We are pleased to announce we are one of the first UK Cloud providers to be offering hosted virtual machines on VMware’s feature rich ESX4 vSphere platform.

This powerful hypervisor enables us to offer features such as Dynamic Hot Add Hardware, Extended OS Support, up to 8 vCPU’s per VM, and many more.

The new and enhanced features that vSphere 4.0 enables us to offer our clients are listed below:

vApps — vApps simplify the deployment and ongoing management of an n-tier application in multiple virtual machines by encapsulating the n-tier application into a single vApp entity. vApps encapsulate not only virtual machines but also their interdependencies and resource allocations, which allows for single-step power operations, cloning, deployment, and monitoring of the entire application. vCenter Server now supports creating and running vApps, as well as importing and exporting them in compliance with Open Virtualisation Format (OVF) 1.0 standard. As virtualDCS provide vCenter console access, our clients can utilise third party vApps solutions, or develop their own.

Fault Tolerance — Vmware Fault Tolerance (FT) provides zero downtime and zero data loss availability for all virtual machines during server hardware failures. Enabling FT for a specific virtual machine allows a secondary copy of that virtual machine to run in lockstep synchronization on another ESX host. This setup allows instantaneous, stateful failover between the two virtual machines, and eliminates disruption due to hardware failures on either host.

Storage Vmotion Enhancements — Storage Vmotion can now be administered through vCenter Server and works across NFS, Fibre Channel, and iSCSI storage networking protocols. Resource consumption is minimised as Storage Vmotion significantly diminishes memory and CPU requirements while taking advantage of a new and more efficient block copy mechanism in Vmkernel. Virtual disk formats can also be converted during a Storage Vmotion session. An example migration between datastores can convert thick formats to thin virtual disk format. For virtualDCS clients with dedicated storage LUNs, this new feature can help drive costs down, and flexibility up.

High Availability Clustering with Windows Server 2000, 2003, 2008 — vSphere 4.0 supports Microsoft Cluster Service (MSCS) with Windows 2000 and Windows 2003, and Failover Clustering for Windows 2008. Clustering is supported with both 32-bit and 64-bit guests, and Majority Node Set clusters with application-level replication (for example, Exchange 2007 Cluster Continuous Replication (CCR)) are now supported too.

Vmkernel Protection — To ensure the authenticity and integrity of dynamically loaded code, Vmkernel modules are digitally signed and validated during load-time. These disk integrity mechanisms protect against malware, which might attempt to overwrite or modify Vmkernel as it persists on disk. Vmkernel also uses memory integrity techniques at load-time coupled with microprocessor capabilities to protect itself from common buffer-overflow attacks that are used to exploit running code. These techniques create a stronger barrier of protection around the hypervisor, and ensure that virtualDCS can provide the most secure hosting platform available in the marketplace.

Virtual Machine Hot Add Support — The new virtual hardware introduced in ESX 4.0 supports hot plug for virtual devices and supports addition of virtual CPUs and memory to a virtual machine without powering off the virtual machine.
8-way Virtual SMP — ESX 4.0 supports virtual machines with up to eight virtual CPUs allowing you to run larger CPU-intensive workloads on the Vmware ESX platform.

255GB RAM — Up to 255GB RAM can be assigned to ESX 4.0 virtual machines.

Power Management — ESX 4.0 supports Enhanced Intel SpeedStep® and Enhanced AMD PowerNow! CPU power management technologies. With dynamic voltage and frequency scaling (DVFS), ESX can save power consumed by ESX hosts when they are not operating at maximum capacity.

DPM Full Support with IPMI and iLO Remote Power On — IPMI and iLO are now added as DPM remote power-on mechanisms as alternatives to Wake on LAN. DPM used with IPMI, iLO or Wake on LAN is now fully supported in DRS clusters.

Hot Extend for Virtual Disks — Hot extend is supported for VMFS flat virtual disks in persistent mode and without any VMFS snapshots. Used in conjunction with the new Volume Grow capability, the user has maximum flexibility in managing growing capacity in vSphere 4.0.

Storage Stack Performance and Scalability — The combination of the new in-guest virtualisation-optimised SCSI driver and additional ESX kernel-level storage stack optimizations dramatically improves storage I/O performance, making even the most I/O-intensive applications, such as databases and messaging applications. Prime candidates for virtualisation.

Additional Guest Operating System Support — ESX 4.0 adds support for guest operating systems not previously supported on the ESX platform.

Support is added for the following guest operating systems:

  • Asianux 3.0 Server CentOS 4
  • Debian 4 Debian 5
  • FreeBSD 6 FreeBSD 7
  • OS/2 4, 4.5 MS-DOS 6.22
  • Windows 3.1 Windows 95
  • Windows 98 Windows 7 (experimental)
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 (experimental) Windows Preinstallation Environment 2.1
  • SCO OpenServer 5 SCO UnixWare 7
  • Solaris 8 (experimental) Solaris 9 (experimental)

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