Citrix and VMware: The Future (Part 3 of 3)

In the previous parts of this series (part 1, part 2), I talked about how VMware got to where they are today and how their products are relevant in the Citrix and Terminal Server world. For this final part looking to the future, I don’t want to talk about VMware versus Microsoft’s Virtual Server.

In the previous parts of this series (part 1, part 2), I talked about how VMware got to where they are today and how their products are relevant in the Citrix and Terminal Server world.

For this final part looking to the future, I don’t want to talk about VMware versus Microsoft’s Virtual Server. Instead, I want to talk about how virtual servers will continue to become more and more relevant in the server-based computing world.

First of all, if you haven’t done so already, you should definitely read my article about how utility computing will shape Citrix and Terminal Server.

I’ll talk a lot about EMC in this article, since they’re the new owners of VMware. Personally, I never thought too much about EMC. I viewed them as a niche storage maker and nothing else. When they bought VMware I could definitely see how the two companies’ visions were able to line up, but I wasn’t sure how they would package VMware and EMC storage into a single customer solution.

That all changed when I learned about a company called Egenera. Egenera is a server hardware manufacturer that builds blade and 1U modules that work together to form single virtual servers. Each physical module contains processors and memory, nothing else.

For example, you could buy four Egenera blades, each with 4 processors and 8GB of RAM. These four blades would work together to form a virtual server. The modules plug into a standard 19" rack, and redundant control units house the networking, KVM, and SAN connections.

If you start to run out of processing power, no problem. Just plug in another Egenera blade to add more capacity. If a particular blade fails, no problem. You’d lose a bit of processing power but the “server” would still run on what’s available.

Egenera calls this a “PAN” (as in "Processing Area Network"). Each individual Egenera blade plugs into the frame with a custom connector (that has a whole lot of pins), so the blades are connected by a lot more than Ethernet.

To me, this is the future of virtual server / utility computing technology.

Image what you could do if you combined EMC storage, VMware virtual server software, and Egenera virtual server hardware into a single solution from a single company. You could build a datacenter that was 100% virtual. You would never have to buy “extra” capacity, because each virtual server would use exactly what it needs. If your data center needed more processing capacity or storage, you could add additional resources that would be used wherever they were needed.

Since EMC bought VMware, they should also buy Egenera.

EMC could be successful in this space because the other four major server vendors (HP, IBM, Dell, and Sun) all have a vested interest in selling “traditional” servers. While market pressure will force them to “talk the talk,” they’ll want to hold off on “walking the walk” as long as possible. In today’s world, the fact that someone is forced to buy a 2GHz server just to bring up some little web application is great for them.

In the future, a utility computing world based on EMC/VMware/Egenera would allow you to bring little servers online without an explicit separate hardware purchase, and it would allow the new “server” brought online to be more resilient and have more growth potential that the old model.

This model is also much more realistic for scaling (by creating lots of little virtual servers) than Microsoft’s efforts to build software that can run many different applications on the same logical server.

After reading this article and my other article about utility computing and Citrix, I think it's pretty clear to see how these technologies could work together to create a redundant Citrix- and Terminal Server-based system that could power all the applications for an enterprise.

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This message was originally posted by matt in london on March 31, 2004
hello brian,

we're currently investigating partnering with egenera - they have some very interesting technologies, but also some glaring SPOF's - another issue is the CAPEX: > £1million for a 'simple' setup ... then you have to add a SAN as well !

m@
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This message was originally posted by Gabe Knuth on March 29, 2004
Years ago we talked about servers being turned on, turned off, and generally available as if it was the cable system (without the 4hr service window). Someone could call up and say I need to bring 500 users online and it would be done in hours rather than days.

I think that "hours" bar can be raised now. Minutes instead of hours, and with next to no hardware acquisition time. With Egenera systems, just pop in a few new blades...no assembly, mounting, cabling, or headaches. And EMC + VMWare means very fast, centralized, redundant access to your virtual servers and data, all running on that 50GHz machine!

I agree, this could be it. And, whether it becomes "it" or not, it's what I'd like to see. Who'd have thought a datacenter could be a turnkey solution? With all these products working together, you could put together a "Datacenter-in-a-box" solution. Put a few of those together and you have your Grid/Utility/Distributed computing architecture.
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This message was originally posted by Freddie on May 11, 2004
I feel that we SBC freaks will have a bright future...
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This message was originally posted by Freddie on May 26, 2004
Hi People…
Since Brian have talked allot of virtual servers in the last three articles I thought it was time to give you all an explanation of why VMware can be a real good investment.
First of all, the only real vmware product that should bee used in SBC production environment is the ESX version, the reason is simple, this is the only version that have it’s “own OS”, A small very stable Linux OS that do not affect the virtual servers, you do not need to be worried that you have to restart all the virtual servers just because you need to update the host server and restart that.
Now, the first thing. 1. You can scale and fine tune your virtual servers hardware to “perfection”, (yes running the virtual servers takes some overhead of the host server but this is marginal). By using vmware you can put the recourses where there are most needed, for example. If you have four virtual servers on a quad. CPU hostserver and one of the virtual servers (from here on called VS) hosts a very CPU demanding application and the rest just ordinary applications you configure vmware to allocate two of the CPUs to CPU demanding VS. Not just the CPUs can be allocated but disks RAM also. 2. You can by fewer but bigger servers, must of the time this would save money and must of all administration. 3. You have a separate remote administration GUI that works like the traditional remote admin mode, the good thing whit this GUI is that it uses other ports then the well known 1494 and 3389, this ads a small security strength. And you will by default use a null session on your servers 4. This is one of the best features of vmware when it comes to SBC, you can whit a “simple click” clone you servers and make an image of them, you can then mirror the terminal/Citrix server very fast and simple and you do not need any sysprep or nothing, the vmware have it’s own virtual drivers so you will never bother whit the hardware compatibility, just restore your image on as many servers as you like. 5. Now we will talk about real uptime functions, by using VMotion you literally move an up and going VS from one ESX server to an other, whit out users ever knowing it. 6. The last thing I will mention is the new function in ESX, were it is now a setting in vmware were you can fine tune the VS to be used for terminal/Citrix servers, there is a check box that puts the VS in a high number of processes environment, thus makes it more efficient in SBC environments.
Of course these features can be debated and dissected as any other product by I find them so good that I believe VMware is a good solution for SBC, and I believe there will be more of it in the feature, like the things that Brian takes up in his articles. See ya…
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This message was originally posted by Ron on July 26, 2004
Brian, I met with Egenera last week and pointed out your comments in this article during our meeting and let's just say that they are very surprised.
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This message was originally posted by Ron on July 26, 2004
At this point in time the bladeframe platform acts as 24 individual servers and not a one superhost (single system image). If you lose a blade you lose the work (users) that are on that blade. Engenera does have some very nice technology but it no way shape our form does it act like "Windows would logically see a single processor and 32GB of memory. (Of course that processor would run as if it were a 50GHz Xeon Penitum 4.) " Sorry but your story does not hold up. btw, we are going to bring them in for a tco/roi study ;) but at 2x what it costs for dl580 of similar config, it might be a hard sell.
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This message was originally posted by Brian Madden on July 27, 2004
I was first introduced to eGenera at UtilCompWorld 2004 in NYC. As I said in the article, that was my fist exposure to them. I talked to the guy for awhile and asked several times about how their technology works, but at this time it looks like I'll have to revisit that. Thanks for the heads up Ron!
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This message was originally posted by Matthew on September 7, 2004
I suppose it is my fault for jumping without reading all the comments, but I almost made a big error bringing the Egenera solution to the attention of management here. If what Ron says is true, please edit your article above to reflect the errors so that people who don't read all the comments don't make similar mistakes after reading your article. If what Ron says is not true, please make a comment here saying that as well...
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This message was originally posted by Brian Madden on September 15, 2004
...since these first comments were made. In genereal, it looks like this eGenera stuff is not quite as mature as I was hoping. It definitely shows promise, and you can use it today in very cool ways with virtual machines.
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This message was originally posted by Andy Meakin on October 18, 2004
At IBM we have been building High Availability solutions based on IBM xSeries and BladeCenter solutions with IBM SAN Storage and VMware ESX Virtualisation for over two years now.

We do have a NUMA architecture designed Server called the x445 which adds multiple "quads" into a single Server instance scaling from 2 to 32 processors. It can also be split back up virtually into 4 processor chunks, and VMware is the finishing touch that allows fine granulation between these chunks. I think that this is a lot closer to what you describe than the eGenera product.

This technology in itself does not address true HA though. If a Node fails, the instances running on them will die too. We can fail-over and re-activate (reboot) a VM on another system, but that causes connection loss and risks data corruption. The answer here is to Cluster Virtual Machines on separate physical ESX Server Nodes giving online failover.

Much of this is detailed in the following document for further reading: http://www.redbooks.ibm.com/abstracts/sg246434.html?Open

Going forward, don't expect to see anyone doing much more in hardware. Lock-step concurrent processing is extremely difficult and has a very limited market. Achieving this in software is just about impossible too, as we keep coming back to unacceptable latencies.

Watch out for future VMware announcments though, as there is some very nice scaling and clustering support coming soon!

By the way... We do actually promote VMware to hilt even though it means we sell less Servers, as it provides enormous value to our clients in doing so. Remember too that we have been selling virtualised Servers on the mainframe for many years.

Regards.
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This message was originally posted by Riad Al-Shaalan on October 30, 2004
Its much more important that the software service supports HA and flexible capacity adjustment. Its not just about hardware or low-level virtualization. Take for example an HA web service such as load balanced/clustered IIS or HA database service like Oracle's RAC. The only value that egenera should try to provide is commodity hardware and good management software (and please remove the previous post and disable posting by pressing the Enter key!)
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Performance.
Simply, the performance of terminal servers running on a 8 Xeon IBM x440 and VMware ESX server was bad. I tested that, and then I bought blades with real CPUs.
I guess the main reason is that one terminal server consolidates 50 PCs and therefore has less unused CPU cycles that can be given to other virtual servers.
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Dev environments are still the best fit for VMWare IMHO.

Shawn
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We recently spoke with Intel in regards to Citrix running on VMware. I asked because last year at Iforum there was a lot of talk. I couldn’t fathom how this could possibly be a good user experience. Intel agreed all there testing shows you are far better off buying more servers rather than using VMware from a performance perspective.

This did information did come with a caveat though. Citrix does not run well on VMWare is because the OS does not have direct access to the hardware. Intel never envisioned how quickly this technology would develop. They have been working VMware to all semi-direct access to the Server hardware instead of Vmware vitalizing it.

So if you want to run Citrix on VMware keep your software maintenance up to date or wait a year.
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What does Intel have to do with VMWare other than being the processor that the server runs on? VMWare is owned by EMC and was independent prior to that. BTW, Citrix works find on VMWare but I wouldn't recommend it for production servers. Dev/Test makes sense though.

Shawn
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Citrix does not run very well on vmware. I tested it with a 4CPU Xeon 2,4 Ghz with 32 gb Ram. Installed citrix on the server, with no other VM-running, the performance is terrible. You do not want to invest a lot of money for that performance, believe me. The VM has 2 CPU's and 3 GB Ram and can only support about 15 users simultaneously. I installed citrix on a HW-box with 2 CPU's 3,4 Ghz and 4 gb Ram, this configuration can support more than 50 users with an average CPU of 25%. We run apps like sap, notes and office. When I look at the CPU on the VM it shows a lot of spikes. The physical server shows a constant CPU-usage with no spikes. I made my conclusion citrix doesn't work on vmware, I did a lot of tests with finetuning vmware, cpu affinity, memory...nothing helps in vmware.
VMware is great for testing purposes, but we invested in the vmware concept not only for testing purposes! With hw like that I expect it to be able to run in our production environment. Running citrix on vmware is for example great to use in disaster recovery. When a server crashes, you can run a temporary virtual server to avoid the other servers to be overloaded. We also use seperate servers for "unstable" applications, with vm-ware we can provide them, in this way we prevent these unstable applications to bring a healthy server on his knees. This would be great, if I could rely on the fact that citrix runs well on vmware, but for the moment I'm not convinced. I really hope something can be done about it, because using vm-ware for server consolidations other than citrix it's the best there is.

Wim
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can't comment on some peoples negative experience of VMWare and Citrix, but I can detail our positive experience....

We have been running tests during the last 9 months, comparing performance of Citrix on physical and virtual servers.


We have found that the virtual servers give us 90% or better of the performance of the physical servers.

These tests included looking at very high CPU apps running on the VM's (12 users per <b>physical</b> box).


The VM host was ESX 2.1, running on a quad CPU (2.0Ghz) server with 8Gb RAM with two directly attached storage arrays (one for console, one for VM's). The VM's were compared against dual CPU (2.4Ghz) 4Gb RAM servers.



No tweaking of the VM config was done, except to select "Citrix or Terminal Services" during VM setup.


Our experience with VMWare has been really good, and we are looking forward to expanding our install base.


PCFanClub


PS: I don't work for VMWare...


PPS.Don't believe everything Andy Grove tells you...


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You can try using Virtuozzo from www.sw-soft.com.It doesn't use hardware vitualization,The software uses OS virtualization.
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hello,
I have the same problem here with vmware GSX server an d Citrix PS 3.0.
 
The physical server is an xeon 4 processors With 4 GB ram.
I have installe windows 2003 on the host server, wit hVmware GSX 3.1.
The guest OS are 1 windows 2003 citrix and 2 windows 2000 citrix servers.
 
Every guest OS has allocated 1 gb of RAM. and 16 Gb hard disk space.
 
the hardware is an Dell pe 2650 server.
 
When there are 5 connection to the citrix farm, the server is performing very badly.
anyone know the solution of this problem.
 
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5.5.1 General performance and sizing considerations
The goal of this section is not to describe an approach for sizing and performance, but rather to point out specific characteristics of a VMware ESX Server implementation.
When it comes to performance it is important to remember that one should not automatically expect a virtual machine to exhibit the same performance characteristics of the physical server it emulates.
This is not to say that a virtual machine cannot cope with performance intense workloads. However, if achieving the highest performance is a major goal or requirement, VMware might not be the right choice. The same goes for workloads requiring large SMP systems (typically of more than two CPUs).
In any case it is important to agree on the minimum acceptable performance figures, then document it to perform a Proof of Concept (POC), if performance
 
I'd say that the exact nature of a Citrix farm should be purposed to achieving the highest performance and using SMP systems.
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I can certainly agree that Citrix isn't a 100% candidate for virtualization, but you can't write it off completely. There are may instances where Citrix can be virtualized, such as low user-density or low-frequency use servers.  Supporting servers are also very good candidates.  But just like ANY high-utilization server, you need to look before you leap.  You wouldn't run out and virtualize your high-utilization Oracle database server that is currently running on a quad-xeon server, would you?  If the server uses 70-80% of two processors, virtualizing it isn't going to change that.
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ORIGINAL: boein

Citrix does not run very well on vmware. I tested it with a 4CPU Xeon 2,4 Ghz with 32 gb Ram. Installed citrix on the server, with no other VM-running, the performance is terrible. You do not want to invest a lot of money for that performance, believe me. The VM has 2 CPU's and 3 GB Ram and can only support about 15 users simultaneously. I installed citrix on a HW-box with 2 CPU's 3,4 Ghz and 4 gb Ram, this configuration can support more than 50 users with an average CPU of 25%. We run apps like sap, notes and office. When I look at the CPU on the VM it shows a lot of spikes. The physical server shows a constant CPU-usage with no spikes. I made my conclusion citrix doesn't work on vmware, I did a lot of tests with finetuning vmware, cpu affinity, memory...nothing helps in vmware.
VMware is great for testing purposes, but we invested in the vmware concept not only for testing purposes! With hw like that I expect it to be able to run in our production environment. Running citrix on vmware is for example great to use in disaster recovery. When a server crashes, you can run a temporary virtual server to avoid the other servers to be overloaded. We also use seperate servers for "unstable" applications, with vm-ware we can provide them, in this way we prevent these unstable applications to bring a healthy server on his knees. This would be great, if I could rely on the fact that citrix runs well on vmware, but for the moment I'm not convinced. I really hope something can be done about it, because using vm-ware for server consolidations other than citrix it's the best there is.

Wim
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