Sunday, 5 October 2008

Future ESXi Version Call to Arms!

While there wasn't a lot of concrete details that came out of VMworld, one thing is for certain - VMware are working on a _lot_ of new functionality for their next major release. Of particular relevance to us at vinternals is the host profiles feature, as it provides the same functionality as Statelesx, but is done in a much more user friendly way. Which is fine - it's not like we threw in out jobs and tried to position statelesx as a commercial product, and in some ways it's a validation that our idea was a good one.

But VMware need to ensure they implement the other half of the solution, ala the client initiator. Without this, there is still an unnecessary manual task of joining a host to a cluster in the first place. You may think this isn't such a big deal, but if your hosts are PXE booted then a client initiator is an absolute requirement.

Fortunately for us, there is at least one senior guy at VMware who gets all this - Lance Berc (I get a laugh eveytime I see his 'novice' status in the VMware forums - for fucks sake, this is the guy who wrote the original esxtop). So far most attention has been on his post-build configuration scripts, but Lance put his C skills to work and released the crucial client initiator piece as well as a 'midwife' which essentially performs the same duties as statelesx. Put all this together and you have a truly automated, scalable, liquid environment - the likes of which is usually only seen in compute clusters. Except this time it's a _virtual_ environment.

VMware seem to be taking notice of the need for cluster wide configuration automation with host profiles and the distributed virtual switch, we as customers need to make sure they understand the need for the client initiator functionality as well. The 'midwife' functionality would also be nice if it was wrapped into VirtualCenter, but if it isn't then maybe Statelesx will have some longevity after all, even if it is somewhat more limited to automating the application of a host-profile that is defined elsewhere.

So here's the call to arms. We as customers have the strongest sway with regards to product features. And with a new version of the platform in development, now is the time to start hitting our account managers inboxes with requests for this functionality. Hell, just send 'em a link to this post if it makes it easier - the important thing is to push this through the account channels, not Lance (you'd just be preaching to the converted), and the time to act is now!