Our Platform. Part 3: Software
Why VMware and not Xen/Hyper-V or others? This is the third in a four part series discussing our technology choices; in this part we’ll look at the software components that make up our platform.
The choice of hypervisor is perhaps the most crucial choice of all. We required a hypervisor that would enable us to offer a true enterprise cloud environment. In all of our testing VMware was the clear leader.
We performed back to back benchmarking to see what performance differences there were; we found that VMware was the most efficient, losing only 2% of the underlying hardware’s performance, whereas other hypervisors lost up to 25%. Since we plan on offering dedicated server customers a true replacement, every ounce of performance counts.
Networking was a clear lead for VMware. With the Distributed Virtual Switch and Software Defined Networking no other competitor even got a look in. We have implemented true SDN with QoS and high availability and through the use of paravirtualised adapters and hardware-assisted network adapters throughput is incredible.
Provisioning storage for use with all hypervisors is pretty basic stuff, but VMware take storage to a new level with features such as Storage vMotion, Profile-Driven Storage, Network I/O Control etc. Software-defined storage is now a reality.
Reliability, management interfaces, APIs, scalability, the list goes on and on. We’ll be keeping a close eye on the development of Hyper-V but for now VMware has the lead by a long way.
Veeam Backup & Recovery
Almost as important as the choice of hypervisor, the solution used for backup & recovery has to be bombproof. Luckily, Veeam is the clear and obvious choice for any VMware site since it ticks the “reliable” box but is also jam packed with features that are useful on a day to day basis. Veeam have a licensing model designed for service providers so it’s reassuring to know a vendor understands and works with their target market.
In conjunction with VMware and our enterprise SAN storage, Veeam is truly awesome. Our Veeam servers request snapshots be taken of VMs (which are hardware assisted by the SAN and VAAI integration). They then access the SANs directly at 20Gbit speeds, reading only the data that has changed (via VMware Changed Block Tracking). Data is de-duped and compressed and stored offsite in a most efficient manner.
The result - a VM backup only takes minutes to run and has no impact on the running of the VM. Gone are the days when backups took hours to run and placed large demands on the servers’ CPU and I/O performance.
Restores are a breeze, we can use Veeam’s vPower technology to perform “instant restores” if need be, where a VM is quickly mounted from a Veeam backup, then we can use Storage vMotion to move the restored VM back to the SAN. This means that in the event of needing a restore, a customer can still be up and running within minutes.
>> Part 1: Servers
>> Part 2: Network
>> Part 3: Software
>> Part 4: Storage