Blog Authors: IBM Software Defined 2700052JD4 Virtualization+IBM 2700039S5C Nitin_Gaur 12000056JB Jean Staten Healy 2700025BBU John_Foley 0600026N82 SamVanAlstyne 110000DM6B alicia_wood 270003DW0M Virtualization combined with Integrated Service Management helps you use your resources effectively, manage your infrastructures efficiently and gain the flexibility to meet ever changing business demands. This blog is for the open exchange of ideas relating to virtualization across the entire infrastructure. Articles written by IBM's virtualization experts serve as conversation starters. Topics can range from latest technologies for server consolidation and tools for simplified systems management and monitoring to automating IT systems to respond to changing business conditions and cloud-based solutions for the "virtual" enterprise.
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This blog was originally posted by Red Hat here.
Red Hat & IBM Performance Teams
Red Hat is excited to announce today that the Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) hypervisor, which is incorporated in both Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization, has again achieved top performance results. This latest performance mark was achieved on the IBM® System x3850 X5 host server with Qlogic® QLE 256x Host Bus Adapters, Red Hat® Enterprise Linux® 6.3 hypervisor and Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.3 guests. During testing by IBM, KVM demonstrated its ability to handle I/O rates at the storage performance levels required by enterprise workloads, with four guests handling more than 1.4 million I/Os per second (IOPS). The results are further proof that virtualized workloads can maintain consistent high performance as compared with baremetal deployments.
The relationship between the hypervisor and its Linux kernel allows it to run on a dual design, unifying the host and hypervisor modes. Red Hat Enterprise Linux supports multiple virtualization use cases, allowing customers to choose when and where to use virtualization. By leveraging the Linux operating system, KVM virtualization overhead is minimized, but not to the detriment of performance. The Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.3 release also supports up to the leading 160 virtual CPUs per virtual machine, allowing even large workloads to be virtualized.
These tests, run on the Red Hat and IBM technology combination described above, have demonstrated that enterprise workloads can be efficiently migrated into a virtualized environment while still delivering high performance results. The KVM host server, consisting of an IBM System x3850 X5 with four Intel Xeon® E7-4870 processors (sockets) and 256 GB of memory, ran on a storage back-end capable of delivering at 1.4 million IOPS.
Single and multiple virtual machines were tested, using Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.3 on all guests and on the host. Both reads and writes were included in the test workload in order to more accurately simulate the demands of an enterprise workload. Using only four guests, KVM was able to achieve up to 1.4 million IOPS for random I/O requests of 8KB in size and more than 1.6 million for random requests of 4KB in size. The KVM performance matched the physical operating system performance of this setup and KVM was bounded by the test storage back-end performance. Using a single guest, KVM was able to achieve about 800,000 IOPS for random I/O requests of 8KB in size, and more than 900,000 IOPS for random requests of 4 KB or less. It should be noted that VMware recently indicated that it could achieve one million IOPS for a single host running six virtual machines running on a vSphere™ 5.0 host.1
Average latency rates for both tests remained low and constant across different I/O request sizes, demonstrating that block I/O performance on KVM can remain predictable, even with a changing number of guests. As the number of guests and I/O requests increases, block I/O performance on the KVM hypervisor is able to scale to match demand load.
Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization for Desktops and Servers is the first enterprise-ready, fully open source virtualization platform. Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization offers industry-leading performance and scalability for real-world enterprise applications including Oracle, SAP and Microsoft Exchange, and includes enterprise virtualization management features such as live migration, high availability, load balancing and power saving. Because Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization is available through Red Hat’s software subscription model, users benefit from lower acquisition ownership costs for the same or better feature set when compared to other solutions. The platform recently entered beta for its upcoming 3.1 release.
Because Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization and Red Hat Enterprise Linux incorporate the same KVM hypervisor, those systems using Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization are gaining the same virtualization technology that achieved the top performance posted by the Red Hat Enterprise Linux KVM and IBM systems used for this performance trial.
To read more about this top virtualization performance result from Red Hat and IBM, read the full performance brief here: https://access.redhat.com/knowledge/refarch/2012-red-hat-enterprise-linux-kvm-hypervisor-io-achieving-unprecedented-virtualiza.
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Enterprise adoption of KVM is growing, and KVM features are continually being updated and expanded. Development in KVM is focused not only on high performance – the must-have for enterprise adoption – but also on support for application developers and Systems Administrators storage, usability, high availability, disaster recovery, and security. As an active participant in the KVM development community, IBM continues to dedicate its considerable expertise to open virtualization with KVM. (Learn more about the IBM KVM commitment.) Here is a look at some of the KVM features we expect to see in upcoming enterprise Linux releases – and why they will matter to enterprise users.
Support for Application Developers and Systems
Why it matters
Why it matters
There are four things about KVM FS that are important. The first is that it is integrated so you don’t need to install it and clustered file systems are typically really difficult to install. Second, it is designed to serve up virtual disk images - it knows that it is working with virtual disk images that represent a virtual machine and it treats them that way specifically. When you back up a file, it knows that you are backing up a virtual machine and it knows that you need to do something like take a snapshot of the virtual machine and then back up the base image. Third, it also allows you to migrate that virtual machine and have access to the virtual machine image file. That is why it’s so notable and such a good feature. And fourth, VMware has a feature called VM FS which is integrated clustered file system that does the same thing as KVM FS, so KVM FS is significant because it will give KVM something that is directly analogous to VMware’s VM FS.
Usability and Device Support
Why it matters
High Availability and Disaster Recovery
Why it matters
The specific feature on the way is called a “static root of trust,” and it is the first step in Trusted Computing. It means that the first thing you do is validate the boot block to make sure it has not been tampered with, and then you validate the boot loader - and if the boot loader is good, it validates the kernel that it boots. And then, at that point you can validate other software that you load, extending the trust chain. The reason it is static is that it has to start at boot up and you can’t re-establish that chain of trust until you boot the machine up again.
Why it matters
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How to avoid headaches and risk by using IBM Systems Director VMControl and SmartCloud Entry
When organizations start thinking about embarking on a cloud deployment, they see the advantages of a utility-like model and the appeal of something such as Amazon’s EC2 public cloud offering resonates strongly with them. However, according to the analysts, a primary concern about using public clouds is security, since most people have heard the horror stories about outages and data leaks. And so, despite the ease-of-use of the public cloud, the attraction of private cloud is that clients get the same user experience but it is all safely built inside of their own firewall - using their own resources and their own IT infrastructure, thereby eliminating what they perceive as the biggest risks with a public cloud.
But what often gets overlooked in the evaluation of public vs. private cloud is that when anyone enters into an agreement to use a public cloud, they never have the headache of looking after the infrastructure. They basically pay for the workloads they want and get billed as they use them and that is all they have to do. The cloud provider, whether it is Amazon or someone else, has an army of people who are in charge of looking after the hardware that is running that cloud: keeping it properly functioning, managing it and patching it - and there is a lot of work involved in doing that. When a customer decides to implement a private cloud model, they inherit that maintenance headache - along with everything else that comes with being responsible for a cloud infrastructure.
As a result, when you think about implementing a private cloud, it is also necessary to think about how you will manage not only the virtualized resources but also the underlying physical infrastructure to guarantee service delivery and adhere to SLAs. Where IBM has a significant benefit over competing private cloud software providers is that we also deliver the platform management to help clients look after the physical infrastructure - and none of our competitors do that.
SmartCloud Entry is a thin layer of software that overlays IBM Systems Director and IBM Systems Director VMControl. Those products provide you with platform management and the virtualization management. SmartCloud Entry adds cloud capabilities as well as a simple self-service Web portal enabling end users to provision their own workloads without involving the IT or systems administrator. It also takes care of metrics on the back end to track who is using which workload for how long so that the IT team can then “bill” people as they use workloads, providing a method to move to a pay-as-you-go or utility model as opposed to the traditional route of having to pay capital expense for provisioning new hardware and software. And, it also pushes the burden of provisioning (or creating a new virtual machine or workload) to the individual so it becomes a self-service IT infrastructure instead of having those requests become backlogged tasks for IT administrators.
With something like vCloud from VMware, clients get a cloud management layer but nothing to help diagnose or fix the underlying physical infrastructure if anything goes wrong – whereas, IBM offers that as an inherent part of SmartCloud Entry. We give you the tools you need to manage, diagnose, and repair the physical infrastructure to keep a cloud up and running and that is a major benefit of SmartCloud Entry.
Currently, PowerVM and VMware are supported by SmartCloud Entry, with support for additional hypervisors to be added in the future. There is a very high level of interest in KVM. We have large numbers of customers that are clearly looking to move to open source and KVM in a big way including their approach to delivering those workloads through the cloud.
Why KVM and Cloud?
Just think about what happens when organizations are using something like Amazon, a public cloud. In that scenario, they don’t know or care what the infrastructure is underneath so long as it works and the workloads are available. Adding this cloud layer of abstraction provides a great opportunity for alternative technologies like KVM. If the technology presents a great value proposition to the operators of the cloud in terms of both costs and the features that is offered, it gives them a good way to accelerate their deployment in large organizations.
Customer Reduces Server Count by 80% with IBM Systems Director Software and KVM
The partner also helped the client implement IBM Systems Director VMControl Enterprise Edition V2.4 software to manage the virtualized environment and provide advanced levels of usability and visibility. By implementing IBM System x servers virtualized with KVM hypervisor technology and running IBM Systems Director software, the client consolidated the work of 57 previous servers into just nine System x servers - a server reduction of 84%. As a result, the client significantly reduced electricity and space consumption in its data center, greatly simplified IT administration, and gained the scalability to accommodate ongoing business growth.
The Pieces Add Up
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Generally, when we think about new technology we tend to focus on all the advantages it adds. And, in the case of server virtualization - a technology that has been strongly embraced over the past decade as it expanded beyond the mainframe into the realm of x86 servers - the advantages are many. Virtualization is being widely embraced in the enterprise because it enables greater utilization of an existing infrastructure, flexibility in terms of reallocating resources when they are needed and where, and not incidentally, significant cost savings due to a smaller physical footprint, energy efficiency and the ability to avoid or postpone new hardware purchases.
Those are some pretty powerful advantages – no argument there. But what about the complexity that is with the need to manage physical and virtualized servers, and the increasing need to manage more than one hypervisor? That’s a compelling issue, as well – and this is where IBM Systems Director with VMControl comes in.
WHAT IS SYSTEMS DIRECTOR?
The base level of capability we call VM lifecycle management includes the ability to create or delete the virtual machines to configure it to start and stop, pause or relocate between servers, as well as all of the basic operations that get done every day at a customer site. And we have that level of support for the broadest number of hypervisors. On System x, we include that level of support for VMware ESXi as well as for KVM (Kernel-based Virtual Machine), and for Microsoft Hyper-V. We also have that level of support for PowerVM on the Power platform and z/VM on the mainframe.
Beyond this base level, IBM also offers higher level editions of VMControl that add functionality such as image management and system pools, which is the ability to combine multiple virtual machines across multiple servers and manage them as though they were a single physical entity. That advanced support is now available for PowerVM on Power Systems and for KVM on System x, and this level of advanced support for additional hypervisors is on our product roadmap.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO SUPPORT A RANGE OF HYPERVISORS?
In the past, many customers would purchase both the hypervisor and the virtualization management from vendors such as VMware, but now with the choice of hypervisors, and the advances that have been made by Windows with the Hyper-V hypervisor and with Linux distributions such as Red Hat with KVM, customers are getting very good hypervisors and virtualization solutions at no extra cost “in the box” with the operating system. Since it is something that they have to pay for anyway, many customers are thinking: Why pay this additional “tax” for third-party virtualization when I am getting “good enough” hypervisor technology bundled with the operating system?
With Windows DataCenter Edition clients get Hyper-V and can have an unlimited numbers of Windows guests and with the equivalent version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux they get KVM and can have unlimited Linux guests for no additional cost. As a result, they are not removing VMware, but as they deploy new servers they are choosing not to put VMware on everything. For systems that are targeted primarily for Linux workloads, clients often choose Red Hat Enterprise Linux since they get KVM for no additional cost, and with IBM Systems Director VMControl, we provide a way to manage the KVM hypervisor that comes with Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.2.
MANAGING PHYSICAL AND VIRTUAL RESOURCES THROUGH ONE PANE OF GLASS
The transition to cloud computing blurs the lines between administrators and users, with workload provisioning being delegated to end users and consumption of IT resources shifting to a ‘pay as you go’ model. Likewise, administrators are having to broaden their skill sets beyond a single type of resource (such as servers, networks or storage) and become multi-skilled in order to support cloud infrastructures requiring pooled resources. IBM Systems Director is rapidly evolving to support the increasingly sophisticated demands of this next generation of administrator.