Virtuozzo 4.0 beta on display at VMworld

I wanted to give everyone a heads up that today we unveiled Virtuozzo 4.0 beta, and that we'll have the new version on display at our booth at VMworld, which is running this week from Tuesday-Thursday at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.  We're at booth #1312 and will be sharing the space with our cohorts from Parallels, who will be showing off the sharp new version of Parallels Desktop and the almost-in-beta Parallels Server.   

We'll be revealing more about Virtuozzo 4.0 as we move through beta testing, but I wanted to whet your appetite by giving you a sneak-peek at a few of the 50+ new  features  and improvements that 4.0 includes:
  1. A completely overhauled intuitive interface that offers easy access to centralized resources, such as easy-to-use application templates and sample containers.
  2. Streamlined installation that makes building new containers easier than ever.
  3. A host of new High Availability features, such as support for Windows Server 2003 and Red Hat clustering services, and real-time Windows and Linux backups
  4. More flexible management tools that let you arrange and manage virtual containers and Virtuozzo servers according to either the actual hardware infrastructure, or logically group them according to user preference.  In short: organize and view your real servers and containers however you'd like. 
You can read more about Virtuozzo 4.0 in the Press Release that we dropped on the wire this morning.

The beta's not quite baked yet (but it will be in the next week or so!) so register for the beta program and we'll notify you the minute that a ready-for-testing version is available.

Viridian features cut

Mike Neil, via his blog, advised that in order to ship on time without sacrificing quality, some of the high-end features of Windows Virtualization (a.k.a. Viridian) have been postponed to the subsequent releases:

·         No dynamic addition or removal of CPU and memory

·         No live migration

·         No more than 16 cores overall

Nevertheless, Windows is already a great server virtualization platform, and customers have other options available to them today.

As a Gold certified partner, SWsoft works closely with Microsoft to support customers on the Windows platform. SWsoft is backed by 24-hour, 7-day support from Microsoft for customers operating Windows-based applications within Virtuozzo virtual environments.

We are committed to make all our virtualization products work well with Microsoft virtualization products. Specifically,

·         Parallels products will support Microsoft VHD disk format

·         Virtuozzo management Tools will manage Viridian and Virtual Server

When Viridian is out, you can expect full interoperability, and Viridian will be a seamless addition to your virtualized infrastructure. Considering that VMware has a very cold relationship with Microsoft, you can hardly expect any interoperability between those products.

With regard to the features still-to-come from Microsoft, here are few more reasons to give Virtuozzo a try.

1)    Virtuozzo has always had dynamic resource allocation – you can change how much memory, CPU power, disk space and quite a few of other parameters of a VE (virtual environment) on the fly, in real time. No other server virtualization technology – not VMware ESX, not XEN – support dynamic resource management.

2)    On Linux, Virtuozzo does live VE migration without SAN or any other shared storage, and we’re making a very good progress in implementing the same capability on Windows. Look for that to be delivered soon.

3)    Virtuozzo supports as many CPU cores (or any other resource) as the host OS supports. And for those who need real scalability, Virtuozzo supports Itanium. Again, no other server virtualization technology scales nearly as well. Virtuozzo supports any number of CPUs, any amount of memory or disk space, any number of devices – on the host and in the guests. And there is no performance penalty. When an application in a guest is using 8 CPUs, it does it with the native efficiency of the underlying OS. As for VMware ESX, if you ran any heavy workload in a VM with 4 virtual CPUs, you know the difference very well, especially if you had few more VMs on the same machine.

Users can realize the benefits of virtualization on the Windows platform today and look forward to more coming from Microsoft.


Virtualization hurdles

Time to comment on old news J
Infoworld had an article that cites a study commissioned by Computer Associates, which says that 44 percent of all virtualization deployments are not successful or cannot be assessed. It is noteworthy that 71 percent of the respondents also said that they deployed more than one server virtualization technology. And, aside from things like hardware domains, there are only three – VMware, Virtuozzo/OpenVZ and Xen. I’d love to have people who use both Virtuozzo and VMware share their experiences here.
These numbers tell you that many companies jumped on the virtualization bandwagon without fully understanding the consequences, and without trying to estimate ROI. And now, they fail to recognize progress or they don’t fell like they gained enough in return. And, according to this Virtual Strategy Magazine article, 36 percent of their readers are interested in hearing more about VMware alternatives. Well, Virtuozzo is a fine alternative and we even have an on-line ROI calculator to help you make a very rough initial estimate J

Benchmarking saga continues

Benchmarking of virtualization technologies has apparently become a popular news subject.
XenSource has just published a paper that compares VMware ESX 3 and XenSource  Enterprise 3.2 – as already reported by and Individual results have been already available, but VMware kindly allowed XenSource to publish the results in a single paper, side-by-side. The result is that in terms of performance, XenSource is as good or slightly better than ESX. Also, the more virtual CPUs are added, the more confident XenSource leads.
As you might remember, VMware originally compared commercial Windows-optimized version of their product with version of Xen, which was not intended for commercial use and not optimized for Windows.
Now, couple of days ago, InfoWorld compared four desktop virtualization products and found that in most tests Parallels 2.2 is faster than beta of VMware Workstation 6.0. Here VMware says that it’s not correct to put a commercial optimized version of Parallels Desktop against VMware Workstation Beta 6.0, which is of course not intended for commercial use and not optimized.
Quod licet Iovi, non licet bovi
If you are wondering how this is all related to Virtuozzo, look at what Kir wrote in his OpenVZ blog You can see the results for yourself here (German original) and here ( fragment translated to English). As you might now, OpenVZ is the foundation of Virtuozzo for Linux distributed as open source product. To summarize:
·         OpenVZ is on par with Xen for CPU-intensive tasks
·         OpenVZ is a bit better than Xen in networking
·         OpenVZ is somewhat or much better than Xen in I/O and IPC
And finally – thanks for the newshere is the comparison of the several popular server virtualization technologies – VMware, Xen, UML and Vserver. Look for yourself – it’s a pretty interesting read. I will try to contact these guys and ask them to add Virtuozzo in the mix, and then I’ll get back with more detailed analysis.

VMware attacks Microsoft

The MSFT licensing “whitepaper” by VMware generated a lot of buzz. Some even went as far as comparing it to Netscape and suggesting that we all should expect a lawsuit by VMware – oh, please. Few comments in this regard:

·         Before blaming MSFT, VMware needs to take an effort to be more forthcoming with their APIs and formats. Unlike MSFT’s VHD spec, VMDK SDK and specs cannot be freely downloaded and VMware VMI specification is not implemented in any VMware product.

·         Microsoft has been, slowly but surely, changing their licensing for server products towards making it less restrictive – Windows Data Center allows unlimited number of virtual environments, as well as SQL Server Enterprise allows unlimited number of SQL Server instances on one box regardless of what server virtualization product is used.

·         I am, myself, not very excited about a perspective of paying $300 for Vista Business if I want to run Vista on my Mac (inside Parallels), but Vista is not being very widely deployed yet, so it’s not really an imminent problem. And as a Mac user I will stick with XP simply because all Windows software I need runs fine on XP.

Bottom line, for the moment all these problems are all but hypothetical. We should of course let MSFT know if we are unhappy with some of their policies, but it’s way too early to ring the bell. So, let’s tell them, not scream and yell at them – that way we have a much better chance of being heard.


SWsoft signs support agreement with Microsoft

Let me explain few things about our recent press release -,12003

·         SWsoft will be a true single point of contact for support for Virtuozzo customers. Our customers won’t have to contact Microsoft support in addition to SWsoft support for Virtuozzo for Windows issues. Instead, if there is any issue that requires help from Microsoft, we’ll contact Microsoft support engineers on behalf of our customers, and sort it out and then we'll respond to our customers.

·         Again, the agreement is not about providing free Microsoft support to our customers. This would not solve the main problem – finding out the solution, even when the problem occurs on the boundary between the technologies of different vendors. SWsoft gets 24x7 access to Microsoft support, so that when a customer has a problem, we can solve it using the best resources available from SWsoft and Microsoft engineers.

·         Microsoft is SWsoft's best partner and we will be doing more with them for our mutual customers. Overall, this agreement is a great thing for everyone involved – customers, SWsoft and Microsoft.

·         Effectively, all server applications are now supported under Virtuozzo – Microsoft has agreed to help us resolve any issues that our customers have, regardless of the application.

·         Lastly, this agreement was driven purely by the volume of customer demand. In my opinon, it validates OS virtualization as a server virtualization technology for us and the rest of the world.


Virtual appliances – from idea to reality

For quite a while, virtual appliances have been one of the hottest server virtualization themes. The idea is to package an application as a pre-built, pre-configured and ready-to-run virtual machine. Virtual appliances provide important benefits:

·         An ISV can pick and custom-configure the OS, which becomes merely a library, much like QT, STL or MFC. There is only one platform to develop and test for, and the configuration is always known.

·         Zero installation and zero configuration – just copy down the image and run it. Plus you get all the manageability benefits of virtual machines – migration, backup/restore, HA, etc.

However, there is a price to pay for having an entire OS embedded into each appliance.

·         OS sprawl – every application now comes with its own OS instance that needs to be maintained and updated. I’ve already written about it here and here.

·         Size – each appliance image contains an entire OS and a swap partition/file for it – at least 1GB, even of the OS instance is highly customized and stripped down. It takes a non-trivial time to send such image over network. It also takes a non-trivial amount of storage to keep a library of such images.

Images are large because the OS inside the appliance, however customized and stripped down, is still responsible for the bulk of the image size. Compared to the OS, application is much smaller and much less complex. Remember the old joke?

A man is walking down the street with two large suitcases. Someone asks him what the time is. The man puts down his luggage, looks at his watch and tells the exact time, temperature, air pressure, weather forecast for next week and closures of the local roads for next month. “Wow, nice watch” – “indeed”, says the man, looking at the suitcases, “but these batteries are killing me.”

Only in this case a proper analogy for the OS would be a pick-up truck, not two suitcases.

·         Desktop – Windows cannot be distributed with an application, which means that desktop appliances, which in my opinion may have even greater potential than server ones, are out – at least for now.

·         Updates – since the OS inside the appliance is probably customized, standard update and patch management software won’t work. This means that each ISV now needs to become a service provider just to distribute the updates for the applications. Administrators, in turn, will have to deal multiple service providers just to get the applications updated.

·         Security – typically, enterprise IT tightly controls which OSes are allowed and how locked-down they are. With virtual appliances, they lose this control and have to completely trust the appliance vendor to take all the necessary security measures.

To be fair, virtual appliances are a great idea and these problems are not at all insurmountable. Virtuozzo already solves most of them, and we know how to solve them in the Parallels products line, too. It’s only a matter of time and resourcesJ


VMware goes public

Yesterday, EMC announced its plans to sell 10% of VMware in an IPO. It attracted so much attention I decided to throw my 2 cents into the pile of news hype. OK, trying to be brief:
  • VMware’s IPO is definitely a sign that virtualization market is quickly going from red-hot to white-hot, which is very good news for any virtualization vendor. Especially for the two-in-one company like SWsoft with Virtuozzo and Parallels.
  • A 10% sale makes VMware about as much independent from EMC as Parallels is from SWsoft. It’s unlikely that EMC competitors - IBM, HP, Fujitsu and others - will now consider VMware a much better partner candidate.
  • Going public means having a solid long-term strategy. Yet, so far, the EMC/VMware merger has been a financial move. VMware has not done much to integrate its product line with EMC, and has mostly acted on its own.
The last point brings us back to the question – will virtualization become an integral part of existing platforms or a platform on its own? VMware apparently is going for the latter, putting itself against Microsoft and Linux – so far successfully. However, in just a couple of years, with Viridian/Xen hypervisors and Virtuozzo integrated into existing platforms and a number of management vendors supporting multiple virtualization technologies, it will be a very different game.