Virtual Machine Cloning

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2011-09-19 Print this article Print


We'll also be seeing something called "virtual machine image cloning" as an alternative to file-system and data-store snapshots. Oracle is ahead of the pack here. Its new VirtualBox virtualization package (v4.1 launched earlier this year) includes a new virtual machine cloning facility-one of the first on the market.

"Right now, when you have a virtual machine running, you create a snapshot, which is a child of the current virtual machine," explained Wim Coekaerts, who serves as Oracle's senior vice president of Linux and virtualization engineering. "But that's not something that can independently grow afterward. With a clone, you have a new entity that can have its own life and, subsequently, its own snapshots."

A snapshot is an object and a part of the virtual disk, so it can't be copied onto any other servers and used in any way. Plus, users don't have any visibility into it, Coekaerts said. Clones are completely new virtual disk objects, independent units that can have new lives of their own.

Automated disaster recovery-either on-premises or from a cloud service-is coming. In the past, reconnecting data stores with systems and getting those systems running after a power outage was done manually. However, software now available is smart enough to get large portions of a virtualized system back online much faster and with less effort. Dell EqualLogic, EMC Data Domain, Hewlett-Packard and VMware are some of the vendors that offer this.

Storage Pooling Gaining Momentum

Storage pooling is another hot topic. This approach to storage virtualization delineates specific areas of the storage system to be dedicated to specific data flows to enable more efficient multitenant service deployments, for example. Sepaton championed this early on, and other vendors are following suit.

Virtualized storage systems break files into chunks of data, which are dispersed into numerous data center or storage locations, and then reassemble them on demand. Keeping data file chunks closer together in pools is said to provide faster reassembly of file chunks.

All these advances in storage technology are giving IT managers many options when it comes to finding ways to improve data storage capacity and performance. It's also giving them plenty to think about when they have to decide which option can provide the most efficient performance and is available today at an affordable price.

Editor's note: This is the first of a three-part series. Sept. 26: What thought leaders are saying about the future of storage.

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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