Release: 5nine Cloud Security 4.0 Beta

5nine Software released today the beta of its latest version for Cloud Security: 5nine Cloud Security for Hyper-V. This product updates 5nine’s Security Datacenter for Windows Server Hyper-V. 5nine Cloud Security for Hyper-V delivers strong virtual machine separation and SDN  segmentation solutions together with secure multi-tenancy, agentless antivirus and antimalware technologies – including an intrusion detection system.

New features include real-time active anti-virus protection, VM Security groups, new LWF R2 vSwitch extension, full NVGRE support and user/roles – level access.

Key Details

5nine Cloud Security for Hyper-V is designed specifically to:

  • Meet the security demands of enterprise, management service providers (MSPs), public sector, and hosting providers who leverage Microsoft’s Hyper-V Server and Cloud Platform
  • Provide the first and only seamless agentless compliance and agentless security solution for the Hyper-V Cloud
  • Deliver multi-layered protection together with integrated, agentless antivirus and intrusion detection capabilities
  • Offer unmatched levels of industry-demanded protection and compliance (including PCI-DSS, HIPAA, and Sarbanes-Oxley)
  • Secure the Cloud environment with anti-virus technology that runs with virtually zero performance impact while simultaneously improving virtual machine density
  • Provide network traffic control between virtual machines
  • Enforce secure multi-tenancy and Virtual Machines Security Groups
  • Provide NVGRE support
  • Detect and block malicious attacks

5nine Cloud Security is available as a standalone application or as a Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) Plugin. It also has a comprehensive API to be integrated with third party applications.


Complete 5nine Cloud Security for Hyper-V (V4.0) product descriptions and features can be found at:

Beta of 5nine Cloud Security for Hyper-V version 4.0 can be requested at techsupport(at)5nine(dot)com

Nutanix announces 5 new models including NX-7110 optimized for graphics performance

Nutanix today announced that it will extend its line of converged storage and compute platforms with a new model optimized for heavy graphical usage like 3D and CAD. Also the current NX-3000 and NX-6000 line of servers is extended with 4 new models.

One of the use cases of the Nutanix Virtual Computing Platform is VDI. Because disks (Nutanix used SSD and HDD) are in the same box as the CPU’s performance of storage is improved compared to the traditional way of presenting storage like SAN and NAS. VDI is notorious for being dependant on storage performance. When storage does not perform, end users will complain about bad performance.

New is the Nutanix NX-7110 platform. This server further enhances the VDI user experience by enhancing video performance. This server has three PCIe slots which can be used by NVIDIA K1, NVIDIA K2 and Teradici APEX cards for  server offload..

The Teradici card offloads the PCoIP image encoding tasks thus reducing the server CPU utilization. This enables a better user experience and also allows a better VM to CPU consolidation. More VM’s per CPU reduces costs. PCoIP is only supported by VMware View.

The NVIDIA cards allow GPU virtualization which means the graphical processor can be virtualized and shared by multiple users. This greatly enhances the user experiences of Server Based Computing (Micrsoft RDS and Citrix XenApp) as well as Virtual Desktop Infrastructure solutions like Citrix XenDesktop and VMware View.

Using the Nutanix NX-7110 usage of AutoCAD, Autodesk, SolidWorks CAD and 3D software is possible on VDI and SBC.

The image below shows the hardware specs of the NX-7110. Mind there is only one node per 19″ appliance. Other Nutanix appliances/enclosures allow up 4 nodes per enclosure. Also NVIDIA K1 and K2 cards cannot be mixed.

Nutanix also announced four new models in the current NX-3000 and NX-6000 series. The NX-3060, NX-3061, NX-6060 and NX-6080 have two Intel Ivy processors with 10 cores each per socket. Also the nodes can have up to 512 GB of internal memory. This allows an up to 30% greater VM density per node


StarWind SAN V8 Beta 2 released

StarWind software released the Beta 2 of StarWind iSCSI SAN v8.

The software products uses local storage on servers running Windows Server to provide SAN features. It supports features like VMware HA, vMotion, Hyper-V Live Migration etc. It also does replication and deduplication and much more.

This is an interesting storage solution for small and midsized organisaties who do not have the budget for expensive SAN solutions.





StarWind SAN V8 Beta 2  version provides most salable and essential storage features:

  • Scale-out architecture creates fault-tolerant clusters with an unlimited number of hosts. StarWind also enables double or triple synchronous mirroring in a cluster, which guarantees 99.99% or 99.9999% uptime respectively.
  • Asynchronous WAN-replication copies data to the remote secure host and enables the primary storage to be restored from the replica when needed. The replication channel bandwidth does not affect the performance of the replicated storage.
  • The VAAI support for single-node devices and devices with synchronous replication offloads some tasks to the storage array, thereby reducing the CPU load and memory usage.
  • Flash caching is used as L2 cache to decrease random reads.
  • SSD/flash cards can be leveraged as the primary storage with StarWind’s dedicated Log-Structured File System (LSFS).
  • Fixed and upgraded LSFS replaces random writes with a big sequential write, which improves VM performance drastically.

The Beta 2 release also contains a large number of fixes for small bugs and updates. For more information about new features and enhancements, please view the StarWind SAN V8 Beta 2 release notes here.

Sign up for our public beta now! Try new features of the true software-defined storage. Leave your feedback and help to  improve the software!

VMware vCloud Hybrid Service roadmap

In September 2013 VMware launched vCloud Hybrid Service (vCHS). It is a VMware owned and operated public Infrastructure as a Service offering. It offers a lot of control over virtual machines and networking.

During VMworld US and Europe VMware had a lot of breakout sessions about vCHS. In the near future I will make some postings with technical details on this new service.

First lets have a look at the roadmap of vCHS. The information in this post is based on the various sessions I attended at VMworld and is made public by VMware.

Read more of this post

Recordings of 23 VMworld Europe Breakout Sessions available free

VMware TV published a couple of recordings of breakout sessions presented at VMworld Europe. The recordings can be watched for free. No account needed.

The interesting thing to note is that VMware seems to be publishing more content of VMware than previously. I believe last year about ten videos were posted. Now sessions that were held at October 23 are put online on the same day. I believe this is very nice and VMware follows Microsoft who publishes content of all TechEd events within 24 hours.

  1. VSVC5690 – vSphere Upgrade Series Part 1: vCenter Server
  2. VSVC4944 – PowerCLI Best Practices – A Deep Dive
  3. VSVC4605 – What’s New in VMware vSphere?
  4. VSVC5005 – What’s New in vSphere Platform & Storage
  5. VSVC4830 – vCenter Deep Dive
  6. VSVC5690 – vSphere Upgrade Series Part 1: vCenter Server
  7. VSVC5821 – Performance and Capacity Management of DRS Clusters
  8. BCO5065 – VMware vSphere Fault Tolerance for Multiprocessor Virtual Machines – Technical Preview
  9. BCO5041 – vSphere Data Protection – What’s New and Technical
  10. BCO4872 – Operating and Architecting a vSphere Metro Storage Cluster Infrastructure
  11. BCO5129 – Protection for All – vSphere Replication & SRM Technical Update
  12. NET7388-S – Network Virtualization: Moving Beyond the Obvious
  13. NET5847 – NSX: Introducing the World to VMware NSX
  14. EUC5291 – Horizon View Troubleshooting: Looking under the Hood
  15. EUC7370-S – The Software Defined Datacenter Meets End User Computing
  16. PHC4783 – How To Build Your Hybrid Cloud and Consume the Public Cloud
  17. PHC5605-S – Everything You Want to Know About vCloud Hybrid but were afraid to ask
  18. STO5391 – VMware Virtual SAN
  19. STO5715-S – Software-defined Storage – The Next Phase in the Evolution of Enterprise Storage
  20. VCM7369-S – Uncovering the Hidden Truth in Log Data With vCenter Log Insight
  21. VAPP4679 – Software-Defined Datacenter Design Panel for Monster VM’s: Taking the Technology to the Limits for High Utilisation, High Performance Workloads
  22. SEC5893 – Changing the Economics of Firewall Services in the Software-Defined Center – VMware NSX Distributed Firewall
  23. OPT5194 – Moving Enterprise Application Dev/Test to VMware’s Internal Private Cloud- Operations Transformation

VMware announces vCloud Operations Management Suite 5.8

vCenter Operations Management Suite version 5.8 has 4 new features:

  1. monitor business critical applications
  2. monitor fiber channel storage
  3. monitor Hyper-V servers
  4. monitor Amazon AWS services

monitor business critical applications
In the 5.8 release application monitoring is limited to Microsoft Exchange Server and SQL Server. vCenter Operations Management Packs for Microsoft applications will be available to get insight into the health of Microsoft applications. A management pack (MP) provides knowledge about an application. The MP will be able to discover application inter-dependencies and services. Also there is knowledge about what metrics to measure, what thresholds to set etc. The management packs for SQL and Exchange will provide health information for clusters. So it shows servers and instances in Database Availability Groups for example. And it shows the status of services like MSSQL Agent, MSSQL Analysis, MSSQL Report and MSSQL database. It also shows when for example the CPU has a high utilization indicating something is wrong.

The 3th pary OS and application management packs are part of the vCenter Operations Management Suite Enterprise edition.

Microsoft System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) also uses Management Packs. However these will go much deeper inside the applications than vCenter Operations. I believe vCenter Operations focusses mainly at the infrastructure level of the application.

Monitor fiber channel storage
Storage Analytics is another new feature of vCOPS. It allows a deep insight into the status of the Host Bus Adapter, Fabric and Storage array. It will answer questions like ‘why is my virtual machine slow?’. In this 5.8 release monitoring is limited to fiber channel storage. iSCSI and NFS support will come soon. The admin will get insight in latency and throughput. Errors like CRC, link loss and timeouts are being monitored and admins gets alerts.

The infrastructure management packs are part of the vCenter Operations Management Suite Advanced & Enterprise edition.


Amazon AWS and Hyper-V support
vCOPS uses vCenter Hyperic and Hyperic Management Pack for monitoring Hyper-V. An Hyperic agent is deployed on the Hyper-V server to get insight. It does monitoring of CPU, memory, disk and network. It is able to show capacity and performance of storage volumes. There are two ways to get information form the Hyper-V servers and VM’s running on it. Either by the Hyperic management pack for vCenter Operations, or by the SCOM management pack for vCenter Operations. The later is usefull for SCOM users. It is a kind of gateway between SCOM and vCenter Operations Manager.


Amazon services like EC2, Elastic Block Store, Elastic Map Reduce, Elastic Load Balancing and Auto Scaling Group can be monitored using the AWS management pack. The MP connects to the Cloudwatch service provided by Amazon. This is a REST API service. vCOPS provides a VM utilization dashboard showing performance statistics like cpu usage, memory usage, disk read etc for Amazon VM’s.

VMware vSphere 5.5 available for download!

At September 22 2013 VMware made vSphere 5,5 generally available. VMware ESXi 5.5.0 and vCenter Server 5.5 can be downloaded here.

Documentation can be downloaded here.

The free vSphere Hypervisor is available for download here. Mind there is no limit anymore in the amount of addressable physical memory. Before version 5.5 you were limited to 32 GB internal memory.

The 5.5 release was announced at August 26 during VMworld 2013 US.

What is new in vSphere 5.5 can be read in this post.

Also available for download is:

  • vSphere Replication 5.5
  • vSphere Data Protection 5.5.1
  • vCenter Orchestrator Appliance 5.5.0
  • vCloud Networking and Security 5.5.0
  • vCenter Operations Manager Foundation 5.7.2
  • vSphere Big Data Extensions 1.0
  • vSphere App HA 1.0.,0
  • Cisco Nexus 1000V Virtual Ethernet Modules for vSphere 5.5.0
  • VMware vSphere CLI (vCLI)
  • vSphere PowerCLI

Also released at September 22 are;

Storage Replication Adapters for VMware vCenter Site Recovery Manager
VMware vCenter Site Recovery Manager 5.5
VMware vCenter Server Heartbeat 6.6
VMware vCenter Infrastructure Navigator 5.7.0
VMware vCenter Operations Manager Advanced 5.7.2
VMware vCenter Operations Manager Enterprise 5.7.2
VMware vCenter Operations Manager Standalone 5.7.2
VMware vCloud Director 5.5.0
VMware vFabric Application Director 5.2.0
vSphere Storage Appliance 5.5

At the release of vSphere 5.1 VMware announced this would be the last release of the full Windows based vSphere client. In future releases all features would be only available in the vSphere Web Client.

However in vSphere 5.5 we still need the vSphere C+ client. For connection directly to the ESXi host, for VMware Update Manager, for Site Recovery Manager and for some third party solutions.

The vSphere 5.5 client can be dowloaded here


VMware Workstation 10 available for download

VMware released VMware Workstation 10 for Windows and for Linux (32-bit and 64-bit) at September 3 2013.

new is :

  • OS Support for Windows 8.1.
  • New virtual hardware functionality, including 16 vCPUs, 8 Terabyte disks, Virtual SATA Disks, USB Improvements, up to 20 VMnets, and SSD Passthrough.
  • Ability to now expire specific virtual machines on a certain date and time.
  • Virtual Tablet Sensors (virtual GPS, Compass, Gyrometer, Accelerometer, Inclinometer, and Ambient Light).
  • VMware converter that enables users to make Physical machines into virtual ones.
  • New multiple monitor navigation for up to 6 monitors.
  • Power Off Suspended Virtual Machines.

Feature overview here

The release notes are here (gave a error of time of publishing this article)

Download here

VMware Workstation 10.x sales, licensing, and compatibility FAQs (2032851) here


Save the date: 28 november Experts Live in Nederland

Experts Live is hét kennisevenement rondom Microsoft Azure, System Center, Hyper-V, SQL, Windows Server en PowerShell.

Experts Live wordt georganiseerd dóór en vóór de verschillende community’s zoals, System Center User Group, Windows Azure User Group, Dutch PowerShell UserGroup en PASS (SQL). Dit jaar organiseert Experts Live voor de derde maal een conferentie op donderdag 28 november 2013.

expertsliveExperts Live heeft zich geprofileerd als hét kennisevenement waar bekende sprekers en MVP’s zich aan hebben verbonden. Community experts zullen bezoekers in één dag volledig bijpraten over de verschillende Microsoft technologieën. Experts Live is een evenement gedreven vanuit de community; dat maakt Experts Live uniek!

Aan de website, programma en locatie wordt hard gewerkt en zal snel mogelijk gecommuniceerd worden via de website. Voor dit unieke evenement kunt u zich nu al wel inschrijven door hier te klikken. Het Early Bird ticket – t/m 31 oktober 2013 – kost EUR 15,-.

Wilt u in contact komen met de organisatie stuur dan een email naar of volg Experts Live via Twitter en Facebook.

Microsoft Ukraine and StarWind Software Introduce a Unique Solution for Business Virtualization

StarWind Software, storage virtualization software provider, and Microsoft Ukraine, the Ukrainian branch of the multinational corporation that delivers the world’s leading software solutions, introduce an exclusive joint offer – a solution for business virtualization. This offer enables customers to accelerate physical-to-virtual migration, provides reliable data protection, simplifies storage management and reduces overall IT costs.
The affordable offer from Microsoft Ukraine and StarWind allows customers to buy two Windows Server 2012 licenses with a 15% discount, and a StarWind Native SAN for Hyper-V license with a 50% discount.
StarWind Native SAN for Hyper-V is a software product that creates iSCSI-based shared storage for Hyper-V virtual environments. The software is installed on two Hyper-V servers and requires only one StarWind Native SAN for Hyper-V license to create a fault-tolerant cluster.  With this solution customers get a wide range of functions that enable business continuity and disaster recovery without external data storage or additional hardware. StarWind SAN fully supports Microsoft technologies, such as Live Migration and HA Clustering.
Microsoft Ukraine and StarWind offer two options to suit the scale of the business and customer requirements: SMBs are recommended the Windows Server 2012 Standard Edition (which allows two VMs on one hypervisor) and StarWind Native SAN for Hyper-V with 4TB storage capacity; large companies are recommended the Windows Server 2012 Datacenter Edition (which allows an unlimited number of virtual machines) and StarWind Native SAN for Hyper-V with unlimited storage capacity.

This offer is available only through the distribution network of MUK Corporate Group till September 15, 2013.
“Together with Microsoft Ukraine we are very pleased to introduce a powerful and affordable solution for business virtualization,” says Phil Montgomery, StarWind Software CEO. “We are sure this solution will be popular. And hope that in a while it will become available in other European countries as well as in North America.”
“Affordable Virtualization is a unique solution for the Ukrainian IT market,” says Roman Shovkun, StarWind Software Vice President of Sales in EMEA. “Earlier, virtualization was estimated to cost tens of thousands of dollars, and only large companies could afford it. With our joint solution, virtualization becomes affordable for everyone.”
“This collaboration with Microsoft, the world leader in software development, is strategically important and high-priority for us. This joint solution demonstrates the quality of our products, increases the credibility of our company and raises brand awareness,” says Irina Makarova, StarWind Software Marketing Vice-President in EMEA.
“This offer will be of particular interest to customers who want to protect their data, take advantage of virtualization and fault-tolerance, as well as get up-to-date powerful tools with zero hardware investment,” says Dmitry Turchin, Microsoft Ukraine Head of Business Group Servers.
About Microsoft Ukraine Microsoft Ukraine is the Ukrainian branch of the multinational computer technology company. This branch was established in 2003 with its head office in Kiev. The company aims are: to develop the software market, to promote Microsoft products, to support partners and customers, to introduce and localize the company’s innovations and to implement social projects in Ukraine.
In 2008 Microsoft Ukraine joined the Association of Information Technology Enterprises of Ukraine and in 2009 it became a member of the Microsoft Government Security Program. In 2010 the company won the Ukraine national contest “Philanthropist of the Year” in the International Company category. In March 2012, a number of Microsoft products obtained the Certificate of Compliance from the Ukraine State Service for Special Communication and Information Protection.

About StarWind Software Inc. StarWind Software is a globally known provider of storage management and SAN software for small and medium-sized companies. StarWind’s flagship product is a storage solution that can make any standard Windows Server into a fault-tolerant iSCSI SAN. StarWind iSCSI SAN & NAS is certified for use in VMware, Hyper-V, XenServer and Linux/Unix environments.
StarWind Software provides high availability, business continuity and disaster recovery technologies which were previously available only in high-end storage products. Advanced enterprise-level features offered by StarWind include: Automated Failover and Failback (High Availability), Deduplication, Continuous Data Protection (CDP) and Thin Provisioning.
StarWind has been a pioneer in the iSCSI SAN software industry since 2003. Today the company is the solution of choice for over 30,000 users worldwide, including small and medium-sized businesses, government agencies and Fortune 1000 companies.
For more information on the joint Microsoft Ukraine and StarWind solution visit:
Contact information:: StarWind Software Inc. +38(0)44-223-01-98
Find StarWind Software in social media: Twitter: LinkedIn: Facebook:

<!–###–>StarWind Software and the StarWind logos are trademarks and/or registered trademarks of StarWind Software Inc. and its affiliates in the U.S. and other countries. Other names are trademarks and/or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

VMware Desktop as a Service will be powered by Desktone

It has been known for a while now that VMware will be operating it’s own public cloud  Infrastructure as a Service offering. The service named vCloud Hybrid Service (vCHS) will be general available in September 2013. Initially available in 6 datacenters in the US, it will  soon be available in other regions as well.

The main difference between  vCHS and to-be main competitors Windows Azure and Amazon is that vCHS is designed as a true extension of an on-premise Enterprise cloud runing vSphere. VMs can easily be moved from and to vCHS without modifications. It is also possible to ship VM’s on external media to one of the datacenters. Something Azure does not offer at the moment.

VMware surprised many yesterday when it announced vCHS will not only provide IaaS but also provide Desktop as a Service, Platform as a Service and Disaster Recovery as a Service

The VMware pressrelease says:

VMware Horizon View™ Desktop-as-a-Service:Customers will be able to run Horizon View Desktops on vCloud Hybrid Service, and rapidly deploy new desktops without the expense and effort of procuring and managing physical hardware.

Today it became clear that Desktone will be powering the DaaS service of VMware. Desktone has been doing DaaS for around 6 years now.

You can listen to Brian Madden podcast here. He has an interview with Scott Davis, EUC CTO at VMware in which Desktone is discussed.

Actually Desktone invented the term DaaS and has the trademark. Brian Madden has a lot of postings on Desktone.

Desktone sells their DaaS solution via service providers and not directly to the organization which consumes the DaaS service. So VMware probably does a kind of whitelabling. Dell, HP, Verizon are examples of Desktone resellers.

The benefit of the VMware VHCS is that both servers and desktops can be running in the same datacenter.

VMware move to DaaS is not unexpected. Rival Microsoft is rumoured to make a DaaS service available on the Azure platform. According ZDnet Project Mohoro will be ready in the second half of 2014.

Recently Microsoft and Citrix announced Citrix XenDesktop can be used in Azure to host virtual desktops. See the news here. 

What is new in VMware vCenter Orchestrator 5.5

At VMworld 2013 VMware announced VMware vCenter Orchestrator 5.5

This post is part of a series of posting on the VMworld 2013 announcements. See this post for an overview of what has been announced at VMworld 2013.

VMware vCenter Orchestrator is an IT Process Automation engine that helps automate your cloud and integrate the VMware vCloud Suite with the rest of your management systems. Orchestration saves time, removes manual errors, reduces operating expenses, and simplifies IT management. VMware vCenter Orchestrator allows administrators and architects to develop complex automation tasks within the workflow designer, then quickly access and launch workflows directly from within the vSphere Client or via various triggering mechanisms.

With this release, vCenter Orchestrator is greatly optimized for growing clouds because of significant improvements in scalability and high availability. Workflow developers can benefit from a more simplified and efficient development experience provided by the new debugging and failure diagnostic capabilities in the vCenter Orchestrator client.

• New Workflow debugger Workflow developers are now able to re-run their workflows in debug mode without necessity to type the last known values for the workflow input parameters. The user inputs are automatically stored and populated for the consequent workflow execution.

• New Workflow Schema Auto-scaling and auto-placing capabilities have always been the great charm of vCenter Orchestrator Client. In addition to these, experience workflow developers can also use non-stick placement while designing the workflow activity diagram.

• New Scripting API Explorer Consistent navigation is an essential component of the overall workflow development efficiency. Based on this. the Scripting API Explorer is now enhanced with out-of-the-box browsing history. The new Back button, available in the explorer will allow workflow developers to navigate, in reverse chronological order, through the history of scripting objects they have recently worked with.

• New Security Improvements The new build of the vCenter Orchestrator Appliance contains a complete set of security improvements, including Operating System updates and security hardening script enhancements.

• Improved scalability and high availability Datacenter architects are now able to plan vCenter Orchestrator deployments with cloud scalability in mind, by using the out-of-the-box clustering capabilities of the Orchestrator platform. The new Orchestrator cluster mode provides much greater availability of the engine and enables dynamic scale-up and scale-down of orchestration capacity when used in conjunction with external load balancer. If an Orchestrator server were to become unavailable mid-way through a workflow run, another Orchestrator node can now take over and complete the workflow with no service interruption.

• More efficient workflow development experience The new debugging feature enables workflow developers to troubleshoot and test their automated use cases quickly and easily, making for a more efficient development experience. Workflow developers are now able to set breakpoints on workflow activities, step into them and watch variable values at various steps of the debugging procedure. In addition, they can also resume a workflow from a failed state for the consequent execution of their custom workflows. Finally, new libraries of workflow icons also help make the vCenter Orchestrator client experience more intuitive and customizable as ever.

• Improved integration with the vSphere Web Client Beside the auto-discovery options for vCenter Orchestrator into vSphere Web Client, virtual infrastructure administrator are allowed to manage and monitor the vCenter Orchestrator instances or add them on demand directly from the vSphere Web Client.

• REST API enhancements Release 5.5 facilitates the usage of vCenter Orchestrator REST API because of enhancements in JSON support and simplified integration with vCenter Single Sign-On. The Orchestrator environment can now be programmatically configured to more easily deploy Orchestrator instances not only for test and development purposes but also to scale up automation capacity as demand increases. Beyond this, it also provides the major capability to leverage Orchestrator workflows in a localized environment if the dedicated property files are used for the specific language.

more info on new features here.

Introduction of VMware vSphere Flash Read Cache

This post is part of a series of blogpostings on VMworld 2013 announcements. See here for a complete overview of all announcements.

vSphere Flash Read Cache is a new vSphere feature introduced in version 5.5. The feature  was previously known in the vSphere  Beta as  Virtual Flash or vFlash. It aggregates local flash devices to provide a clustered flash resource for VM and vSphere hosts consumption (Virtual Flash Host Swap Cache)

VMware vSphere 5.5 introduces new functionality to leverage flash storage devices on a VMware ESXi host. The vSphere Flash Infrastructure layer is part of the ESXi storage stack for managing flash storage devices that are locally connected to the server. These devices can be of multiple types (primarily PCIe flash cards and SAS/SATA SSD drives) and the vSphere Flash Infrastructure layer is used to aggregate these flash devices into a unified flash resource. You can choose whether or not to add a flash device to this unified resource, so that if some devices need to be made available to the virtual machine directly, this can be done.

The flash resource created by the vSphere Flash Infrastructure layer can be used for two purposes: (1) read caching of virtual machine I/O requests (vSphere Flash Read Cache) and (2) storing the host swap file. This paper focuses on the performance benefits and best practice guidelines when using the flash resource for read caching of virtual machine I/O requests.


This feature is available in vSphere 5.5 Enterprise Plus edition only!

Flash Read Cache provides  very similar features to cache located inside storage arrays. The problem with this SAN-based cache is that the cache is behind the controllers. Performance of controllers could be an issue to get the max out of the cache. Also the application requests for data need to go over several network hops (SAN switches) before it reaches the cache. This adds to the latency.

The idea of Flash Read Cache is to decouple performance (IOPS) from capacity (GB). Performance is brought to the server while capacity is still on the SAN, or locally when VMware VSAN is used.

Some of the key features of Flash Read Cache are:

  • Hypervisor-based software-defined flash storage tier solution.
  • Aggregates local flash devices to provide a clustered flash resource for VM and vSphere hosts consumption (Virtual Flash Host Swap Cache)
  • Leverages local flash devices as a cache
  • Integrated with vCenter, HA, DRS, vMotion
  • Scale-Out Storage Capability: 32 nodes

Why buy capacity (more spindles) to get performance like done now in traditional SAN? Flash Read Cache and other server-side flash software solutions use  server-side caching to minimize the I/O traffic load on central storage.


Benefits of Flash Read Cache are:

  • Cache is a high-speed memory that can be either a reserved section of main memory or a storage device.
  • Supports Write Through Cache Mode
  • Improve virtual machines performance by leveraging local flash devices
  • Ability to virtualize suitable business critical applications

This is a server based flash tier. One of the main customer benefits is acceleration for business critical applications. Examples of applications which can benefit from Flash Read Cache are Oracle, Exchange Server and SQL Server, IBM DB2 and Sharepoint

Another use case for Flash Read Cache is VDI.

Hardware requirements: needs SSD for read cache. Not every node in a vFlash enables cluster needs to have SSD storage.

Management of Flash Read Cache can only be done using the vSphere Web client.

Until vSphere 5.5 VMware did not utilize local SSD devices for VMs. SSD could be used by ESXi hosts for swap to SSD. ESXi has the ability to utilize up to 4TB of vSphere Flash Resource for vSphere Flash Host Swap caching purposes.

it virtualizes server flash in a resource pool just like CPU and memory.

Supported SSD devies will be listed in the Hardware Compatibility List. As a guideline use any eMLC class or better Flash device with reasonable reliability (at least 10 writes/cell per day) and performance (~20K random write IOPs).

Applications and virtual machines are unaware they were using flash storage. The Flash storage sits  between the Virtual machine and datastore presented by SAN or local storage. It is very much like how SAN’s are using DRAM or SSD in their SAN’s to provide more IOPS.

Flash Read Cache is a platform which is open to third party vendors .

The max capacity for vFlash per host is 2TB. It cannot use SSD drives when those drives are already in use by VSAN. A Flash Read Cache cluster can scale to maximum 32 nodes.

Flash based devices are pooled into a new file system called VFFS.

Flash Read Cache resources can be allocated to virtual machines and to VMDKs

Flash Read Cache Resource has been created, its capacity is available for consumption by virtual machines as well as hosts for swap cache.

The Flash Read Cache works best with workloads that are read intensive, with a high rate of repeat accesses to the same blocks, locality of access to blocks. And the workload should be such that the working set (accessed via read IOs) should fit within the cache to ensure the maximum cache hit

A VM can have reservations configured for Flash Read Cache. However a vMotion of such a VM will fail if the destination host does not offer Flash Read Cache.

A VM which is using a VSAN datastore (which already has read cache and write cache by design) cannot be enable for Flash Read Cache.

Flash Read Cache and HA work in co-ordination with each other. When HA is invoked for a VM, it will be restarted on a host with sufficient resources to honor the Flash Read Cache reservation for the VM. In vSphere 5.5 , Flash Read Cache will only support hard reservations. Thus, a VM with a Flash Read Cache reservation that cannot be satisfied on another host will not be restarted on another host.

In vSphere 5.5, DRS can manage virtual machines that have Flash Read Cache reservations.

Flash Read Cache capacity appears as a statistic that is regularly reported from the host to the vSphere Web Client.

Each time DRS runs, it uses the most recent capacity value reported.

You can configure one Flash Read Cache resource per host. This means that during virtual machine power-on time,

DRS does not need to select between different vFlash resources on a given host. DRS selects a host that has sufficient available Flash capacity to start the virtual machine. If DRS cannot satisfy the Flash Read Cache reservation of a virtual machine, it cannot be powered-on. DRS treats a powered-on virtual machine with a Flash Read Cache reservation as having a soft affinity with its current host. DRS will not recommend such a virtual machine for vMotion except for mandatory reasons, such as putting a host in maintenance mode, or to reduce the load on an over utilized host.

Compareable solutions are Fusion-io ioTurbine, Infinio Systems Inc.’s Accelerator, QLogic’s Mt. Rainier FabricCache  and Pernixdata FVP . PernixData however goes one step further and creates a clustered pool of server-side flash across multiple servers. It can be used to accelerate both reads and writes..To compare, PernixData FVP license costs about $ 7500 per host.

Duncan Epping has a post about vSphere Flash Read Cache here.
VMware published a whitepaper titled Performance of vSphere Flash Read Cache in VMware vSphere 5.5 – Performance Study

VMworld sessions on vSphere Flash Read Cache:  VSVC5603 – Extreme Performance Series: Storage in a Flash. The outline of this session is:

Flash-based storage has been gaining traction in the enterprise storage world and almost every major storage vendor has come up with new products that leverage flash technology in their respective storage systems. While storage array-side enhancements with flash is interesting, embracing flash technology natively at the server can pave the way for more holistic management and performance optimization of resources. Servers that make use of flash storage technology to improve overall IO performance do ease storage management by means of software-defined storage. Come to this session and explore flash technologies, practices and performance.

What is new in VMware vSphere Data Protection

This post is part of a series of blogpostings on VMworld 2013 announcements. See here for a complete overview of all announcements.

VMware vSphere Data Protection (VDP) is VMware’s backup and restore tool. It is provided for free with vSphere Essentials Plus and higher editions.

So far the features of the tool were very limited. Use cases  of VDP are small companies, remote offices etc.

vSphere Data Protection

With this release, vSphere Data Protection (VDP) gains the following capabilities:

  • Disk-level granularity
  • Detachable/remountable data partitions
  • Replication to the cloud. Data can be replicated to a cloud provider who has EMC Avamar
  • Time-of-day scheduling
  • Removal of the blackout window
  • Restore without dependancy of vCenter. Direct to host “Emergency Restore” for any VM

vSphere Data Protection Advanced (VDP Advanced) offers all the features available in VDP, plus these:

  • Replication
  • Data Domain integration
  • Exchange message-level recovery
  • SharePoint integration
  • Automated backup verification

more info on the VMware website.

One of the new features in  VDP is the ability to select individual .vmdk files for backup. To avoid backing up an OS page or swap file, perhaps it now makes sense to create a separate .vmdk file for the page/swap file, which could then be excluded from VDP backup jobs.

Another new feature is that scheduling of backup jobs is now much more granular. The time of the start can now be set. In the past VDP selected the runtime by itself.

The datastore where to store the VDP operating system disk and the data disk can now be individually set. In the past this had to be on the same datastore. This now enables a scenario in which the VDP OS is lost due to a disaster. A new VDP virtual appliance can be installed and point to the original VDP data disk.

An introduction to VMware AppHA

This post is part of a series of blogpostings on VMworld 2013 announcements. See here for a complete overview of all announcements.

In VMware vSphere 5,5 VMware introduced a new feature called AppHA. AppHA is part of VMware HA and monitors the status of services running in the guest. This is done using vFabric Hyperic agents which needs to be installed in each guest. Also you need a AppHA virtual applance and a Hyperic server

 vSphere App HA provide application aware high availability. While vSphere HA provides protect your application, it is not application aware and cannot detect and remediate software failures. vSphere App HA provides application protection by detecting application availability issues and automatically remediating them.

It is possible to set policies like:

  • When the applications fails, restart the application service
  • If the service restart fails, reset the VM
  • Trigger a vCenter Server alarm
  • Send an email notification

Main features

1. Autodiscover application services and their availability status
2. Simple 3 click creation of remediation policies
3. Safe VM restart (through HA API) of VMs in case of application restart failure
4. Integration with VC alarms to provide visibility to application downtime

The services supported by vSphere App HA are limited at the moment:

  • MSSQL 2005, 2008, 2008R2, 2012
  • Tomcat 6.0, 7.0
  • TC Server Runtime 6.0, 7.0
  • IIS 6.0, 7.0, 8.0
  • Apache HTTP Server 1.3, 2.0, 2.2

vsphere-App HA architecture

This post is part of a series of blogpostings on VMworld 2013 announcements. See here for a complete overview of all announcements.

%d bloggers like this: