Altiris SVS… a better virtualization solution?
Well, apparently I’m behind the times. After reading an article about Altiris SVS on Brian Di Croce’s blog, I set out and found articles from all over—PC Magazine to it’s own online community called Juice.
The system is free for 120–days or free ongoing for personal use and, from my experience (we use Altiris for our computer management, inventory, and help desk at work) the company is reputable.
So, what makes this a better solution that using VMWare or Virtual PC and differencing disks?
One word: “Deactivate”.
Rather than creating an array of virtual base installations with differencing disks for every permutation of installation environment, simply create a new “layer” and toggle them “active” or “inactive” using the control panel.
In my example, I needed a machine I could dink wth Orcas at home to test how various contracting sites would upgrade to 3.5 (and test out some of the new features in a more relaxed atmosphere than at work).
- Create a new VM, install the base operating system, patches, etc.
- Install the SVS client (and get the personal license key).
That’s it for the core operating system. Now, on to the actual applications, let’s start with Visual Studio 2005.
- Create a new Application Layer and point it to VS 2005’s setup.exe.
- Run the installation as normal.
That’s it! On completion, the installation will be wrapped up in a package and available for “activation” and “deactivation” in the control panel. So, the next test: installing Orcas on top of it.
There was one notable issue: I had to manually install the .NET 3.5 Framework (pre-release) into the core operating system FIRST. Besides that, installation was exactly like the VS2005, only creating a new layer named Orcas Beta 1. I’m assuming, when I need to upgrade, I will simply upgrade the .NET 3.5 release and then create a new layer for the next iteration of Orcas (be that another Beta or Gold).
So, with a click of a mouse, I can now toggle between two completely different environments… within the same environment—without any apparent conflicts, library issues, or even one knowing of the other. VERY cool.
I haven’t tested using Vista as the host operating system yet, but I doubt there will be a problem. I’d love to do some testing with activating different versions of web browsers, etc… maybe when I get some free time.
Finally, another cool aspect? The packages are exportable and can be transfered… you can find a slew of pre-packaged software (open source, freeware, etc) at : http://www.svsdownloads.com/
Now to just sell this at work… Hmmm!