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Optimizing my virtual world?

Optimizing my virtual world?

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I realize that most developers don't live in a Virtual PC or Virtual Server world yet... but I do.  Virtual images make it so much easier to bounce from project to project, changing tool sets on the fly, without having to uninstall/reinstall software all the time (and the commensurate operating system churn that inevitably follows a high installation flux).  My life without Virtual Server R2 would be miserable (and Virtual PC makes certain activities even simpler).  A big thank you to both product teams!

 

[It's also worth noting that it seems like most all MOC classroom environments, partner demo kits and other good stuff from us will be coming along in VHD format.  No promises.  But it sure makes it easier to deliver a working demo this way!]

 

I came across VM Optimizer from Invirtus last Fall while slaving away at my previous place of entertainment [which shall remain nameless], but that particular salt mine being the way it was, I never got around to actually doing more than download the trial version... until last week.  Tom Edwards at Invirtus was politely encouraging, but I'm sure he gave up hope long ago that I'd ever get around to trying out his product.  (There's always hope, Tom!)

 

Installing it was cake and actually using the trial version (that I downloaded last Fall!) was pretty straightforward.  I shouldn't've been surprised to discover that it didn't work the way that I thought it would.  Nothing ever does.  I guess I expected some fancy file mangler to load the VHD from the outside and crunch its bones to make it faster...  Despite the beautiful Shrek-ery, orge-type image that invokes...  Well, it doesn't do that.  You launch the virtual image inside your environment (I used Virtual PC, but I imagine that it would work just as well inside Virtual Server) and mount the ISO image of VM Optimizer to do its magic from the inside.

 

Follow the happy wizard (why do we have to have wizards in applications that require nothing more than just clicking Next?) and you'll soon have a VM Optimizer-ed virtual image.  On my Toshiba Tecra M4 Tablet PC, it ran for ~1.5 hour on a 10GB VHD (I cheated and put it on the 7,200RPM secondary hard drive).  So theoretically, I could start one before watching 24 and The Unit back-to-back (the magic of DVR virtually erases commercial time – yeah! but that's for blogging about another day) and it would be done before my wife demands control of the remote (which means I need control of my Tablet back so that I can pretend to ignore Commander in Chief and SVU).

 

Now, to my dilemma.  Did VM Optimizer make my life better?  How should I measure that?  Being the test-driven kind of guy that I am, I would never stoop to using so crass a measurement as my feeling thermometer to tell me whether VM Optimizer lives up to its marketing claims...  I'm not one of the 55% of Invirtus' customers who actually buy it before trying it out!  Before I go and decide whether it's worth the price tag, I need to crunch some numbers.  (No, I don't have OCD despite what my wife, my parents, my children, my bosses or my therapists may tell you.  Heh.)  But what numbers to crunch?  What sorts of torture (that is both measurable and permitted by the Geneva Convention) is appropriate for testing a virtual image before and after VM Optimizer has had its way with it?  It would have to be non-invasive and non-destructive in order to keep the test fair.

 

What kind of baseline test suite would satisfy YOU that VM Optimizer was worth the money?

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  • What would satisfy me.  Hmmm, I'd have to consider the following:

    A) How many buttons DON'T I have to press for the compaction
    B) Can I set-and-forget the process and walk away if I want to run it multiple times (or even batch it for multiple VMs)
    C) Does my VM boot any faster
    D) Does my VM still work on other machines
    E) ...even if I have undo disks enabled
    F) ...and even if I play silly games with the clock
    G) Do I get any assurance that my next version upgrade is free over the next 12 months

    But these are my thoughts and experiences, and what is important to me -  a typically every day super-villian trying to take over the world.
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