The east coast is experiencing the tail end of a very large storm named ‘Sandy’. We all had plenty of time to prepare for the storm, but did we? Individually, we probably did, but what about our data? Those 24/7 critical processes to allow our customers to view and respond to the data our organizations provide? We were lucky—we had no issues during the storm, but now we await issues during storm clean up. So how do you prepare for such disasters? Do you move to the cloud? Continue reading Move to the Cloud: Wait Out the Storm
There is an ever-increasing number of data protection providers creating replication receiver clouds as they team up with cloud service providers. This could herald the end of on-premise tape use for some enterprises, leaving tape to be used primarily by cloud providers. There are major benefits for Quantum, Zerto, Veeam, and others to form replication receiver clouds, but these clouds are not just for storage anymore. They could be purely for storage, but this is not a big win for the cloud service providers. So why would cloud service providers be interested in being a storage endpoint for data protection? Why are they concerned with backup and offering it as a service? Continue reading New Breed of Replication Receiver Clouds
While not a major version release (we will have to wait for 6.0 next year for that), the new 5.1 version of the VMware products contains some significant new functionality, in addition to the packing of all of the components into the vCloud Suite.
New Features in vSphere 5.1
- User Access – There is no longer a dependency on a shared root account. Local users assigned administrative privileges automatically get full shell access
- Auditing – All host activity from both the shell and the Direct Console User Interface is now logged under the account of the logged in user
- Monitoring – Support is added for SNMPv3. The SNMP agent has been unbundled from the VMkernel and can now be independently updated.
- vMotion – a vMotion and an Storage vMotion can be combined into one operation. This allows a VM to be moved between two hosts or clusters that do not have any shared storage.
- New Windows Support – Support for both the Desktop and Server Editions of Windows 8/2012
- Hardware Accelerated 3D Graphics – Teaming up with NVIDIA, vSphere can now map a vGPU to each VM on a system. Not only does this feature accelerate 3D graphics but provides a GPU for high performance computing needs
- Improvements in Virtual hardware virtualization support – This brings Intel-VT/AMD RVI features further into the virtual machine which will improve virtualization within virtualization. In addition, more low level CPU counters are exposed which can be further used for high performance computing and real time style applications.
- Agentless Antivirus and Antimalware – vShield Endpoint is now included in vSphere 5.1 and offloads anti-virus and antimalware processing inside virtual machines to a secure dedicated virtual appliance delivered by VMware partners. This change lowers the cost of entry for Agentless Angivirus and Malware.
- New 64-vCPU Support – Virtual machines running on a vSphere 5.1 host can be configured with up to 64 virtual CPU’s and 1TB of RAM.
- Auto-Deploy – Auto-Deploy is extended with two new modes, “stateless caching” and “stateful installs”. In addition the number of concurrent reboots per Auto-Deploy host has been increased to 80
- SR-IOV Support – Single Root I/O Virtualization allows certain Intel NIC’s to transfer data directly into the memory space of a virtual machine without any involvement from the hypervisor. See this Intel Video
- Space Reclaiming Thin Provisioned Disks – These types of disks add the ability to reclaim deleted blocks from existing thin provisioned disks while the VM is running. To reclaim space is a two-part function of first wiping the disk marking unused blocks as free, and then to shrink the disk. These two features have been a part of VMware Tools for a number of years but now do things differently for thin provisioned disks. The underlying hardware is not initially part a part of the reclamation process. Instead the vSCSI layer within ESX reorganizes unused blocks to keep the used part of the thin provisioned disk contiguous. Once the unused parts are at the end of the thin provisioned disk then the hardware is involved.
- Tunable Block Size – Normally thin provisioned disks use a 4KB block size that is unchanging, however, this block size can be tuned indirectly as it is now based on the requirements of the underlying storage array. There is no method to tune this by hand.
- All Paths Down Improvements – When there was an all paths down (APD) situation, the vSphere management service would hang waiting on disk IO, which would cause the vSphere host to inadvertently disconnect from vCenter and in effect become unmanageable. APD handling has been improved such that transient APD events will not cause the vSphere management service to hang waiting on disk IO, use of vSphere HA to move workloads around to other hosts if APD detects a permanent device lost (PDL) situation, and implement a way to detect PDL for iSCSI arrays that present only one LUN.
- Storage Hardware/Software improvements – These improvements include the ability to boot from software FCoE, additions of Jumbo frame support for all iSCSI adapters (software or hardware), and support for 16Gb FC
- VAAI Improvements – VAAI has added support to allow vCloud Director fast-provisioned vApps to make use of VAAI enabled NAS array-based snapshots.
- vSphere S.M.A.R.T. (Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology) Implementation – vSphere has implemented SMART reporting via the esxcli commands so that SSD and other disks can report back on their status. In addition, esxcli has been upgraded to include ways to reset specific FC adapters directly as well as methods to retrieve event caching information such as link-up and link-down.
- Storage IO Contral Statistics and Settings Improvements – Finding the proper value for SIOC has been problematic, now it is possible to set a percentage instead of a millisecond value to determine when SIOC should fire. In addition, SIOC will report stats immediately instead of waiting. This allows Storage DRS has statistics available immediately, which improve its decision process. In addition, the observed latency of a VM (a new metric) is available within the vSphere Client performance charts. The observed latency is latency within the host and not just latency after storage packets leave the host
- Storage DRS Improvements – Storage DRS has been improved for workloads using vCloud Directory. Linked clones can now be migrated between datastores if there exists either the base disk or a shadow copy of the base disk. Storage DRS is also used now for initial placement of workloads when using vCloud Director.
- Improvements in Datastore Correlation for Non-VASA enabled arrays – For storage devices that do not support VASA it is difficult to correlate datastores against disk spindles on an array. There are now improvements in the datastore correlation such that vSphere can now detect if spindles are shared by datastores on the array regardless of VASA support.
By exposing virtual hardware (Intel-VT/AMD RVI) virtualization as well as more CPU counters and components VMware has exposed more capability than ever before. Tie this with virtual graphics processing units and we now have the ability to implement virtualized high performance and real-time computing environments. Add to this the storage improvements and large scale big data applications as well as high performance computing environments can be virtualized. Both require low latency networking and storage.
Virtualization has long since been the bane of high performance applications whether that is 3D graphics, high performance computing, big data, or real-time applications. vSphere 5.1 provides a possible solution to use cases while improving integration with the VMware vCloud Suite.
As a key part of the new vCloud Suite, vCloud Director 5.1 gets a bunch of new features, and takes on a new role. The new role is that vCD is built into the suite, and is the layer where the cross-cluster capabilities are implemented. Therefore vCD becomes much less of a Cloud Management solution, and much more of a key part of the platform which implements Virtual Data Centers (VDC’s) for customers.
New vCloud Director Functionality
vCloud Director is where a significant part of the new functionality in the vCloud Suite is implemented. The most important features are VXLAN which allows for the creation of Virtual Data Centers that span clusters. VXLAN allows allows for the vMotion of a VM and its associated storage from one cluster to another.
vCloud Director 5.1 (Click to Enlarge)
vCloud Director 5.1 Enhanced Networking and Security Features
vCloud Director 5.1 is also where some dramatically enhanced networking and security features are implemented. Many of the vShield security components which one used to have to purchase separately are now included in vVD.
The depth of the new networking functionality is not to be underestimated. It is clear that VMware embarked upon the Software Defined Networking path long before they acquire Nicira. Some other important details include:
- Integrated Profile Driven Storage
- Integrated Storage DRS
- Integrated Snapshot and Revert
- The aforementioned integration of VXLAN
- The ability for VDC’s to span clusters
- The bundling of the vShield Security components
vCloud Director contains many of the features that make the vCloud Suite compelling. This will likely force (or entice) many VMware customers and prospects to adopt vCD which will simply then serve to justify the price for the entire vCloud Suite.
Today at VMworld 2012 inSan Francisco, VMware announced a new integrated bundle of functionality, the vCloud Suite 5.1. This new bundle represents a significant re-packaging of the VMware product line – and coupled with new pricing lays down the gauntlet for the virtualization platform industry and its supporting ecosystem.
VMworld 2012 is upon us and one of our tasks is to figure out which vendor’s booths to go see. With over 230 booths to choose from this is a daunting task. If you are interested in finding creative new solutions to your management, monitoring, deployment, security, data protection, and desktop management problems, this list will help you.
Virtualization Management Categories Defined
Here are the definitions of the eight virtualization management categories profiled below:
- Application Performance Management (APM) – APM is about the end-to-end and hop-by-hop (across application tiers) measurement of response time and the diagnostics required to pinpoint degradations in response time (or flat out failed transactions) in the applications themselves or in the supporting infrastructure. APM tools come in two varieties. Developer focused tools help developers (or DevOps teams) support custom developed applications in production by quickly identifying and diagnosing application code problems in production. Operations focused tools support every application in the environment (custom developed and purchased), and focus their diagnostics more on infrastructure issues that are impacting application performance.
- Operations Management – Operations Management is a broad category of products that are used to support the day-to-day performance, capacity and configuration management tasks that face virtualization administrators. While all of these products support vSphere, some support other hypervisors as well.
- Infrastructure Performance Management – IPM is APM for the infrastructure. It is all about the end-to-end and hop-by-hop latency of the infrastructure in support of the workloads running on the infrastructure. The thesis of this category is that in a virtual environment you cannot infer the performance of the infrastructure from resource utilization metrics, you have to measure it directly and continuously.
- Automated Server and Image Management – This category has come into its own this year. The focus is upon allowing you to automatically manage what runs on your servers (physical, virtual or cloud), update them at scale, and keep them consistent. Think of this category as BladeLogic Version 2.0.
- Cloud Management – Cloud Management is about building clouds on your vSphere infrastructure, and extending those clouds to other hypervisors, as well as to public cloud infrastructures.
- Virtualization Security – Virtualization Security is about protecting the infrastructure, the systems software, the middleware, the applications, and all data from unauthorized use or attacks.
- Virtualization Backup and Data Protection – Backup and Data Protection ensure that your data is always available for you (and no on else), irrespective of what failures or disasters have occurred in or to your IT environment.
- Desktop Virtualization – Desktop Virtualization is about using virtualization as a catalyst to combine the benefits of user flexibility and centralized management.
Your VMworld 2012 Short List
We wish you safe travels to and from VMworld 2012 and a great show. The one certainty is that the virtualization and cloud landscapes will be different after VMware and all of the vendors in the ecosystem make their announcements next week. VMware’s new Software Defined Data Center strategy is going to usher in a set of changes as profound as those precipitated by virtualization itself – and that entire journey lies in front of us.