Are you new to virtualization technology? Is this something you’ve wanted to learn about but have had a hard time finding the right guide to ease you into understanding it? I’ve been there, and I can tell you it’s hard to find one book that covers the basics of virtualization in easy to understand language for the newbie. That was until I came across the book Virtualization Essentials by Matthew Portnoy. I recently received a review copy of the book and read through it in 2 days, I couldn’t put it down. That being said, I’ve been in the virtualization business for over 5 years now and I understand it on a more technical level than most newcomers will, but, I still found the book to be a great read! Most books for newcomers to technology can be a bore for readers of a more technical background, but kudos go to Matthew for putting together a very well read and comprehensive beginners guide to virtualization technology. Who is Matthew Portnoy anyways? Well here’s an excerpt from the book titled “About The Author”, this should give you a little background on who the author is and what qualifies him to write such a book:
Matt Portnoy has been an information technology professional for more than 30 years, working in organizations such as NCR, Sperry/Unisys, Stratus Computer, Oracle, and currently VMware. He has been in the center of many of the core technological trends during this period, including the birth of the PC, client-server computing, fault tolerance and availability., the rise of the Internet, and now virtualization, which is the foundation for cloud computing…. He has spoken at the industry’s largest virtualization conference, VMworld, and is a frequent speaker at user group meetings.
Coming in at 304 pages and 1.4 pounds, Virtualization Essentials is not an overwhelming book like most technical books are. This is a book you can easily slip in your backpack or a small tote bag along with your tablet. For a beginner, this book is essential to building your foundation for virtualization knowledge and giving you a good baseline to start from. It boasts and attractive blue cover and almost lays flat when opened from the middle of the book, a very flexible spine, good for keeping it open while working on your lab or practicing the exercises in the book.
This book does an excellent job of covering everything you need to know as a beginner to virtualization, VMware virtualization that is, seeing as it’s written by a VMware Sr. System Engineer. That’s ok though, if you’re looking to learn about Hyper-V or Citrix or Red Hat virtualization, this is not your book. The book starts off with the assumption that the reader has basic PC experience, an understanding of what an operating system is and does, conceptual knowledge of computing resources (CPU, memory, storage and network), and a high level understanding of how programs use resources. That being said, this book isn’t necessarily for newcomers to computers altogether, you must have had some working knowledge of those pieces of computing to fully understand the topics covered in this book. It does note in the book that “This text would not be of interest if you are already a virtualization professional and you are looking for a guidebook or reference.”
In chapter one you will start by “Understating Virtualization”, this chapter will basically introduce you the technology from a very high level view, it doesn’t get very deep, but gives you an idea of what you are getting ready to learn, a nice introduction. Further on in the book in chapter 4 it covers “Creating A Virtual Machine”, virtual machines or VMs are the reason why we love virtualization. This chapter will touch on server consolidation, converting a physical server to a virtual machine and gives you a brief overview of VMware’s free VMware Player which you can install on your PC to start creating virtual machines. It’s important that you go out and download VMware Player so you can follow along with the exercises in the book, its easy to install and best of all, its free. Chapters 5 and 6 respectively, will teach you how to install Windows and Linux on a VM. The step by step directions and screenshots really add value to this book as there are subtle differences in building VMs depending on the operating system you choose.
Chapter 9 and 10 are very important to understand as they deal with “Managing Storage for a Virtual Machine” and “Managing Networking for a Virtual Machine.” Storage is monumentally important to virtualization as it handles where your virtual machine disk files reside and what they are capable of ie. vMotion, HA, etc. Networking, obviously, is equally as important to VMs as storage is. The author does a great job of explaining how virtual networking works and even gives some practice exercises you can do to better understand it. In the back of the book there is a great glossary of terms you need to know to fully understand virtualization such as CNA-converged network adapter, and ballooning-a memory management process controlled by the hypervisor.
Should I Buy It?
Are you a seasoned virtualization veteran? Then the answer is a resounding no, not that it’s not a good read, it most definitely is but you would be better served to buy and read a book such as Scott Lowe’s Mastering VMware vSphere 5 or Duncan Epping and Frank Denneman’s VMware vSphere 5.1 Clustering Deepdive book. Are you new to VMware and virtualization as a whole? Then this is a no-brainer, buy it today! If you’ve been looking for a good book to start with, this is your book. It’s short, concise, gives exercises and helps you build your knowledge fundamentals in virtualization technology. Welcome to the world of virtualization and happy reading!