Expanding the Cloud with VMware’s vSphere 4.1
With over 250,000 customers and 25,000 partners worldwide, VMware is a global leader in virtualization and cloud computing software and services. The company touts its ability to seamlessly transition customers to powerful and efficient cloud computing capabilities while preserving the organization’s IT assets and control over its IT operations. VMware and its partners help organizations of all shapes, sizes, and industries reduce costs while improving flexibility and efficiency.
VMware’s vSphere is an award-winning cloud operating system that has received high praise, including recent accolades such as “Best Virtualization Platform” and “Technology of the Year.” vSphere is the most trusted cloud operating platform on the market, with 100% of Fortune 100, 98% of Fortune 500, and 96% of Fortune 1000 companies using the platform to power their cloud computing solutions. The latest version, vSphere 4.1, brings significant gains and impressive functional improvements to the virtual table. Most critics focus on overall improvements in scalability, performance, customization, and control.
vCenter’s 64-bit OS requirement translates to significant gains in capacity. vSphere 4.1 requires that vCenter run on a system with a 64-bit operating system. As a result, vCenter can support a larger number of physical hosts and an increased number of Virtual Machines per cluster. VMware claims that each vCenter server can support 1,000 physical hosts and up to 15,000 registered Virtual Machines, with a limit of 10,000 VMs online concurrently and up to 3,000 VMs per cluster. These figures represent as much as a three-fold increase over previous capacity.
Advanced memory compression boosts Virtual Machine density. Significant gains in memory compression enable vSphere 4.1 to get the most out of hardware. As technology has advanced and a typical server has included more CPU and faster cores, memory has become a performance bottleneck. vSphere 4.1 includes functionality that compresses over-committed memory and stores it in physical RAM instead of swapping it to disk. This method is an order of magnitude faster and enables a higher VM density per virtual host, meaning that each host can support up to 25% more VMs using the same amount of memory as a system running the previous version.
vMotion enhancements speed up VM migrations. In vSphere 4.1, improvements to vMotion translate to individual virtual machine migrations that are 8 times faster than the previous release. In addition, the new vMotion supports simultaneous migrations, a crucial capability when attempting to perform non-disruptive scheduled hardware maintenance. Depending on the vMotion network adapter, between 4 and 8 simultaneous migrations are possible.
Storage and network I/O control features aid workload balancing. Storage and network I/O controls foster performance improvement by providing granular control over how applications access shared storage and network resources. With vSphere 4.1, new controls allow intelligent workload balancing that can be used to prioritize traffic types, ensuring that high-priority virtual machines access the appropriate I/O resources. This prevents typical issues during periods of congestion.
Resolve socket restrictions. Multi-core virtual CPU support allows administrators to adjust the number of cores for each virtual CPU in a VM, which facilitates operating systems with socket restrictions to use more host CPU cores and increase performance.
Customization and Control
Enhanced Active Directory authentication tightens security. AD authentication extends to the individual hypervisor level to provide tighter security and additional capabilities such as policy enforcement and audit logging. A Lock Down Mode, when enabled, ensures that configuration changes can only be made from the vCenter server.
New metrics and tools help optimize storage performance and energy efficiency. vSphere 4.1 provides useful metrics and insight into storage throughput and latency of hosts or VMs to help administrators resolve storage performance problems. Administrators can also track and analyze VM energy consumption.
High Availability incorporates additional monitoring tools. A new Application Monitoring component allows vSphere to detect and restart applications that have stopped responding. Another new feature checks and reports Cluster Operational Status including each host’s status and any relevant errors.
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