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Optimizing Datacenter Efficiency with Virtuozzo 7

Sergey Maximov

Technology Corner

ContainersKVMReadyKernelTCOVirtuozzo 7

Virtuozzo 7 is our latest release and combines years’ worth of new technologies and improvements. As with any major upgrade, it requires good reason to make the move, as well as careful planning and execution. Want to know the immediate benefits? Read on and start planning your upgrade today.

1. Virtualization Performance

The Virtuozzo 7 host system is based on CentOS7. This new kernel delivers better hardware support, performance fixes, and many other improvements. Virtuozzo System Containers™ outperform our previous version by 10% according to our density testing. Most importantly containers are still the fastest method of, and provide the lowest overhead cost in, the world of virtualization technology. In our tests, containers show 60% better density for the same workloads and hardware compared to virtual machines. It’s a critical advantage that the response time of a typical web application running in a container is two times as fast as one running on a virtual machine. Containerization allows you to optimize your hardware footprint, deploying response time critical applications without paying any virtualization tax.

Virtuozzo offerings span the entire range of virtualization technology, including virtual machines. Our hypervisor improvements in this release are dramatic. We’ve replaced the previous hypervisor with the latest and highly optimized KVM/QEMU version. This engine swap delivers great performance results and access to standard upstream technologies. In addition to this, Virtuozzo 7 introduces a brand new advanced memory manager with the most comprehensive auto-ballooning technology. It monitors, forecasts memory consumption, and reclaims unused memory pages from a guest OS. The Virtuozzo host then redistributes any unallocated memory amongst all running virtual machines and containers. As a result, you can run more instances using the same hardware and handle more requests per second. In addition, Windows is now a first class citizen in the KVM world. Virtuozzo drivers enable a full set of Hyper-V enlightenments, and the Windows guest runs on top of the Virtuozzo hypervisor, just as they would on top of Hyper-V. As a result, there’s no need to configure any additional parameters for Windows guests.

Overall immediate performance boost for both Linux and Windows virtual machines is about 30-40%.

2. Open Standards

KVM is commonly used to escape being locked in to an expensive single vendor ecosystem. So we know how important it is to ensure that the Virtuozzo flavor of KVM can guarantee 100% upstream compatibility. KVM is becoming the standard hypervisor that many companies are choosing for their future cloud platforms. The standard KVM packaged with popular distributions is stable, however it isn’t very efficient. It takes years for improvements and patches to become a part of mainstream distributions, since Linux vendors are not focused solely on virtualization. The Virtuozzo team is widely recognized in the open source community, and we are fully committed to supporting the upstream version. All improvements are made using either the standard extension and API points, or are pushed back to the main project.

Along with this KVM support, a standard libvirt driver is supported for both virtual machines and containers. This standard management interface brings seamless integration with recent OpenStack versions. In general, Virtuozzo can easily be used with any libvirt-based cloud management platform, including built-in-house solutions.

3. Security Updates – Applying Kernel Updates Without Downtime

Applying updates is a critical process in keeping your infrastructure consistent and secured. In most cases, these CVE fixes bring minor changes to the Linux kernel and thus require a server reboot. As a result, servers remain vulnerable to attacks longer, and planned downtime decreases the achievable SLA. There are several existing technologies that allow you to apply updates without fully rebooting the node. However, in most cases there’s a requirement to freeze all running instances for a few minutes, and customers will effectively treat this as downtime. Virtuozzo 7 delivers security kernel updates via a new service called ReadyKernel. It delivers kernel updates with zero downtime and applies them in a matter of seconds. Each kernel patch is transactional- if for some reason ReadyKernel cannot apply it, a simple rollback to a previous kernel state is automatically performed. Each patch is prepared and carefully tested by the Virtuozzo kernel team, and we normally release these updates within the first 24 hours of a CVE fix. Utilizing this new method of applying updates will save you a lot of time, and help you to focus on innovating rather than fixing and updating your existing environments.

4. No Density Tax

Density and effective memory usage is a unique feature of Virtuozzo 7, and the new licensing model will allow you to truly benefit.

Virtuozzo 7 introduces a new flat-rate model based on the number of CPU sockets used. There are no restrictions on the amount of containers running or virtual machines per node – you won’t incur additional charges for running high-density environments. The new unlimited retail pricing is the same as the previous version’s 10 container license- $120 USD/EUR per month for a two-socket server. If you are running more than 10 instances per server, it’s easy to estimate your potential savings via our new licensing model. Please contact your account manager for more detailed information and additional options.

Need Help with Upgrading?

There are clear benefits to be had by consolidating your workloads on top of Virtuozzo 7, but upgrading requires additional time and effort. Our team is here to help you set up an initial Virtuozzo 7 environment, test it, and help with your migration. Our experienced support will provide your migration process with clear visibility, progress tracking, and predictable completion time. Talk to your account manager today and start planning migration to Virtuozzo 7.