ScaleMP Steps Up Server Virtualization Aggregation Software

by Andy Patrizio

The company started out with a server virtualization aggregation tool that makes many boxes look like one. Now, it's enhancing its formula and splitting that image into a second virtual machine.

ScaleMP today announced a new version of its server virtualization and aggregation software, dubbed vSMP Foundation 3.0, which will allow for virtual machines within another virtual machine. When the product ships, it will mark the first time such a stacking of VMs has been accomplished, the company said.

vSMP Foundation is a server aggregator. It takes many x86 physical servers and makes them appear to the operating system as one giant machine with a large number of cores and large amount of memory. In addition to a sizable boost to performance, this makes administration easier because every machine is managed as one.

Also with the announcement of vSMP Foundation 3.0, ScaleMP is rolling out VM-on-VM technology that allows KVM and Xen virtual machines to run on top of the single-system view that comes from the vSMP Foundation aggregator. This is the first offering for x86 of a software-based virtual machine within a virtual machine, the company said.

One benefit of ScaleMP's new offerings is to help address a major pain point for administrators of VM deployments: Even in a virtualized environment, the physical servers still need to be individually managed. The vSMP Foundation software enables administrators to manage all of their machines as one, since that's how an aggregated server looks from a software perspective.

ScaleMP said the sweet spot for such aggregation is 10 nodes, but you can aggregate any number of resources and carve them up based on what the workload needs, and you don't need to manage 10 boxes in virtual nodes -- you manage one, Benjamin Baer, vice president of marketing for ScaleMP, told InternetNews.com.

The expansion in vSMP Foundation will allow for massive system images. vSMP Foundation has gone from supporting 16 systems to 128. It's also gone from 16 CPU process threads per node to 128, and 4TB of memory to 64TB. Likewise, the backplane has gone from one Infiniband HCA connection to four, quadrupling bandwidth from 40 gigabits to 160Gb.

All told, it can support 16,384 CPUs and make them appear as one single CPU to the operating system, which is Linux. vSMP currently only supports the Xen and KVM virtual machine managers, but VMware support is in the works, Baer said. The company also claims the 64TB of shared memory is the largest shared memory space on the market for the x86 platform.

However, it's not necessarily used to build massive systems all the time, Baer noted. "Cluster customers use it for management, not for better results," he said. "Customers have used this across their cluster to avoid the headache of managing 10 nodes, and 10 OSes on all those nodes. They never need to provision the software: Linux does that for them."

But, he added, "We're not just talking about the biggest system you can build. We're talking about customers who want to just add another two or four sockets and not have to do a forklift upgrade. So the message here is you can start small and we can support the upgrade you need, and that's very appealing to small and medium business customers."

Also new in vSMP Foundation 3.0 is support for the multithreading in Intel's Xeon 7500, AKA the Nehalem-EX, which features eight cores and 16 threads.

The company plans for vSMP Foundation 3.0 to enter beta in June, with final release in late summer. Once it gets performance-tuned and use cases for KVM and Xen, VMware is next on the list, Baer said.

Andy Patrizio is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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This article was originally published on Tuesday May 25th 2010
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