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Operating Systems Software Virtualization

Inside VMware's 'Virtual Datacenter OS' 121

Posted by Soulskill
from the closer-look dept.
snydeq writes "Neil McAllister cuts through VMware's marketing hype to examine the potential impact of VMware's newly pronounced 'virtual datacenter OS' — which the company has touted as the death knell for the traditional OS. Literally an operating system for the virtual datacenter, VDC OS is an umbrella concept to build services and APIs that make it easier to provision and allocate resources for apps in an abstract way. Under the system, McAllister writes, apps are reduced to 'application workloads' tailored through vApp, a tool that will allow developers to 'encapsulate the entire app infrastructure in a single bundle — servers and all.' The concept could help solve the current bugbear of programming, parallel processing, McAllister concludes, assuming VMware succeeds."
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Inside VMware's 'Virtual Datacenter OS'

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  • by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @09:26AM (#25084731)

    According to VMware execs, VDC OS will not be a product as such. Instead, it is an umbrella concept covering a range of capabilities that VMware will build into the next generation of its Virtual Infrastructure products.

    So it's not just vaporware, it's an "umbrella concept" that will be built into future products.

  • Summary (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wombatmobile (623057) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @09:27AM (#25084739)

    FTFA: "In short, if done properly, a meta-operating system based on networked virtual machines could streamline software development, make IT more flexible, and save customers money."

    It is hard to argue with a truism. But what does "done properly" entail?

  • by Colin Smith (2679) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @10:05AM (#25084967)

    Except from IBM of course.

    vmware is simply the logical extension of what the OS should be doing anyway.

    or put another way.

    Those who don't buy IBM kit are condemned to reimpliment (badly, and for the rest of their lives) what IBM have been doing for decades.

  • by timeOday (582209) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @10:24AM (#25085075)

    in short, are you advocating usage of virtuozzo?

    Thanks, it sounds very interesting. Do the virtuozzo containers all share OS files (libraries) to the extent possible? One of my main problems with VMWare is that a VM itself takes so much disk space that it takes a long time to work with (copy, archive etc) and I can't fit many on my laptop. Somewhat paradoxically, it must be possible to snapshot an application with its entire environment so you have a known working version.

  • by Lictor (535015) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @10:24AM (#25085083)

    VM? LPAR? Parallel Sysplex? Haven't IBM mainframes been doing this since the '70s (okay, Parallel Sysplex has only been since the '90s)?

    No doubt a "cloud" of UNIX boxes is harder to marshall than a couple of zSeries though.

  • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Saturday September 20, 2008 @10:55AM (#25085315)

    Getting traditional "silo" orientated programmers to use distributed computing is hard now!

    And (for many of them) it's never going to get any easier.

    It is too easy for them to just think of "one program, one OS, one machine".

    Their app takes all the resources it sees from the OS it sees on the machine it sees.

    So VMWare "solves" this by making it easy (for a price) for each app to believe that it has it's own machine. So the programmers can keep working they've always worked.

  • by image77 (304432) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @11:09AM (#25085405)

    Maybe, but IBM mainframes don't use cheap off the shelf components that you can pick up at the local Fry's. You can build a small VMware cluster with HA, DRS, etc for a few thousand bucks. How much is an IBM mainframe these days?

    Once you have that VMware cluster you can run your choice of 70+ operating systems and millions of apps on it. Can you run Exchange on a mainframe? Sieble? Your existing billing and accounting app?

  • by kscguru (551278) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @11:38AM (#25085603)

    6 months ago we evaluated both vmware (which we had been using in dev and test for years) and the Citrix Xen product and decided to go for Xen for our production systems based upon performance we saw (yes yes YMMV) cost, and the open nature of the API. The problem was finding a strong partner/integrator to help us swing our server estate from physical to virtual in the time allotted.

    Then you missed the GP's point. If XenSource (Citrix XenSource : VMware VI as Xen : ESX) satisfies your needs, then you aren't doing anything for which you need a datacenter OS. (And if you evaluated anything more expensive than the cheapest VMware offering, you botched your product search too.)

    For server consolidation and bare-bones start/stop management, there is not much difference between VMware, Xen, and Hyper-V. They all have roughly the same performance; ESX degrades least when overloaded and there's a small premium for an ESX cluster because of it. Go to the next tier where you need automated load-balancing, automated availability solutions, and automated backup, and VMware is the only game in town. (Short of IBM mainframes.)

    Server consolidation != datacenter OS, despite the "me too!" claims of MSFT and Citrix. MSFT's roadmap puts them in the same ballpark in 2-3 years, Citrix 3 years back on the VMware roadmap, and VMware is there right now.

  • by BASICman (799037) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @11:40AM (#25085611)

    Once you have that VMware cluster you can run your choice of 70+ operating systems and millions of apps on it. Can you run Exchange on a mainframe? Sieble? Your existing billing and accounting app?

    Well, you can run whatever runs on Linux on top of a mainframe. And if you're a Fortune 500 corporation, chances are your existing billing and accounting applications are *already* running on a mainframe. That is, after all, what the old girl is built for.

  • by image77 (304432) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @12:14PM (#25085911)

    Well, you can run whatever runs on Linux on top of a mainframe.

    Only if you recompile those apps to run on the special versions of Linux that run on mainframes. Let's see: I can recompile my app to run on some weird offshoot of Linux on expensive, proprietary hardware or I can take it and "P2V" it onto VMware running which ever flavor of mainstream Linux I prefer? Oh, and I can P2V my Windows apps onto that same VMware cluster? And all that for a fraction of the price? Sold.

    Just to be clear I'm not saying that the mainframe has no place in the modern datacenter, I'm just saying that VMware is a better fit in many situations. (And it's certainly an order of magnitude cheaper.)

    And if you're a Fortune 500 corporation, chances are your existing billing and accounting applications are *already* running on a mainframe. That is, after all, what the old girl is built for.

    Not sure where the F500 argument came from, but since 486 out of those 500 already use VMware I think they're already sold. (All 100 of the F100, BTW.) http://www.vmware.com/customers/ [vmware.com]

    In any case, my original point remains. Mainframes are expensive and proprietary whereas VMware is cheap and offers the flexibility to run whatever app on whatever OS you choose. This new VDC-OS stuff just builds on an already good thing. We'll be happy to renew our ELA when it comes up next year.

  • by sphealey (2855) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @12:16PM (#25085943)

    > Those who don't buy IBM kit are condemned to reimpliment
    > (badly, and for the rest of their lives) what IBM have been
    > doing for decades.

    First, the troll rating is utterly unjustified. Mod parent up.

    IBM is not without its own faults. Perhaps less so now than in the 1970s and 80s when the push for PCs took root, but it has its own weaknesses. Even taking that into account it _is_ ridiculous to see the Wintel world groping toward the kind if high availability and virtualization that IBM, DEC, CDC, and others perfected in the 1960s/70.

    sPh

  • by image77 (304432) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @01:44PM (#25086591)

    You're missing the point. No matter how you slice it the x86 stuff (even the high end x86 stuff) is WAY cheaper than an IBM mainframe, and if I need some memory or a CPU or something I can find it practically anywhere. That was my only point, and IMHO it's one that really can't be argued.

    As for the point that I think you were trying to make - of course architecting for redundancy is important. VMware makes that easy too. Even if one of the cheap nodes in my VMware cluster unexpectedly melts down the VMs will automatically restart on another node. I can take my time to repair the broken node and add it back into the cluster when I'm done - at that point DRS automatically rebalances load across the cluster. Same deal with adding capacity.

    BTW, with ESXi you don't even need any local disks (which as you said are the most likely component to break down.) You run the hypervisor from flash memory and store the VMs on some sort of shared disk like SAN, iSCSI, or even NFS. (Using proper RAID technology and backup proccedures of course.)

    Of course you'll also want to address disaster recovery and business continuity. Those are also something that VMware can help you accomplish with their SRM and VCB products.

    Anyway, VMware is the ONLY company right now that has products to address EVERY aspect of virtualization. They can do it all and they do it all very well. Sure, mainframes still have a place in some datacenters but VMware is natural fit for almost every datacenter. That's my last post on the subject - I don't want to be accused of being a marketing drone or something. (I'm not - I'm just a happy customer.)

  • by uassholes (1179143) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @01:55PM (#25086663)
    Great... maybe. I just took at look at their website and found a lot of shit written by sales and marketing that I just don't have the patience to try to understand what they are babbling about.

    And, of course the obligatory photos of models pretending to be employees, happy customers, or drunken vagrants; who the fuck knows.

    And why do the marketeers that they hire to advise them on their "onlin presence" insist on that shit?

    Does anyone here get a boner when they see those fucking pictures of happy corporate people on every fucking corporate website?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 20, 2008 @04:51PM (#25087935)

    You can't run AIX on a mainframe -- that'd be z/OS.

    But yes, you can run SLES on a mainframe, thus neatly avoiding all that "too many applications to choose from" fuss. You can't take an existing x86 app and run it, you need a special mainframe version. If you've got source, you can recompile, but if you want a supported app from someone else, in most cases you're going to be SOL.

    It's a steal, too, at only $12,000 per "mainframe engine" (core). (That may sound like a lot, but it is apparently a ton cheaper than the equivalent z/OS license.)

    The only question left would be: "why?" Since there's an estimated installed base of around 2,500 SLES instances on mainframes, there must be an answer. I will go out on a limb and guess that most of this is mainframers transitioning to Linux rather than traditional Linux folks deciding to add mainframe skills to their toolset.

    I really doubt if very many people at all are going to bring in a mainframe and z/VM to a Linux shop that hadn't previously been a mainframe shop -- even if z/VM is much better than VMware or Xen, is it *that* much better that you have to drop that kind of coin and go through that much of a training investment?

You see but you do not observe. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, in "The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes"

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