Virtualization, Cloud, Infrastructure and all that stuff in-between

My ramblings on the stuff that holds it all together

Category Archives: Appliances

Free EMC Celerra for your Home/Lab


Virtualgeek has an interesting post here about a freely downloadable VM version of their Celerra product, including an HA version. This is an excellent idea for testing and lab setups, and a powerful tool in your VM Lab arsenal alongside other offerings like Xtravirt Virtual SAN and OpenFiler.

I’ve been saying for a while that companies that make embedded h/w devices and appliances should try to offer versions of the software running their devices as VM’s so people can get them into lab/test environments quickly, most tech folk would rather download and play with something now, rather than have to book and take delivery of an eval with sales drones (apologies to any readers who work in sales) and pre-sales professional services, evaluation criteria etc. if your product is good it’s going to get recommended, no smoke and mirrors required.

As such VM appliances are an excellent pre-sales/eval tool, rather than stopping people buying products. Heck, they could even licence the VM versions directly for production use (as Zeus do with their ZXTM products); this is a very flexible approach and something that is important if you get into clouds as an internal or external service provider – the more you standardise on commodity hardware with a clever software layer the more you can recycle, reuse and redeploy without being tied into specific vendor hardware etc.

Most “appliances” in-use today are actually low-end PC motherboards with some clever software in a sealed box – for example I really like the Juniper SA range of SSL VPN appliances, I recently helped out with a problem on one which was caused by a failed HDD – if  you hook up the console interface its a commodity PC motherboard in a sealed case running a proprietary secure OS – as it’s all intel based, no reason it couldn’t also run as a VM (SLL accelerator h/w can be turned off in the software so there can’t be any hard dependency on any SSL accelerator cards inside the sealed box) – adopting VM’s for these appliances provides the same (maybe even better) level of standard {virtual} hardware that appliance vendors need to make their devices reliable/serviceable.

Another example, the firmware that is embedded in the HP Virtual Connect modules I wrote about a while back runs under VMWare Workstation, HP have an internal use version for engineers to do some development and testing against, sadly they won’t redistribute it as far as I am aware.