Virtualization Software Trends: Hybrid Clouds Mature, Virtual Firewalls Lag

Virtualization software leaders VMware, Microsoft and Citrix introduce new products, virtual storage sees rapid upheavals, and vendors put the label “cloud” on everything.


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In my last update on virtualization, I looked at developments toward the end of 2010 concerning virtual desktops and improvements to virtual infrastructure. The past six months have seen increasing sophistication in both areas, with new products from the major virtualization vendors and some interesting twists, which I’ve noted below.

First, let's look at the three major virtualization vendors to see what they have been up to over the past several months:


Of the three major virtualization vendors, VMware has continued its acquisitions spree and series of new product announcements. They most recently acquired SlideRocket, a slick service for collaborative presentations. They also introduced their cloud management service Cloud Foundry and cloud management tools VMware Go Pro.

Also in the first half of this year they put out an iPad version of their View virtual desktop app and released version 7 of its email software Zimbra.


Citrix has been busy as well during the past several months. They closed the acquisition of Netviewer, announced at the end of 2010, and will fold its features into the GoToMeeting family of products. They also announced Xen Cloud Platform v1.0, which allows enterprises to build private clouds with a variety of open source tools bundled together – hypervisor, storage support, and management tools.

They released a bunch of scripts to help troubleshoot XenServerand boosted the feature set in a new v9.3 of NetScaler Firewall. Finally, they recognized that Amazon's Web Services (AWS) is an important place to provide integration with its Xen lineup, since, after all, Amazon makes use of Xen to provide its many services.

Speaking of AWS, perhaps the most notable event of the past several months was a major outage there caused by a router mis-configuration. The outage rippled through sites that use AWS for their operations, including Quora, Foursquare and Reddit, and was a good lesson to understand what your cloud provider can and can't do in terms of providing failover operations.


Microsoft came out with SP1 for Windows Server 2008 R2 (can they make the product name any more complex?). It was unveiled this winter with a number of incremental improvementsto some of the newer R2 technologies that directly impact virtualized servers, including dynamic memory and DirectAccess features.

Dynamic memory allows for memory on a hypervisor to be pooled and dynamically distributed to virtual machines as needed, all without interrupting services to the VMs. There have also been additional improvements to enhance scalability and high availability when using DirectAccess in building large server networks.

Notable trends in virtualization

1. Hybrid clouds mature. The nature of hybrid clouds – meaning parts of your infrastructure are running in both public and private data centers – is getting more mature and sophisticated. New providers are springing up frequently, which make evaluating them all that much harder.

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