Archive for January, 2010

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VMware View 4, Certified HCL Tripples in Size

January 26, 2010

In the past month, the number of hardware Thin and Zero clients certified for VMware View 4.0 has nearly trippled. It only seemed fitting to update our list to further showcase the current state of the View “certified” HCL for “hardware” thin clients. The “ThreadX” OS variants include hardware from Teradici (TC1100) to accelerate the PCoIP protocol. 

As of January 26, 2010, the following hardware clients (average price of $526/unit) are “officially” on VMware’s HCL:

OEM Model OS Supports Unit Cost New Since 
    Variant PcoIP (Est. $) Dec-09
Amulet Hotkey DXR4-iP ThreadX Y
(quad-head video)
TBD Y
Astec Technology Co. A3520 Linux Embedded for Thin Client b1106 Y TBD Y
Astec Technology Co. A3580 Windows XPe SP2 Y TBD Y
ClearCube C7420 ThreadX Y $1,160 Y
ClearCube I9420 ThreadX Y TBD Y
DELL OptiPlex FX160 Windows XPe SP2 Y $512 N
DevonIT TC10 ThreadX Y $342 Y
DevonIT TC5 Windows Embedded Standard 2009 Y $299 N
HP GT7720 Windows Embedded Standard Y $799 N
HP t5545 HP ThinPro Y $296 Y
HP t5630 Windows XPe SP3 Y $632 N
HP t5630W Windows Embedded Standard Y $440 N
HP t5720 Windows XPe SP3 Y $410 (refurbished) N
HP t5730 Windows XPe SP3 Y $349 N
HP t5730W Windows Embedded Standard Y $550 N
HP t5740 Windows Embedded Standard Y $429 N
HP vc4820t Windows Embedded Standard Y N/A Y
IGEL UD2-420 ES Windows Embedded Standard N $436 Y
IGEL UD2-420 LX IGEL Linux 4.02.500 N $292 Y
IGEL UD3-420 ES Windows Embedded Standard Y $561 Y
IGEL UD3-420 LX IGEL Linux 4.02.500 Y $412 Y
IGEL UD3-720 ES Windows Embedded Standard Y $561 Y
IGEL UD3-720 LX IGEL Linux 4.02.500 Y $436 Y
IGEL UD5-420 ES Windows Embedded Standard Y $627 Y
IGEL UD5-420 LX IGEL Linux 4.02.500 Y $579 Y
IGEL UD5-720 ES Windows Embedded Standard Y $653 Y
IGEL UD5-720 LX IGEL Linux 4.02.500 Y $605 Y
IGEL UD7-720 ES Windows Embedded Standard Y $1,042 Y
IGEL UD7-720 LX IGEL Linux 4.02.500 Y $925 Y
IGEL UD9-720 ES Windows Embedded Standard Y $953 Y
Leadtek Research Inc. WinFast VP200 P ThreadX Y $715 Y
Praim XP-6700 Windows XPe SP3 Y TBD Y
Praim XP940-I Windows XPe SP3 N TBD Y
Praim XP9400-U Windows XPe SP3 Y TBD Y
Praim XT900-I ThinOX 8.01.14 N TBD Y
Samsung SyncMaster NC190 ThreadX Y $467 Y
Samsung SyncMaster NC240 ThreadX Y $524 Y
Wyse C90LEW Windows Embedded Standard 2009 Y $498 N
Wyse P20 ThreadX Y $585 Y
Wyse R50L SUSE Linux Enterprise TC 10 Y $481 Y
Wyse R50LE SUSE Linux Enterprise TC 10 Y $442 Y
Wyse R90LEW Windows Embedded Standard 2009 Y $640 N
Wyse R90LW Windows Embedded Standard 2009 Y $593 N
Wyse S10 WTOS 6.5 N $252 N
Wyse V10L WTOS 6.5 N $315 N
Wyse V10L Dual DVI WTOS 6.5 N $447 N
Wyse X50L SUSE Linux Enterprise TC 10 Y $671 Y

 SOLORI’s NOTE: The Samsung NC190 and NC240 include integrated 19″ and 24″ monitors, respectively. This combination makes them the most cost and energy efficient PCoIP solutions on the market. If all-in-one products meet your deployment profile, the Samsung units are worth a serious look.

Devices not on this list may “work” with VMware View 4.0 but may not support all of View 4’s features. VMware addresses certified and compatible as follows:

Certified and Compatible Thin Clients:
Certified – A thin client device listed against a particular VMware View release in the Certified For column has been tested by the thin client manufacturer against that specific VMware View release and includes a minimum set of features supported in that VMware View version.

Compatible – A thin client device certified against a specific VMware View release is compatible with previous and subsequent VMware View releases according to the compatibility guarantees published as part of that specific VMware View release (typically two major releases in both directions). However, a compatible thin client may not include all of the features of the newer VMware View release. Please refer to your VMware View Client documentation to determine which features are included.

Unlisted thin clients may embed VMware’s “software client” along with a more general purpose operating system to deliver View 4 compatibility. Support for this class of device may be restricted to the device vendor only. Likewise, thin clients that are compatible with earlier versions of View may support only a subset of View 4’s features. When in doubt, contact the thin client manufacturer before deploying with View 4.

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Quick-Take: It’s Time to Upgrade from ESX to ESXi

January 15, 2010

That’s right, I said upgrade from ESX to ESXi – not ESX 3.x to vSphere, but ESX (any version) to vSphere’s ESXi! Ever since VMware PartnerExchange 2009 (April), SOLORI has been advising clients and prospects to focus on ESXi and move away from ESX-based hosts – you know, the one with the “Linux” service console. Personally, I’m glad VMware has strengthened their message about the virtues of ESXi and the direction of their flagship product.

ESXi has a superior architecture and we encourage customers to deploy ESXi as part of any new vSphere deployment. Our future posts will compare ESX 4 and ESXi 4 in detail on topics like hardware compatibility list, performance, and management to demonstrate that ESXi is either on par with or superior than ESX. But for now, here are some key points you should know about ESXi vs. ESX:

  1. The functionality and performance of VMware ESX and ESXi are the same; the difference between the two hypervisors resides in their packaging architecture and operational management. VMware ESXi is the latest hypervisor architecture from VMware. It has an ultra thin footprint with no reliance on a general-purpose OS, setting a new bar for security and reliability (learn more).
  2. In the future, ESXi’s superior architecture will be the exclusive focus of VMware’s development efforts.
  3. New and existing customers are highly encouraged to deploy ESXi. Many Fortune 100 companies have already standardized on the ESXi platform.

VMware Blog, June, 2009

Not unfamiliar with the VI3 version of ESXi, its ease of installation, configuration and management and smaller footprint, I was one of about 10 participants in an “ESXi BoF Breakout Session” with Charu Chaubal of VMware. While discussing vSphere’s ESXi with Charu, I never heard the words “ESXi is a superior architecture,” but I did get a clear message that ESXi was the way of the future. From that point on, it seemed as though any efforts concentrated on (net new) ESX deployments was going to be “time wasted.”

However, it was clear by the whispered tone about ESXi’s virtues that the timing was not right for the real message to be spoken aloud. Remember, this was the launch of vSphere and “ESXi” was strongly associated with “ESXi Free” – not a clear marketing message when license sales and adoption curves are on the line. Perhaps that’s why the “talking points” at PEX2009 always suggested that ESX was the “flagship” hypervisor and ESXi was “targeted for embedded and OEM” deployments.

In practical terms, migration from ESX 3.x to vSphere/ESXi didn’t make a lot of sense for many large or institutional customers at the time due to the lack of third-party driver parity between ESX and ESXi in vSphere. However, for net new installations where thrid-party drivers and service console agents were not a concern, the message about ESXi’s superiority was getting lost. Thomas Paine once said “what we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly” and I’d attribute the slow uptake on ESXi to the perception that it was somehow inferior to ESX – a misconception owed to it being offered in a “free” version.

Price is what you pay; value is what you get.

– Warren Buffet

By Warren Buffet’s standards, ESXi is a tremendous value. For the novice entering bare-metal virtualization for the first time, the relative ease with which ESXi installs to a USB flash drive allows for a trial experience that is both quick and reassuring. I’d argue that ESXi’s tiny memory footprint and generous hardware support make it the easiest platform for testing bare-metal virtualization. As I’ve blogged about, ESXi takes about 14 minutes to install to USB flash – from initial CD-ROM boot to configuration console.

Anyone experienced with ESX will have encountered service and performance affecting IRQ sharing issues with the service console. The hours discovering, tracking and mitigating these kinds of issues after a BIOS update or hardware refresh can never be reclaimed. The fact is these problems simply do not exist for ESXi – something many ESXers will appreciate.

I’ve attended a great deal of WebEx sessions on VMware products over the last year and I’m still hearing hushed tones and uncertainty about the role of ESXi versus ESX. To be clear, ESXi is being talked about as “enterprise ready,” but much of the focus is still on ESX. These overtones were still present in an “vSphere: Install, Configure and Manage” course I recently attended to qualify for VCP410. While our instructors were very knowledgeable and experienced, there seemed to be much less confidence when discussing ESXi versus ESX. In fact, the lab guide clearly states:

If you are new to VMware vSphere and you do not have any special needs for more advanced features, use ESXi.

– Page 599, Module 13, Installing VMware ESX and ESXi

The manual – and VMware’s choice of message here – seems to indicate that ESX has “more advanced features” than ESXi. While the “advanced features” VMware is talking about are service console related, it leaves many regarding ESXi as the inferior product in sharp contrast to today’s message. If the statement “ESXi’s superior architecture will be the exclusive focus of VMware’s development efforts” isn’t writing on the wall for the rest of you, here’s a list of VMware’s new talking points on ESXi:

  • Improved Reliability and Security
  • Fewer Patches
  • Less Disk Space
  • Streamlined Deployment and Configuration
  • Reduced Management Overhead
  • Next Generation Hypervisor
  • Superior Architecture
  • Drastically Reduced Hypervisor Footprint
  • Smaller Code Base, Smaller Attach Surface
  • Certified on over 1,000 Server Systems – including USB keys
  • New, Operating System Independent

In contrast, the ESX platform is being re-imaged. Here are some new talking points about ESX:

  • The Older Architecture
  • Relies on Linux OS for Resource Management
  • 20x Larger on-disk Footprint
  • More Complex to Configure
  • Console OS Administration for Configuration and Diagnostics
  • Prone to Arbitrary Code Execution (Console OS)

For many of us familiar with both ESXi and ESX, nothing here is really new. The only real change is the message: build your eco-system around ESXi…

SOLORI’s Take: It’s clear to me that VMware took inventory of its customers and chose to lead with ESX when vSphere was released. I suspect this was a practical decision due to the overwhelming numbers of ESX hosts already installed. However, the change in marketing and positioning we’re witnessing signals that we’re moving toward a time when ESX will be openly considered a dead-end variant.

When will ESX be phased-out? That’s up to market forces and VMware, but the cloud loves efficiency and ESXi is certainly more resource efficient and compartmentalized than its brother ESX. Furthermore, VMware has to maintain two development and support chains with ESX and ESXi and Darwin likes ESXi. If I had to bet, I wouldn’t put my money on seeing an ESX version of the next major release. In any case, when ESX is gone VMware can stop having to make excuses for the “linux console” and the implications that VMware is somehow “based on Linux.”

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UCS and VCE vBlock Type 1 Challenge Top VMmark

January 13, 2010

VMmark "Tile" Loads

Last November we reported on the Fujitsu RX300 S5 rack server taking the top VMmark spot for 8-core systems. Yesterday (January 11, 2010) Cisco’s UCS B200-M1 using VMware ESX 4.0 (build 164009) came within 0.5% of the top spot with a score of 25.06@17 tiles. While falling only slightly short of the mark set by the brute force RX300/DX80 combo, the UCS system did so with a very different solution, unsurprisingly similar to the vBlock Type 1 architecture described by Chad Sakacc in his blog post about the VMware, Cisco and EMC alliance.

Given that VMmark is a single node test harness, the difference between rack server and blade server architectures is a non-issue. However, more than just rack vs. blade is going on in this comparison. The Cisco UCS system is being fed by a pair of 10GE converged network adapters – used both for host network access and Fiber Channel bus access – and a monolithic storage array in the guise of a CLARiiON CX4-240 complete with a complement of 20, 73GB STEC SSD’s – just to sweeten the pot.

VMmark Network Configuration for the UCS B200-M1

While it is clear from past VMmark posts that the network speed (beyond 1Gbps) has little to do with the results, it is nice to see the confidence Cisco has in the CNA approach (Cisco UCS M71KR-Q) to go with the “eggs in a basket” solution. Given the storage demands on the CNA, the VMmark result should remove any doubt about the viability (performance) of high-capacity tandems (we’ll leave the physical link security concerns for another day.)

However, where the “rubber meets the road” in this contest is storage I/O and this solution – in our opinion is just plain showing off. With just 41 disks to build from, the CX4-240 has been configured to deliver 37 LUNs – nearly one LUN per unit disk. Before any awards are given out for storage of the year, we need to consider that 36 of those LUNs are RAID0 – yielding a testing platform with no real-world analog (hence “showing off”.)

CLARiiON CX4-240 Storage Build-out for UCS B200-M1 VMmark

Given the ease at which RAID0 can be replaced by RAID1+0, it may be safe to assume that the same results could have been obtained by using 77 disks instead of 41 – at which point the CX4-240 would still be less than half the size of the top VMmark’s 172-disk solution. The reason is clear: SSD’s accelerate I/O loads incredibly well in architectures that support them. If anything, this “runner-up” proves that SSD adoption is on the verge of becoming mainstream.

But what does this test show about UCS? Firstly, it shows that Cisco’s platform can compete with the best solutions out there on CPU and I/O performance (what’s a half a percentage point across 102 virtual machines?) It’s not really a surprise given that the UCS platform was designed to do just that – and within a neatly managed framework. Secondly, it shows that the choice of EMC as a partner was an excellent one. As Martin Glassborow commented on his Storagebod’s Blog, EMC’s involvement in VMware has energized the storage vendor to take bold and innovative steps towards Cloud Computing solutions that it might not have done otherwise (like the RAID0 SSD array). Thirdly and most importantly, it underscores the importance of predictable performance in a virtualization solution. Given the UCS/vBlock approach to systems organization, it can be very difficult not to draw solid parallels between the benchmarks and expectations for net new builds based on the criterion.

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Quick-Take: ESXi Patch Released

January 7, 2010

Thanks to a tweet from Duncan Epping at Yellow Bricks, we’ve installed the latest ESXi patches to combat the unexpected vCenter problems reported with Update 1 for vSphere. While we’ve not experienced the vCenter problem in the lab, enough of users out there have caught it for VMware to issue a “not recommended” warning for ESXi users.

VMware ESX & vCenter Server Alerts

ESX 4.0: If you plan to upgrade ESX 4.0 to 4.0 Update 1 (fixed in 1a), it is critical to read KB article 1016070 before proceeding with the upgrade (affecting HP Proliant Systems w/Insight Agents).

vCenter Server: vCenter Server: If you have ESXi hosts connected to vCenter Server 4.0, please do not upgrade vCenter Server to Update 1 before installing the patch (ESXi400-200912001) referenced in KB article 1016262.

– VMware Support

SOLORI’s Take: reinforces the concept of patch regression in lab or non-critical cluster… Work with your VMware professional(s) to manage VMware/vSphere patches and updates whenever possible.