Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Being Thankful

With Thanksgiving upon us, I wanted to take a few minutes to blog about what I am thankful for this year.

But first, let me give you a little background and set the stage for this past year. 

In August of 1990, fresh out of high school, I started at the Paul Revere Insurance Company in Worcester, Massachusetts. My first position was sorting mail for the customer service department. I decided to delay college (it has been delayed for 23 years now) and my starting salary in August of 1990 was a generous $14,000.00 a year.  That pretty much covered my car payment, car insurance, gas, and my weekend expenses.

I walked around in my dress shirt, dress pants, and tie (corporate policy even for mail clerks) with my standard issued mail cart delivering correspondence to customer service representatives, managers, and executives.

In a short period of time, I was promoted to an associate customer service position. The early 1990’s were an interesting time to be in corporate America. Individual contributors that were part of the day-to-day operations didn’t have cubicles, instead 6-foot high walls zoned off the department and all our desks were jammed together. There was no privacy, and even worse was the fact that smoking was allowed in the office. Every day I would come into the office and sit next to Liz and Holly; they were two pack a day chain smokers. My introduction to cloud computing was the cloud of cigarette smoke hovering over my dumb terminal. By the end of the day my eyes were watering and my cloths smelled like I had been at the Philip Morris convention.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

What's New in vSphere 5.5

There are several enhancements in the new vSphere 5.5 around scalability, performance, availability, and user interface.

  • vSphere configuration maximum increases
  • Virtual Machine Compatibility ESXi 5.5 (vHW10)
  • vCenter Appliance maximums
  • Expanded vGPU and GP-GPU support
  • Graphic acceleration for Linux guests
  • Enhancements for CPU C-States
  • Hot-pluggable SSD PCIe devices
  • Support for Reliable Memory 
  • Support for database clustering technologies
User Interface
  •  Increased platform support
  • Enhanced usability Experience


The vSphere configuration maximum increases make it so there isn't a workload that the vSphere platform cannot virtualize. From Tier1 enterprise applications to next-generation applications, they can all take advantage of the new configuration maximums without any issues. In addition, the new Virtual Machine Compatibility 10 will support a new virtual-SATA controller that can support up to 120 disk devices which is a 2x increase from vSphere 5.1. At VMworld, VMware was giving away bumper stickers that read vSphere Loves Applications. Indeed!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

EMC VSPEX for End-User Computing

EMC provides a great whitepaper that delivers general sizing guidelines and best practices for end-user computing virtual desktops with their next-generation VNX storage architecture called EMC VSPEX. The new version was just recently released in October 2013; and provides sizing guidelines for up to 2,000 virtual desktops using VMware Horizon View 5.2.

VSPEX helps with server virtualization planning and configurations by incorporating extensive interoperability, functional, and performance testing by EMC. The 500, 1000, and 2000 virtual desktop environments are based on defined desktop workloads.

One important design consideration is that every virtual desktop deployment is unique, rarely do I come across two customers with the exact same requirements, VSPEX doesn't replace the need to do a full VDI assessment with a tool like Liquidware Labs' Stratusphere Fit and Lakeside Software's SysTrack MVP.

The VNX storage series provides both file and block access with a broad feature set, which makes it a great choice for end-user computing implementations.

VNX is a flash-optimized hybrid storage array which delivers automated tiering to provide the best performance for highly accessed data, while intelligently moving less frequently accessed data to lower-cost disks.

Friday, November 15, 2013

A Lesson in VDI Sizing

I thought it would be helpful to do a post on VDI sizing, and show the importance of leveraging SSD in the storage design. I am going to be using some general estimates, but let me encourage you to always conduct an assessment to determine the current and predicted resource utilization of your users' desktops. You should use a tool like Liquidware Labs' Stratusphere Fit and Lakeside Software's SysTrack MVP.

For our example, I am going to size out the infrastructure for 300 users which are mostly composed of knowledge workers. We are going to be going with two pools, one is for consultants and the second is for sales.

For our virtual desktops, we are going to go with a Windows 7 with the applications consisting of Microsoft Office, IE, Firefox, Adobe Reader, and proprietary sales and consulting software. Our configuration is going to be 2 vCPU and 2048 MB of memory per desktop.

Virtual Desktops
  • 2 vCPU per virtual desktop
  • 200 MHz average CPU per virtual desktop
  • 120,000 MHz required for 300 virtual desktops
  • 18,000 for virtualization overhead
138,000 MHz total required for 300 virtual desktops
  • 2,048 MB of memory per virtual desktop
  • 614,400 MB required for 300 virtual desktops
  • 30 percent sharing benefit 184,320 MB
430,080 MB total required for 300 virtual desktops
Now lets focus on the host servers, in our example we are going to use Hewlett Packard DL360P Generation 8 servers. We are going to use two physical processors with 8 cores that are 2.7 GHZ, and 131 GB of memory. We are going to estimate the number of hosts required based on the above desktop calculations.
Hewlett Packard DL360p Gen 8 Hosts 
  • 16 cores per ESX host
  • 2700 MHz per core
  • 43,200 MHz total per ESX host
  • 80 percent maximum host CPU use
  • 34,560 MHz available per ESX host
  • 138,000 MHz/34,560 MHz = 3.99
4 hosts required per CPU usage
  • 131,072MB total per ESX host
  • 80 percent maximum host memory use
  • 104,858 MB available per ESX host
  • 430,080 MB/104,858 MB = 4.10
5 hosts required per memory usage

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