Today VMware announced vSphere 6.5, which is one of the most feature rich releases of vSphere in quite some time. The vCenter Server Appliance is taking charge in this release with several new features which we’ll cover in this blog article. For starters, the installer has gotten an overhaul with a new modern look and feel. Users of both Linux and Mac will also be ecstatic since the installer is now supported on those platforms along with Microsoft Windows. If that wasn’t enough, the vCenter Server Appliance now has features that are exclusive such as:
- Improved Appliance Management
- VMware Update Manager
- Native High Availability
- Built-in Backup / Restore
We’ll also cover general improvements to vCenter Server 6.5 including the vSphere Web Client and the fully supported HTML5-based vSphere Client.
Getting to the vCenter Server Appliance is no longer an issue as the installer has a built in Migration Tool. This Migration Tool has several improvements over the recently released vSphere 6.0 Update 2m release. Now, Windows vCenter Server 5.5 and 6.0 are supported. If you’re currently running a Windows vCenter Server 6.0, this is your chance to get to the vCenter Server Appliance using this Migration Tool. In vSphere 6.5 there is an improvement in the migration tool which allows for more granular selection of migrated data as follows:
- Configuration, events, and tasks
- Configuration, events, tasks, and performance metrics
VMware Update Manager (VUM) is now part of the vCenter Server Appliance. This will be huge for customers who have been waiting to migrate to the vCenter Server Appliance without managing a separate Windows server for VUM. If you’ve already migrated to the vCenter Server Appliance 6.0 the upgrade process will migrate your VUM baselines and updates to the vCenter Server Appliance 6.5. During the migration process the vCenter configuration, inventory, and alarm data is migrated by default.
Improved Appliance Management
Another exclusive feature of the vCenter Server Appliance 6.5 is the improved appliance management capabilities. The vCenter Server Appliance Management Interface continues its evolution and exposes additional health and configurations. This simple user interface now shows Network and Database statistics, disk space, and health in addition to CPU and memory statistics which reduces the reliance on using a command line interface for simple monitoring and operational tasks.
vCenter Server High Availability
vCenter Server 6.5 has a new native high availability solution that is available exclusively for the vCenter Server Appliance. This solution consists of Active, Passive, and Witness nodes which are cloned from the existing vCenter Server. Failover within the vCenter HA cluster can occur when an entire node is lost (host failure for example) or when certain key services fail. For the initial release of vCenter HA an RTO of about 5 minutes is expected but may vary slightly depending on load, size, and capabilities of the underlying hardware.
Backup and Restore
New in vCenter Server 6.5 is built-in backup and restore for the vCenter Server Appliance. This new out-of-the-box functionality enables customers to backup vCenter Server and Platform Services Controller appliances directly from the VAMI or API, and also backs up both VUM and Auto Deploy running embedded with the appliance. The backup consists of a set of files that will be streamed to a storage device of the customer’s choosing using SCP, HTTP(s), or FTP(s) protocols. This backup fully supports vCenter Server Appliances with embedded and external Platform Services Controllers. The Restore workflow is launched from the same ISO from which the vCenter Server Appliance (or PSC) was originally deployed or upgraded.
vSphere Web Client
From a User Interface perspective, probably the most used UI is the vSphere Web Client. This interface continues to be based on the Adobe Flex platform and requires Adobe Flash to use. However, VMware has continued to identify areas for improvement that will help improve the user experience until it is retired. Through several outreach efforts over the past year we’ve identified some high-value areas where we think customers are looking most for improvements. This small list of high-impact improvements will help with the overall user experience with the vSphere Web Client while development continues with the HTML5-based vSphere Client:
- Inventory tree is the default view
- Home screen reorganized
- Renamed “Manage” tab to “Configure”
- Removed “Related Objects” tab
- Performance improvements (VM Rollup at 5000 instead of 50 VMs)
- Live refresh for power states, tasks, and more!
With vSphere 6.5 I’m excited to say that we have a fully supported version of the HTML5-based vSphere Client that will run alongside the vSphere Web Client. The vSphere Client is built right into vCenter Server 6.5 (both Windows and Appliance) and is enabled by default. While the vSphere Client doesn’t yet have full feature parity the team have prioritized many of the day to day tasks of administrators and continue to seek feedback on what’s missing that will enable customers to use it full time. The vSphere Web Client will continue to be accessible via “http://<vcenter_fqdn>/vsphere-client” while the vSphere Client will be reachable via “http://<vcenter_fqdn>/ui”. VMware will also be periodically updating the vSphere Client outside of the normal vCenter Server release cycle. To make sure it is easy and simple for customers to stay up to date the vSphere Client will be able to be updated without any effects to the rest of vCenter Server.
Now let’s take a look at some of the benefits to the new vSphere Client:
- Clean, consistent UI built on VMware’s new Clarity UI standards (to be adopted across our portfolio)
- Built on HTML5 so it is truly a cross-browser and cross-platform application
- No browser plugins to install/manage
- Integrated into vCenter Server for 6.5 and fully supported
- Fully supports Enhanced Linked Mode
- Users of the Fling have been extremely positive about its performance
While we’ve covered quite a few features there are many more which will be covered in accompanying blog articles. We will also be following up with detailed blogs on several of these new features which will be available by the time vSphere 6.5 reaches General Availability.