VMworld Day 2 – Lots of product announcements today

So today was day 2 of VMworld 2011 and today was a great day at the conference.  We had a great keynote with some demos which were pretty funny (I really hope that they were supposed to be funny).  Granted I was a little late to the keynote so I missed the first few minutes, but I over slept damn-it breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

The first thing I was was a project called Project Octopus.  This allows your users to access the same files via Windows, Mac or Linux PCs, phones, tablets, etc.  It also allows users to edit any files which they have access to on any device.  This is done via HTML 5 so as long as the device supports HTML 5 (which most everything new does) you can access full Windows applications on the machine.  In the demo the user was sent an Excel file via IM which they then opened on an iPad and they were able to edit it in a fully functional copy of Excel 2010.  There was a small application installed on the iPad which then connected to the server via the web browser, uploaded the file to the server (or opened the file from the server, not really sure here, but either way) then the user was able to edit the Excel sheet and save it back to the server.

The next product which we were shown was called VMware Go.  Go is a software as a service offering where the user signs into the site and then they are able to via the webpage scan an IP subnet looking for servers which are capable of running vSphere 5.0 on them.  The user can then select which Windows servers they would like to deploy vSphere 5.0 to.  vSphere 5.0 is then deployed to the servers.  I’m not sure what happens to the Windows OS and services which are already installed on the servers, so this could be very dangerous if pushed to the wrong server by accident.

A new product which I’m really excited about is aimed directly at the small / medium business (SMB) market and will allow you to take two servers with only local storage and configure them in a highly available vSphere 5.0 cluster.  This new product is called Virtual Storage Appliance (VSA).  The way this is done is that the VSA which is a virtual appliance which is installed on all the hosts (it supports two and three node clusters only).  When installed and configured it will take the local storage and present it to the cluster as shared storage.  Redundancy for this solution is done by using software based replication and setting up each VM to be replicated to another host in the cluster.  This way the cluster can always survive a single node failure without loosing the ability to run any guest on the cluster.

There are some big changes coming to vSphere Site Recovery Manager (SRM) 5.0 which is no longer called VMware vSphere SRM.  One of the biggest is the ability to automatically fail back after a site has failed and restored automatically.  In prior versions of SRM failover was a one way operation, in order to fail back to the first site you would have to totally reconfigure SRM and then trigger failover.  With the new 5.0 version of SRM you simply configure the failback as part of the policies then when the second site comes back online SRM will failback as configured.

Another cool thing you can do with SRM 5.0 now is the ability to DR your site to a cloud provider instead of to your own backup data center.  This allows you to run your primary site on your hardware, but rent your DR systems from a cloud service provider that is certified as a SRM site.  Currently there are only a couple of options, but as time goes on there will be more options available.

I went to a couple of sessions today, the most informative of which was about the new features of vSphere 5.0.  VMware is upgrading the VMFS version from 3 to 5, but this time it is a non-distruptive upgrade unlike the upgrade from VMFS 2 to 3.  The new version of ESXi is much thinner than the prior 4.1 version leaving more resources available for the guest machines.

vSphere will only officially supports 32 hosts in a cluster, however there was been clusters tested with over 100 nodes, but still only 32 are supported.  Something which will make a lot of Linux shops happy is vCenter no longer requires Windows as the OS for the vCenter server.  It can now be installed on a Linux OS (they didn’t specify which Linux flavor).  There is an embedded database which supports up to 5 hosts and 50 VMs.  For installs which are larger than this you’ll need to install an instance of Oracle.  Currently only Oracle is supported and eventually other databases will be supported.  Another limitation of running vCenter on Linux is that you can’t run the vCenter in linked mode.  Linked mode is where you have a vCenter server one at each site and they are linked so that you have redundancy at the vCenter level.

There is a new web based client which will be included with vSphere 5.0.  This won’t be a fully featured featured UI, but it will support most of the features.  The nice thing about this new web client is that it will work on Windows, Mac, and Linux.  Eventually the web client will become the default client for vSphere and vCenter but this isn’t the case yet.

The last change I want to talk about today is the fact that vMotion now supports slower links.  In vSphere 4.1 and below using vMotion required using a network which had a 5ms or lower network latency.  In vSphere 5.0 this limit is increased to 10ms latency which allows you to vMotion over city wide networks.

See you tomorrow for VMware Day 3.



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