If you are a VMware administrator or want to be one, there are a couple of books out there that will definitely help you out, and should be on your desk. Of those books, the one that has most recently stood out to me is VMware vSphere Clustering Technical Deepdive by Duncan Epping and Frank Denneman. These guys are some of the heaviest hitters in the VMware blogosphere. Duncan’s blog has been voted the top blog in the annual Top 25 Virtualization Blog awards held over at vSphere-Land. Duncan is Principal Architect in the Technical Marketing group at VMware and is focused on storage, ESXi convergence and vSphere architecture. If you want to do some serious technical deep-diving, head over to Duncan’s blog, you’re sure to find a post there that will suit your needs. Frank Denneman also has a very popular and widely read blog, that was rated #6 on last years Top 25 Virtualization Blog awards. Frank is currently a Consulting Architect working for VMware as part of the Professional Services Organization and working primarily with large Enterprise customers and Service Providers. Right off the bat, there is cause to grab this book and start reading, it’s authored by two of the top virtualization bloggers and both VMware employees.

What’s Covered?
This is obvious, this book covers a deepdive of VMware vSphere Clustering in vSphere 5. vSphere 5, the latest release from VMware of their industry leading Cloud Infrastructure Suite, has many updates to it’s already stellar line up of utilities. One of the best advancements in vSphere 5 is the time it takes to install and configure High Availability (HA). Here is small excerpt from the book on what’s new in HA:

Those who have used HA in the past and have already played around with it in vSphere 5.0 might wonder what has changed. Looking at the vSphere 5.0 Client, changes might now be obvious except for the fact that configuring HA take substantially less time and some new concepts like datastore heartbeats have been introduced.

Do not assume that this is it; underneath the covers HA has been completely redesigned and developed from the ground up. This is the reason enabling or reconfiguring HA literally takes seconds today instead of minutes with previous versions.

Anyone who has had to configure HA, DRS can attest to the headache inducing element that it brings to your project. If you don’t know what you are doing or have simply never configured it before, this could be a daunting task and can cause major issues in your datacenter. I’ve found some customers have actually attempted configuring HA in their datacenter only to have to uninstall it later because it broke other functions that they didn’t realize would be affected. This is something to be cautions about configuring and this book servers as a great companion guide and how to guide that will help you feel comfortable with what you are doing. Here is a more comprehensive list of features that are covered in this book:

      Coverage includes:


      – HA node types


      – HA isolation detection and response


      – HA admission control


      – VM Monitoring


      – HA and DRS integration


      – DRS imbalance algorithm


      – Resource Pools


      – Impact of reservations and limits


      – CPU Resource Scheduling


      – Memory Scheduler


      – DPM


      – Datastore Clusters


      – Storage DRS algorithm


    – Influencing SDRS recommendations

Most of us are grown ups by now and can read a book that has text only and completely understand the topic being covered. However, there are some of us (ahem… myself) that still learn better when text is married with images. If you are one of those that require some visual stimulation for learning, you are in for a treat. Duncan and Frank have added some really nice graphics to go along with explanations and how-tos in this book. Here’s an example from the very beginning of this book that helps to explain the key components involved in HA:

Should I Buy It?
My verdict on this is yes, with conditions. While this book is great for VMware admins who have advanced knowledge of vSphere 5, it may not be the best text to jump into as a newbie VMware admin, or casual VMware user; this is after all, a “deepdive”. Here is an excerpt from the book’s foreword written by Doug Hazelman, Sr. Director of Product Strategy at Veeam Software:

What are you reading? It’s a question that may come up as you’re reading this book in a public place like a coffee shop or airport. How do you answer? If you’re reading this book then you’re part of an elite group that “gets” virtualization. Chances are the person asking you the question has no idea how to spell VMware, let alone how powerful server and desktop virtualization have become in the datacenter over the past several years….

You may never see this book on the New York Times Bestseller list but that’s OK! Virtualization and VMware are very narrow topics, HA & DRS even more narrow. You’re reading this because of your thirst for knowledge and I have to admit, Duncan and Frank deliver that knowledge like no others before them.

I loved this foreword from Doug, it really sums up the audience this book is intended for. That being said, but it if you want a great reference for HA and if you just want to soak up as much vSphere knowledge as you can get your hands on. I own the book, I wanted it the second it was released on July 12, 2011 along with the release of vSphere 5. Instead I waited until VMworld in Las Vegas a little over a month later and purchased it in the VMworld bookstore in the hopes Duncan and Frank would sign it. I did meet them both,

L to R: Frank, Me, Duncan at VMworld 2011

but failed to get their signatures as I bought the book a day later. Like I said at the beginning of this review, if you are a VMware admin or infrastructure architect or aspire to be, then this is a must have book, get it now!

You can read more about Duncan Epping on his popular blog, and more about Frank Denneman on his popular blog.

More titles from Duncan:
VMware vSphere 4.1 HA and DRS Technical Deepdive (Volume 1)
Cloud Computing with VMware vCloud Director
vSphere 4.0 Quick Start Guide: Shortcuts down the path of Virtualization
Foundation for Cloud Computing with VMware vSphere 4

More titles from Frank:
VMware vSphere 4.1 HA and DRS Technical Deepdive (Volume 1)

For more great VMware Books see my past posts: Mastering VMware vSphere 5, Top 5 VMware Books List, and Do You Own These VMware Books? You Should!

Greg W Stuart
Greg is the owner and editor of vDestination.com. He's been a VMware vExpert every year since 2011. Greg enjoys spending time with his wife and 3 kids. He works as a Sr. Consultant at VMware and resides in Northern Virginia, 15 minutes west of Washington DC.

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