vSphere 4.0

VMware's big new release turns the corner on machine virtualisation, and toward next-generation management of virtual machines

VMware Australia vSphere 4.0
  • VMware Australia vSphere 4.0
  • VMware Australia vSphere 4.0
  • Expert Rating

    Not yet rated

Pros

  • Life should get easier if you're running a VMware infrastructure, can add up to eight vCPUs to a single VM, increased RAM limit

Cons

  • Time will tell whether its features are as solid as they need to be

Bottom Line

VMware vSphere 4.0 touches on almost every aspect of managing a virtual infrastructure, from ESX host provisioning to virtual network management to backup and recovery of virtual machines. Time will tell whether these features are as solid as they need to be in this release, but their presence is a substantial step forward for virtual environments.

Would you buy this?

  • Price

    $ 3,145.00 (AUD)

Inside the Sphere

I've had vSphere 4 (otherwise known as ESX 4.0 and vCenter 4.0) running in the lab for a few days now. It comprises the same parts as VI3, with ESX or ESXi running on the hosts, and vCenter running the show. Installation of these components is the same as it's always been, only now you're prevented from installing vCenter on an Active Directory domain controller, which is arguably a good idea. In fact, VMware now recommends running vCenter as a VM.

My early testbed comprised several different boxes, with a mix of Intel- and AMD-based servers, including an HP ProLiant DL580 G5 and a Sun Fire X4600 M2. I installed vCenter as a VM running under Windows Server 2008, alongside a separate domain controller, and built myself a nice little virtual infrastructure.

As I mentioned, the new Fault Tolerance feature has the ability to change lives. In a nutshell, this allows you to run the same VM in tandem across two hardware nodes, but with only one instance actually visible to the network. You can think of it as OS-agnostic clustering. Should a hardware failure take out the primary instance, the secondary instance will assume normal operations instantly, without requiring a VMotion.

The most significant penalty for this capability is that it requires the same VM footprint to run on both hardware nodes, so if it's a VM with 4GB of RAM, you'll be using 4GB of RAM on each hardware node during normal operation. However, that's small potatoes for running mission-critical virtual servers with this level of redundancy.

Host Profiles is also a fantastic addition, if perhaps overdue. Host Profiles allows admins to build a hardware host system and capture the configuration to be applied to subsequent hardware nodes. Rather than having to manually configure new nodes or even resort to scripted modifications to ESX's internal configuration files, you can now take a single hardware node and propagate its settings to other nodes. In addition, you can check for nodes that may not comply with the profile. This makes the creation and distribution of ESX hosts far simpler, once you've waded through the enormous profile management configuration tree.

While it's hot

Hot Add lets you add not only RAM and CPU but also virtual HBAs and network interface resources to supported VMs on the fly. For instance, you might be able to add another 2GB of RAM and two vCPUs to a Windows Server 2008 instance without even rebooting the box. The operative phrase here is "supported VMs." Hot adds are obviously not supported by most x86 operating systems, but this feature goes a long way toward adapting operating systems to the virtual environment rather than the other way around.

The same can be said for vNetwork Distributed Switch, the new facility to simplify provisioning and administration of VM networks. It allows for the integration of third-party virtual switches, like Cisco's Nexus product, and is a key part of Cisco's Unified Computing initiative.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?