Monday, December 20, 2010

Epic Week for VROOM!

I know that I'm a bit biased towards the VMware Performance team blog VROOM!, but the amount and quality of posts that went up last week was really great.  If you are looking for something to read over the holidays - you should be sure to include VROOM!.  All of the new posts include new performance results that have not been published anywhere else before AND have full color graphs (and even a few diagrams as well!)

The week started with a set of tests that illustrate how Load-Based Teaming (LBT) performs in ESX 4.1.  This is a new traffic-aware dynamic load-balancing option for teamed NICs that was added with 4.1.

On Tuesday the first performance results with the newly released multi-host VMmark 2.0 benchmark were published. It also includes a great overview of VMmark two with a description of the workload, infrastructure operations, and scoring methodology for the benchmark.

After taking a day off, VROOM! continued a furious pace with perhaps the article of the week on Thursday (which was of course the one that I did!) on the Performance of Oracle RAC on vSphere 4.1.  Performance tests showed that a virtualized Oracle RAC database was within 11 to 13 percent of native.  This used a test that allowed for the comparison of virtual and physical to be as fair as possible.

Just for fun on Friday a post went up that used VMmark 2.0 to do performance testing in a new way.  It looks at the performance of low-cost entry level hosts combined into a vSphere cluster.  Each individual entry-level host would not have been able to run even one tile for VMmark, but combined they can support multiple tiles.

I guarantee that you will learn a few things about vSphere performance that you didn't know before if you have a chance to get some reading between trips to the mall to do stuff like getting to see Santa.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

VMmark 2.0 Rocks Your Multi-Host World

That's right - VMmark 2.0 - a new version of an established benchmark - ROCKS!  It breaks new ground for virtualization benchmarks because it was designed and built as a multi-host benchmark.  The minimum config for VMmark 2.0 is two physical servers because a core component of the new benchmark are what is referred to as "Infrastructure Operations."  This is stuff like vMotion, Storage vMotion, and DRS.  These are some of the key reasons that vSphere is used and they only happen when there are more than one physical host involved.

These infrastructure operations are combined with an application workload to make VMmark 2.0. In addition the workload that is driven varies throughout the course of the test run.  This isn't just a steady state test, the workload levels change throughout the test.  This combination of factors is what makes VMmark 2.0 so compelling.  It includes more than just the application performance and should more closely reflect the work that is being done in real environments.

There are two key reasons why it is great that the benchmark more closely models real environments. The first is that as everybody competes to improve their VMmark 2.0 scores, the changes and enhancements that they make are more likely to be useful for real environments.  The second is that the results can be more directly applied in terms of sizing estimates.

This is good stuff that is a big improvement for benchmarking virtualized environments.


Friday, December 10, 2010

Android Platform vs Apple Control

I am the happy owner of an HTC EVO Android based phone.  I really like the big bright screen, the flexibility and power of the interface, the great and growing number of apps, and the service plan from Sprint.  The only thing that I didn't like was that the battery life was a little bit short.  I was able to make it through a normal full day, but around 9 or 10 pm the battery would be completely spent.  So I bought an extended battery from Seidio.  It is a big battery so it comes with a new back for the phone which ends up making it almost twice as thick for a portion of the back of the phone.  Now it is perfect for me.  I like that the battery lasts longer, more than I do an extremely thin phone.

The iPhone is also a great phone.  Many people are very happy with it.  As a matter of fact, if it had been available on Sprint a couple of years ago I probably would have gotten one.  With the iPhone you have to have AT&T as your carrier.  You also have to use iTunes, the Apple App store, and your interface is a grid of icons and a single button.  If you like this then great.  If you want something a bit different, then Apple doesn't have a solution for you.

The great thing about Android is that there is a wide range of devices offered by different carriers with different plans and different prices.  Everybody should be able to find a phone that fits their wants best, and still have access to a great set of applications and games.

The iPhone is not going to go away, but it also isn't currently a broad enough platform to keep the market share it has.  If the rumors are true this time, and the iPhone does become available on Verizon then this is a step in broadening their platform.  But it doesn't open up the whole market in the way the wide variety and availability of Android phones has done over the past year or two.

I like my phone. Although I think Apple would tell me that it is too big, the interface is too complicated, and the Android Market Place app store is uncontrolled and dangerous!  All of those things are exactly what I want.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Crazy Stuff Does Come To Pass

When I first started working on ESX about five years ago I went through the same light bulb process as everybody else.  I remember a conversation I that I had in the lab one day -

"Wouldn't it be cool if you put Oracle RAC on top of ESX? Then you could have complete flexibility. A database spread across multiple VMs and those VMs could be moved around as needed."

"It would be cool. But - Who would do that? People use RAC because their database needs more than one server. That would be crazy."

It becomes less crazy the more your light bulbs come on about the benefits of virtualization.  It's not just a consolidation story. It allows you to manage and run your infrastructure differently.  

With recent changes in both Oracle and SAP support statements it is now possible and supported to run RAC with SAP on vSphere.  I believe that the key reason why Oracle made the change to it's support statement was in response to customers.  Customers were asking for this support because they wanted to run RAC on vSphere and in some cases they were already RAC on vSphere.

This is what makes it fun to have these crazy conversations about what would be cool.  Sometimes crazy happens.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

SAP Note for Oracle on VMware Now Includes RAC

Last week SAP note 1173954 (Support for Oracle on VMware) was updated to include RAC.  You can view the SAP note directly at but you will need to have an account on the SAP site.

This update basically makes the same change in support that Oracle made with their metalink support statement for Oracle RAC on vSphere earlier this month.  It all boils down to a change in the list of prerequistes for running SAP on Oracle on vSphere.  In the previous version of the SAP note there was a bullet point that read -Only Oracle single instance, no support for Oracle RAC.  This has now been replaced with - RAC and higher.

Before only single instance Oracle was supported and now RAC or higher can be used.

So it is now supported to run SAP on Oracle RAC on vSphere (provided you follow the guidance and use the version levels called out in the SAP note and Oracle Metalink docs).