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Monthly Archives: November 2007

VMware Fusion 1.1 Podcast

Fusion_facebook_200x200Douglas Brown of the virtualization website DABCC recently interviewed Pat Lee, Senior Product Manager for VMware Fusion, VMware’s product for running Windows, Linux, and more than 60 other operating systems on Mac OS X. 

They talk about the launch of VMware Fusion 1.1, covering Leopard support, enhancements to Unity, and the more than 25 improvements in VMware Fusion 1.1. 

Check out the podcast here.

Also, check out what’s new with VMware Fusion 1.1 at the VMware Fusion minisite.

VMworld Europe 2008 – Open for registration

Link: www.run-virtual.com » Blog Archive » VMworld Europe 2008 – Open for registration.

February 26st, 2008 is the first VMworld Europe in Cannes, France.
We are very busy with all the preparations for this event, making sure
we can deliver good quality sessions, have a great representation of
the Virtualization Industry at the event, etc.

Well today is the opening of the VMworld Europe website (www.vmworld.com/europe) and the opening of the registration for the event.

will have seats for 3.000 actual attendees, the building will not
really allow for much more, so there is a very high change we will sell
out completely, so if you want to attend, register as soon as possible. …

Europe will have around 90 unique sessions covering all segments of the
virtualization (x86) industry. We have chosen for a bit less sessions
then the previous VMworld event in San Francisco (250 sessions) as we
will have all sessions repeated at least 2 times. There will be no
pre-registration for the sessions you want to attend, all sessions will
work on a first-come, first-serve basis, but with the repeats of
sessions, you should easily be able to see most (if not all) of the
session you are interested in.

Besides sessions, there will
of course also be hands-on labs, where you can get hands-on experience
with some of the virtualization products/components.

More on virtualization benchmarks and their meaning

Steve Wilson @ Sun talks about virtualization benchmarks:  Virtual Steve : VM Benchmarking Wars.

Despite the reports about 3x faster, what Oracle said was actually,
"Oracle consistently saw much better resource utilization with an
average of three times less overhead using Oracle VM."  In
benchmark-speak, that’s a lot different than 3x faster.  In fact, I’m
guessing that someone constructed a benchmark that shows Oracle VM
running at 99% of native speed, while VMware ran at 97% of native speed
— 1% overhead instead of 3%.  Yes, "three times less overhead", but
ultimately trivial.

Of course, the the long term, there will be
better official benchmarks of VM performance, but the real test will be
customer metrics like

  • How fast can I roll out a new application?
  • How many system admins do I need to run my data center?
  • How much energy can I save by operating my data center in a new way?

Nobody’s seen Oracle’s benchmark results yet, but while we’re waiting, VMware’s Richard McDougall also adds the following: Just
what are the important performance factors for Virtualization?

  • Throughput: can the application deliver the required levels of throughput, in terms of real world transactions?
  • Latency: is the latency of each transaction within tolerances, or affected by virtualization
  • Scalability: does throughput/latency change as load is increased
    (often asked in the context of – “do I have enough future headroom?”)
  • Efficiency: How much physical resource is used to deliver a prescribed throughput
  • Price-performance: Cost of the total system
  • Power-performance: Throughput relative to power, i.e. how much performance can I deliver for the power consumed
  • Space-performance: How much performance can I get per rack unit
  • Agility: What is the time taken to deploy a new application

Richard was the author of Ten Reasons Oracle Databases Run Best on VMware (although I don’t want to slight the many folks who worked on producing those results).

Virtualization performance is a topic that is complicated, and like all benchmarks and performance metrics, has to fit into the larger context of what problems you’re trying to solve. But the take-home message here is that people run Oracle and SQL Server and other databases every day in production on VMware Infrastructure, and performance is not an issue for them.

White paper: Understanding Full Virtualization, Paravirtualization, and Hardware Assist

Very good intro to some of the history and challenges of x86 virtualization, the difference in various approaches, what’s being used by the various players today, what the future is bringing with the coming generations of hardware assist, and how VMware is supporting open standards to get us all to an interoperable, high-performance virtual future.

Link: Understanding Full Virtualization, Paravirtualization, and Hardware Assist

VMware offers a flexible “multi-mode” VMM architecture depicted in Figure 12 that enables a separate VMM to host each virtual machine. VMware allows you to select the mode that achieves the best workload-specific performance based on the CPU support available. The same VMM architecture is used for ESX Server, Player, Server, Workstation and ACE. While today’s workloads can employ a 32-bit BT VMM or a 64-bit VMM with BT or VT-x, tomorrow’s workloads will be hosted on VMMs that support 32 and 64-bit versions of AMD-V + NPT and VT-x + EPT. VMware provides a flexible architecture to support emerging virtualization technologies. Multi-mode VMM utilizes binary translation, hardware assist and paravirtualization to select the best operating mode for each workload and processor combination. Hardware assist will continue to mature and broaden the workloads that can be readily virtualized.

This is also an interesting point to keep in mind: Moore’s Law trumps everything else we’re doing with respect to performance:

Compute-intensive workloads already run well with binary translation of privileged instructions and direct execution of non-privileged instructions, but NPT/EPT will provide noticeable performance improvements for memory-remapping intensive workloads by removing the need for shadow page tables that consume system memory. Increased performance and reduced overhead expected in future CPUs will provide motivation to use hardware assist features much more broadly, but don’t expect revolutionary improvements. As processors get significantly faster each year, each year’s processor performance increases will likely have a greater impact on virtualization capacity and performance than future hardware assist optimizations.

And why paravirtualization won’t solve your problems today (but with open standards, may in the future):

To be clear, VMware does find processor paravirtualization to increase performance significantly on some workloads today, but the longer term performance delta when second generation hardware assist features are available is unclear. The performance difference may be reduced, eliminated, or expanded as enhancements to the paravirtualization interface may create new opportunities. It’s an open question.

As VMware sees it, the major problem with processor paravirtualization is the need for guest OS modification that makes it dependent on a specific hypervisor to run. The Xen interface, for example, implements deep paravirtualization with strong hypervisor dependency. The OS kernel is closely tied to structures in the hypervisor implementation. This creates an incompatibility as the XenLinux kernel can’t run on native hardware or other hypervisors, doubling the number of kernel distributions that have to be maintained. Additionally, it’s limited to newer, open source operating systems as the intrusive changes to the guest OS kernel require OS vendor support. Finally, the strong hypervisor dependency impedes the independent evolution of the kernel.

White paper: SQL Server Performance in VMware Infrastructure

Link: SQL Server Performance in a VMware Infrastructure 3 Environment

This paper describes transaction processing workload performance in virtual machines using Microsoft SQL Server 2005 and VMware Infrastructure 3. This performance study was conducted at the HP Strategic Alliances Engineering (SAE) lab in Cupertino. The primary goal is to prove that Microsoft SQL Server 2005 can successfully handle enterprise-level transaction-processing workloads when running inside VMware virtual machines. To facilitate planning for server consolidation, this study presents sizing data and data on system resource utilization at various load levels for uniprocessor (UP) virtual machines, two-way SMP virtual machines, and four-way SMP virtual machines. This study also compares the performance of UP, two-way, and four-way SMP virtual machines across 32-bit and 64-bit virtual environments.

This performance study clearly demonstrates that VMware Infrastructure 3 provides an excellent production-ready virtualization platform for customers looking to deploy Microsoft SQL Server inside virtual machines. Furthermore, together with virtualization-based distributed infrastructure services such as VMotion, VMware High Availability, and VMware Distributed Resource Scheduler, VMware Infrastructure 3 can provide increased serviceability, efficiency, and reliability for your SQL Server deployments. This should offer transformative cost savings to your dynamic data center. …

ESX Server also has impressive isolation characteristics when one virtual CPU gets stressed:

The transaction throughput shown in these results represents the highest steady-state throughput achievable for the virtual machine until its CPU resources are saturated. However, note that while the CPU resources inside the virtual machine were exhausted, the physical CPU resources used on the ESX Server host were only used corresponding to the number of virtual CPUs because of the excellent isolation capability offered by VMware ESX Server. In other words, for UP virtual machines, only 13 percent of total physical CPU resources were utilized. Likewise, for 2-VCPU virtual machine, total physical CPU utilization was about 29 percent, and for the 4-VCPU virtual machine, the maximum total physical CPU utilization was about 52 percent. This implies that configurations running multiple instances of SQL Server virtual machines can achieve higher transaction throughput rates than those running only a single instance. It is possible that the transaction throughput in a configuration with multiple instances may be limited by the IOPS that the storage can handle. In such a situation, you may want to configure storage adapter queue depths and ESX Server outstanding disk requests parameters to minimize any queued disk I/O requests.

If you’re interested in the topic of virtualizing databases (and who reading this blog isn’t, really? We are so much fun at dinner parties) be sure to check out Ten Reasons Why Oracle Databases Run Best on VMware.

Ten Reasons Why Oracle Databases Run Best on VMware

If you still think that databases are too resource intensive or otherwise not suitable for virtualization, or if you think that running enteprise apps like Oracle on VI3 immediately impose huge overheads, this new article from Richard McDougall on VMware’s performance team is a must read.

Link: Ten Reasons Why Oracle Databases Run Best on VMware – VMware VROOM!.

We’re really excited about the buzz around Oracle in virtualized
environments. One of the best kept secrets is just how well Oracle
performs on VMware ESX. This didn’t happen by accident – there are a
number of features and performance optimizations in the VMware ESX
server architecture, specifically for databases.

In this blog, I’ll walk through the top ten most important features
for getting the best database performance. Here are a few of the
performance highlights:

  • Near Native Performance: Oracle databases run at performance similar to that of a physical system
  • Extreme Database I/O Scalability: VMware ESX Server’s thin
    hypervisor layer can drive over 63,000 database I/Os per second (fifty
    times the requirement of a typical database)
  • Multi-core Scaling: Scale up using SMP virtual machines and multiple database instances
  • Large Memory : Scalable memory – 64GB per database, 256GB per host

We’ve continued to invest a great deal of work towards optimizing
Oracle performance on VMware, because it’s already one of the most
commonly virtualized applications. The imminent ESX 3.5 release is our
best database platform to date, with several new advanced optimizations.

In this blog article we’d like to explain the unique and demanding
nature of database applications such as Oracle produces and show the
performance capabilities of ESX Server on this type of workload.

New bloggers: Scale the Mind, Lone Sysadmin, and Richard McDougall

I wanted to introduce a few more bloggers to our little corner of the blogosphere:

Scale the Mind. Tommy Bishop created the excellent thevirtualsearch.com (now happily resident in the sidebar to the right of this website). Recent posts are:

The Lone Sysadmin. Bob Plankers runs this joint. Recent posts include:

blog.richardmcdougall.com. We welcome Richard McDougall to VMware’s performance team:

  • Dunking Krishna in the VMware pond
  • New diggs: VMware!

    But why is virtualization so interesting to a performance person? …

    If we think for a moment about the holy grail for performance
    management, we’re trying to get to a point where we can do automated
    performance monitoring, diagnosis and adaptation. That is, we’d like
    the environment to be able to take in a set of policies that we express
    about our applications and act accordingly on those policies.

    In the past, I’ve seen customers struggle with creating the boundary
    that defines where we apply these policies — it’s quite hard to define
    these at the application component level – for example, which process
    or set of processes do I apply a CPU priority to? The virtual machine
    however provides a great insular boundary at which resource management
    policies can be applied. This encapsulation of an application allows us
    to express a basic set of resource requirements, and then let the
    infrastructure decide how much CPU to apply.

    With this basic encapsulation in place, we can not just apply
    resource management at the box level (the typical consolidation play),
    but now we can express and manage at the grid level — with newer
    techniques like Dynamic Resource Scheduling
    we can automatically place workloads onto a grid of machines. Once
    there, we can dynamically load balance them by using vMotion to move

    This is a convenient and easy way to express encapsulation and
    policy today. I don’t see this as being the end-point however, rather a
    convenient first step. In the future, we’ll want to break out
    applications into individual transactions or service levels. This would
    allow us to monitor in terms in specific currency of the target
    application, and then optionally automatically control resources based
    on these terms.

Hey Bloggers, use Workstation or Fusion?

Do you have a blog or website and use Workstation or Fusion? We’re starting a small pilot for a referral program and have a few slots left. You earn money for every online sale you drive. Drop me a line (jtroyer at vmware) if you’re interested. Sorry, but you must be in the US to participate for now.


Thomas Bishop over at scalethemind.com has spun up a specialized virtualization search tool at thevirtualsearch.com. This is created using a Google custom search engine, and he’s done a good job of covering the entire virtualization landscape. In the tool, you specify a list of sites, and  Google will then run a search for you limited to that list. I’m not sure what’s on thevirtualsearch’s list of sites is, but it seems to cover the gamut of virtualization technologies and it seems to find what you want. You can further slice and dice into Blogs, Communities, Social Bookmarks, Tech Docs/White Papers, and Vendors.

I was thinking about setting up a Google custom search engine myself, but now I don’t need to. Thank you Thomas!

He’s also set up a browser search plugin for Firefox  or IE7, a widget for your iGoogle page, and a widget for your blog or website. Here’s the blog widget — give it a spin!

[Updated to give more context on Google Custom Search.]

VMware Fusion Nominated for Macworld Reader’s Choice Award!


Not four months out of the gate, and VMware Fusion, VMware’s
virtual machine software for Mac OS X, has been nominated
by the esteemed Macworld readership in the category of “Best Third-Party
Software of the Year.”

The list of third-party applications has been narrowed to
six final contenders, from the initial tsunami of reader submissions.

The ballot is located here, with
the third party software section (and VMware Fusion!) located at the bottom
of the page.

So, as they say, “vote early and often” (just kidding, one
vote per Fusion fan, please) for VMware Fusion,
the most seamless way to run Windows on your Mac ; )

 ~Your humble VMware Fusion team


p.s. And for those of you unfamiliar with VMware Fusion,
check out our "famous for YouTube" demo below: