Review VMware ESX Server in the Enterprise

Discussion in 'Articles, Reviews and Interviews' started by tripwire45, Jan 22, 2008.

  1. tripwire45
    Honorary Member

    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

    The proof of the pudding here is in how Phoenix sees this book since he's the resident virtualization guru in these parts. The following is just my take on this text. -Trip

    Author: Edward L Haletky
    Format: Paperback, 576 pages
    Publisher: Prentice Hall PTR; 1st edition (January 8, 2008)
    ISBN-10: 0132302071
    ISBN-13: 978-0132302074

    Review by James Pyles
    January 22, 2008

    Skip the table of contents unless you want to go blind. Sorry, it's just the formatting of the TOC seems to run all the chapters and topics together and at least in my case, makes me work extra hard to get my visual markers and make sense of the content. I had a much better time in the "How is this Book Organized" section, though it didn't let me take in the different topics in the book at a glance. This is how I first approach a book to try and understand in brief, what's inside and if I'm interested. So far, if I'd come across this book in a bookstore or library, I might have passed it by. That would have been a mistake on my part.

    Since the book is actually in my hot little hands though, let's continue and see what Haletky has to offer here. Beyond the TOC, I noticed that the target audience runs from beginner to advanced administrators who are interested in some aspect of virtualization. That's kind of brief and a bit vague, but I suppose if you know what VMware ESX Server is and why you'd want to use it, you know who you are. The author does advise that you "sit down in your favorite comfy chair, with a cup of your favorite hot drink, and prepare to enjoy the chapters in" the book which can be read either cover-to-cover or as a reference. I assume the former if you are a VMware and virtualization newbie and the latter if you know what you're doing in some sense and want to learn more.

    The author leverages his background and education well. He used to work for HP and in fact was "a member of Hewlett-Packard's Virtualization, Linux, and High-Performance Technical Computing teams". He also has a degree in aeronautical engineering which seems a little over the top but his current "day job" is as owner of a virtualization, security, and network consulting firm. I'd have to say that at first blush, he knows what he's talking about.

    The book reflects this admirably and is pretty much all business. I wasn't sure if it would be based on the "sit down in your favorite comfy chair" comment in the front matter. I think a bit of humor or the occasional casual comment might have helped make the book a little more "comfy" in terms of a read. Not that it was too terribly dry, but while the technical presentation of the subjects was spot on, it was extremely unwavering in its "nuts and bolts" approach to the content.

    You don't get to the part where you actually create VMs until Chapter 10. That may seem rather late in the game for some of you, but remember that you are not randomly creating virtual servers just for giggles. Before creating the first VM, your plan and organization for your virtual server infrastructure must be firmly established. Both server and network infrastructure design and implementation are well covered so you won't find yourself struggling to integrate the two perspectives. This book is more than enough to get you going as far as using VMware ESX Server to start your journey into the realm of virtualization.

    I did find myself wishing for more of a "personality" in the book but then, I've spent time recently reviewing a fair number of works written in different styles and I may have become acclimated to one writing style over another. While "personality" might have made it easier to get through some of the chapters without as many cups of coffee, the book as it stands will give you want you what and what you need in terms of virtualizing your data center. As I mentioned earlier, Edward Haletky does indeed know what he's talking about. Listen to him.
    Certifications: A+ and Network+
  2. BrizoH

    BrizoH Byte Poster

    Interesting read, by coincidence I'm just back from a Dell/VMWare demo - I thought it was about time I found out what I could do with virtualisation (I've only dabbled with VMWare Server/VirtualPC)

    Some of the features look really cool - with the right storage infrastructure in place I'm sure we could set up close to 99.999% uptime (now I just need to get the £££s to put that in place)

    Also the new Dell servers with built in hypervisor look neat.
    Certifications: CCNA, CCNA Security
  3. zebulebu

    zebulebu Terabyte Poster

    It's not as expensive nowadays as it used to be - or as you might think. You obviously need a good, beefy SAN and decent switching for iSCSI to work well (FC is too expensive for a lot of SMEs that may be considering virtualising) but the hardware for the servers themselves doesn't need to be that expensive - we've got all our physical ESX hosts running on DL360s with 8xCPUs and 24Gb RAM - now obviously that is an order of magnitude more expensive than many normal servers would be, but if you do the maths then provided you aren't just outside the cusp of a replacement sycle it makes no sense - for my money - for an organisation with more than 20 servers to consider upgrading/replacing them as physical boxes when virtualising them would be only slightly more expensive (and may even be cheaper in some instances) and give them, in one fell swoop, five nines uptime (or close to it), make provisioning extra storage & resources a snap, reduce power and square footage costs by enormous amounts and make DR simpler and faster.

    A no-brainer for me tbh - though the benefits for the smaller company would be far harder to quantify or justify
    Certifications: A few
    WIP: None - f*** 'em

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