The Great Virtualization Management and Migration Tools Race

By Kevin Fogarty, CIO.com |  Virtualization, 5Nine Software, Double-Take Software

Third-party virtualization companies appear to be taking advantage of what are traditionally slow news weeks in the technology business by rushing out a host of products designed to make virtualization infrastructures more manageable, cheaper, and easier to squeeze into previously unappreciated corners of the IT world.

[ ABC: An Introduction to Virtualization ]

None of these tools are designed to solve all the planning or management issues of enterprise-level virtualization infrastructures, but each is designed to solve a significant and often expensive part of a migration or management problem.

Not all the players are small, of course. Citrix announced yesterday that it has shipped the free version of its XenServer 5.5 that it promised in May. It includes the ability to move virtual machines from one server to another without shutting them down, tools to convert VMware infrastructures to XenServer, support for Active Directory, the ability to add role-based security, support for a range of Linux editions and Oracle 5.3 and the ability to migrate data from VMware's Virtual Machine Disk Format to Citrix and Microsoft's Virtual Hard Disk format.

Planning and Migration for Hyper-V New Jersey-based startup 5Nine Software has released what it calls the first migration-planning application specifically for Microsoft's Hyper-V hypervisor.

The 5Nine software recommends a virtual infrastructure plans tailored to the cost requirements set by the user; with the tool inventorying the CPU, memory, input/output and storage available and laying out an efficient placement of workloads according to the resources available. It is designed to collect hardware and software performance data without agents, or to import that data from Excel or XML files. There is both a free and a paid version.

In a bit of unfortunate timing for 5Nine, Microsoft this week introduced the beta of the latest version of its free capacity planning tool designed for Hyper-V. The Microsoft Assessment and Planning (MAP) Toolkit 4.0 is designed to manage both migrations to Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 RC2. The toolkit takes inventory, makes recommendations on design and assesses both your existing infrastructure and how it might benefit from Hyper-V-based VMs.

VMware ESX

While VMware, CiRBA, Novell and other vendors offer migration and recovery utilities for ESX, a couple of notable additions debuted this week.

Data-replication vendor Double-Take Software, which makes a migration tool for VMware networks, added a recoverability twist with the Virtual Recovery Assistant, which is designed to track all the changes in a given VM, in order to recover it in case of a hardware failure or data loss during migration from a physical server or movement from one VM to another.

Liquidware Labs released a version of its Stratusphere virtual-desktop-management software with the ability to model VDI layouts, verify application and OS compatibility, do capacity planning scenarios and create maps showing response time under specific conditions. It is deployed as a virtual appliance and supports VMware, Microsoft and Citrix VMs and desktops.

VM for High Performance Systems

Red Hat this week went for the high-performance end of the virtualization market by shipping the hypervisor it promised in February. Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV) is built on the Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM), open-source virtualization software created by Qumranet, which Red Hat acquired in September, 2008.

RHEV is designed for large-server virtualization, with an upper limit of 96 cores and 1 TB of memory, though it will more typically run on Intel Boxboro chipsets with eight chips, each of which have eight cores, according to Red Hat. KVM can span up to 16 CPU cores and 64 GB of memory with a single partition. VMware's ESX Server 4, by contrast, can only cover eight cores, but can do it with 255 GB of memory.

VM for Embedded Devices

Embedded operating-system vendor Wind River extended virtualization to the embedded-software world with a Type 1 hypervisor designed to support a network of virtual devices on a single set of hardware, rather than requiring each to have its own. Wind River Hypervisor supports a range of operating systems, including Wind River's VxWorks and Wind River Linux, and will run on a variety of single- and multiprocessor boards.

Though it will work with software from other companies, Wind River intends it to extend VxWorks 6.7, a virtual-device operating system that allows designers to choose the number of cores and degree of multiprocessing capability they need. The company also announced VxWorks MILS Platform 2.0, a security suite designed to isolate and lock down a network of software-based virtual devices running on a single piece of hardware.

Virtual Apps for the Mac

Macintosh software vendor Codeweavers released a new version of its CrossOver PC virtualization software that competes with VMware's Fusion and Parallels' Desktop. It does not require an instance of a Windows operating system to run, as both VMware and Parallels' products do.

VDI Across the WAN VoIP and WAN performance-management-appliance vendor Streamcore released a version of its software designed to manage the performance of virtual desktops connected to virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) servers across low-bandwidth wide-area networks. The application is designed to give VDI traffic using Microsoft Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) and Citrix' ICA priority over print requests and other network traffic, the company says. It also provides use-analysis of VDI nets and has released a white paper on how to optimize WANs for VDI traffic.

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