Making the decision to upgrade your vSphere infrastructure can be a complex decision. One of the primary factors to consider is what software features will benefit the organization. This article is intended to assist with this decision by presenting some of the more important changes in vSphere.
With every new version of vSphere, the configuration maximums for ESXI server increase. ESXI 6 is no exception. VMware now supports up to 64 ESXI hosts per cluster and 8000 virtual machines per cluster. Individual ESXI hosts can now support up to 480 logical CPUs, 12 TB of RAM, and 1024 virtual machines on a single ESXI host. vSphere can now support even the most demanding virtual server or desktop environments without having to create additional clusters and management servers.
NVIDIA Grid Support
Traditionally, high end graphics in virtual desktops environments have been more of a pipe dream than reality. However, vSphere 6 coupled with the NVIDIA Grid graphics cards brings high end graphics to virtual desktop infrastructures. Now high definition video and even AutoCAD and Solid Works users can enjoy the benefits of Virtual Desktops.
Virtual Machine Compatibility
VSphere 6 introduces VMware Tools v11. The new version of VMware Tools increases the virtual hardware resources that can be allocated to a virtual machine. Version 11 now supports up to 128 vCPUs, 4 TB of RAM, USB 3 support, and additional support for Linux/Unix operating systems.
Windows Server Failover Clustering
vSphere 6 has enhanced the Windows Server Failover Clustering (WSFC) support and AlwaysOn Availability Groups for Windows Server 2012 and SQL 2012. With this new technology, you no longer have to fail over cluster applications to other hosts when migrating servers using vMotion. This results is a more flexible and available network.
vCenter Architectural Changes
Version 6 of vSphere introduces a new infrastructure by introducing the Platform Services Controller (PSC). The PSC includes all of the components of a typical vSphere install with the exception of the VMware update manager. That role is installed as a separate application.
This new architectural configuration provides two installation options, imbedded or external. The embedded option installs vCenter and the PSC on the same server. The external Platform Services Controller option allows for vCenter server and the PSC to be installed on their own dedicated servers. Database options have also changed, with the embedded database option using PostgreSQL, and larger environments having the option of installing Microsoft SQL 2012 or PostgreSQL.
vCenter Web Console
Since VMware announced it would no longer develop a thick vCenter Client, VMware administrators have been dreading the day the VCenter console is no longer available. VMware has spent a great deal of time refining the web console making it faster and logically organized. According to some test that I have seen, the web console experience is vastly better the previous web console. Give it a try, you might like it better than the thick client.
VMware Fault Tolerance
Need an alternative to complex Microsoft Clustering configurations? Maybe you don’t have the expertise on staff. Well, VMware now has an option for providing zero down time servers in VMware Fault tolerance. Historically, Fault Tolerance was discounted as a viable option due to its support for a single processor. vSphere 6 addresses that limitation with support for up to 4 vCPU’s and 64 GB of memory. Give it a try, in some cases it a great replacement for Windows Server Clustering.
vSphere Virtual Volumes
One of the most exciting new features of vSphere 6 is Virtual volumes (vVols). vVols are a new virtual machine disk management and integration framework that enables array-based operations at the virtual disk level. With vVols, most data operations are handed off to the storage arrays, thus reducing overhead on the ESXI hosts. From an administrative perspective, vVols reduce management numerous VMFS volumes into a single administrative entity.