Virtualization Technology News and Information
InovaWave Delivers Virtual Machine Performance Pill

Originally posted on InfoWorld's Virtualization Report

Through the use of their innovative software solution, InovaWave claims that they can increase virtual machine density and performance at the same time.

In today's world of server virtualization, server consolidation seems to be the king of the roost. The majority of people getting into the virtualization game are doing so with the hope and anticipation of getting multiple operating system instances to run on a single physical piece of hardware, whether that piece of hardware is a server, desktop or laptop computer.

A former colleague of mine, who is as passionate about virtualization as I am, recently contacted me and asked, "What if you could increase the virtual machine density of your physical host machine by reducing the memory footprint of each virtual machine and yet still receive the same or better performance on each of those virtual machines, would you be interested?" Of course I answered in the affirmative, but I'd also like my virtual machines to make me a nice strong pot of coffee in the morning too - I didn't expect either of them to happen. Evidently, InovaWave claims to have a solution to the density and performance problem, although they haven't quite figured out how to make a virtual machine have my morning coffee ready. Still thinking it was more of a magic trick through slight of hand rather than a software solution, I pressed on for more information.

Their secret sauce is called DXtreme and it looks as though it installs on top of a Windows platform. When asked which virtualization platforms it supports, Dave McCrory, CTO and Co- Founder of InovaWave, responded that it would work with most virtualization platforms today that install on top of either Microsoft Windows XP Pro, Microsoft Windows 2000, or Microsoft Windows Server 2003, which really opens it up to quite a wide list of platforms that include: VMware Player, VMware Workstation, VMware Server, Microsoft Virtual PC, Microsoft Virtual Server, and Parallels Workstation for Windows.

Since I don't have a huge test lab available to me, I requested a version of DXtreme that would operate on a desktop or laptop computer running Microsoft Windows XP Pro. The company provided me with a 15-day trial of the software, and I installed it on my laptop running Windows XP and a copy of VMware Server. The installation process of the software solution was very simple. The only installation annoyance was having to reboot the system for the configuration changes made to the software to take effect. This is no fault to the software, as this is common when installing this type of Windows application. Other than that, it was a simple MSI installation of mostly clicking "next" and taking the default choices. In order to optimize the performance of my virtual machines, the software prompted me to browse or enter the directory where my virtual machine hard disk files live, and that was pretty much it. So far, so good.

After the reboot of my machine, I ran several tests against one of my commonly used Windows Server 2003 virtual machine images that normally get configured with 512MB of RAM. Using a testing and benchmarking tool from PassMark Software, I was able to gather a number of performance metrics. After stopping the DXtreme software, I ran the same set of PassMark tests against this same virtual machine configuration. Needless to say, I was quite impressed with the results. Without DXtreme, the PassMark Advanced Disk Test reported a result of 2.35MB/sec. After performing the same test with DXtreme running, the test result increased to 21.08MB/sec.

Keep in mind, my laptop computer only has 1GB of memory. So typically, when I configure and run a Windows virtual machine on it, I configure it with 512MB of RAM. With the VM powered on, it only leaves my host operating system 512MB of memory, so I usually only run one virtual instance at a time to maintain acceptable performance. To try and increase the density of my laptop, I re-enabled the DXtreme software after cloning the virtual machine and configuring them each with only 256MB of RAM. While the previous test showed a huge performance boost, I still expected that running two virtual machines with half the memory footprint would take my laptop down at the knees. When I powered both virtual machines on, I waited for the moment of truth. Within about a minute and a half, both Windows Server 2003 virtual machines were up and running, and once again, the PassMark Advanced Disk Test told the story. Running two virtual machines with a 256MB footprint and no DXtreme produced .95MB/sec for the first VM and 1.01MB/sec on the second. Once again, after enabling the optimization software, the test results reported an increase. The first virtual machine now reported 17.05MB/sec and the second reported 18.95MB/sec.

Although impressive, my tests were limited to a 1GB laptop. Try it out for yourself in your own environment, using your own virtual machines. A free 15-day trial license of DXtreme can be requested by contacting InovaWave.

Read and comment on the original, here.

Published Thursday, October 26, 2006 9:45 PM by David Marshall
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