Monday, May 07, 2007

VMWare TSX and Reducing Complexity in the Data Center

I had a busy last few days of the week last week. On Wednesday, I attended VMWare TSX in Las Vegas, and on Friday, I had the chance to hear Bill Coleman speak about utility computing, and the events that have lead up to its sudden resurgence in the market place.

All in all, TSX was one of the most informative VMWare events I have ever attended. I only had the chance to attend three sessions--CPU scheduling, ESX networking and DRS/HA--but all three were packed with useful information. (The slides linked here are from a TSX conference in Nice, Italy, April 3-5, 2007. They are a little different from the slides I saw, but are similar enough to communicate the basic concepts.)

If you don't know much about VMWare CPU scheduling, check out that deck. Sure, its basic scheduling stuff, but it is very helpful when it comes to understanding how VMWare settings affect processor share. The networking deck is also critical if you must deploy network applications to virtual machines.

The DRS/HA deck has some helpful tips, but also clearly demonstrates the limited scale of DRS/HA. A 16 physical node limit per HA cluster, for example, is going to be problematic for most medium to large data centers. Furthermore, these are very server-centric technologies; the concept of Service Level Automation is clearly missing, as there is no concept at all of a service or application to be measured. They are hinting at a few new app-level monitors in a later release, but I just don't think monitoring service levels from a business perspective is very important to VMWare.

Bill's speech to the IT department of a large manufacturer was very interesting, if for no other reason than it clearly spelled out the argument for reducing complexity in the data center. (For a quick and dirty argument, see this article.) We are definitely at a cross roads now; IT can choose to attack complexity with people or technology. Most of us are betting technology will win. Furthermore, Bill told the assembled techies, the early adopters of any platform technology get the best jobs when that platform becomes mainstream. Almost nobody is predicting that utilty computing will fail in the long term, so now is the time to jump aboard and get involved.

I should have some time to complete the Service Level Automation Deconstructed series this week. Stay tuned for more.

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