Book Review: VMware vSphere Design, 2nd Edition

VMware vSphere Design Book Cover

Since expanding my digital bookshelf with some more VMware-oriented books, I finally finished one hefty piece in my library, and that is a Kindle Edition of VMware vSphere Design, 2nd Edition. I like getting my hands-on experience with hardware and am intrigued by data center design, so I just had to get this piece.

The book is a deep dive inside each of the concepts a data center designer (or someone who wants to have some insight about how the things are working) should be aware of and does so with a generous amount of information. The book starts with internals of ESXi hypervisor and uncovers how things work under the hood. It concerns things CPU scheduling, memory allocation techniques and several more. After the hypervisor talk, the hardware comes into play. Designing for rack or blade servers, scaling up or out are looked at closely – not only the hardware configuration that is feasible for each kind of virtualization setup – a chapter is also dedicated to how these machines will affect your design from data center environment perspective – will your cooling be sufficient and will you have enough power & space to run your designed setup?

Along the server hardware itself, the book talks in detail about networking & its choices – advantages and disadvantages of hyperconverged networking, uses of different NICs, HBAs and networking equipment. When there is talk about networking, the shared storage that is undeniably tied to it gets analyzed as well – types of shared storage that are most commonly used within the hypervisor, and how your choice of your protocol impacts the eventual design. You get a valuable lesson to design for performance, first and for capacity afterwards capacity along with example calculations.

Next few chapters are Virtual Machines themselves – what makes them tick and how you should most effectively scale them to meet the application requirements. With all this knowledge, the book moves towards designing the virtual data centers – everything you find inside the vCenter is discussed. Clusters, resource pools, DRS and HA.

A chapter dedicated to security is interesting as well as the author also does a good job at making you aware of the situations that can happen in your environment if you give too much power to one person or if your network is insufficiently secured. Maybe you never think about it, but in these model situations it seems that if one disgruntled or bribed employee  wants, they can make your infrastructure (or stock values) hurt.

The last chapter is a welcome last bite as it talks about vCloud – how the vCloud actually differs from “just being an add-on to vCenter” – wrapping the vCloud over vCenter, resource provisioning tips and a quick run-through of Organization design.

One thing I have to point out though, this book was written while vSphere 5.1 was the newest release so some information from the vSphere 5.5 features might be missing, but I found this book to be an excellent well of knowledge and easy to read. If you, like me, have some experience with VMware vSphere and would like to get the insight into how the hardware is actually working for you – and how it’s built to server its purpose, it’s an invaluable read. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wishes to hone their knowledge about how and why the hardware is being built the way it is in our data centers.

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