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Why Storage vMotion Should be Included in Essentials Plus July 23, 2011

Posted by audiomatron in Virtualization.

I don’t want this blog to become a place for me to rant and complain, but this has been rattling around in my head for some time now. I have to get it out.

For the small business looking to virtualize, the VMWare vSphere Essentials plus package is the absolute best value in virtualization. vSphere Essentials plus provides licensing for 3 Hosts with up to 6 processors total, and provides features such as VMWare High Availability (HA), vMotion, VMWare Data recovery (VDR), and management via VMWare vCenter. The price and features are perfectly sized for small business, save for one thing which I believe should be included in the package – Storage vMotion. Whereas vMotion allows for live migration of VMs between ESXi hosts, Storage vMotion provides the ability to live migrate VMs between different datastores. In this article, I shall attempt to show why I believe Storage vMotion (svMotion) should be included in vSphere Essentials Plus.

What prompted me do say this?

Due  to limitations in VMFS, I had to carve my storage array up into several LUNs. This is because the current version of VMFS only allows for datastores up 2TB in size. The new version of VMFS that will be part of vSphere 5 will allow LUNs up to 64TB in size. This would be tremendously helpful to me in several ways – 1) It would save me a great deal of time tring to figure out which datastore I put a VM on 2) If I had just one big datastore, I wouldn’t have to worry about accidentally putting the VM on the worng datastore. When vSphere 5 comes out, I plan to rebuild my array to take advantages of the new VMFS. I had been wondering how I’m going to do this. I was poking around in the vSphere client today, and discovered that if the VM is powered off, I can migrate it to a different datastore. That eases my troubles a little, but still, this has gone from something I could do during the day at work with svMotion to something I’m going to have to do over the weekend using cold migrations.

Where do we draw the line?

I understand that due to the pricing of Essentials Plus, we can’t have it all, and as I stated before, I think Essentials Plus is appropriately sized for its target market. Really, a small business isn’t likely to need most of the advanced features offered in the Enterprise and Enterprise Plus packages. Let’s take a look at that for a moment:

I will use my environment as an example. In my environment of three hosts, one storage array, and at the most, 20 VMs, I’m not likely to need DRS. My 55 users are not going to put enough strain on my servers for me to need storage or network I/O control. Distributed power management isn’t going to be able to turn off enough hosts to make a real difference on the power bill. I’m maxed out on my 3 server license limit, so suffice to say, I’m not going need host profiles or auto-deploy to deploy more hosts. In fact, for an environment the size of mine, I probably would never make use of any of the advanced features offered in the other vSphere packages – except for svMotion. I’d imagine that there are other folks in the exact same boat as I am.

Is svMotion ESSENTIAL?

Yes. Okay, moving on… just kidding. One of the selling points of vSphere is having a highly available server solution with very little downtime. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used vMotion when I needed to do something to one of my hosts. To my mind, having that same ability on the storage side is vital to providing a truly versatile, highly available solution. As is stated by anyone who knows anything about virtualization, storage is a key consideration in any virtual environment. It is also something that can be grown out of very quickly. When that time comes, it would be very re-assuring to know that there is going to be a simple and effective way to migrate to a new storage solution. In fact, ever since I first installed my vSphere environment, I have wondered what I would do when I outgrow my storage. In order to provide the true essentials for a robust virtual environment, I believe svMotion needs to be included.

Why not upgrade?

Simply put, there is a HUGE price jump between essentials plus ($4995.00) and the lowest acceleration kit that provides svMotion, Enterprise ($17,495.00). That is a lot of money to pay just to get one feature I need among many features I don’t need. Even for a lucrative small business, that is a very large amount of money. Simply put, it’s not going to happen.

What could VMWare do?

Apart from simply making svMotion a part of Essentials plus, what are some other things VMware could do to make this essential feature more accessible to their SMB customers? Firstly, if you look at the licensing whitepaper for vSphere , you’ll see that there is a farily drastic jump in the number of features between Essentials plus/Standard and Enterprise/Enterprise Plus. Perhaps VMWare could create an interim package that offers slightly more features than Essentials plus, but not all of them. Another solution would be to offer a la carte pricing for additional features that one might need in his/her unique environment. Although, I’m sure VMWare has good reason for splitting the pricing tiers up like they are.

Conclusion/Other Thoughts

Several years ago, when I first began looking at virtualization (back in the VI3 days), a package like this didn’t exist. I’m very thankful that there is an affordable package that offers such a well rounded feature set. I seriously think it is missing just one feature, and that is svMotion. I’m not just writing about this for my own benefit. I’ve Googled this. There are others out there who could benefit from this one feature being added to what is already a great product.

Anyway, what about you? Are you using Essentials Plus? What feature(s) could you benefit from in your environment? Do you think svMotion needs to be a part of Essentials Plus?



1. Clint Walker - August 1, 2011

We have Essentials Plus (just two hosts), and the lack of svMotion is going to cause us some issues very soon. We want to add a new controller to our MD3000 w/o any downtime to our critical VMs. Without svMotion, that is not likely to happen. Now, we must plan to down the VMs, copying them to another store which will take many hours, bring them back online, make our hardware changes, and then reverse the process. What a pain.

audiomatron - August 1, 2011

Sounds like we are in the same boat on that. I use the MD3000i as well, and I want to try to add an MD1000 to it to migrate the VMs to. I saw it suggested in a forum once that if you are a paying customer with current support, VMware might be willing to help you out. When the time comes for me to make the move, I’m going to call and see if they can do anything to make it a little easier. Though, I still think svMotion should be included. It would make the package perfect.

Rubi - May 23, 2012

Pros- Highly scalable- Reconfigurable- Fault tonacelre capable- High performance- Reduced rack space- It’s cool Cons- High initial cost overlay for hardware- Licensing needed for Vmware (MS Virtual Server is free but can’t hold a flame to Vmware)- All eggs in one basket (if the blade infra is down, all servers hosted on it will go down at once)- 3rd party virtualisation not supported by Microsoft, at most best effort basis for Premier customers Vmware is the most popular virtualisation software being run on Blade servers and rightly so, they are the best virtualisation vendors out there. Past and current MS virtualisation has been second rate and even future versions will lag behind Vmware. If MS support is critical to your IT operations, then you should wait for the next gen virtualisation to come out. For reliability, you should wait for the next generation after.Otherwise, stick with Vmware.

2. Clint Walker - August 1, 2011

I agree, when we got Essentials Plus, the sales person said that was part of vMotion. We asked the question muliutple times just to be sure. Once we got it and needed it, of course it was not there. I wish they would add it as a “add-on” option.

3. Ana - May 21, 2012

I would think a bit more carefully about coinarmpg vMotion to a router if I was you ie. don’t unless you are talking about DRS. The difference that a service/change manager cares about is the human intervention. Some companies have a rule that any change performed by a human requires a change record, because we humans are crap at doing things correctly bring on automation, like DRS. They use the change record to point the finger when it all goes tits up.With DRS, this is just like a router because it is automatic, and the change/service managers are usually happy that the migrations are logged and can be tracked back and no RFC is required.

4. steven - October 10, 2015

I totally agree. Svmotion should be included for essential plus. Else vmware should provide an add-on so that small business do need to fork out a huge some just to have 1 required feature.

Please do something vmware. Listen to your customer. Your competitor are at your door steps and they are on par with what you can offer.

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