In a couple of hours my colleague Remco and I will be flying to VMworld, Cannes. I will be leaving my laptop at home so no blogs over the next couple of days! I want to spend as much time as possible gathering information/knowledge and making new virtual contacts! 😉
The company I work for, Ictivity, recently started testing with Xen(not Xensource!) and HA clustering. There were two case studies, one based on Suse and one based on Red Hat. Both definitely have it’s own advantages and disadvantages but it seemed promising to me. Today I noticed a blog on ONLamp.com about how to set this up. It’s a good read and gives you insight information. You can do this with open source only software so it will not get any cheaper than this. If this solution is suitable for an enterprise environment is definitely a point of discussion, but it is good to see there are more alternatives coming our way.
The idea of using virtual machines to build high available clusters is not new. Some software companies claim that virtualization is the answer to your HA problems, off course that’s not true. Yes, you can reduce downtime by migrating virtual machines to another physical machine for maintenance purposes or when you think hardware is about to fail, but if an application crashes you still need to make sure another application instance takes over the service. And by the time your hardware fails, it’s usually already too late to initiate the migration. So, for each and every application you still need to look at whether you want to have it constantly available, if you can afford the application to be down for some time, or if your users won’t mind having to relogin when one server fails.
Thincomputing.net just posted about a new Xenserver Beta. Looking at the new features list it seems things are finally getting up to speed, especially “bonding of NIC’s” is a must have in a enterprise environment. Hope you can also pin the live migration on a specific NIC in this release, but looking at the specs I don’t think it’s possible.
Citrix is pleased to introduce the public beta release of Citrix XenServer 4.1.Citrix XenServer 4.1 is a service pack that enhances the previous v4 release. New capabilities and improvements include:
- Scalability and Performance
- Increased number of simultaneous running VMs
- Enhanced nested page table (NPT) support for modern AMD processors
- VLAN support in Standard Edition
- Improved Citrix Presentation Server performance and maximum number of user sessions
- Reliability and Manageability
- Host NIC bonding for fail-over (configured via CLI)
- Centralized logging
- Configuration of network management interfaces via the CLI
- Update/patch management integrated in XenCenter
- Java bindings for XenAPI in SDK
- Initial shared fibre channel storage support (via CLI only)
- Enhanced support for NetApp filers, including snapshot and cloning
- Windows guest Hot disk remove
- ISCSI improvements
- Support for hot-plugging USB storage as a storage repository
- Host System
- Rolling pool upgrade support
- NIC driver updates (e1000, BNX2, TG3)
- Support several 10Gb network adapters (Mellanox/Chelsio)
- Improved hardware support
- Guest Support
- Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 32-bit and CentOS 5 32-bit install from physical CD
- Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 x64 and CentOS 5 x64 guest support
- Oracle Enterprise Linux 5 x86 and x64 guest support
- Windows Vista x86 guest support
Check out the already extensive list of sessions for VMworld Europe 2008! There are a couple of sessions I will attend for sure: VMware Infrastructure 3 Networking – Advanced Configuration and Troubleshooting, Smart Application Deployment – Moving Beyond VirtualCenter Templates and ESX Server best practices for performance. See you in Cannes!
One of the things that Xenserver, still lacks is decent patch management. VMware solved this in ESX3.5/VC2.5 with the “update manager” which is an awesome tool for updating your ESX Hosts. (Yes it can be used for Windows/Linux and applications, but it needs to be refined in my opinion.) Patching Xenserver is a manual job, but not for long. Citrix just announced a new feature for the upcoming Xenserver release, pool-wide patchmanagement.
Pool-wide patch management has been integrated into the product, and, in conjunction with a wizard in XenCenter, will allow you to:
- Check the Citrix XenServer website for updates
- Download any pending updates to your XenCenter system
- Choose which servers in your managed pools you wish to apply the patches to
- Put each server in maintenance mode (with their VMs kept online on another server via XenMotion)
- Apply the patches
- Bring the server back online and move VMs back to it automatically
All in a single guided process.
There should be a beta available soon. It’s good to see Citrix is bringing Xenserver up to speed. This competition/rivalry will eventually make all products better! Read it at the source.