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Can I run VMWare in the Amazon EC2 Cloud?

September 27, 2010 1 comment

It’sĀ  a good question – and one that I’ve been trying to answer for half an hour now.

All my Googling turns up plenty of results on how to convert VMWare to EC2, but nothing really on how to run VMWare inside Ec2. Now – the question you would ask me is: why? Surely EC2 replaces VMWare as a virtualised, on-demand VM platform? Well… yes.. and no…

The fact is, we use VMWare for all our demos and ‘lab’ testing. It’s great – we can take a snapshot, run a demo on our laptop, and then roll back to the beginning to undo any changes, ready for the next demo. Running on our laptops is important, since we often run demos on the road, without internet connectivity. We’re also supplied with pre-packaged demos as VMDKs by our sales support team

Now – fast forward to Amazon EC2. This is why I can’t just use converted VMDKs running as EC2 VMs:

  • You can’t snapshot and roll-back Amazon EC2s. OK, you can start afresh from AMIs, but you have to create those in the first place: it’s not as easy as clicking ‘snapshot’
  • VMDKs can expand dynamically. One product requires at least 100GB free just to install, but since it only checks for this, but doesn’t use it, a 5GB VMDK is enough. With EC2 and S3, I would actually have to create and keep (and so pay for) a 100GB VMDK, even though I’m not using 95% of it, and only that for 1 hour a week!
  • I can download a VMDK from our sales team, and simply open it within VMWare and press play. Compare that to converting the VMDK via RAW on Xen-approved kernel, etc. etc. etc. And again, uploading that huge RAW file (even if Amazon supported 100GB partitions, which they don’t)
  • The cost! Again!

So – it’s not really a solution. I might try getting a Linux AMI and then installing VMWare over it, but I suspect I know how that’s going to work out. It would be much nicer to just Google and learn I can’t do it instead šŸ™‚

And as for VMWare themselves? Well, they provide VCloud, of course. But, search as I did, I couldn’t find the link on their Store page where I could buy a 1-hour rental of a 2-VCPU instance for around $0.40. It’s like they don’t care about the little guy! šŸ˜‰

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