My Favorite Features of VMware vSphere 5.5 (so far)

So I’ve been a part of the 5.5 beta, went to VMworld 2013, caught some sessions and wanted to point out some of my favorite new features of vSphere 5.5. There are many others, these just stick out from an instructor perspective. I’m constantly getting asked about some of these features. I sadly still have to say that yes, there is no multi-processor fault tolerance at this point. VMware has demo’d the technology but it’s not in any generally available product. Maybe next time.

As with any release, you might want to also check out any KBs before you upgrade. Here’s a good list. KBs you need to know about.

  • Support for 62TB VMDK – vSphere 5.5 increases the maximum size of a virtual machine disk file (VMDK) to 62TB (note the maximum VMFS volume size is 64TB where the max VMDK file size is 62TB). The remaining space is overhead. So no 64TB this time, but hey it’s a lot better than 2TB!
  • vSphere Web Client – Much Improved!! The web client is now supported on Mac OS X (for real this time), to include the ability to access virtual machine consoles, attach client devices and deploy OVF templates.  The interface has been streamlined and more usable.
  • vCenter Server Appliance – with vSphere 5.5 the vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) now uses a re-engineered, embedded Postgres database that offers improved scalabilityThink more than 5 hosts and 50 VMs!
  • Doubled Host-Level Configuration Maximums – vSphere 5.5 can handle some huge workloads. The maximum number of logical CPUs has doubled from 160 to 320, the number of NUMA nodes doubled from 8 to 16, the number of virtual CPUs has doubled from 2048 to 4096, and the amount of RAM has also doubled from 2TB to 4TB. Nuff said.
  • Virtual Machine Compatibility ESXi 5.5 – ESXi 5.5 provides a new Virtual Machine Compatibility level that includes support for a new virtual-SATA Advance Host Controller Interface (AHCI) with support for up to 120 virtual disk and CD-ROM devices per virtual machine.
  • Hot-pluggable PCIe SSD Devices – vSphere 5.5 provides the ability to perform hot-add and remove of SSD devices to and from a vSphere 5.5 host.
  • Graphics Acceleration for Linux Guests – vSphere 5.5 provides out of the box graphics acceleration for Linux.
  • vCenter Single Sign-On (SSO) – Much Improved!! There is no longer an external database required for the SSO server! A new multi-master architecture provides built in availability that helps improve resiliency for SSO.
  • vSphere HA Compatibility with DRS Anti-Affinity Rules –vSphere HA will now honor DRS anti-affinity rules when restarting virtual machines.
  • vSphere Flash Read Cache – A new flash-based storage solution that enables the pooling of multiple flash-based devices into a single consumable vSphere construct called a vSphere Flash Resource.

Jason Nash and Chris Wahl have some great videos posted to YouTube. I’ve embedded them at the bottom of the post.  Jason did a demo of the flash read cache and Chris shows off the new web client. Check them out!

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