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vSphere 5 Top 10 Countdown: VM Capabilities at #7

The countdown to the number 1 feature of vSphere 5 continues. The number 7 spot goes to vSphere's virtual machine capabilities. vSphere 5 is a platform upgrade and naturally there will be feature enhancements to its VM capabilities. After all, this entire environment is built to host VMs. So what's new? Plenty, take a look:

VM Hardware version 8 unlocks the capabilities of VMs running on the vSphere 5 platform. Upgrading your existing VMs' virtual hardware gives you access to the following capabilities:

  • Up to 32 vCPUs. Do you think you can tap all this vCPU power? Any excuse that applications need CPU processing power?
  • Up to 1 million IOPS. That's a lot of IOPS for a VM to handle; are there any apps that can't run with that?
  • Up to 1TB of virtual memory. I still don't see physical servers with 1TB of memory, but if there's ever a need, now VMs can handle that load as well.
  • Support for client connected USB. While I welcome this feature, it is limited to USB devices that are connected to the machine on which you are using the vSphere client or web client. So, you still cannot connect a USB in the ESXi server and pass it through.
  • Support for USB 3.0.
  • Non-hardware accelerated 3D capabilities. It's a great enhancement for Windows Aero and VDI in general.
  • Smart Card Readers. Similar to client connected USB devices, I welcome the addition of support for Smart Card readers. Again, it is limited to the host you are using the vSphere client and web client from.

Some other useful features:

  • GUI for multicore vCPU configuration. It's very similar to what you see in VMware Workstation where you can assign the number of vCPUs and vCPU cores.
  • Apple Mac OS X Server guest operating system support. vSphere 5 now supports Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard as a guest OS in a VM, albeit it is only supported on Apple Xserve3.1. Nonetheless, this is a very welcome step in the right direction.
  • VMware Tools versions support matrix. New version of ESXi means a new version of VMware Tools. The cool thing here is that VMware Tools from version 4.x are supported on 5.x and vice versa, so you can have VMware Tools running version 5.x on ESX/ESXi hosts running vSphere 4.x

It is quite an impressive collection of capabilities that you can now assign to a virtual machine. Looking back, I would never have thought we would come such a long way with empowering VMs in such a short period of time. The excuse against virtualizing certain types of applications and servers is becoming very slim, one would truly have to fight hard to make the case for a physical server after deploying vSphere 5.

Posted by Elias Khnaser on 07/28/2011 at 12:49 PM


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