VMWorld 2014—No Limits! is here. Already the buzz is phenomenal, and the hype is really just ramping up. So what are we expecting this year? A few things...and I am sure there will be some surprises, too.
Whether it's EMC, VMware, Cisco, or any other number of companies, there are a number of internal code names for projects (i.e., Project X) that are expected to be announced this week during the conference. Speculation is not quite as high as the rumors for the iPhone 6, but pretty close. Look for updates from me throughout the week as these projects are released.
Last year, I think I counted 22 different startups in the Solutions Exchange where all the vendor sponsors gather (I think entry-level sponsorship is ~$25k). This year, I have already seen a couple of new ones I have not heard of before, so I will be checking them out. There is still a lot of speculation around the so-called "software-defined data center" and what that will look like in the long term, and this is the fertile ground in which startups sow their seed.
The Twitterverse has made it possible for IT employees, aficionados, and über-geeks to interact via the Internet and other social media outlet—though Twitter is certainly the mainstay of these. For me, last night was filled with "Oh, you're @_______. Good to finally meet you." Above the technology, VMworld is about relationships, both personal friendships that will develop and professional relationships that will extend a person's ability to learn, grow, and operate professionally.
I am here to learn. I always learn so much at VMworld. Whether it is VCDX Bootcamp, the VMware Hands-on-Labs, break-out sessions, or just conversations over any number of meals, I am constantly learning—which is a must for any IT professional, as the landscape changes so quickly.
If you were in the Indianapolis area and missed the @IndyVMUG, it was fantastic! We had about 1,000 participants from all over the Ohio River Valley.
I am going to follow-up with the conference by posting a couple of #ProTips that, according to participant feedback, were the most interesting to them from my talk. Here's the list:
You can also read more about my vSphere 5.5 Performance Best Practices series that I did last April/May.
Use SR-IOV for Cisco UCS Maximum PErformance
Admittedly, there may not be a lot of call for this in many of our production environments. Hardware is becoming more affordable, so we have to get less out of it. But for those who need it, or who want to get more out of their environment, Cisco VM-FEX (and other SR-IOV technologies) can significantly improve performance.
Using the same amount of bandwidth, data sent using the Cisco virtual interface card (VIC) with Cisco Data Center VM-FEX uses 41 percent fewer CPU resources than the VMware vSwitch, freeing CPU cycles to deliver better application performance.
How does the FEX work? Read more about Cisco's FEX category of products if you are unfamiliar with them.
What is VM-FEX?
Essentially, VM-FEX is Cisco's implementation of Single-Root I/O Virtualization, or SR-IOV, a technology that allows a physical interface to present multiple logical interfaces. In this case, VM-FEX uses SR-IOV to bypass the ESXi hypervisor altogether, and present the virtual network directly to the VM itself.
Cisco® VM-FEX utilizes the capability to create multiple vNICs in combination with VMware VMDirectPath and Intel® VT-d technologies. This, in turn, allows the VMs to bypass the hypervisor for their networking connectivity by allowing direct access to the underlying adapter hardware. This approach avoids the overhead of the hypervisor software networking stack, resulting in lower system CPU utilization and higher networking throughput. — Cisco.com
Of course, VM-FEX requires a license, but it is exceedingly affordable if you are really looking for it (or at least it has been in my experience).
Cisco's Testing and Key Findings
Cisco VM-FEX technology can transmit or receive 9.8 Gbps of uni-directional TCP network throughput while utilizing 44.80 percent system CPU for transmit and 65.60 percent system CPU for receive.
So with a proper SR-IOV implementation of VM-FEX, you can increase your aggregate bidirectional throughput while simultaneously reducing the amount of load on your CPUs—that's performance optimization!
To sum up, VM-FEX is essentially captured by the Ford commercial series, "And is better":
Yesterday, VMware Horizon 6 (formerly View, and Horizon View) was released for general availability! Yay! Now, if you are not familiar, Horizon 6 has a ton of really interesting features, and I am excited to get my hands on it.
What's New in Horizon 6?
Well, there is a lot of new features—over 150, in fact! But we are only going to cover a few of them here, the ones that I am personally most excited about, and the ones that I think businesses will likely see as meeting their requirements the most (a.k.a., the most asked-for features).
There are three Horizon 6 editions, Standard, Advanced and Enterprise; though in my experience customers will go for either Standard (View only, full VDI but no vSOM, VSAN, etc.) or Enterprise (everything included, especially hosted apps and vSOM).
Very excited to have a truly unified workspace across all devices! Now you can pick up and move and disconnect and log back in—whatever device—and be right where you were! Awesome. And add some more applications with the application catalog.
Remote Desktop Services Hosted Applications
Windows 2012 has a great feature for thin application publishing built right in, called Hosted Apps (RDSH). And Horizon 6 really takes advantage of this—check this video out and look at how quickly an app can be provisioned to users.
Virtual Graphics Acceleration
Using supported hardware such as NVIDIA Grid adapters, you can pass graphics acceleration through from the host to the guest directly! Now virtualizing your high-end creative desktops is much more feasible the performance is near-native.
vSphere Operations Management for Horizon 6
So what good is all this awesomeness if there isn't any management to it? One of the most common complaints in a VDI setup is sluggishness with regard to end-user experience. Now, with Horizon 6, there is tighter integration into vSOM (formerly vCOPS or vCOps, depending on your capitalization scheme), enabling admins to troubleshoot faster and more accurately.
Well, my twenty-two part series has come to an end. Here is a summary of each best practice and a link to the full article. Certainly there is a lot more that could be said, but I will leave that for another time.
I hope my posts have been helpful!
Best Practice Summary: Upgrading Gotchas
Best Practices Summary: General Management & Monitoring
Best Practices Summary: Performance Optimization
Best Practices Summary: Troubleshooting
Best Practices Resources
VMware KB Articles
Other Best Practice Links
For those of you who have been keeping up with VMware, here is a status update on the NFS All Paths Down (APD) condition: it's fixed!
NFS APD History
If you are unfamiliar with the vSphere 5.5 Update 1 NFS APD issue, basically some customers (not all, mind you) across different vendors, ran into an error condition where vSphere would report all NFS paths to be down and thus the NFS mount and any VMs or RDMs on it would become inaccessible—even though the paths were perfectly fine.
During the duration of the APD condition and after, the array still responds to ping and the netcat tests are also successful. There is no evidence to indicate a physical network or a NFS storage array issue. — VMware KB 2076392
If you would like to read further, the issue is described in detail in the above VMware KB 2076392.