USB and virtual machines – a solution to your problem

At a meeting the other day – a client for whom I’ve done some virtualisation work asked me to look into a problem that he has had with blackberry handset provisioning with a virtualised BES server. The background is that he has diffculty connecting handsets to the BES for provisioning due to an extremely poor phone reception area where the BES is located. Previously the client connected directly to the BES server and provisioned that way. The client also used  the desktop client software from RIM but found this less than satisfactory.

So the solution happened to have already arrived with me in the form of the DIGI Anywhere USB/5  which is a network addressable 5 port usb hub. The idea is simple – if you need to connect usb devices remotely to either a physical machine or even better a virtualised machine running on a hypervisor – install the drivers – connect to the device across the network on its IP address and if supported your machine will be able to load the appropriate OS drivers for the devices you connect to the DIGI unit.

In this case I needed to test a few types of devices – usb keys and disk and a blackberry for their ability to be connected and recognised. After installing the drivers and software that come with the Anywhere USB device – I was able to “connect” the unit to my main vista 64 bit workstation – see the disks attached to the unit and synchronise and update my Black berry as though it was attached !!!

So next it was the same approach with a Windows 2003 server running virtually on VMware – same result – able to see the devices and access them as though they were attached. The client will now hopefully be arranging a test and be solving their problem. The device solves a number of problems for me – so I can see this being used in quite a few of my virtualisation applications.