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What is under the virtualization hood of vCloud Suite 5.8?

With vSphere Enterprise Plus as its foundation, vCloud Suite can optimize workload performance by shifting resources and avoid potential roadblocks through its monitoring functionality.

VMware's vCloud Suite 5.8 relies on vSphere Enterprise Plus -- and the ESXi hypervisor -- to provide the underlying virtualization capabilities for a private cloud environment. The list of features and capabilities is far too long to cover here, but there are some key virtualization and provisioning features that potential adopters should examine.

A core element of any virtualization platform is nondisruptive workload migration, and vMotion can move VMs to optimize computing resources or support nondisruptive system maintenance across the data center. Storage vMotion provides similar capabilities for the storage subsystem, allowing manual movement of virtual machine disk files (VMDKs) between disks and storage arrays on demand.

Intelligent automation based on policies and monitored conditions rather than direct administrative intervention keep VMs running at a high level. Distributed resource scheduler (DRS) can automatically adjust computing resources to VMs and migrate them between systems for load balancing. DRS also handles storage, and storage DRS can balance VM loads to optimize storage utilization and I/O demands.

Disk access can impose storage and network latency that reduces performance. Administrators should consider host-based caching to accelerate workload performance. flash read cache uses solid-state disk (SSD) storage to cache frequently accessed content and speed performance for important applications. Read-intensive workloads using the same content frequently will benefit from a flash read cache more than write-intensive workloads or applications that rarely reuse the same content.

Data protection and recovery are also important capabilities for a virtualized environment, and vCloud Suite 5.8 uses vSphere's VM replication capabilities for basic recovery. High-availability capabilities allow for fast recoveries and restarts of VMs disrupted by system failures or other faults. Recent improvements include greater self-service and policy-driven provisioning of disaster-recovery storage tiers, so more important workloads can be protected and recovered with higher priority and better performance.

Another recent improvement to VCloud Suite 5.8 is its support for Hadoop 2.6, allowing vSphere to virtualize and scale big-data workloads.

With vSphere, enterprises get comprehensive management capabilities for vCloud Suite 5.8 environments -- even across multiple data centers -- through a single console. Management views show performance metrics that can learn the behaviors of an environment and set alert thresholds, then monitor workloads and report on faults and resource issues that can impair workload performance or stability. Management also handles capacity analysis so administrators can see resource constraints or bottlenecks in the short term, then project and plan future resource needs for the long term.

Additional components of vCloud Suite 5.8 provide a high level of automatic and rules-based provisioning. For example, provisioning workflows can be customized and automated with an array of predefined tasks to speed the creation of complex new VMs. Computing resources can be reserved for specific groups, and service levels can be defined. Service tiers are also supported, allowing critical workloads to utilize higher-tier resources. This helps to establish well-conceived self-service provisioning that applies the correct resource allocation, protection and management. Workloads can also be tracked by activity level, and unused workloads can be powered off and removed to free resources for reuse.

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