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VMware HA to add Virtual Machine Component Protection

Virtualization users look forward to VMware’s annual confab because that’s when solutions to their biggest problems are announced – though not always. This year is no exception.

VMware shops will gain some features that improve existing products while other issues remain unresolved.

VMware’s HA is slated for a facelift next year with a new feature called Virtual Machine Component Protection, according to demonstrations at VMworld.

The idea is to hasten failover by choosing virtual machines (VM) within a host to vMotion according to specific failover conditions. For example, if some VMs within a host are attached to a SAN and others are attached to NAS and the SAN fails, only the VMs attached to the SAN would fail over.

Whither SMP FT?

Meanwhile, technology that was in tech preview at last year’s VMworld, fault tolerance for symmetric multiprocessing systems, still has yet to make it into shipping product –but the company offered another preview here this week.

Fault Tolerance keeps VMs in lockstep with one another through synchronous replication, and should one fail, can cut over without service interruption to users. VMware Inc.’s HA feature, by contrast, involves a brief interruption. Fault Tolerance is therefore more suited for mission-critical applications, but its lack of support for multiprocessing disqualifies it from use with many databases and other Tier 1 workloads.

Given that, it’s obviously an important goal for VMware to support SMP FT in vSphere, but why it remains stalled in preview is a mystery.

VM stall redux?

It appears that VM stall is still happening in enterprise IT shops. An average of 60% of workloads are virtualized — up from 2008’s 25%, but far from VMware’s goal of 90%, according to outgoing VMware CEO Paul Maritz in his keynote.

Possible culprits suggested by attendees: lack of SMP FT as discussed above, stubborn server-huggers, and stubborn storage I/O bottlenecks.

VMware VSA 5.1 update underwhelms

The vSphere Storage Appliance lives.

The appliance, which is designed to make direct-attached storage (DAS) look like a pool of network attached storage (NAS), has gotten a few improvements in version 5.1, released this week. These include the ability to add disks on the fly. Before, whatever configuration users started with couldn’t be changed.

The new version also supports RAID 5, 6 and 10, allowing for less storage overhead in provisioning for high availability.

However, industry sources said users still can’t start with two nodes and scale to three, and there still appears to be no integration between the storage appliance and vSphere Replication.

Surely VMware, with all its talk about the software-defined data center, and owned by the biggest storage company in the world, has more up its sleeve when it comes to software-based storage.

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