VMworld Europe: Conference Blog Day 2 (part 1)

After a heavily partner-focused first day, a good many of us here were keen to hear more from VMware itself – and with many of the key announcements saved up for today, it was chief scientist and founder Dr Mendel Rosenblum who took the stage for day two of this European virtualisation software symposium.Rosenblum started with a nod to IBM saying that Big Blue did indeed “invent” virtualisation back in the fifties for work on its mainframe systems.

After a heavily partner-focused first day, a good many of us here were keen to hear more from VMware itself – and with many of the key announcements saved up for today, it was chief scientist and founder Dr Mendel Rosenblum who took the stage for day two of this European virtualisation software symposium.

Rosenblum started with a nod to IBM saying that Big Blue did indeed “invent” virtualisation back in the fifties for work on its mainframe systems. He then gave us another ‘history of virtualisation’ overview – interesting that even the attendees for this event (as familiar with virtualisation as they are) can drink this in two days on the run – albeit from a different and more technical perspective than CEO Diane Greene’s overview yesterday.

Developers'

Looking ahead at “phase 2.0” of virtualisation, Rosemblum pointed to virtual services saying that under this model there is a virtual infrastructure that builds to configure itself to the services needed within a particular computing model. “This is where we view the future,” said Rosemblum – and he was certainly painting a rosy picture of “perfect” delivery of service level agreements and perfect system performance - perhaps a suggestion that virtualisation does still exhibit some immaturities and we’re not quite there yet.

Blowing the dust off the product announcements, we hear that VMware has four new virtual machine management products for automation and business continuity to announce.

VMware wants to prevent virtual machine sprawl with these management products: VMware Lifecycle Manager – for infrastructure administrators to automate requesting, approving, deploying, updating and retiring virtual machines. VMware Lab Manager – for QA engineers to provision multi-tier virtual machine based environments with control over policies. VMware Stage Manager – to roll new and updated IT services into production, enabling streamlined and accelerated transition of applications through the pre-production stages – including integration, testing, staging, user acceptance testing – and into production.

There’s also a business continuity product announcement this week in the form of VMware Site Recovery Manager. Are disaster recovery products like this better in a virtualised environment? VMware says they are as they use hardware- and operating system–independent mobile virtual machines.

VMware also announced agreements to embed the VMware ESX 3i hypervisor in servers from Dell, Fujitsu Siemens Computers, HP (already reported yesterday on ZDNET) and IBM. Partners are expected to begin shipping servers embedded with the VMware ESX 3i hypervisor within the next 60 days.

In light of recent security concerns in the virtualisation space (and a reluctance to answer any questions on the subject until Rosenblum arrived) the chief scientist spent some time weighing up the difference between host based versus network based security theories. He then went on to talk about the new VMsafe product which is a set of APIs they have added to their offering to give security pros the ability to see any packet of information that goes in and out of the virtual machine. Rosenblum did not make reference to specific security risks (but then you’d hardly expect this at a keynote) but a senior McAfee ‘partner’ was then asked to take the stage to echo the “this stuff is safe message”.

Twenty security vendors have “embraced” VMsafe technology and are building products that will further enhance the security of virtual machines. VMsafe technology provides transparency into the memory, CPU, disk and I/O systems of the virtual machine, and monitors every aspect of the execution of the system.

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