I recently attended the VMWorld 2011 conference and was introduced to VMware’s latest and greatest:

vSphere 5.0

Based on the information I received in many sessions and labs at the conference, I decided to enroll myself in VMware’s “vSphere5 What’s New” course. This was well worth setting aside the time to get more hands-on experience.

Some of the highlights that stand out (in no particular order):

  • No more ESX, only ESXi now available. Along with ESXi5 there is a new generation of virtual hardware as it now supports virtual machine hardware 8.
  • One of the awesome features of virtual machine hardware 8 is support for up to 32 vCPUs! I also love that you now can now configure the number of vCPU cores per socket, i.e. multicore virtual CPUs. This is great if you are paying for licensing certain software in the guest VM based on processors.
  • You can now allocated up to 1 TB of virtual memory to a guest VM!
  • Finally USB devices such as a memory stick or external hard drive can be attached through the client and accessed inside a VM. Also USB 3.0 device support added.
  • VASA: vStorage APIs for Storage Awareness – Instead of only seeing a storage device with a certain capacity with the vi client, you now can get the ability to see raid type, compression, deduplication, replication and other storage information presented from your storage device(s) assuming they support VASA. For example one popular iSCSI SAN many of my clients have is the EqualLogic which I noticed does support VASA.
  • VMFS5 now available – Now uses GPT instead of MBR and supports volumes up to 64 TB! which normally you would still hit a 2TB barrier however this includes pass-through RDMs so 2TB is no longer a limit.
  • Support for Apple Mac OS X servers (10.6 snow leopard), restricted to Xserve 3.1
  • Recognition and support for SSD drives which is great as you can use this for your swap files.
  • Web-based vSphere Client, more fully featured. Not quite as full featured as the windows client, but it is coming along.
  • Auto Deploy for ESXi Hosts, help simplify the task of managing installs and upgrades of the hosts for larger implementations.
  • Datastore Clusters, you can avoid using a centralized storage array and instead allocate local storage from each of the ESXi hosts to participate in the cluster. This gives you some benefits that you would have otherwise only had with a centralized san.
  • Great feature of NetFlow support and port mirroring (span), configured within the dvSwitch. Can run this on a per port/VM basis. Excellent for stats and troubleshooting.
  • NETIOC dvSwitch Network I/O control supporting 802.1p QoS priority tagging
  • No more need for running Windows vCenter server! Now vCenter Server Appliance (as an OVF). Has an embedded database. Quick and easy support for small installs of up to 5 hosts and 50 VMs. This is very lightweight, no linked mode, no SQL, no IPv6, etc Also supports auto deploy, tftp, dhcp, etc
  • Better EVC support, enhanced vMotion compatibility with more AMD and Intel processors.
  • vMotion can take advantage of multi-NICs (up to 4 x 10Gig, 16 x GigE). Also supports higher latency, now up to 10 ms which is a longer distance that you can have your DR site.
  • Now support for more than 1 HA failover host.

vsphere logoThere are many other new features and further details on what I have above. It is an exciting upgrade to undertake. I am already in the planning and testing stages with a few of existing 4.1 sites I help manage. I am really looking forward to running vSphere 5.0 and benefiting from many of the above features.

2 Comments
  1. This seems like it’d be a pretty good upgrade for businesses with VMs. But honestly, something like using USB devices in a VM is something you’d expect out of VMWare. Same goes with SSD support, it seems like it should’ve been supported before.

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