New Release: LIVEvisor on your hard drive

Fresh from Witsbits:

 

LIVEvisor now installs on your Hard Drive

With the latest release of Witsbits the LIVEvisor actually installs on your hard drive when you choose which local drive to store your VMs on.

The benefit is that you can reboot your host servers remotely without ever re-inserting the LIVEvisor boot CD/USB-key. So, from now on, use the boot CD/USB-key once to get your bare metal servers hooked up to the Witsbits web service, and that’s it – you can then manage it completely from the web without thinking about any host operating system.

Talk about Witsbits today in SF

I will be talking about Witsbits at House of Genius San Francisco today at 6pm PST. The event is hosted by Bear Data Solutions, at 128 Spear St in San Francisco. Send me an email if you’re in the neighborhood.

Cheers,
Mikael


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New Host Management Features

Fresh from Witsbits:


In this post I’ll focus on the new host operation and host management features we’ve released over the last month. Hope you like it!

1.  Custom Host Scripts – Write scripts to tune your hosts

Let’s say you have a hardware RAID controller and want to install it’s accompanying monitoring and alerts tool (i.e. the type of software that sends a text message to your phone when there’s something fishy with your drives). In this case Custom Host Scripts enables you to automate the deployment and configuration of that software as your blank servers start up.

All scripts are stored centrally in your Witsbits account, simplifying orchestration and maintenance of your scripts and making it easy to overview which scripts are assigned to what hosts.

We’re putting together a catalog of scripts for common use cases. These scripts are available in your account and you can either use them as is or as a start point for your own custom scripts.

 

We write scripts for you: If you have a common use case where you think scripting makes sense, please contact us and we’d be happy to help you write the script and publish it in the public catalog (and you’ll of course get a personalized version if that’s needed).

Find the host scripts by selecting a host server

2.  Host Storage Management

We’re doing a whole series of upgrades to Witsbits’ storage management and first out we’ve enabled freedom to choose between any of the local hard drives on the host to store your VMs on.

We’ve got more storage improvements cooking and we plan to push them out in a pretty quick phase. So if you have any thoughts on how you want to manage storage for your hosts (or guests for that matter), please get in touch quickly. We always develop new features in close contact with users with real use cases – so your feedback will, in a very real way, impact on the product.

Select which hard drive to use for storing virtual machines

3.  SSH Access to Hosts

We have extended the Host Access functionality to enable access via SSH (previously you had to walk over to the terminal to log in – no more, no more).

Enabling SSH for host access

And don’t forget:
You sign up for Witsbits here!

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Getting a Leg Up in the Managed Services Market

Fresh from Witsbits:


One type of company we’ve been working with a lot recently is providers of managed IT services (often called Managed Service Providers or MSPs), which typically support “working IT” for their clients.  As I’ve been working across the industry to help MSPs get more efficient with virtualization, I’ve recognized some common challenges that many providers face:

1.  Keeping Costs Under Control: It’s a competitive world out there, and the MSP space is no exception. All MSPs are working hard to keep their costs down while providing high service levels. Their clients often pay a fixed monthly price, so it’s up to the MSP to deliver quality while minimizing cost (which is the typical way MSPs can increase their margins).

2.  Delivering Quality Efficiently: In contrast to many consultants that actually make more money when they spend more time on a task, MSPs get more profitable by spending less time making IT work. Their clients don’t care as much about the details of how everything is done, as long as their email, business apps, etc. all work consistently.

3.  Managing Distributed Infrastructures: The very nature of an MSP targeting small to medium-sized businesses requires managing small sets of servers in many locations – on-site at each customer’s offices, and sometime in combination with servers in the MSPs data center or in other hosted facilities. As a matter of fact, the more successful an MSP is, the more distributed and diverse its environment becomes, and the bigger infrastructure headaches it deals with.

With challenges like these, it’s no surprise that successful MSPs are some of the most well-oiled companies I’ve seen. I’ve noticed three key best practices that are common amongst the best MSPs:

1.  Serving a Niche: While not unique to MSPs, this best practice is even more critical when so much (but certainly not all) of what an MSP does is based on largely commoditized technologies – and hardware and bandwidth are getting cheaper all the time. Not only can deep knowledge of the most popular technologies for a particular industry, company size, or geography help customers feel comfortable that their IT provider understands their business, it can also help the MSP save time and keep margins high.

2.  On-boarding Customers Quickly: MSPs at the top of their game can be amazingly fast at getting their customers’ servers and applications up and running, including initial setup and conversion from old systems.  This in turn helps those MSPs offer lower prices, which reduces barriers and increases ROI for new customers as they switch providers and/or systems. Streamlining customer on-boarding is a great way for MSPs to win more deals.

3.  Leveraging Strategic Virtualization: Admittedly I’m biased, but I’ve seen MSPs save massive amounts of time and money by leveraging virtualization with centralized management and automation. SaaS-based virtualization solutions like Witsbits offer MSPs greater flexibility and ease of use, so they can seamlessly manage very disparate, hybrid environments.

As a matter of fact, Witsbits is undergoing pilot projects with several technology service providers to help them get more efficient and keep costs low.  Some specific examples include an MSP that’s managing servers spread out over more than 100 of its customers’ geographically dispersed locations; a point of sale provider that’s working to improve efficiency as it manages and monitors its clients’ point of sale servers; and an infrastructure-as-a-service provider that’s deploying virtual machines for its public and private cloud environments powered by 30,000 servers.

Please contact us if you’re an MSP that’s interested in gaining better efficiencies using SaaS-based virtualization. We’re here to help and love to hear from you!

Mikael Lirbank, CEO, Witsbits


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New Release: Install Any Operating System

Fresh from Witsbits:

This release is particularly cool! You may now install any guest operating system, where ever the server is located. Just select a guest operating system from the list of installation ISO images, or if your favorite or custom operating system is not available, then you can just add it to your custom list of images. We’ve also thrown in a bunch of user interface upgrades and other enhancements with this release.

Check it out!

The reason we’re a bit extra exited about this release is because it’s the last step in making Witsbits completely flexible in regards to VM formats and supported guest operating systems.

You can now:

  • launch VMs from the list of pre-configured templates,
  • add you own VMs from other hypervisors,
  • install guest operating systems from a list of ISOs
  • or add an installation ISO for what ever weird operating system you can come to think of.
You may host your VMs on:
  • your own physical servers, or
  • on servers provided by our hosting partners.
Kind cool, huh?
Next, screenshots!
Hit Start on any ISO image (ISOs have a round icon to the left)
Give your VM a name and a password and choose where you want to deploy it, then hit Power On
The VM starts with the ISO image and now you should click Connect
The connect guide pops up and if you connect with VNC you can perform the regular installation procedure for your guest operating system – that’s it, you have a new custom VM

What if my favorite operating system is not in the list?

You may add any ISO image to your library. Click the Add Template button, pick a name and enter the URL to your ISO image, and don’t forget to check the This is an installation ISO – then click Add and you have a new ISO template that you can use with the steps described above

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New Release: Import Virtual Machines

Fresh from Witsbits:

New stuff – You can now (or actually since November 1) extend our library of pre-configured VMs with your own custom VMs or templates. Just add your VMs to Witsbits and you can quickly launch them on any server, in any location, when ever you want to.

The following virtual machine containers are currently supported

  • VMDK – Virtual Machine Disk (VMware),
  • VDI – Virtual Disk Image (VirtualBox)
  • QCOW2 – QEMU Copy On Write (KVM and Red Hat)
Please let us know if you need support for another format and we’d be happy to add it for you.

This is how it works:

Click the Add button.
Type a name for the template, enter the URL to the VM container and select the OS type. Then click Add.
The template is in your list of templates.
Click Start on the template to open the start dialog. Then enter a name for the VM and choose where to deploy it. Next, click Power On to start the VM.

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Building a cloud computing pioneer

Fresh from Witsbits:

This post was originally posted at Compare The Cloud

Lately I’ve been getting lots of questions about being one of the original cloud computing pioneers and the story of Witsbits, so I thought I’d get it down here. My co-founders and I created Witsbits in 2006, and after experimenting with a few different cloud offerings, we eventually shifted our focus onto selling software for cloud deployments. By 2010, everyone wanted to jump on the cloud bandwagon, but we quickly realized that most companies were intimidated by the complexity of available products. This troubled me.

One day in January 2011, I woke up on a typically dark and cold Swedish morning with an idea that I just couldn’t shake. I’d occasionally dreamt up ideas before, but those seemingly great thoughts always turned out to really suck after only a short period of sober contemplation. So I didn’t expect this one to be any different, but it was.

Continue reading

Mikael Lirbank, CEO, Witsbits

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New LIVEvisor – smaller, better, faster

Fresh from Witsbits:

Today we’re very happy to annonce a major release of LIVEvisor. The fastest way to virtualize your servers has gotten even better.

The new LIVEvisor is:

  • Smaller – Reduced memory footprint
  • Better – Support for broader range of hardware
  • Faster – Increased performance

LIVE visor is a bare-metal hypervisor on a CD or USB memory that you just boot your servers from. It is self-configuring and requires no installation. How it works?

How do I get my hands on it?
  1. Sign up and log in to Witsbits Director
  2. Click Start on one of the VMs in the Library and the Start VM modal opens.
  3. Then select Add an in-house server from the Run on drop-down list.
  4. Follow the guide.
Mikael

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New release: VM Failover

Fresh from Witsbits:

The new Witsbits release enables failover by allowing users to switchover virtual machines from a failed host server to an operational host server. If one of your host server fails then log in to the web based management console, select a VM on a failed host, click the Failover button and select an operational server to re-launch it on. Witsbits will move the VM from the failed host to the operational host. This capability is automatically enabled for all VMs on host servers with network attached storage.

This release also upgrades the management interface with numerous additions and fixes. Check it out and see for your self – and let me know what you think!

The screenshots:

A host with a VM has failed
Select the VM and click on the Failover button
Select an operational host server to switchover the VM to and click Failover

Stay cool,
Mikael

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New release: Delegate Management Access

Fresh from Witsbits:

With the new release of Witsbits you can now assign individual users access to manage particular servers. This is very useful if you wish to delegate privileges to particular employees or customers (so they can manage their servers themselves) but don’t want them to have access to your whole infrastructure.

There is no upgrade procedure, all hypervisors are already upgraded (release occurred last Friday).

Your users can be Administrators (full access) or Restricted Users (only access to assigned servers)
Check the servers you want to assign to the selected user
The restricted user can now log in and will have access to manage the assigned servers

That’s it until next time. Stay cool!
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New release: VM Migration

Fresh from Witsbits:

We are happy to announce a new release of Witsbits. The next time you log in, you’ll be able to migrate virtual machines between different host servers. Just click Migrate on the virtual machine you want to migrate and then select the destination host and you’re done.

It’s also worth mentioning that we have upgraded the UI to support more flexible snapshots, enabling you to take snapshots of any of your running virtual machines with the click of a button. In the name of ease of use we had previously integrated this into the off-site backup capability, but it turned out we’ve been taking it a step too far and thus we revert to making snapshots a separate function.

With the click of a button you can make snapshots of your running virtual machines or trigger a migration of your virtual machines from one host to another (marked in purple):

Select the destination server to migrate your virtual machine to, and click Migrate:

That’s it, thanks!

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