Predictions for future VMware vSphere releases

VMware vSphere is the leading server virtualization platform having features competitors do not offer. But to stay ahead VMware will need to deliver new features. Most of those features will likely focus on datacenter deployments, automation and resource abstration which enables cloud computing.

This posting gives an overview on *possible* new features in VMware vSphere. Mind the author does not have any inside information, did not breach any NDA or does not publish information from others who are subject to NDA.

Suggestions/speculations in this posting are based on public announcements done by VMware and features of competing products.

vSphere roadmap
VMware releases a major release of vSphere  every two years. An update to a major release is done 1 year after. So it is likely vSphere 5.1 is released in 2012. As reported earlier most likely VMware will  make vSphere 5.1 general available (GA) during VMworld 2012 USA end of August. Probably there will be no prior announcement of the GA. This would be perfect timing as Microsoft is expected to release Hyper-V 3 between Q3 2012 and beginning of 2013.

An update (x.1) release has a few new features and many enhancements of current features.
The image below shows the release of VMware Virtual Infrastructure and vSphere in the last years including the features released.

Suggested/speculated of  features for vSphere 5.x (expected to be announced VMworld 2012)

  • Fault Tolerance support for VMs having multiple vCPU’s (very likely)
  • Support for virtualized Microsoft Domain Controllers  allowing cloning and snapshot restore. (likely)
  • VMware HA will be able to monitor application health and restart services/applications running inside  virtual machines if applications are not responding. Currently VMware HA will notice if the guest operating system is not responding and will reboot the VM. Public API’s are available to hook into  VMware HA  which can be used to force certain HA actions. I expect that no programming skills or third party solutions are needed anymore for HA application monitoring (likely)
  • upgraded number of multiple vMotions
  • boot from FiberChannel over Ethernet

Suggested/speculated changes in editions for vSphere 5.x
Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V 3 will offer a lot of new features which will be very interesting for the SMB market. As a reaction VMware might respond.

  •  vSphere Essentials plus will be uplifted to max 5 hosts and 10 CPU’s with upgraded vRAM entitlement. (suggestion)
  •  vSphere Standard and higher editions will have a price drop, a bundled  tool for free  (for instance vCenter Operations) or higher vRAM entitlement.(suggestion)

Suggested/speculated features for vSphere 6 (to be released in 2013?)

  • Support for virtual disk files (VMDK) larger than 2 TB. (likely)
  • ESXi hosts accessing vmdk’s instead of LUN’s enabling more granular storage management. This feature is titled VM volumes and explained here. (likely)
  • Support for VXLAN improving virtual machine mobility. A virtual machine will retain it’s IP-configuration when vMotioned to another site having another IP-subnet. (likely)
  • SLA policies for applications allowing to guarantee uptime and performance for application running on a set of virtual machines.
  • RDMA support
  • Multiple templates using a single VMDK file. Templates can be used to assign different roles and features to Windows Server guests. Offered by SCVMM 2012.
  • Automated deployment of applications using vCenter Server.
  • vCenter Server will have more integrated automation using Orchestator (likely)
  • Long distance vMotion support. Stretched VMware clusters are becoming more popular allowing to perform disaster and downtime avoidance. Currently there are heavy requirements for long distance vMotion like latency and maximum distance between datacenters (around 100 km). Expect the distance to be much extended without having to buy third party equipment.(likely)
  • Redesigned snapshot mechanism. Currently commiting a snapshot can hurt performance as commiting needs a lot of disk i/o.
  • Improved VMware High Availability. More granular startup priority and a single runbook targeted at SMB like Hyper-V Replica. Use SRM instead for multiple runbooks and multiple site protection.
  • Enhanced support for VMware stretched clusters and metrocluster storage configurations allowing more control of which vm runs on white cluster and is located on which datastore.
  • IP Address Management for vCenter Server. Centralized IP management for private cloud

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