If you are lucky enough to be working on one of HP’s smoking hot Nahalem servers, then you’ll more than likely be tasked with installed VMware’s ESX or ESXi on the server. If you are like me, then you’ll be faced with an install where no optical drive is present on the server.
Here’s how to knock the install out in short order:
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VMware has made a significant change that when used in conjunction with the latest intel (Nehalem) or AMD (Istanbul) CPU can take a one vCPU VM performance to a new height.
ESX hosts might become incompatible with ESXi hosts for VMware Fault Tolerance (FT) purposes after they are patched, even though they are patched to the same level.
This issue is a result of the ESX and ESXi patching process. It will be resolved in a future release so that compatible ESX and ESXi versions are able to interoperate with VMware FT Primary and Secondary virtual machines, even though patch numbers do not match exactly.
In particular, ESX 4.0 and ESXi 4.0 hosts with patches ESX400-200906401-BG (ESX) and ESXi400-200906401-BG (ESXi) become incompatible and can no longer run a Primary and Secondary virtual machine of the same FT pair.
When creating a cluster that will have fault tolerant virtual machines, the cluster should consist of all ESX hosts or all ESXi hosts and not a mix of ESX and ESXi hosts.
If you have a mixed cluster, the ESX and ESXi hosts might become incompatible for VMware Fault Tolerance purposes, even if they are patched to the same level. There will be less flexibility in running fault tolerant virtual machine pairs in the cluster, and it may also mean that a compatible host for starting a new Secondary virtual machine cannot be found if a host in the cluster fails.
It looks like ESXi is the way to go– it’s free (until you want to upgrade it to the vSphere feature set), and apparently has a better architecture. It also looks like it’s going to be the main focus hypervisor-wise for VMware moving forward. This was posted on the ESXi team blog on the VMware site:
VMware made the decision to make VMware ESXi, our next generation hypervisor, freely available to proliferate the VMware platform and allow administrators to prove its value at no cost. However, the fact that the older platform, VMware ESX, is not also available for free has lead some people to believe that ESXi may be inferior or not as feature-rich as ESX. This is certainly not the case. In fact, the opposite is true.
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According to VMware’s Thin Provisioning data sheet, there is ZERO performance penalty when disks are thin provisioned.
“Thin provisioning of virtual disks allows virtual machines on VMware ESX™ hosts to provision the entire space required for the disk’s current and future activities, but at first commits only as much storage space as the disk needs for its initial operation. It achieves this with zero performance impact ,continuous service availability and complete data integrity.”
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