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1000 VM per rack is the new minimum

The purpose of the eye-catching title is to drive a point that you need to look at the entire SDDC, and not just a component (e.g. Compute, Storage, Network, Security, Management, UPS). Once you look at the whole SDDC infrastructure in its entirety, you maybe surprised that you can shrink your footprint.

The purpose is not to say that you must¬†achieve 1000 VMs per rack. It is also possible that you can’t even achieve 100 VMs per rack (for example, you are running all Monster VMs). I’m just using “visual” so it’s easier for you to see that there is a lot of inefficiency in typical data center. The number 1000 VM is an easy number to remember ūüôā

If your entire data center shrinks into just 1 rack, what happens to the IT Organisation? You are right, it will have to shrink also.

  • You may no longer need 3 separate teams (Architect, Implement, Operate).
  • You may no longer need silos (Network, Server, Storage, Security).
  • You may no longer need the layers (Admin, Manager, Director, Head)

With less people, there is less politics and the whole team becomes more agile.

The above is not just my personal opinion. Ivan Pepelnjak, a networking authority, has in fact shared back in October 2014 that ‚Äú2000 VMs can easily fit onto 40 servers‚ÄĚ. I recommend you review his¬†calculation on this blog article. I agree with Ivan that “All you need are two top-of-rack switches” for your entire data center. Being a networking authority, he elaborates from networking angle. I’d like to complement it from a Server angle.

Let’s take a quick calculation to see how many VMs we can place in a standard 42 RU rack. I’d use Server VM, not Desktop VM, as they demand higher load.

I’d use a 2RU, 4 ESXi Host form factor, as this is a popular form factor. You can find example at SuperMicro site. Each ESXi has 2 Intel Xeon sockets and all flash local SSD running vSAN. With Intel Xeon E5-2699, each ESXi Host has 40 physical cores.¬†Add 25% of Intel Hyper-Threading benefit, you can support ~30 VM with 3 vCPU on average¬†as there are enough physical cores to schedule the VMs. Total 90 vCPU divided by 50 cores (40 + HT). This number is even better with Xeon Platinum.

The above take into account that a few cores are needed for:

  • VMkernel
  • NSX
  • vSAN
  • vSphere Replication
  • NSX services from partners, which take the form of VM instead of kernel module.

30 VM for each ESXi. That’s 30:1 consolidation ratio, which is a reality today. You have 4 ESXi in a 2RU form factor. That means 30 x 4 = 120 VM fits into 2 RU space. Let’s assume you standardise on a 8-node cluster, and you do N+1 for HA. That means a cluster with HA will house 7 ESXi x 30 VM = 210 VMs. Each cluster only occupies 4 RU, and it comes with shared storage.

To hit ~1000 VMs, you just need 4+ clusters. In terms of rack space, that’s just 5 x 4 RU = 20 RU. Half a rack!

Let’s do ~1500 VM. This gives you 7 clusters. If you do 1000 VM that means you can have larger VM.


A standard rack has 42 RU. You still have 42 – 28 = 14 RU. That’s plenty of space for Networking, Internet connection, KVM, UPS, and Backup!

Networking will only take 2 x 2 RU. You can get 96 ports per 2 RU. Arista has models you can choose here. Yes, there is no need for spine-leaf architecture. That simplifies networking a lot.

KVM will only take 1 RU. With iLO, some customers do not use KVM as KVM encourages physical presence in data center.

If you still need a physical firewall, there is space for it.

If you prefer external storage, you can easily put 1400 VM into a 2RU all-flash storage. Tintri has an example here.

I’ve provided a sample rack design¬†in this blog.

What do you think? How many racks do you still use to handle 1000 VM?


  • [7 Nov 2015:¬† Tom Carter spotted an area I overlooked. I forgot to take into account the power requirements! He was rightly disappointed, and this is certainly disappointing for me too, as I used to sell big boxes like Sun Fire 15K and HDS 9990! On big boxes like this, I had to ensure that customers data center has the correct cee form. Beyond just the Ampere, you need to know if they are single-phase or triple-phase. So Tom, thank you for the correction! Tom provided his calculation in Ivan’s blog, so please review it]
  • [15 Nov 2015:¬†Greg Ferro shared in his article that 1000 VM is certainly achievable. I agree with him that it’s a consideration. It’s not a goal nor a limit. It all depends on your application and situation]
  • [27 Mar 2016: Intel Xeon E5-2699-V4 is delivering 22 cores per socket, up from 18 cores in v3]
  • [16 July¬†2018: vSAN has wide adoption. Xeon Platinum has even more core, price of local SSD has gone down]

Tips for VMworld presenters

Thank you for all the “Congratulation!” notes we got after Sunny and I delivered our¬†VMworld session. It was indeed humbling to receive a score of 4.38 in the first session. We took the feedback and the second session score went up to¬†4.77. There were¬†requests to give tips for fellow presenters, so this blog hopes to address that. The tips here should apply to all IT events, as the evaluation criteria is quite generic.

From the feedback, the audience noticed clearly that we worked well together as a team. That did not happen without a lot of practice. We actually delivered the presentation 2x before that. We also rehearsed a lot, playing devil’s advocate to each other. It is better to get negative feedback from each other than from the audience. We actually review each other sentences. Yes, down to the choice of word.

We made a decision to have 2 speakers speaking like 2 friends sharing. Have you ever seen 2 friends sharing their common adventure that they clearly enjoyed? You will notice that they finish each other sentence. You can sense their passion as they speak, and their eyes lighted up as they recall the excitement.

Because of the above strategy, it cannot be the usual “your slide, my slide”, as one has to be idle standing while the other is presenting. I’ve done it before. It is not¬†natural and it is not a good experience for the audience. We want the audience to see 2 buddies enjoying each other presence, and having a good time engaging¬†with the audience.¬†To achieve the above in a public speaking setting, it takes a lot of practice. The 2 speakers have to be in-sync, on every single slide. We know what each person will say on every slide.

The amount of practice is often makes the difference between a good presentation and a great presentation. How much practice? Read this for the guideline.

Let’s now move into VMworld specific information. The great thing about VMworld is it gives good information to the speakers. For a start, you can see all your sessions, and who registered for it. So you know how many people are planning to attend. You can also visit¬†the room, so you have an idea on the size and setup.


Once you delivered your session, you can see who actually attended. You cannot see their name and contact, for privacy reason, but you can see the company, job title and country. It looks something like this:


You can also see the feedback, and this is where I want to show you. Click on the View Report in the Survey Result. If you have repeat session, you can see for each session. Our second session had a higher rating as we took the feedback.

Majority of the survey questions are the kind of questions you expect, but it’s worth knowing them. Look at question 2 below. It is quite specific. So your session:

  1. Provide practical knowledge that they can apply to their job. You only have 45 minutes of speaking, as you should allocate time for Q&A. Do not waste that 45 times with theory that audience cannot bring home.
  2. Have content that matches the description. I got penalized in my first session as some audiences were not expecting vRealize Operations.
  3. Have minimal marketing or sales pitch. This one should be obvious. There is no need to waste your audience time.


As the speaker, you are also being assessed. Again, it is quite specific:

  1. Are you good at the topic you’re presenting? Sunny and I blog extensively on the topic, I wrote a book about it, and we have a dozen engagements in the past several years. The Q&A session allowed us to show the audience that we know the topic.
  2. Do you encourage engagement? Do you ask survey questions, and pause to allow questions?
  3. Do you present it well? I spent a lot of time restructuring the deck. Humour can also help as it’s a dry topic. The audience wants to learn, but they also want to enjoy the session.


Question 6 below provides you area that you need to take care:

  • Speakers
  • Content. It should be logical and clear. It should also flow smoothly.
  • Demo. Take note of live demo. I’d record it for a smoother delivery. Be careful of font size as 16 points is what you want have. I think 10 point is simply too small.
  • Technical Level. Be very clear on setting expectation here.
  • Format. Make the slides interesting.


You also get feedback on areas to improve. I find this part very valuable. I listened back to my session to review it. I definitely spoke too fast.


I hope you find the tips useful. All the best in creating that lasting VMworld presentation!

Meet your VMware CTO Ambassadors at VMworld

VMworld is a place to learn and network. So it is great¬†to see that around half of VMware CTO Ambassadors are sharing and contributing at VMworld. That’s very high for a group that is not part of any product Business Unit. We are field personnels and individual contributors. The high percentage shows the passion and capability of the group. Some of us are co-delivering the session with R&D and BU, showing the relationship that the group has. Other than presenting and facilitating, you can also find us at the Office of the CTO booth.

The following VMware¬†CTO Ambassadors will be there: Adam Osterholt, Aidan Dalgleish, Amanda Blevins, Amy Chalifoux, Andrew Murphy, Anoop Jalan, Ben Lin, Charles Saroka, Christopher Cullingford, Christopher Knowles, Dale Carter, Donald Schubot, Eamon Ryan, Ed Hoppitt, Edward (Allen) Shortnacy, Edward Blackwell, Emad Benjamin, Eric Hardcastle, Gary Blake, Greg Mulholland, Iwan Rahabok, Jeff Whitman, Jennifer Green, Jerry Johanes, Jodi Shely, Jonathan Cham, Jonathan McDonald, Josh Gwyther, Julienne Pham, Justin Jones, Kannan Mani, Kim Jahnz, Martijn Baecke, Martin Banda, Michael Francis, Mike O’Reilly, Mostafa Khalil, Patrick Daigle, Peter Bjork, Richard Damoser, Roman Tarnavski, Ryan Pletka, Scott Carpenter, Sid Smith, Sunny Dua, TJ Vatsa, Tomas Fojta, Travis Wood.

Here are the list of sessions and workshops that we’re delivering or facilitating. See you there!


CNA4859 – Agility in the Datacenter – Workflows and Tools to Speed Application Delivery

  • Roman Tarnavski, CTO Ambassador, VMware
  • Chris Sexsmith – Sr Manager of Field Enablement, Cloud-Native Apps, VMware

STO4525 – Architecting Disaster Recovery of Tier 1 Applications (SAP, Oracle, SQL & Exchange) using Site Recovery Manager and vSphere 6

  • Kannan Mani – Staff Solutions Architect ‚Äď Data Platforms, VMware
  • GS Khalsa – Senior Technical Marketing Manager, VMware

VAPP4440 – Migrating Large Oracle Footprint to Vblock

  • Kannan Mani – Staff Solutions Architect ‚Äď Data Platforms, VMware
  • Chandra Mukherjee, KBACE Technologies

VAPP4449 – How VMware Customers Build and Tune High Performance Application Platforms

  • Emad Benjamin – Principal Architect, VMware
  • Wendy Zhao – Global Head of Middleware Engineering, Societe Generale
  • Alessandro Quargnali-Linsley – Systems Engineer, Societe Generale

VAPP4732 – Enterprise Application Architecture Influence on SDDC

  • Emad Benjamin – Principal Architect, VMware
  • Jeff Quinn – Director or Virtualization & Cloud Converged Engineering at DTCC, DTCC

Cloud Native Applications

CNA5379 –¬†Panel: Enterprise architecture for Cloud-Native Applications

  • Martijn¬†Baecke¬†–¬†Solutions Consultant,¬†VMware
  • Joe Baguley¬†–¬†CTO EMEA,¬†VMware
  • Robbie Jerrom¬†–¬†Senior Solutions Architect,¬†VMware
  • Greg Andsager¬†–¬†VP, Cloud Native Applicaions,¬†VMware
  • Chris Sexsmith¬†–¬†Sr Manager of Field Enablement, Cloud-Native Apps,¬†VMware
  • Aaron Sweemer¬†–¬†Director of Field Strategy, Cloud-Native Apps,¬†VMware

CNA5479 –¬†Running Cloud-Native Apps on your Existing Infrastructure

  • Martijn¬†Baecke¬†–¬†Solutions Consultant,¬†VMware
  • Robbie Jerrom¬†–¬†Senior Solutions Architect,¬†VMware

CTO6659 –¬†Ask the Experts ‚Äď Cloud Native Applications

  • Emad Benjamin¬†–¬†Principal Architect,¬†VMware
  • Joe Baguley¬†–¬†CTO EMEA,¬†VMware
  • Ed Hoppitt¬†–¬†CTO Ambassador,¬†VMware
  • Robbie Jerrom¬†–¬†Senior Solutions Architect,¬†VMware
  • Martijn¬†Baecke¬†–¬†Solutions Consultant,¬†VMware

vCloud Air

ELW-HBD-1681 – vCloud Air Workshop

  • Captains: Jodi Shely (CTO Ambassador), Cleavon Roberts, Tony Welsh

SPL-HBD-1681 – VMware vCloud¬ģ Air‚ĄĘ – Jump Start for vSphere Admins

  • Captains:¬† Cleavon Roberts, Jodi Shely, Patrick Mahoney


SDDC5260 – Reducing Costs and Increasing Availability in Healthcare: Customer Stories in The Software-Defined Transformation

  • Scott Carpenter – Staff SE | CTO Ambassador, VMware
  • Jordan Wise – Architect, Lancaster General Health
  • Dave Miller – IT Architect, Baystate Health
  • Kevin Holland – Senior Systems Engineer, VMware

SPL-SDC-1606 – Cloud 101 – Deliver your Infrastructure as a Service

  • Captains: Andrew Murphy, Kelly Montgomery, Danny Farber

INF4712 – Just Because You COULD, Doesn’t Mean You SHOULD – vSphere 6.0 Architecture Considerations from Real World Experiences

  • Jonathan McDonald, Solutions Architect |CTO Ambassador, VMware

PAR6411 – PSE: SDDC Assess, Design and Deploy 2.0 – What’s New?

  • Jonathan McDonald, Solutions Architect |CTO Ambassador, VMware

PAR6412 – PSE: vSphere 6 Architectural Design and lessons learned

  • Jonathan McDonald,¬†Solutions Architect |CTO Ambassador, VMware

Business Continuity and High Availability

ELW-SDC-1605 – Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Workshop

  • Captains:¬†Paul Irwin and Adam Osterholt

SPL-SDC-1605 – High Availability and Resilient Infrastructure.

  • Captains:¬† Adam Osterholt, Paul Irwin, Nick Fritsch

STO4510 – When it Rains it Pours: Protecting Your VMware Based Cloud.

  • Aidan Dalgleish,¬†VMware UK
  • Matt Vandenbeld

SDDC Management and Operations

OPT5519 – Nimble Automation in a Regulated Environment: Good, Fast, and Cheap. Pick Any Two.

  • Mike O’Reilly – Staff System Engineer, VMware,
  • Jase Machado – Architect, Infrastructure Automation, Blue Shield of CA
  • Jeff Shaw – IT Virtualization, Delta Dental

INF6108 – Something Broke, What Now? Managing and Troubleshooting OpenStack Environments

  • Jonathan Cham – Global Solutions Consultant | CTO Ambassasdor, VMware
  • Ben Lin – Solutions Architect | CTO Ambassasdor, VMware


NET5836 – OpenStack with NSX Architecture Deep Dive

  • Jonathan Cham – Global Solutions Consultant, VMware
  • Ben Lin – Solutions Architect | CTO Ambassasdor, VMware

ELW-SDC-1620 – OpenStack with VMware vSphere and NSX Workshop

  • Captains:¬†Ed Shmookler, Marcos Hernandez, Jonathan Cham, and Hadar Freehling

SPL-SDC-1620 – OpenStack with VMware vSphere and NSX.

  • Captains:¬† Ed Shmookler, Marcos Hernandez, Jonathan Cham, Hadar Freehling

MGT5471 – How VMware and Partners Bring Actions to Enterprise Administrators with vRealize Operations

  • Eric Hardcastle – Principal SDE Solutions Engineer |¬†CTO Ambassador, VMware
  • Phil Smith – Staff Engineer, VMware
  • Michael White – Director, DataGravity Labs & Customer, DataGravity
  • Mike Kelly – CTO, Blue Medora

MGT4973 – Mastering Performance Monitoring and Capacity Planning

  • Iwan Rahabok – CTO Ambassador | Staff SE, VMware
  • Sunny Dua – CTO Ambassador | Senior Consultant, VMware


ELW-SDC-1627 – Software Defined Storage Advanced Topics Workshop

  • Captains:¬†Mousumi Mullick and¬†Martin Banda (CTO Ambassador)

PAR6407-BC – vSAN Workshop

  • Noel Nguyen – Director of Systems Engineering, VMware
  • Bo Bolander – Senior Systems Engineer, VMware
  • Mostafa Khalil – Technical Director, VMware
  • Greg Mulholland – VSAN Specialist |¬†CTO Ambassador, VMware

STO4572 – Conducting a Successful Virtual SAN Proof of Concept

  • Cormac Hogan – Corporate Storage Architect, VMware
  • Julienne Pham – Technical Solution Architect | CTO Ambassador, VMware


MGT5973 – Automate the Deployment of NSX and Micro-Segmentation: A Deep Dive

  • Justin Jones – Consulting Architect, Integration and Automation, VMware
  • Mitesh Pancholy ‚Äď Principal Architect | CTO Ambassador, VMworld

INF4823 – Real World – Architecting a vCloud for NFV Platform for Success

  • Gary Blake – Senior Solutions Architect | CTO Ambassador, VMware UK Ltd
  • Niklas K√•nge – Consulting Architect, VMware

NET4468 – Defining Your Future With NSX Certification

  • Ben Lin – Solutions Architect | CTO Ambassador, VMware
  • Chris McCain – Director NSBU, vmware

End User Computing

EUC5733 – Deep Dive on VMware Horizon 6 Cloud Pod Architecture Best Practices to Successfully Deploy a Highly Available Virtual Desktop Solution

  • Aaron Black – EUC Product Manager, VMware
  • TJ Vatsa – Principal Architect |¬†CTO Ambassador, VMware

SPL-MBL-1653 – Advanced Concepts of VMware Workspace Portal

  • Captains: Peter Bjork, Karsten Giesse

EUC5909 РVMware’s End User Computing (EUC) Strategy into 2015 and Beyond

  • Shawn Bass – Sr. Director, Strategy & Planning, VMware
  • TJ Vatsa – Principal Architect |¬†CTO Ambassador, VMware
  • Karthik Lakshminarayanan – Senior Director, Product Management, VMware
  • Harry Labana – VP Products, VMware

EUC5062 – Your Desktops Secured: What Can NSX Do for You?

  • Tristan Todd – EUC Architect, VMware
  • Jeff Whitman – Staff Systems Engineer |¬†CTO Ambassador, VMware

EUC4509 – Architecting Horizon for VSAN, the VCDX way – VMware on VMware.

  • Simon Long – Cloud Architect, VMware
  • Travis Wood – Senior Solutions Architect |¬†CTO Ambassador, VMware

EUC4630 – Managing Users: A Deep Dive Into VMware User Environment Manager

  • Michael Bradley – Senior Solutions Architect, VMware
  • Dale Carter – Senior Solutions Architect |¬†CTO Ambassador, VMware

EUC5516 – Delivering the Next Generation of Hosted Applications

  • Justin Venezia – Sr. Solution Architect – VMware Alliance, F5 Networks
  • Nick Jeffries – Senior Solutions Architect, VMware
  • Dale Carter – Senior Solutions Architect |¬†CTO Ambassador, VMware
  • Michael Bradley – Senior Solutions Architect, VMware
  • Mark Ewert – Architect – EUC Technical Competitive Team, VMware

PAR6426 – App Volumes Architecture and Delivery

  • Nick Jeffries – Senior Solutions Architect, VMware
  • Dale Carter – Senior Solutions Architect |¬†CTO Ambassador, VMware