Punch Zeros!

I was just playing around with vSphere 5.0 and noticed something cool which I hadn’t noticed before. I logged in to the ESXi Shell and typed a command I used a lot in the past, vmkfstools, and I noticed an option called -K. (Just been informed that 4.1 has it as well, I never noticed it though… )

-K –punchzero
This option deallocates all zeroed out blocks and leaves only those blocks that were allocated previously and contain valid data. The resulting virtual disk is in thin format

This is one of those options which many have asked for as in order to re”thin” their disks it would normally require a Storage vMotion. Unfortunately though it only currently works when the virtual machine is powered off, but I guess that is just the next hurdle that needs to be taken.

vSphere 5.0: Profile-Driven Storage, what is it good for?

By now most of you heard about this new feature called Profile-Driven Storage that will be introduced with vSphere 5.0, but what is it good for? Some of you, depending on the size of the environment, currently have a nice long operational procedure to deploy virtual machines. The procedure usually contains gathering information about the requirements of the virtual machine’s disks, finding the right datastore to meet these requirements, deploy the virtual machine and occasionally check if the virtual machine’s disks are still placed correctly. This is what Profile-Driven Storage aims to solve.

Profile-Driven Storage, in the vCenter UI referred to as VM Storage Profiles, decrease the amount of administration required to properly deploy virtual machines by allowing for the creation of Profiles. These profiles typically list the requirements of storage and can be linked to a virtual machine. I know it all sounds a bit vague, let me visualize that:

In this scenario a virtual machine requires “Gold Storage”, now lets just assume for now that that means RAID-10 and Replicated. By linking the profile to this virtual machine it is possible to validate if the virtual machine is actually located on the right tier of storage. Now this profile can of course be linked to a virtual machine / virtual disk after it has been provisioned, but even more importantly it can be used during the provisioning of the virtual machine to ensure the user picks a datastore (cluster) which is compatible with the requirements! Just check the following screenshot of what that would look like:

Now you might wonder where this storage tier comes from, this is a VM Storage Profile containing storage capabilities provided by:

  • VASA aka vSphere Storage APIs – Storage Awareness
  • User defined capabilities

User defined capabilities are fairly simple to explain, the profile you create (gold / silver / bronze) will be linked to a User Defined “tag” you define on a datastore. For instance you could tag a datastore as “RAID-10”. When would you do this? Well typically when your storage vendor doesn’t offer a Storage Provider for VASA (yet). That takes us to the second method of selecting storage capabilities for your VM Storage Profile, VASA. VASA is a new “API” which enables you to see the characteristics of a datastore through vCenter. With characteristics I am referring to things like: raid level, de-duplication, replication etc. You know what, my a step-by-step guide makes it clear:

  • Go to VM Storage Profiles
  • Create a VM Storage Profile
  • Provide a Name
  • Select the correct Capabilities
  • Finish the creation
  • Create a new VM and select the correct VM Storage Profile, note that only 1 datastore is compatible
  • After creation you can easily check if it is compliant or not by going to the VMs summary tab

A couple of simple initial steps as you can clearly see, but a huge help when provisioning virtual machines and when validating storage / vm requirements!

vSphere 5.0: Storage DRS introduction

Storage DRS is a brand new feature of vSphere 5.0. It has been one of my focus areas for the last 6 months and probably one of the coolest features of vSphere 5.0. Storage DRS enables you to aggregate datastores in to a single object, called a datastore cluster. This new object is what you will be managing from now on. Storage DRS enables smart placement of virtual machines based on utilized diskspace, latency and LUN performance capabilities. In other words, when you create a new virtual machine you will select a Datastore Cluster instead of a Datastore and Storage DRS will place the virtual machine on one of the datastores in that datastore cluster. This is where the strength lies of Storage DRS, reducing operational effort associated with provisioning of virtual machines…

But that’s not all there is, Storage DRS is a lot more than just initial placement… lets sum the core functionality of Storage DRS up:

  1. Initial Placement
  2. Migration Recommendations (Manual / Fully Automated)
  3. Affinity Rules
  4. Maintenance Mode

These in my opinion are the 4 core pieces of functionality that Storage DRS provides. Initial placement as stated will reduce the amount of operational effort required to provision virtual machines. Storage DRS will figure out which datastore it should be placed on, no need anymore to manually monitor each datastore and figure out which one has the most available diskspace and relative low latency. On top of that SDRS also provides Migration Recommendations if and when thresholds are exceeded, it can generate them (manual mode) or generate and apply them (fully automated mode). These thresholds are utilized disk space(80%) and latency (15ms). This helps preventing bottlenecks in terms of disk space and hot spots in terms of latency.

Affinity Rules and Maintenance Mode are very similar to what DRS offers today. You have the ability to split disks and virtual machines with Affinity Rules, or keep them together. With Maintenance Mode it will be very easy to migrate to new LUNs or to do planned maintenance on a volume, couple of clicks and all VMs will be moved off.

Once again I would like to stress that although the Migration Recommendations (especially in Fully Automated mode) sound really sexy, and it is, it will more than likely be the Initial Placement recommendations where you will benefit the most. More technical information will follow soon here and on frankdenneman.nl

Live Blog: Raising The Bar, Part V

I am live at the Launch event in San Francisco with many other bloggers, journalists and analysts. It is the 12th of July, almost 09:00 PDT and Paul Maritz is about come up on stage to talk about the Cloud Infrastructure launch. This article will be update live during the event as we go.

Paul Maritz is taking the stage… Taking the next step in towards the more automated world.

We need to make infrastructure become something that people can depend on and focus on what is important to their business. Navigating your way forward offering a more dynamic infrastructure that will support your existing applications. Using a more flexible infrastructure, allowing people to take resources and aggregate to larger pools reducing operational costs by automating the use of these resources. More and more use of social media and use of mobile devices to connect anytime anywhere and most importantly securely.

Today we will be talking about  a more efficient infrastructure with exists of three stages IT Production, Business Production and IT as a Service. In 2009, the VI 3 era, 30% of the workloads were virtualized…. in 2010 with vSphere 4 we reached 40% and it is expected that in 2011 we will hit 50% virtualized with the majority on vSphere.

Accelerating and Amplifying business agility with vSphere 5! Not only vSphere 5 but the worlds first Cloud Infrastructure suite! In addition to vSphere 5 today we announce vSphere Site Recovery Manager 5 (Business Continuity), vCloud Director 1.5 (Policy, Reporting, Self-Service), vCenter Operations 1.0.1 (Monitoring and Management), vShield 5 (Security and Edge functionality).

VMware vCloud = Hybrid. Your private cloud experience needs to be similar to public cloud experience. VMware allows this through the vCloud offering and vCloud Service Providers. Trusted vCloud partners like Colt, Bluelock, Singtel, Verizon, NYSE Euronext, Softbank and CSC are some of the enablers for this.

Steve Herrod up on stage… I expect it is about to get more technical

Why do these new products matter and how do they fit together. Accelerating the adoption by increasing scalability. ESX 1.0 capable of 5000 IOps, ESX 2.0 ~ 7000 IOps, VI 3 100.000 IOps, vSphere 4 300.000 IOps and vSphere 5.0 1.000.000 IOps. Besides performance availability is key. Both HA and FT have been enhanced and of course SRM 5.0 has been released. Added to SRM 5.0 is vSphere Replication. vSphere Replication allows you to use the network to replicate between sites and different arrays. It will allow you to replicate more workloads with a lower costs. SRM is about datacenter mobility, not only for an outage but also pro-actively moving datacenters after an acquisition.

What does cloud computing really mean? Being able to order what you need and what without knowing what happens behind the scenes. IT will behind the scenes validate if they meet the consumers requirements. vCloud Director is all about Simple Self-Service. Deploy virtual machines but more importantly create new vApps and offer these in your own “app store”. The IT Cloud of the producer is all about offering agility. Virtualization enables automation in a way unheard in a physical environment.

Typically multiple tiers are offered within a cloud environment. The VMware Cloud Infrastructure enable you to do so. Intelligent Policy based Management is key with vCloud Director 1.5. Linked Clones is a very important feature to provision virtual machines “aggressively” within the system. It allows for fast provisiong and save up to 60% of storage.

Profile-Driven Storage and Storage DRS are part of vSphere 5.0. It enables you to map different arrays in to logical entities by a concept called a “datastore cluster” and link these to a profile. Virtual machines will be tagged with a profile and this allows you to validate compliancy. Storage DRS does for storage what DRS does for compute resources. Storage and Network IO Control ensures each virtual machine receives what it is entitled to.

For the SMB market a brand new shared storage appliance is introduced today: vSphere Storage Appliance 1.0. It takes vanilla servers and use local drives and present it as shared storage. It will bring agility and availability through shared storage to the SMB.

Auto-Deploy, PXE booting your ESXi hypervisor in to memory! It allows to spin-up more hosts within minutes instead of hours. Adding capacity has never been this simple?

vSphere 5 offers comprehensive security and isolation capabilities through vShield 5.0. vShield App 5 allows you to select regulations to protect sensitive data. It also enables you to get additional auditing in place.

The Cloud Infrastructure represents more than a million engineering hours, more than 100 additional capabilities, more than two million QA hours, more than 2000 partner certifications to enable this.

Rick Jackson up next discussing licensing.

Industry has traditionally licensed on physical constraints. It makes it difficult to create a cloud environment. Customers need to be able to upgrade to new hardware without having physical boundaries. No more “Cores per Proc” limits, no more “Physical RAM per host license”… vSphere introducing vRAM entitlement. Virtual RAM is the amount of virtual memory configured for a powered on virtual machine. vSphere 5 used pooled vRAM across the entire environment.

Packaging has been simplified and moving from 6 down to 5 packages. vSphere Advanced has been eliminated, all customers currently using Advanced are entitled to vSphere Enterprise.

Join us at VMworld for more details around the new product releases. 10AM virtual show, be there for more technical in-depth details!