What is new in VMware Site Recovery Manager 6.0

Early February 2015 VMware announced Site Recovery Manager 6.0. This release has only one new feature besides  being supported on vSphere 6.0

The VMware Storage DRS and SRM teams have been working together to prevent situations where a VM could be moved by Storage DRS to a datastore which is not protected by SRM array based replication or to a datastore with different replication characteristics than the source datastore (async or sync replication).

Since SRM 5.5 it was possible to Storage vMotion VM’s to a different datastore as long as the datastore was part of the same consistency group. Consistency groups (also called storage groups)  is a feature available on storage arrays which allows to group multiple LUNs. All the LUNs in a given consistency group are replicated as a unit sharing the same specifications.

In previous versions of SRM a datastore cluster must contain one and only one consistency group.

Storage DRS in vSphere 6 is aware of which datastores are replicated and which are part of a consistency group. This means replicated and non-replicated datastores can be part of the same Storage DRS datastore cluster. A datastore cluster can now also have multiple consistency groups.

These enhancements make life for the administrator a lot more easy.

Some caveats:

  • Mind SRM using vSphere Replication cannot  be used for Fault Tolerance enabled VMs. SRM using array replication  can protect those Fault Tolerance enabled VMs , but VM will not be FT enabled after recovery. Admnistrators must manually re-enable. Source Matthew Meyer @mattdmeyer
  • VMware vSphere Replication in vSphere 6  GA still has a 15 min RPO and not 5 minutes like in the beta!

More info on Storage DRS enhancements in this blogpost of Cormac Hogan

 

srm60

VMware certification roadmap 2015. VCP6 now requires two exams.

VMware shows it’s certification roadmap for 2015 on it’s website.

The most important changes compared to 2014 are:

  • VCAP name disappears and is replaced by VCIX (VMware Certified Implementation Expert)
  • VCP now has two exams: Foundation and and a elective exam to validate skills in a specific solution track. The online Foundation exam covers the basics of virtualization
  • Each certification has a number in the name as seen in the past. Probably related to the fact that certification now expires.
  • The VCAP Design and Administration certifications  are now combined into a single VCIX certification requiring two exams (Design and Administration).
  • There is an upgrade for current VCAP to VCIX. For example VCAP5-DCD + VCIX6-DCV (admin exam) = VCIX6-DCV
  • Elite status for candidates who complete multiple VCIX or VCDX certifications
  • VCDXs who want to earn multiple VCDX certifications only need to submit a new design that meets the certification requirement. No additional defense is required.For a multiple VCDX-NV certification, another defense is still requred.
  • Two (instead of one ) VMware Certified Associate (VCA) certificati0ns for cloud solution track: VCA6-CMA and VCA6-HC . No information available yet on these two new certifications.
  • New certification VCA-NX 
  • New certification VMware Certified Implementation Expert — Network Virtualization (VCIX-NV)
  • The VCIX Design exam will be available at more PearsonVue testing locations

More info on the roadmap at the VMware Certification website. Chris Wahl wrote an interesting blogpost on the changes.

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What is new in VMware vSphere 6.0 ?

At a special event VMware announced VMware vSphere 6.0. Many of the new features were already know as these were discussed at VMworld 2014. However some new features were made public today.

This post will show the new feature for both ESXi 6.0,  vCenter Server 6.0 and the vSphere full and Web Client.

In bold are the new features made public at February 2.

ESXi 6.0

scale improvements 

  • supports 64 hosts per cluster (from 32 in 5.5)
  • 8000 virtual machines per cluster (4000 in 5.5)
  • 480 CPU’s per host
  • 12 TB of RAM per hosts
  • 1000 VMs per host (512 in 5.5)
  • support for 128 vCPU’s per VM
  • 4 TB of virtual memory

New features 

  • VMware vSphere Data Protection Advanced is now part of vSphere Essentials Plus Kit or higher vSphere editions, all vSphere with Operations Management editions and all vCloud Suite editions (source)
  • Instant Clone. Previously known as a Tech Preview named Project Fargo. Instant Clone clones a running virtual machine in seconds. More info here.
  • Virtual SAN (VSAN) 6.0.
    Pricing
    VMware Virtual SAN is priced at $2,495 per CPU.
    VMware Virtual SAN for Desktop is priced at $50 per user.
    The new All-Flash architecture will be available as on add-on to VMware Virtual SAN 6 and will be priced at $1,495 per CPU and $30 per desktop.
  • Virtual Volumes.
    VMware vSphere Virtual Volumes will be packaged as a feature in VMware vSphere Standard Edition and above as well as VMware vSphere ROBO editions.
  • vSphere APIs for IO Filtering (more info here)
  • NFS 4.1 support (WoodItWork.com)
  • VMware VM Component Protection (VMCP). Duncan Epping has a post on this.
  • Virtual Datacenters. More info here
  • NVIDIA Grid vGPU support.
  • ESXi 6.0 can out of the box installed on  all Mac Mini platforms starting from 5,1 and newer as well as Mac Pro 6,1 platform and newer. More info on VirtualGhetto.com Mind the Apple platform is not supported by VMware.
  • VMware Tools includes a “freeze/thaw” mechanism for quiescing certain Linux distributions at the file system level for improved recovery reliability. See vSphere documentation for specifics on supported Linux distributions.

enhanced features

  • Fault Tolerance support for 4 vCPU’s. According to a breakout session at VMworld 2014 US Fault Tolerance has been rewritten from the groud up. Info here
  • vMotion enhancements
  • better Microsoft clustering support. More info in this post of Cormac Hogan
  • hot-add RAM now vNUMA aware
  • WDDM 1.1 GDI acceleration features

Networking

  • not many changes in the networking. Network IO Control is now at version 3. After upgrading to vSphere 6 NIOC needs to be upgrade seperately. You can now set a guaranteed bandwidth. This is usefull for service providers which want to deliver a Quality of Service on the network bandwidth. It is a reserveration which means one set thereserved amount of  bandwidth is taken away from the total available bandwidth even when not used. Can be applied at the vNIC as well as at the Distributed Port Group level
  • VMware stopped selling and supporting the Cisco Nexus 1000V virtual switch (source). Cisco will continue to support and sell the switch.

vSphere Replication 

  • With VR 6.0, VR traffic can be isolated from other vSphere host traffic.
  • Compression can be enabled when configuring replication for a VM. It is disabled by default.
  • Updates are compressed at source (vSphere host) and stay compressed until written to storage. This does cost some CPU cycles on source host (compress) and target storage host (decompress).
  • Uses FastLZ compression libraries. Fast LZ provides a nice balance between performance, compression, and limited overhead (CPU).
  • Typical compression ratio is 1.7 to 1

VMware VM Component Protection (VMCP)

This is a new feature which will allow an automated response to All Path Down (APD or Permanent Device Loss (PDL) situations. APD can be fiber channel controller failure for example or a switch misconfiguration. An example of a PDL situation is when a host is removed from the storage array access control list so the host does not have access to the storag array. The response tp a PDL or APD can be set. Either to a restart  on a healthy host, reset or terminate the VM

VMware HA is now able to detect the loss of storage connection and restart virtual machines on other hosts.

VMCP will resolve issues on storage. VMware is working to have this respond on networking issues as well.

Microsoft  Clustering support 

  • Support for Windows Server 2012 R2 and SQL Server for Failover Clustering and Always on availability groups.
  • IPV6 support for in cluster configurations
  • PVSCSI and SCSI controller support
  • vMotion support in Microsoft clustering configurations. Supported on Windows 2008, 2008R2 and 2012R2.

 

Fault Tolerance enhancements 

  • Fault tolerance will now support VM’s with up to 64 GB of memory.
  • 10 GB network is now required for FT
  • hot configure Fault Tolerance. You no longer have to turn off a VM in order to enable FT
  • Support for vStorage APIs for Data Protection (VADP) for Fault Tolerance
  • Fault Tolerence will now have seperate VMDK files of a protected VM. You can also select a different datastore for the shadow VM. This is a requirement.

 vMotion enhancements 

  • long distance vMotion. More info here and here Long distance vMotion now support 100ms roundtrip. Used to be 10ms.
  • vMotion across vCenters , vMotion using routed vMotion networks and vMotion across virtual switches
  • Using VMware NSX, network properties will now be vMotioned as well when using long distance vMotion.

Other enhancements

  • beter auditability of what ESXi admins did. The vCenter username is now mentioned in logs and not just vpxuser.
  • virtual machine now can have 32 serial ports. This is for example used by some Point of Sale systems.

VMware vCenter 6.0

  • Microsoft clustering support for the vCenter Server 6.0 itself, not just the database
  • vCenter Server 5.5 Update 3 will support Microsoft Failover clustering
  • However Fault Tolerance is not supported for vCenter Server on Windows and the vCenter appliance 
  • vMotion cross vSwitch allows to perform a vMotion across different types of switches. During the vMotion you can change portgroup.
    vSS to vSS
    vSS to vDS
    vDS to vDS
  • vMotion across vCenter. Requires vSphere 6.0 on both ends. Information like statistics and alerts will be moved over the other vCenter server.MAC Addresses preserved across vCenters
  • long distance vMotion increased latency. Cross-continental distances supports up to 100ms RTTs (used to be 10 ms)
  • the vMotion network is routeable now and fully supported.
  • Content Library. A way to centrally store VM templates, vApps, ISO images and scripts. The function is similar to the Content Library of vCAC. Content Library’s are replicated over vCenter Server instances. The advantage is a central managed repository preventing for instance severalcopies of templates of the same guest OS. This allows the replication of templates.
  • the vSphere Client is still available. It will not allow to configure ew features introduced in vSphere 5.1 and higher.
  • The vCenter Appliance now has the same scale as the vCenter Server running on Windows. There is no SQL support for the appliance however!
Metric Windows Appliance
Hosts per VC 1,000 1,000
Powered-On VMs per VC 10,000 10,000
Hosts per Cluster 64 64
VMs per Cluster 8,000 8,000
Linked Mode
  • Windows install supports Postgres and External SQL and Oracle DBs.
  • vCSA supports embedded Postgres and external Oracle DBs.
  • introduction of the Platform Services Controller. This can  be compared to a Active Directory Domain controller. It groups various services in a single service like Single sign-on, licensing and certificate authority.
  • Update Manager is still a seperate install on a Windows Server. There are no binaries for the vCenter appliance.
  • introduction of Certificate Lifecycle Management which is a root CA. So no more self signed certificates. It runs on the Platform Services Controller. There will be a VMware Certificate Authority which issues vertificates to vCenter Server and ESXi hosts. The VMware Certificate Endpoint Service  (VECS) is a kind of wallet. It stores certificates for vCenter. ESXi hosts will store certificates locally on the host like on vSphere 5.5

vSphere  Client

VMware did a lot of effort to enhance the performance of the web client. The performnce is now on par with the Windows based vSphere Client. The vSphere Client (the C# one installed on Windows) will remain available in vSphere 6.0. According to VMware vSphere 6.0 will be the last release having C# client support. Haven’t we heard that before ;-)?

  • Web client in 6.0 supports Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome. But Firefox  is 50% slower.
  • Improved login time. It is now 13x faster
  • Faster right click menu load. It is now 4x faster
  • Faster performance charts
  • Most tasks are at least 50% faster
  • Performance Charts are available and usable in less then half the time
  • the same virtual machine remote console in the Windows client is now available in the web client. Look and feel and functionality are the same
  • Recent Tasks moved to bottom
  • Flattened right click menus
  • Deep lateral linking
  • you can now customize the webclient by placing recent tasks, alerts and other panes to the location you want.

VMware announces new releases of many products

VMware announced at  February 2 a whole range of new releases for their products:

  1. VMware vSphere 6.0
  2. Virtual Volumes (part of vSphere 6.0)
  3. VMware vSphere with Operations Management 6.0
  4. VMware Virtual SAN 6.0
  5. vCloud Suite 6.0
  6. Site Recovery Manager 6.0. No new features but this release supports vSphere 6.0
  7. VMware Integrated OpenStack 1.0. This is a VMware-supported OpenStack distribution that makes it easy for IT to run an enterprise-grade OpenStack on top of their existing VMware infrastructure. Building on their existing expertise, vSphere administrators can boost developer agility by providing simple vendor-neutral OpenStack APIs to VMware’s best-of-breed SDDC infrastructure. – See more at: http://www.vmware.com/nl/products/openstack#sthash.WT8QNynM.dpuf

Details of these products in the links!

VMware announces Virtual SAN 6.0

VMware announced the details on the next version of Virtual SAN. This version will be VSAN 6.0.

For those not familiar with VSAN: it allows to build distributed storage from server based disks. So a storage network is not required for running virtual machines and using features like vMotion. Just use cheap local disks, have VSAN manage redundancy and you are ready to go. Advantages of VSAN are costs, agility, reduced complexity.

VSAN while being part of the ESXi kernel requires a separate license. At January 2015 VSAN is used by about 1000+ customers since the release 9 months ago.

Interesting is that VMware integrated the Virsto filesystem into VSAN. Virsto was acquired by VMware.

The message of VMware is that VSAN 6.0 is ready for business critical applications like SQL Server and Oracle.  So VSAN is now positioned by VMware to support scenario’s like business critical apps, VDI, target for Disaster Recovery and test/dev environments.

VSAN 6.0 can now be deployed in two configurations

  1. new is the All-Flash configuration where SSD can be used for both cache (cache tier) and persistent storage (capacity tier). Mind the All-Flash configuration requires 10GBps network. Flash is used a a write buffer.
  2. hybrid where SSD is used for cache and HDD for storage. Supports both 1 Gbps and 10Gbps networks.Flash is used as  read cache and write buffer.

VSAN 6 will not be available in EVO: RAIL configurations before the second half of 2015.

Pricing 

Mind All-Flash is an add-on to Virtual SAN with HDD for storage. Customers have to pay 60% extra for All-Flash.

  •  VMware Virtual SAN is priced at $2,495 per CPU.
  • VMware Virtual SAN for Desktop is priced at $50 per user.
  • The new All-Flash architecture will be available as on add-on to VMware Virtual SAN 6 and will be priced at $1,495 per CPU and $30 per desktop. VMware vSphere Virtual Volumes will be packaged as a feature in VMware vSphere Standard Edition and above as well as VMware vSphere ROBO editions.

More info here. 

New features

VSAN 6.0 is a major new release which will have the following new features

  • 100K IOPS per hosts in All-Flash configuration (increased 5 x compared to VSAN 5.5 )
  • 40K IOPS per hosts in Hybrid configuration (SSD for cache, HD for persistent storage (increased 2 x)
  • scales to 64 nodes (increased from 32 nodes)
  • 200 VM’s per hosts (increased from 100)
  • VM’s per cluster now 6000. (increased from 3200)
  • support for direct attached JBOD (just a bunch of disks). This is important for support of VSAN on blades. For example IBM Flex10. Not each JBOD will be supported. Check the VSAN Compatibility Guide.
  • hardware based checksum and encryption
  • proactive rebalance. This allows administrator to have control over the process which makes sure each disk of a datastore has the same amount of data stored on it.
  • 62 TB max virtual disk file size
  • support for layer 3 network
  • 9000 components per host (increased from 3000)
  • VMDK virtual disks can now be stored on SSD. In the previous version SSD was used as a cache layer only.
  • rack awareness to tolerate rack failures. In VSAN 6 you can define faultdomains. Basically you tell which hosts are located in the same rack. VSAN will then make sure the replica of a VM is stored in a different rack. This will not support streteched clusters. You will need a minimum of three fault domains.
  • High performance snapshots and clones (based on the Virsto filesystem)
  • new diskformat VSAN-FS
  • 32 snapshots per VM
  • New RVC commands for management and configurations purposes have been added
  • Virtual SAN Health Services which allows for monitoring of VSAN subsystems. Tool is  embeded in vCenter.
  • PowerCLI 6.0 delivers a set of Virtual SAN related cmdlets fully supported  (no longer a fling) for managing Virtual SAN

vsan-health-service

In Virtual SAN 5.5 in order to remove a disk/disk group without data lost, hosts were placed in maintenance mode with the full data evacuation mode from all disk/disk groups.

Virtual SAN 6.0 Introduces the support and ability to evacuate data from individual disk/disk groups before removing a disk/disk group from the Virtual SAN. So there is no need anymore to put a host in maintenance mode. Disks can be removed (hot swap) only with controllers with passthrough configuration

When a disk hits a permanent error, it can be challenging to find where that disk sits in the chassis to find and replace it. When SSD or MD encounters a permanent error, VSAN automatically turns the disk LED on.

User might need to locate a disk so VSAN supports manually turning a SSD or MD LED on/off.

VSAN 6.0 introduces the What-if API. This allows users to see what the result is of applying a certain storage policy to the available capacity.what-if

 

Virtual SAN might need to resync data in certain conditions like a host failure. To be able to be able to keep the set compliancy for redundancy,  a new replica needs to be built. In VSAN 5.5 there was no way to monitor the progress of the resynchronization of data. VSAN 6 has a dashboard which shows how much bytes are left to resync and also an expected time for the resync to be finished (ETA to compliance)

resync-dashboard

 

control over Rebalance operation

The rebalance operation in Virtual SAN is designed to proactively re-distribute data throughout the cluster in order to maintain a balanced consumption and distribution of storage capacity. By default, the rebalance operation is automatically activated whenever the storage capacity of the magnetic disks reaches 80% of utilization. The purpose of the operation is to distribute the data evenly throughout the cluster until the storage utilization is below the system’s defined threshold of 80%.

In VSAN 6 admins now can perform manual a rebalance by using the Ruby console by  the command

vsan.proactive_rebalance –start ~/computers/cluster

rebalance

 

More info in this very interesting whitepaper of VMware.

NexentaConnect for VMware Virtual SAN

The ability of VSAN is providing storage for virtual machines. It cannot share files for other purposes. However VSAN 6 supports NexentaConnect  for VMware Virtual SAN which can be used to add NFSv3, NFSv4, and SMB file services to VMware Virtual SAN deployments by utilizing storage in host servers. This storage is managed through a vCenter console and can leverage security and domain integration, Active Directory Authentication and Authorization, and Kerberos support. NexentaConnect also provides inline compression and deduplication, IO path handling, and performance and health monitoring. The new solution is validated for virtual desktop workloads of up to 6,400 users and can provide folder and volume snapshots with replication and backup capabilities for disaster recovery.

A very comprehensive post about NexentaConnect for VMware Virtual SAN can be read here.

The What is new in VSAN 6.0 is here.