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vSphere 4.0 Update 1: Seven Improvements In Internal Clouds

Deploying internal clouds got a bit easier last week as VMware introduced vSphere 4.0 Update 1. Among the enhancements to VMware's cloud-computing OS are the support for 2008 R2 servers and numerous performance tweaks.

Announced last April, vSphere 4 is VMware's solution for managing large sets of virtual machines. The software allows enterprises to turn x86 servers into an internal cloud of systems. In this fashion, vSphere 4 enables data centers to respond to fluctuating workload requirements. Should the load on a server suddenly spike, vSphere can then utilize services in the private or public clouds.

The initial vSphere implementation could manage up to 1,280 virtual machines across 32 servers equipped with up to 65 cores and 32 TB of RAM. At the same time, the initial release fell short in seven areas addressed in the Update 1 introduction.

The first release neglected Windows 7 support and Windows 2008 R2 support. vSphere couldn't run virtualized 2008 servers (e.g. as a guest OS) while Windows 7 clients were unable to easily run the vSphere 4 management interface, the vSphere client. The new release adds support for 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows 7 and 64-bit version of Windows 2008 R2 as guest OS platforms.

The 4.0 release of vSphere introduced support of Microsoft Cluster Service (MSCS) with Windows 2000 and Windows 2003 and Windows 2008 Failover Clustering, but it didn't support high availability environments. In Update 1, MSCS and 2008 Failover Clustering can run on VMware High Availability (HA) and Dynamic Resources Scheduler (DRS) for individual VMs or the entire host. Still, there are a number of known deficiencies including the lack of support for iSCSI or NFS disks. 

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