Fast and mean virtual machines
InovaWave DXtreme's predictive I/O widgets soup up VMs on WindowsFollow @pvenezia
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The IOMeter results for the Windows guest on local disk showed speed boosts of nearly 5x for 32K streaming reads, nearly 7x for 32K streaming writes, and nearly 25x for 32K random reads/writes. The results for the Linux guest on local disk fell just short of these, and the results for both guests took only a slight dip on the iSCSI LUN. In the MySQL sql-bench test, DXtreme cut the time needed to complete the test suite from 3,281 seconds down to 2,598.
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I did note, however, that DXtreme doesn’t like volumes added to the system after boot. Thus, iSCSI LUNs mounted after DXtreme is loaded can cause problems. These volumes should be connected at boot and before DXtreme is started.
At several file sizes, the performance gains were not as remarkable, but these are file sizes that don’t generally correspond with a virtualization workload. Any way you look at it, DXtreme produced far better numbers in the synthetic and real-world tests than the raw hardware.
The obvious downside to DXtreme is the limited host platform support. InovaWave plans to release a 64-bit version of DXtreme soon, but again, only on the Windows platform. Because Windows I/O performance under virtualization workloads is generally worse than Linux, the company's initial focus on Windows stands to reason. Of course, this same performance penalty has caused many shops to standardize on Linux hosts for virtualization, and three out of the four leading virtualization platforms are based on Linux, with Microsoft Virtual Server the only dissenter. Linux support will surely broaden the market for DXtreme. Meanwhile, the current product may make it viable for Windows shops to virtualize heavier workloads on the host they know and love.
InovaWave has broken DXtreme into a few different products: DXtreme Lite, DXtreme Standard, DXtreme Enterprise, and DXtreme Datacenter. Each has a list of dependencies, with DXtreme Lite functioning only on Windows XP Pro hosts with up to 2GB RAM, while DXtreme Standard has an upper limit of two sockets and 4GB of RAM. The Enterprise and Datacenter versions scale up from there, supporting four sockets and 16GB RAM, and eight sockets and 64GB of RAM, respectively.