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What's New in vSphere 5.5: Configs, The Web Client, vSANs

VMware's 10th annual VMworld conference last week lived up to the hype and anticipation -- a formidable show. While the announcements were great, what intrigued me more was the number of new companies that came out of stealth mode and the number of companies with newer and improved versions of their products. We will most definitely spend time in the coming weeks discussing the many announcements and also talking about new and emerging technologies and everything we learned at VMworld.

This time, I want to spend some time talking about some of the new features of vSphere 5.5. As the company has done around every VMworld, it has updated vSphere with an array of new and improved features. So what's new and improved? Let's take a closer look at a few of the ones that will have you wanting to upgrade right now:

Configuration Maximums have doubled for almost all features!
I mean this literally, practically every vSphere 5.1 configuration maximum has doubled and here is a summary of the main ones:

  • 320 pCPU now supported -- up from 160 pCPU with vSphere 5.1
  • 4TB Memory -- you guessed it, up from 2TB
  • 16 NUMA nodes -- up from 8
  • 4096 vCPUs -- up from 2048

Recall that I said practically all vSphere 5.1 configuration maximums have doubled. Well, there is one which has seen a whopping 32x improvement and that happens to be the VMDK file size -- it has gone from 2TB in vSphere 5.1 to 64TB in vSphere 5.5.

The Web Client is now "THE" client
I never thought I would say this, but VMware has done a remarkable job improving the Web Client to the point where most tasks can now be accomplished using this tool. As a matter of fact all the new features of vSphere 5.5 are exclusively configured using this management tool. As an example, if you want to create 64TB VMDKs, your tool is the Web Client. The legacy client is still around for backward compatibility and older features, but I am confident that you will all appreciate and embrace the Web Client.

Some will argue, for good reason that VMware's NSX or Software Defined Networking technology stole the show. but as far as I am concerned, vSAN was the buzz! In fact, vSAN is arguably the most anticipated new feature of vSphere 5.5. Why is it so hot? vSAN allows you to aggregate local hard disks from multiple hosts into an object-based datastore that you can then leverage and present to your VMs. That's a very powerful proposition. Now, the bad news: vSAN is not available yet. However, it will enter public beta soon. The technology in it is very promising.

vSAN requires at least one SSD and one magnetic disk to be configured. The SSD acts as the caching mechanism for the spinning disks. If you are wondering whether or not vMotion will work with vSAN, the answer is, absolutely yes!

Now, I know many of you are probably asking whether or not converged infrastructure companies like Nutanix, Simplivity and other are still valid. Yes, these companies still have a place and will for some time. Even then, while I want to reserve this conversation for another time in which I'm able to expand on my thoughts there, I will say this: vSAN will accelerate your Reads well, but your random writes will still be a challenge for vSAN. If you're thinking you can use vSAN for desktop virtualization, I would say: not just yet.

vSAN also carries some additional limitations. It does not support vCloud Director or Horizon View. It does not support 64TB VMDKs (which seems strange, considering that that is a new vSphere 5.5 feature, but I will give VMware a break on this). Also, the physical RAID controller must support passthrough or HBA mode.

That's all for today. Next time, I will go over some of the other enhancements including vFLASH, NSX and others. In the meantime, if you have any comments or if you have been using vSphere 5.5. I would love to get your input on the new features and the functionality of the Web Client.

Posted by Elias Khnaser on 09/04/2013 at 2:50 PM


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