Review: VMware vSphere 4.1's memory compression, storage and network I/O control, along with a cluster limit increase, make the latest virtual machine platform suited for enterprise production use.
VMware vSphere 4.1 continues to lead the enterprise virtual
machine platform pack. New memory management, storage and network control
features enable resource pool creation that improves scale while reducing
Virtual machine management gains increased in importance in
the vSphere 4.1 platform, and data center managers should plan on assigning virtualization
experts to ensure that the new features lead to improved host utilization and
automated scale-out of VM systems.
During eWEEK Labs tests I learned that vCenter 4.1-the
command and control module of VMware's virtual infrastructure world-is now
64-bit only. IT managers should build in extra planning and migration time to
move any vCenter 4.0 or older servers to systems that are running a 64-bit OS
as part of the move to vSphere 4.1.
The payoff for the vCenter transition is a substantial increase
in the number of VMs per cluster and the number of physical hosts that each
vCenter can handle. I was not able to test the posted limits due to hardware
constraints. VMware states that the latest version of vCenter can handle 3,000
VMs in a cluster and up to 1,000 hosts per vCenter server. Both of these large
numbers are a threefold increase over the stated capacity of VMware vSphere
Aside from the sizable scale increase enabled by this
version of vSphere 4.1, the main advances in the platform are evolutionary
extensions of capabilities that improve how the platform handles VM resource
contention. During tests, I used the new I/O controls in networking and storage
to govern resource use.
IT managers who are already accustomed to using resource
controls in VM CPU settings will have a leg up when it comes to using I/O
controls in both network and storage areas. Even with the CPU control heritage,
my use of network and storage control features revealed a fair number of
"Version 1" limitations.
Cameron Sturdevant is the executive editor of Enterprise Networking Planet. Prior to ENP, Cameron was technical analyst at PCWeek Labs, starting in 1997. Cameron finished up as the eWEEK Labs Technical Director in 2012. Before his extensive labs tenure Cameron paid his IT dues working in technical support and sales engineering at a software publishing firm . Cameron also spent two years with a database development firm, integrating applications with mainframe legacy programs. Cameron's areas of expertise include virtual and physical IT infrastructure, cloud computing, enterprise networking and mobility. In addition to reviews, Cameron has covered monolithic enterprise management systems throughout their lifecycles, providing the eWEEK reader with all-important history and context. Cameron takes special care in cultivating his IT manager contacts, to ensure that his analysis is grounded in real-world concern. Follow Cameron on Twitter at csturdevant, or reach him by email at email@example.com.