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Matt McSpirit on Virtualisation, Management and Core Infrastructure

Hyper-V and USB...

Hyper-V and USB...

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imageIt works!

OK, it's not native USB support, but, this piece of equipment will allow you to access USB devices from within your virtual machines, running on Hyper-V, Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 etc

There is an argument as to why you really need to give your servers access to any USB devices, but, I guess it's nice to have the option.

"AnywhereUSB is a network-enabled USB hub. It is the first remote networking solution to utilize RealPort® USB, Digi's patented USB Over IP® technology, making it easy to connect USB devices anywhere on a wired or wireless LAN, while eliminating the need for locally-attached host PCs."

Sounds useful to me, and at just over 300 EURO, it's not ridiculously expensive, and chances are, you may only need 1...

Comments
  • There's a very simple explanation for why you would need to give "servers access to any USB devices"...

    While I suspect you're thinking in terms of production virtualised servers, think for a moment about test/dev/demo type systems that need to access mass storage systems through USB... For example, I have a Dell XPS laptop that I use for demo'ing various System Center solutions. The problem is that I have nearly 300GB of various files stored on an external USB 2.0 drive. This is part of my kit. It goes where I go. If I have to take a piss, I have it in one hand and you-know-what in the other! So, for me - personally - being able to natively access the device within a virtual machine would be a Godsend! I'm so tired of the gluged methods of getting data from my USB drive over to my VMs. Plus, this will save on the disk space used by having duplicate copies of the files that I've managed to get onto the VMs, that could have otherwise been access through this device. If it's small enough to fit in my laptop case, I'm on-board with getting this little jewel now.

  • PingBack from http://systemcenterguide.com/2008/02/29/finally-usb-and-virtual-server-hyper-v/

  • Duncan - you've hit the nail on the head there!  I completely agree, having this kind of tool is perfect for Test/Dev/Demo - fortunately, I haven't got quite as many files to carry round with me!  The dimensions from the website are: Length: 4.35 in (11.05 cm), Width: 7.20 in (18.29 cm), Height: 1.03 in (2.61 cm), Weight: 10.00 oz (283.49 g) so it's not too big, and around the same size as a powered USB hard disk...

    You just need to remember that you will need to be able to give the device an IP address, presumably using DHCP.  You can also use RDP to access locally attached USB Drives.

    Matt

  • We as a company can only use our production software in a virtualized environment, if we get USB access. Our current software supplier uses a usb-stick, where the license is stored. so without usb access from hyper-v we will have to stick with vmware, which is providing this functionality.... hope this will change...

  • Great point Harry - this little device should mean that the issue you currently face with regards to virtualisation technologies such as Hyper-V is averted - drop me a mail if you want more information around Hyper-V.

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • The most important reason to have USB support is for Smart Card authentication. In many environments two factor authentication is required. While RDP is great for emulating the Smart Card from the TS client; RDP is also disabled in some environments.

  • Here are two software solutions to this problem:

    http://www.usb-over-ethernet.com/productoverview.html

    http://www.usb-over-network.com/

  • Thanks Dogbert - useful information! :-)

  • Note, the Digi device only does 12Mbps per port.

  • Hi guys, I've just spent over 3 months researching the best way to 'remote' USB devices to virtualised environments.

    There are 1000 and 1 reasons why 'servers' would want to access USB devices. Apps run on servers that communicate to USB based h/w. (In a simple case take a USB based printer that is to be shared by the Virtualised Server - without a 3rd party solution, VPC, Virt.Serv, Hyper-V = game over)

    We have a need for 70+ usb devices to be 'managed' by the server.

    VMWare does this OOTB - a collegue is screaming in my ear about VMWare all the time.

    The push from MS (in recent years) is to consolidate and virtualise using Hyper-V. USB just doesn't flow across which is a shame. (my friend would pipe in just now and say "Did I tell you about VMWare?")

    The thing I've noticed in my research is that it depends very much on the device/driver as to whether a particular 'USB remoting/access' solution will work.

    e.g. a lot of printers are actually all-in-ones with memory card slots that when the printer is connected physically, the one printer will appear as many usb based devices. From usb-sticks, to scanners, to finally a printer.

    Products like KeySpans USB Server work 'most' of the time, but occassionally need a h/w reboot (remove power and add again) - which is not always possible depending on where your devices are.

    Some of the S/W solutions tend to offer more flexibility - 'usb over the network' being the main one (but a little pricy)

    All in all - it would be great to have USB sharing/connections appearing in the virtualised environment, considering it's the pseudo std.

    Cheers,

    Mick.

  • The latest version of VmWare GSX (it's free) supports USB within each VM and you can select which USB key for each VM. Main reason we need this for VM's are for licensing USB keys.

  • Hi Dan,

    I'm aware that some of the hosted virtualisation technologies (I.e., they install on top of a general purpose OS, Windows/Linux) offer USB connectivity inside VMs, and I'm sure this is on the radar for Hyper-V and other Microsoft virtualisation technologies.

    Note that it's not currently available in ESX/XenServer, which are bare-metal virtualisation solutions, hence there is no host USB stack in the same way there is in a Windows/Linux Host OS with GSX/Workstation on top.

    In some ways, using a USB Network Device may actually bring more flexibility - what if you can't get to the server in the datacenter?  By using a network USB device, it could be on your desk with your licensing keys on a USB stick plugged in, and any VMs with the USB software installed will be able to pick it up.

    Matt

  • AnywhereUSB is a good solution for some.  We have been using it successfully for years to run robotics.  The bad news is that I it does not support Windows Server 2008 or Vista.

  • I blogged about USB support in a virtual environment a good while back now , and it seems like it was

  • Hi Mick,

    I appreciate the USB integration is critical in a number of circumstances, but it’s important to note that VMware only, to my knowledge, support USB integration in their VMware Server and VMware Workstation technologies – 2 technologies that run on top of a general purpose OS, like Windows or Linux.  VMware’s hypervisor based virtualisation platform, ESX, doesn’t support USB.

    It seems that the USB over Network solution from Fabulatech is well supported, is supported with Vista and Windows Server 2008, and is pretty cost effective at around $150.

    It is an extra piece of software to buy, and I’m sure there are free solutions out there (mileage, as you state, will vary), but in some customer environments, it may actually be impossible to actually walk up to the physical box to plug in a USB stick or similar USB device – the USB over Network would solve that problem.

    Hope that helps,

    Matt

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