VMware engineer Michael White’s post 64 bit is almost here – are you ready? on the Uptime (VMware and Business Continuity) Blog foretells of the future 64 bit requirement of both vCenter and SRM (Site Recovery Manager). White writes:
“I wanted to remind everyone, of what I have already seen floating around the internet, but still important enough to remind. Our next release of SRM is going to require a 64 bit OS. This is the same as our next release of VC as it too will require a 64 bit host OS. This change is required to support the increased capabilities of our products. As we scale our products to match our customers needs, generally 1 – 2 years in advance of where they will need all the capabilities of a given product we have had to use a 64 bit OS. This will show itself in increased numbers in things like more simultaneous vSphere client connections.”
To me these new operating system (OS) requirements mean we will see even more instances of vCenter as a VM (virtual machine). It only seems logical that a least path of resistance is to virtualize the management server in order to upgrade, especially considering all have already invested in 64 bit hardware for their hypervisors if they decided to upgrade to vSphere 4 in the first place. To go a step further, I’m willing to argue that it will be more common for an IT Department to justify the cost of additional ESX hosts, even if only dedicated for management, then it will to deploy new servers for physical instances of vCenter.
The looming transition to a console-less ESXi eventually means more management virtual appliances in the future too. Solutions which will continue to need a ESX console or similar will have to substitute their own appliance to operate with ESXi. This means even more justification for additional ESX/ESXi hosts and thus greases the decision to virtualize vCenter as well. I expect to see management clusters of ESX hosts become more common in the future than even the use of management networks today.
ESX hosts have bigger and badder hardware now than ever before allowing for higher consolidation ratios and larger applications to easily run in virtual machines, but it will be interesting to see if the vCenter as a VM best practices change over time. I personally feel that continuing to separate the database from the virtualized vCenter will continue to be a smart choice. Running a separate, and even virtualized, SQL instance ensures not only better performance of vCenter as a VM but enhances DR scenarios. In fact, those that already have the vCenter database on a remote instance will likely have a safer upgrade to the 64 bit vCenter.
The new 64 bit requirements will no doubt make for an interesting migration scenario, and I’m sure we will see some positive and negative opinions. Let me know your thoughts on a 64 bit vCenter as a VM in the future!