The Virtualization Practice

Data Center Virtualization

Data Center Virtualization covers virtualizing servers, networks, and storage delivering server consolidation, CAPEX savings, IT agility, and improved management. Major areas of focus include the tradeoffs between various virtualization platforms (VMware vSphere, Microsoft Hyper-V and Red Hat KVM), the evolution of hypervisors into data center management platforms, ...
VMware’s Software Defined Data Center strategy, and how the SDDC is spurring innovation in storage, networking and server hardware. Covered vendors indlude VMware, Microsoft, Red Hat, CloudPhysics, Hotlink, Tintri, and VMTurbo.

Virtualization and cloud computing have changed the requirements for management solutions in a way that no innovation in the history of our industry ever have. Previous innovations created new requirements, but did not break existing management approaches or business models. Virtualization breaks both the existing legacy approaches to managing applications and systems, and breaks how one must manage applications in this new environment. The revolution has only just started.

I am not sure how other people have learned their craft and mastered the technology they support, but for me, the learning started after the books ended. I have learned so much more from breaking something and having to find the fix than I ever did from reading a book. Back in the day around 2005, VMware released The VMTN Subscription. This was an amazing program that was something like the Microsoft MSDN subscription. These programs gave you the ability to run any of the core software packages for a year at a time for a subscription fee.

The need to virtualize every application, along with the need to support constantly arriving new and newly changed applications will drive the creation of an Application Operations function in the enterprise. This function will need to be supported and enabled by a new generation of APM tools that meet the new requirements of the Application Operations team.

Looking at the Entire VMware Operations and Application Management Strategy

VMware is clearly serious about extending its management reach into the application layer of the stack. New products like vFabric AppDirector, and vFabric APM make this into more than intention – they make VMware’s participation in these markets a reality as well. The move to remake the APM industry has thus far been lead by creative startups like New Relic, AppDynamics, BlueStripe, dynaTrace and ExtraHop. Now VMware has joined this effort will add considerable mass and velocity to the effort. The message is clear – it is time to instrument all of your applications for response time and the legacy APM vendors do not have the products that are up to the task.

A Look At VMstore from Tintri

One of the biggest things I took away from the VMworld 2011 in Las Vegas was the all advancements within the storage part of virtualization. For me, this was the year for storage. One product that really got my attention was the new NAS appliance, VMstore from Tintri. This 3U appliance, well 5U if you count the UPC, is a single datastore with 8.5TB of usable storage. This appliance was a collaboration of some very smart individuals from different companies like VMware, Datadomain, NetApp and Sun. They put their minds together and built this NFS appliance from the ground up with specially engineered file system to work with virtualization. What makes this VM-aware appliance different from other typical storage designs is VMstore uses VM’s and virtual disks as the abstractions instead of the conventional storage abstractions, volumes, LUN’s and files that we have all been accustomed to. Each I/O request will map directly to a virtual disk all while VMstore monitors, controls the I/O and presents disk performance statistics per VM or per VMDK.

With vFabric APM VMware has announced a compelling entry into the APM space, joining the current set of APM innovators – New Relic, AppDynamics, BlueStripe, dynaTrace and ExtraHop. The innovations that VMware is bringing to the table will usher in a redefinition of what APM is, from a performance and availability tool for the development team, to a strategic applications management platform that enables price/performance comparison shopping by application owners. Once the price/performance features are fully implemented, this may do more to enable performance sensitive applications to move to public clouds than any other thing that VMware has done.

VMware Capacity Planner – A Special Use Case

I have had the opportunity to perform a few VMware Capacity Planner assessments over the years and I have been, more the most part, pretty happy with the process and the results of the reports. The assessment is really pretty straight forward. We had physical servers to the project, making sure we have proper permissions to perform all the tasks and then let the process run over an extended period of time. For the most part, this way of sampling over an extended time frame will give you a very good idea what can be virtualized and the number of hosts that will be needed.