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Date: Monday, 15 Dec 2008 20:02

After putting it off long enough, I have decided to publish my complete tour of the VMworld 2008 event, in under 2 minutes. I went around and captured 1 photo of each and every booth at VMworld 2008. This following video is the results. Uploading to youtube has greatly reduced the quality. I think for anyone who hasn’t been, this will give you an idea how much there really is to see in a few short days.

Author: "Bradford Knowlton" Tags: "Event, VMworld, x86 Virtualization, Inte..."
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Date: Tuesday, 09 Dec 2008 17:21

Hilton Garden Inn, Missoula Montana
Head count: 4 Guest 3 Employees

Practical Virtualization
EMC logoVMware Logo


Author: "Bradford Knowlton" Tags: "Event, Database, SWSoft, x86 Virtualizat..."
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Date: Tuesday, 02 Dec 2008 02:50

In honor of the 2nd Birthday of x86 we have teamed up with VMware Fusion crew to offer you a 1 day per year special (unless you a eligible for a educational discount, then the price is the same year round, but they don’t want you to know that).

VMware Fusion 50% off on Monday Dec 1, 2008 only
the vmware e-store will have Fusion 50% off. Coupon code: “CyberMondayDeal”

This can be combined with the competitive upgrade offer, which is valid the whole month, so it still gives you time to buy Parallels 4, decide it is bad and upgrade to VMware Fusion.

VMware Fusion Competitive Upgrade
currently has a $30 mail in rebate for customers that switch from competitive virtualization products to VMware Fusion before December 31, 2008.

This year has been a big year, with huge increase in readership and following, and a much wider variety of topics covered.

Akismet has protected your site from 100,215 spam comments.

Google Analtyics for x86 Virtualization Year 2
Here are the analytics statistics for the past year, the giant spike is due to Stumbleupon sending over 3k visitors in one day and “slashdotted” my VPS. The article, if you are curious, is the indepth write up I did about VMware and Dual Monitors Support.

The most Popular articles this year where:

  1. Mulitple Monitors with UltraMon and VMware Workstation
  2. Howto: Install VMware Server on Ubuntu 7.10 (Part 1)
  3. Howto: Install VMware Server on Ubuntu 7.10 (Part 2)
  4. Howto: Install Open VMware Tools in Linux Kernel 2.6.24
  5. Common Virtualization Keyboard Shortcuts
  6. DIY: Secure Virtual Machine Network In A Box

Perhaps the biggest thing that has happened in the past year, besides all new hardware, Dual Dell SC440 Servers, Apple Macbook Pro and 30 Cinema Display, but attending VMworld 2008. This really let me get out and meet all of you in person. I got to meet a bunch of great people from all over the industry, from Nick at Ubuntu, New Hampshire Guys and Girls from VSM, Doug from Veeam, David and Crew from Hyper 9 and many more. I still have a ton of pictures and some video I want to post which hopefully will happen before VMworld Europe, but no promises.

Looking forward to another great year,

Author: "Bradford Knowlton" Tags: "DIY Plans, VMworld, Event, x86 Virtualiz..."
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Date: Tuesday, 02 Dec 2008 01:54

After some major retooling of the whole Congress Idea, Virtualization.info has relaunched what I feel is a much better, more appropriate conference for the virtualization industry. The event will be held in Las Vegas, Nevada on May 5-7 2009. This time it is being held under the umbrella of the Citrix Synergy 2009 Event. It will be a 3 part event, with the Virtualization Congress, Network World Live, and iForum. With some retooling and adjustments, it looks like Virtualization.info has really listened to the industry, or maybe more importantly what I said previously.

Virtualization Congress 2009 Las Vegas, NV USA

I find it very reassuring after rereading my announcement about the cancellation here:

After reading through the list of sessions, I think the agenda missed the boat. What I saw, heard, read about was that the people in the trenches want to know “how”, how to implement, how to setup, how to design their solutions with virtualization technology. Virtualization has become a simple idea to sell to management, lets take ever server we have now, and replace them with 1/4 as many, not a hard pitch to do. But if the guys in the server room don’t know how, then it won’t happen. I think companies who are looking at virtualizing for the first time, or those who have just recently switch to a virtual data center really want to send their employees to hands on training, live demos, and product tours, not sales pitches and promises of solutions which will be available down the road.

And now read the annoucement about the changes to the Virtualization Congress 2009:


Secondarily, the Virtualization Congress 2009 agenda will become much more technical, specifically designed for virtualization architects and engineers.
We ditched the “Reseller Day” planned in Europe, and extended the main agenda up to 2.5 days.
We are working to include in the schedule every possible topic about virtualization, such as:

  • Application virtualization & streaming
  • Benchmarks
  • Cloud computing
  • Hosted virtual desktops infrastructures (connection brokering, thin clients, etc.)
  • Software development & testing through virtual lab automation
  • Storage virtualization
  • Technology adoption challenges
  • Technology ROI
  • Virtual infrastructures maintenance  (operational frameworks, best practices, etc.)
  • Virtual machines disaster recovery / high-availability  (backup / restore, hosts synchronization, P2V migrations, etc.)
  • Virtual infrastructure security (platforms hardening / patching, intrusion detection, permissions, etc.)
  • Virtual infrastructures automation / orchestration
  • Virtual infrastructures capacity planning
  • Virtual infrastructures design
  • Virtual Infrastructures performance monitoring / troubleshooting
  • Virtual machines lifecycle management (provisioning, inventory, tracking, etc.) 

Additional Links:
Citrix Synergy 2009 is going to be in Las Vegas - Charles Aunger - BrianMadden.com

Author: "Bradford Knowlton" Tags: "Event, Virtualization, Enterprise Comput..."
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Date: Monday, 01 Dec 2008 05:22

The Golf Theory according to the father and son duo Brambley and Brambley over at vmetc.com

Dad: “No, I get it. if I could virtualize my golf clubs in my bag I could just carry one club.”
Me: “why yes … that’s the concept.”
Dad: “And I could switch between what club I needed with a dial a something.”
Me: “Yes! Yes, the dial is pretty important actually. Do want to hear about it?”
Dad: “Not really. Did you see where my ball went?”

The Eggceptional Virtualization Analogy by Alex Barrett On Tech Target

The truth is that [VM] images make a lot of things a lot easier, but when it all comes down to it, VMWare is great for managing the outside of a box. I’ve been told this is a horrible analogy, but the way I think of it is, all of these virtual machine systems — they’re really good at producing and managing eggs, you know these self contained, sealed eggs of functionality. But they’re not very good about getting inside the system. They can’t get inside the egg and manage what’s going on there.

As a side note: Many organizations putting all their eggs in one basket when it comes to email servers

The Car Pooling Metaphor, as explained here by Benoit Hudzia:

We can see here the similitude between carpool and virtualization:

  • Instead of persons sharing a car , we have virtual machines sharing one physical server
  • We optimize physical server efficiency by maximising resource usage

However the similitude stops here, while carpooling try to remove cars from roads, virtualization doesn’t remove server from datacenters. Datacenter floor space is expensive, as consequence, datacenter’s owner try to maximise its occupation and efficiency.
To stick to the carpool metaphor, instead of removing cars from the roads, we are just putting more people on the roads while maintaining the same amount of cars. And since vehicles have to transport a heavier load they consume more gas and as consequence pollute more.

The Oz Version taken from NetApp - Dave’s Blog: Storage Virtualization - “The Great and Powerful Oz has Spoken”:

My favorite metaphor for virtualization is the scene in The Wizard of Oz where the giant flaming face of the Wizard says, “Ignore the man behind the curtain! The Great and Powerful Oz has spoken.” The virtual illusion is that Oz is a giant flaming face, but the physical reality—revealed by Toto when he pulled back the curtain—is that Oz is a frail old man. This metaphor shows that you must have a sufficiently solid “curtain of virtualization”, or else physical reality may intrude awkwardly into the illusion you are trying to present.

The landlord Metaphor, provided by Lou Springer at his blog Inchoate Curmudgeon

Extending the landlord metaphor, a consolidated service without adequate Service Level Management will devolve into the IT equivalent of a slum. Whether or not the point of a consolidation is to refresh and update aging technology, particular care should be taken to refresh and update IT Service Management as a key component of the delivery.

The Nuclear Fusion Version (I think they are using the word differently) Dematerialization and Virtualization :

Virtualization as the one path. This invalidation of reality, the dematerialization is taking its course. Paralleling it, and drawing on the same resources, is a strand of enlightenment. It is becoming ever more important and its radicality is not underestimated, but prejudicially and polemically exaggerated — either positively or negatively. The issue is the apparently seamless experience resulting from the synthesis of television, advertising, consumption, technology, and knowledge. And the issue is precisely the content that, from the beginning, critical theory has fulminantly if unsuccessfully criticized as an aberration of modernity.

If you are looking for a comic book to explain virtualization, check out virtual man.

Want a vague answer you might get from a Radio Shack Employee? Here you go.. “Virtualization is the creation of a virtual (rather than actual) version of something, such as an operating system, a server, a storage device or network resources.”

For a collection of technically correct and boring answers check this Q & A out.

Author: "Bradford Knowlton" Tags: "x86 Virtualization, DIY Plans, Virtualiz..."
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Date: Monday, 24 Nov 2008 06:48

How important is your data? What would happen if it got into the wrong hands? Do you think you could recover quickly if it all vanished?

Now ask yourself, how secure is your cloud? Does your HR department know you have outsource the number crunching for payroll to a few hourly temps (cloud systems) and that their payroll isn’t being done by the black boxes they walk by every day on their way to lunch?

These are just some of the questions I have been pondering this past weekend. I ended my weekend of rss reading on this article Cloud Providers Are Better At Securing Your Data Than You Are…, and it made me realize I needed to write this post.

There is no aspect of your business, large or small which can’t be outsourced, rented, leased, or temped. Everything from the security guard sleeping at the desk to the cafeteria worker slopping food onto a plate. Now with cloud computing, even your number crunching can be exported.

But how safe is this exporting of cloud computing? With the recent increase of pirates in the Indian ocean taking over oil tankers, how long until smarter pirates take down the connections to a major data center. Imagine this, 4 or 5 people get together and each have an accidental crash, all within a few minutes in 1 downtown area, for example: 9725 Datapoint Dr., San Antonio, TX 78229 United States. It would be possible to cut the power and telecommunications to a single data center, with just a few minor fender benders.

Now take it further, what if that happened at a 1/2 dozen data centers? Pretty soon you end up with the results of the great NYC blackout, the demand on the backup systems is so great they go down too. Pretty soon a major corporation is knocked offline, because they outsourced there computer to a single cloud. For a few hundred dollars in speeding ticket fines, it might be possible for these individuals to do millions in damages in the matter of seconds. These data centers may have microwave uplinks and backup generators, but with some minor sabotage it is very possible that they happen to be offline due to a few cups of sugar in a gas tank or some missing parts in a microwave transceiver.

Now with all that said, I also spent some time this weekend trying out Amazons S3 Web Service. I have used it before, but never found a client that was easy enough to use until now. I’m running Cyberduck for file transfers on my macbook pro, and have been very happy with it overall. I was creating a new connection where I noticed the option to create a Amazon S3 connection. So I did, and have uploaded about 28 MB of data. Just the documents in my document folder for now. The transfer speed was acceptable and the price is very good. I’m going to be doing a lot more before I head home for the holidays. In case anything happens in transit or while home I will have 100% backup of all files so I could reload the laptop and reload the whole system in a matter of hours.

Now the question, Was I worried about the files I have uploaded, no. There is no personal data, beyond some photoshop images and php files, all which are on my websites if anyone really wanted to download them. When I do the complete backup, I will be using some method of encryption. I don’t expect someone to spend the time downloading a few gig encrypted folder and waste the cpu cycles trying to decrypt it, but it is a good piece of mind in case something happens where they do gain access to the bucket.

Perhaps the weakest point to the whole S3 system is Amazon’s own password scheme. It allows for very weak passwords and I’m sure with some good social engineering could probably get them to reset it to a new e-mail address claiming the old address was changed due to a corporate e-mail policy change. Take any company, buy the domain mail-corportationname.com, and probably get any phone support person to believe you are infact working for that corporation. If needed do some fake letter head, get a fax number in the same town / phone exchange, and pretty soon you could be the head of the smallest branch office of that corporation. It must happen pretty often, Amazon even has a page for people’s who’s email has changed since the last order.

So, how secure is your cloud? Using the same techniques used to compromised domain names and have them transfered, it would be possible to recover Amazon passwords and login and download complete S3 collections, Start and Stop clouds, and manage any other Amazon web service.

So to answer the question, the answer is… it ain’t. So deal with it.

You can argue stuff about keys, restricted ips, encryption, secure methods. But if someone can login to the management portal because of a compromised password it ain’t secure. Once they are in the management console, they can start and stop servers, cancel services, reset restrictions and possibly even lock you out of your own account.

Discovered on: DABCC

Author: "Bradford Knowlton" Tags: "Virtual Networking, Amazon, x86 Virtuali..."
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Date: Sunday, 23 Nov 2008 19:17

For anyone out there who hasn’t seen the secret, go get it now (link to amazon). Here is a link to the first 20 minutes on youtube. It will change you life. For those who have, then you will really enjoy the parody done for this virtualization training video. The training video draws you in with the same high action high drama music and effects making you want to sit there and watch every moment of it. Both are very well done and both are worth the viewing time.

Here is a quick description of the dvd, which is available for purchase from http://www.eliaskhnaser.com/:

Server consolidation, efficient and fast disaster recovery, cost savings, high availability and fast virtual server deployments are just some of the things you can accomplish with VMware Infrastructure 3. ESX 3.5 is the most powerful virtualization software on the market today and in this training CBT, Eli Khnaser will guide you through the planning, deployment and administration of your virtual infrastructure.

VMware is one of the fastest growing companies today and its virtualization software is the hottest technology in the computer world today, so if you are trying to advance your career and need the next hot thing, ESX Server is that technology that will give you the edge you need to get ahead.

For those of you that are seeking certification, you are still required to attend the VMware class as that is a mandatory step in achieving your certification. You can use our CBT to reinforce what you learned. If you are trying to learn VMware Infrastructure 3 because of a job requirement, this CBT gives you practical, hands on training from someone who does it on a day to day basis and has implemented some large ESX deployments.

Author: "Bradford Knowlton" Tags: "Certification, DIY Plans, x86 Virtualiza..."
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Date: Monday, 10 Nov 2008 08:50

After reading an article on VSM, with a really unusual title, That’s a funny looking cow, I mean chicken, I mean cow, trying to take some old joke which had to be explained to be funny and turn it into a opener for the article. I realized I needed to write about all the virtualization jokes which are floating around the internet.

Sadly there aren’t many yet (maybe that’s a good thing). I did a roundup of virutlization comics a few months ago and was surprised the number I found. But for actual jokes, there doesn’t seem to be any good ones.

This is the only one I found, and I sadly think it is a stretch to call it funny:

Three hypervisors walk into a bar.

Author: "Bradford Knowlton" Tags: "x86 Virtualization, Event, Open Source, ..."
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Date: Thursday, 06 Nov 2008 04:33

Confidentiality Agreement

IMPORTANT: Please review the confidentiality agreement below before downloading any Parallels software technologies.

You agree that, unless otherwise specifically provided herein or agreed by the Parallels in writing, the Software and the Documentation, including the specific design and structure of individual programs and the Software, provided to you by Parallels constitute confidential proprietary information of Parallels. You shall permit only authorized users, who possess rightfully, obtained license keys, to use the Software or to view the Documentation.

You agree not to transfer, copy, disclose, provide or otherwise make available such confidential information in any form to any third party without the prior written consent of Parallels. Examples of these include but are not limited to discussing Parallels Desktop Beta to the media, or in any personal and professional weblogs, discussion boards/forums and email.

You agree to implement reasonable security measures to protect such confidential information, but without limitation to the foregoing, shall use best efforts to maintain the security of the Software provided to you by Parallels. You will use your best efforts to cooperate with and assist Parallels in identifying and preventing any unauthorized use, copying, or disclosure of the Software, Documentation, or any portion thereof.

Author: "Bradford Knowlton" Tags: "x86 Virtualization, Virtualization, Desk..."
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Date: Tuesday, 30 Sep 2008 04:22

Ubuntu has outdone themselves once again, and made building Virtual Machines even faster and easier. If you enjoyed using Jeos to build simple, fast efficient VM’s. Then you are going to love their new tool. This tool will allow you to not only build Ubuntu Jeos VM’s, Ubuntu Server and Ubuntu Desktop, but has the potential, with plugins, to support a wide range of linux distributions in the near future regardless of it being rpm or deb based.

VMworld was my first opportunity to get out and meet the people which read my blog on a regular basis. One of these people I sat down and had a few minutes with was Nick Barcet, of Canonical (you know, those guys who do Ubuntu). He was nice enough to show me the future of my favorite Ubuntu project. After writing many articles last spring, around the release of 8.04 about Jeos it hurt me to have him tell me they are removing Jeos Iso from the 8.10 repositories. But, their reasons are very valid, and after seeing what they are replacing it with, I think it is a wise decision.

Ubuntu Python VM Builder

Here is the reason for the change, direct from Ubuntu:

With vmbuilder, there is no need to download a JeOS iso anymore. vmbuilder will fetch the various package and build a virtual machine tailored for our need in about a minute for us. Vmbuilder is a Script that automates the process of creating a ready to use Linux based VM. (source)

My Additional input and thoughts:
When I first came across Ubuntu Jeos, I was hooked. It really made sense, and I loved everything about it. Except the install process. Where it was quick, but not instant, and often in early betas wouldn’t complete. I will say that had I done a little more work in scripting the install with netboot script it wouldn’t have been so bad, but live and learn. But now the python-vm-builder will go from script initialization to booting the VM in under 2 minutes for a minimal configuration using a local repository.


Author: "Bradford Knowlton" Tags: "x86 Virtualization, Ubuntu, Intel, Enter..."
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Date: Friday, 26 Sep 2008 18:17

After months of waiting, VMware finally releases the long unawaited Server 2.0.

This release does provide a number of improvements, and if any of these are must haves, then go right ahead and upgrade to VMware Server 2.0 on a development system, and test completly before getting anywhere near your production space. These are the features which will make 2.0 a must upgrade from previous 1.0.* versions:

New Features in VMware Server 2

  • New operating system support: The broadest operating system support of any host-based virtualization platform currently available, including support for Windows Server 2008, Windows Vista Business Edition and Ultimate Edition (guest only), Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 and Ubuntu 8.04.
  • 64-bit operating system support: Use 64-bit guest operating systems on 64-bit hardware to enable more scalable and higher performing computing solutions.  In addition, Server 2 will run natively on 64-bit Linux host operating systems. 
  • VMware Infrastructure (VI) Web Access management interface: VI Web Access management interface provides a simple, flexible, secure, intuitive and productive management experience.  Plus, access thousands of pre-built, pre-configured, ready-to-run enterprise applications packaged with an operating system inside a virtual machine at the Virtual Appliance Marketplace.
  • Independent virtual machine console: With the new VMware Remote Console, you can access your virtual machine consoles independent of the VI Web Access management interface.
  • More scalable virtual machines: Support for up to 8 GB of RAM and up to10 virtual network interface cards per virtual machine, transfer data at faster data rates from USB 2.0 devices plus add new SCSI hard disks and controllers to a running virtual machine.
  • Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS):  Properly backup the state of the Windows virtual machines when using the snapshot feature to maintain data integrity of the applications running inside the virtual machine.
  • Support for Virtual Machine Interface (VMI): This feature enables transparent paravirtualization, in which a single binary version of the operating system can run either on native hardware or in paravirtualized mode to improve performance in specific Linux environments.
  • Virtual Machine Communication Interface (VMCI): Support for fast and efficient communication between a virtual machine and the host operating system and between two or more virtual machines on the same host.
  • Support for VIX API 1.6: This feature provides a programming interface for automating virtual machine and guest operations.
  • If you don’t really don’t need any one of these, then you are probably much better off continuing to run with your current virtualization solution, unless you are running a beta or RC version of 2.0, then it is recommended you upgrade to the release version for security and bug fixes.

Author: "Bradford Knowlton" Tags: "x86 Virtualization, Event, Intel, Virtua..."
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Date: Monday, 22 Sep 2008 04:12

After just returning from VMworld, and riding the wave of energy which a conference can generate, I’m sad to report that the upcoming Virtualization Congress 2008 Event hosted by Virtualization.info has been canceled.

Virtualization.info Congress 2008 Cancelled

Now, the Why?

Why, would an event, backed by the biggest names in the virtualization industry not happen?

Virtualization is like an organism, going through it’s stages of life, it is starting to mature, some might argue it is in the high school days, others might think that it is as far along as attending university, but most would agree it isn’t to the point of generating any offspring yet, but I think in the near future, especially with desktop virtualization, there will be offspring.

Now how does this explain why a conference got cancelled? After reading through the list of sessions, I think the agenda missed the boat. What I saw, heard, read about was that the people in the trenches want to know “how”, how to implement, how to setup, how to design their solutions with virtualization technology. Virtualization has become a simple idea to sell to management, lets take ever server we have now, and replace them with 1/4 as many, not a hard pitch to do. But if the guys in the server room don’t know how, then it won’t happen. I think companies who are looking at virtualizing for the first time, or those who have just recently switch to a virtual data center really want to send their employees to hands on training, live demos, and product tours, not sales pitches and promises of solutions which will be available down the road.

If anyone wants to talk about setting up a hands on Cross Platform - Cross Solution bootcamp for 2009 let me know, because I’m interested. I bet it would be filled up instantly with people looking to get hands on, 1 on 1 and instructor lead training on basic virtualization tools and techniques which they can instantly apply to their day to day toolkit.

Author: "Bradford Knowlton" Tags: "Open Source, Event, x86 Virtualization, ..."
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