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August 7, 2012

ESXi 5 Uptake still slow?

Filed under: General — Tags: — Nate @ 10:10 am

Just came across this article from our friends at The Register, and two things caught my eye –

HP is about to launch a new 2U quad socket system – the HP DL560 Gen8, which is what the article is about. I really can’t find any information on this server online, so it seems it is not yet officially announced. I came across this PDF from 2005, which says the 560 has existed in the past – though I never recall hearing about it and I’ve been using HP gear off and on since before that. Anyways, on the HP site the only 500-series systems I see are the 580 and 585, nothing new there.

HP has taken it’s sweet time joining the 4-socket 2U gang, I recall Sun was among the first several years ago on the Opteron, then later Dell and others joined in but HP was bulky still with the only quad socket  rack option being 4U.

The more interesting thing though to me was the lack of ESXi 5.0 results posted with VMware’s own benchmark utilities. Of the 23 results posted since ESXi 5 was made generally avaialble, only four are running on the newest hypervisor. I count six systems using ESX 4.1U2 and vCenter 5.0 (a combination I chose for my company’s infrastructure). Note I said ESX – not ESXi. I looked at a couple of the disclosure documents and would expect them to specifically call out ESXi if that is in fact what was used.

So not only are they NOT using ESXi 5.0 but they aren’t even using ESXi period with these newest results (there is not a single ESXi 4.x system on the site as far as I can tell).

Myself I find that fascinating. Why would they be testing with an older version of the hypervisor and not even using ESXi? I have my own reasons for preferring ESX over ESXi, but I’d really expect for benchmark purposes they’d go with the lighter hypervisor. I mean it consumes significantly less time to install onto a system since it’s so small.

I have to assume that they are using this configuration because it’s what the bulk of their customers are still deploying today, otherwise it makes no sense to be testing the latest and greatest Intel processors on server hardware that’s not even released yet on an OS kernel that is going on three years old at this point. I thought there was supposed to be some decent performance boosts in ESXi 5?

I’m not really a fan of the VMark benchmark itself, it seems rather confusing to interpret results, there are no cost disclosures, and I suspect it only runs on VMware making it difficult or impossible to compare with other hypervisors. Also the format of the results is not ideal, I’d like to see at least CPU/Memory/Storage benchmarks included so it’s easier to tell how each subsystem performed. Testing brand X with processor Y and memory Z against brand W with processor Y and memory Z by itself doesn’t seem very useful.

SPEC has another VM benchmark, though it seems similarly confusing to interpret results, though at least they have results for more than one hypervisor.

vSphere, aka ESX 4, when it was released really was revolutionary, it ditched the older 32-bit system for a more modern 64-bit system, and introduced a ton of new things as well.

I was totally underwhelmed by ESXi 5, even before the new licensing change was announced. I mean just compare What’s New between vSphere 4 and vSphere 5.


  1. Nate – interesting read.

    Is it any less peculiar that both HP’s and Cisco’s VMmark disclosures use advanced configuration parameters that you wouldn’t likely use in real life (eg. disable all VAAI primitives)


    Disclosure: I work for HP, any opinions expressed here are my own.

    Comment by Andy — August 7, 2012 @ 1:29 pm

  2. It’s possible the storage they were using didn’t support VAAI, though not sure why they’d go out of their way to disable VAAI if that was the case.

    It’s more peculiar to me mainly since ESXi 5 is supposed to be faster, and have better support for the newest CPUs.

    thanks for the comment!

    Comment by Nate — August 8, 2012 @ 7:51 am

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