Pano Logic was featured on CNN Money Tech Talk. Very nice video here.
Virtualization, High Performance Computing, Healthcare IT, Enterprise Computing
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Microsoft launched a few virtualization grenades today, here is a quick summary of all the interesting news:
1. Vista Enterprise Computing Desktop (VECD) licenses are now toast as of July 1st, now for PC’s that are covered by Software Assurance you will no longer have to purchase an additional VECD license just to access virtual Windows Desktops. For companies not under software assurance you will need to pay about $100 per device a year to access virtual desktops, called a “Virtual Desktop Access” license.
2. Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 ( no ship date known yet ) will have new enhancements to the RDP protocol ( called RemoteFX ) that will enable better graphics performance when accessing Windows 7 virtual desktops on a LAN. The reported caveat here is RemoteFX is supported only on Virtual Desktops running on Hyper-V, not VMware. Of course there are already plenty of excellent protocols already that replace RDP on VMware, like Console Direct from Pano, PCoIP, HP RGS, and a host of others.
3. Hyper-V R2 Dynamic Memory. This new feature allows all the memory available on a physical host to be dynamically distributed to virtual machines running on that host as necessary. That means based on changes in workload, your VMs will be able to receive new memory allocations without a service interruption. As I understand it, they will not be doing over-commit, so densities will still be higher on VMware, but still a nice addition for Hyper-V when it releases, currently there is no beta it was just an announcement.
3. XP Mode no longer requires Intel-VT or AMD-V on Windows 7, so that is good news, get the bits/news from here.
Microsoft also announced the so called “Rescue for VMware VDI promotion” which allows VMware View customers that weren’t happy with View to trade in up to 500 licenses at no additional cost, while the VDI Kick Start promotion offers new customers a 50 percent discount off the estimated retail price in year one.
The one thing I can say here is if you weren’t happy with VDI on VMware, either with Pano, View, or other stack, you are very likely to be equally unhappy with VDI on Hyper-V. It isn’t like Microsoft has the magic blue pill, issues with VDI at large scales are more or less the same for all the major players. HiperLogic personally likes an agnostic approach like Pano Logic, they currently leverage VMware on the backend, but will soon support Hyper-V which helps avoid vendor lock-in.
SureBackup is a major new announcement from Veeam that was revealed on March 22nd ( See http://www.veeam.com/surebackup/) that allows **automated** validation of your backup jobs, a first in the virtualization ( or physical ) world.
SureBackup does this magic by booting all of the VM’s in your backup image in a sandbox environment ( Called the Virtual Lab ) to ensure your VM’s are 100% consistent and restorable.
SureBackup at a high level works by dynamically mounting a on-the fly NFS datastore that Veeam creates that presents VM’s directly from the compressed de-duped backup images. ( This is the Veeam Patent-Pending technology). This Virtual Lab is setup on an isolated network (customizable) and dedicated resource pool (customizable) on your existing ESX server farm. *NO* extra storage is required since it runs directly from the backup file.
A beneficial side-effect of this is universal item level recovery, for example you can pull an individual Exchange mailbox, SQL Server table, or any other “application” specific item that is not just a plain file ( Veeam already has file level recovery ) through the SureBackup Virtual Lab. You can run these VM’s directly from the compressed de-duplicated files, you aren’t required to extract or pull out the VMDK’s and therefore don’t require any additional storage space.
The SureBackup feature will release with the next version of Veeam Backup and Replication 5 ( sometime late summer). This is a simple upgrade, and you will be able to use this feature with your old Veeam Backup 4.0 backups and your new 5.0 backups.
It has been reported that at the Microsoft Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) webcast there will be a major announcement ( for the better) on how virtual desktops are currently licensed, e.g. VECD licensing. Also there will be some information on improvments to RDP to catch up to competing protocols ala PCoIP, Pano Console Direct, Citrix HDX etc it has been reported.
Sign-up to get the info live at http://desktopvirtualizationhour.com/, we will update the HiperLogic blog on the 18th with any breaking news from the webcast.
If you haven’t heard, the “legacy” backup method of using VMware VCB will be removed from the next release of vSphere, and the “modern” method will be to use the VMware Storage APIs for Data Protection (VADP). From the letter available here at VMware’s site:
The purpose of this letter is to inform you of our vSphere backup product strategy, ongoing enhancements, and end of availability plans for VMware Consolidated Backup.
VMware Backup Product Strategy
VMware released vStorage APIs for Data Protection (VADP) with the vSphere 4.0 release in May, 2009. VADP is the next generation of VMware’s backup framework. We have also been working with several backup partners to integrate VADP into their solutions to make backup of vSphere Virtual Machines fast, efficient and easy to deploy compared to VCB and other backup solutions. Several of our major backup partners have already released VADP integrated backup products and we expect most of the major backup partners to have VADP integrated backup software by the upcoming feature release of the vSphere platform in 2010.
Future Product Licensing
Given the strong interest and adoption of VADP by our backup eco-system and the benefits offered by VADP compared to VMware Consolidated Backup (VCB), we are announcing the End of Availability for VCB starting with next vSphere feature release in 2010. Starting with the next vSphere platform feature release, VCB will be removed from vSphere platform. VADP integrated backup products (including VMware Data Recovery) will be the recommended option for efficient backup and restoration of vSphere Virtual Machines. This will allow us to focus new value added feature development on VADP instead of two backup frameworks (VCB and VADP).”
This means if you plan on upgrading to vSphere and use VCB, you will want to have in your planning and budgeting a way to migrate to a backup vendor that supports VADP. Contact your preferred backup vendor today to see what their plans are for VADP support.
I personally recommend Veeam Backup and Replication ( HiperLogic is a Veeam Gold Partner, so maybe I am a bit biased) for the simple matter of fact that ESX 3.5 users can use it today with their 3.5 installation, and migrate seamlessly to current and future vSphere releases. There is some peace of mind that the mechanism you back up with today will let you restore tomorrow.
VMware has a backup appliance bundled with vSphere that uses VADP known as vDR (VMware Data Recovery), but as of the current vSphere release I typically don’t recommend it, see the post on this subject vDR vs Veeam Backup. It is quite possible that VMware’s vDR product will get some more development pumped into it once VCB is removed from vSphere this year, by then though Veeam SureBackup will be out.
There are variety of factors that influence the speed of cloning from a template, this post is to highlight some of the big wins if you are having issues.
Read the VMware kb article 1004002 and 1004028
Templates should be in their own datastore. – A Best Practice
By storing templates in their own datastore the read intensive I/O ( reading template ) is separated from the write intensive I/O ( writing new VM from template ). With NFS in particular, ESX only uses one TCP stream per datastore, so by using different datastores ( a best practice) the time to create a VM from a template may be reduced.
Thick and eager zero – The slow boat to China
Don’t deploy your VM to be thick and eager zero, deploying thick and eager zero will be MUCH slower than thin or zero thick.
Simply not enough spindles. – The immutable laws of Physics
Creating a VM from template is intense, you are reading the template and writing a new VM both of which are single large block sequential I/O stream operations. If you simply don’t have enough spindles, the amount of I/O you can push will be limited. Going forward Solid State Drives (SSD’s) may eliminate the issue of “spindle count”.
Utilize Your Storage Array
Cloning at the storage array level can be near instantaneous, for example NetApp has their Rapid Cloning Utility RCU. If you don’t have array support, there are multiple other ways to tune your storage assuming you have sufficient spindles, like write caching, stripe size, RAID choice, and so on. This is vendor specific to some degree and beyond a 5 tips article. If you are on ESX 3.5 ( not vSphere) see VMware kb article 1003469 for a I/O tunable that can help speed up large block disk I/O.