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VMware vSphere: Virtualization Software Overview and Insight

By Drew Robb (Send Email)
Posted February 28, 2019


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Bottom Line:

Buyers should be aware of one key fact: VMware, the marker of Vsphere, is the market leader in server virtualization. The name VMware is as synonymous with virtualization as Xerox is with copying. As such, Vsphere a premium vendor selling a premium product. The cost of vSphere may be high compared with others in this guide. Yet also, its feature set is hard to beat.

Vsphere is especially strong in large enterprises with heterogeneous environments – its target market. If you run an advanced data center with a demanding workload, you are well familiar with Vsphere.

SMBs, though, may struggle as there are so many components, management platforms and interfaces to come to terms with. This is an upper level product that requires deep expertise.

Product description:

VMware vSphere 6.7 is an efficient and secure platform for hybrid cloud. vSphere 6.7 supports both existing and next-gen workloads through management at scale, built-in security, visibility, and migration of workloads between on-premises and public cloud. With vSphere 6.7, users can run, manage, connect, and secure applications in a common operating environment.

It is used by everything from small accounting applications up to the machine learning and artificial intelligence workloads. Additional features include Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) acceleration, vSphere High Availability, or Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA) over Converged Ethernet v2 (RoCE) support.

VMware vSphere has a dizzying array of components. The ESXi hypervisor, vCenter for management, vMotion for migration, and a great many more. Introduced in vSphere 6.7, vSphere Health is an automated service that provides regular health checks for the environment including ESXi hosts and configuration. VMware vSphere Platinum is a new edition of vSphere with greater security capabilities integrated into the hypervisor. It combines vSphere with VMware AppDefense. This offers enterprises a far higher level of VM security. But it comes at a price premium compared the standard edition of vSphere.

“vSphere is used by our entire org. The VMs that run on it cover not only production, but also test/dev op environments. vSphere helped us lower our total physical server count as well as allowing us the ability to run more server instances in our environment that we could not have achieved with physical servers filling up all of our rack space,” said a System Admin in insurance.

Servers/Operating Systems:

x86-based applications and operating systems.

Implementation:

Initial deployment of vSphere components (vCenter Server and ESXi) is a relatively straightforward software download. A variety of options, integrations, and settings allow it to be customized and scaled based on requirements. Some users who lack technology expertise may benefit from external implementation support and training.

Scalability:

vSphere 6.7 can scale as follows:

  • Host per Cluster - 64
  • VMs per Cluster – 8,000
  • CPUs per Host - 768
  • RAM per Host - 16 TB
  • VMs per Host - 1024
  • vCPUs per VM - 128
  • vRAM per VM - 6 TB
  • Non-Volatile Memory per Host - 1 TB
  • Non-Volatile Memory per VM - 1 TB

Overhead:

Anywhere from 5% to 25% depending on the amount of memory and number of virtual CPUs. vSphere includes mechanisms to reduce the overhead of virtualization. For some workloads, vSphere is said to deliver native performance via performance tuning and best practices.

Management:

VMware vSphere Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS) enables users to align usage with business priorities by load-balancing workloads across hosts. vCenter Server provides a centralized management plane for the virtualized infrastructure. While vCenter Server can scale well, Enhanced Linked Mode allows up to 15 vCenter Servers to be linked together so that a vSphere administrator can manage large environments from a single point. Hybrid Linked Mode extends this concept to VMware Cloud on AWS by allowing administrators to log into a single place to manage on-premises and cloud-based infrastructure.

VMware vSphere Content Library provides centralized management for virtual machine templates, virtual appliances, ISO images, and scripts. Administrators can deploy and customize VMs based on a single template. Restful APIs enable these operations to be automated.

Patching/backup:  

For vSphere environments, VMware offers vSphere Update Manager (VUM) to manage patching and upgrading the virtual infrastructure. VUM is part of vCenter Server and is managed directly through the HTML5 vSphere Client. vCenter Server also has integrated backup and restore capabilities to protect itself while VMware leverages its mature ecosystem of backup partners to handle the backup and protection of the workloads and VMs.

Migration:

vSphere vMotion migrates workloads between hypervisors, data centers and clouds. It can be invoked via drag and drop in the vSphere Client (the primary management user interface for vSphere), via command line tools such as PowerCLI or direct REST APIs calls via the vSphere API.

Key Markets:

Broad adoption across every geography and industry vertical with hundreds of thousands of customers worldwide. From tech-savvy SMBs to large enterprises.

Cost:

Standard edition is $995 per CPU, plus $273 per year for support. Platinum edition is $4,595.

“The cost can be high compared with the competition,” said a System Admin in insurance.

Product

VMware vSphere

Platforms

x86

Scalability

1,024 VMs per host

Overhead %

5 to 25

Markets

SMB-large enterprise

Cost

$995 per CPU, plus $273 per year support

Migration

 drag and drop

Key Differentiator

Market leader

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