[Update] During the conference I added further information and links to the specific new features, etc.
I am honest right now. I was a little disappointed when I attended the VMworld in the US from an announcement perspective. The whole situation changes a few months later during #VMworld EU in Barcelona. The ‘VMware announcement season was opened by the interesting (and maybe unexpected) deep partnership with Amazon’s AWS.
During the General Session VMware did not stop with their announcements and Pat Gelsinger talked among other about new products within the VMware portfolio:
- vRealize Automation
- vRealize Log insight
- Site Recovery Manager
- vRealize Operations
For sure the announcement of vSphere 6.5 is the most interesting one since we were quiet disappointed with the 6.0 release and the announcement feature are removing some of the constraints we had so far in architecting our environments.
vCenter Server and vSphere as a hypervisor are for many customers still the core product within VMware’s family. Those products enabled much of the agility we observe nowadays within our datacenters. At the same time no other technology has been called more often commodity than the hypervisor. To be honest: Version 6.0 was not the best release (CBT-bugs) even though many of the enhancements were really appreciated (Who does not love the vCenter Server Appliance?).
With the announcement with vSphere 6.5 VMware improved a lot of the functionality within the vSphere suite.
- vCenter Server Appliance (vCSA) high-availability mode (consiting of 3 VMs – Active, Passive, Witness)
- vCSA based on Photon OS (instead of SLES)
- Update Manager integrated within the vCSA
- Windows to vCSA migration tool included (5.5 & 6.0 (Windows to 6.5)
- vCenter Appliance management improvements (e.g. monitoring vCenter and Database metrics)
- Integrated backup & restore for vCSA (vCenter, Update Manager, Platform Service Controller, Autodeploy)
- HTML5 web client (no feature parity to the old flash based web client in the beginning)
- Host Profile enhancements (UI-Filter, Bulk-Configurations, etc.)
- Autodeploy enhancements (Configuration and dynamic discovery via GUI)
- Encrypted vMotion
- Encrypted virtual machines (with Storage policies integrated with 3rd party Key Management Systems)
- Enhanced logging actionable logging functionality (Who did What at which time (When) and How)
- UEFI secure boot of vSphere
- DRS improvements (Advanced Options within the UI, balancing based on network usage metric)
- Pro-active High Availability (Migrating away VMs from degraded hosts, requires vendor integration)
- vSphere HA orchestrated restart (Definition of a reboot order for multi-tier applications after a host-failure)
- vSphere integrated Containers (VIC) (Docker compatible engine to run containers on top of vSphere)
- API improvements (REST API for specific vCenter actions): Click here to know more about #REST basics?
- CLI changes (vSphere CLI (vCLI) improvements and introduction of the datacenter cli (dCLI) based on the REST API)
- Web based API explorer
- Virtual Volumes enhancements (availability improvements and replication) with VVOL 2.0 and VASA 3.0 (Virtual Volumes and vSphere API for Storage Awareness)
- VMFS 6.0
The features announced with vSphere 6.5 are big-big-big. I can’t remember a VMware vSphere release that (from a paper perspective) would solve many of the problems I had within customers environments or during designing the architecture. A more detailed blog post on vSphere 6.5 only will be created soon to show and discuss the new functionalities.
Unfortunately after the vSphere 6.0 release I am quiet a burned child. I hope the quality of vSphere 6.5 is enterprise-ready right from the beginning. The late announcement during VMworld Europe (instead of US) gives me some hope that a lot of work has been put into quality assurance. A high-available vCenter? -> Jackpot (I know, I know: I don’t have the aimed RTO atm), encrypted VMs? -> Awesome, buuuuuut… I see a huge potential for failures/problems that might come up. Troubleshooting on that level will require a lot of knowledge about the mechanisms
Release date: N/A
Virtual SAN 6.5
vSAN is VMware’s product to the whole software-defined storage and hyperconverged discussions and currently its fastest growing product. Introducing feature like deduplication, erasure coding and compression for the all-flash license transformed it into a valuable enterprise solution.
Whats’s New (Taken by the mentioned VMware blogpost at additional links):
- License improvements (All-flash for everyone and vSAN ROBO advanced[feature like dedup, compression, etc. remain Advanced+ only)
- Expose vSAN to non-vSphere cluster system via iSCSI LUNs (which are objects within the vSAN cluster)
- 3rd hypervisor (…’just kidding’)
- Physical Clustering
- 2 node direct connect (No need for a 10G infrastructure at ROBO sites)
- API improvements
- New PowerCLI cmdlets to create vSAN clusters (automate everything)
- vSphere Integrated Container (VIC) support
Over the years vSAN has been improved a lot. Worked on several customer projects with vSAN I realized the performance mixed with operational simplicity (it’s all about storage profiles) is amazing (as long as everything works as expected and you work with certified hardware, firmware and drivers!!!!
I have seen several vSAN implementation within the Horizon landscape (vSAN is included with Horizon Advanced). I always hoped to get additional services on top of vSAN like NFS (for User Environment Manager profiles) and design hyper-converged building blocks with vSAN. Adding iSCSI functionality is a first step to expose the new storage capabilities to other vSphere or other physical/virtual hosts (Running support Microsoft Cluster with shared disks).
Release date: N/A
vRealize Log Insight 4.0
When it comes to log analysis and operational enhancements, Log Insight (vRLI) is a solution everyone should take a look at. Collecting Log files via syslog or the LI agent gives us possibility to act on occurring or upcoming problems in a very efficient way (especially when integrated with vROPS). With vRealize Log Insight 4.0 a new major release has been released.
- New UI based on VMware’s clarity concept (love it)
- Improved Alert management within the UI
- New chart option: Gauge chart
- Silent Update of vRLI agents
I really like vRealize Log Insight and especially the way it integrates with vRealize Operations Manager. It is the perfect piece to align a specific customers environment (with specific customer-unique problems) to enhance the operability and therefore the quality of the service. The real power IMO is achieved by the integration with vROPS.
Finally VMware starts to harmonize the user interface of their portfolio by introducing the HTML5 based clarity UI. Seeing it in AppVolumes 3.0, SDDC-Manager, HTMl5 Webclient, etc. is finally an approach to have a slick and consistent user environment.
The new alert-management within vRLI will help us all to react to problems within the environment at the earliest possible point in time. Try it out and use the free 25 OSIs of vRLI (for every vCenter license you have).
Release date: N/A
vRealize Automation 7.2
vRealize Automation is VMware’s Cloud Management Platform (CMP) solution that enables organizations to deliver infrastructure-components as a service (VMs, Applications or any other software-defined server). vRA made a great enhancement from 6.X to 7.0 by simplifying the architecture. A few weeks after the 7.1 some further improvements have been announced within vRA 7.2.
- Built-in Container support
- Microsoft Azure Endpoint
The big improvement within vRA is the support for Containers. VMware’s multi-cloud strategy gets to next level by including support for Microsoft’s public cloud Azure.
Architectural changes like having only one appliance for vRA has not been introduced. When are going with vRA, we still need the Windows (IaaS) and the vRealize Automation Appliance.
Release date: N/A
Site Recovery Manager 6.5 (SRM)
VMware’s SRM is the insurance within your datacenter. With help of SRM companies can recover whole datacenter after site failures by using existing storage replication methods (Array based replication) or VMware’s replication methods (vSphere Replication). It offers us an opportunity to not just recover, but also orchestrate the whole recovery process. The newest version of SRM 6.5 is compatible with the newer VMware products like vSphere/vSAN 6.5
- API and vRO enhancements (Automate your processes!)
- vVol support
- vSphere Replication RTO 24h – 5minutes
- Management Pack for vRealize Operations Manager
SRM gives us the chance to migrate, recover and test (full or partial) datacenter failures. I always liked the solution even though it kind of increases operational expenses. Integration with NSX and vSphere’s Storage based policy management makes it easier to deal with those additional complexities.
Integrating vVols into SRM was quiet a logical step. Having the chance to create protection groups based on individual VMs instead of LUNs makes our operational processes and recovery plans much easier.
I am still not sure about more technical details on that topic. VMware’s official blog kind of confused me more than it answered, especially the following sentence:
SRM 6.5 now supports protection of VMs located on VVOLs using vSphere Replication. If you are using storage other than vSAN you owe it to yourself to take a look at VVOLs and see what you can get out of using them.
Not sure if it’s based on my limited knowledge or caused by the typical Wednesday problem of #VMworld (people attend here know what I mean). I would love to see more of VVOLS in the future since it is quiet a cool technology and some of the limitations has been remove with the latest release.