How CloudOS accelerates product development

CloudOS session at EBCA few weeks ago I had this great opportunity to present one of Synergics‘s CloudOS solutions in Microsoft’s Executive Briefing Center Brussels next to some vendor sessions from Nutanix and Vision Solutions.

For those who would like to (re)view the presentation, you can head over to SlideShare and watch it online. But do come back here to get the full story behind it ..

Are you an independent software vendor (ISV) or just interested in utilizing cloud for development, then this is a must read for you! I will be explaining the approach to better product development with CloudOS in this post.

Let me start with the challenges our existing customers are facing during product development:

  • Development cycles contain:
    • Code, compile and test .. Repeat
    • These take time and are slowing down business growth
  • A flexible and scalable environment is required without causing production impact
  • Sandboxed development but access to relevant (sometimes sensitive) test data
  • Innovation and easy access to new technologies like queuing and mobile devices development

All these have impact on the time it takes to deploy sandboxed development environments for new projects. And have a direct impact on the total development cost before a new feature or product can be brought to market!

That is quite some challenges. But with our two phases approach we can help you move forward!

We need a flexible solution that remains easy to support to focus on the services we add on top. That is why we chose CloudOS. A consistent platform across our private Service Provider cloud and the public Windows Azure cloud.

OnPlatform                    StretchedNetwork

With that infrastructure in the back-end we are able to deliver the most cost-effective and flexible resources to product development teams. A hybrid solution that works well for business and developer:

Business

  • Flexible & Stable
  • Sandboxed & Secure data
  • Total cost

Developer

  • Flexible & Scalable
  • Image gallery
  • New features & Standards

The basics for the private Service Provider cloud is build on top of Nutanix and Windows Azure Pack. The development team will receive access to a dedicated subscription and can expand into Windows Azure (or should I start calling it Microsoft Azure :-) ) using a stretched network over a secure Site-2-Site VPN.

With test data running in the private Service Provider cloud, it remains accessible and secure for the developers. At the same time it allows to use new features (like Service Bus, Mobile Development, etc.) and flexible images deployment options without compromising security. And it is for the network security team to decide which firewall access will be granted outside the virtual development network. Best of all, in a pay-as-you-go model.

Do you see the benefits in optimizing your development efforts or integrating Development and Operations teams (DevOps) ..?

Delivering CloudOS the right way

Working for Synergics, a Managed ICT Services provider, our goal is to always deliver the ultimate customer value.

With that in mind, we saw that the cloud hype is over and that it is here to stay offering a adaptable and scalable on demand infrastructure. Our vision is clear, provide the very same user experience and beyond to our valued customers! Internal research learned us that Microsoft CloudOS is the solution to fulfill our vision.

MoveHybrid
But how will we deliver it?

Looking at our current blade and storage area network infrastructure we decided this is not the way forward. It is missing the required flexibility and simplicity. While investigating the possibilities we came across Nutanix and as soon as we learned that they support Hyper-V as hypervisor, the choice was easy!

BuiltForVirtualization
Our CloudOS project saw the daylight!

While the order for the Nutanix Hyper-V appliances went out, we discussed Windows Azure Pack with Microsoft and how to get things implemented.

The appliances got delivered at our primary datacenter and in less than 2 hours our first Nutanix Hyper-V consolidated compute and storage core infrastructure was up and running .. tweet ..! Try that with another vendor ;-) A few very exciting days passed while we deployed Windows Azure Pack and System Center on top of it. And after fine tuning some Hyper-V best practices to fit the Nutanix infrastructure, we are proud to say: ” We are ready!

NutanixWAP

.. and as I am writing this, our hybrid cloud is here, we now extend our own on premise infrastructure directly into Windows Azure, Microsoft’s Cloud Platform.

Join us, in this exiting time and move ahead migrating from a rather static infrastructure to a modern, robust, scalable and flexible cloud .. directly from Synergics’s private datacenters located in Belgium!

Change is good

A long time ago this blog was started with the idea to focus on Server Based Computing. Today, three years later, it did not get any further then two posts :-(

Time for a change – change can be good! But what does that mean to you, as a reader/participant?

Moving forward this blog will no longer focus on a specific technology – Server Based Computing – but rather on all the IT things I am working with and feel like sharing with the world. So also expect to see posts on Active Directory, Automation Manager, Exchange, Group Policies, Lync, PowerShell, ShareFile, vCloud Director, Workspace Manager, .. and many others in the future. Oh, and once in a while I might post about IT related conferences, partnerships, service provider stuff and trainings.

Running XenServer 5 in a VM on Workstation 6.5

As I am very much interested in and working with Citrix XenApp and VMware ESX (Or should I start calling it vSphere?) I just had to try Citrix XenServer.

In the past I ran ESX in a virtual machine on VMware Workstation, so the first thing that came to my mind was: “That should work with XenServer too!”. I started Googling and rather quickly came across Arne’s blog post How To: XenEnterPrise 4 within a VM on Workstation 6. Quickly reading through it I just knew that this would work with the newer versions. Here is how!

To get things started, this is the software you will need (I ran it on my Windows Vista laptop with an Intel Centrino 2 with vPro):

  • VMware Workstation 6.5
  • Citrix XenServer 5.0 Update 3
  • Citrix XenServer Linux Guest Support (unfortunately you cannot run Microsoft Windows guests using XenServer this way)

Next up install VMware Workstation 6.5. Luckely for me – as a VCP – VMware is offering a free VMware Workstation license. If you do not have an official license you can register for a 30-day free evaluation.

VMware Workstation

Create a new virtual machine and select “Linux 2.6.x kernel 64-bit” as guest operating system. You need to give it at least 1024 Mb memory otherwise Citrix XenServer 5.0 will not install. So far this sounds easy. Now comes the tricky part. We need to adjust the virtual processor execution mode. In earlier versions of VMware Workstation you had to manually edit the VMX (configuration) file of the virtual machine. This has changed and is now simply available from the graphical user interface:

Processor Execution Mode

Edit the virtual machine settings and change the processor execution mode to: Intel VT-x or AMD-V.

Now that the virtual machine configuration is out of the way, we can start the Citrix XenServer installation. Mount the Citrix XenServer .ISO installation file and power it on. The installation will complete after a few simple questions and your very own “virtual” Xen will power on.

Power on Xen

Xen running

To manage your Citrix XenServer, install XenCenter on your local system. The graphical user interface is straightforward if you are used to VMware ESX.

XenCenter running

Now you can enjoy the true power of virtualization!

I have been playing around with my “virtual” Xen for a few weeks now and spent some time reading the freely available documentation. Maybe I will go and sit the exam A09 (Implementing Citrix XenServer Enterprise Edition 5.0) which Citrix is offering for free during the Citrix iForum Benelux on June 10th ;-)

It’s about time .. so let’s go!

Hmm .. “Another IT blog”, I hear you thinking. Yes indeed and this is the very first entry to get things started.

Looking at my working experience: a major multinational company in the transportation business, a smaller software development company for the banking sector and a managed IT services provider – always working in some way or another with Microsoft, Citrix & VMware technologies and good for over 10 years of experience – I believe we can get some great posts up here and good discussions going.

Knowing that IT is a very wide subject, I’m going to focus this blog on Server Based Computing. Do I care if it is based on physical or virtual servers, XenServer or ESX, VDI or TS, ..? No!

I will share my experience with you and hope to learn from peers about their experience in the field, share ideas, draw conclusions, .. We’ll see what the future brings.

Welcome everybody!

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