VMware Unveils vSphere 6

It's the first major upgrade in three years, since vSphere 5.5.

More vSphere 6 coverage:

Today VMware Inc. announced the latest version of its core technology, vSphere 6, which CEO Pat Gelsinger called "the biggest ever release of vSphere." In all, he said that vSphere 6 has more than 650 new features.

That makes sense, considering that vSphere hasn't had a major refresh in three years. One of the key improvements is a huge increase in scalability. Some of the upgrades from vSphere 5.5 include:

  • Doubling the amount of virtual machines (VMs) per cluster available, from 4,000 to 8,000
  • Doubling the number of hosts per cluster, from 32 to 64
  • An increase of 50 percent in the number of CPUs per host, from 320 to 480
  • Tripling the RAM per host, from 4TB to 12TB
  • Quadrupling the VMs per host, from 512 to 2.048
  • Doubling the virtual CPUs per VM, from 64 to 128
  • Quadrupling the virtual RAM per VM, from 1TB to 4TB

Gelsinger also announced upgrades to two key storage products, Virtual SAN and vSphere Virtual Volumes. Virtual SAN, like vSphere, was incremented to version 6. Its main upgrade is an all-flash architecture, using flash for both caching and data persistence, which VMware claims will increase input/output throughput per node by more than four times over vSphere 5.5. In addition, it doubles scalability to 64 nodes per cluster, enabling up to 6,400 VMs per cluster, according to VMware.

The big news for VMware vSphere Virtual Volumes is that it "will enable a broad range of external storage arrays to become VM-aware," VMware's Martin Yip wrote in a blog post. Virtual Volumes is a set of storage APIs that enhances integration between vSphere and individual VMs, allowing the storage array to provision capacity and data services dynamically. Gelsinger called the improvements "major advances in storage technology."

VMware also continued down its path of becoming a major partner with the OpenStack private cloud platform with VMware Integrated OpenStack (VIO). VIO provides increased support for OpenStack, with which it was recently a rival in the cloud space. Gelsinger proclaimed that the improvements make VIO  the "best OpenStack distribution on earth."

The delay between vSphere 5.5 and 6 wasn't supposed be as long as it ended up becoming, Yip wrote. He said the additional time was needed for more thorough testing. In all, the number of beta testers for vSphere 6 grew to more than 17,000, and put it behind by six months.

VMware said all the products announced today would be available in the first quarter of 2015.

About the Author

Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Virtualization Review. Follow him on Twitter @VirtReviewKeith.

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