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VMware Virtual SAN: Performance with Microsoft Exchange Server

VSAN-Exch

As we continue to showcase the value and capabilities of Virtual SAN, I believe it is crucial to provide access to the information VMware’s performance engineering team has gathered around business critical applications and their respective performance benchmarks.

This white paper focuses on Microsoft Exchange Server performance on VMware Virtual SAN. Microsoft Exchange Server is a commonly found email server and is considered a business-critical application by many organizations. Virtualized instances of Exchange Server can be successfully deployed using VMware vSphere 5.5 and it has been shown that Exchange Server performs well in a virtualized environment with shared SAN storage .

With the release of VMware Virtual SAN, the next logical step is to study the performance of Exchange Server on this storage platform. VMware performance testing shows that Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 on Virtual SAN clusters scales well without affecting much user-perceived application latency as more Exchange users are deployed with added VMware Virtual SAN hosts.

Take a look at the white paper and review the results of this study.

- Enjoy

For future updates on Virtual SAN (VSAN), Virtual Volumes (VVols), and other Software-defined Storage technologies as well as vSphere + OpenStack be sure to follow me on Twitter: @PunchingClouds

Announcing availability of VMware vSphere Remote Office Branch Office Editions and VMware vSphere 5.5 Update 2

Earlier this month at VMworld 2014 in San Francisco, VMware introduced the VMware vSphere Remote Office Branch Office Standard and Advanced Editions. Today, we are excited to announce the availability of these new vSphere editions, designed specifically for IT infrastructure located in remote, distributed sites. These new offerings will allow us to provide new and existing customers of all sizes with enhanced service level, standardization and availability capabilities for remote and branch office locations (See a short 3 minute Product Video).

  • vSphere Remote Office Branch Office offerings will be available in packs of 25 Virtual Machines priced at $3,000 for the Standard edition and $4,500 for the Advanced edition (Note: All reference pricing above is suggested MSRP for the US, in USD. Regional prices will vary)
  • These new offerings feature a per virtual machine licensing metric that offers customers the flexibility to deploy only the number of workloads required at each remote site. A customer can distribute a pack across multiple sites.
  • These new offerings are replacing existing vSphere Essentials and Essentials Plus Kits for Retail and Branch Offices (ROBO). Existing customers who purchased these kits can avail of a free conversion to the new editions by raising an SR ticket through their My VMware portal. Regular Essentials/Essentials Plus Kits (i.e., non-ROBO) sold in 6-CPU packs remain unaffected.

Learn more about the Value of Virtualizing Remote Offices and Branch Offices with the IDC Analyst Connection, sponsored by VMWare.

To learn more about the new vSphere Remote Office Branch Office Editions and compare them, go to:  http://www.vmware.com/products/vsphere/compare.html

Announcing availability of vSphere 5.5 Update 2

vSphere 5.5 Update 2 is available. The new release offers support for new processors, guest operating systems, and 6TB hosts. Learn more at ESXi 5.5 release notes and vCenter Server 5.5 Update 2 release notes and the associated vSphere Blog Post

vSphere 5.5 Update 2 is GA, available for download

What’s new in this release?

  • Support for hosts with 6TB of RAM – vSphere 5.5 Update 2 starts to support hosts with 6TB of RAM.
  • VMware vShield Endpoint Thin Agent as VMware Tools Guest Introspection plugin – The vShield Endpoint driver bundled with VMware Tools is now called Guest Introspection.
  • vCenter Server database support: vCenter Server now supports the following external databases: Oracle 12c, Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Service Pack 1and Microsoft SQL Server 2014
  • vCloud Hybrid Service: The vCloud Hybrid Service (vCHS) introduces a new container, Hybrid Cloud Service, on the vSphere Web Client home page. The Hybrid Cloud Service container contains the vCHS installer and the new vCloud Connector installer.
  • Customer Experience Improvement Program: The vSphere customer experience improvement program is introduced to collect configuration data for vSphere and transmit weekly to VMware for analysis in understanding the usage and improving the product. For more details, see the vSphere Documentation Center.
  • Resolved Issues – This release delivers a number of bug fixes that have been documented in the Release Notes

Product Support Notices

  • vSphere Web Client: Starting with vSphere 5.5 Update 2, Windows XP and Windows Vista are not supported as vSphere Client Operating System. You can find the complete list of operating system supported by vSphere Web Client in the VMware Compatibility Guide.
  • vSphere Web Client: Because Linux platforms are no longer supported by Adobe Flash, vSphere Web Client is not supported on the Linux OS. Third party browsers that add support for Adobe Flash on the Linux desktop OS might continue to function.
  • VMware vCenter Server Appliance: In vSphere 5.5, the VMware vCenter Server Appliance meets high-governance compliance standards through the enforcement of the DISA Security Technical Information Guidelines (STIG). Before you deploy VMware vCenter Server Appliance, see the VMware Hardened Virtual Appliance Operations Guide for information about the new security deployment standards and to ensure successful operations.
  • vCenter Server database: vSphere 5.5 removes support for IBM DB2 as the vCenter Server database.
  • VMware Tools: Beginning with vSphere 5.5, all information about how to install and configure VMware Tools in vSphere is merged with the other vSphere documentation. For information about using VMware Tools in vSphere, see the vSphere documentation. Installing and Configuring VMware Tools is not relevant to vSphere 5.5 and later.
  • vSphere Data Protection: vSphere Data Protection 5.1 is not compatible with vSphere 5.5 because of a change in the way vSphere Web Client operates. vSphere Data Protection 5.1 users who upgrade to vSphere 5.5 must also update vSphere Data Protection to continue using vSphere Data Protection.
  • Interoperability Matrix: Check out supported databases, host OS, upgrade paths in the matrix

Get vCenter 5.5 Update 2 at download page

 

vCenter Server 5.5 Update 2 Released

Today VMware released Update 2 of its vSphere management solution, vCenter Server. In this release there are updates to the supported database versions and many resolved known issues.

What’s New

  • vCenter Server database support: vCenter Server now supports the following external databases:
    • Oracle 12c. Important: For pre-requisite requirements, see KB 2079443.
    • Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Service Pack 1
    • Microsoft SQL Server 2014
  • vCloud Hybrid Service: The vCloud Hybrid Service (vCHS) introduces a new container, Hybrid Cloud Service, on the vSphere Web Client home page. The Hybrid Cloud Service container contains the vCHS installer and the new vCloud Connector installer.
  • Customer Experience Improvement Program: The vSphere customer experience improvement program is introduced to collect configuration data for vSphere and transmit weekly to VMware for analysis in understanding the usage and improving the product. For more details, see the vSphere Documentation Center.

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SQL Server on vSphere Workshop

by Don Sullivan, Product Line Marketing Manager, Business Critical Applications – vSphere

There has been a dramatic increase of virtualized infrastructure being used for production-level business critical applications (BCAs) including relational database management systems (RDBMS) such as Oracle and SQL Server. With the release, of vSphere 4.x in 2009, Tier 1 implementations on vSphere became a reality.

With the recent releases of vSphere 5.x and the abstract approach of the Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC) the proposition of running BCAs and RDBMS such as SQL Server is truly compelling. The comprehensive overhead imposed by the hypervisor had dropped precipitously and vertical scalability up to 64 vCPUs and 1TB of RAM was now real.  As systems and database administrators (DBAs) examined their options for expensive hardware refreshes, they started to seriously consider virtualization as a viable alternative to rip and replace hardware upgrades.  At this point, VMware began a steadfast venture to foster awareness among its customer base towards the suitability of vSphere as the platform for all applications including database implementations. 

ESXi is a type 1, non-paravirtualized hypervisor, which means that it runs on the bare-metal machine and it makes no kernel alterations to the Guest Operating System (GOS). vSphere is a platform of virtualized hardware which translated means that vSphere should be understood, managed and discussed as logical hardware.  Each virtual machine (VM) created is a separate server that is now, due to the magic of vSphere, logically disconnected from the hardware.

The value of vSphere in regards to BCAs must be deferred until the DBAs are convinced that the platform has the innate ability to run high workload applications.  To answer this question we should first separate performance into 4 separate dimensions: processing, memory, network and storage.  If the architect and administrators follow VMware best practices and properly allocate the required resources to the VM, an exercise called “Right-Sizing”, the overall performance degradation caused by the virtualization layer should be less than 10%. VMware has detailed best practice guides for the popular RDBMS such as Oracle and SQL Server as well as the popular enterprise level applications.  In addition, there are a number of recently or soon to be published books on these subjects:

The value of vSphere for BCA and respectively SQL Server comes in two separate categories, resource management capabilities and the set of features that allow the application owners and administrators to meet their Service Level Agreements (SLAs).  In addition to performance, security, and provisioning requirement, all BCA have requirements for uptime in the event of a server failure and recovery time when facing a disaster.  The broad and powerful set of features which are intrinsic capabilities of vSphere address all of those concerns.  The administrators can use vSphere HA, which can be configured in minutes for the entire ESXi cluster to circumvent significant downtime due to server failures.  Downtime for hardware maintenance should be eliminated with the use of vMotion and “Maintenance” mode.   Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS) will use vMotion to automatically move VMs within the ESXi/DRS cluster to distribute load. Hot add can be used to dynamically add resources to a VM to respond to usage bursts.  Site Recovery Manager (SRM) is a workflow orchestration system which facilitates the coordination of the VMs and the storage failovers when disaster strikes. Network administrators can use a virtual distributed switch (vDS) to simplify their network architectures.  And most importantly the SDDC extends the most profound notions of virtualization to the network and storage layers so that the entire stack is truly virtualized.  This means that all the applications, critical or casual, should be considered candidates for inclusion in a true SDDC.

The SQL Server database administrator should quickly understand that the capabilities of vSphere and the SDDC enhances the value of the systems that they manage and subsequently increases the value of the application running on those databases.  The SDDC therefore makes the DBA and other administrators more effective at managing their systems and more valuable to their companies.  This is the age of the vDBA where the DBA embraces the proposition of virtualized infrastructure and the modern information systems architectures of the 21st century.

This week, VMware in partnership with Pure Storage has invited world-renowned SQL Server experts, many of who are also SQL MVPs, to their respective headquarters in Palo Alto to take part in an elite SQL Server on vSphere workshop.  For three days, the 15 experts will meet with executives and participate in discussions with distinguished VMware and Pure Storage engineers. This group will also work on Hands-on-Labs that have been customized specifically for this group, which includes SQL Server on vSphere and Pure Storage exercises.  Collaborative events throughout the week will allow these experts to get to know each other as well as the VMware and Pure Storage product teams who are committed to SQL Server running on vSphere.

The experts participating in this elite workshop include:

  • Mike Corey – President Ntirety Corp and author of 18 books
  • David Klee – Founder of Heraflux
  • Kevin Kline – Director of Engineering Services SQL Sentry Corp
  • Grant Fritchey – Red Gate Software and author of three SQL Server books
  • Argenis Fernandez – Sqlblog.com
  • Thomas LaRock – President SQL Pass
  • Christopher Bell – DC chapter of PASS founder – 30+ events this year – CEO WaterOX Consulting
  • Rodney Landrum – SQL Saturdays regular and many well-known blogs
  • Kendal Van Dyke – Upsearch Principle Consultant
  • Keith Allen Kinsel – SQL Saturday Advisory Council
  • Joseph D’Antoni – Senior Architect Anexinet
  • Denny Cherry – Denny Cherry Associates and Consulting Founder
  • Andrew J. Kelly – SoildQ Corp – Weekly speaker at events worldwide
  • Allen White – Upsearch Corp – Ohio SQL User group president – writes for SQL Pass Magazine
  • Andy Galbraith – Ntirety Corp

Follow us on Twitter (@VMwarevSphere) and Facebook (VMwarevSphere) for updates on this inaugural SQL Server on vSphere workshop.

VMware Virtual SAN Survey

VMware Virtual SAN LogoThe VMware Storage and Availability team is looking for customer and community feedback for VMware Virtual SAN. Please take a few minutes to fill out the survey listed in the link below.

VMware Virtual SAN Survey Link

Thank you for your help and support.

For future updates on Virtual SAN (VSAN), Virtual Volumes (VVols), and other Software-defined Storage technologies as well as vSphere + OpenStack be sure to follow me on Twitter: @PunchingClouds

 

 

InfoWorld Review: Virtual SAN Results

When it comes to leading the industry in hyper-converged software-defined storage for virtual environments, VMware Virtual SAN sets the pace.

Armed with hardware provided by Supermicro and Lenovo, Paul Ferrill of InfoWorld put VMware Virtual SAN to the test. Scoring 9.2 out of 10, including two perfect scores for scalability and availability, Virtual SAN earned an “excellent” rating from Ferrill.  His take away: VMware Virtual SAN is a significant step towards the software-defined data center and delivers performance on even moderately priced hardware.

vsaninfoworld1

“VMware’s Virtual SAN represents a significant step toward the stated goal of a software-defined data center,” Ferrill writes. “It’s also somewhat of a “back to the future” experience, with storage moving into the local host machines and away from a centralized and dedicated storage appliance. My testing shows that VSAN is capable of delivering respectable performance on moderately priced hardware. Throw in 10GbE networking and you’ll see impressive results on even the lowest-end hardware configuration.”

Ferrill ran his tests on two systems. The first was on the Supermicro system, which was a SuperSaver SYS-F627R3-R72B+ with four independent nodes a single 4U chassis. The nodes contained two Intel Xeon 2420 CPUS, 256GB of memory, five 2TB Seagate SAS 10K HDDS and one 400GB Intel S3700 Series SATA SSD. The unit also uses two 10GbE and two 1GbE network interfaces. Lenovo sent three ThinkServer RD340 1U servers, each with an Intel Xeon 35-2420 CPU, 64GB of memory, one 1TB Toshiba SAS 7200RPM HDD, one 100GB STEC M161SD2-100UCM SATA SSD, and three 1GbE network interfaces.

As Ferrill notes, creating VSAN clusters on those two setups was simple: install vSphere and vCenter, then check a box in the vCenter Server interface.

“The hardest part may be configuring the disk controllers,” Ferrill said.
If you’re lucky, your disk controller makes JBOD a simple check box item.”

Ferrill said he found that VMware Virtual SAN, especially in a VDI scenario, offers compelling advantages in its initial cost and long-term maintenance. For more details, you can read Ferrill’s review of VMware Virtual SAN here.

For more updates on VMware Virtual SAN and Software-Defined Storage, be sure to follow us on Twitter at @VMwareVSAN!

VMware Feature Walkthrough: Step-by-Step VMware How-to’s

If you are like me, VMworld 2014 in San Francisco left my brain on overload. With so many new product and services announcements, plus breakout sessions filled with technical information and demos in the expo floor booths, it’s hard not to feel like you are drinking from the proverbial fire hose.  Throw in a party or three, plus the pile of work waiting when you get home and all that great info you gathered starts to turn up with some CRC errors in your memory.
VMware Feature Walkthrough Home

Fortunately, VMware has a tool that you can use to refresh your memory on the VMware solutions and services that you explored at VMworld.  The VMware Feature Walkthrough site (http://featurewalkthrough.vmware.com) provides technical overviews and step-by-step guidance for installing, configuring and managing our solutions.  Each walkthrough includes screen shots with relevant steps highlighted and text explaining the process.

VMware vSOM Walkthrough

The Feature Walkthrough site is a great for stepping through a self-paced demo of a particular VMware product or feature.  We’ve made the site mobile friendly, so go ahead and open it on your tablet and take it into the data center to guide your proof-of-concept install of the products you saw or heard about during VMworld, or to simply refresh your memory on just where exactly that checkbox to enable a product feature is.  Use it to show your boss that cool feature you saw at VMworld, or to familiarize yourself with the basics of a product before you jump into a live Hands-on Lab environment.

We’re always adding new walkthroughs; the vSphere with Operations Management (vSOM) series of Walkthroughs was recently refreshed, and NSX and Virtual SAN walkthroughs are now available. If there are any particular products or features that you want to see added to the site, feel free to drop me a note at featurewalkthrough@vmware.com or leave a comment below!

VMware Virtual SAN Network Design Guide

VSAN Network GraphicVirtual SAN is a scale-out hypervisor-converged software-defined storage solution that can scale up to 32 nodes in a cluster. The network serves as the backbone of a Virtual SAN cluster by providing the interconnects between nodes via an Ethernet network topology.

There are many design options when creating a vSphere network design that includes VMware Virtual SAN. Proper network design is critical to ensure the performance and availability of  both your Virtual SAN cluster, and other vSphere services and workloads utilizing the network. A holistic approach that considers all the network services within your vSphere cluster should be taken when planning networking for Virtual SAN. The VMware Virtual SAN Network Design Guide reviews design options, best practices, and configuration details, including but not limited to the following -

  • vSphere Teaming Considerations – IP Hash vs other vSphere teaming algorithms
  • Physical Topology Considerations – Impact of Spine/Leaf vs Access/Aggregation/Core topology in large scale Virtual SAN clusters
  • Virtual SAN Network Design for High Availability – Design considerations to achieve a highly available Virtual SAN network
  • Load Balancing Considerations – How to achieve aggregated bandwidth via multiple physical uplinks for Virtual SAN traffic in combination with other traffic types
  • Virtual SAN with other Traffic Types – Detailed architectural examples and test results of using Network IO Control with Virtual SAN and other traffic types

For an in-depth detailed review of Virtual SAN Network Design considerations and recommended practices, download the VMware Virtual SAN Network Design Guide today!

VMware Hands-on Labs VMworld 2014 US online

VMware Hands-on Labs at VMworld 2014 US marked a number of firsts:

  • Over 10,000 labs were taken
  • Over 100,000 VMs were used for labs during the week
  • VSAN and EVO:RACK were used to host a portion of the infrastructure
  • vCloud Air and Horizon 6 were in the top 5 labs

I am pleased to announce that we have begun to make available the VMware Hands-on Labs that debuted at VMworld 2014 in the US.  Feel free to take these labs now:

HOL-SDC-1406 vCloud Suite 101

HOL-SDC-1406 - vCloud Suite 101 Thumbnail  This introductory lab demonstrates the first steps in the journey to a Software Defined Enterprise by implementing all components of vCloud Suite Standard. http://labs.hol.vmware.com/HOL/catalogs/lab/1465

HOL-SDC-1410 – Virtualization 101

HOL-SDC-1410 - Virtualization 101 Thumbnail  This introductory lab demonstrates the core features and functions of vSphere and vCenter. This is an excellent place to begin your experience with VMware vSphere. http://labs.hol.vmware.com/HOL/catalogs/lab/1449

HOL-MBL-1451 – Horizon 6 with View from A to Z

HOL-MBL-1451 - Horizon 6 with View from A to Z Thumbnail  Complete a guided tour of Horizon View features, learn how to Optimize Horizon View for your environment and learn steps to Troubleshoot a View environment and avoid common issues.  http://labs.hol.vmware.com/HOL/catalogs/lab/1453

Over the next few weeks we will be releasing all of the labs from VMworld 2014 US.   The next labs to be released this week cover BC/DR, data center consolidation, on-demand provisioning, network micro-segmentation, security and optimization. And then next week look for more networking and storage labs including NSX, VSAN and VVOL.  Our VMware partner solution labs will be released in two weeks.

Be sure to join us in Barcelona, Spain for VMworld 2014 Europe and VMware Hands-on Labs where you can meet with the product experts responsible for the labs and participate in Expert-led Workshops for a guided experience through your lab.

http://www.vmworld.com/community/conference/europe