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vSphere's Total Lockdown

VMware's vSphere 4.1 release has a slew of new features. Some of them are interesting more than others. There is one central theme, ESXi. This 4.1 release is the last one of ESX, so now is the time to make a migration plan to ESXi. VMware has created the ESX to ESXi upgrade center Web site to help you with it. The single, most attractive feature with ESXi 4.1 is the built-in Active Directory integration to the host. This is great for environments where identity needs to be managed all the way back to the user, and using root isn't the right answer.

A bunch of other features such as vscsiStats, tech-support mode for authorized users (other than root), and boot from SAN are now available.

One new feature that may be attractive to some environments is Total Lockdown. It's a feature that forces all host management to be performed through vCenter. The direct console user interface (DCUI) or yellow/grey screen is available in this configuration, but there is an option to disable the DCUI. So, now it is possible to not be able to manage the host from the ESXi perspective. Out-of-band mechanisms like virtual power buttons (on the HP iLO and Dell DRAC) can shut down the ESXi server, though ungracefully.

Administrators will be happy to hear that we can now do four concurrent vMotion events on 1 Gigabit Ethernet networks. Should 10 Gigabit Ethernet be in use, this number increases to eight concurrent vMotion events.

I'm not exactly crazy about the version 4.1's memory compression feature. The compression of the memory pages before swapping makes for a more efficient transfer in and out of swap space, but like many administrators I find myself well-provisioned on memory resources. In fact, in most environments I'm not even overcommitting anymore, thanks to favorable RAM costs for servers compared to a few years ago. I'm also somewhat irked that we do not have a fix to the PVSCI driver that is coming in Update 3, but this is only affecting a small number of installations.

Overall, I'm happy for the release and will be swiftly upgrading all environments. How about you?

Posted by Rick Vanover on 07/13/2010 at 12:47 PM


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