VMware started VMworld 2016 in Barcelona by unveiling the next iteration of pretty much all of their flagship enterprise software offerings, including the much-anticipated vSphere 6.5 release.
Promising “a simplified customer experience through increased automation and management capabilities, comprehensive built-in security, and support for new application types including containers”, VMware are positioning vSphere as a one-stop-shop for all things virtual. Their touted list of use-cases include 3D graphpics, Big Data, cloud-native applications, containerized machine learning, SaaS among others, and such claims are backed up with a host of new versions and features.
Security features are huge business right now and vSphere 6.5 brings VM-level encryption and Secure boot features. Long a concern for IS professionals, VM encryption will protect a Virtual Machine’s base data files against unauthorized access both at rest, and critically on the move during vMotion. Secure boot will prevent image tampering and unauthorized introduction of rogue components into your environment.
With every new release, vAdmins will always scan the feature lists for news on the web client- especially prominent as 6.5 will see the end of the Windows vSphere Client as we know it. The updated HTML5-based web client will deliver on it’s promise of replacing the legacy client feature for feature, and yes this means update manager et al.
HA and DRS also see major enhacements in the new release. Admission control is now ‘smarter’ allowing you to specify your desired host failure tolerance as before, but now the resource levels will be dynamically calculated based on the size of your cluster. Orchestration also makes an appearance into HA, spoiling vAdmins with SRM-esque restart order options. Now HA will not only automatically restart your VMs elsewhere in the event of host failure, it will restart your VMs elsewhere in accordance to a set restart order using VM groups and rules- so you could have a ‘Database VM’ group, members of which would be restarted before your ‘Application VM’ group members for example. It really is great stuff.
Proactive HA is another massive new feature. OEM hardware-vendor built integrations will be able to initiate a HA event (or warn of such, dependent on configuration) on a predicted failure or a minor component failure that wouldn’t necessarily impact service- so if you have one NIC failure, lose one drive in an array or have a predicted failure, or even if a stick of memory is starting to display erratic behavior you can have your host evacuated so you can deal with the issue before it really becomes an issue.
Finally DRS is now network aware- already taking into account compute and disk IO loads when calculating load balancing recommendations DRS in 6.5 will also take into account the impact of a vMotion on your network as well.
Here’s a quick rundown of the other highlights:
- VCSA – Improvements to the vCenter appliance continue apace with 6.5 incorporating streamlined solutions for patching, upgrades, backup & recovery, not to mention another doubling of both scale and performance potential of your vSphere environment
- REST APIs – Enhancements and greater potential for automation across the virtual estate
- Containers – vSphere Integrated Containers (VIC) will allow vAdmins to present a Docker-compatible interface to their DevOps teams
Virtual SAN 6.5
Also getting honorable mention is the next Virtual SAN release as VSAN 6.5 is also revealed. Whilst the new release seems to be focused on consolidating what was already in place, enhanced automation via PowerCLI and REST API will be a bonus for many but for me the two biggest announcements are the introduction of VSAN as an iSCSI target, and support for a 2-node direct connected ROBO option.
Built into the product and enabled via the web client, 6.5 will allow you to use your VSAN cluster as an iSCSI target whilst still falling under the management of the same SPBM policies as native VSAN objects, and can also take advantage of the dedupe, compression, mirroring and erasure coding capabilities. Standard iSCSI features such as CHAP and Mutual CHAP authentication is also supported.
The 2-node offering allows 2 VSAN nodes to be direct-connected by crossover cables, negating the need for potentially cost-prohibiting 10GbE network deployment in ROBO environments, this could be a game-changer in this arena.
…and if that wasn’t enough
Also on the announcement list is VMware vRealize Automation 7.2 bringing OOB Azure integration and container management, and vCloud Air introduces a specific Enterprise DRaaS-based solution.
For details on all these features and more see the official press release
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