• The Virtual World

    Get Ready for Containers!

    Looks like I am not the only one saying that container tech is a big deal!

    Containers Are the Next Game Changer

    Virtualization Review – By: Sean Massey – “Earlier this week, VMware announced two new open-source projects based on container technology. Project Photon is a lightweight Linux distribution designed for running containers, and Project Lightwave’s an orchestration and management tool built on technology from Pivotal.

    This, plus Microsoft’s recent announcement of Windows Server Nano with container support, sends a clear message about the future. Containerization is here, and it, along with a raft of other technologies such as configuration management, will be coming to your datacenter or environment sooner rather than later.

    While this just marks the next stop on the evolution of the data center, it brings a huge change for many systems administrators in environments that are predominately based on Windows Server. Since the release of Windows Server 2008, Microsoft has steadily decreased the need for the GUI-based management tools with Windows Server Core, PowerShell, and various remote-management technologies. At the same time, infrastructures are getting easier to automate and manage through the use of software-defined solutions.

    The only constant in IT is change. These changes won’t happen overnight, so there’s time to get out in front of them. Many of the tools that will make up the next paradigm are open source or commercial software with a free tier, so you can run them in a lab environment or on your own time. These tools aren’t always the easiest to learn or use, but if you start learning them now, you’ll be ready when your business says they need it.

    While sysadmins won’t become irrelevant, the nature of their work will change. It will be less about managing Windows, Linux and the underlying infrastructure and more about automating, orchestrating, and managing applications. It’s time to pivot towards these areas now.”

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  • VirtZine - Video Netcasts

    VirtZine #49 – Video – “Acquisitions and New Versions”


    Fedora 21 for the Open Source cloud, Citrix buys Sanbolic to ease desktop storage, VMware acquires Immidio Flex, the future of Virtualization, Docker competitor puts Windows Server into containers, vSphere 6 is now available, a new version of Ericom!

    (Click on the buttons below to Stream the Netcast in your “format of choice”)
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    and choose “Save link as…” to save the file locally on your PC)

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  • VirtZine - Audio Netcasts

    VirtZine #49 – Audio – “Acquisitions and New Versions”

    Fedora 21 for the Open Source cloud, Citrix buys Sanbolic to ease desktop storage, VMware acquires Immidio Flex, the future of Virtualization, Docker competitor puts Windows Server into containers, vSphere 6 is now available, a new version of Ericom!

    (Click on the buttons below to Stream the Netcast in your “format of choice”)
    Streaming M4V Video
     Download M4V
    Streaming WebM Video
     Download WebM
    Streaming MP3 Audio
     Download MP3
    (“Right-Click” on the “Download” link under the format button
    and choose “Save link as…” to save the file locally on your PC)

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    Also available on YouTube:

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  • The Virtual World

    A New Version of Ericom is Worth a Look!

    I have looked at Ericom before. I installed it and tested it, and was fairly impressed. In this article, Brian Madden, a renownd virtualization expert, says that this new version is REALLY worth considering!

    Ericom Connect v7: a ground-up rewrite of their desktop virtualization product that seems more modern than Citrix or VMware!

    BrianMadden.com – By: Brian Madden – “Yesterday Ericom released Ericom Connect v7, the latest version of their VDI & RDSH desktop and app virtualization solution (formerly known as AccessNow). Connect is a complete rewrite which was two years in the making. It focuses on enterprise scalability (supporting 100k concurrent users), ease of use (install everything in 19 minutes), and reporting based on actual useful business intelligence (thanks to their new data architecture I’ll get to in a bit).

    From a technical standpoint, Ericom did away with the traditional SQL database and config files. ‘That’s 1980s technology,’ they said, and it’s not what newly-designed modern systems are based on. Instead, Connect has a distributed grid-based architecture where they moved the entire database and business logic into memory. This grid is distributed across multiple Connect servers and can scale to millions of transactions per second. While that’s overkill right now, Ericom wanted to design something that would still make sense 10-15 years from now. (There’s still a SQL database for backup / offline storage.)

    Anyway, the grid has huge scalability, reliability, and high availability. It’s got alerts, logging, and real-time reporting. So really all the pieces for legitimate business intelligence are built right into the grid.

    Ericom Connect v7 architecture

    We already mentioned that the Connect Servers create this in-memory grid to hold all the configuration and BI information. Then on the backend behind them are all the hosts users actually connect to. There’s an Ericom Connect Host Agent running in each Windows host, and they support RDSH, VDI, and physical desktops. The host agents are pretty straightforward and talk to the grid to report session counts, health, stats, etc.

    On the front end, there’s a client service that connects the end user clients to their actual sessions. The actual connection ends up being directly between the the client and the Connect agent in the session, (possibly with a load balancer and/or an Ericom Connect Secure Gateway in between).

    On the client side, Ericom has clients for Windows, Mac, Linux, HTML5, iOS, Android, Chomebook, and BlackBerry.


    Management is done via a web-based dashboard. The new dashboard is based on widgets and looks nice and modern. (Waaaaay better than the AccessNow admin console!)

    The whole thing just feels really intuitive. You can create groups of applications, groups of servers, and groups of users that you then manage as a group. So you can associate a group of apps with AD items and apply groups to hosts.

    (Everything in the management console is scriptable. Like all good products, their own management interface uses the same scripting interfaces that are available to you, so you know you can do everything.)

    Connect also has this very cool ‘Launch Simulation’ feature which is where you can see exactly what an end user would see when they login as well as all the business logic behind the scenes that created that vide. So you say ‘Show me user bsmith’ and it will show all the apps they’d see as if they were connected, and then you can click on one and it would show what server they would connect to as well as all the specific settings for that session and where those policies came from.

    What’s missing? VM management. (And that’s a good thing!)

    Perhaps the biggest ‘feature’ of Connect is something that’s not included at all—VM, image, and provisioning management. That’s right, Ericom Connect v7 does not have features to manage the provisioning of images or to manage individual or pools of VMs. And this is a good thing!

    About a year ago I wrote Cloud platforms diminish Citrix XenDesktop/XenApp’s value. This is the opportunity for VMware. I guess I should have said it’s the opportunity for Ericom, because this is exactly what Ericom did.

    My basic premise was that in the old days when everything was physical, we needed our desktop virtualization product / server-based computing product to manage all that stuff. MetaFrame had to do server image management. Citrix Provisioning Services had to copy and boot up dozens of client instances off of a single master image.

    But in 2015 when everything is virtual, there are already plenty of other products that do this which you already have. Heck, you probably already have too many of these products and one of your problems is figuring out which ones you use! Seriously, when you need to clone a VM, is that something that you do in vSphere? Or your storage product? Or maybe your storage product via vSphere? Or SCVMM? Or…???

    So really if you already have all these ways to grow, shrink, copy, delete, clone, build, and deploy VMs and disk images, do you really want another way to do it from your desktop virtualization vendor? I would think not. (Especially since theirs would probably suck since they’re in the business of desktop virtualization—not image and VM management.) So in Ericom’s case, they spent their efforts on building this grid and their connection broker and their BI and their clients and their protocol enhancements while letting you use whatever else you want to actually manage your infrastructure.

    The bonus here is this means Ericom Connect v7 is good to go regardless of the type of infrastructure you have. Physical, virtual, hyper-converged, cloud, DaaS, AWS, RDSH, VDI… they don’t really care. Stand up a Connect Server, drop their host agent into the Windows environments you’re connecting to, and you’re done. (The host agents register themselves when they come up.)

    The bottom line

    I really, really like Ericom Connect v7. It looks and feels like a modern polished product. WAY more polished than XenDesketop / XenApp (though that’s not hard), and feels as good as VMware View 6 when you’re using it. Everything just feels pretty dead simple, and there are a lot of things around the reporting and analysis that Citrix doesn’t even have after 20 years.

    I understand that Ericom is not going to displace XenDesktop/XenApp or View, but after looking at Connect v7 it is safe to say this is something that has a place in the enterprise. Definitely worth piloting before making a Citrix or VMware desktop virtualization decision.”

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  • The Virtual World

    VMware vSphere Version 6.0 Has Been Officially Released!

    The long awaited, and anticipated VMware vSphere Version 6.0 is out! Prepare for the new features, changes, and, of course, new certification courses!

    vSphere 6 Now Available

    Virtualization Review – By: Keith Ward – “The latest version of the VMware Inc. flagship product, vSphere 6, is available as of today. It’s the first major update of vSphere since version 5.5, which came out about three years ago.

    At the time of the vSphere 6 announcement on Feb. 2, CEO Pat Gelsinger said it was the biggest release ever. It includes more than 650 new features, many of which revolve around increased scalability. Those upgrades will make vSphere more cloud-ready, which is a major push for VMware.

    Some of the most important updates include a doubling of the amount of virtual machines (VMs) available per cluster, from 4,000 to 8,000; a similar doubling of the number of hosts per cluster, from 32 to 64; and tripling the RAM per host, from 4TB to 12TB.

    vSphere 6 also upgrades technologies for storage, high availability and disaster recovery. One feature that’s received a huge amount of attention is Virtual Volumes, or VVOLs. VVOLs, writes Taneja Group Analyst Tom Fenton, ‘completely changes the way its hypervisor consumes storage; it radically changes how storage is presented, consumed and managed by the hypervisor.’ He believes it will revolutionize virtual storage.

    VVOLs will also enable a wide range of external storage arrays to become VM-aware, according to one blog post.

    Beyond storage, live migration of VMs gets a boost with long-distance vMotion. Live VM migration in vSphere 6 can be performed across distributed switches and vCenter Servers, and over distances ‘of up to 100ms RTT,’ according to a vSphere 6 FAQ. Because of that, Taneja Group’s Fenton writes, it would be possible to move a live VM across the entire United States.

    Fault tolerance has been significantly expanded, as well, with support for workloads with up to four virtual CPUs (vCPUs) now. Previously, Fault Tolerance only supported a single vCPU. This greatly limited its use on vCenter, which requires a minimum of two vCPUs.”

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  • The Virtual World

    VMware Sued for Linux License Issue

    I am sure VMware will respond to this, but it will be expensive to fight in court!

    VMware sued for failure to comply with Linux license

    ZDNet – By: Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols – “In 2007, top Linux contributor Christoph Hellwig accused VMware of using Linux as the basis for the VMware ESX bare-metal hypervisor, an essential part of VMware’s cloud offerings.

    Years went by and the Software Freedom Conservancy, a non-profit organization that promotes open-source software, claims to have negotiated with VMware for the company to release ESX’s code, and its successor ESXi. That way, argued the Software Freedom Conservancy, these programs would legally comply with Linux’s Gnu General Public License version 2 (GPLv2). VMware refused in 2014.

    Now, Hellweg and the Software Freedom Conservancy are suing VMware in the district court of Hamburg in Hamburg, Germany.

    The group explains that they see this as a ‘regretful but necessary next step in both Hellwig and Conservancy’s ongoing effort to convince VMware to comply properly with the terms of the GPLv2, the license of Linux and many other Open Source and Free Software included in VMware’s ESXi products.’
    What’s surprising about VMware’s stubbornness is that there’s never been much question that VMware had used Linux in ESX and ESXi. As Hellwig wrote in 2007, ‘VMware uses a badly hacked 2.4 kernel with a big binary blob hooked into it, giving a derived work of the Linux kernel that’s not legally redistributable.’

    On top of that, in 2011, the Conservancy said that VMware failed to provide nor offer any source code for the version of BusyBox, a popular embedded Linux distribution and toolkit, in ESXi. Historically, BusyBox’s developers have been aggressive about defending the GPLv2. During 2007, BusyBox successfully concluded the first US GPL-related lawsuit. The developers then followed up with victories against Verizon and other would-be GPLv2 violators.

    Despite the evidence of the code, the Conservancy stated, ‘VMware’s legal counsel finally informed Conservancy in 2014 that VMware had no intention of ceasing their distribution of proprietary-licensed works derived from Hellwig’s and other kernel developers’ copyrights, despite the terms of GPLv2.’ Therefore, the Conservancy felt it had ‘no recourse but to support Hellwig’s court action.’

    Besides the general violation of the license, the group continued, ‘Conservancy and Hellwig specifically assert that VMware has combined copyrighted Linux code, licensed under GPLv2, with their own proprietary code called ‘vmkernel’ and distributed the entire combined work without providing nor offering complete, corresponding source code for that combined work under terms of the GPLv2.’

    Both Hellwig and the Conservancy state in a FAQ on the lawsuit that ‘Simply put, Conservancy and Christoph fully exhausted every possible non-litigation strategy and tactic to convince VMware to do the right thing before filing this litigation.’

    Commenting generally on the issue of GPL enforcement, Bradley M. Kuhn, the Conservancy’s President and Distinguished Technologist, said in a statement that ‘The prevalence and sheer volume of GPL violations has increased by many orders of magnitude in the nearly two decades that I have worked on enforcement of the GPL. We must make a stand to show that individual developers and software freedom enthusiasts wish to uphold copyleft as a good strategy to achieve more access to source code and the right to modify, improve and share that source code. I ask that everyone support Conservancy in this action’

    The Free Software Foundation (FSF), an organization that defends the legal rights of open-source software developers and users , also supports Hellwig. The FSF Executive Director, John Sullivan said, ‘I know that they (the Conservancy) have been completely reasonable in their expectations with VMware and have taken all appropriate steps to address this failure before resorting to the courts. Their motivation is to stand up for the rights of computer users and developers worldwide, the very same rights VMware has enjoyed as a distributor of GPL-covered software. The point of the GPL is that nobody can claim those rights and then kick away the ladder to prevent others from also receiving them. We hope VMware will step up and do the right thing.’

    VMware’s Director of Corporate Public Relations, Michael Thacker, replied, ‘We believe the lawsuit is without merit. VMware embraces, participates in, and is committed to the open-source community. We believe we will prevail on all issues through the judicial process in Germany.'”

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  • The Virtual World

    Docker Competitor for Windows Server

    A Docker competitor? Sounds interesting. I have always said that this was the future!

    Docker Competitor Puts Windows Server Into Containers

    Virtualization Review – By: Jeffrey Schwartz – “Containers are a hot technology, and the one currently burning brightest is Docker; it’s the default starting point for admins considering using containers in their enterprise. But as with any new tech with a lot of buzz, contenders spring up almost immediately. That’s happening in the Windows world.

    A little-known startup that offers data protection and SQL Server migration tools today released what it calls the first native container management platform for Windows Server, and claims it can move workloads between virtual machines (VMs) and cloud architectures. DH2i’s DX Enterprise encapsulates Windows Server application instances into containers, removing the association between the apps, data and the host operating systems connected to physical servers.

    The Fort Collins, Colo.-based company’s software is a lightweight 8.5 MB server installation that offers a native alternative to Linux-based Docker containers. At the same time, Microsoft and Docker are working on porting their containers to Windows, as announced last fall. In addition to its relationship with Microsoft, Docker has forged ties with all major infrastructure and cloud providers including Google, VMware and IBM. Docker and Microsoft are jointly developing a container technology that will work on the next version of Windows Server.

    In his TechDays briefing last week, Microsoft Distinguished Engineer Jeffrey Snover confirmed that the company will include support for Docker containers in the next Windows Server release, known as Windows vNext.

    DH2i president and CEO Don Boxley explained why he believes DX Enterprise is a better alternative to Docker, pointing to that fact that it’s purely Windows Server-based.

    ‘When you look at a Docker container and what they’re talking about with Windows containerization, those are services that they’re looking at then putting some isolation kind of activities in the future,’ Boxley said. ‘It’s a really important point that Docker’s containers are two containerized applications. Yet there are still going to be a huge amount of traditional applications simultaneously. We’ll be able to put any of those application containers inside of our virtual host and have stop-start ordering or any coordination that needs to happen between the old type of applications and the new and/or just be able to manage them in the exact same way. It forces them to be highly available and extends now to a containerized application.’

    The company’s containers, called ‘Vhosts,’ each have their own logical host name, associated IP addresses and portable native NTFS volumes. The Vhost’s metadata assigns container workload management, while directing the managed app to launch and run locally, according to the company. Each Vhost shares one Windows Server operating system instance, which are stacked on either virtual or physical servers. This results in a more consolidated way of managing application workloads and enabling instance portability, Boxley explained.

    Unlike Docker, there are ‘no companion virtual machines running Linux, or anything like that at all,’ Boxer said. ‘It’s just a native Windows application; you load it onto your server and you can start containerizing things right away. And again, because of that universality of our container technology, we don’t care whether or not the server is physical, virtual or running in the cloud. As long as it’s running Windows Server OS, you’re good to go. You can containerize applications in Azure and in Rackspace and Amazon, and if the replication data pipe is right, you can move those workloads around transparently.’ At the same time, Boxley said it will work with Docker containers in the future.

    Boxley said a customer can also transparently move workloads between any VM platform, including VMware, Hyper-V and Xen. ‘It really doesn’t matter because we’re moving the applications, not the machine or the OS,’ he said. Through its management console, it automates resource issues, including contention among containers. The management component also provides alerts and ensures applications are meeting SLAs.

    Asked why it chose Windows Server to develop DX Enterprise, Boxley said he believes it will remain the dominant environment for virtual applications. ‘We don’t think — we know it’s going to grow,’ he said. IDC analyst Al Gillen said that’s partly true, though Linux servers will grow in physical environments. Though he hasn’t tested DX Enterprise, Gillen said the demo looked promising. ‘For customers that have an application that they have to move and they don’t have the ability to port it, this is actually a viable solution for them,’ Gillen said.

    Boxley said the solution is also a viable option for organizations looking to migrate applications from Windows Server 2003, which Microsoft will no longer support as of July 14, to a newer environment. The software is priced at $1,500 per server core (if running on a VM, it can be licensed via the underlying core), regardless of the number of CPUs. Support, including patches, costs $360 per core per year.

    Boxley said the company is self-funded, and started out as a Microsoft BizSpark partner.”

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  • The Virtual World

    The Future of Virtualization

    This is an interesting article about the future of virtualization. Check it out!

    Interesting Times Ahead in the Server Virtualization World

    ServerWatch – By: Paul Rubens – “VMware is the 800 pound gorilla in the world of server virtualization, dominating the market with more than 50% market share, according to Gartner’s Server Virtualization Tracker from last year.

    And it’s not been averse to flexing its muscles and splashing the cash over the last few years: VMware shelled out a whopping $1.54 billion for mobile device manager AirWatch, Virtually Speaking $1.26 billion for software-defined networking company Nicira, and an undisclosed but no doubt substantial sum for desktop-as-a-service company Desktone.

    VMware itself was bought by EMC in 2003 for what looks today like a steal: a mere trifling $624 million. But at today’s share price VMware has a market capitalization of about $33 billion. (EMC still owns about 80% of VMware’s stock, which probably depresses the true worth of the company slightly.)

    So VMware is a company that has grown hugely over the last dozen years. In the quarter just ended VMware announced it had made sales of $1.7 billion, bringing annual revenue for 2014 above $6 billion for the first time in the company’s history.

    Size Is All Relative

    Six billion dollars in revenues in one year certainly seems like a lot of moolah. Until you start looking at the really big gorillas in other tech sectors, that is. Then you see that VMware is relatively nothing more than a 98 pound weakling.

    Take Microsoft, for example. Microsoft is a big player in the server virtualization space with around a 30% market share (maybe a bit more), but it also has dominant interests in Windows operating systems, productivity software, cloud operations (as does VMware) and much more.

    Microsoft’s second quarter sales to the end of 2014 were $26.47 billion. That’s just for the quarter, not the year, remember. These figures dwarf VMware’s puny $1.7 billion in sales.

    And what about Apple? It’s more of a consumer hardware company than a business software company, but Microsoft and (to an extent) VMware sell hardware too.

    Apple’s quarterly revenues to December 27, 2014 came to $74.6 billion, and net profits were $18 billion — figures that make VMware’s pale in significance.

    To put that in to some sort of perspective, VMware’s sales for the whole of 2014 came to less than Apple’s sales by January 9th of that year or Microsoft’s by January 23rd. In fact Apple makes enough profit in six months to buy VMware outright (assuming of course that EMC would sell its holding) at the current share price. Heck, it could buy EMC with less than a year’s worth of profits.

    So just as AirWatch was a big fish in the MDM pool but just a guppy for a company the size of VMware, let’s not forget that VMware may be a big fish in the server virtualization pool, but Microsoft is a much bigger fish in the same pool, and Apple is a much bigger fish in a different pool altogether.

    Are we suggesting that Apple wants to own VMware? No, there’s nothing to suggest that it does. Or Microsoft? Again, no. That would be highly unlikely: it already has a healthy growing virtualization business based around Hyper-V.

    But might Apple ever want to own VMware? It’s possible. Virtualization technologies and particularly related cloud technologies are likely to become more important for companies such as Apple over the coming years.

    Looking Beyond Microsoft and Apple

    What about one of the other big technology leviathans like Oracle, IBM and so on? Stranger things have certainly happened.

    Would EMC ever sell its stake in VMware? It is something that’s being discussed, in particular by activist investor Elliott Management. And could EMC be bought outright, VMware and all? It’s been considered in the past, by the likes of Hewlett Packard, reportedly.

    So for now VMware may be the 800 pound gorilla in the virtualization market (or the biggest fish in the virtualization pool if you prefer.) But let’s not forget that there are much bigger gorillas out there, and VMware has something they may well decide that they want.

    Interesting times lie ahead in the virtualization world.”

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  • The Virtual World

    VMware Acquires Immidio Flex

    I have used the Open Source version of Flex on Citrix XenApp. It is pretty cool.

    What the Immidio Purchase Means for VMware Horizon Customers

    Virtualization Review – By: Sean Massey – “On Feb. 3, VMware Inc. announced it had acquired Immidio, a user profile management company based out of the Netherlands. Immidio’s two main products are Flex+, an agent-based user profile management solution, and AppScriber, an enterprise app store.

    Immidio describes Flex+ as a workspace virtualization solution that provides customization of end-user devices and applications. The settings can be dynamically applied to a user session based on a number of criteria such as Windows version and IP address. It supports both the desktop and server versions of Windows, including Remote Desktop sessions.

    VMware has previously attempted to address user profile management with View Persona Management. This feature provides more options than the Microsoft Roaming Profiles feature, but it’s also very limited. It doesn’t support profile management for applications published from Windows Server, and although VMware supported desktops running Windows Server 2008 R2 or Windows 8.1 in version 5.3, View Persona Management didn’t support them until Horizon View 6.0 was released.

    Effective user profile management is one of the major challenges of any virtual end-user computing infrastructure. Profiles contain the user’s personalization and application settings, and these need to follow a user to wherever they log in -– especially in non-persistent VDI and server-based computing environments, where users may not end up on the same machine after every log in.

    The Immidio acquisition will allow VMware to address the shortcomings of View Persona Management while providing cross-platform support for user and application settings. It also gives VMware an enterprise app store that they can tie in with App Volumes to allow users to provision their own access to applications in VDI and RDSH environments.”

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  • The Virtual World

    Citrix Acquires Sanbolic

    Citrix adds storage to their portfolio.

    Citrix snaps up Sanbolic to ease desktop virtualization

    GigaOm – By: Barb Darrow – “Citrix, which has led the charge for desktop virtualization, just acquired Sanbolic to help bleed out the complexity and cost that have kept virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) from broader adoption. Terms were not announced.

    Desktop virtualization separates what runs on a computer desktop from the physical computer itself so management, updates and patches can be more easily accomplished by a central administrator.

    Sanbolic, of Waltham, Mass., specializes in software defined storage which works with a wide array of existing storage hardware. It was already a close Citrix partner; Citrix said 200 of its existing XenDesktop XenApp customers already use Sanbolic in house to attain high-availability and to manage infrastructure across regions.

    With Sanbolic in-house, Citrix can develop pre-packaged and pre-tested solutions to ‘help drive down the cost and complexity of VDI and application delivery deployments in a linear and predictable manner,’ Sanbolic CEO Momchil Michailov said via email. Sanbolic, he added, enables customers to keep using existing storage arrays and infrastructure whether on-premise or in the cloud, including appliances for Amazon Web Services (AWS), IBM Softlayer, Rackspace and Microsoft Azure.

    Michailov, who becomes Citrix’s VP of storage technologies, and Sanbolic’s other 30 employees will move to Citrix, according to a spokeswoman.

    Citrix has been the standard bearer for desktop virtualization but has seen increased competition from VMware, the leader in server virtualization, which has juiced its efforts in this area over the past few years. But, both virtualization vendors are seeing increased competition from other software companies, including platform providers which are doing more of their own virtualization work.”

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