vSphere 5.1 Announcement, Features, and Specifications

Today at VMworld 2012 in San Francisco, VMware announced the new version of their flagship product vSphere 5.1.  Version 5.1 builds on the success of vSphere 5, enabling more flexibility, scalability, and automation for running your private cloud of storage, network and compute resources.  There’s lots of coverage of vSphere 5.1 by the tech media, bloggers, and VMware, so I won’t cover all of the nitty gritty details, but I do want to highlight several that are of interest.  I’m saving some of the features for more in-depth posts, so stay tuned for more!

vSphere vMotion no longer requires shared storage.  Since the feature first debuted, shared (SAN and then NFS) storage was a requirement.  In vSphere 5.1, vSphere no longer requires shared storage.  This opens the door for SMB’s who don’t have the budget for shared storage to enjoy vMotion for proactive ESXi host evacuation.  The dropping of the shared storage requirement also implies that vMotion and Storage vMotion have converged into a single operation.  Being able to vMotion without shared storage opens new opportunities for using local storage (DAS) for VMware View (including SSD’s), and more vMotion support for stretched clusters and non-converged datacenters.  As of today, I’d still recommend shared storage, as a non-shared-storage vMotion of a VM of any significant size is potentially a long running operation as the whole VMDK must be moved from the originating host to the target host.

An updated vSphere Distributed Switch (VDS), with enhancements such as Network Health Check for end-to-end verification of VLAN, Jumbo Frame and teaming configurations (LACP is now a supported teaming config with 5.1), Configuration Backup and Restore, Roll Back and Recovery, and NetFlow 10, NetDump, and BPDU support for better diagnostics and monitoring.

vShield Endpoint is now included for free with vSphere 5.1.  VMware vShield Endpoint enables 3rd party endpoint security solutions to eliminate the agent footprint from the virtual machines, offload intelligence to a security virtual appliance, and run scans with minimal impact.  Not only does this reduce resource consumption within the virtual datacenter, but it places security services much closer to the physical entities we’re actually trying to protect – CPU, Memory, Disk and Network – by leveraging the unique vantage point of the hypervisor in the compute stack.

Larger virtual machine support – VM’s with up to 64 virtual CPU’s, 1TB of RAM per VM, and over 1 million IOPS per virtual machine.  This allows pretty much any workload to run on top of vSphere. These extended sizing attributes are available when you upgrade a VM’s compatibility mode (previously known as VM Hardware Version) to version 9 on a vSphere 5.1 cluster.

vCenter Web Client has greatly improved in this version, making administration a breeze, simplifying 3rd party plugins to vCenter, and making cross-platform administration a reality.

There’s plenty more features, these are just some of the highlights.  Certainly an exciting time to be a VMware professional!

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