Transparent Page Sharing (TPS) Example Architectural Decisions Register

The following is a register of all Example Architectural Decisions related to Transparent Page Sharing on VMware ESXi following the announcement from VMware that TPS will be disabled by default in future patches and versions.

See The Impact of Transparent Page Sharing (TPS) being disabled by default for more information.

The goal of this series is to give the pros and cons for multiple options for the configuration of TPS for a wide range of virtual workloads from VDI, to Server, Business Critical Apps , Test/Dev and QA/Pre-Production.

Business Critical Applications (vBCA) :

1. Transparent Page Sharing (TPS) Configuration for Virtualized Business Critical Applications (vBCA)

Mixed Server Workloads:

1. Transparent Page Sharing (TPS) Configuration for Production Servers (1 of 2)

2. Transparent Page Sharing (TPS) Configuration for Production Servers (2 of 2) – Coming Soon!

Virtual Desktop (VDI) Environments:

1. Transparent Page Sharing (TPS) Configuration for VDI (1 of 2)

2. Transparent Page Sharing (TPS) Configuration for VDI (2 of 2)

Testing & Development:

1. Transparent Page Sharing (TPS) Configuration for Test/Dev Servers (1 of 2) – Coming Soon!

2. Transparent Page Sharing (TPS) Configuration for Test/Dev Servers (2 of 2) – Coming Soon!

QA / Pre-Production:

1. Transparent Page Sharing (TPS) Configuration for QA / Pre-Production Servers

Related Articles:

1. Example Architectural Decision Register

2. The Impact of Transparent Page Sharing (TPS) being disabled by default – @josh_odgers (VCDX#90)

3. Future direction of disabling TPS by default and its impact on capacity planning – @FrankDenneman (VCDX #29)

4. Transparent Page Sharing Vulnerable, Yet Largely Irrelevant – @ChrisWahl (VCDX#104)

The Impact of Transparent Page Sharing (TPS) being disabled by default

Recently VMware announced via the VMware Security Blog, that Transparent Page Sharing (TPS) will be disabled by default in an upcoming update of ESXi.

Since this announcement I have been asked how will this impact sizing vSphere solutions and as a result I’ve been involved in discussions about the impact of this on Business Critical Application, Server and VDI solutions.

Firstly what benefits does TPS provide? In my experience, in recent times with large memory pages essentially not being compatible with TPS, even for VDI environments where all VMs are running the same OS, the benefits have been minimal, in general <20% if that.

Memory overcommitment in general is not something that can achieve significant savings from because memory is much harder to overcommit than CPU. Overcommitment can be achieved but only where memory is not all being used by the VM/OS & Applications, in which case, simply right sizing VMs will give similar memory saving and likely result in better overall VM and cluster performance.

So to begin, in my opinion TPS is in most cases overrated.

Next Business Critical Applications (vBCA):

In my experience, Business Critical Applications such as MS Exchange, MS SQL , Oracle would generally have memory reservations, and in most cases the memory reservation would be 100% (All Memory Locked).

As a result, in most environments running vBCA’s, TPS has no benefits already, so TPS being disabled has no significant impact for these workloads.

Next End User Computing (EUC) Solutions:

There are a number of EUC solutions, such as Horizon View , Citrix XenDesktop and Citrix PVS which all run very well on vSphere.

One common issue with EUC solutions is architects fail to consider the vSwap storage requirements for Virtual Servers (for Citrix PVS) or VDI such as Horizon View.

As a result, a huge amount of Tier 1 storage can be wasted with vswap file storage. This can be up to the amount vRAM allocated to VMs less memory reservations!

The last part is a bit of a hint, how can we reduce or eliminate the need for Tier 1 storage of vSwap? By using Memory Reservations!

While TPS can provide some memory savings, I would invite you to consider the cost saving of eliminating the need for vSwap storage space on your storage solution, and the guarantee of consistent performance (at least from a memory perspective) outweigh the benefits of TPS.

Next Virtual Server Solutions:

Lets say we’re talking about general production servers excluding vBCAs (discussed earlier). These servers are providing applications and functions to your end users so consistent performance is something the business is likely to demand.

When sizing your cluster/s, architects should size for at least N+1 redundancy and to have memory utilization around the 1:1 mark in a host failure scenario. (i.e.: Size your cluster assuming a host failure or maintenance of one host is being performed).

As a result, any reasonable architectural assumption around TPS savings would be minimal.

As with EUC solutions, I would again invite you to consider the cost saving of eliminating the vSwap storage requirement and the guarantee of consistent performance outweigh the benefits of TPS.

Next Test/Dev Environments:

This is probably the area where TPS will provide the most benefit, where memory overcommitment ratios can be much higher as the impact to the applications(VMs) of memory saving techniques such as swapping/ballooning should not have as high an impact on the business as with vBCA, EUC or Server workloads.

However, what is Test/Dev for? In my opinion, Test/Dev should where possible simulate production conditions so the operational verification of an application can be accurately conducted before putting the workloads into production. As such, the Test/Dev VMs should be configured the same way as they are intended to be put into production, including Memory Reservations and CPU overcommitment.

So, can more compute overcommitment be achieved in Test/Dev, sure, but again is the impact of vSwap space, potentially inconsistent performance and the increased risk of operational verification not being performed to properly simulate product worth the minimal benefits of TPS?


If VMware believe TPS is a significant enough security issue to make it disabled by default, this is something architects should consider, however I would argue there are many other areas where security is a much larger issue, but that’s a different topic.

TPS being disabled by default is likely to only impact a small percentage of virtual workloads and with RAM being one of the most inexpensive components in the datacenter, ensuring consistent performance by using Memory Reservations and eliminating the architectural considerations and potentially high storage costs for VMs vSwap make leaving TPS disabled an attractive option regardless of if its truly a security advantage or not.

Related Articles:

1. Future direction of disabling TPS by default and its impact on capacity planning – @FrankDenneman (VCDX #29)

2. Transparent Page Sharing Vulnerable, Yet Largely Irrelevant – @ChrisWahl (VCDX#104)

Example Architectural Decision – Hyperthreading with Business Critical Applications (Exchange 2013)

Problem Statement

When Virtualizing Exchange 2013 (which is considered by the customer as a Business Critical Application) in a vSphere cluster shared with other production workloads of varying sizes and performance requirements,  should Hyper Threading (HT) be used?


1. vSphere 5.0 or greater
2. Exchange Servers are correctly sized day one or are subsequently “Right Sized”
3. Cluster average CPU overcommitment of 3:1


1. Ensure Optimal performance for BCAs (Exchange)
2. Ensure Optimal performance for other Virtual servers in the shared vSphere cluster

Architectural Decision

Enable Hyper Threading (HT)


1. Disable Hyper Threading (HT)
2. Enable Hyper Threading but configure Exchange Virtual machine/s with Advanced CPU, HT Sharing Mode of “None” to ensure Exchange is always scheduled onto physical CPU cores
3. Split off a limited number of ESXi hosts and form a dedicated BCA cluster w/ <= 2:1 overcommitment and disable HT
4. Disable HT on a number of nodes within the cluster but leave HT enabled on other nodes and use DRS rules to pin Exchange VMs to non HT hosts


1. Enabling Hyper Threading (HT) improves the efficiency of the CPU scheduler, which will minimize the possibility of CPU Ready for the Exchange server/s and other virtual machines on the host where a low level of overcommitment exists (<2:1)
2. For optimal performance, DRS “Should” rules will be used to keep Exchange (BCA) workloads on specific ESXi hosts within the cluster where <=2:1 CPU overcommitment is maintained
3. Configuring Advanced CPU, HT Sharing Mode to “None” (to guarantee only pCore’s are used) may result in increased CPU Ready as the CPU scheduler is forced to find (and wait) for available pCore’s which may result in degraded or inconsistent performance.
4. Sizing for the Exchange solution was completed taking into account only pCore’s (Not HT cores) to simplify sizing
5. As the cluster where Exchange is virtualized is shared with other server workloads with varying levels of importance and performance, HT benefits the vast majority of workloads and results in a higher consolidation ratio and better performance for the vSphere cluster as a whole.
6. In physical servers, enabling Hyper Threading on Exchange servers resulted in wasted or excessive RAM usage for .NET garbage collection due to memory for .NET being allocated based on logical cores. This does not impact “Right Sized” Virtual Machines as only the required number of vCPUs are assigned to the VM, and therefore available to the Guest OS. This avoids the issue of memory being wasted for HT cores.
7. The CPU scheduler in vSphere 5.0 or later is very efficient and can intelligently schedule workload on a hyper-thread or a physical core depending on the VMs CPU demand. While the Exchange server will at some point be scheduled onto a HT thread, this is not likely to be for any extended duration or have any significant impact on performance.
8. Splitting the cluster into BCA’s and server workloads would increase the HA overhead, and effective reduce the usable compute capacity of the infrastructure.
9. Having a cluster with varying configurations (eg: HT enabled on some hosts and not others) is not advisable as it may lead to inconsistent performance and adds unnecessary complexity to the environment


1. In the event the vCPU to pCore ratio is > 2:1 for any reason (including HA event & Virtual Server Sprawl) the number of users supported and/or the performance of the Exchange environment may be impacted
2. DRS “Should” rules will need to be created to keep Exchange workloads on hosts with <2:1 vCPU to pCore ratio