.Running "enterprise" applications like Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle Database, and many others on VMware is a topic that becomes more popular as virtualization continues to grow. Initial uses of VMware's virtualization products are often focused on test and development or consolidation. Following this initial phase many find that there are administrative and management advantages to using virutalization and want to move more applications or servers onto a virtualized platform. This chat topic focuses on the questions and issues that come up when enterprise applications are under consideration for movement onto a virutlaizaiton product like VMware ESX Server.

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Chat Transcript

DELL-ToddM Hello
DELL-ScottH Hey now!
DELL-ToddM We're just waiting for everybody to join
DELL-ToddM Welcome slbrown
slbrown Hello todd & scott
DELL-ToddM We're just waiting for the crowd to gather
slbrown Understood.
DELL-ToddM Any virtualization of applications stuff you want to cover today?
slbrown Nothing off the top of my head. Do you plan on explaining the way our management applications work with ESX?
DELL-ToddM Sure, Server Administrator, DRAC, and IT Assistant? Others?
DELL-ScottH Classic ESX or embedded?
slbrown SA and SUU on classic and embedded
DELL-ScottH Did you see my post on SUUon ESX?
slbrown Yes I remember seeing it now.
DELL-ScottH www.delltechcenter.com/page/04-10-2008+-+script+for+applying+dell+server+updates+in+esx+3.x
DELL-ScottH That's for ESX classic...for 3I you'd have to boot from the SBUU
DELL-ToddM Let's get started; I guess that we kind of already have
DELL-ScottH Hey Marc
DELL-ToddM Welcome to this week's TechTuesday discussion around virtualization of "enterprise applications"
dell-marcfarley Yo!
DELL-ToddM Things like Exchange, SQL, Oracle—you know, the important stuff
DELL-ToddM Yo Marc!
dell-marcfarley Just curious, do you know if the servers we run the chat software on are virtualized?
slbrown What about SAP?
DELL-ScottH Todd locked up, he'll be back in a second
DELL-ScottH The hosting company for the chat software is on a dedicated Dell PowerEdge 1950. We upgraded before the EqualLogic chat, which was worth it because we had over 50 attendees, but I'm sure the 1950 had no problems keeping up :-)
DELL-ScottH Todd says we can take a run at SAP too
dell-marcfarley SAP, are you using Oracle as the backend?
DELL-ToddM I return!
dell-marcfarley Ta Dah! nick of time
DELL-ToddM I know that SAP has been run on VMware by quite a few folks for test and development. I haven't yet talked to a customer that is running SAP, but I do know that VMware has some resources dedicated to it. So there is interest, even in running things like SAP. So - in terms of management, OpenMange is supported with VMware ESX. Server Administrator can be installed on the service console of ESX classic, which has been true since ESX 2.x (with increasing level of support over time)
slbrown Okay, thanks
DELL-ToddM With OpenMange 5.4 IT Assistant will see ESX servers as ESX servers (and not an unknown system). The DRAC can also be used with ESX for remote management with full console redirection
DELL-ScottH install guide is easy to follow, and updated for ESX 3.5:www.dell.com/downloads/global/solutions/installing_dell_openmanage_on_esx.pdf
DELL-ToddM Of course, most of the day-to-day management of VMware ESX servers is done with Virtual Center. OpenManage covers the hardware side. There will be integration of some Dell hardware information into Virtual Center with the ESX 3i (or is it 3.5i). So you will be able to view hardware health for the Dell servers in Virtual Center
dell-marcfarley I don't want to ask a dumb question, but what parameters does OpenManage report on that are particularly useful for VMware sites?
DELL-ToddM The stuff that is useful is alerts about hardware failures, or potential failures. So if the temperature is getting too hot, or a disk fails, or a power supply fails, OpenManage will report this, and then action can be taken to avert server downtime or avert VM downtime
Hywel Hello, sorry guess I am a little late
DELL-ToddM So you can VMotion your VMs to other healthy servers while you remedy the alert that OpenManage sent out. We even did a demo that showed how you could automate this type of VMotion in the event of a potential hardware failure
dell-marcfarley Cool, is it still available?
DELL-ToddM I'm trying to figure out if we recorded it and where it would be. We used it in the booth at several trade shows. There was scripting involved to make it all work
dell-marcfarley I'm sure there was scripting—unlike these chats Lol
DELL-ScottH Here's the link to the paper; it's a little dated, but the idea is still solid: www.dell.com/downloads/global/solutions/om-vmware-integration.pdf
DELL-ToddM A lot of this functionality is now covered by VMware HA
DELL-ToddM I feel a good comment coming from Hywel....
Hywel I guess we are chatting about 3i and management, OMSA seems now to be able to do this. We are an Altiris customer to get inventory information, etc. Is there similar progress in this area too? I know Dell is very close to Altiris (now Symantec)
DELL-ScottH Here's a more up-to-date paper on the subject from the Dell Virtulization engineering team: www.dell.com/downloads/global/power/ps2q07-20070131-chandrasekaran.pdf
DELL-ScottH And here's mine on HA DRS with VMware: www.dell.com/downloads/global/vectors/dell_and_vmware_drs_ha_solutions.pdf
Hywel Sorry this is about other topics, but I guess it all comes down to reliability, management, and performance
DELL-ScottH Hmmm, "legal guidelines prohibit us from commenting on future products" ... that may be coming soon :-)
DELL-ToddM The topic for today is virtualization of enterprise applications, but management is important if you are going to virtualize them. That's how we got here. You are right about reliability and performance also being important. The other issue that comes up a lot is support
Hywel We have been VMing a fair number of Microsoft SQL servers recently
DELL-ToddM What type of SQL Server? DBs? OLTP? DSs?
Hywel Some really good performace improvements
DELL-ToddM Performance improvement over previous physical servers?
DELL-ToddM I have seen performance improvement with ESX 3 and 3.5 in terms of I/O for SQL servers
Hywel Data crunchers to form XML and then passing off to be inserted into a data wherehouse
Hywel These were on physical IBM x346 with local disks, and we migrated to PowerEdge1955 on VMware with a SAN backend—about 100 percent improvement in time for the process to complete
DELL-ToddM That's an impressive gain! I would guess that a large part of the performance improvement is the SAN. Did you also consolidate?
Hywel Yeah, we went from about 50 physical servers to 7 :) Plus another 30 VMs
DELL-ScottH Hey, I still hold a little IBM stock; did you have to consolidate that much :-) But I own more Dell stock now!
dell-marcfarley I suspect the data was spread more evenly over the disks, avoiding hot spots?
DELL-ScottH How many more spindles?
DELL-ToddM One of the big stumbling blocks that many run into is the acceptance of application owners of virtualization
DELL-ToddM Guys just don't want their stuff virutlaized because they fear that it will hurt their performance. Did you have to overcome any issues like this in your organization?
dell-marcfarley My guess is that there were fewer spindles going from 50 servers to seven, but the distribution of the data was probbaly better
Hywel Well, this is quite interesting...five physical x345 each with six disks. Changed to three VMFS LUNs with OS, file shares, and DBs, all of which were RAID-5 (as we were short of space); OS on five disks, files shares on nine and DB on 9. We had to move some of the DB onto a RAID-10 later as we got more disks. That improved things even more
DELL-ToddM This is Dell/EMC (Clariion)?
Hywel Yep, CX3-40c
dell-marcfarley It doesn't get much faster than RAID-10
DELL-ToddM You are using the Fibre side of the combo? (I know that Marc is a huge iSCSI fan)
Hywel Nah, can't wait for SSDs to come
dell-marcfarley I won't let that bother me ::biglips
DELL-ToddM Hey, you can get them in the XPS notebooks
DELL-ScottH You have budget, early adopter?
Hywel Just Fibre, in fact I think we made a mistake getting the C not the F
DELL-ToddM I thought that they only made the C (combo) now?
Hywel We got a CX3-40f for a DB and it flies! Four busses like the CX3-80
Hywel I think you were correct earlier when you said, its the SAN that helped; I think we see so many benefits for SAN storage with "normal" systems its hard to put a value to it
DELL-ToddM One question that I get a lot is about Microsoft support for these types of solutions. Did you ever have any concerns about support?
Hywel Yes, this weekend had a major Exchange outage and the second question Microsoft asked was "Is your Esystem on VMware?" I think they said only best efforts will be made to solve the problem...but it does make you think
DELL-ToddM Hey, I thought there was a don't ask/don't tell policy! So, you guys don't have Exchange on VMware today?
Hywel Well, I have a small system, in our production environment on VMware, but it's really an SMTP relay. Thinking about our Office system at the moment
DELL-ToddM I have tried to find examples of people finding issues with Exchange that were due to VMware, but have not found one yet. Although, I guess that searching with Google and within VMTN is not an exhaustive search
Hywel No but another Microsoft support guy suggested they have *lots* of ISA problems due to VMware. I doubt it, to be onest
DELL-ToddM ::biggrin
Hywel I saw the other day that IBM broke some record hosting Exchange on VMware, which is interesting
DELL-ToddM I think that performance can be an issue if you try to move too large a workload
DELL-ToddM Yes, I saw that post too. Very interesting
DELL-ScottH Todd was just talking about that this am, and said he's going to do 16,001!
DELL-ToddM We just got a new server in the lab that would be capable of the same user count on a single box
DELL-ToddM PowerEdge R900 with 128 GB of RAM: www.delltechcenter.com/page/04%2f14%2f2008+-+screenshot+for+geeks+-+comments
Dell-MarcF We need a new section for VMware in the Guinness book
DELL-ToddM The methodology that was used to create the Exchange VMs was inline with what I presented at VMworld in September: www.delltechcenter.com/page/exchange+and+vmware
DELL-ToddM Using 1000-user VMs to scale up Exchange
DELL-ToddM I'm not sure that running 16000 Exchange users on a single server is something that most people will do, but it is a cool number
DELL-ScottH 16001 is a cooler number
Hywel Sorry, back to work not play ;) The only big issue I am seeing with VMware at the moment is the network performance. We struggle to get >250 MB/sec. out of the VMs; do you guys see this?
DELL-ToddM I haven't measured the network throughput from VMs during the testing that I have done
DELL-ScottH Click on a link, eh?
DELL-ToddM Most of the time it has been OLTP or Exchange messaging traffic, which is small. I will see what information I can find and post it to the home page for this chat
Hywel Yeah, unfortunately more of our DB maintenance plans still use SQL; backups for the network performace is pretty inportant
Hywel Yeah clicked on link :S
DELL-ToddM Have you looked into a VCB-type of a backup solution?
Hywel Yeah, I am using VBC with vRanger, but...
DELL-ToddM I know this is an issue with DB, as the database has to be stopped or paused or something to ensure consistency
Hywel There isn't any guessing as we have had problems with the lgtodriver and had to disable it. I wish they could synch with VSS and VCB; that would be really cool
DELL-ToddM I believe that VMware (and some others) are working on that
Hywel I think all in all that VMware, whether it be with SQL or whatever, really has so many more positives than negatives—even the sceptical at work are won over with it
DELL-ToddM I agree that the gains in flexibility of managment (and general cool stuff you can do with VMotion) make it pretty compelling
Hywel Yeah, one thing not sure that you guys have come across; we were pretty low on memory, about 70 percent usage across the HA cluster; when we were upgrading from 16 GB per server to 32
GB and put servers into maintenance we struggled with some SQL servers. As VMotion migrated some machines it doesn't seem to be as good judging memory as CPU, hence some servers got close to their physcial limit. It was my understanding that they would start using the VSWP files on the VMFS volume but SQL seemed to struggle with this and two hung :(
Hywel I thought the VSWP file would be used in a situation where there was low physical RAM but SQL failed to use this
DELL-ToddM I did see some performance issues with some Exchange 2007 VMs and SQL Server 2005 VMs when I oversubscribed the RAM and then did VMotion. The peformance would be okay until after the VMotion, and then the VMs would struggle in terms of performance. But I didn't actually hang them up. They were struggling becuase they were using the VSWP files and performance suffered as a result
Hywel In fact it was even worse than just hanging because VMNware then tried to VMotion them to another server and failed half way through and then had to wait for a time out
DELL-ToddM So the lesson learned was to keep extra capacity for things like this?
Hywel Yes deffo
DELL-ToddM Not the best answer, but you did consolidate down to a much smaller number of servers
Hywel But this is one thing DRS doesn't do well is try and balance RAM as well as a CPU
DELL-ToddM Good point
Hywel Well, we consolidated then lots more were added...VM sprawl!
DELL-ToddM Well, that's one of the things that happens ::biggrin
Hywel Yeah
DELL-ToddM Management of VMs includes a different set of things than physical servers
Hywel I am really glad i came across this site—a real good resource. The hardest thing I find with work is quickly finding the things that are important for a given task and not having to read whole manuals to locate something written in "code"; with the correct input I think it could really help users of Dell equipment
DELL-ToddM Thanks for the comments. Well, we are way over our time. Should probably wrap it up
DELL-ScottH I'm with you on that; welcome aboard and we welcome all your contributions to the site
Hywel Especially after moving from IBM servers it was hard to userstand what software could do and how to do it
DELL-ToddM You're a decoder ring guy
DELL-ScottH Did you use our secert decoder ring?
Hywel Nope?
DELL-ScottH www.delltechcenter.com/page/04%2f03%2f2008+-+secret+decoder+ring
Hywel Did i stumble across some CIA trap ;)
DELL-ToddM Hey, Scott. What is next week's topic?
Hywel Ah, I saw the logo but didn't read the writing ;)
DELL-ScottH Quick tip: if you right-click the links, you won't get kicked out :-)
DELL-ScottH Next week's topic is "OpenManage – Power Monitoring"
DELL-ToddM Hywel, thanks for the excellent discussion
DELL-ScottH Ues, thanks
DELL-ToddM You can contact us anytime through the Dell TechCenter discussion forums
Hywel Ah, cool topic. One tip, can you please send an international time–friendly invite? :) What is CST anyway?
Hywel I have seen our PowerEdge R900 power reading that is cool
DELL-ScottH Central Standard Time U.S. (-600) I believe
Hywel Now all we need it a rack layout with IT Assistant and the servers in it, and hey presto ;)
DELL-ToddM We have a link to a calendar invite that I think is Time Zone aware on the chat page: www.delltechcenter.com/page/chat+topics+and+transcripts
DELL-ScottH Yes, I've been asking for that. What I do here is to create groups called Rack 1, Rack 2, etc. and place the servers in those groups
DELL-ToddM I've gotta run to another meeting, but really appreciate the conversation. I hope to see you next week
Hywel Yes, we have a limit of 2 kW per rack; this is what we need. yes i'll try to be there thanks.