There were many new product announcements made at VMworld, many of which were probably confusing. So many new “v-products” were introduced and it initially seems like the ESX infrastructure we know today will soon be completely different. So what does this mean to the average ESX system administrator today? Is everything going to drastically change… will we have to re-learn ESX?
In the short term, it will most likely be business as usual. ESX Update 3 is rumored to be released soon which will keep us busy updating our servers for a while. Beyond that we have ESX 4.0 to look forward to which promises to be a major upgrade with many exciting new features such as a new look and feel, distributed vSwitches, Fault Tolerance, Host Profiles, Storage vMotion GUI and much more.
In the long term, VMware will be leading us towards their Virtual Data Center OS vision. The migration itself, however, will be a work in progress. VMware will not be releasing it all at once and it is not really an actual product but a name for a complete framework of components and services. Some of these components are just some of the new features that have already been mentioned wrapped in new fancy V-words. For example one of the pieces of the VDC-OS is Infrastructure vServices which has several components under it:
vCompute – a V-word for the optimal usage of all server resources which includes many of the technologies that ESX uses today. Adding to this in 2009 and presumably in ESX 4.0 is Paravirtualized storage and their new VMDirect technology which will allow VM’s to directly access host hardware.
vNetwork – a V-word for their set of networking technologies that will help optimize I/O and provide better integrated networking. Today this is basically just their current network I/O optimization that they already do. To build on this in 2009 and presumably in ESX 4.0 is the Distributed vSwitch, Network vMotion and 3rd party vSwitches like the Cisco Nexus 1000 that was announced.
vStorage – a V-word for maximizing storage utilization and efficiency. Today this includes their VMFS technology. Expanding on this in 2009 and presumably in ESX 4.0 is Thin Provisioning (yes you can do this today but not easily unless you use NFS storage), Linked Clones (another feature that exists today in Workstation) and new storage APIs to enable array software to manage individual VMs.
Additionally there are other new features coming that are positioned under the Application vServices pillar, these features include vCenter (new name for VirtualCenter) Data Recovery, VMsafe integrated products, VM’s with 8-way vSMP and up to 256GB of RAM and hot plug virtual hardware.
I know I was initially pretty confused after hearing Paul Maritz’s keynote session, but afterwards I took some time to read through the details on everything that was announced and realized that it wasn’t as complicated as I initially thought. So don’t let the new V-words overwhelm you, they are basically just marketing terms that most systems administrators will not even need to know. All that will matter to us are the many exciting new features that are coming soon.
The release date of ESX 4.0 has not yet been announced, although it is currently in a private beta. My guess is around Feb-March 2009. I do know one thing for sure though, I’m definitely excited about all these new features and I can’t wait until VMware releases them.