Pete Cheslock

DevOps, RelEng, DevTools, Automation, Randomness

ESX 3.5 Update 4 Released

I just saw today that it looks like VMware ESX 3.5 Update 4 was released a couple of days ago.  I'm pretty excited about this upgrade as it includes an updated vmxnet adapter.  From the VMware site:
Expanded Support for Enhanced vmxnet Adapter This version of ESX Server includes an updated version of the VMXNET driver (VMXNET enhanced) for the following guest operating systems:
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Standard Edition (32-bit)
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Standard Edition (64-bit)
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Web Edition
  • Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2003
  • Microsoft Windows XP Professional (32-bit)
The reason this is such a great update, is because of the support for jumbo frames within this new group of OS's.  Previously the enhanced vmxnet driver was only supported on Windows Enterprise and Datacenter versions.  When using certain iSCSI arrays which support application consistant data snapshots, you need to install the iSCSI initiator within the virtual machine.  This is the only way for the EqualLogic toolkit to take application level snapshots of Microsoft SQL or Exchange Server.   Additionally you will require a NIC which supports jumbo frames.   Previously this was done via a dirty (and unsupported) hack if you were running the non-supported OS.  Now that VMware supports (for data traffic only) jumbo frames for the standard version of Windows OS's, this can decrease the CPU usage for the guest VM, while not having to spend 4x as much for the enterprise version of the OS.   So it's still "technically" not supported for iSCSI traffic, but works great and can lower the guest CPU usage during high data IO operations. Additionally, as a old school linux guy and Ubuntu fan, I'm glad they are adding support for newest version of Ubuntu desktop and server, 8.10 - Intrepid Ibex