This morning a little birdie pointed me to an HP Reference Architecture document that is hot off the press: HP BladeSystem Reference Architecture: HP Virtual Connect Flex-10 and VMware vSphere 4.0 which appears to be the vSphere 4.0 update to the previous reference architecture HP produced for VI3. If you’re running or architecting vSphere deployments with HP blade systems (as a number of my clients are), you should check out this doc.
For the better part of the past two weeks I have been living the life of Employee Owned IT and dealing with the worst case scenarios. For those who are unfamiliar with the concept, this is essentially where the employee owns their laptop and uses it for work. The ultimate version of this concept is the employer providing a yearly stipend for purchasing any laptop or computer that the employee wants (usually meeting a minimum performance requirement) and then providing the employee a virtual desktop for all their corporate work. The theory is that the employee is happy because they get the laptop they want, can (officially) use it for personal work, and they keep the laptop when they leave the company. The employer is happy because they have shifted money on their books away from owning depreciating assets, saved money overall on the management of their physical client computers, and have a more secure and controlled corporate client computing environment that is compartmentalized using virtualization and primarily contained within their data center.
I have been living this life as a self-driven experiment. Working on my personal MacBook Pro–which has all my personal software and utilities I use daily for both work and extra curricular activities (photography)–and running a corporate VM with all my official corporate software installed and VPN connectivity. Everything has been working wonderfully…until the SuperDrive in my MacBook Pro suddenly decided it didn’t want to burn CDs/DVDs anymore. I had purchased the Apple Care protection plan with my laptop, so all I needed to do was take the MBP into the nearest Apple store, have them run a test to verify that the SuperDrive was kaput, and have them replace it.
All went according to plan up till the replace it part. I needed to leave my computer there for 1-3 days.
1 to 3 days? This is my production machine! The Genius helping me at the Genius bar didn’t seem to understand what that meant. I needed this computer to do my daily work. Not just that, but could I trust them to have my personal computer, personal information, web browser passwords, and all for 1 to 3 days?
Welcome to the reality of EOIT. A few of the hurdles that it faces:
- Hardware Failure & Repair: The risks and abuses of some private IT repair shops are well documented by news investigations. So how does an employer embarking on EOIT protect themselves and their employees in these hardware failure situations? Do they require that computers be purchased from only national distribution channels? Are these the hardware manufacturers with retail stores so the employee can always physically take their computer to some expert for help or repairs? How does the employer know the quality of the help or repairs? Do they even care once they have pushed the expense of this off on the employee?
- There is a bigger change in the dynamics of the computer sales model here as well. If the retail store outlet is a requirement, now any retailer without store fronts is at a disadvantage. The companies that have technology centric store fronts now become lucrative partners (i.e., RadioShack, Cell Phone companies). Then the battle moves into the classic consumer product sales challenges of shelf placement, kiosks, and the like. If this type of change were to occur, say goodbye to the enterprise client hardware sales person…I already know that the most forward looking of these sales people think they are seeing the end of their career runway because of the previously describe scenario.
- Information Security: In the EOIT scenario, the employer’s data should be secure because it is living in a protected VM. A VM that is most likely living only in the data center and access remotely by the employee. Or, for select power or mobile employees, living on their laptop but encrypted and password protected and could easily be moved to a an external hard drive before taking the computer in for repairs. But what about the employees personal information? Should the employer even care? Ideally, wouldn’t it be great if the employee could have the same protections and ease of migration for their personal computing environment as they have for their corporate computing environment? This is the goal of bare metal client hypervisors, like the announced VMware CVP. One could copy their personal VM off to the same USB hard drive and copy a VM containing a fresh install of an OS to their laptop hard drive. Now if the IT repair technician starts snooping around the computer, there is nothing there for them to find.
These are the two hurdles that I faces personally with my EOIT experience. There are a few more that employeers face, like:
- calculating the actual cost savings that a company could achieve through EOIT
- determining all the possible risk scenarios that a company needs to account for with EOIT and deciding which ones they need to take on and which they are willing to push on to the employee.
My solution to the two hurdles mentioned above was rather unique to my situation. First, I have a second MBP that I could use while my production system was in the shop. Second, I was already planning to upgrade the internal hard drive in my laptop and had the new hard drive in hand. So I was able to clone my personal laptop’s hard drive to the new, larger, hard drive; reformat the internal hard drive; and install a new installation of the OS. So when I handed my personal laptop over to the Apple Store, there was no personal data on it at all and I could keep working by booting my second MBP off of the cloned hard drive.
Unfortunately for the EOIT vision, this was a very unique situation and I had the technical knowledge to achieve the work around. For the EOIT vision to become a wide spread reality, these worst case scenarios need to be easily handled by the common employee, with general computer knowledge, through a simple process that includes only a few clicks of the mouse. I think that technically we are much closer to this reality that most people realize.
However, the biggest hurdle still exists…does Employee Owned IT drive substantial cost savings and will enterprises embrace it?
I’m a bit delayed with this edition of the Virtualization Round Up due to some challenges with upgrading my MacBook Pro over the weekend (don’t you just love unforeseen production outages! And over a weekend no less…there’s a couple of blog posts coming out of this…). Slightly delayed, but just still within the best when consumed by date, here’s the latest super-sized Round Up:
VMware Specific Links
- New Releases
- Workstation 7 RC was recently released. No, this is not the official release, but an early version that you can test and play with…
- Fusion 2.0.6 was recently released. A maintenance upgrade that is free for all Fusion 1.x and 2.x users.
- It was announced today that Fusion 3.0 will be available on October 27th, pre-orders are currently being taken.
- SRM 4.0 was released today. This version of SRM works with vSphere 4.0 and NFS support. Make sure you check the SA compatibly matrix to make sure your storage has an adapter available. Some of the EMC platforms are currently not on the list…
- While not an official VMware product, View Open Client 4.0 Beta 1 was recently released. (now that my Mac is working again, maybe I should try installing it…)
- Ricky El-Qasem of VirtualizePlanet recently release his vSphere Plugin Wizard which makes it easy to embed a website or web portal into vCenter.
- Dell and VMware recently announced a broadened partnership on the Desktop front in which Dell will offer VMware View as an option for its Flexible Computing solutions.
- Dave Lawrence has a great post out discussing getting more advanced with View. A few more advance items you can can configure with View.
- Performance Troubleshooting for VMware vSphere 4 and ESX 4.0 is a new guide available on the communities site.
- As I’ve indicated before, I think Fault Tolerance is one of the key new features within vSphere. In some recent testing that Todd Muirhead did he showed how even with using a 1vCPU Exchange VM, FT is a real value added feature that shouldn’t be overlooked. You may also want to check out Eric Siebert’s Master’s Guide to VMware Fault Tolerance for all the FT details.
- Are you a VMware shop that would love to run Oracle virtualized but hesitate due to support statement confusions? Then you’ll find Oracle on VMware posts at Virtual Geek (including part II) worth the read. The longer you’re in the industry the more you have to laugh at the games…
- VMsafe is another key new aspect of vSphere which I have been disappointed to see hasn’t taken off faster. Every View client of mine has been beating up their security vendors on VMsafe for the past few months. So, What is happening with VMsafe?
- I updated the VMware Network Port list with a link to an interested graphical representation of this information that another colleague of mine here at VMware created.
- An interesting post by Maish Saidel-Keesing & discussion about using memory over commit made me chuckle a bit as I remember ever time I heard a client proud about how they are running their systems memory at the high rate of 50% utilized.
- And those who worry about over committing memory better buckle their seats when they see what the future holds, as Intel and VMware discussed some of the new memory and power management technologies they are working on.
- James Urquhart hits the nail on the head with his recent posts Cloud computing and the big rethink: Part 1 and Part 2. His thinking dovetails what Paul Maritz has been saying since before the launch of vSphere. With virtualization creating a huge mainframe, do you need all the bloat of traditional OS? A application specific hosting container running as the “VM” starts making a lot of sense…oh yeah, and VMware bought SpringSource…
- A client recently asked for help in identifying which physical NIC his VM was using for troubleshooting, and luck would have it the VMware Networking Blog just posted a tip for doing this with vSphere. If anyone knows an equivalent method for VI3, please post in the comments!
- I found this recent post Comparing VMware’s Cloud to Amazon S3 comical in it’s mis-understandings. VMware doesn’t host their own cloud (at least not commercially for others to use). They make the software that allows others to create their own cloud. vCloud is just a marketing term to indicate partners who are building upon the VMware vSphere platform.
- As I have a number of clients planning large P2V conversions, Eric Siebert’s article on Removing old hardware after a P2V conversion is very timely.
General Virtualization & Cloud Links
- I found it interesting that Adobe is offering a cloud service for Flash, while this is essentially a CDN for Flash applications, it is another example of how far the cloud front as spread. As Matt Mullenweg recently tweeted, has Cloud jumped the shark? Maybe in marketing aspects…
- Ron Oglesby from Dell shares some great research around the question of is there an optimal adoption curve for server virtualization? While ever IT shop can argue how the adoption curve methodology doesn’t work for their organization, this is an important topic that all users of virtualization have to be asking themselves as dragging of feet with virtualization in today’s economy has the hardest of business impacts.