VMWorld 2009 recap: Cisco UCS, WAAS.. and more

With over 12,000 attendees, VMWorld 2009 was definitely impressive. It was great to be there as part of the Cisco data center team and see Cisco continue to make progress into the server & virtualization space. A few exciting technology showcases & announcements that were exciting to me:

VMWorld Data Center chose Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) to virtualize and reduced an environment of 37,728 physical servers using 2,483 racks and 25,329 KW of power to 776 physical servers in 28 racks using 528 KW of power.

The Cisco UCS infrastructure supported all the instructor-led labs with an aggregate of 4096 Intel Nehalem Cores and 24 TB of memory using:

16 racks
64 chassis
512 blades
32 6120 XP Fabric interconnects (2 per rack)

Here’s a cool time-lapsed video on the entire build out of the Data Center at VMworld:

Virtual Desktops are gaining momentum as more businesses begin to explore centralized desktop provisioning & deployment. However, performance & availability present major challenges in a company’s availability to successful transition into virtual desktops. Cisco had a cool flash demo showing side-by-side comparison of a virtual desktop with and without optimization using Cisco WAAS & ACE. I’m trying to track down a published version of the demo. In the meantime, you can find a number of technical documents on deploying View with WAAS & ACE on cisco.com.

On the virtual appliance front, SUSE Studio is a free tool from Novell that allows you to quickly build a custom linux distro with your application. The resulting image can then be deployed onto physical servers or logical environments such as ESX, EC2, and more. This is a really convenient way to quickly deploy a custom application on a thinned and locked down OS. I wish this tool was around 5 years ago when I was supporting a Web Application Acceleration appliance at my previous company!

For IT shops in need of a VM backup and management strategy, take a look at Veeam. I met up with Doug Hazelman of Veeam briefly at the show and started take a closer look at their products. One of my customers completely depends on Veeam to manage their entire virtualization environment. I plan to install one of the Veeam products in  my lab, probably starting with the free Veeam Monitor.

Finally one of the big announcements at VMWorld is the launch of vCloud Express. VMware now partners with hosting companies to deliver the ability to provision infrastructure on-demand and paid by the hour.  The main benefit of vCloud Express is the compatibility with other VMware environments. This is a leg up over existing cloud infrastructure such as EC2 or Rackspace. I’ve not explored much into the management of the virtual machines and I’d love to see tools that can orchestrate a provisioning process to automatically spin up & down machines for capacity planning & DR purposes.

Lots of exciting activities in the virtualization space. Can’t wait to see how the industry progresses when we get to VMWorld 2010.