DevExpress Newsletter 16: Message from the CTO

ctodx
02 December 2009

Reprinting my Message from the CTO from the sixteenth newsletter so that you may comment on my thoughts.

Virtualizing your experiments

At PDC this year, I wanted to show off some of the new things we have in v2009.3, but at the time I was setting up my laptop there was only a beta available. Rush-released that very morning, in fact, so I wasn't hopeful it would last beyond the day. No matter, no problem, I just installed it in a virtual machine.

Virtual machines have changed the lives of developers everywhere. Need a pristine PC? Just clone the pristine virtual machine you have ready for that purpose (mine has Windows 7 plus Visual Studio 2008 freshly installed, all updated) and boot it. Need to test some alpha build and you're worried about it affecting your usual environment? Boot up another clone. Once you're done with your experiments, you can just throw the virtual machine away.

Back in the day, I used to have a spare physical PC and a copy of Norton Ghost. I'd create a pristine OS install, Ghost it, and then play merry havoc on the PC with dodgy software. Once I'd done, I'd reimage the pristine install from the Ghost image. But, compared with a VM, it took a long time to get to the "good" state.

Since there are several hypervisors around, you have no excuse. I use VMWare Workstation, but there's also Virtual PC and VirtualBox, both free, and on the Mac there's Parallels and VMWare Fusion. Once you have a hypervisor, all that's required is plenty of disk space to hold the virtual disks (these will be 20GB or so in size).

So protect yourself with a VM and experiment with abandon.

Actually, virtualization is slowly being accepted by the non-programming masses too. For example, with the top-of-the-range Windows 7 package, you can download a specialized virtualization app that only works with Windows XP. I wonder how soon before all we do is run software in virtual machines, and our host OS is just a hypervisor.

7 comment(s)
Anonymous
Aaron Smith

We run all of our servers virtualized now, with the exception of the file server. It's so much less headache and so much less money in hardware, plus it uses less power and wastes less CPU time. Ram and hard drives are cheap and you don't really need that powerful of a CPU as I found out after I rolled out 5 production servers onto a dual processor machine and still only have 5% CPU usage as average with no bottlenecks. I had to go way up in ram and luckily the motherboard supported 32 gig. We've had no issues. Now we have a couple spare machines that we can use to bring up utility VMs whenever we want to just mess with stuff. It's quite nice.

2 December, 2009
Peter Thorpe
Peter Thorpe

The new VHD stuff is pretty cool in windows 7. You can create a VHD and use it as a normal VM but also boot to it as a native machine if you need the extra speed. This is without having to partition your hard drive.

2 December, 2009
Anonymous
Joseph Raymundo

Been using a VM environment to design for a few years now and it appears to have been getting more reliable each day.  In my case, I'm using Vmware fusion & parallels on a Mac - which allows me to still work on both platforms.    2008 still seems a bit slow to me and I'm wondering what type of settings you guys are using to make it work more efficiently.

3 December, 2009
David Guest
David Guest

I use VM's as my development platforms, one for Delphi 7, another for Delphi 2010 and a third for Visual Studio 2008. I also have a test environment in a VM  I run them as XP Pro computers on a 64 bit laptop running Vista.  I keep my development source on a shared drive.  It works wonderfully.   One really nice feature is the fact that I don't have to back up the lap top, just my software code, and the VM's only when I update the development software. I can also let my non profit customers have a copy so that if I drop dead, the can continue to maintain the software.

3 December, 2009
Anonymous
Gaurav Anand

HI,

 I did know about the Virtual machines and have tried to use it one but, didn't know that they are reliable enough to be used on Production Servers.

  This article and the comments by Aaron Smith, Peter Thorpe, Joseph Raymundo  and David Guest have opened up new avenues for me and would add productivity to the company I work for.

Thanks Julian  :)

3 December, 2009
Anonymous
madhusudhanarao mallisetty

the cto expressed about virtual machines & they have changed the lives of developers radically. this is a good development in the field of IT. we need more information about viurtual mechanies & their working capability & speed, economy point of view above all security of data etc . hope the cto will make an effort to publish more details in the forth coming issues

4 December, 2009
Dennis Oosterkamp
Dennis Oosterkamp

Hi ...

Reading the blog and the comments I realize that the world only half knows the possibillities of virtualization.

A VM (propperly installed & configured) only uses a fraction of the resources a full PC needs.

I use VMware Server 2 (under Windows 7 pro)on my 5 year old P4 3GHz (500Gb hdd, 3Gb mem). This machine runs 2 servers (Win 2k3) and 6 VM's (5 Win XP, 1 Solaris 10) and I still can use the machine itself.

A proper configured Virtual(!) Windows XP machine only needs 384Mb of memory and runs on a 1.2Gb Disk!!

Use software virtualisation to share a repository of applications between the VM's and you can do big things in a small light weight enviroment ...

4 December, 2009

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