It’s been some time that I haven’t posted anything new on my blog. Today I got a call from a long-time-not-seen friend (he’ll recognize himself!) who found me through my blog (and not FaceBook, ha!), and he also invited me to post some stuff more frequently. Funnily, I just got ZEND’s latest newsletter announcing their new kid on the block, ZEND Studio 8, which integrates with VMWare virtual development servers :
Run your PHP applications on a virtual server while creating and debugging them on your developer workstation! With Zend Studio 8.0 Beta 2, you can deploy applications directly into VMware Workstation virtual machines. Debug applications from inside a VM using Zend Studio and build real virtualization into your development processes.
Well, FINALLY! I was wondering why it took so long for someone, especially Zend, to offer an integrated solution. For our development needs at atHome as well as at VAlain , we’ve been using virtualized development and staging environments for months, and it has made a big difference from the first day, even if there was no direct and seamless integration, but rather a homebrewed solution.
I am very keen on trying this as soon as possible, and I’ll keep you posted with some expert, real-life insight.
A couple of days ago, after a tough day, I had a small discussion with one of my developers at work. I asked him to show me some document on his PC, and it took an awful long time for him to open it up because he mapped a network share on his private laptop he brought to work, and his laptop somehow stopped responding. My reaction was to say that this was an unacceptable loss of time and that I would think about no longer allowing people to bring their own gear to work.
Whilst I was driving home, I couldn’t get rid of the feeling that this was an emotional decision and that it felt wrong. Now that I took some time to think it over, I am sure that this is not what I will do in the future, but rather the opposite! I will encourage people to bring their own stuff to work, and even more than that…
In the past, I’ve been working with VMWare Server quite a lot at my company VAlain SA. We use it to run a LAMP development environment so that we can easily cope with growing needs and of course be ready in face of hardware failures. My team of developers at atHome uses Sun’s VirtualBox for their needs.
Using VMWare Server running on top of a Fedora Core , with a Fedora Core guest OS for instance, we often experience serious lag due to i/o wait. Simple operations like rsync’ing files from a remote production box to the local development server, cause i/o wait in excess of 80%, slowing the whole virtual machine down to a crawl. This seems to be a quite common problem, and not dependant on specific hardware or software, as you can find many posts on the Internet when you google for “vmware io load” for instance.
Using SUN’s VirtualBox, the problems went away. I/O load is constantly very low on the same hardware and using the same software setup. Now, this doesn’t mean at all that VirtualBox is better than VMWare, or vice-versa – they are two different beasts. However, in our case, switching to VirtualBox brought a great improvement to what was a headache to us. I’d be glad to share your opinions and experiences!
UPDATE : I found a pretty good performance review comparing MS Virtual PC, SUN’s VirtualBox, and VMWare, over here http://4sysops.com/archives/microsoft-virtual-pc-2007-sp1-vs-sun-xvm-virtualbox-210/