jmbrinkman

Posts Tagged ‘virtualization’

Bone Machine

In Virtualization on November 29, 2010 at 20:59

The other day I was reading the wikipedia entry on the Apple-II. When discussing the Apple-II Plus the article mentioned a virtual machine which was used to run certain compilers by utilizing the language exyension card. I’m not claiming some sort of discovery here – it was just a trace that made me think about virtualization.

Virtualization in the context of that entry means running something on hardware that was not designed for that job. Its like cooking in your dishwasher. Related to this sort of virtualization is emulation, like a NES emulator on a windows box – or the ugly duckling.

The difference between the two is mainly that the dishwasher gives immediate access to its resources and that the swan needs to use its OS to run its duck program and assign its resources accordingly.

If you take the main virtualization providers in the x86/x64 world,Esx/Xen/Hyper-V, and very roughly distribute those over the above mentioned archetypes you’ll see that hyper-v is the ugly duckling and that the other two are dishwashers.

Now let me ask you – why do want we virtualize? There are different ways to put it but in the end it comes down to this: we want distribute and utilize our resources dynamically and in the best possible way ( any resource – management is also a resource as are power and space).

And virtualization gives us just that. But why do we need virtualization to reach these goals? Are the ability to migrate processes from one piece of hardware, the ability to run different kinds of processes one on piece of hardware or possibility to assign resources to and from procceses intrinsic qualities of virtualization as we know it?

No.

To quote the engineer that was resonsible for developing vmotion:
“A bunch of us at VMware came from academia where process migration was popular but never worked in any mainstream OS because it had too many external dependencies to take care of.”(Yellow Bricks).Virtualization was neccesary because the original hosts of these processes weren’t able to empower us to reach the goals I mentioned earlier. And if we would be talking about a switch OS not being able to host a document editing process that would be no big deal – but that’s not representative of you’re everyday virtual host and guest.

And if we look at Novell using Xen to facilitate the transition from Netware to SUSE we look directly into the nature of virtualization: a way to stich up an ugly wound at the core of mainstream (read x86/x64 if you want) OS’s.Of course from a consolidation perspective this exactly what you need, but quite possibly not what you want if you consider the effect of keeping the stiches together.

With the rise of Vmware many have seized the momentum to develop all sorts of functionality that hooks up to their virtual platform – adding to the discrepeancy of what is possible on a bare metal server and what is possible on a virtual machine.All of that functionality has made our lives a lot easier – but it could have been developed for the bare metal systems as well.

But the danger lies within the fact that we are so glad with the patch and all it’s bells and whistles that the is little incentive to fix the actual problem.Microsoft Windows is an extreme example of this: because it can’t provide what we need – Microsoft even promotes application role seperation over all-in-one servers – it now includes Hyper-V to fulfill those needs. So instead of transforming their OS to adapt to the changing needs and requirements Microsoft develops (some may say copies) its own workaround. Before Microsoft launched Hyper-V it used to complain about the overhead of ESX and the associated performance hit – but the way I see it the real overhead is de redudant guest OS in which the applications or processes are encapsulated.

I work with virtualization everyday and share the enthousiasm about all the new possibilties, perspectives and challenges – but I’m a computer geek. I enjoy complexity. And when I think about the development of application infrastructure in the years to come, typing and reading on my Ipad – the complete opposite of a VM – I can’t help but wonder if we are really on the yellow brick road and if we are whether the Wizard will live up to our expectations.