Wednesday Sep 10, 2008

xVM Server Launch Demo

Well, I survived launch day.  Although I've made a resolution to never again sign up to do four live demos in a single event, everything turned out great.  My sincere thanks go out to Leon, Joost, Mark, Markus and Angel for their help setting up the demos.  Outstanding job guys.

For anyone who didn't tune into the web cast, here's a replay of the first demo of the day: xVM Server.

My only serious regret after watching that clip? I really should'a gotten a fresh haircut this weekend. :-) I'll post the rest of the demo videos here over the next few days. Thanks everyone who tuned it to the live webcast. I heard we had over 500 people on the live webchat and everyone had a great time!

Monday Sep 01, 2008

Progress on the xVM Server EA Program

A few weeks back, I announced the start of the xVM Server early access program.  The response has been outstanding.  To date, we've received well over 200 requests to be part of the program  -- this is a far greater number than I'd expected!  Since we've seen so much interest in this, I thought I'd give you an update on progress.

Starting a few weeks ago, we started working with several customers using an engineering build of the software called Iteration 11.  We're using a (mostly) agile development methodology where we do new iterations approximately every two weeks.  Right now we're working on Iteration 12 and we'll be doing a couple of revisions on this to get it really stable for our demonstrations at VMWorld (more about that later).

We have recieved really useful feedback from our first group of early access customers.  We found things they liked (the new web UI, the VMDK virtual hard disk support, the ability to support a wide range of guest OS instances) and we also found problems (some issues with install and guest creation, as well as some performance issues).  We want to get out a full public version of xVM Server as soon as we can, but we want to make sure people have a really good experience, so the engineers have been working like crazy to address some of these issues (I owe the teams working on this stuff more than I can possibly say -- they're amazing).

Starting this week, we will be selecting some additional customers from the list of responders to join the EA program.  Expanding this to get more feedback as quickly as we can is really important.  Thanks to all of you who have participated in the program so far, and to all of you who've requested to participate.  If you'd like to register to be part of the EA and receive notices on the upcoming release, please do send mail to: xvm-server-ea-request@sun.com.  I expect to be saying more about about dates for the end game on xVM Server next week, so stay tuned for more.

Wednesday Aug 13, 2008

Live xVM Server Demo

Here's a sneak peak at the xVM Server user interface.  Here I'm sitting in Sun's Menlo Park, California campus with RedMonk's Cote showing him how I can manage a virtualized server in Broomfield, Colorado.

Note that the UI you see in the video is served by an embedded web server inside the xVM Server software.  You can also choose to use xVM Ops Center to manage many virtaulized (or non-virtualized!) servers centrally.  With that option you'll see a similar user interface, but with even more management options.

Note that we've just started our early access program for xVM Server.  If you're interested, you can read more here.

Tuesday Aug 12, 2008

xVM Conversation with Redmonk

Here's a little video of a chat I had with Redmonk's Cote recently.  It's a fun conversation about all the neat stuff going on in xVM, and should give people new to the portfolio some idea of what we're doing.


Wednesday Aug 06, 2008

An Update on xVM Server: Starting Early Access

With all the recent buzz about xVM VirtualBox, xVM Ops Center, and our Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, I haven't written much about xVM Server here recently.  The team has been making massive progress, and is entering the home stretch to shipping version xVM Server 1.0. In fact, today I'm announcing that we're starting the first part of our early access program for the product.  We've signed up companies from sectors such as financial services, manufacturing, high-tech and government who will be the first to start using xVM Server.  We will be sending Sun engineers on site with each of these customers to collect first-hand feedback.  I expect we're about one month away from a publicly downloadable version of xVM Server (including binary and source code bundles!) so that anyone can start to work with the full product.  If you'd like to receive additional information about the early access program, you can send mail to xvm-server-ea-request@sun.com.

Given that we're getting very close to shipping, it's time to give everyone an update on progress and do a more in-depth sneak peek at features than I've done in the past.  First, a quick reminder about what's included in the xVM Portfolio so you can see where xVM Server fits.  The picture below shows how this fits together.  We have xVM VirtualBox for small scale desktop virtualization, and VDI as a management layer that scales out to very large-scale desktop consolidation projects. Then, on the server side, we have xVM Server as the software to virtualize a single server, and xVM Ops Center as the management tool for large scale virtual and physical data center.  xVM VirtualBox, xVM Ops Center and VDI are all commercially available today and rapidly being deployed by customers.  You can go to sun.com/xvm to learn more about all of these.

The core hypervisor that is part of xVM Server has been available as part of Open Solaris for some time.  However, xVM Server is really much more than just a naked hypervisor.  The diagram below gives some insight on this:

While diving deep into the all the features of xVM Server is more than I'll try to do in just one blog entry, I'd like to focus on the management features.  Note the BUI (Browser User Interface) and WS-MAN (Web Services Management) boxes in the diagram.    Each copy of xVM Server includes an embedded web server that allows it to be managed remotely via a graphical user interface in a browser (on any OS you choose with no local software installed), or via a Web Services API.  Let's take a few minutes and I'll give you a short tour of the user interface.

After the install of xVM Server, you can log into the system with any standard web browser.  The xVM Server UI, which uses the open source Ext JS AJAX toolkit, will pop up immediately.  Here's the log in screen.

After logging in you'll be presented with the top-level management view, which you can see here is running inside a standard Firefox browser.  This shows the hardware view of this single xVM Server.

By expanding the tree on the left, you can see the list of guest virtual machines running on that server.  The view below shows the information about a guest, which can be had by clicking on an entry in the tree.  The the UI, the left panel shows your assets, the center panel shows an inspector for the current item you have selected, and the right panel shows a list of actions you can take on the selected item.  If you choose to use a dedicated server to host the Ops Center management suite (instead of using the embedded xVM Server management tools) you'll be presented with a user interface that's almost identical, but adds powerful grouping and tagging features that allow for sensible management of thousands of machine instances.

As you can see if you look closely, there are features here for managing guest storage, virtual networking, historical monitoring and more.  In future entries I'll dive down deeper into some of these.  However, before we wrap up this tour, I thought I'd take just one more minute and give you a quick sample of what it's like to interact with the UI to acomplish a task.  In this case, I'll show you the act of creating a new guest virtual machine.  One of our goals for xVM Server, is to give you the power of a true Enterprise-class virtualization solution, but also make it instantly familiar to people using tools like xVM VirtualBox.

In order to create a new guest VM, you select the xVM Server object in the left panel and click Create New Guest on the right.  In order to create a guest, you'll be presented with this wizard.  For someone who's used xVM VirtualBox, much of this will seem familiar, but you quickly start to see new features such as multi-CPU guests, an intra-guest priority to ensure quality of service. and the ability to manage off-host network-based storage libraries.

That's all for now.  More updates to come, and keep an eye out here for more news.  It's going to be a very busy end to the summer here! 

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Thoughts on cloud computing, virtualization and data center management from Steve Wilson, Oracle engineering VP.

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