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1 virtualization.info Review Center SWsoft Virtuozzo (for Windows) //

2 SWsoft Virtuozzo (for Windows) Review 2 Summary 0. Introduction 1. Installation 2. VPSs creation and modification 3. Management 4. Backup 5. Security 6. Physical to Virtual (P2V) migration 7. Conclusions

3 SWsoft Virtuozzo (for Windows) Review 3 0. Introduction Virtualization technologies provided by VMware, Microsoft, XenSource, Serenity and Parallels aren't the only available solution for server consolidation, fast provisioning and so on. A different approach, usually called operating system (OS) partitioning, can achieve same results and actually seems to be very appreciated by many customers. OS partitioning is considerably different from virtualization. In a virtualization solution we have virtual machines, insulated, empty boxes with a dedicated set of virtual hardware devices (from hard disks to memories), ready to sustain various operating systems, even different from the one installed on real, physical hardware. In an OS partitioning solution we instead have partitions, insulated boxes, forks of the underlying operating system, sharing with it the same software base and the same hardware, but maintaining their own network identity and applications pool. Today two companies are mainly offering an OS partitioning solution: Sun, which offers a free, embedded partitioning engine within its Solaris 10 operating system called Solaris Containers, and SWsoft, which offers a commercial partitioning engine for Windows and Linux operating systems called Virtuozzo. Since few months SWsoft also launched an open source version of Virtuozzo, called OpenVZ, available just for Linux operating systems. The following review is based on SWsoft Virtuozzo (build ) for Windows, the latest available on February 2006, installed on Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition with Service Pack 1.

4 SWsoft Virtuozzo (for Windows) Review 4 1. Installation Virtuozzo is powered by a flexible distributed architecture offering several tiers: hardware node tier (where our VPSs will be hosted) backup node tier (where our VPSs could be backupped) monitor node tier (useful for HNs resources usage remote check) workstation node tier (useful for HNs remote management) Having a backup node isn't really needed in small installations but it's highly recommended. If you plan to have one you should consider using a host powered by large network storage unit drives, reachable by fibre channel or iscsi. In the same way a monitor node isn't mandatory, but quite needful if you plan to use VPSs dynamic distribution capabilities of Virtuozzo. For this review we'll use a simple stand alone installation. Virtuozzo at present just supports Windows Server 2003 platforms (x32 and x64 architectures) so we already know we can only have multiple Win2003 Virtual Private Servers. The installation process is pretty fast and automatically invokes an Internet update to check new patches availability (highly recommended since SWsoft support team release fixes very often). In any moment to verify your installed version just type on command prompt: C:\> vzctl --version Immediately after a configuration wizard starts to help you configuring your HN. It will ask you the Windows installation CD to include several components (like IIS) you probably left out in your fresh plain installation: they will need to be available for VPSs requests. Then the wizard will ask you to define network properties of the Service VPS, which is a special VPS needed to handle remote management requests by the Win32 console (Virtuozzo Management Console) or the web console (Virtuozzo Power Panels):

5 SWsoft Virtuozzo (for Windows) Review 5

6 SWsoft Virtuozzo (for Windows) Review 6 2. VPSs creation and modification The whole Virtuozzo philosophy runs around the templates concept. While the OS template is just one, for Windows Server 2003, there are several Application templates available out of the box. A template is a pre-installed set of applications, layered above operating system, which Virtuozzo can apply to any VPS in a moment. You can always manually add a new application to any VPS like in physical machines, but if you need to recurrently install a predefined amount of software inside your VPS, better use a defined template. So, for example, creating 2 new SharePoint servers is simply matter of deploying a new Win2003 OS template with a SharePoint Application template, specifying 2 copies: During the creation process Virtuozzo will ask some critical details to customize your new VPS: hostname and administrator password, IP address, subnet mask and DNS settings, and on which physical interface bind the new VPS:

7 SWsoft Virtuozzo (for Windows) Review 7 as well as physical CPU quota, disk space and assigned memory size: Virtuozzo also permits you to define VPS automatic startup, offline management (using web console Virtuozzo Power Panels), network broadcasts allowance or Windows QoS packet scheduler activation.

8 SWsoft Virtuozzo (for Windows) Review 8 3. Management Central management of all VPSs is granted by the Virtuozzo Management Console. From here you can start, stop, and restart all your virtual servers. But, the most important thing, from here you have the complete control over every VPS. For any you can: upload local files (specifying destination directory), browse disks, mount Hardware Node folders, recall performance monitor, administer services and users, check event logs and connect via Remote Desktop: For every VPS you can also invoke a special monitor, reporting live details about virtual CPU, memory and network usage. For the last one there is also a handful historical archive:

9 SWsoft Virtuozzo (for Windows) Review 9 Creating several new virtual servers within minutes is great but customizing them installing and configuring new software is the most time consuming operation a system administrator need to face everyday. Virtuozzo completely cuts down this time using Application templates as we already said. But what if default provided templates aren't enough (and they probably won't)? SWsoft provided a needful templates creation wizard which will offer you 2 ways to define applications to include in your template. The first method is called From manually selected data, and will require you to define every single file and registry key to add inside the template. It's a really powerful option but is complex and could be difficult work with it, since you have to perfectly know how the application works. The second method is called From application, and is a lot simpler: Virtuozzo will ask you to create a temporary VPS where to install your wanted application, then applying a differentiate operation will extrapolate what changed inside the environment, putting this changes inside your custom template. At the end the temporary VPS will be destroyed. After the process you need to manually add your new template on the Hardware Node with a command line utility, and then it will appear in templates library, ready to be deployed on any VPS you like: Templates can be added to your VPS while powered on and the new software is available near immediately. Anyway most interesting thing is that applications defined inside templates are not copied into every VPS, wasting space, but just inside the Hardware Node, which will partition its use among any requiring VPS. In some cases, even if Application templates are really fast, could be necessary to have an exact copy of an existing VPS. In this case you can use the Clone Virtual Private Server command. Virtuozzo also offers a VPS migration facility if you have multiple Hardware Nodes, but the operation will lead to downtime (SWsoft reports under 1 minute on average).

10 SWsoft Virtuozzo (for Windows) Review 10 The last management part we really could be interested in is the Virtuozzo web management console called Power Panels: Power Panels is a clean and intuitive interface to monitor what's happening on your VPS. It can start and stop existing VPSs and has some basic monitoring features like verifying resources usage, checking running processes, browsing files, parsing logs. But it lacks of enhanced monitoring and modification capabilities, so you won't able to create new VPS or install new Application templates from here (in the Linux version of Virtuozzo there is also the possibility to reinstall from scratch VPS in cause of corruption). A good plus is the possibility to invoke VPS backup (we'll see this topic on the next review section). The whole Power Panels site is available out of the box in several languages. It's totally customizable and SWsoft provides explanations on how to modify a single page or the entire layout. This feature is particularly welcome for companies (e.g.: ISP) in need of providing a branded service to outside customers.

11 SWsoft Virtuozzo (for Windows) Review Backup Every VPS can have one or multiple backups, invoked from Virtuozzo Management Console or Power Panels, and you can ask to go full or incremental. As stated on the installation you can create a distributed installation and deploy a dedicate Backup Node, where Virtuozzo will send and retrieves VPS backup sets. Otherwise you can ask for local backup. Restore is very flexible permitting to select which files to have back instead of the entire VPS image. In any case you can always explore backup content (files and folders) before accepting the chosen restore operation: Also every backup can be restored on a different Hardware Node if you have more than one.

12 SWsoft Virtuozzo (for Windows) Review Security A common concern in virtualization infrastructure is correct access permission enforcement and reliable virtual environments isolation. In Virtuozzo authorization control is very granular. First of all you can define a password on every VPS to avoid indiscriminate configuration modification from Management Console or Power Panels. Then, from inside the Management Console you can create new users (corresponding to Windows accounts in Hardware Node operating system) and define VPS access for every of them, deciding to specify single IDs or several ranges (with exclusions): Users permissions defined in Management Console will provide administrative access from Power Panels as well. Last but not least, every connection between Management Console and Hardware Node is tunnelled inside SSH v2, every connection to Power Panels is tunnelled inside HTTPS, and, as you'll discover next, P2V migration is SSH enforced as well.

13 SWsoft Virtuozzo (for Windows) Review Physical to Virtual (P2V) migration Once embracing Virtuozzo for server consolidation a basic need is to port existing physical server inside the virtual infrastructure. Doing this operation manually can be really time-consuming and painful, since you're not just cloning your existing operating system and restoring it on an identical machine, but you're changing the whole underlying hardware, which can lead to drivers reinstallation or possibly the dreadful blue screen of death. In any case you're to front a long down-time. To avoid this many virtualization vendors started to offer so called physical to virtual (P2V) migration utilities, which speeds up movement operation and solves on the fly drivers incompatibilities. Since Virtuozzo for Windows SWsoft itself introduced a physical to virtual (P2V) migration tool called VZP2V. Most P2V solutions need to deploy a migration assistant agent on the physical server before starting to port it inside virtual infrastructure. Some of them, like Virtuozzo VZP2V, can remotely install it knowing machine administrative username and password (this procedure will be painful if you hardened your server stopping NetBIOS services). The P2V wizard will show physical server details before proceeding and will ask you what drive (if more than one is present) to migrate into VPS and what to do with the physical server: The whole operation takes place in a SSH tunnel for maximum security. Migrating a Windows Server 2003 with 4 GB hard disk (no RAID configuration) took 50 minutes on a standard 10/100 Ethernet segment. And the resulting VPS worked flawless.

14 SWsoft Virtuozzo (for Windows) Review Conclusions SWsoft Virtuozzo for Windows is deadly simple to install and manage, with extended virtual servers' centralized management features, and enhanced provisioning capabilities. Anyway you should consider that OS partitioning is different from virtualization. Virtuozzo is less flexible than any VMware or Microsoft virtualization software and you won't be able to consolidate different platforms, or migrate some of them when the new Microsoft codename Longhorn Server will come. If you're going to approach Virtuozzo and work on Linux platforms you should really check the Virtuozzo open source project called OpenVZ. And just in case you are asking yourself: yes, it can be installed inside a virtual machine provided by virtualization platforms like VMware o Microsoft. SWsoft Virtuozzo for Windows is licensed per processor with a price of 1000 Euros per CPU, while the Management Console costs 1000 Euros per seat with an unlimited servers management capability. SWsoft offers an online Return on Investment (ROI) calculator to better evaluate impact of Virtuozzo adoption on company budget.

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