Archive for the ‘New Products’ Category

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Short-Take: New Oracle/Sun ZFS Goodies

November 17, 2010

I wanted to pass-on some information posted by Joerg Moellenkamp at c0t0d0s0.org – some good news for Sun/ZFS users out there about Solaris Express 2010.11 availability, links to details on ZFS encryption features in Solaris 11 Express and clarification on “production use” guidelines. Here’s the pull quotes from his posting:

“Darren (Moffat) wrote three really interesting articles about ZFS encryption: The first one is Introducing ZFS Crypto in Oracle Solaris 11 Express. This blog entry gives you a first overview how to use encryption for ZFS datasets. The second one…”

–  Darren Moffat about ZFS encryption, c0t0d0s0.org, 11-16-2010

“There is a long section in the FAQ about licensing and production use: The OTN license just covers development, demo and testing use (Question 14) . However you can use Solaris 11 Express on your production system as well…”

Solaris 11 Express for production use, c0t0d0s0.org, 11-16-2010

“A lot of changes found their way into the newest release of Solaris, the first release of Oracle Solaris Express 2010.11. The changes are summarized in a lengthy document, however…”

What’s new for the Administrator in Oracle Solaris  Express 2010.11, c0t0d0s0.org, 11-15-2010

Follow the links to Joerg’s blog for more details and links back to the source articles. Cheers!

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VMware Management Assistant Panics on Magny Cours

August 11, 2010

VMware’s current version of its vSphere Management Assistant – also known as vMA (pronounced “vee mah”) – will crash when run on an ESX host using AMD Magny Cours processors. This behavior was discovered recently when installing the vMA on an AMD Opteron 6100 system (aka. Magny Cours) causing a “kernel panic” on boot after deploying the OVF template. Something of note is the crash also results in 100% vCPU utilization until the VM is either powered-off or reset:

vMA Kernel Panic on Import

vMA Kernel Panic on Import

As it turns out, no manner of tweaks to the virtual machine’s virtualization settings nor OS boot/grub settings (i.e. noapic, etc.) seem to cure the ills for vMA. However, we did discover that the OVF deployed appliance was configured as a VMware Virtual Machine Hardware Version 4 machine:

vMA 4.1 defaults to Hardware Version 4

vMA 4.1 defaults to Virtual Machine Hardware Version 4

Since our lab vMA deployments have all been upgraded to Virtual Machine Harware Version 7 for some time (and for functional benefits as well), we tried to update the vMA to Version 7 and try again:

Upgrade vMA Virtual Machine Version...

Upgrade vMA Virtual Machine Version...

This time, with Virtual Hardware Version 7 (and no other changes to the VM), the vMA boots as it should:

vMA Booting after Upgrade to Virtual Hardware Version 7

vMA Booting after Upgrade to Virtual Hardware Version 7

Since the Magny Cours CPU is essentially a pair of tweaked 6-core Opteron CPUs in a single package, we took the vMA into the lab and deployed it to an ESX server running on AMD 2435 6-core CPUs: the vMA booted as expected, even with Virtual Hardware Version 4. A quick check of the community and support boards show a few issues with older RedHat/Centos kernels (like vMA’s) but no reports of kernel panic with Magny Cours. Perhaps there are just not that many AMD Opteron 6100 deployments out there with vMA yet…

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Quick-Take: vSphere 4, Now with SUSE Enterprise Linux, Gratis

July 16, 2010

Earlier this month VMware announced that it was expanding its partnership with Novell in order to offer a 1:1 CPU enablement license for SLES. Mike Norman’s post at VirtualizationPractice.com discusses the potential “darker side” of the deal, which VMware presents this way:

VMware and Novell are expanding their technology partnership to make it easier for customers to use SLES operating system in vSphere environments with support offerings that will help your organization:

  • Reduce the cost of maintaining SLES in vSphere environments
  • Obtain direct technical support from VMware for both vSphere and SLES
  • Simplify your purchasing and deployment experience

In addition, VMware plans to standardize our virtual appliance-based products on SLES for VMware further simplifying the deployment and ongoing management of these solutions.

  • Customers will receive SLES with one (1) entitlement for a subscription to patches and updates per qualified VMware vSphere SKU. For example, if a customer were to buy 100 licenses of a qualified vSphere Enterprise Plus SKU, that customer would receive SLES with one hundred (100) entitlements for subscription to patches and updates.
  • Customers cannot install SLES with the accompanying patches and updates subscription entitled by a VMware purchase 1) directly on physical servers or 2) in virtual machines running on third party hypervisors.
  • Technical support for SLES with the accompanying patches and updates subscription entitled by a VMware purchase is not included and may be purchased separately from VMware starting in 3Q 2010.

– VMware Website, 6/2010

The part about standardization has been emphasized by us – not VMware – but it seems to be a good fit with VMware’s recent acquisition of Zimbra (formerly owned by Yahoo!) and the release of vSphere 4.1 with “cloud scale” implications. That said, the latest version of the VMware Data Recovery appliance has been recast from RedHat to CentOS with AD integration, signaling that it will take some time for VMware to transition to Novell’s SUSE Linux.

SOLORI’s Take: Linux-based virtual appliances are a great way to extend features and control without increasing license costs. Kudus to VMware for hopping on-board the F/OSS train. Now where’s my Linux-based vCenter with a Novell Directory Services for Windows alternative to Microsoft servers?

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vSphere 4 Update 2 Released

June 11, 2010

VMware vSphere 4, Update 2 has been released with the following changes to ESXi:

The following information provides highlights of some of the enhancements available in this release of VMware ESXi:

  • Enablement of Fault Tolerance Functionality for Intel Xeon 56xx Series processors— vSphere 4.0 Update 1 supports the Intel Xeon 56xx Series processors without Fault Tolerance. vSphere 4.0 Update 2 enables Fault Tolerance functionality for the Intel Xeon 56xx Series processors.
  • Enablement of Fault Tolerance Functionality for Intel i3/i5 Clarkdale Series and Intel Xeon 34xx Clarkdale Series processors— vSphere 4.0 Update 1 supports the Intel i3/i5 Clarkdale Series and Intel Xeon 34xx Clarkdale Series processors without Fault Tolerance. vSphere 4.0 Update 2 enables Fault Tolerance functionality for the Intel i3/i5 Clarkdale Series and Intel Xeon 34xx Clarkdale Series processors.
  • Enablement of IOMMU Functionality for AMD Opteron 61xx and 41xx Series processors— vSphere 4.0 Update 1 supports the AMD Opteron 61xx and 41xx Series processors without input/output memory management unit (IOMMU). vSphere 4.0 Update 2 enables IOMMU functionality for the AMD Opteron 61xx and 41xx Series processors.
  • Enhancement of the resxtop utility— vSphere 4.0 U2 includes an enhancement of the performance monitoring utility, resxtop. The resxtop utility now provides visibility into the performance of NFS datastores in that it displays the following statistics for NFS datastores: Reads/swrites/sMBreads/sMBwrtn/scmds/sGAVG/s (guest latency).
  • Additional Guest Operating System Support— ESX/ESXi 4.0 Update 2 adds support for Ubuntu 10.04. For a complete list of supported guest operating systems with this release, see the VMware Compatibility Guide.

Resolved Issues In addition, this release delivers a number of bug fixes that have been documented in theResolved Issues section.

ESXi 4 Update 2 Release Notes

Noted in the release is the official support for AMD’s IOMMU in Opteron 6100 and 4100 processors – available in 1P, 2P and 4P configurations. This finally closes the (functional) gap between AMD Opteron and Intel’s Nehalem line-up. Likewise, FT support for many new Intel processors has been added. Also, the addition of NFS performance counters in ESXTop will make storage troubleshooting a bit easier. Grab you applicable update at VMware’s download site now (SnS required.)

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Quick-Take: AMD Dodeca-core Opteron, Real Soon Now

March 3, 2010

In a recent blog, John Fruehe recounted a few highlights from the recent server analyst event at AMD/Austin concerning the upcoming release of AMD’s new 12-core (dodeca) Opteron 6100 series processor – previously knows as Magny-Cours. While not much “new” was officially said outside of NDA privilege, here’s what we’re reading from his post:

1. Unlike previous launches, AMD is planning to have “boots on the ground” this time with vendors and supply alignments in place to be able to ship product against anticipated demand. While it is now well known that Magny-Cours has been shipping to certain OEM and institutional customers for some time, our guess is that 2000/8000 series 6-core HE series have been hard to come by for a reason – and that reason has 12-cores not 6;

Obviously the big topic was the new AMD Opteron™ 6000 Series platforms that will be launching very soon.  We had plenty of party favors – everyone walked home with a new 12-core AMD Opteron 6100 Series processor, code name “Magny-Cours”.

– Fruehe on AMD’s pending launch

2. Timing is right! With Intel’s Nehalem-EX 8-core and Core i7/Nehalem-EP 6-core being demoed about, there is more pressure than ever for AMD to step-up with a competitive player. Likewise, DDR3 is neck-and-neck with DDR2 in affordability and way ahead with low-power variants that more than compensate for power-hungry CPU profiles. AMD needs to deliver mainstream performance in 24-cores and 96GB DRAM within the power envelope of 12-cores and 64GB to be a player. With 1.35V DDR3 parts paired to better power efficiency in the 6100, this could be a possibility;

We demonstrated a benchmark running on two servers, one based on the Six-Core AMD Opteron processor codenamed “Istanbul,” and one 12-core “Magny-Cours”-based platform.  You would have seen that the power consumption for the two is about the same at each utilization level.  However, there is one area where there was a big difference – at idle.  The “Magny-Cours”-based platform was actually lower!

– AMD’s Fruehe on Opteron 6100’s power consumption

3. Performance in scaled virtualization matters – raw single-threaded performance is secondary. In virtual architectures, clusters of systems must perform as one in an orchestrated ballet of performance and efficiency seeking. For some clusters, dynamic load migration to favour power consumption is a priority – relying on solid power efficiency under high load conditions. For other clusters, workload is spread to maximize performance available to key workloads – relying on solid power efficiency under generally light loads. For many environments, multi-generational hardware will be commonplace and AMD is counting on its wider range of migration compatibility to hold-on to customers that have not yet jumped ship for Intel’s Nehalem-EP/EX.

“We demonstrated Microsoft Hyper-V running on two different servers, one based on a Quad-Core AMD Opteron processor codenamed “Barcelona” (circa 2007) and a brand new “Magny-Cours”-based system. …companies might have problems moving a 2010 VM to a 2007 server without limiting the VM features. (For example, in order to move a virtual machine from an Intel  “Nehalem”-based system to a “Harpertown” [or earlier] platform, the customer must not enable nested paging in the “Nehalem” virtual machine, which can reduce the overall performance of the VM.)”

– AMD’s Fruehe, extolling the virtues of Opteron generational compatibility

SOLORI’s Take: It would appear that Magny-Cours has more under the MCM hood than a pair of Istanbul processors (as previously charged.) To manage better idle performance and constant power performance in spite of a two-to-one core ratio and similar 45nm process, AMD’s process and feature set must include much better power management as well, however, core speed is not one of them. With the standard “Maranello” 6100 series coming in at 1.9, 2.1 and 2.2 GHz with an HE variant at 1.7GHz and SE version running at 2.3GHz, finding parity in an existing cluster of 2.4, 2.6 and 2.8 GHz six-core servers may be difficult. Still, Maranello/G34 CPUs will be at 85, 115 and 140W TDP.

That said, Fruehe has a point on virtualization platform deployment and processor speed: it is not necessary to trim-out an entire farm with top-bin parts – only a small portion of the cluster needs to operate with top-band performance marks. The rest of the market is looking for predictable performance, scalability and power efficiency per thread. While SMT makes a good run at efficiency per thread, it does so at the expense of predictable performance. Here’s hoping that AMD’s C1E (or whatever their power-sipping special sauce will be called) does nothing to interfere with predictable performance…

As we’ve said before, memory capacity and bandwidth (as a function of system power and core/thread capacity) are key factors in a CPU’s viability in a virtualization stack. With 12 DIMM slots per CPU (3-DPC, 4-channel), AMD inherits an enviable position over Intel’s current line-up of 2P solutions by being able to offer 50% more memory per cluster node without resorting to 8GB DIMMs. That said, it’s up to OEM’s to deliver rack server designs that feature 12 DIMM per CPU and not hold-back with only 8 DIMM variants. In the blade and 1/2-size market, cramming 8 DIMM per board (effectively 1-DPC for 2P Magny-Cours) can be a challenge let alone 24 DIMMs! Perhaps we’ll see single-socket blades with 12 DIMMs (12-cores, 48/96GB DDR3) or 2P blades with only one 12 DIMM memory bank (one-hop, NUMA) in the short term.

SOLORI’s 2nd Take: It makes sense that AMD would showcase their leading OEM partners because their success will be determined on what those OEM’s bring to market. With VDI finally poised to make a big market impact, we’d expect to see the first systems delivered with 2-DPC configurations (8 DIMM per CPU, economically 2.5GB/core) which could meet both VDI and HPC segments equally. However, with Window7 gaining momentum, what’s good for HPC might not cut it for long in the VDI segment where expectations of 4-6 VM’s per core at 1-2GB/VM are mounting.

Besides the launch date, what wasn’t said was who these OEM’s are and how many systems they’ll be delivering at launch. Whoever they are, they need to be (1) financially stronger than AMD, (2) in an aggressive marketing position with respect to today’s key growth market (server and desktop virtualization), and (3) willing to put AMD-based products “above the fold” on their marketing and e-commerce initiatives. AMD needs to “represent” in a big way before a tide of new technologies makes them yesterday’s news. We have high hopes that AMD’s recent “perfect” execution streak will continue.

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NexentaStor 3.0 Announced

March 2, 2010

Nexenta Systems announced it’s 3.0 iteration at CeBIT and in a press release this week and has provided a few more details about how the next version is shaping-up. Along with the previously announced deduplication features, the NexentaStor 3.0 edition will include several enhancements to accelerate performance and virtualization applications:

  • In-line deduplication for increased storage savings (virtual machine templates, clones, etc.);
  • Broader support for 10GE adapters and SAS-2 (6Gbps, zoning, etc.) adapters;
  • Replication enhancements to simplify disaster recovery implementations;
  • An updated Virtual Machine Data Center (VMDC v3.0) optional plug-in with VMware, Xen and Hyper-V support (storage-centric control of virtual machine resource provisioning and management);

Additionally, Nexenta is promising easier high-availability (Simple and HA cluster) provisioning for mission critical implementations. Existing NexentaStor license holders will be able to upgrade to NexentaStor 3.0 at no additional cost. Nexenta Systems plans to make NexentaStor 3.0 available by the end of March 2010.

As a Nexenta partner, Solution Oriented will provide clients with valid NexentaStor support contracts upgrade guidance once NexentaStor 3.0 has been released and tested against SOLORI stable image storage platforms. As always, Nexenta’s VMware Ready virtual storage appliance should be your first step in evaluating upgrade potential.

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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.