VCP 4 Prep Objective 1.5 – Identify vSphere Architecture and Solutions

Objective 1.5 – Identify vSphere Architecture and Solutions

Differentiate VMware platform products and editions

VMware has a number of platform based or hosted product which allow users to create and work with virtual machines.

VMware Workstation is an hosted application which requires an underlying operating system such as Microsoft Windows or Linux. The Workstation product tends to be where new features are introduced before being implemented into ESX/ESXi; features such as virtual machine snapshots, multicore virtual processors etc.

VMware Workstation supports 32 and 64 bit operating systems, USB 2.0 devices such as webcams and iPods, four way virtual symmetric processing, etc. All in all VMware Workstation is a good tool for development and training environments.

VMware Fusion is very similar to VMware Workstation but is for Apple MAC. Fusion has features like unity which allows you to run Microsoft Windows application from the MAC; behind the scenes the application is executing within a Microsoft Windows virtual machine.

VMware Server is a free hosted virtualisation platform which allows users to test and evaluate operating system and application deployments; maybe even deploy low end production servers though the free version of ESXi would be a more sensible option. Server as enough features to get you started but lacks some of the features of Workstation and Fusion.

VMware Player is a runtime environment for prepackages virtual machines. Player would run virtual machines packaged by Workstations ACE feature.

Understand the various datacenter solutions (View, SRM, Lab Manager, etc.)

VMware View is a virtual desktop product (think it was previously VDI). View allows you to present pools of desktop resources to end users; the desktops can be provisioned manually or automatically. An interesting feature of View is View composer, this allows all virtual machines to share one master image to conserve diskspace.

VMware View is built on top of ESX/ESXi infrastructure thus has the same datacenter features as ESX/ESXi.

VMware Site Recovery Manager is a disaster recovery product. SRM has some nice features which one automate disaster recovery and two allows you to perform nondisruptive testings disaster recovery plans.

VMware Lab Manager is a development and or testing environment product. Lab Manager would for instance allow a software developer to spawn a number of virtual machine in an isolated environment to test their application.Lab Manager also utilises the same technology as View composer to reduce storage costs but also perform efficient provisioning.

Explain ESX/ESXi architecture

ESX and ESXi are both bare metal hypervisors with the same datacenter feature set; the only real difference seems to be the management functionality. ESX has a service console which can run 3rd party scripts, have 3rd party applications running, such as monitoring and backup agents, whereas ESXi has no service console. Management of ESXi is performed via the vsphere client or the remote CLI.

The service console has been replaced in ESXi by the CIM broker; the CIM broker collects information from CIM providers (these can be 3rd party providers) and presents this to the outside world via WS-MAN or CIM-XML.

The ESX installation is quite lengthy, collecting lots of information during the setup whereas the ESXi setup on the otherhand is very short. When the installation is finished (installable edition) the server boots and requires minimal setup such as set a password, configure networking and restart the management network so the IP addressing takes effect.

Compare and contrast bare metal vs. hosted architecture

The bare metal hypervisor is installed directly onto the x86 hardware; the hypervisor has full control of the underlying hardware resources, has a smaller footprint thus is more secure and more efficient but because ESX/ESXi is propritary the hardware supported is limited. 

The hosted hypervisor installs onto a server or desktop operating system as an application thus is limited to the hardware resources supported by that operating system and also has to complete for resources. The hosted hypervisor is more flexible than the bare metal hypervisor in that it can be installed on most hardware.

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