The next virtualization frontier, aka Software Virtualization

Early this year I discovered (thanks Alessandro) something that immediatly made me enthusiast: software virtualization. To be more precise: Software Virtualization Solution by Altiris. Let me explain why I think it’s so cool.

Not sure, but I guess no one else is offering something similar at the moment, further more Altiris is giving this tecnology for free (for personal use). It consist in a simple application called Software Virtualization Admin (download here) that allows you to place applications and data in what they call Virtual Software Package or layer. You do this simply launching any application setup in wrapper that intercept all the activities, performed during installation, involving the file system and the registry. When setup finishes all files, directories, keys and values are in hidden positions and appear only when the captured package is activated.

Activating and deactivating a layer is a real time operation that influences the way SVS filter driver manage the calls (via Windows API) directed to the file system of the registry. For example, when the layer in which I virtualized Google Heart is active, automagically a folder named “Google Earth” appears in “c:\Program Files\Google” and the registry keys related the the application do the same in the registry.

This allow you to have different versions of the same appplication without conflicts and, most important, keep your OS light and clean. I successfully virtualized Sql Server 2000 and 2005 (both on the default instance!), Visual Studio 2003 and 2005, the Java Runtime, Microsoft Office and almost everything I need to work and my laptos still boot in less than one minute…

Further more IT Pros can (with the related commercial products) benefit the great advantages this tecnology can bring to software deployment in enterprise networks.

The tecnology is relatively new but both the development team and the community are really active. I bet this is only the beginning, stay tuned!

The complete reference:

Some example of what you can do with software virtualization:

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~ by Matteo on September 6, 2006.

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