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Purdue University - Discovery Park
Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security

VMworld 2006:  ReAssure (CERIAS), VIX and Lab Manager (VMware)

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The conference is surprisingly huge (6000 people).  Virtualization is obviously important to IT now.  I am looking forward to the security-related talks (I’ll post about them later).  Here are a few notes from the sessions I attended:

  • Saturday a VMware team shot a video of yours truly talking about ReAssure (of course I became tongue-tied when the camera was turned on!).  It will be presented at the general session Wednesday morning.  I hope it generates interest in ReAssure!
  • The VIX API on Tuesday morning was a very interesting session.  It will enable the remaining automation functionality of ReAssure.  It allows to automate the powering on and off of virtual machines, the taking of snapshots, transfering files (e.g., results) between the host and guest OS, and even starting programs in the guest OS!  It was introduced with VMWare server 1.0 last summer, but I hadn’t noticed.  It is still work in progress though;  there’s support only for C, Perl and COM (no Python, although I was told that there was a source forge project for that).
  • The VMware lab manager (introduced last summer) is very much like ReAssure.  Except, ReAssure doesn’t have IP conflicts, and in ReAssure all experiments (“deployed configurations”) are independent and their traffic is isolated with VLANs.  In some respects, VMware lab manager is more sophisticated, and in others it is more primitive.  For example, all networks in Lab Manager are flat (and even, all experiments share the same network, apparently), whereas ReAssure supports complex networks.  To resolve IP conflicts, Lab Manager uses “fenced networks” which is a NAT hack.  Lab Manager is also limited to fibre channel NAS, and is tied to VMware ESX while disabling most of what makes ESX flexible and interesting (ReAssure uses the VMware server freeware).  I’m excited about the VIX API (see above) because will bring ReAssure beyond lab manager, by allowing snapshots, suspend and resume functionality, etc…I wonder what I need to do to make ReAssure more well-known and adopted.  I haven’t found any bugs in it for a while, so I think I’ll officially release the first final (not beta) version very soon (e.g., Friday or next week).

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