Well, the big day many of us has been waiting for is finally upon us. VMware have launched their new virtual data centre operating system (VDC-OS) and successor to VMware Infrastructure 3 (VI3) which included ESX. The new product suite, as most of you probably already know, is called vSphere.
Behind the release of vSphere is a strong message from VMware that this new product is an enabler for companies of all sizes to take the first step into ‘Cloud’ computing.
As you can see from VMware’s diagram below vSphere is comprised of two main service areas, ‘Application’ and ‘Infrastructure’. Within these two areas are further sub-areas such as ‘Availability’, ‘Security’, ‘Scalability’, ‘vCompute’, ‘vStorage’ and ‘vNetwork’ (notice the new trend to stick the letter ‘v’ in front of everything 😉 ). These sub-areas contain the components, features and functionality that make up the ‘secret sauce’ (or not so secret in this case – putting just ‘sauce’ didn’t sound as interesting) of vSphere including the ESX(i) hypervisor itself.
So What’s New?
There are a number of really good new features in vSphere. Here are a few of them to whet your appetite along with a description of each from VMware:
- VMware Data Recovery – provides simple, cost effective, agentless backup and recovery for virtual machines.
- VMware Fault Tolerance – provides continuous availability, without any data loss or downtime, to any application, in the event of hardware failures.
VMware Hot Add – enables CPU and memory to be added to virtual machines when needed without disruption or downtime.
- VMware Host Profiles (available through VMware vCenter Server) – standardizes and automates configuration of vSphere hosts by capturing a reference host configuration and ensuring compliance for resource, networking, storage and security settings.
- VMware vStorage Thin Provisioning – provides dynamic allocation of storage capacity, allowing storage purchases to be deferred until they are really required, reducing storage spending by up to 50 percent.
- VMware vNetwork Distributed Switch – simplifies and enhances the provisioning, administration and control of virtual machine networking in vSphere environments. It also enables third-party distributed virtual switches such as the Cisco Nexus 1000v to be used in vSphere environments, providing network administrators with familiar interfaces to control quality of service at the virtual machine level.
- VMware vShield Zones – simplifies application security by enforcing corporate security policies at the application level in a shared environment, while still maintaining trust and network segmentation of users and sensitive data.
For a more comprehensive list check out this document from VMware that goes into much more detail on all the new vSphere products and which of them are available in each ‘Edition’.
VM Performance Improvements with vSphere
The following is a list from VMware of the Virtual Machine (VM) improvements that can be found in ESX 4 :
- 2x the number of virtual processors per virtual machine (from 4 to 8)
- 2.5x more virtual NICs per virtual machine (from 4 to 10)
- 4x more memory per virtual machine (from 64 GB to 255GB)
- 3x increase in network throughput (from 9 Gb/s to 30Gb/s)
- 3x increase in the maximum recorded I/O operations per second (to over 300,000)
By using vSphere 4 you can pool together up to:
- 32 physical servers with up to 2048 processor cores
- 1,280 virtual machines
- 32 TB of RAM
- 16 petabytes of storage
- 8,000 network ports
When can we get it?
We will be able to start buying VMware vSphere on the 21st May 2009 with this day also being the last day that VI 3 will be available for purchase.
“Wow, all this is rather exciting” I hear you say – but what versions/flavours of vSphere are going to be offered?
Firstly for Small Businesses there are two ‘Editions’ that are targeted at them.
Both of these ‘Editions’ are “Designed especially for small IT environments with fewer than 20 physical servers, the VMware vSphere Essentials Editions deliver enterprise-class capabilities in a cost-effective solution package for organizations that want optimize and protect their IT assets with minimal up-front investment.”
For more information on ‘Essentials’ and ‘Essentials Plus’ see here.
Medium & Enterprise Businesses
As would be expected the vSphere Editions targeted at Medium and Enterprise level businesses offer a much broader array of features and functionality that address high availability (eg: DRS, HA & the new Fault Tolerance) and scalability (eg: Host Profiles, Distributed Switching) requirements.
More information of these ‘Editions can be found here.
Below is a good table that clearly shows the differences between the various ‘Editions’. The ‘Enterprise’ and ‘Enterprise’ editions are clearly going to be the most popular option for many companies as these contain many of the useful features (ie: Storage vMotion and DRS) that many of us have grown to appreciate using VI3. The ‘Enterprise Plus’ version also contains ‘vNetwork Distributed Switch’ which will allow you to effectively have a vSwitch which spans multiple ESX hosts and ‘Host Profiles’ that does away with the requirement to manually configure/re-configure individual ESX hosts. A master template can be created/amended and then applied to multiple hosts, so no more scripting up host changes to apply to large ESX estates.
VMware vCenter Server (the artist formally known as VMware VirtualCenter Server)
As before you need something to manage your ESX hosts. We knew that the name of ‘VirtualCenter Server’ had changed to ‘vCenter Server’ as this naming change has been pushed by VMware for the past couple of months.
VirtualCenter Server is considered a standalone product and as such has a separate price tag associated with it.
There are three versions of VMware vCenter Server for vSphere :
VMware vCenter Server for Essentials – Integrated into the vSphere Essentials and Essentials Plus editions for small office deployments.
VMware vCenter Server Foundation – Provides powerful management tools for smaller environments (up to three vSphere hosts) looking to rapidly provision, monitor and control virtual machines.
VMware vCenter Server Standard – Provides large scale management of vSphere deployments for rapid provisioning, monitoring, orchestration and control of virtual machines.
Below is a rough indication of pricing from VMware (US$) for both the vCenter Server Standard and Foundation Editions.
There are a few changes to the licensing for vSphere. Probably the most noticeable difference is that vSphere licensing will be per individual socket rather than VI3’s pair of CPU sockets. The maximum amount of cores each CPU in a socket can have is determined by the license purchased with 6 core and 12 core options being available with the following licenses:
|>6 cores per socket
|>12 cores per socket
|>6 cores per socket
|vSphere Enterprise Plus
|>12 cores per socket
Another difference is that individual features that used to be able to be purchased on their own are now only included in a particular edition of vSphere. So no more picking and choosing. If you want a feature you will have to buy the edition that contains that feature straight off the bat or have to buy that edition at a later stage if/when you require that functionality.
Here’s a link to a very good licensing document from VMware that outlines what the new licensing holds and the changes. It also contains information on the available upgrade paths for those of you with SnS (Support and Subscription) contracts with VMware on your existing VI3 products. If you have a lapsed SnS in place then you can still upgrade though there are some additional ‘re-instatement’ costs involved.
VMware vSphere Community Area
There is now a new VMware vSphere Community area online at VMware’s site which can be accessed here. From here you can access a healthy amount of information on vSphere in the form of Technical Papers, Product Documentation and Webcasts (On-demand and Live). This will be an interesting place to hang out (along with the TechHead site of course 🙂 ) in the coming months.
Other Cool Stuff
Here are some links to other useful vSphere related articles and other link pages:
Jason Boche (boche.net) – A random collection of what’s new vSphere eye candy
Why not share your thoughts, questions in a comment below? I would love to hear from you.