Nov5th2007

The New Virtual Infrastructure

I have been using VMWARE/BOCHS and UML for around 7 years now. And boy have things moved quickly! Most recently VMWARE announced their new products. ESX 3.5 is basically the same as ESX3, the main new feature that all people could use is the central patch management system. The feature that is really putting this product well into the “Enterprise” class is the SAN motion system. Think VMOTION for SAN’s. Well seeing as most SANS cost around 300,000 RMB, it must be nice to be able to have at least TWO of them, to then use this functionality.

What is a mixed bag in my mind is the new ESX3i. It will be first released in the new Dell VORSO servers, originally due to ship this month and as confirmed by my DELL Sales manager, is slipping into the new year. These servers will not need hard disks (So what about core dumps, logs and swap?) but will have embedded flash with the hypervisor installed.

On the surface it looks like the Hypervisor is now part of the system board. It ain’t. So I don’t expect ESX3i to give any speed increase. What I do expect is that it will give a massive boost to deployment times. If you are deploying new servers at the rate of one or more a week, this is cool. Right now at CANDIS with blades, we have all the wiring already in place due to the chassis. But we still need to go in through the management card to setup the OS. Yes we can open the box and slide in the blade and have a new server fully setup physically. But not the software. From the looks of ESX3i, it goes a step further. Power on the system, it finds a VC server, configures itself, boots up and presents it’s resources to the farm, ready to be dynamically allocated by the VC server.

Oh, they also have smart power management that can power down systems when their computing resources are not needed. This is cool. Since we pay about .2 RMB per kilowatt of power, it does add up. The new low voltage XEON’s are great power savers, as are the new high efficiency power supplies. However add in those dynamic server on/off controls and you will be able to make a serious dent in your power bill. Oh, and keep the “Eco-Terrorists” happy too and thus maybe avoid a politically correct jihad aimed at you, unlike poor Apple Inc.

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