Tuesday, October 18, 2016

vSphere 6.5 announced so what is coming?

vSphere 6.5 has been announced on VMworld 2016 so you can ask yourself what it brings and why consider upgrade or at least upgrade plan.

It is obvious and expected that almost all vSphere 6.5 scalability limits will be increased. Configuration maximums like hosts per vCenter, powered on VMs per vCenter, hosts per cluster, VMs per cluster, vCenters in linked mode, etc are expected to increase. Theses limits are no longer limits for me but if you need it, just wait for vSphere 6.5 GA and double check well known document vsphere-65-configuration-maximums.pdf

However, vSphere users are usually looking for new features. So here they are ...

vCenter features
  • vCenter Server Appliance (aka VCSA) will be recommended as "First Choice" because the coolest new features are available just in VCSA. 
  • Platform Service Controller (PSC) will have out-of-the-box high availability for VCSA using PSC's. You will be able to achieve PSC RTO lower then 5 minutes. << UPDATE: unfortunately, this feature was not released in vSphere 6.5 release so let's hope it will be released in future vSphere 6.5 Updates.  
  • VCSA supports native High Availability support of vCenter service with RTO lower then 15 minutes.
  • VCSA has embedded vCenter Appliance Monitoring and Management to gain visibility into VCSA performance and capacity management including embedded vPostgreSQL database service.
  • VMware Update Manager (VUM) is be fully integrated into VCSA.
  • File level vCenter Server Backup and Restore is complementary backup method to existing VDP image backup. It will be possible to restore vCenter file level backup to fresh VCSA.
  • Content Libraries in vSphere 6.5 have additional features including the option to mount an ISO from a Content Library, update existing templates, and apply guest OS Customization Specifications during VM deployments. If Content Libraries reside on VCSA then you can also make use of vCenter HA, and native Backup and Restore, both new features to vSphere 6.5 mentioned above.
vSphere HA Cluster features
  • vSphere HA cluster wide restart ordering ability with intra-app dependencies during failover. It allows multi-tier application consistency during VM fail-overs.  It is also known as "vSphere HA Orchestrated Restart" because you can create VM to VM dependencies which will force specified VMs to perform HA restarts before others. You can also choose in your vSphere HA settings, when the next VM should begin restarting. At the power-on initiated command, when resources allocated, VMware Tools heartbeats,  etc. You can also set additional timeouts and delays if needed.
  • vSphere HA Admission Control - default Admission Control policy has changed from Slot Policy (Default until 6.5), to ‘Cluster Resource Percentage’. Any time you add or remove a host from the cluster, the failover capacity percentages will update, and the amount of resources required on each host will also be updated automatically.
  • Proactive HA - it integrates with the Server vendor’s monitoring software, via a Web Client plugin, which will pass detailed server health status/alerts to DRS, and DRS will react based on the health state of the host’s hardware. Yes, even the name is "Proactive HA" it is DRS functionality. Confusing? The name was chosen because it has positive impact on availability.
vSphere DRS Cluster features
  • Predictive DRS - it integrates DRS with vROps to provide placement and balancing decisions.
  • Network-Aware DRS - DRS takes physical NIC utilization in to consideration. Once a target host has been chosen for placement/load-balancing, DRS will then check to see if that host’s network is saturated (default is 80% utilization of connected uplinks, but can be configured with ‘NetworkAwareDrsSaturationThresholdPercent’. If the host is considered saturated, it will use a different target host
  • DRS Additional Option : VM Distribution - even distribution of VMs across cluster
  • DRS Additional Option : Memory Metric for Load Balancing - usage of active versus consumed memory for DRS recommendations
  • DRS Additional Option : CPU Over-Commitment - limit the number of vCPUs per pCPU in particular DRS cluster. Specific vCPU:pCPU ratio is set as advanced DRS option MaxVcpusPerClusterPct.
ESXi features and improvements
  • ESXi is pretty stable and best in class hypervisor. However even in this component you can expect some improvements.  For example I/O improvements because of RDMA / PVRDMA. PVRDMA (para-virtualized RDMA) is industry first virtualized RDMA and it allows virtualization of applications which require ultra low latency. And it supports live vMotion which SR-IOV does not.
  • ESXi core storage improvements - Support for 4K Native Drives in 512e mode, SE Sparse Default for VMFS, Automatic Space Reclamation, Support for 1024 devices and 4096 paths (versus 256 and 1024 in the previous versions)
vSphere management features
  • Auto Deploy and Image Builder will be full integrated into WebClient and Host profiles will be improved to smoothly support auto deploy.
  • vSphere Web Client usability and performance will be improved again. It is pretty important because C# client is not available for vSphere 6.5 so vSphere admins will rely on web client. HTML5-based vSphere Client should be included in 6.5 release.
  • Content library improvements - mount ISO directly from content library, customization during VM deployment, improved scale and performance, high availability along with VCSA
  • vSphere 6.5 introduces new REST-based APIs for VM Management
Storage related features
  • VVOLs 2.0 will bring data protection and replication along with support for MSCS, Oracle RAC, NFS 4.1 and SMP-FT.
  • VSAN - Virtual SAN iSCSI Service
  • VSAN - 2-Node Direct Connect with witness Traffic Separation for ROBO
  • VSAN - 512e drive support (still waiting for 4K native support)
Security related features
  • VM Encryption will be new feature to protect your VM data with tenants keys. It enables encryption on a per VM as well as per VMDK basis. It can be integrated with 3rd party Key Management Servers (KMS).
  • vSphere 6.5 also delivers enhanced audit-quality logging capabilities that provide more forensic information about user actions.
WebClient related features
  • In vSphere 6.5, the vSphere Web Client will have no dependency on Client Integration Plug-in (as it exists before).  For the Use Window Session Authentication functionality, you will need the new slimmed down Enhanced Authentication Plug-in, but the other functions (File upload/download, Deploy OVA/OVF) are replicated without CIP.

vSphere 6 is already very mature virtualization platform but vSphere 6.5 brings some very interesting enterprise features if you ask me. The most interesting features for me personally are
  • VCSA and PSC high availability
  • VVOLs 2.0
  • VM Encryption
  • REST-based APIs for vSphere Management
but all other features are cool and very handy as well. 

It is very common practice to wait for Update 1 before upgrading production environments but our labs and test environments are good candidates for vSphere 6.5 release when available. I'm eagerly waiting for GA.

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