VMware CTO Cites Virtues Of Virtual Machines

There's no excuse not to run your database system in a virtual machine, VMware CTO Stephen Herrod said in his keynote at VMworld Europe.
As the database transaction activity picked up, Herrod said use of eight virtual CPUs showed "near prefect scaling." In other words, doubling the virtual CPUs doubled the database throughput.

"Oracle has done a very good job of scaling" its database server to take advantage of additional CPUs, he added. Not all server systems are engineered to take advantage of multiple CPUs. It took transactions being drawn off of 510 disk spindles simultaneously "to saturate what this single virtual machine could drive," Herrod said.

"There's no excuse not to run your database system in a virtual machine," Herrod said.

In another example, he said a Web server running on a virtual machine on a four-way, 16-core piece of hardware, such as the HP ProLiant 585 G5, can produce a SpecWeb2005 benchmark of 44,000, or the equivalent of 3 billion views per day. The SpecWeb2005 result stands as a record for 16-core machines, he said. For purposes of comparison, he said eBay generates about 1 billion views a day, he said.

VMware has virtual data center operating features coming in the form of a vShield product late this year. They will implement security zones across physical servers, with the protections of a given zone following an application around if it's moved from one physical server to another, Herrod said. Its vSafe API allows third parties such as Symantec and McAfee to work on virtualization security products as well, he said.

VMware is also expanding the capacity of its former Virtual Center software to manage multiple virtual machines. Now called vCenter Server, the management interface can manage 2,000 VMs on up to 200 physical servers. In the future, it will manage 3,000 VMs on up to 300 servers. VMware is working on LinkMode for vCenter Server, which will let one management interface track 10 vCenter Servers simultaneously or 30,000 virtual machines.

The virtual data center operating system has great potential to concentrate more operations into the hands of fewer systems managers, Herrod said. It can incorporate more automated operations governed by rules and policies, such as provisioning servers, and saving energy by shifting virtual machines around, he added.

As IT groups spawn new virtual machines at a breakneck pace, security is too often an afterthought. Can VMware's dominance of the enterprise server virtualization market buy us some breathing room? InformationWeek has published an independent analysis of this topic. Download the report here (registration required).