If you haven’t visited the VMware Labs website in a while, you should. Not only did it get a facelift, but it also features all sorts of new and reorganized content in addition to those great little application tidbits called flings.
When the VMware Labs website debuted a few years ago, it was basic in style and had almost no real content except for flings. (If you don’t know, “flings” are VMware-speak for small, free – and unsupported -- applications written by VMware developers to be “played with and explored.” )
VMware Labs becomes a learning resource
What’s new about the VMware Labs website that really sparked my interest was the new Publications and Academic areas. The Publications section has a whole slew of technical articles and research papers that have been developed by VMware engineers and staff over the years, some as far back as 1996! Some of this content has been available on various VMware websites, but they now have consolidated it all into the VMware Labs website. There are some very interesting articles and papers there, including some of general interest. Some examples worth noting are:
- Comprehensive User Experience Monitoring
- Online Cache Modeling for Commodity Multicore Processors
- A Virtual Machine Introspection Based Architecture for Intrusion Detection
There are many more there, and I would invite you to take a look at them, especially the early papers, and see what those folks were envisioning for the future vs. what is practiced today.
Also new in the Academic section is the VMware Technical Journal, which made its debut this year as a collection of technical articles focused on VMware’s research and development activities. You can download your copy or request a hard copy or USB drive with the journal.
Flings still the star of VMware Labs
But at its heart, the VMware Labs site is still about the flings.
Among the best flings is the recent vBenchmark, which proved very exciting to VMware administrators looking for a good tool to evaluate their data center’s key environmental metrics. VBenchmark reports on quality of service and efficiency, and provides reports that admins can save and use later for historical comparisons to help with capacity planning and comparisons. Now, there are other tools out there that could provide this same information at a much more detailed and granular level. However, flings aren’t meant to be elaborate, extensive or even a permanent addition to your enterprise. They are, however free.
Most of the other flings available haven’t been updated in a while, because they are not really products from VMware, but rather the by-products of the developers’ imaginations. While some developers may put some time into updating a fling, most have already moved on to the next coolest thing. The Auto-Deploy GUI fling was the latest fling updated in 2012, and that was because of the new Auto Deploy options available in ESXi 5.
Overall, I am very impressed with the new Labs offerings and I think much of the credit should go to the mastermind behind VMware Labs, Steve Herrod, VMware chief technology officer, as well as to the great engineers and developers who work at VMware. They are providing the virtualization community with a wealth of information and some neat code that enhances knowledge, remembers history and puts a little fling in your life!