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Monthly Archives: December 2009

Top 5 Planet V12n blog posts week 52

This is the last Top 5 for this year, well almost. Of course I will try to capture 2009 in a Top 5 or a Top 10 blog posts article. Not sure though as it will take some time to re-read and "grade" all articles. This week was a bit chaotic for me personally. I had the week off which means that I have to do "real" work. Play with the kids, clean up around the house and we left to Disneyland Paris the day before Christmas. We, especially the kids, had a great time and enjoyed ourselves with Mickey, Mini, Donald, Buzz, Goofy and the rest. I guess those are my Top 5 for this week but that is not why you are reading this article:

  • Steve Kaplan – Cisco UCS vs. HP Matrix: strategic vs. tactical approach to virtualization
    The initial HP Matrix press release appears to be the first public mention of the product; it is hard to imagine that it resulted from a long-term data center strategy. The HP-sponsored April, 2009 IDC white paper, HP BladeSystem Matrix: Enabling Adaptive Infrastructure, says "HP is not introducing any brand-new technologies". Matrix not only lacks innovation, it feels like a work in progress. Even the "adaptive infrastructure" messaging used to introduce Matrix last April appears to have been replaced by "dynamic infrastructure".
  • Duncan Epping – IOps
    So how do we factor this penalty in? Well it’s simple for instance for
    RAID-5 for every single write there are 4 IO’s needed. That’s the
    penalty which is introduced when selecting a specific RAID type. This
    also means that although you think you have enough spindles in a single
    RAID Set you might not due to the introduced penalty and the amount of
    writes versus reads.
  • Steve Chambers – Does your Desktop Service Strategy look a bit like this?
    If using VDI technology to deploy Desktop Services is a great idea (according to the alleged market size, and vendor/consumer bustle in that market place, it seems to be so) then how do you do it? Well, according to ITIL, you start with a Service Strategy. I’m no ITIL kung fu master, and this is by choice because I consider ITIL a minor tool that, at best, needs to be used in conjunction with other tools to do the job and it’s not the be-all or end-all. ITIL’s better than nothing, but it’s not everything.
  • Chethan Kumar Using solid-state drives to improve performance of SQL databases on vSphere hosts when memory is overcommitted
    Performance of certain applications such as databases running in a
    vSphere based virtual infrastructure can be affected when demand for
    memory increases beyond what is available on the host. vSphere uses
    complex memory reclamation techniques to acquire and reallocate memory
    to VMs that need it. Swapping memory pages of a virtual machine to a
    swap file located on physical storage media is one such technique.
    Swapping is known to have a negative effect on the performance of the
    application in the VM. The degree to which the performance is affected
    depends on the I/O performance of the storage media used to host the
    swap file. Recently, I ran a few experiments to study the possibility
    of using a solid state device (SSD) as swap storage in virtualized SQL
  • Tom Howarth – How To: configure sudo on ESX
    Now if the invoking user is root or if the target user is the same as
    the invoking user then no password is required. Otherwise, sudo
    requires that users authenticate themselves with a password by default.
    Once a user has been authenticated, a timestamp is updated and the user
    may then use sudo without a password for a short period of time (15
    minutes unless overridden in sudoers).

Top 5 Planet V12n blog posts week 51

Last week I blogged about the lack of View oriented bloggers or articles. This week 3 articles of the top 5 are View centric. That can't be a coincidence can it? Anyway I am in a hurry… so no time for a huge introduction. Here is the top 5:

  • Ian Gibbs – Cleaning up orphaned replicas in View
    If, like me, you have been through all the versions of View Composer
    and the broker since its introduction, various bugs and broken
    recompositions will have left you with a large amount of detritus in
    your VMwareViewComposerReplicaFolder, making it hard to keep an eye on
    the proper operation of the Composer, and in my case, causing a
    datastore to run out of space and subsequent operations to fail. Time
    for a clean up. This is decently documented
    here, but how do you know which ones you can delete…
  • Arne Fokkema – PowerCLI: Find Resourcepool or VMs with Memory Ballooning/Swap Usage
    In this post I will show you how to report Resource Pools and VMs with active Memory Ballooning with the use of the PowerCLI/Ecoshell.
  • Chad Sakac – What’s what in VMware View and VDI Land…
    Let’s say once again that your peak workload is 12 IOps per client, and
    you have 15,000 desktops you want to virtualize.  That’s a total of
    180,000 IOps, which is a very, very large workload for common storage
    configurations.   It would hammer a large CX4, for example.   You would
    need to carefully scale out all the aspects of the design, and consider
    it just like you would consider the system design for a MASSIVE
    database.    Can it be done?  Of course – but there’s a reason why the
    “what’s the single ESX host maximum IOPs” test at the vSphere 4 launch
    (365,000 IOPs) was backended by 3 CX4-960s with 30 solid-state disks.  
    That’s a whackload of IO.
  • Ruben Spruijt / Herco van Brug – Understanding how storage design has a big impact on your VDI!
    It should be obvious by now that calculating the amount of storage
    needed in order to properly host VDI is not to be taken lightly. The
    main bottleneck at the moment is the IOPS. The read/write ratio of the
    IOPS that we see in practice in most of the reference cases demonstrate
    figures of 40/60 percent, sometimes even as skewed as 10/90 percent.
    The fact is that they all demonstrate more writes than reads. And
    because writes are more costly than reads – on any storage system – the
    number of disks required increases accordingly, depending on the exact
    usage of the users and the application.
  • Vittorio Viarengo – Virtualize Production Databases first
    So, how does a database run faster in a virtual environment? Well, most of these databases were running on relatively old and under-utilized machines. By upgrading them to a new modern server running VMware, these customers could allocate more resources to each database instance therefore achieving better performance. Moreover, thanks to VMware HA and FT, they could provide their internal customers with better business continuity without deploying more complex clustering solutions from the database vendors.

The survey is in: disaster preparedness is a top benefit of virtualization for SMBs

Impact of Virtualization on Costs, Security, and Applications VMware today announced the results of a compelling survey focused on operational efficiency, disaster preparedness, and use of virtualization among Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs). At a time when analysts have forecasted rapidly increasing adoption of virtualization solutions by SMBs, it’s interesting to dive into what’s really been driving that adoption. A fascinating take away from the survey is the focus on improving business continuity and disaster recovery. Most IT folks are aware of the server consolidation benefits from virtualization, but improving disaster preparedness is a somewhat “hidden” benefit, especially among SMBs.

High level summary of results

  1. Eye opening data about the risks and implications of IT systems downtime among SMBs. A large number of SMBs have had their bottom line impacted by downtime and yet, less than half of them have a business continuity plan.
    • One-third (33%) of SMBs have had an IT systems outage within the past two years 
    • More than one in five (21%) has lost critical business data as a result of an accident or disaster
    • Of those, more than three in five (62%) have lost sales or customers as a result.

  2. SMBs that have adopted virtualization have yielded great benefits, with those citing significant improvements in these key areas:
    • Time spent on routine IT administrative tasks (73%)
    • Application availability (71%)
    • Ability to respond to changing business needs (68%)
    • Backup and data protection (67%)   
    • Business continuity preparedness (67%)

  3. Picture 3 Companies that have implemented virtualization see their IT departments as more effective and more responsive to business needs.
    • 71% of companies that use virtualization rate their IT department as somewhat or very effective, versus 45% of companies that have not implemented virtualization.
    • 73% of companies that use virtualization rate their IT departments as somewhat or very responsive, versus 57% of companies that have not implemented virtualization.

  4. The top initiatives in 2010 are:
    •  Improving security (61%)
    •  Data backup & protection (52%)
    •  Maintaining current infrastructure (42%)
    •  Reducing energy use (39%)
    •  Business continuity & disaster recovery (39%)

Conclusions and next steps

It’s a great time to virtualize if you haven’t started already. Improved server utilization and consolidation are primary and already well known benefits of virtualization. However, virtualization can also improve operational efficiency by helping IT departments spend less time on routine administrative tasks, like server provisioning and maintenance. Another powerful, “hidden” benefit of virtualization is business continuity and disaster recovery. By making IT systems less likely to fail, and by making server restoration substantially faster, virtualization enables SMBs of all sizes to reduce the cost of downtime — in terms of lost productivity, lost sales or damaged reputation.  Given SMBs’ relatively limited disaster preparedness, virtualization can act as an important insurance policy.

Companies new to or considering virtualization should be aware of low-cost and easy solutions that will help them get started. For example, VMware’s market leading hypervisor, ESXi, along with VMware Go, let you easily start down the virtualization path for free. When you are ready to step into low-cost complete solutions, the VMware vSphere Essentials editions add central management and business continuity features. You can support your business case with a financial analysis from VMware’s free online ROI calculator. Learn more about VMware’s solutions for SMBs here.

You can read a complete report of the survey results here in our white paper The Benefits of Virtualization for Small and Medium Businesses: VMware SMB Survey Results.

Posted by Joe Andrews, Group Manager, VMware Product Marketing

Top 5 Planet V12n blog posts week 50

What happened this week… Yes the Dutch VMUG! The Netherlands is just a tiny country but when we are talking about technology it seems that we can beat any country out there in terms of enthusiasm. This years anual VMUG meeting had over 600 attendees, I repeat over 600 attendees. It's almost like a dutch VMworld. Keynote by VMware's evangelist Richard Garsthagen and a welcome message from Steve Herrod. Eric Sloof did multiple blogs about the VMUG meeting but this one contains a video which captures the atmosphere. That's enough introduction blabla… here are the articles that made it to the top-5:

  • Frank Denneman – Impact of memory reservation
    I have a customer who wants to set memory reservation on a large scale.
    Instead of using resource pools they were thinking of setting
    reservations on VM level to get a guaranteed performance level for
    every VM. Due to memory management on different levels, using such a
    setting will not get the expected results. Setting aside the question
    if it’s smart to use memory reservation on ALL VM’s, it raises the
    question what kind of impact setting memory reservation has on the
    virtual infrastructure, how ESX memory management handles memory
    reservation and even more important; how a proper memory reservation
    can be set.
  • Joep Piscaer – Virtualizing vCenter with vDS: Another Catch-22
    To make matters worse: I could not select the correct network label (Port Group) in the drop down list. After some long and hard thinking, I figured out why: ESX couldn’t communicate with vCenter to update the dvSwitch’s status. This is simply because the vCenter VM was one of the migrated VM’s, and thus suffered from the same problem: it wasn’t connected to the network. How’s that for a catch-22!
    As I said earlier, the physical hosts run on a single vmnic. No easy fix here then, I cannot create a standard vSwitch, create a port group on it, add a vmnic and migrate the vCenter VM to this port group to get the VM online and thus be able to get the other VM’s attached to the right (dvSwitch) Port Group, after which I can migrate the vCenter VM to the right PG.
  • Hany Michael – Diagram: VMware High-Availability
    This is not an introduction to the VMware HA, and it's not a very advanced diagram for it either. I assume here that you have a general idea on the topic before looking into it to appreciate this incredible technology. If you are a VMware professional you may also find this useful to keep your information sharp and present about the topic at any given time. You really don't have to re-read the documentation every time you'd like to remember a small detail about the subject.
  • Forbes Guthrie – vSphere 4 card – version 2
    Its been a long time coming. Version 2 of this card has many changes that I’ve wanted to make since writing these cards. It’s taken a good couple of months of hard (and frankly a bit boring :0) work, which had pulled me away from blogging about more interesting things and playing with some of the newly released products. The best bit is you probably won’t notice much of a difference. A lot of the work is under the covers, to make the most out of the paper real estate.
  • Massimo Re Ferre' – From Scale Up vs Scale Out… to Scale Down
    One of the implications is that servers are now memory-bound. If you ask 10 virtualization architects in the x86 space they will all tell you that the limiting factor today in servers is the memory subsystem. Put it another way, you are reaching the physical memory usage limit far before you manage to saturate the processors in a virtualized server. Have you ever wondered why that is the case? As users move backwards from 8-Socket servers to 4-Socket servers to 2-Socket servers the number of memory slots available per server gets reduced. That's how x86-based servers have been designed over the years: the more sockets the server has, the more memory slots that are available. What is happening now is that customers tend to use much smaller servers because they can support the same number of partitions per physical host, but the memory requirements haven't changed. That's because the amount of memory needed is a function of the number of partitions running, and if that number of partitions is kept constant you will always need the same amount of memory.

Top 5 Planet V12n blog posts week 49

Just a couple of weeks left to make the Top 5 in 2009. I expect every single blogger out there to publish one of their best articles ever in the upcoming weeks. Do you wonder what the criteria are? There are none, it's my personal preference. I list the articles that I enjoy reading. A good example for instance is Bouke's article. It's not an in-depth technical article, but it is really useful and something I have never seen document before… that's what I am looking for unique articles.

  • Scott Lowe – What is SR-IOV?
    SR-IOV works by introducing the idea of physical functions (PFs) and virtual functions (VFs). Physical functions (PFs) are full-featured PCIe functions; virtual functions (VFs) are “lightweight” functions that lack configuration resources. (I’ll explain why VFs lack these configuration resources shortly.) SR-IOV requires support in the BIOS as well as in the operating system instance or hypervisor that is running on the hardware. Until very recently, I had been under the impression that SR-IOV was handled solely in hardware and did not require any software support; unfortunately, I was mistaken. Software support in the operating system instance or hypervisor is definitely required. To understand why, I must talk a bit more about PFs and VFs.
  • Bouke Groenescheij – vCenter Client Shortcuts
    Lately I've been having great fun using shortcut keys to control
    vCenter speeding up administration. There are very useful combinations,
    like <Ctrl>-<Shift> and <Ctrl>. Here is a list which
    I use a lot…
  • Eric Siebert – What is Changed Block Tracking in vSphere?
    CBT is a new feature in vSphere that can keep track of the blocks of a virtual disk that have changed since a certain point in time. This is extremely useful for backup and replication applications that can use this information to greatly improve incremental backup and replication times. Without CBT these applications have to figure out changed blocks on their own so being able to get this information for free using the vStorage advanced programming interfaces is extremely valuable to them. CBT is not really part of the vStorage APIs but is a new feature of the VMkernel that is built into the storage stack. The CBT feature can be accessed by third-party applications as part of the vStorage APIs for Data Protection. Applications can use the API to query the VMkernel to return the blocks of data that have changed on a virtual disk since the last backup operation. You can use CBT on any type of virtual disk, thick or thin and on any datastore type except for physical mode Raw Device Mappings. This includes both NFS and iSCSI datastores.
  • Kenneth van Ditmarsch – Testing Scenario’s VMware / HP c-Class Infrastructure
    The red lines indicate 10 Gb connections between all individual
    Interconnect Bay’s, which all tied together form the “Virtual Connect
    Domain”. The horizontal lines are the X0 ports which are internally connected by
    the c7000 backplane. The vertical and diagonal lines are 0.5 meter
    CX4 cables.
    (Note that since IC1 and 2 and IC 5 and 6 are Flex-10 modules, they are
    horizontal linked with 2 links  (20 Gb) as designed by HP)
  • Vittorio Viarengo – Virtualization Journey: Product Adoption
    When customers enter into the Business Production phase and they start
    virtualizing business applications and production databases, the value
    proposition is all around better quality of service and business
    continuity. This shift is sudden and dramatic. It is like cost savings
    from consolidation is taken for granted at this stage and customers
    switch their focus on faster provisioning, better capacity management,
    reliability and process automation for their business applications. 
    This is where features such as High Availability (HA), Fault Tolerance
    (FT) and SRM become important.