Take Five With Tom Fenton

5 Ways vSphere 6 Will Change the Datacenter

vSphere 6 has more than 650 new features. Here are five of the ones that have the ability to transform your environment.

Now that the dust has settled on VMware's announcement of what will be in the vSphere 6 release, I've had a chance to think about what this means to the datacenter. vSphere, with the exception of virtual volumes (VVOLs), was an evolutionary rather than revolutionary release. But what does this evolution mean to the datacenter? Below are 5 of the evolutionary enhancements that vSphere included in vSphere 6 and how they'll change the datacenter.

1. Desktops just got prettier. In pre-vSphere 6 days, you were limited to having software-defined GPUs (soft 3D). This meant virtual Shared Graphics Acceleration (vSGA), which shared a GPU but required specialized, proprietary drivers to be installed and only worked with specific DirectX and OpenGL versions, or GPUs that are dedicated to a single VM (vDGA).

Now with "virtual GPU" (vGPU), you can share a physical GPU with up to 8 virtual machines (VMs), making the power of a physical GPU a cost-effective alternative. Another bonus of vGPUs is that they look and act like "real" GPUs and run the native GPU driver. The use case for vGPU will be the higher-end knowledge workers who needs "real" GPU performance, but don't need dedicated and costly graphics-optimized workstations.

2. VMs finally got the protection they deserve with multi-processor Fault Tolerance (FT). FT has the ability to create a shadow instance of a VM on another server that can take over if the primary instance goes down, thereby ensuring zero downtime for applications and preventing data loss. It also now supports VMs with up to 4 vCPUs, which allows you to protect your most critical VMs.

3. Snowpocalypse/Snowmageddon/Sharknado-like events that can shut down the infrastructure of entire geographical areas will be mitigated with the use of long distance vMotion. The ability to move live applications on demand and in a timely manner from a datacenter in New Jersey to Los Angeles, or vice-versa, can have a transformative effect for business continuity and disaster avoidance in the datacenter.

4. Big in-memory databases just got a lot more attractive. Now that a virtual machine can have 128 vCPUs and 4TB of RAM, there's no reason not to bring the goodness of virtualization to these powerful tools. Business continuity has always been problematic for applications like SAP HANA, and in the past you had to choose between running smaller VM databases (64 vCPU/1TB) and having the ability to enable business continuity with tools like vMotion. With this latest release, you can run the largest applications with the convenience of virtualization.

5. Instant cloning of VMs. VMware is incorporating technology that will allow the near instant cloning of VMs. This has some very interesting implications for virtual desktops and in test and development situations.

About the Author

Tom Fenton works in VMware's Education department as a Senior Course Developer. He has a wealth of hands-on IT experience gained over the past 20 years in a variety of technologies, with the past 10 years focused on virtualization and storage. Before re-joining VMware, Tom was a Senior Validation Engineer with The Taneja Group, were he headed their Validation Service Lab and was instrumental in starting up its vSphere Virtual Volumes practice. He's on Twitter @vDoppler.

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