vSphere 4.1 Overview

This was the 2nd breakout session that I attended on Monday and it was packed. Remember, the information shared here is coming from my notes and memory. That said, it may be prudent for you to double-check everything I say…. 🙂

We learned that vSphere is anything but a “.” release, but it has over 150 new features and represents the foundation for cloud computing. Cloud computing was defined as an approach to computing that leverages efficient pooling of on-demand, self-managed, virtual infrastructure, consumed as a service. Hopefully that clears up the concept of cloud computing for you…

vSphere 4.1 delivers dramatic expansion and scale over previous versions of ESX its new capabilities provide the most efficient aggregation of datacenter resources.

vSphere 4.1 is capable of:
-Supporting 3,000 VMs per cluster (2x greater than previous versions)
-Support 1,000 Hosts per vCenter server (3x greater than previous versions)
-Support 10,000 VMs per vCenter server (3x greater than previous versions)

To attain these numbers however, vCenter is now a 64-bit application, needing more RAM and a more powerful server platform for faster performance and eliminating some locking and contention issues on 32-bit versions of vCenter. The vCenter server can certainly be a VM.

Of the many features new to vSphere 4.1, the speaker pointed out the following as the “biggies”

1. vMotion speed and scale
2. More VMs per cluster
3. More Hosts per vCenter server
4. Memory Compression
5. Storage I/O Control
6. Network I/O Control

vMotion speed and scale
-vMotion 5x faster in 4.1
-If using 1GB, you can vMotion up to 4 hosts simultaneously
-If using 10GB, you can vMotion up to 8 hosts simultaneously

Memory Compression
My mind gets a bit hazy on this subject. I guess that’s why good bloggers would post right after the session…

-Optimized use of memory (freeing up space as needed), safeguard for using memory overcommit feature. Can use memory compress with confidence!!
-1000x faster than swap-in!

Storage I/O Control
-Set storage quality of service priorities per VM
-Works with block-based storage today (no NFS)
-Need enterprise + to get this
-Not a storage DRS type function – nothing is moved

There are two options, Basic and Advanced. With Basic, all VMs have equal access rights to the storage. WIth Advanced, you can prioritize the use of storage (similar to how compute is prioritized with vSphere) per VM. Business priorities now define low and high priority storage resource areas, allowing you to create “high-speed or High-Occupany lanes” for virtual machines.

Network I/O Control
Like Storage I/O Control allows you to set QoS for storage access, Network I/O Control set network QoS priorites per flow type (iSCSI, NFS, etc). It too has a Basic and Advanced setting. If Basic is used, network access rights are equal between flow types. If Advanced is used, you can prioritize use of the network based on flow type. Again, as with Storage I/O Control, business priorities can now define low and high priority network resource access as needed.

Though not mentioned as a “biggie” feature, vSphere 4.1 now offers AD Integration. You can login to ESX servers using your AD account. If I remember right, you would create an AD global security group called ESX Admins and then add those accounts allowed to access the ESX console.

Also, vMotion is now available on vSphere Standard edition.

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