We are approaching the countdown to the release of Microsoft’s latest operating system, Windows 2016. It is estimated that it will be released sometime during Q3 of this year, most likely early September. We’ve already seen Technical Previews One through Five, each enhancing the previous one and introducing new features.
These features have tempted and beguiled. Storage Spaces Direct—is this Microsoft’s VSAN killer? It appears to fill the same function, and coupled with another new feature, Nano Server running the Hyper-V role, it makes a powerful hyperconverged infrastructure play. And what about the newly displayed Windows Containers from Technical Preview Four—are these Microsoft’s Docker killer, especially given that they can run Docker containers natively on Windows? These, among other new and enhanced features, make for a compelling release. I can not remember ever seeing so many truly new features on a new release.
VMware just released details about the latest version of NSX—6.2.2. What is interesting about this release is that it is the first that is split into tiers. The release pages are full featured, and although pricing doesn’t appear to be available yet on the website, hopefully this will be a fully public release that doesn’t require jumping through hoops to get. Since VMware acquired Nicira in 2012, the NSX product has been a bit of a dark horse, kept well stabled and not allowed out to run free. The product has been available only to selected customers and partners, presumably with high-volume sales that will support a large amount of VMware employee time in each deployment.
Unlike VMware’s other products, and tellingly vCNS (vCloud Networking and Security), NSX was a single SKU with an all-or-nothing full feature set approach. With 6.2.2, this has changed. We are now looking at VMware’s standard three-tier approach. This could be a positive step. It gives customers options, and the ability to start small and grow into the full NSX product set as their needs change. It also splits out some of the complex Service Provider features from the view of most customers, making it less intimidating and, at the same time, less like customers are paying for features they do not need.
Part 2a of this series concentrated on Hyper-V 2012 R2 and 2016 as well as vSphere 6.0 regarding the addition of a local distributed storage solution: DataCore Virtual SAN in the case of Hyper-V 2012 R2, Storage Spaces Direct with Hyper-V 2016, and VSAN 6.2 with vSphere 6.0. You can review that article here.
This article continues from that second article of the series and finishes the addition of a local distributed storage stack to XenServer and RHEV. Once again, our compute unit of choice is the Dell 730xd with two 10-core CPUs and 256 GB of RAM. As stated in the previous post, we need to add some local storage in each node. These compute nodes can, depending on the choices made during the configuration, take up to twenty-four disk drives. For the purposes of this article, we are assuming that data locality is required for performance and that there is a need for an all-flash array. We chose to go with two 400 GB SLC drives for cache and four 800 MLC drives for capacity, giving a total raw capacity per node of 4 TB. There may be further hardware requirements depending on the chosen solutions for each hypervisor, but that will be called out in the relevant vendor sections.
This post will take that original premise and expand it to include storage with a view to moving the entire environment toward a software-defined data center.
Once again, our compute unit of choice is the Dell 730xd with two 10-core CPUs and 256 GB of RAM. Now, we need to add some local storage in each node. This compute node can, depending on the choices made during the configuration, take up to twenty-four disk drives. For the purposes of this article, we assume that data locality is required for performance, and that there is a need for an all-flash array. We have chosen to go with two 400 GB SLC drives for cache and four 800 MLC drives for capacity. This means that there is a total raw capacity per node of 4 TB. There may be a requirement for further hardware, depending on the chosen solutions for each hypervisor, but that will be called out in the relevant vendor section. Due to the length of this article, we have split it into two sections. This post deals with the costs surrounding vSphere and Hyper-V.
Over the last couple of weeks, I have been thinking about costs relating to a building a new virtualization-based data center. “What?” I hear you say. “Everywhere is virtualized—there is no such thing as a greenfield site anymore!” I would have said that myself, but in the last month I have come across three, one of which is a company worth over a billion pounds.
During a conversation I had with that company, they informed me that they were going to use a certain vendor for their hypervisor, because it was cheaper. This got me thinking: how much cheaper is it, really? As a result, this is the first in a series of articles looking at a generic cost breakdown for a general-purpose virtualization infrastructure.
Over the last couple of months, there seems to have been a brain drain at VMware; executives are leaving in swarms. (Is that the collective noun for a group of execs? I don’t know.)
The past month has seen the departure of Jonathan Chadwick, the highly respected chief finance officer; Martin Casado, the general manager of the Networking and Security Business Unit and creator of NSX; and finally, last week, longtime Chief Operating Officer Carl Eschenbach.
Is this an issue? Not really. People join, get promoted, and leave all the time. Is this evidence of an issue in VMware senior management to get worried about? Only if you look at it in isolation. All three of these executives were longtime VMware employees. Jonathan had more than three years at VMware, Martin had almost four years there and five years previously at Nicira, and Carl had more than twelve years.
Early last week, VMware made its vRealize Log Insight product available in a free limited form. The short version is that every copy of vCenter (full fat, not just essentials, as far as I can see) gets twenty-five restricted licenses of Log Insight now, rolled out through the usual software channels. This is an automatic upgrade, and the download is available with no further action.
Log Insight is the VMware log file aggregation and data mining product that is part of the vRealize Operations suite of products. It is not limited to VMware products and can take syslogs from any Linux/Unix system, from network devices, and even from Windows Servers. This offers a single point of “insight” (hence the product name)—a place where administrators can go to dig when there are problems. Of course, it also aggregates the logs from vCenter and the ESXi hosts, which is where this free release comes in.
On February 10, 2016, VMware announced VSAN v6.2. This is the forth generation of its flagship software-defined storage (SDS) product to be released. At the time of the release, VMware announced that it has more than 3,000 customers running the products; that is quite a number.
Now, to me, it is a misnomer for this to have been given a minor release notation, as there are a slew of new features, some of which are more than worthy of a major release cycle. I will examine the major ones in this article.
In June 2014, VMware’s Project Marvin was sighted. From that point until the release of the tech preview at VMworld at the end of August, there was very little to know about it. What was previewed? EVO:RACK and EVO:RAIL, VMware’s hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) offering. This was a big step for VMware. Its first hardware release was not just hardware, but the whole software ecosystem to make EVO:RAIL and EVO:RACK a turnkey appliance. This is a huge project that must have taken a lot of internal resources to pull off. A strange move from a successful, pure software system. Earlier this week, rumour of the end of EVO:RACK and EVO:RAIL started to circulate. On February 16, VCE announced the release of VxRack and VxRail.
What does this move mean? First we will look at what VMware’s offering is and where it fits into the market. Then, we will come back to the move from VMware to VCE.
With the recent layoffs at VMware, one of the biggest surprises was the loss of almost the whole Workstation/Fusion team. For many, this is the end of an era. Not only was Workstation one of VMware’s first products, but it was the one that gave numerous people the opportunity to play with new tech and ultimately show off the systems to and get buy-in from management. It let Devs test different builds quickly and easily, and it let server teams test updates and changes quickly and, importantly, safely.
A community built up around Workstation and Fusion that was fueled by the VMTN (VMware Technical Network) subscription and forums. I still have my VMTN T-shirt. The subscription and forums offered easy ways to share ideas and provided a cheap “in” to VMware’s software, which created a huge pool of evangelists who still promote the tech today. The combination of long-lasting trial versions, easily available and readable documentation (VMware’s docs have always been some of the best in the business), and a well-moderated community lowered the barrier to entry for VMware products in a way that no other company has achieved.