The rate of change in the technology field is relentless. Constantly there are new solutions and products changing the status quo. This is especially true in the area of virtualization. We now have:
- virtual servers
- virtual desktops
- virtual applications
- virtual appliances
- virtual fabrics
- virtual switches
- and so on, and so on…
So where does this get us, apart from learning a bunch of new solutions that all seem more complicated than the way things were one before. The answer is simplicity, these technical solutions are all leading to one thing: abstraction. What this means is that they are removing dependencies in the stack from one another. Less dependencies, less complexity, more agility and freedom.
They’ve talked about this model in many capacities in different areas of virtualization; a common one is the layers of cake, or simply the layers model in VDI. Where the OS is decoupled from the applications and user profile. All the components come together to achieve the end result of a functional user workspace, yet none of the components are dependent on the others.
This facilitates simplified rollouts, migrations and upgrades. Admins no longer need to be concerned of adverse interactions with the upgrade of any one particular component, instead each component can be dealt with independently. This vastly simplifies change management and regression testing. It also enhances portability, users can bring their profile or applications to any OS with minimal headaches.
I have been doing research into Microsoft SCVMM 2012 and that was when I saw this model being taken and applied to server virtualization. Let me tell you- it was impressive. Microsoft has a product called Server App-V which like its MDOP counterpart, which virtualizes desktop applications, it allows for the virtualization of server workloads. Things like IIS, SQL Reporting Services or XenApp for example can be virtualized.
The ability to virtualize server workloads really starts to shine when you look at the rest of the capability of SCVMM 2012. SCVMM is moving towards the goal of providing resources regardless of location or hosting platform. Resources are no longer merely virtual machines, storage and networking but are tied together as services including the application layer. These services can be templated and basically act as a “recipe” for fully functional services such as a online purchasing system or XenApp host. This facilitates simplified user self service for deployment of services on demand. The fact that all the components of the “recipe” are virtualized and abstracted means extreme portability (think moving to the cloud!). Components can be upgraded independently and without concern of the other components. Think of how much this will simplify deployment.
Server App-V can take an application that has a 200 page installation guide and contain it so that every deployment is identical after the first succesful one. It can be ported from development to production and back again without ever changing. Any application changes and config is captured as “state”. Server App-V can monitor and port this state data so it can be migrated simply as well. Server App-V is a feature of SCVMM 2012. This means that all this can be automated in SCVMM’s console. It lets you visually define the components of a service and save it as a service template.
It is really exciting to think that one day incompatability type issues will no longer be a major headache. Everything will just work, as it is no longer some huge infrastructure stack with hooks running between all the layers, but rather a series of clean, known good, abstracted layers. Layers that can be moved between the datacenter and the cloud. The vision is starting to shine, and the clouds are starting to clear 😉
How to video : Sequencing an application with Server App-V
Video: Server App-V TechEd Presentation