First off, let me state that vSphere 5 has GA'd and is available now. Awesome.
Now, let's get into the details. As with any of our platform releases vSphere 5 is a” whopper” in the true sense of the word. But with close to 200 features and functions that are either new or enhanced how does a user sort through it all? Let’s take a closer look at what I consider the top 5 features and enhancements of vSphere 5 to answer that question. My comments below are designed to not only alert to a particular feature but really to tell you something you may not know or realize about it. To supplement this article make sure you get your hands or eyes on the release notes and configuration maximum documents.
The Top 5 (at least according to Mike =)!
1. Storage DRS – Place and Balance Virtual Disks
Something you make not realize about this feature – Storage DRS I/O load balancing can be turned off if you want to use a particular hardware vendor’s auto tiering or dynamic movement capabilities. This turns Storage DRS into an initial placement and space balancing tool. The major benefit though that Storage DRS can provide is I/O load balancing across protocols and disk arrays regardless of the vendor. Don’t you want to just set-up rules once? Don’t forget about datastore maintenance mode either, it is a lifesaver! I/O load balancing within Storage DRS also turns Storage I/O Control on as well.
2. New vSphere High Availability Architecture -Simplify, Better Guarantees, and Scale Availability
Something you make not realize about this feature – The maximum size of an HA cluster has not increased from 4.1 to 5. It still remains at 32. However, most of you have 8 node HA clusters for a variety of reasons. The new HA architecture has actually been tested well beyond the officially support 32 nodes and works very well. Am I telling you to build larger than 32 node HA clusters? NOPE! I am telling you though that since HA is more simplified in its setup, provides better resource guarantees than ever before, and can really scale that it is time to create larger HA clusters beyond 8 nodes and start getting HA for more VMs at a really low cost.
3. Auto Deploy – A New Operational Model for the Deployment and Updating of vSphere Hosts
Something you make not realize about this feature – Auto Deploy is awesome for faster deployment of hosts. There is no doubt about that fact. However, its real value lies in its ability to change your operational model around how to update and patch vSphere hosts. Changing image profiles in a centralized location means “on the fly” delivery of updated images very quickly. That is the real value of Auto Deploy since deployment is normally a one-time benefit.
4. Profile-Driven Storage – “Correctly” Align Storage with SLAs
Something you may not realize about this feature – This new feature is really crafted for the core VMware administrator to make life easier for others as well as significantly added to by the new vSphere Storage APIs for Storage Awareness and Discovery. What many users don’t seem to realize when they hear about or see this feature is that it does not impact anything they are already doing. Nor does it force a tiering structure. It is what I call a “view and alignment” tool designed to more efficiently help you or your team select the right storage that is compliant with the SLA you are trying to meet for a particular VM. You can name your storage buckets anything you like with this capability and make sure you make the right choice the first time.
5. vSphere Web Client – Access vSphere from More Devices via Browser!
Something you make not realize about this feature – Thought I would pick something else to round out my top five didn’t you? There is definitely plenty to choose from with this release but this one to me is important for both right now and the future. The flexibility of the new web client is obvious here. What is not so obvious right away is that while this interface isn’t as robust as the C sharp client it is very much by design. We really want you to be comfortable with this interface over time. Not too much to describe here as this is really more about the experience. Give it a try!
Did you know? The vSphere Update Manager can assist in a migration from ESX to ESXi. While it won’t handle the conversion of any COS agents or scripts, it will help users transition to ESXi in a shorter timeframe. Need more detail? Head to the ESXi and ESX Info Center on vmware.com. No marketing fluff, I promise!
Other top features and enhancements to evaluate in vSphere 5:
-vCenter Server Appliance (Linux)
-Storage I/O Control (now for NFS)
-Network I/O Control (now with per VM controls)