice for those of you (and that's probably all of you) with heterogenous datacenters.

The other major upgrade is all about scalability. Hyper-V R2 will quadruple processor support, all the way up to 64 logical procs. It's hard to imagine needing that many procs for a VM right now, but it's good to know it's available in the future.

VM density has also been dramatically increased. Microsoft says Hyper-V can support up to 384 concurrently running VMs and 512 virtual procs per server. Yikes, that's a lot of virtualization running on one box! The folks at Redmond have obviously done a lot of work toward increasing Hyper-V's efficiency. Seeing as how current estimates put VM density (the number of VMs running on a single physical server) at 8-12 per host, it will be interesting to see how many more VMs admins feel comfortable adding to a box.

These are not slight improvements to Hyper-V R2; these are major enhancements. What's your take? Do these upgrades excite you? Shoot me an e-mail or comment below.

Posted by Keith Ward on 05/14/2009 at 12:48 PM1 comments