vSphere 6.0 Launch: What’s in it for Service Providers #vmw28days

Today vSphere 6.0 was officially announced and will be GA in about 6-8 weeks…I’ve had limited time myself to tinker with the BETA in great depth, however I have been keeping a close eye on some of the key features being released in the v6.0 edition. I’ve gone through and pulled out the top new features/enhancements as I think they relate to vCloud Air Network Ecosystem Partners and how SPs can look at enhancing an already strong IaaS platform with vSphere 6.x

Enhanced Fault Tolerance:

This has always been cool, but impracticable given the vCPU limitations placed on previous iterations, however with FT in v6.0 there is now support for VMs up to 4 vCPUs

  • Enhanced virtual disk format support for thin and thick disks
  • Ability to hot configure FT
  • Backup support with snapshots
  • Uses copies of VMDKs for added storage redundancy

There are a couple of benefits for SPs with enhanced FT…first and foremost it offers a way to protect vCenter and other critical management appliances like an NSX Manager Appliance or SQL Server without the need to rely on MS Clustering. There is also a case to look to productize VM FT and offer it as a check box feature for clients…while not completely straightforward (thinking about vCD/CMP Awareness) there is a serious value add to be exploited here.

Virtual Volumes (VVOLS) and Enhanced Storage APIs:

Storage is the number one pain point for any SP with scaleability and reliability all factors in storage pain driven by VM Latency. VVOLS are a logical extension of virtualization into the storage layer and offer policy based management of storage on per VM basis. In theory this will eliminate LUN management as every VM is treated as it’s own object with attached policy based management that leverages enhanced VASA APIs to map storage to policies/capabilities. All major storage vendors are looking at offering VVOL support…for SPs it should be top of the list when looking at any new storage platform from today on wards.

Enhanced vMotion and Hybrid Cloud Support:

vMotion has been given a facelift in v6.0 and can now do Cross vSwitch, Cross vCenter, Long Distance and vMotion across L3 boundaries. This opens the door for SPs to offer greater flexibility for On-Premises to Cloud Migrations, Cloud to Cloud Migrations and SP intra zone movement of VMs…all without any downtime! This is truly amazing tech that we probably take for granted these days, but make no mistake there is something very special about being to move a VM from one location to another on the fly.

vCenter also now has more direct path through to vCloud Air and vCloud Air Network Partners (still to be 100% with vCloud SP 5.6.x) by way of the Hybrid Cloud Plugin. Still to confirm if this will allow for vMotion between on-premises and hosted, but the future is looking promising for Hybrid deployments when you add in the features of NSX Gateway Services into the mix.

vCenter Scalability Enhancements:

  • 64 Hosts per cluster
  • 8000 VMs per cluster
  • Up to 1000 VMs per Host
  • 10,000 VMs per vCenter

I’m not one to push configuration maximums but extending vCenters capability to manage more Host’s per Cluster (up from 32) and more VMs per host and cluster will give Service Providers greater opportunity to drive higher host/VM density and work on larger pools of compute to abstract and offer tenants.

The vCenter Appliance is now pound for pound with the Windows version which means SP’s can now seriously consider replacing/upgrading to the appliance while still having the ability to scale out VC roles and even enable Linked Mode…if required.

There are other vCenter enhancements that lay the foundation for even more scale out functionality with the addition of Platform Services and more complex deployment scenarios.

vCenter Content Library:

The Content Library is a Repository for VM templates, ISOs and vApps. You can allow content to be stored in one location and replicated out to other vCenters. This is handy for Service Providers than run multiple zones with separate vCenters and allows all content to be sync’ed between different hosting locations. Also has the added benefit of keeping vCloud Director Catalog’s up to date and consistent across the board.

Conclusion:

Many people have said that VMware’s time is numbered and that the hypervisor has become irrelevant…those that believe either those points of views in my opinion are greatly mistaken and need to pay close attention to the list of feature enhancements announced today.

There is no doubt in my mind that VMware’s vSphere and ESXi will continue to hold a significant advantage when looking at competing hypervisor platforms…this release proves that VMware are serious about continuing to power Virtual Platforms of all sizes as people transition even further towards the Hybrid Cloud while maintaining operational efficiency and stability though the most mature and proven hypervisor on the market.

A number of vExperts where featured on the VMware Blog Page and there are a number of great articles going through features in depth.

http://blogs.vmware.com/vmtn/2015/02/vsphere-6-0-vexpert-blog-articles.html

FT Ref: http://www.vmwarearena.com/2015/02/vsphere-6-0-whats-new-in-vmware-fault-tolerance-ft.html 

Feature List Ref: http://ecktech.me/new-features-vsphere-6/

Tintri VVOLs: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/02/03/tintri_smooching_vmwares_vvols_vio_and_vrops/

vMotions Enhancements: http://www.vmguru.com/2015/02/whats-new-vsphere-6-vmotion-enhancements/

vCenter Roles and Design: http://vinfrastructure.it/2015/02/vmware-vcenter-server-6-design/

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