Oracle’s VM – Does it really matter?

Oracle have now jumped on the virtualization bandwagon and launched their own VMM based on the Open Source XEN hypervisor. There seems to be a fair amount of confusion around Oracle’s support policy running within a VM environment as noted here Oracle (further) clarifies its support policy for VMware.

But does it really matter?

Well I guess it depends on what you are doing with your Oracle databases. In the course of my technology journey most Oracle databases I have come across are large enterprise class databases which typically require as much hardware as you can throw at them so in this case does the Oracle VM simply provide a better failover option using Live Migration?

Where you would want to run multiple databases on a single host then it is likely these would be SQL Server, mySQL, etc based systems as they offer a much lower cost point for these type of small database systems. Have you seen how many products come with a low-cost (or free) database engine these days. These are exactly the database instances that you want to consolidate and in this case product like VMware or SmartPeak WLM offer a fully supportable solution for the consolidation exercise.

So really I guess the answer is not really, Oracles VM will just end up being part of their database stack. It is even listed under their database product group on their website.

Thoughts anyone?

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ESX 3i hosted in vmware workstation

Well thanks to all those articles out the net I now have my ESX3i server picked up at vmworld running nicely inside vmware workstation. Next step is to get even more esoteric and load up a VM within a VM, that really makes you want to step back and reassess what you are doing – but it is a far easier way to try out 3i without the need to procure a box of the HCL list.

Wacky, but cool !

Hardware Virtualization – It’s Starting

Just noticed today from a link David Marshall’s VMBlog site that Hitachi now have a blade based server platform with virtualisation built into the hardware so how long before IBM, HP et al follow suit.

This is what I talked about in November and makes incredible sense for the hardware vendors since they intimately understand their hardware architecture and can optimise it for virtualization. So between them and the operating system vendors (Microsoft with Verdian and Linux accepting virtualization enhancements into the kernel) where does this leave VMware in the future? Their future lies in management systems for the virtualization space and you can see they fundamentally understand this through their acquisitions. It is not going to happen overnight but over time virtualization will become a commodity item built into the core platform architecture.

What will happen to virtualization?

Following on from my previous entry and these two items:-

This has really made me think as to where virtualization will lead us. It either has to become the OS, and VMware already state that ESX server has millions of lines of code (not dissimilar to many OSes) so at some point the virtualization product becomes the OS and the OS becomes a function library. Or maybe not!

Intel, AMD and other hardware vendors are adding virtualization support like crazy to their hardware so maybe the next step is the virtualization layer to really move into the hardware and BIOS. With multi-core processors coming thick and fast (Intel forsee 80 cores in a few years) the ability to carve up your box into multiple virtual boxes becomes much more relevant. And with all the virtualization handled in the hardware we will have much less overhead on the next layer from virtualization. Really this is just the next step on from the blade arhitecture we have now, instead of slots in a rack we could end up with scokets on a motherboard. Add a few more cores and viola you have added a huge amount of capacity to the system. As with everything at some point the hardware moves down to the chip level, AMD will start the ball rolling as they add GPUs into their chips following their ATI purchase.

This is why VMware needs to move into the system management space as that is where the real value is, operating systems are becoming commodity items, virtualization will just be another trick for the hardware vendors, so the real value is in managing this whole infrastructure and making sure that the workloads that needs the resource and QoS get it.

What is an OS?

Gee nearly 2 months since my last post (note to self: post more!)

This article by Diane Green of VMware made me think again about how you actually define what constitutes an operating system. (This also goes back to a question I asked Mendel Rosenblum at TSX in Orlando).

Looking at Wikipedia an operating system is defined thus “An operating system (OS) is a computer program that manages the hardware and software resources of a computer. At the foundation of all system software, the OS performs basic tasks such as controlling and allocating memory, prioritizing system requests, controlling input and output devices, facilitating networking, and managing files. It also may provide a graphical user interface for higher level functions.”. Well when you bring ESX server into the equation that pretty much defines the fucntions of ESX server so no matter what marketing wants us to believe all we do with virtualization is introduce a different operating system. Now, don’t get me wrong in the right circumstances virtualization is a fantastic tool, but we have to make sure it is the right circumstances. You can’t get away from the fact that somewhere you are going to have an OS that hides the hardware issues from the application be that ESX server, Linux, or Windows.

All that is happening is that ESX server is going to have to pick up the problems of presenting a common interface to the machine hardware, so if appliances take off in a big way VMware have to pick up the problem of supporting all those hardware variants. In this case the underlying ‘operating system’ used by the appliance vendor just becomes a big function library for the vendor to use in creating their appliance.

So when you hear that the operating system doesn’t matter anymore, it depends on which operating system you are talking about.

It Lives!

Yesterday saw the public launch of something we have been working on for some time. SmartPeak (http://www.smartpeak.com) is the start of a new direction for our parent company as we seek to show the wider enterprise market the benefits of using workload management software on their Windows systems. Up till know we have been working quietly away in the terminal server market delivering huge benefits in system utilisation. With this new venture we are taking our technology into the remaining Windows market to enable (1) consolidation of products unsuitable for current virualisation technologies (such as SQL server) and (2) improved QoS guarentees across all Windows systems.

When it comes down to it the Windows scheduler is just not really that intelligent and no matter how fast your machine you still end up looking at the hour glass cursor far too often as it spins its wheels doing something while you wait. What if you could make sure that the important programs for you got priority, or even that no matter what anything you run will be given a fair share of the CPU. Well workload management gives you just that. And yesterday is just the start as we seek to bring those benefits to a wider audience. In my role of setting the technology direction for SmartPeak I am really excited about what we have to offer. Stay tuned for the ride, it is going to be huge!