Some companies are using virtualization to create efficiencies in their
datacenters by running multiple operating systems on fewer machines. But how
do they know it works?
Until now there hasn’t been a proper gauge to check a virtual machine’s speed
But VMware, which fancies itself as the lead driver in virtualization
technologies, has created
benchmark system to help customers measure the performance of various
applications running in virtual machines.
While traditional benchmarks were developed to measure the performance of a
single workload on a server, they don’t effectively gauge the
ability of a server to support multiple, simultaneous workloads on the same
VMark is the answer, said Andrea Eubanks, senior director of enterprise and
technical marketing at VMware.
Eubanks said customers who have been running production workloads have long
been asking VMware for the typical virtual machine density policy for
certain enterprise applications, or the right number of virtual
machines to run on a certain piece of hardware. Until now, server vendors
could only help them roughly estimate.
With VMark, server vendors can publish a score that provides scaling
information about the workloads each product can support, as well as on the
overall performance of virtual machines running on a server. This helps
customers determine how much hardware they need to buy based on their plans
to deploy certain enterprise workloads.
Eubanks said VMark presently runs six basic workloads as virtual appliances,
including a file server, mail server, Web server, a standby server, an OLTP
database and a Java order-entry system.
Half run on Windows, half run on Linux. Those six workloads represent what
VMware calls a “tile.” Scoring is determined by how many tiles a machine can
scale up to.
“Unfortunately, because of Microsoft’s licensing restrictions, we’re not
able to package the Exchange e-mail server and the other workloads on
Windows on virtual appliances, although it would massively simplify the
benchmark tool if we could,” Eubanks said.
Dell (Quote) and Sun Microsystems (Quote) have published benchmarks with the beta version of Vmark,
but VMware is working with IBM, HP Fujitsu-Siemens and other hardware
vendors on VMark.
VMark is a VMware benchmark, but Eubanks said the company has lent VMark to performance benchmark group Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation (SPEC) to be used as the basis for a standard benchmark for measuring virtualization performance.
SPEC includes a variety of high-tech leaders, including Apple (Quote), IBM (Quote) and Microsoft (Quote).