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VMware Testing Shows Big Performance Gains for vSphere 6.0

VMware has released a whitepaper that shows performance increases in vSphere 6.0 over vSphere 5.5. It has some interesting results -- how real-world valuable they are is another matter.

One of the most important things to notice about this document is on the very first page: It's called "Technical Marketing Documentation." So it's been produced for the specific purpose of selling more vSphere 6.0. That doesn't necessarily mean that the results are skewed to show better performance, but it does mean you should approach these figures with a skeptical -- though not cynical -- eye. Just keep in mind that VMware has an agenda beyond just providing helpful performance information about the latest version of its flagship product.

The whitepaper looks at performance across vCenter Server, before tackling core platform, storage and network functions.

vSphere Web Client
It's interesting, and not at all accidental, that the very first performance-related enhancement the document mentions is the vSphere Web Client. VMware has been trying for some time to move users off the built-in C# client, but complaints about the Web Client remain persistent and consistent. If it truly has improved on the areas mentioned -- "the login and home pages, summary pages, networking pages, related objects lists, general navigation, performance charts, and action menus (right click)" -- many admins will be made very happy. Using a Web Client makes the most sense these days, but only if it's comparable to the built-in one.

SQL Server
vCenter Server 5.5 and 6.0 performance was compared using a Microsoft SQL Server 2012 database of various sizes: small, medium and large inventories. VMware reported sharp gains overall, with 63 percent improvement for a small inventory, and 73 percent and 67 percent gains for medium and large inventories, respectively. For a medium SQL inventory, the throughput from vSphere 5.5 to 6.0 jumped from 471 operations per minute (OPM) to 1,292 OPM. At the same time, operational latency declined, from 60 percent for a small inventory to 84 percent for a large one.

VSAN
Another critical area for VMware admins looking to move to vSphere 6.0 concerns storage performance for the upgrade of its Virtual SAN (VSAN). In this area, VMware's testing looks like a win as well. "Among many significant improvements, performance has been dramatically improved for both hybrid and newer all-flash configurations," the report states.

For VSAN Hybrid, the numbers show a range of improvements from double the performance of IOPS per host over VSAN 5.5, to 3½ times the improvement for IOPS on a 64-node cluster. Latency has also improved (i.e. decreased) by 40 percent, according to the testing. The results for all-flash VSAN arrays are mostly incomplete (lots of "Pending" numbers here), but one should expect those numbers to be even better.

Networking improvements are similarly impressive, although they're highly dependent on the configuration; VMware's tests used Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8 as guest operating systems.

The thing to remember about all these figures is they're performed in an environment that's different from yours; in most cases, an enterprise won't see these types of gains. Still, it's instructive to see that upgrading to vSphere 6.0 will likely result in significantly better performance for your shop. Have you put vSphere 6.0 in place yet, running in a live production environment? I'd love to hear your feedback, at either kward@1105media.com, or @VirtReviewKeith.

Posted by Keith Ward on 08/05/2015 at 10:05 AM


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