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VMware Unveils vSphere 6.5 Update 1

Scalability improvements, better HTML Client top the list of upgrades.

VMware last updated its core virtualization platform, vSphere, in November 2016 when it released version 6.5. Yesterday VMware released the first update -- which it calls Update 1 -- to vSphere 6.5,  featuring improvements to the HTML client, better interoperability, increased scalability and an easier upgrade path from vSphere 6.0.

VMware's Martin Yip blogged about the release, dividing the updates into four broad categories:

  • Simplified customer experience – Re-architected vCenter Server Appliance, streamlined HTML5-based GUI, and simple rest-based APIs for automation.
  • Comprehensive Built in Security – Policy-driven security at scale to secure data, infrastructure, and access.
  • Universal App Platform – A single platform to support any application, anywhere.
  • Proactive Data Center Management – Predictive analytics to address potential issues before they become serious problem.

One upgrade that will be of great interest to virtualization admins is that the vSphere Client, which was ported to full-on HTML5 functionality recently, supports more workflows with Update 1; up to 90 percent of workflows, Yip estimated. The previous Web client was Flash based, and while the HTML Client had its issues in the beginning, it seems to be working much better.

Scaling Up
An increase in the scalability of vCenter Server will also be near the top of many admins' wish lists. According to another VMware blog posting, the numbers have gotten a solid boost across the board, including:

  • Maximum vCenter Servers per vSphere Domain: 15 (increased from 10)
  • Maximum ESXi Hosts per vSphere Domain: 5000 (increased from 4000)
  • Maximum Powered On VMs per vSphere Domain: 50,000 (increased from 30,000)
  • Maximum Registered VMs per vSphere Domain: 70,000 (increased from 50,000)

With the increasing use of hybrid and private clouds, the increase in capacity comes at a crucial time.

Small businesses will get a welcome increase in the number of supported hosts. VMware vCenter Server Foundation, meant strictly for smaller shops with limited virtualization needs, gets a bump from three supported hosts to four hosts. It may not seem like much, but Yip said that customers told VMware that "If VMware vCenter Server Foundation could just support 1 additional host that would make all the difference." Now it does.

For environments that have yet to upgrade to vSphere 6.5, there is also good news. All security and bug fixes that were part of vSphere 6.0 up through Update 3 have been rolled up into vSphere 6.5 Update 1, allowing admins to skip a two-stage update, starting with vSphere 6.5, then onto Update 1; they can go right to Update 1.

VMware's Adam Eckerle wrote that "upgrading from 6.0 U3 to 6.5 prior to U1 would have put customers in a more risky position due to the timing of the releases." Eckerle added, however, that customers who are on versions of vSphere older than 5.5 Update 3 will likely need to upgrade to 5.5 Update 3 before moving on to 6.5 Update 1.

Third-Party Virtual Switches Go Bye-Bye
One downside of upgrading to vSphere 6.5 Update 1 is that shops using third-party virtual switches will need to give them up. In an FAQ discussing this, VMware said that the next update of vSphere 6.5 (presumably Update 2) will no longer have the third-party virtual switch APIs.

VMware said that the prevalence of its own switches is the cause: "VMware's native virtual switch implementation has become the standard for greater than 99% of vSphere customers today. By using the native virtual switch to simplify the IT landscape by reducing upgrade times, streamline support, deploy new features more quickly, and prepare for the next wave of change agents."

The company has also extended vSphere 6.5 general support for more than a year. Previously, general support was scheduled to end on March 12, 2020; that date has been pushed back until Nov. 15, 2021. That means a full five years of support.

About the Author

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

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