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Introducing VMware Hyper-Converged Software

VMware Hyper-Converged Software

Powering the industry’s largest Hyper-Converged Infrastructure ecosystem

Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI) is transforming the way private datacenter infrastructure is being built –see this post for an overview of HCI.  It eliminates the traditional hardware silos of compute, storage and networking, to move all the intelligence into a single software layer running on industry-standard x86 servers.  By doing so, HCI makes private infrastructure a lot simpler, higher performing, and more cost-effective.  In essence, the infrastructure starts looking like the datacenters of web-scale companies such as Google or Amazon.  We’re seeing these benefits play out across thousands of VMware customers that have deployed and expanded their HCI deployments over the past year.

Hyper-Converged Infrastructure

Hyper-Converged Infrastructure relies on both great hardware and great software.  The hardware consists of industry-standard x86 building blocks, serving as the foundation for the entire datacenter.  This hardware convergence relies on critical innovations such as flash and faster CPUs.

At the same time – it’s clear that HCI is first and foremost about the software.  Software innovation is what makes HCI possible.  Compute, storage, networking and management are now delivered as software. For storage specifically – this requires a software-defined, distributed, shared storage model with all the data services typically provided by external SAN or NAS – but all delivered as software on the hypervisor.  This distributed software is very hard to build, hence why only a few vendors are able to pull it off.

Let’s introduce you to VMware Hyper-Converged Software

At VMware, we believe we have an incredibly valuable and innovative set of software assets that enables HCI:

  • vSphere is, of course, the most widely deployed and proven hypervisor in the industry. It also delivers basic Virtual Machine networking capabilities with vSphere Distributed Switch.
  • Virtual SAN provides high-performance, enterprise-class shared storage
  • vCenter Server provides unified management across the stack

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VMware Simplifies its Lineup of Core Virtualization Offerings

By Michael Adams, director of vSphere product marketing, VMware

VMware today made changes to simplify its lineup of core VMware vSphere and VMware vSphere with Operations Management offerings. VMware is reducing the number of offerings ranging from VMware vSphere Standard to VMware vSphere with Operations Management Enterprise Plus from six SKUs down to three SKUs.

The new lineup will consist of VMware vSphere Standard, VMware vSphere Enterprise Plus and VMware vSphere with Operations Management Enterprise Plus. Effective June 30, 2016, VMware vSphere Enterprise, VMware vSphere with Operations Management Standard and VMware vSphere with Operations Management Enterprise will reach End of Availability.

Additionally, all VMware vCenter Server Standard customers (existing and new) will now receive vRealize Log Insight for vCenter Server. The new offering will provide 25 Operating System Instances (OSIs) of vRealize Log Insight limited to monitoring logs from VMware vCenter Server, VMware vSphere and VMware vRealize Log Insight content packs.

Pricing Updates

Beyond the product lineup and packaging updates, VMware is making two pricing changes. VMware vSphere with Operations Management Enterprise Plus is now $4,395 per CPU. VMware vCenter Server Standard is now $5,995 per instance.

Alignment of Products with Customer Use Cases

VMware updated its virtualization product lineup to align it with the most common customer use cases:

  • VMware vSphere Standard enables server consolidation and business continuity
  • VMware vSphere Enterprise Plus delivers resource management, enhanced application performance and availability
  • VMware vSphere with Operations Management Enterprise Plus optimizes the data center via intelligent operations, consistent management, and automation and predicative analytics.

VMware is committed to delivering greater value to its customer through the introduction of new capabilities in its solutions. New product releases introduced today such as VMware vSphere with Operations Management and vRealize Log Insight for vCenter Server will help customers get more out of their investments in VMware software.

For additional details on today’s pricing and packaging updates, please view this video

Hardening Guide Risk Profiles Explained

A customer asked me recently “Why were the Risk Profile definitions pulled out of the vSphere 6 Hardening Guide?”

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VMware vSphere Beta – Indicate your interest!

We are excited to announce the upcoming VMware vSphere Beta Program. This program enables participants to help define the direction of the most widely adopted industry-leading virtualization platform.

Folks who want to participate in the program can now indicate their interest by filling out this simple form. The vSphere team will grant access to the program to selected candidates in stages.

This vSphere Beta Program leverages a private Beta community to download software and share information. We will provide discussion forums, webinars, and service requests to enable you to share your feedback with us.

You can expect to download, install, and test vSphere Beta software in your environment or get invited to try new features in a VMware hosted environment. All testing is free-form and we encourage you to use our software in ways that interest you. This will provide us with valuable insight into how you use vSphere in real-world conditions and with real-world test cases, enabling us to better align our product with your business needs.

Some of the many reasons to participate in this vSphere Beta Program include:

  • Receive early access to the vSphere Beta products
  • Interact with the vSphere Beta team consisting of Product Managers, Engineers, Technical Support, and Technical Writers
  • Provide direct input on product functionality, configurability, usability, and performance
  • Provide feedback influencing future products, training, documentation, and services
  • Collaborate with other participants, learn about their use cases, and share advice and learnings

We welcome you to indicate your interest today at: VMware vSphere Beta Interest Capture

Oracle U2VL With Virtual SAN And The Batch Processing Use Case

Unix to Virtualized Linux (U2VL) is a critical step towards SDDC, it targets to migrate applications and data from physical Unix servers to Linux virtual machines running on x86 virtualized infrastructure. These applications are typically business critical, therefore, customers normally take a very cautious approach by doing a carefully planned and executed Proof-of-Concept (POC) in order to validate performance, availability, and scalability, among many other areas.

My colleagues in China (a big shout out to Tony Wang and his team!) recently did one such POC with a large local bank, and naturally they chose Virtual SAN hyper-converged architecture for all of the compute and storage needs. The test results were so illustrative of many of the Virtual SAN benefits, I’d like to share this POC and some of the test results here, although I’m not allowed to mention the customer name due to reasons you probably understand.

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VMware Virtual SAN Delivers Enterprise Level Availability

One of the slides we showcased during the VMware Virtual SAN 6.1 Launch that got a lot of attention was the following slide:

Pic 1

A lot of eyebrows in the audience were going up wondering how we came to the conclusion that VSAN delivers 6-9s availability level (or less than 32 seconds of downtime a year). While, Virtual SAN uses software-based RAID, which differs in implementation from traditional storage solutions, it does have the same end result – your data objects are mirrored (RAID-1) for increased reliability and availability. Moreover, with VSAN your data is mirrored across hosts in the cluster not just across storage devices, as is the case with typical hardware RAID controllers.

The VSAN users can set their goals for data availability by means of a policy that may be specified for each VM or even for each VMDK if desired. The relevant policy is called ‘Failures to Tolerate’ (FTT) and refers to the number of concurrent host and/or disk failures a storage object can tolerate. For FTT=n, “n+1” copies of the object are created and “2n+1” hosts are required (to ensure availability even under split brain situations).

For the end user, it is important to quantify the levels of availability achieved with different values of the FTT policy. With only one copy (FTT=0), the availability of the data equals the availability of the hardware the data resides on. Typically, that is in the range of 2-9s (99%) availability, i.e., 3.65 Days downtime/year. However, for higher values of FTT, more copies of the data are created across hosts and that reduces exponentially the probability of data unavailability. With FTT=1 (2 replicas), data availability goes up to at least 4-9s (99.99% or 5 minutes downtime per year), and with FTT=2 (3 replicas) it goes up to 6-9s (99.9999% or 32 seconds downtime per year). Put simply, for FTT=n, more than n hosts and/or devices have to fail concurrently for one’s data to become unavailable. Many people challenged us to show them how the math actually works to arrive at these conclusions. So let’s get to it.

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Making Security Easier – An ESXi Fling for US Federal Customers

Running systems in the US Federal Government presents its own unique challenges. From specific system login requirements (CAC/PIV smart cards) to specific regulations like DISA STIG’s, managing systems in this environment comes with a healthy dose of security. Today we’re taking a small step towards making that easier with the introduction of a VMware Fling for ESXi targeting the DISA STIG standards.

DISA STIG

Many of the requirements of a STIG come from years of operational experience with other operating systems. Even though ESXi isn’t Linux, there are some common tools that have specific settings requirements that need to be met by the STIG. This VIB simplifies this process and does it in a more secure manner.

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Technical Paper: Installing VMware ESXi 6 Using PXE

It’s 2016, are you still installing VMware ESXi by mounting ISO images in a browser-based console? That’s probably fine for one-off efforts, and it sure beats making a trip to the datacenter with physical CDs, but network deployments are the way of the future.

If you have not yet made the move to PXE deployments, then a new guide from VMware may be the catalyst needed to get your environment moving towards greater operational maturity:

maturity-sequence-diagram

Today, there are a number of large-scale VMware deployments leveraging Auto Deploy to centrally install, patch, and upgrade ESXi hosts that do not utilize local disks. For environments not quite ready to dive into this world of highly automated, stateless deployments, then network installs via PXE – either interactive or scripted – are a good starting point.   Getting familiar with the required infrastructure, such as DHCP, TFTP, and properly configured DNS today can pave the way for future automation with Auto Deploy technology.

This new technical paper from VMware is a very thorough guide on PXE installation of ESXi 6, including differences between the two major hardware architectures: legacy BIOS and UEFI. Also note that UEFI even supports IPv6 – if you’re into that kind of thing. In addition to that, advice is offered on how to control, on a per-host basis, which configuration files are booted, which can enable a gradual transition.  Details, such as the following boot sequence diagram, contribute to a better understanding in the event troubleshooting is needed.

esxi6_pxe_sequence

So take a look and consider how your environment may benefit by reducing manual tasks required for ESXi host deployment. Speaking of reducing manual tasks – this small script that can automatically prepare the contents of an ISO image for PXE use may also be of interest.

Virtual Volumes and Storage Policy-Based Management for Databases

In the first part of this series we provided a high level view of the benefits of using Virtual Volumes enabled storage for database operations. In the second part of this series we examined in more detail how Virtual Volumes can improve the backup and recovery capabilities for business critical databases, specifically Oracle .In the third part of this series we examined in more detail how Virtual Volumes works in a crash consistent manner for backup and for cloning operations.

Virtual Volumes integrates with Storage Policy-Based Management, the same framework to manage data services in vSphere. In this part we will look at how Storage Policy Based Management (SPBM) can be leveraged to manage mission critical databases. Continue reading

DRS Keeps Admins Happy

DRS is not just about keeping VMs happy.  DRS has many other operational benefits that keep your admins happy too. Let’s dive into the top ways that DRS makes the day in the life so much better for the vSphere admin.

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