vSphere Has Arrived

May 21st, 2009 by jason Leave a reply »

It has been a long wait but last night (and to my surprise) vSphere was finally released and from what I’ve seen so far, it was well worth the wait. Not that VI3 isn’t a great product, but the new features vSphere boasts are absolutely amazing. Whereas with VI3 VMware put any resemblance of competition to shame, vSphere totally and completely annihilates it.

With the vSphere NDA embargo lifted a while back for bloggers, there has already been plenty of coverage on most of the new features so I’m not going to go into each of them in great detail here. I’ll just touch on a few things that have caught my attention. There is plenty more to digest on other blogs and of course VMware’s site.

First of all, let me get this out of the way: By far the best and most complete collection of vSphere resources on the internet can be found at Eric Siebert’s vSphere-land site. If you can’t find what you’re looking for there, it doesn’t exist.

Now, a few of my favorite and notable observations thus far:

  • The What’s New in vSphere 4.0 page – This is the list of new major features in vSphere. Note there are approximately 150 new features in vSphere in all, this is the list of the major notable ones worth highlighting:
    • One feature which was news to me and I hadn’t seen during the private beta was Virtual Machine Performance Counters Integration into Perfmon which seems to have replaced the shortlived and ‘never made it out of experimental support’ VMware Tools Descheduler Service. “vSphere 4.0 introduces the integration of virtual machine performance counters such as CPU and memory into Perfmon for Microsoft Windows guest operating systems when VMware Tools is installed. With this feature, virtual machine owners can do accurate performance analysis within the guest operating system. See the vSphere Client Online Help.”
    • New CLI commands: vicfg-dns, vicfg-ntp, vicfg-user, vmware-cmd, and vicfg-iscsi
    • There appears to be no end in sight for product name changes. VIMA has become vMA. It’s still 64-bit only as far as I know.
    • It’s official, and Rick Vanover reported it first in Virtualization Review magazine: Storage VMotion renamed to Enhanced Storage VMotion, particularly when changing disk formats hot on the fly (ie. full to thin provisioned). Not to be confused with Enhanced VMotion Compatibility (EVC) which is a completely different feature – I predict a lot of people confusing these two technologies interchanging one for the other.
  • The Upgrade Guide – Easy but critically important reading. A few things that I quickly pulled of this document that are worth noting:
    • SQL2000 is not a supported database platform for vCenter. SQL2008 is on the supported list. Good job VMware. Some folks may remember it taking an inconveniently long time to get SQL2005 on the supported database list when VI3 was released.
    • Another vCenter database detail I caught: During an upgrade, DBO must be granted to both MSDB and the vCenter database whereas with VI3 DBO was only needed on MSDB and you didn’t dare grant DBO to the vCenter database or you ended up with new database tables and an empty datacenter.
    • Quickly summarized, the VM upgrade path is: VMware Tools, shut down VM, upgrade VM hardware to version 7, power on. No VMFS datastore upgrades to worry about.
    • Both the 2.5 VIC and vSphere client can be installed simultaneously on the same machine and is supported as such. This will be very helpful for customers straddling both VI environments during their transition. I’ve got a blog entry coming up on ThinApp’ing the client soon which will provide yet another client installation option.
  • Configuration Maximums for VMware vSphere 4.0 – Ahh once again my most favorite VMware document of them all. Look at some of these insanely scalable supported configurations:
    • 8 vCPUs in a VM
    • 255GB RAM in a VM
    • IDE drive support in a VM
    • 10 vNICs in a VM
    • 512 vCPUs per host
    • 320 running VMs on a host
    • 64 lCPUs in a host
    • 20 vCPUs per core
    • 1TB RAM in a host
    • 4,096 virtual switch ports in a host
    • These are just a few that I hand picked. We’re looking at serious consolidation ratio possibilities here!
  • Systems Compatibility Guide – This is the offline version of the vSphere HCL. Ok, in case you have been living under a rock, vSphere is 64-bit only. You’ll want to make sure your hardware is compatible with vSphere. I won’t beat around the bush here – A lot of hardware that was supported by VI3 has dropped off the list (even much of the 64-bit hardware). If you don’t have the required hardware now, plan your 2010 budget accordingly. As a point of interest, I found it odd that an HP DL385G2 and G5 was on the HCL, but the G3 and G4 are missing. Pay close attention, particularly if you plan to utilize FT as that feature carries with it its own set of strict requirements.

There are boatloads of new goodies in vSphere. It’s going to be around for a long time so take your time to learn it. No need to rush or be the first datacenter to run vSphere for bragging rights. Watch the blogs and the bookstores. There will be new vSphere content gushing from all angles for many months and even years to come. Be sure to share your findings with the VMware virtual community. Collaboration and networking makes us strong and successful.

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3 comments

  1. Mark says:

    There were no G3 & G4 DL385 servers. HP skipped the AMD based systems up a couple of generational numbering steps to bring them in line with the equivalent Proliant Intel based numbering scheme. Though of course this has now changed again with the new G6 intel based systems.

  2. jason says:

    Thanks Mark – that makes sense. I didn’t realize there were no G3′s or G4′s.

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