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VMware vSphere delivers greater out-of-the-box VM density than Red Hat Virtualization

vSphere supported 160% as many VMs with out-of-the-box settings.

A third-party study shows that VMware® vSphere® 6.5 supports more virtual machines with out-of-the-box settings than Red Hat Virtualization 4.1.

Higher density, lower CapEx

The higher the VM density, the lower the per VM capital costs. This is a key advantage VMware vSphere provides to customers. Using advanced memory management VMware vSphere easily assigned more virtual memory to VMs than the total physical memory available. Red Hat Virtualization had trouble with this routine operation.   

The study also showed that operators can rely on vSphere memory management to keep critical applications running even when hardware fails unexpectedly. Red Hat KVM struggled to keep VMs powered on and running. VMware vSphere worked without hesitation and without any admin tuning.  

How we tested

Principled Technologies (PT), an independent testing facility, used hands-on testing to investigate virtual machine density. PT compared VMware vSphere 6.5 and Red Hat Virtualization (RHV) 4.1 running Microsoft® SQL Server® 2016 VMs on a Lenovo™ System x3650 M5 rack server. PT first determined how many VMs each hypervisor could power on and run an online transaction processing workload. Then they increased the number of VMs to test the range each virtualization platform could support. PT used default hypervisor memory management settings.  Using these out-of-the-box settings, vSphere was able to power on and run 160% more VMs than it—or RHV—could run without memory over commitment.  

Additional testing showed that during a simulated hardware failure vSphere also kept VMs available without administrator intervention. RHV required an admin to enable Memory Optimization and perform manual tuning to overcommit memory. Even then, RHV could power on and run only 107 times its baseline number of VMs and could not deliver high availability.  

This study offers further confirmation that VMware vSphere continues to be the most reliable, trusted and cost-effective virtualization technology on the market. You can read the entire report here.

Debunking Myths About vSphere Data Protection

The release of VMware’s vSphere Data Protection 5.5 (VDP) seems to have caused a stir in the virtual backup industry. It appears we have hit a soft spot with some of the other vendors offering backup solutions for vSphere and have seen some confusing messaging coming from our partners/competitors in this market. While we’re certainly proud of the technology partner ecosystem built around VMware solutions I would like to take this opportunity to set the record straight on vSphere Data Protection.

The Myths

  1. Other vendors claim they never need agents to perform backups, where VDP Advanced does.
  2. If you cannot directly view your backup files you may lose your ability to recover from a disaster
  3. Replicating your backups off-site requires expensive “WAN acceleration” technology
  4. VDP lacks any kind of fast VM recovery technology
  5. VDP cannot automatically verify the recoverability of a VM

We’ll dive in to each of these a little bit to get to the truth about vSphere Data Protection.

Myth 1: Agents, or the lack thereof

Some vendors claim they require no agents to do vSphere backups, even for application aware backups of Exchange, MS SQL, and SharePoint, whereas VDP Advanced does require agents for these applications.

The fact of the matter is, the vast majority of VMs do not require agents because of the way our vSphere data protection APIs work. This is the case for VDP and every other vSphere certified backup solution. But, a proper application consistent backup of Exchange, MS SQL, SharePoint and other application does require an agent, even for vendors like Veeam. Need proof? Here’s a quote from page 235 of the Veeam Backup & Replication Version 7.0 User Guide:

To coordinate proper indexing and VSS activities, Veeam Backup & Replication injects a runtime process inside the VM...In the Guest OS credentials section, specify an account with local administrative privileges for injecting the process.

Call me crazy, but a runtime process injected on a VM via admin credentials to do indexing and other activities on behalf of another server is the very definition of an agent. The biggest difference between VDP and Veeam’s agent approach is that VDP’s agents are a one-time install via wizard, whereas Veeam’s agents are installed and uninstalled each and every time a backup job runs.

And don’t forget: our VDP Advanced agents also run on physical servers so you can backup your entire Exchange, SQL, or SharePoint environment with VDP Advanced.

Myth 2: If you can’t directly access your backup files you may suffer dire consequences

First things first, it really doesn’t matter which backup system you choose – your backup files are useless without the backup servers. Further, if you’ve lost your backup infrastructure I’d say the odds are good you’ve lost other critical parts of your infrastructure as well. In cases like this, perhaps backups aren’t the best option for getting up and running. You might want a disaster recovery solution like our Site Recovery Manager or vCloud Hybrid Service – Disaster Recovery for this situation.

But what about smaller, localized issues? What if your backup server gets wiped out? First and foremost I’d recommend you use a product that includes backup replication so you always have 2nd and 3rd copies of your backups, hopefully on-site and off-site. With VDP Advanced your backups could be replicated directly to another VDP Advanced virtual appliance so you could immediately restore from the 2nd appliance – no additional configuration or setup needed. (Even if vCenter is down!)

So what happens if you have your backup files but your backup server is gone? Nothing! At least not until you re-install the backup server and database and maybe some proxies and repositories so that you can actually use those files, stealing precious minutes or hours from your recovery time objective.

Even if you’re using our basic version of VDP, which is included with most versions of vSphere and which does not have built-in replication, keep in mind that everything you need to protect your backups – the backup files, database, everything! – is contained within a single VM. Simply copy the VM to secondary storage periodically to avoid a single point of failure.

Myth 3: You’re going to need to buy a WAN accelerator to handle replication

VDP Advanced includes highly efficient, secure backup data replication across any link at no additional cost. How do we do it and why don’t you see some special “WAN accelerator” configuration inside VDP Advanced? VDP Advanced is based on EMC Avamar and uses the same enterprise-class deduplication algorithm and replication engine as Avamar. What this means to you is VDP does all the required deduplication as soon as the backups are created, across all backups stored on the appliance. No additional steps are needed to further optimize the data for WAN transfers. Plus you get the added benefit of using less storage for the primary backups so you save money on your overall backup solution!

Myth 4: VDP lacks any kind of fast VM recovery mechanism

“Instant Recovery” is the hot marketing item in the backup world (it’s kind of a boring world). Strategies for restoring data quickly is a topic I’d like to explore further in a more detailed article so we can look at how we’d approach some common scenarios with VDP. For now I want to say this about “instant” recovery: the feature looks good in the brochure, but instant recovery techniques from nearly every vendor end up with VMs that are pinned to a single host, running from your backup storage, with IO shuttled through some sort of proxy VM. Add it all up and you’re left with a significant performance and usability hit to the recovered VMs. If you later decide to move that VM from backup storage to production, it often requires multiple steps to move and rehydrate the VMDKs and then rebuild them from the delta disks that were written while the “instant” VM ran.

In contrast, VDP Advanced can utilize Changed Block Tracking to restore a VM directly on full production storage. This means only the blocks that have changed since the selected restore point will be restored. As a result, restore times can be dramatically reduced – up to 6X versus traditional restore methods according to the VDP Advanced study performed by ESG Labs.

Myth 5: You cannot verify a backup with VDP

This myth is just plain wrong. VDP Advanced does include automated backup verification. And we’re not just talking about verifying a file checksum. A VDP backup verification job can be created to automatically restore and verify the full functionality of a VM on a scheduled basis, e.g., once per week. Results of the backup verification jobs are reported in the VDP Advanced user interface and email reports so that administrators have the utmost confidence that important VMs can definitely be restored when needed.

Where VDP Advanced Shines

We’ve designed VDP and VDP Advanced to offer a great value to our customers, who often struggle to setup a good backup system and cannot afford the high price of some of the enterprise backup solutions. We think VDP excels in many areas but especially with features like:

  • Reduced storage consumption to save you money (up to 75% less storage)
  • Fast and simple recovery for VMs, applications, and files (up to 6x faster)
  • Application protection for Exchange, MS SQL, and SharePoint (virtual and physical)
  • Integration directly with vCenter
  • Overall simplicity (go from zero to your first backup in 30 minutes)
  • Leverage the best technology available (powered by EMC Avamar)

As I said at the start, we’re very proud of the ecosystem of partners we’ve built around vSphere, even those we compete with at times. While we at VMware focus on building products that are “better together” we realize that no single product will fit every customers’ needs and at the end of the day it’s you – the customer – who has to navigate the maze of features and jargon and figure out the solution that’s best for you. I hope this article makes that task a little bit easier.

vSphere with Operations Management – Raising the Bar for Integrated Cloud Management

With the announcement of vSphere with Operation Management this week, it is truly exciting to not only see the advancements of management being tied so closely to the vSphere platform, but also bring our customers closer to the vision of the Software Defined Data Center.  As we see both the vSphere platform mature along with our customers’ use of it, we also see an evolution of VMware operations management accelerating and leveraging the value of the platform in our customers’ environments.

This new offering signifies a number a key aspects in the evolution of virtualization and cloud management:

First, our customers have experienced and expressed the need for accurate and automated solutions to proactively manage performance and capacity and vCenter Operations Manager, as part of vSphere with Operations Management, has delivered.  Leveraging a foundation of patented self-learning analytics, vCenter Operations Manager delivers the most comprehensive, scalable and automated management solution for vSphere.   Utilizing the vSphere health model, vSphere with Operations Management further extrapolates and presents data for managing performance and capacity more effectively than any other current or promised solutions.

 “We invested in vCenter Operations to support our large infrastructure of 500 VMs and 40 hosts. It has enabled us to predict capacity needs and to easily locate any performance issues.”

— Eric Krejci , Systems Specialist, EPFL

 

Second, vSphere with Operations Management leverages true automated operations for vSphere environments.  This VMware innovation reduces the administrative overhead and inaccuracies from tools using static thresholds (manual thresholds set for individual metrics) while analyzing all (not just a handful) of relevant vSphere performance metrics to ensure there are no performance or capacity “blind spots”.  Furthermore, to automatically correlate and expose the bottlenecks (with associated metrics) along with best practice remediation, vSphere with Operations Management ensures accurate management alignment that supports and further leverages our customer’s investment in VMware.

Advanced analytics easily identifies and shows root-cause to problem areas

Finally, vSphere with Operations Management raises the bar by redefining what operations management needs to be in today’s dynamic infrastructure.  Cloud customers simply were not finding effective solutions from their traditional, legacy IT management frameworks, or even 3rd party tools that are built on the same premise.   Even when considering other hypervisor / cloud products, the management ecosystem is at the heart of truly enabling the platform.  VMware vSphere with Operations Management clearly demonstrates the next step in simplicity of both cost and value through reliable, proven and innovative technology.

Going to VMware Partner Exchange 2013?  Be sure to check out these sessions on VMware management and the competition: MGMT1238, MGMT1369 & CI1523.

Twitter: @benscheerer