What is new in VMware vSphere 6.5 and VSAN 6.5

This post will provide a summary of the new features in VMware vSphere 6.5 and VSAN 6.5. Both new versions were announced at VMworld Europe 2016.

At the moment of writing it is not made public when vSphere 6.5 will be ready for download.

A  overview of all VMware announcements is here.

VMware vSphere 6.5 what is new

The main enhancements are on VMware HA (renamed to vSphere Availabilty), FT and DRS.

Orchestrated Restart is a new interesting feature. It allows an orchestrated restart of virtual machines part of an application over the remaining nodes in a vSphere HA cluster. Orchestrated Restart allows via a sort of runbook to define that VM1 on host 1 should start first, then VM2 on another host and then VM3 on a third host. Explained here.

HA now has the ability to detected hardware issues in servers. The feature is called ‘Proactive HA‘. So if a ESXi host has for example an issue with one of the two powersupplies, the host is put in a new status called ‘Quarantine Mode’. In this mode DRS will not place VMs on that host if not required to do so.

HA also got two new restart priority levels named Highest and Lowest providing five total. This allows for a more granular control over the priority in which VM’s restart after a HA event.

Several improvements have been made to vSphere HA Admission Control.

Fault Tolerance got enhancements too.

  • vSphere 6.5 FT has more integration with DRS
  • FT networks can now be configured to use multiple NICs to increase the overall bandwidth available for FT logging traffic
  • There has been a tremendous amount of effort to lower the network latency introduced with the new technology that powers vSphere FT.

This is a great overview of  enhancements in vSphere 6.5. The Fluffy Admin has a great blogpost here as well.

The configuration maximums are also enhanced. I could not find information on configuration maximums yet. What I do know is that the limit of max. RAM per VM is increased from 4 TB to 6TB.

Max Powered-on virtual machines per vCenter Server has been increased from 10,000 to 20,000.

On VMFS and NFS some minor enhancements were made. See an overview here.

Cormac Hogan has written a great blog about storage enhancements.

VMware vCenter 6.5

Many new enhancements mainly on the vCenter Server  Appliance.

The features below will only be available for the vCenter Server Appliance version 6.5!

  • vCenter Server Appliance will have a native high availability option. This will have an active and passive node with a witness.
  • VMware Update Manager is now part of the vCenter Server Appliance. So no more separate Windows Server to run Update Manager on.
  • Improved vCenter server Appliance Management Interface (VAMI). This will bring more CPU, memory, network and database monitoring in the User Interface.
  • Native vCenter Server backup and restore. Stream backups to external storage using http, ftp or scp protocols.

The VCSA will have two new options in the menu of the installer: migrate and restore

The VCSA appliance will run on top of Photon OS now

The new native backup and restore option is able to backup and restore the VCSA and the PSC. The backup will check the backup on consistency. So instead third party tools which just make a backup the native backup will tell if the backup is good or not.
vCenter Server High Availability requires two network interfaces.
There will be two configuration options: basic and advanced. There is synchronous database replication between the active and the passive node using the native Postgress replication mechanism.
In vSphere 6.5 there still is statefull information which is stored outside the vCenter database in files. This is also replicated.
The installation of vCenter Server HA is very simple. The basic configuration will ask info on IP-address and port group and will then automatically install the active and passive nodes.
The advanced setup is used when passive and witness nodes are managed by a different vCenter Server or are in different sites. For 80% of the customers the basic install is fine.
The Client Integration Plugin is no longer required in vSphere 6.5. The functions are now offered by the browser. However for smartcard authentication a new optional plugin is required called Enhanced Authentication Plugin.

vSphere Update Manager (VUM) 6.5 can still be used as a separate install on a Windows Server. However VMware recommends to use VUM on VCSA. VUM is installed by default. It uses the PostgreSQL database as used by the appliance but has its own schema. It leverages the VCSA High Availability and backup features.
A lot of new features are added Host Profiles . The editor now has a filter. Settings can be copied between profiles. Settings in a master profile can be copied to child profiles. Host customizations can be done offline using a CSV file. This makes bulk modifications of unique settings like an IP-address much easier than doing the editing in the web interface.
De vSphere Management Appliance is being deprecated

This VMware post provides a great overview of all the new features in vSphere 6.5

vRealize Operations Manager (vR Ops)

vSphere with Operations Management (vSOM) side of the house as well. vRealize Operations Manager (vR Ops) has been updated to version 6.4 which include many new dashboards, dashboard improvements, and other key features to help administrators get to the root cause that much faster and more efficient

VMware VSAN 6.5

One of the interesting new features of VSAN 6.5 is the ability to serve the storage via iSCSI allowing for example physical servers to use VSAN storage.

2-Node Direct Connect is a remote office feature allowing two ESXi servers with VSAN to be connected without using a switch but using  using simple crossover cables instead.

All-Flash Everywhere. All-flash hardware is now supported by all Virtual SAN editions providing you greater choice and flexibility to deploy all-flash solutions for any workload.

Duncan Epping blog on VSAN 6.5 here. More at VMware site  here.

Virtual Volumes 2.0

Virtual Volumes 2.0 was announced. Details here. What is new here.

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