Friday, September 13, 2013

Top 10 vSphere 5.5 Improvements

Attending VMworld this year was very exciting, the release of their NSX product for true virtualization of the network was amongst its biggest announcements. I am looking forward to see this product in action, I believe we will see some very sold security mitigation techniques stem from this deployment, not to mention the ease of network implementation! We will discuss this in more detail in a future blog. Today we are going to look at the top 10 improvements in the upcoming release of vSphere 5.5, here they are:

1. vSphere Web Client Improvements
Why did I choose this for our #1? With the push to the web Client from VMware many of us were dealing with a slow interface that decreased our ability to get work done! I do not know about you but I really do not want to spend even an extra 15 minutes a day at work just because I am waiting! This new interface is fast in comparison and I do not feel like I am waiting, which was not the case in previous versions. This new web client has some additional filtering and navigation features and had the ability to manage the new 64TB VMDK (Yes it is really only 62TB).
2. Single Sign On (SSO) Improvements
The new release of SSO is easier to understand and use, I think you will actually like it now! It still provides a great resource for multiple authentication sources! Surprisingly it provides upgrading from 5.0 to 5.5!
3. vApp HA Additions
 vSphere 5.5 can now monitor applications you have running inside the VM! No need for a 3rd party tool now. I like the idea and in testing it works well, I am not 100% convinced yet but I will try this with clients on non-critical systems until I am confident in the results.
4. vSAN is now available
Software Defined Storage is one of the new hot topics and VMware is attempting to lead the pack, however there are other hardware vendors that have a similar implementation that has worked well. However I like where they are headed, I will need a lot more testing before I am ready to use this in any production environment but there are some details. This feature is enabled on the host and will provide redundant, supported storage across a maximum of 8 hosts. VMware states the primary use cases will be VDI, test/dev, big data, and a disaster recovery target. vSAN functionality will be sold as a standalone offering. The vSAN beta is in public beta and available at
5. Flash Read Cache Solution Added
As expected server-side, host-based caching was a hot topic this year and VMware how their own solution. It requires local SSD on every host that has this feature enabled and support vMotion, HA, DRS and other features of vSphere. The virtual machines and applications are not aware of the Flash Read Cache similar to other implementations of features in vSphere like Transparent Page Sharing. This solution will provide a nice performance boost with read intensive solutions like VDI.
6. vCenter Multi-Hypervisor Manager (MHM)
Surprise, Surprise, vSphere now supports managing a Windows 2012 Hyper-V host! I did not see this one coming, however it does makes sense. With the improvement of the latest version of Hyper-V there are many companies wondering what they should do for the future. With this latest release VMware is at least making it possible for the users to continue working in their well known and loved vCenter. You can even perform a cold migration from Hyper-V to vSphere!
7. vCSA improvements
VMware has stated on many occasions that they are likely to dump the windows version of vCenter, personally I think this will be a huge mistake, but before that can even happen they must prove to the world that the vCenter Server Appliance is going to be a viable option. One that is easy and error free! The latest release allows us to manage 500 hosts and 5000 virtual machines with the embedded database! Yes you read that correctly, the embedded database can handle 500 hosts and 5000 virtual machines! Ready to give it a whirl? No need for a costly sql or oracle server, just download the applicane, run through the basic setup and you are ready. Another key item of note with the vCSA is that there is a new vSphere Update Manager plugin for the vSphere Web Client!
8. vSphere replication improvements
VMware continues to improve its replication solution, the current improvements to the per-VM replication include compatibility with Storage vMotion and Storage DRS along with the ability to have multiple point in time recovery options. You can now have up to 10 appliances per vCenter server which allows for more freedom in your design and lowers the overall cost of vCenter purchases. Site Recovery Manager is updated to support these features as well.
9. vCenter Orchestrator Additions
VMware views Orchestrator as a key component moving forward in the migration to the cloud and they have improved its scalability and availability to allow for that planned migration. It also added features which include a workflow debugger, health check, and auto-alerts
10. vCloud Director New Features
VMware has already announced that vCloud Director 5.5 will be the last release, choosing to migrate to vCloud Automation Center (vCAC) instead. But that did not stop them from improving upon the functionality of this release. It is now sold as part of the vCloud Suite. So what have they done? Added many features related to the vApp lifecycle management such as Open Virtualization Format (OVF) import and export, the option to add or modify virtual hardware that was created from a template, and the ability to clone a VM while preserving its memory state. There are many more but that will have to come in a later blog.