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VM Import and Export

Creating a VM involves installing an operating system and then installing desired applications, which can be time consuming. In many cases, this work may have already been done and is available for download. Virtualization Station supports .ovf and .ova formats for importing VMs and .qvm and .ovf formats for exporting VMs. Further, Virtualization Station can import VMs you've already created or downloaded from providers such as VMware and BitNami. There are links to both the VMware and BitNami marketplaces in Virtualization Station.

QNAP put together a nice tutorial on importing and exporting VMs. I followed the tutorial to successfully import a WordPress VM running on Linux from BitNami. I downloaded the VM using a PC and saved it directly to the TS-453 Pro. Once I extracted the .zip file, I was able to import and run this VM directly in Virtualization Station. The screenshot shows WordPress running as a VM in Virtualization Station.

Imported VM

Imported WordPress VM

I also followed the steps to export the Linux VM I created earlier. This process involved using the Virtualization Station export option, then opening the exported VM in another hypervisor. I used VMware Player as a hypervisor to run the VM I created with Virtualization Station.

VM Options

Other options supported by Virtualization Station include creating and restoring from Snapshots, scheduled VM starts upon NAS boot up, direct USB device connection to VMs and user based permissions to protect VM resources. Further, within Virtualization Station, there is a useful dashboard, shown below, which displays resource utilization and current status of each VM.

VM Dashboard

VM Dashboard

Performance

So all this virtual goodness is great, but not if it runs dog slow. So I checked to see how well the TS-453 Pro supported both native NAS functions (file read and write) while running one or more CPU-intensive virtual machines.

A running too many virtual machines will impact NAS performance was displayed when I started a second VM. Although I didn't experience any performance issues while running multiple VMs, I accepted this message as a challenge.

I ran two VMs simultaneously on Virtualization Station: the WordPress Linux VM and my Windows 7 VM. I ran PS3 Media Server on the Windows 7 VM to transcode and stream 720p .mkv files to a PS3 while copying a large file from another PC to the TS-453 Pro. While this was going on, I watched the QTS utility that lets you monitor CPU utilization on the TS-453 Pro. As you can see below, the TS-453 Pro's quad-core CPU hit 75%, but that's as high as it went.

CPU Monitor

CPU Monitor

I was impressed! I can report that video playback didn't degrade from HD resolution and remained clear and completely smooth. Further, the simultaneous file copy operation ran at 97 MB/s.

In my experience, video transcoding and streaming has been enough to peg the CPU on my hardware video server (laptop with a 2.0 GHz Core 2 Duo CPU, 4GB RAM, Win 7 Pro). So I expected transcoding and streaming would max out the TS-453 Pro's CPU. I also expected adding the file copy operation would spike the CPU or cause performance issues. Clearly, that wasn't the case.

Closing Thoughts

Effective virtualization involves gaining efficiency without compromising performance. QNAP's Virtualization Station definitely meets this goal. With one box, I was able to run Linux and Windows virtual machines while retaining full NAS features and plenty of performance. Whether you are a VM newbie or seasoned pro, QNAP's Virtualization Station will have you running VMs in no time!

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