VMworld US 2012: The Day 3 Buzz
VMworld continues with day 3 of the conference. There was no general session this morning so I caught about with of the other bloggers in the Hang Space.
It was then unofficially announced that VMworld US 2013 would be back again in San Francisco from 26-29 August also at the Moscone Center.
I then attended INF-BCO1505 – VMware vSphere Replication: Technical Walk-Through with Engineering by Ken Werneburg and Aleksey Pershin from VMware.
vSphere Replication (VR) used to be part of SRM but as of this year is now a standalone product available free for SMBs if you have Essentials Plus license or above. SRM can still be added on top of vSphere Replication. VR allows you to simply replicate VMs to a DR site or locally for intra-site recovery with application level consistency with VSS. Protection is set on an individual VM basis and you can set a RPO from 15 minutes up to 24 hours.
VR is a virtual appliance which is registered in vCenter. You can only have a single VR appliance per vCenter but you can protect up to 50 VMs per appliance. What is great is you can pre-seed your initial replication set so can ship a tape or USB drive to your DR site and copy the initial files to your destination datastore and VR can pick up from this initial replication state and continue to protect your VMs.
There’s a lot of checking done for disk consistency and recovering from network failures.
There also a pretty clever scheduler that runs on each ESXi host which builds and maintains a schedule map. The scheduler’s job is to maintain RPO as much as possible. It can use past replication history to look forward up to 48 hours and do “early syncs” when it knows a large sync would be scheduled to get the copying started to be able to maintain that RPO.
You can use automated failback and if you layer on SRM.
A very interesting product which will appeal to many without SAN replication or even being able to provide DR from local disk VMs.
A was then more than happy to chat to Mike Laverick and do a VMworld Miniwag, he must have been looking for divine inspiration!
Next up was INF-VSP1353 – vCenter: A Technical Deep Dive by Justin King, Ameet Jani and Deep Bhattacharjee all from VMware.
This session went through the new architecture of vCenter 5.1 which crucially adds the web client. The VI client as we all know today is pretty clunky and slow and suffers from scalability issues. The new Web Client is the future face of vCenter and has been specifically built for scalability and speed. All existing plug-ins such as SRM, vCD, Update Manager and 3rd party extensions will eventually be ported over to the new client to give user management in fewer places. 5.1 is the last vCenter version that will have a VI client.
The great thing is once the Web Client is all up and running you can centrally control partner extensions so you can have control over which users can access which extensions and as there’s no client application you don’t have to hassle updating Update Manager on all your clients.
Single Sign On is integral to this and allows authentication from AD (multiple domains for the first time), OpenLDAP or local OS (windows or linux). SSO needs to be installed first before the other VC components and there is a simple install option when SSO, Inventory Service and VC is installed on the same server. Heart is still the product to use to protect the installation including now SSO. A new version of Heartbeat is due to be released to support this.
You can now also manage multiple VCs from the same client without always having to have Linked Mode which is sort of great but if you do want to replicate VC roles and licenses you still need Linked Mode. Looking forward to the day when Linked Mode is dumped for some better availability method.
Search has been dramatically extended by using look-ahead search across all inventory objects so making it very quick and easy to find things. Tagging has also been added so you can have more flexibility in grouping your VMs. You can have your folder structure based on say location and then tag say “Accounting VMs” giving you more grouping options without being bound only by a hierarchical folder structure. You can also tag across all inventory objects so “Accounting” could be a tag for networks, datastores and VMs. Custom attributes will be migrated to tags. Unfortunately PowerCLI hasn’t kept up to date and will only support getting and setting tags in a future version (maybe six months away).
Performance has also been given a major boost. The Inventory Service caches vCenter inventory as typically 70% of requests are reads and so can reduce load on the database. With the new client you can have 3 times the number of concurrent connections with half the CPU load compared to the 5.0 version.
Stats make up more than 50% of the database and they’ve done a lot of work in optimising the database to speed things up. Database tables have been partitioned allowing much quicker stats crunching and higher stats levels. Stats rollups now take minutes rather than hours.
This was a really great session with excellent speakers. So much happening in the vCenter client space which really needed focus. Really looking forward to what’s coming up in the future when they start to further scale the database and make it highly available without Heartbeat.
VMworldTV has been doing some more interviews.
Demo of VMware Horizon Suite.
Demonstration of VMware Zimbra
Next up, a session about Octopus, EUC2406 – Horizon Data: Technical Deep-dive and Beta Learnings by JJ Zhuang (the father of Octopus!) and Charles Windom from VMware. A more in-depth demo of Horizon Data (the new boring official name for Project Octopus) which is going to be great when it is released. Horizon Data is a vApp with five appliances. Lots of security controls around who can share files and to who even based on file type. The web client converts all documents to PDF for easy viewing. Lots of auditing as well with a copy kept of everything in the file store so you can do easy restores. Admins can remote wipe data if someone leaves the company of a device is lost. Speaking to people at the VMware stand I also heard that in version 1 there won’t be local file encryption so if this is a security concern you will need to have something like BitLocker to protect the client in case of theft.
Horizon Data can use any type of vSphere compatible storage such as VMDK, RDM or 3rd party storage with an adapter (although not recommended for NFS from within the guest when leveraging existing NAS/SAN). Data is stored in Octopus VMs which are called data nodes and are infinitely scalable. There is a shared nothing architecture and each VM contains modules for bandwidth & storage optimisation, version management, authentication, administration and sharing. The content of all the files is stored in a File Blob store and there’s a built in MySQL database for Metadata and a Journaling system for crash consistency. v1 won’t come with an out of box data migration tool although as the .API is open you could create a script to do the migration, seems an important part of getting this working is being left out which is unfortunate. v1 also doesn’t support de-duplication although they say the storage vendors could still do this on the back end with the .VMDK/RDM files.
For deployment, it relies on the same vSphere availability solutions like HA and they suggest using RDMs which can be up to 64TB rather than the 2TB for a VMDK file.
All looks interesting but I can see challenges with the migration but v2 whenever that is realised looks like it may address some of the issues but let’s see v1 first.
Horizon Mobile Demo
VMware Mirage In-Depth demo
I was then very happy to be invited to the CTO reception which was hosted by VMware CTO Steve Herrod. Being part of the VMware community, I’ve always enjoyed the fact that is is such a vibrant one, possibly unique in the current IT landscape, with so many people sharing what they know just for the benefit of all. I think part of the community passion comes from seeing people like Steve Herrod who always presents in a an engaging way and shows that at least at VMware, passion comes from the top. I managed to have a chat to both Steve Herrod and Pat Gelsinger, incoming CEO, Pat Gelsinger. Pat saud he wanted to ring Intel’s engineering innovation to VMware and was planning to build the vSphere ecosystem the same way you build CPUs. He also said when he visits London he would love to join the London VMUG, so here’s looking to a future presentation from the VMware boss himself.
The official VMworld party then kicked off. Bon Jovi was the headline act. I’ll admit, I’ve been known to belt out some Bon Jovi songs in my time but that was a few years ago. I’ve seen them before but after having such an amazing band, The Killers, last year, nothing could ever match them in my eyes. Still, a great evening to spend time with so many great people at VMworld.