At July 12 VMware released VMware vSphere 5, it’s latest platform for server virtualization and cloud computing. This posting will give you an overview of the many new features and improved features this release has to offer. This biggest change is the storage and availability area.
VMware changed the license model in vSphere 5. In vSphere 4 the licensing model had restrictions on the number of allowed cores and memory per vSphere edition. vSphere Enterprise edition has a limitation of 6 physical cores per CPU and 256GB of physical RAM. vSphere Enterprise Plus has a 12 physical core limit.
While there is no restriction on the number of cores per CPU and while the number of licenses needed is still based on the number of CPU’s used in the host, a new entitlement has been introduced, namely Pooled vRAM. It is explained in this posting.
VMware has a whitepaper available on the vSphere 5 licensing, pricing and packaging.
The Advanced edition will not be available in vSphere 5. Current customers with software maintenance on vSphere 4 Advanced can upgrade for free to the Enterprise edition.
Deployment & Management
The service console is no more. Previous in vSphere4 and VI3.5 two choices could be made: install ESX with service console or ESXi. ESXi offers the same features as ESX but has a much smaller footprint, no serviceconsole and needs less patching. In vSphere 5 it is ESXi only. Management can be done using vCenter Server, the vSphere Management Assistant (vMA), PowerCLI or by connecting to the ESXi server directly using the vSphere client.
Deployment of the ESXi hypervisor on bare metal servers is made much easier using the AutoDeploy feature. An administrator can create a custom made image using vendor supplied CIM and driver modules, combined with the VMware supplied ESXi image. This image can be downloaded from an internal AutoDeploy server using PXE and configurered using Host Profiles.
Upgrade from vSphere 4 ESX to the new vSphere 5 ESXi can easily be performed using VMware Update Manager.
Besides the Windows Server based vCenter Server there will be a vCenter Server appliance running on SLES Linux. The advantage over the Windows Server based vCenter is that the appliance is easy to install and does not cost a Windows Server license. The embedded database is IBM DB2 Express. The appliance can easily be downloaded as a OVF file and imported into the vSphere infrastructure.
More on the vCenter Appliance here…
An additional way of managing the vSphere infrastructure is available by using the VMware vSphere Web Client. Previously a Windows system was needed to run the VMware vSphere client. Not anymore since any webbrowser can now be used for management. Abobe Flex is used under the hood.
VMware High Availability (HA) feature has been rewritten from the ground up. Untill vSphere 4 HA was based on a product of Legato called Automated Availability Manager (AAM). This has some caveats and was somethings a bit tricky to configure. Not anymore. Gone are the primary nodes. VMware HA now has one master node, all the other nodes in the cluster are slaves. Two heartbeat channels are available: the management network and new a datastore heartbeat. When a part of the cluster is disconnected from the management network, heartbeats can still be checked using a file on a datastore shared by the clusternodes. Management network is the primary channel for heartbeats, datastore hearbeat is the secondary. Installation and Configuration of the HA cluster is now done in seconds.
More about VMware HA here….
Fault Tolerance has not changed. It is still limited to one vCPU.
vMotion can now be performed over multiple nic’s. It allows the use of up to 4 nics of 10 Gbps or up to 16 nics of 1 Gbps. Also support for high latency links (up to 10 ms) has been added and error reporting has been improved.
Virtual machines can have 1 TB of RAM and have 32 virtual CPU’s assigned. A big increase compared to vSphere 4.
MAC OS X Server is now a supported guest operating system on vSphere. However, because of Apple restrictions in the EULA a virtualized OS X Server is not allowed to be run on X86 hardware. You will need to deploy the Appl Xserve serverhardware which was announced end of life by Apple.
USB devices attached to the client computer running the vSphere Web Client or the vSphere Client can be connected to a virtual machine and accessed within it.
Major new features and improvements here. VMFS3 is replaced by VMFS5. The maximum size of a datastore has been increased to from 2 TB to 64 TB. The maximum filesize of a virtual disk file (VMDK) remains 2 TB. VMFS5 is a base for the next release of VMFS which will have more efficient snapshotting.
Much more info on VMFS5 here
Storage DRS is a new feature in vSphere 5. It enables automated load balancing of virtual machine disk files based on I/O performance and capacity. When for example a datastore has less than 10 % free disk space Storage DRS will recommend or automatically perform a storage vMotion to a datastore with more free diskspace.
More on Storage DRS here…
VASA is a new API developed by VMware and made available to storage vendors. VASA stands for vStorage API for Storage Awareness. VASA is used by VMware to query the underlying storage array for characteristics like capacity, performance, provisioning of the LUN (thick/thin). Storage DRS heavily uses VASA to make decisions on operations.
VMware vSpherel Storage Appliance (VSA) is an appliance which creates a high available storage array of harddisk located in the ESXi hosts. This is a lowcost solution when a SAN is too exensive. Two to three ESXi hosts running the VSA can be grouped to a VSA cluster. The VSA storage can be used with VMware HA and vMotion. For performance reasons a minimum of 8 local harddisk is recommended.
More on the VSA here…
Storage I/O control can now also be used for NFS datastores.
Some minor enhancements for networking in vSphere. ESXi has a new firewall engine which allows to permit of deny traffic to and from the interfaces connected the management network.
Network I/O control has added two new types of network traffic: Host Based Replication and Virtual Machine. NIOC can be used for Quality of Service especially important for multi tenant infrastructures.
Two new features are added for distributed virtual switches. Netflow can be used to monitor and analyze the network traffic. It gives an insight in the type of traffic and how much bandwidth is used per protocol. DVMirror allows packet level analysis of network port in virtual switches and uses Switched Port Analyzer or SPAN
A good blogposting on Netflow is written by Hany Michael
For an overview of what is new see this VMware document