VMware vSphere 4 Launched Today!

Intro

Today VMware announced the rollout of its newest product, vSphere 4, which will be the successor to ESX 3.5.  Via webcast the launch was broadcast live.  Once we got past the 45 minutes with the CEO’s of Cisco, VMware, HP and Intel all holding hands, singing kumbaya and professing their love for each other’s companies there were some real good demos and product details by the VMware CTO.  I’ll try to keep this blog much more geared to a high level overview of the techno stuff.

So here we go!

Some of main areas of excitement were around the amount of collaboration VMware did with companies like Cisco, EMC, Intel and HP.  From Cisco the anticipated release of the Nexus 1000 vSwitch functionality will be integrated into the new vSphere (for an additional license cost).  This new switch will enable network admins to manage virtual switches within VMware like they would other physical Cisco switches.

Intel talked a little about the release of their new Xeon 5500 series processor which will use less power and provide much more processing power.  A short demo was done showing how the new 5500 series processor enables companies to virtualize many apps that couldn’t be virtual before.  As an example they had both a highend ORACLE database and SQL database running at near 100%.  The system performance was illustrated both physical and then virtual on a 5500 series vSphere environment….. the performance improved.

The CTO of VMware eventually came to the stage and talked about the new product and its feature set.  Overall the new vSphere offers (according to VWware) ….. 150 new features.  The presentation was focused around 3 key areas that vSphere aimed to improve on….Efficiency, Control and Choice.

Efficiency

Some of the key new capabilities included:

          Support for 8 virtual processors per vm

          256GB RAM supported per vm (love to see the price tag on that!)

          Over 300,000 IOPS supported

o   One example shown was a single vm driving 510 disk spindles

          Support for 2048 processor cores

          vStorage – a thin provisioning technology that is estimated to save you as much as 50% in storage requirements

          Distributed Power Management – this is a cool feature that uses vMotion to collapse down server (host) loads to the minimum number of host when loads are idle (after 5 or 6 pm for instance).  When loads ramp back up more host are brought on line to support the demand.

o   This technology is estimated to save an additional 20% over the power savings generated by Vi3.

Finally due to these and other improvements in efficiency you can expect to see up to 30% greater consolidation ratios over existing ESX 3.5 infrastructure.  Combine this with other new technology like the HP G6 server using the Xeon 5500 processors and you could see very significant cost savings in addition to performance increases.

Control

Here is where some really cool and useful features were announced.  The focus was on vCenter Host Profiles, Fault Tolerance and Security.

vCenter Host Profiles will give you instant provisioning of new hosts/hardware.  In other word you can guarantee that all of your VMware hosts are configured the same including DNS settings, NTP, hardware, etc.. The cool thing is it is all done right from vCenter via GUI in a new tab.  Through the use of green and red alerts the system tells you both when a host is out of compliance and what exactly is out of compliance.

VMware Fault Tolerance was shown as a live demo.  By simply right clicking on a vm and enabling FT, vCenter spins up a second exact copy of the vm to be protected on another host.  Once the second vm is running the system configures the two vm’s to run in lock step with each other.  If one dies the other takes over without missing a step.  This was demo’d using a Blackberry server.  A blackberry device, shown on screen using an emulator and connected to a local blackberry server running on a VMware host installed on an HP blade was configured for FT.  The original server blade was then removed (hot) and emails continued to stream to the Blackberry.  There will be an additional cost (license) for the FT feature but it essentially will enable you to cluster any application that can run on a vm.

The final feature set was geared toward Security.  There are now vm-safe APIs that have been made available to third party vendors to create security appliances and software for the virtual space.  vSphere now also has what were called vShield Zones which is a new built-in security feature that enables the creation and management of logical security zones (ie DMZ) with specific security profiles.

Choice

The final area discussed was Choice.  This had a lot to do with the flexibility that vSphere gives to IT departments.  The new vSphere touts supporting 4x more operating systems than the next nearest competitor.  The new Storage vMotion was also demo’d.  Now you have the choice, via GUI now, to vMotion vm’s via regular vMotion or Storage vMotion directly from the vCenter console.  Not only will the new Storage vMotion allow you to move datastores on the fly from one array to another should you need to replace you storage array but it is really geared more toward the ability to tier your vm’s and datastores between say SATA or high speed FC resources.

Summary

Overall the new vSphere is a very impressive product.  VMware has really made a huge leap forward in how datacenters of the future will operate and be designed.  vSphere will be a FREE upgrade to those of you who have ESXi 3 under current support.  There are several new licensing levels and some of the functionality listed above comes at an additional cost so check with your authorized VMware partner  like Varrow. J

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One Response to “VMware vSphere 4 Launched Today!”

  1. Hussain Al Sayed Says:

    Waw, waw, waw, good beat to Microsoft 🙂

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