What is Nanosphere?
Today, connecting to a VM console typically requires both server-side dependencies (a VDI broker, a Windows stack, or specialized guest customization) and client side dependencies (installing a special ActiveX browser plugin that works only on Windows, and only in IE or Firefox browsers). By deploying WSX on ESXi, it makes it possible to connect to any VM (any guest OS) with any modern browser (e.g. including iPad) without any special software.
What can Nanosphere do?
- Network auto-configuration
- Automatic network configuration without ever typing an IP address
- Web Management Interface
- Provision, Delete, Power On/Off Virtual Machines with pure HTML5 interface
- Console access without special apps or plugins
- WSX remote console running on ESXi
- Dead-simple installation
- Just install a tiny VIB onto any ESXi host and you’re good to go. The VIB can also be integrated into a vanilla ESXi ISO image
Assuming you have a simple cable-model-like setup:
- The physical host has ESXi and Nanosphere installed.
- You "unbox" it (take it home from Staples) and plug it in on your home LAN, headless.
- It gets DHCP but you have no idea what the address is because it's headless.
- Nanosphere "phones home" to a broker running at nanosphere.cloudfoundry.com (custom application written on Cloudfoundry) to report its local LAN address (e.g. '192.168.0.4') and its UUID. The broker also records the WAN address.
- You use a plain browser on any device on the same LAN - we used an iPad - to connect to the same broker. It matches the WAN addresses and redirects the browser to the Nanosphere’s LAN address.
What's next for Nanosphere?
As mentioned earlier, nanosphere is still a proof-of-concept but the VMware engineers have some interesting ideas on where it could go and would love to get your feedback if the following use cases interests you.
- Early adopters and hobbyists playing with ESXi for fun
- VARs delivering Nanosphere-based servers in selected vertical markets
- Nanosphere-based appliances delivering NAS and media streaming
- Nanosphere-based servers for developing markets and nonprofit organizations
- Hybrid public/Nanosphere clouds with bidirectional app portability
- OEMs delivering Nanosphere-based servers through a retail channel
- Value-added services like cloud backup and remote admin (including VMware GO)
I think the Nanosphere project is a really cool initiative and hopefully we will get to see more in the future. I wanted to also give a big thanks to folks who worked on the Nanosphere project and made it possible to show off at the #NotSupported event: Steve Strassmann (VMware Staff Engineer), Shivam Tiwari (VMware Intern) and of course Randy Keener (VMware TechOps) for presenting on Project Nanosphere!