OpenStack is an incredibly popular technology these days, but contrary to popular belief it is not an alternative to VMware, nor is it the final solution to avoiding vendor lock-in – even if that may have been one of the early, albeit misguided, goals.  In fact, VMware is one of the top contributors to this open source project and the real appeal of OpenStack is the API that allows developers to build the type of modern, scale-out apps that have become popular on Amazon Web Services.

Since OpenStack is fundamentally an API for consuming cloud computing resources, the real question facing datacenter architects today is: what resources should be made available for consumption?  Thanks to efforts from VMware, along with other contributors, support for vSphere has substantially matured and is now a strong alternative to KVM, which was popular initially due to the open source nature of this project.

According to a recently-published performance study, an OpenStack infrastructure based on VMware technology is faster and less expensive than an equivalent stack built from Red Hat products, concluding:

  • VMware VSAN delivers 159% more IOPS than Red Hat Storage Server (GlusterFS)
  • A 16-node Cassandra NoSQL database performs 53% better on vSphere than on Red Hat KVM
  • The total cost of infrastructure hardware and software is 26% lower on VMware than on Red Hat

Thanks to the vSphere/VSAN hyper-converged infrastructure, there is no need to build dedicated clusters of shared storage like there is with GlusterFS.  Instead, shared storage functionality is provided by pooling disks and SSDs that are directly attached to hypervisor hosts.  This offers capacity and performance for a range of applications as well as flexible redundancy options — administrators can configure policies to accommodate one or more replicas of critical data across the cluster or even opt for no replication on non-essential workloads.

In addition to better performance at a lower cost, VMware also delivers a platform that is suitable for all workloads — not just design-for-fail cloud applications.  Applications running on a vSphere cluster benefit from VMware HA and DRS, reducing downtime and increasing performance as VMs are balanced according to shifting resource demands.  Don’t forget that the purpose-built ESXi hypervisor also has much broader guest operating system support and a smaller attack surface that translates into reduced host downtime for patching and maintenance.

Now you can give your developers the agile cloud API offered by OpenStack with the trusted reliability and proven performance of vSphere — the best virtual infrastructure for any application.

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VMware Virtual SAN (VSAN) is now generally available, and the delivery is via VMware ESXi 5.5 Update 1.  For those using a Linux PXE boot server to install ESXi hosts, below is a quick shell script that takes care of everything automatically.

Usage example (all one line):

# esxiso2pxe /var/install/tftpboot/ esxi55u1 VMware-VMvisor-Installer-5.5.0.update01-1623387.x86_64.iso

In order to use the optional ESXi submenu concept, simply add the following to pxelinux.cfg/default

LABEL esxisub
   KERNEL menu.c32
   APPEND esxi-submenu
   MENU LABEL Jump to ESXi submenu



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SolarWinds just published a compelling survey that shows how technology pros from a range of organizations throughout North America view the changing role of IT.  Not surprisingly, the most impactful technology advancement from the recent past is virtualization.  Moving forward, emerging technologies expected to disrupt IT the most have to do with Bring Your Own Device (BYOD or BYOx) and mobility.  The top critical investments for business in the future will be cloud computing and mobility.

In other news, this morning VMware announced the intended acquisition of AirWatch – the leader in enterprise mobile device management.  Quelle coincidence!

Or, as Barb Darrow from GigaOm put it:

One way to prove you’re really into the mobile enterprise, is to spend over a billion on a mobile device management company.

IT pros with expertise in VMware products appear to be very well poised for the future.

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Are you trying to figure out how to integrate disparate silos of virtual infrastructure through limited multi-hypervisor management features or expensive third-party add-ons?  Was avoiding lock-in a panacea, or has it merely added to the challenge of meeting service levels?

Now it is finally possible to visually experience the chaos of a multi-hypervisor datacenter as well as the pleasing efficiency that comes upon transitioning to an SDDC based entirely on industry-leading VMware vSphere:

Although it may seem like Everyone Else is deploying a multi-hypervisor datacenter, it’s actually not as common as certain vendors imply. In fact, the practice is not generally recommended for most organizations — Gartner clients may be interested in their take on this topic.

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A very revealing case study just published by VMware describes how the cumbersome management of Hyper-V prompted a former customer to return to VMware.  Dierbergs — a supermarket chain in the Midwest — began their virtualization journey in 2011 with VMware vSphere, but later succumbed to the temptation of seemingly lower cost Hyper-V and invested considerable effort in migrating over to the Microsoft hypervisor.

In the study, IT Infrastructure Manager Chris Lindloff highlights key frustrations they had with Windows Hyper-V:

Dierbergs experienced five major outages in a single year, taking down critical machines necessary for inventory and product ordering. “Even with the highest level of Microsoft support, we had difficulty resolving every outage,” says Lindloff. “Some of our outages lasted as long as 12 hours. One outage even corrupted a critical database server that we needed to restore from backup, resulting in significant data loss.

No surprise here — since Hyper-V is tightly dependent on Windows, Patch Tuesday applies not only to the applications running in the data center but also to the entire virtual infrastructure – double trouble!  VMware vSphere takes an entirely new and different approach by using a very lightweight, purpose-built hypervisor as the foundation for a resilient software defined data center.

Technology leadership at Dierbergs made the critical decision to move back to VMware technology this year:

…while Hyper-V promised to be less expensive, that simply wasn’t true in practice. The total cost of ownership was far higher because of the need for additional management time and extensive support.

If your IT team is spending excessive cycles troubleshooting random connectivity issues or poring over disparate recommendations in an attempt to avoid patching disasters, consider the real-world experience of Dierbergs CIO Jim Shipley:

With the VMware solutions, we spend more of our day focusing on strategic initiatives, which in turn helps IT drive real value back into the business.

The hypervisor is a critical component of the data center, not a commodity as challengers would have you believe.  Standardize on VMware vSphere so your technology pros can focus on the future, and the days of experimenting with alternatives will soon be in the past.

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