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Whats new in VMware vSphere 5?

vSphere 5 New Features

As with any major upgrade, improvements to speed, stability and scalability are some of the important “new” features.  Virtual machines can be larger in vSphere 5. Virtual machines with up to one terabyte of memory and up to 32 CPUs are now supported. VMware says that vSphere 5 VMs can handle over one million IOPS. vSphere 5 is also the first version of vSphere to be developed completely on ESXi which is independent from any other operating system. ESXi’s only purpose is to run VMware which means it has a very thin, optimized footprint of less than 100 MB.

However, vSphere 5 is about more than just bigger and faster.  VMware says there are over 200 new features in the latest edition of vSphere.

vSphere 5 supports three new automated functions that form the backbone of an intelligent policy management system. The idea is that administrators can configure policies that enable a “set it and forget it” approach to managing virtualization in the datacenter.

The first of these new features is Auto-Deploy. Auto-Deploy automatically deploys severs on the fly using a PXE boot to turn on the server, install an image and then add the systems resources into an existing pool. Auto-Deploy allows 40 severs to be deployed in 10 minutes instead of 20 hours. Once the servers are running, the Auto-Deploy policy can also automatically patch the installations.

Profile-Driven Storage groups storage according to user-defined policies. When provisioning resources, administrators select the level of service required and vSphere automatically chooses the available resources that best correspond to the selected level.

Finally, Storage DRS automatically manages the placement and balancing for a VM across storage resources according to the storage policy of the virtual machine, eliminating the need for an administrator to monitor and reallocate resources to maintain the necessary level of service.


VMware vSphere Storage Appliance

In an effort to reach the small and medium sized business (SMB) market, VMware also announced the VMware vSphere Storage Appliance.

One of the complexities for SMB enterprises looking to capitalize on the power of VMware server virtualization is the implementation and management of shared storage. The VMware vSphere Storage Appliance seeks to address this concern.  Using the appliance, customers can take advantage of features like High Availability and vMotion without having to implement their own shared storage infrastructure. Instead, the vSphere Storage Appliance integrates with VMware to pool the internal server storage and present it as shared storage to create a virtual pool of storage without the need for external storage. Since the physical storage is spread across numerous physical servers, the storage pool acts and responds in the same manner as an array of external physical storage.

The vSphere Storage Appliance can take full advantage of the new vSphere 5 allowing SMBs without complex shared storage configurations to also benefit from the intelligent policy management that drives the hallmark set it and forget it features of vSphere 5.

Network I/O control, virtual firewall updates

As with storage management, vSphere 5 users will reportedly be able to establish networking resource pools according to pre-defined rules. The new version will also enable multi-tenancy deployment, and will bridge physical and virtual QoS by complying with a new IEEE 802.1 VLAN tagging standard.

New vSphere Pricing Model

With vSphere 5, VMware introduces a new pricing model that is no longer based on the physical server hardware. Instead, vSphere 5 is priced according to the amount of virtual resources allocated. There are now just three pricing tiers, Standard, Enterprise and Enterprise Plus.

The Standard tier allows up to 24 GB of allocated memory to all virtual machines and up to eight virtual CPUs per virtual machine. Enterprise allows 32 GB of virtual memory across all virtual machines and up to eight virtual CPUs per VM. Enterprise Plus allows up to 48 GB across virtual machines and up to 32 virtual CPUs per VM.

The new pricing model hasn’t been warmly received, in part because existing VMware customers purchased hardware to maximize the value under the vSphere 4 licensing model where pricing was based on the number of sockets and cores in the server. In particular, the vSphere 4 Enterprise Plus license allows for unlimited memory. Companies purchased servers with huge amounts of memory tied to just one or two processors with six cores meaning they needed just one or two Enterprise Plus licenses per server.


VMware vSphere 5.0

  • ESXi Convergence – No more ESX, only      ESXi
  • New VM Hardware:  Version 8 – New Hardware support (VS5 still supports VM Hardware 4 & 7 as well if you still want to migrate to the old hosts)
    • 3D graphics Support for Windows Aero
    • Support for USB 3.0 devices
  • Platform Enhancements
    • 32 vCPUs per VM
    • 1TB of RAM per VM
    • 3D Graphics Support
    • Client-connected USB devices
    • USB 3.0 Devices
    • Smart-card Readers for VM Console Access
    • EFI BIOS
    • UI for Multi-core  vCPUs
    • VM BIOS boot order config API and PowerCLI Interface
  • vSphere Auto Deploy – mechanism for having hosts deploy quickly when needed
  • Support for Apple Products – Support for running OSX 10.6 Server (Snow Leopard) on Apple Xserve hardware.
  • Storage DRS – Just like DRS does for CPU and Memory, now for storage
    • Initial Placement – Places new VMs on the storage with the most space and least latency
    • Load Balancing – migrates VMs if the storage cluster (group of datastores) gets too full or the latency goes too high
    • Datastore Maintenance Mode  – allow you to evacuate VMs from a datastore to work on it (does not support Templates or non-registered VMs yet…)
    • Affinity & Anti-Affinity – Allows you to make sure a group of VMs do not end up on the same datastore (for performance or Business Continuity reasons) or VMs that should always be on the same datastore.  Can be at the VM or down to the individual VMDK level.
    • Support for scheduled disabling of Storage DRS – perhaps during backups for instance.
  • Profile-Driven Storage – Creating pools of storage in Tiers and selecting the correct tier for a given VM.  vSphere will      make sure the VM stays on the correct tier(pool) of storage.
  • vSphere File System – VMFS5 is now available.
    • Support for a single extent datastore up to 64TB
    • Support for >2TB Physical Raw Disk Mappings
    • Better VAAI (vStorage APIs for Array Integration) Locking with more tasks
    • Space reclamation on thin provisioned LUNs
    • Unified block size (1MB)
    • Sub-blocks for space efficiency (8KB vs. 64KB in VS4)
  • VAAI now a T10 standard – All 3 primitives (Write Same, ATS and Full Copy) are now T10 standard compliant.
    • Also now added  support for VAAI NAS Primitives including Full File Clone (to have the nas do the copy of the vmdk files for vSphere) and Reserve Space (to have the NAS create thick vmdk files on NAS storage)
  • VAAI Thin Provisioning – Having the storage do the thin provisioning and then vSphere telling the storage which blocks can be      reclaimed to shrink the space used on the storage
  • Storage vMotion Enhancements
    • Now supports storage  vMotion with VMs that have snapshots
    • Now supports moving linked clones
    • Now supports Storage DRS (mentioned above)
    • Now uses mirroring to migrate vs change block tracking in VS4.  Results in faster migration time and greater migration success.
  • Storage IO Control for NAS – allows you to throttle the storage performance against “badly-behaving” VMs also prevents them from stealing storage bandwidth from high-priority VMs.  (Support for iSCSI and FC was added in VS4.)
  • Support for VASA (vStorage APIs for Storage Awareness) – Allows storage to integrate tighter with vcenter for management.  Provides a mechanism for storage arrays to report their capabilities, topology and current state.  Also helps Storage DRS make more educated decisions when moving VMs.
  • Support for Software FCoE Adapters – Requires a compatible NIC and allows you to run FCoE over that NIC without the need for a CNA Adapter.
  • vMotion Enhancements
    • Support for multiple NICs.  Up to 4 x 10GbE or 16 x 1GbE NICs
    • Single vMotion can span multiple NICs (this is huge for 1GbE shops)
    • Allows for higher number of concurrent vMotions
    • SDPS Support (Slow Down During Page Send) – throttles busy VMs to reduce timeouts and improve success.
    • Ensures less than 1 second switchover in almost all cases
    • Support for higher latency networks (up to ~10ms)
    • Improved error reporting – better, more detailed logging
    • Improved Resource Pool Integration – now puts VMs in the proper resource pool
  • Distributed Resource Scheduling/Dynamic Power Management Enhancements
    • Support for “Agent  VMs” – These are VMs that work per host (currently mostly vmware services – vshield, edge, app, endpoint, etc)  DRS will not migrate these VMs
    • “Agents” do not need to be migrated for maintenance mode
  • Resource pool enhancements – now more consistent for clustered vs. non-clustered hosts.  No longer can modify resource      pool settings on the host itself when it is managed by vcenter.  It does allow for making changes if the host gets disconnected from vCenter
  • Support for LLDP Network Protocol – Standards based vendor-neutral discovery protocol
  • Support for NetFlow – Allows collection of IP traffic information to send to collectors (CA, NetScout, etc) to provide bandwidth statistics, irregularities, etc.  Provides complete visibility to traffic between VMs or VM to outside.
  • Network I/O Control (NETIOC) – allows creation of network resource pools, QoS Tagging, Shares and Limits to traffic types, Guaranteed Service Levels for certain traffic types
  • Support for QoS (802.1p) tagging – provides the ability to Q0S tag any traffic flowing out of the vSphere infrastructure.
  • Network Performance Improvements
    • Multiple VMs receiving multicast traffic from the same source will see improved throughput and CPU efficiency
    • VMkernel NICs will see higher throughput with small messages and better IOPs scaling for iSCSI traffic
  • Command Line Enhancements
    • Remote commands and local commands will now be the same (new esxcli commands are not backwards compatible)
    • Output from commands can now be formatted automatically (xml, CSV, etc)
  • ESXi 5.0 Firewall Enhancements
    • New engine not based on iptables
    • New engine is service-oriented and is a stateless firewall
    • Users can restrict specific services based on IP address and Subnet Mask
    • Firewall has host-profile support
  • Support for Image Builder – can now create customized ESXi CDs with the drivers and OEM add-ins that you need.  (Like      slip-streaming for Windows CDs) Can also be used for PXE installs.
  • Host Profiles Enhancements
    • Allows use of an answer file to complete the profile for an automated deployment
    • Greatly expands the config options including: iSCSI, FCoE, Native Multipathing, Device Claming, Kernel Module Settings & more)
  • High Availability Enhancements
    • No more Primary/Secondary concept, one host is elected master and all others are slaves
    • Can now use storage-level communications – hosts can use “heartbeat datastores” in the event that network communication is lost between the hosts.
    • HA Protected state is now reported on a per/VM basis.  Certain operations no longer wait for confirmation of protection to run for instance power on. The result is that VMs power on faster.
    • HA Logging has been consolidated into one log file
    • HA now pushes the HA Agent to all hosts in a cluster instead of one at a time.  Result: reduces config time for HA to ~1 minute instead of ~1 minute per host in the cluster.
    • HA User Interface now shows who the Master is, VMs Protected and Un-protected, any configuration issues, datastore heartbeat configuration and better controls on failover hosts.
  • vCenter Web Interface – Admins can now use a robust web interface to control the infrastructure instead of the GUI client.
    • Includes VM Management functions (Provisioning, Edit VM, Poer Controls, Snaps, Migrations)
    • Can view all objects (hosts clusters, datastores, folders, etc)
    • Basic Health Monitoring
    • View the VM Console
    • Search Capabilities
    • vApp Management functions (Provisioning, editing, power operations)
  • vCenter Server Appliance – Customers no longer need a Windows license to run vCenter.  vCenter can come as a self-contained appliance
    • 64-bit appliance       running SLES 11
    • Distributed as       3.6GB, Deployment range is 5GB to 80GB of storage
    • Included database       for 5 Hosts or 50 VMs (same as SQL Express in VS4)
    • Support for Oracle       as the full DB (twitter said that DB2 was also supported but I cannot       confirm in my materials)
    • Authentication thru       AD and NIS
    • Web-based       configuration
    • Supports the vSphere       Web Client
    • It does not support:        Linked Mode vCenters, IPv6, SQL, or vCenter heartbeat (HA is       provided thru vSphere HA)
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