Tuning ESXi for NFV Workloads
Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) enables the efficiency and agility benefits that come from untethering network functions from proprietary appliances and moving them to a virtualized infrastructure running over hypervisors and COTS hardware. Enterprise IT departments have been realizing such benefits for a number of years but the telecommunications environment brings new workloads with different requirements.
The vSphere ESXi hypervisor provides a high-performance and competitive platform that effectively runs many Tier 1 application workloads in virtual machines. By default, ESXi has been heavily tuned for driving high I/O throughput efficiently by utilizing fewer CPU cycles and conserving power, as required by a wide range of workloads.
Telco and NFV application workloads are different from the typical Tier I enterprise application workloads in that they tend to be any combination of latency sensitive, jitter sensitive, high packet rate or high bandwidth. vSphere ESXi can be tuned specifically for such workloads to achieve best performance in the NFV use case.
I recently published a white paper with many useful tips for tuning the ESXi hypervisor, the hardware infrastructure as well as NFV applications to achieve good performance on ESXi.