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VMBlog Interviews Author Dennis Zimmer

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Dennis Zimmer about his latest virtualization book, "VMware Server and VMware Player".  Dennis has been working with VMware products for many years, and like me and the rest of the VMBlog readers, he is a huge fan of virtualization and believes that the possibilities are endless.  I am very thankful for the time that Dennis was able to share with us.  So, let's begin.

VMBlog.com: Dennis, can you start off by telling us a little bit about yourself and your background?

Dennis Zimmer: Hi David! Thanks for the possibility to introduce myself! My name is Dennis Zimmer and I'm the author of the book "VMware Server and VMware Player, the way forward for Virtualization".

I regularly write for different German IT magazines and I have written two German books about virtualization.  With more than 7 years of experience with virtualization products (mainly VMware products) and 11 years of experience in IT, I've solved many issues and learned a lot about common problems users encounter.  After many years of working as an IT Engineer I started to work for the VMware VAC Consulting company Mightycare Solutions GmbH.  At Mightycare, my job is to consult with companies about their virtualization projects.  My experience reaches from 2 VMware Server environments to more than 100 ESX server infrastructures. 

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VMBlog: If you don't mind me asking, what inspired you to write this book?

DZimmer: I receive many emails each week with questions about why someone should virtualize and so I have learned what engineers and users are concerned about.  People who are new to virtualization don't know much about the possibilities and the behaviours these products offer.  If they run into difficult issues and can't solve them, they don't think positively about virtualization anymore and they won't give it another try.

I want to let people know how easy the entry to virtualization is and what things should be known to avoid running into problems.  Also, they should know what features VMware Server/Player offer and how they can best be used.

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VMBlog: If you had to sum it up, what do you think has provoked an increase in respect for virtualization?

DZimmer: For private users, admins and developers virtualization enables to build fairly big and complex IT infrastructures with a very small amount of machines or even on one PC or notebook. Software and Networking scenarios previously not imaginable are now possible with moderate cost. Features like undoable disks or snapshots are great features for everybody.  If you look at the enterprise, virtualization of infrastructure increases the hardware costs by a high percentage.  Quick recovery of virtual machines in cases of a disaster or the deployment of dozens of server systems in minutes are opportunities nearly every company needs.

That's only a quick and incomplete overview, but it hits the mark.

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VMBlog: Your book covers VMware Player and VMware Server as well as mentioning VMware's Workstation and ESX products, what are your thoughts about Microsoft and Xen in the virtualization space?  Is there room for everyone? Or do we need some type of standards?

DZimmer: It's hard to say what's happening in three or even ten years but I'm sure VMware will be at the top for at least the next two or three years.  Xen is growing very fast but it's missing a real good management platform like VirtualCenter.  But those things are at work. Virtual Iron, a product based on Xen, for example already offers a good management solution. Microsoft can offer a great management platform within a short period of time because that's one of their strengths.  And Microsoft will never give up if they see a market. And virtualization will be a very attractive market in the coming years. You didn't mention SWsoft Virtuozzo in your question, which is also very fast growing and is absolutely interesting in homogeneous infrastructures.

Finally ... I could speak the whole day about it :) ... at the moment there is space for every Virtualization product but this will change soon. In my opinion in a couple of years it's not the virtualization product that will dominate but the management platform.  So the company with the best management will be the winner in this chase.  Standardization would be fine for moving between products for optimization, because every product has other benefits.  But that's only my opinion.

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VMBlog: What do you believe separates your book from other virtualization books on the market?  Who are you trying to reach?

DZimmer: I think my book is the only one targeting beginners and intermediates who want to use the free virtualization products VMware Server and Player. I had great help from a very active forum member (the unofficial German VMware Forum and the official VMware Forum) Ulli Hankeln whose input was really important for me to understand the handicaps of newbies. Also I benefit from my own long experiences to give hints and tips for the use in small and medium companies. There are many books on the market by now, but my German book, which was published at the end of September 2006, was the very first book on the newest VMware products worldwide.
The translation we're speaking about now was also the first one published in English in early November 06.
 
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VMBlog: How long of a process was it to write the book?

DZimmer: I've written 4 month on the German book and about 4 more months on the translation with Sunny Edition (my Publisher with the English book).  My publisher did great work and analyzed every line very intensively.
So I've got a very good feeling about the quality of the book.
 
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VMBlog: What was the hardest part about writing the book?

DZimmer: I've written two books before so I knew about the hard work that it takes to write a book.  But the hardest part is definitely the review of the written pages and to correct errors.  I know no author who likes to read the lines written by himself. :)

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VMBlog: Did you learn anything while writing the book that you didn't know before you started?  And if so, what was it?

DZimmer: Because you want to write a book that other people will enjoy reading, you must try many things with the products you would normally never try for your own use of the product. And you can't know everything so you have to read forums, whitepapers and guidelines multiple times.  So yes, I learn many things while writing a book. Most things are theoretical like - what cpu instruction is going what way.
 
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VMBlog: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything about the book?

DZimmer: For sure! For that reason there are 2nd and further editions. Every day, things happen if you work with these products or if you read some news about new versions, that you want to put in the book after it's printed. But I've learned with time that the readers' feedback is most important to know what's missing and not your own opinion. :)
 
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VMBlog: Can you tell us, are there any more books in your future?

DZimmer: Yes, definitely. Beyond the coming editions in a couple of months, I'm working on two books at the moment. At least one should also be published in English and both are about VI3.
 
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VMBlog: Do you have anything that you would like to add for our readers?

DZimmer: Two things - I want to say to anybody interested in Virtualization: Don't mistrust Virtualization products without looking into them. Try the products like VMware Player, Server, Xen or Microsoft Virtual PC/Server, which are for free and can give you a very good starting point. I'm sure you'll love this way of working and you'll want to get these opportunities at home and at your company. :)

Second: the biggest limit of virtualization is your imagination. ;)

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I couldn't agree with Dennis more.  If you'd like to find out more about Dennis or his book, I invite you to check out his Web site, here.  And I'd like to once again thank Dennis Zimmer for taking the time to speak with me.

Published Tuesday, December 12, 2006 5:34 PM by David Marshall
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