First look at VMware 6

I offer readers of "Habrahabr" a translation of the article "First look: VMware vSphere 6 keeps its edge" .

More recently, VMware has long held a decisive leadership in server virtualization, offering kernel capabilities that were simply incomparable with other products. In recent years, the competition in virtualization has been fierce, the competing parties were close to the vmware functionality, and the company did not have many opportunities to distinguish itself from others.

The competition could go on and on, and VMware might not enter the leading lines the way it did. With improvements in some key features, namely, combining backup and recovery functions that were previously only available separately, vSphere 6 is a worthy addition to the vSphere line. This suggests that most of the newer versions of version 6, such as remote use of vMotion, will greatly attract the client, which in turn will lead to an increase in sales of vSphere.

Big changes in vSphere 6

Big changes in vSphere 6 revolve around expanding resource limits, increasing the capabilities of vMotion, a more complete version of the linux-based vCenter Server Appliance module, memory unloading, and innovations in the web client. In addition to everything, VMware has integrated specific technologies in vSphere 6, such as the vCenter Director content library, which is used to store ISO images, templates, scripts, OVF files, as well as other elements and automatically distribute them through multiple vCenter servers. On top of that, advanced data protection capabilities by backing up and restoring were included.

VMware vSphere 6 offers improvements in the pre-installed Fault Tolerance. This technology allows one virtual machine to exist on several physical servers simultaneously. If one of the images of the active system is stopped, the second image can be launched immediately. Without using this technology, the virtual machine can be automatically restarted on another host, but in this case it takes time to determine a system failure and load a new machine. With Fault Tolerance, this step can be skipped.

In previous versions of vSphere, Fault Tolerance supported only one vCPU for one virtual machine and four fault-tolerant virtual machines per host. In vSphere 6, these limits are expanded to four vCPUs per virtual machine and 8 vCPUs or four virtual machines per host.

A screenshot of the new vSphere web client looks more like the appearance of a Windows window. It is worth noting that the history of frequent tasks is at the bottom of this window.

VMotion Remote Management

The vMotion enhancement will be the most appropriate improvement for those who work with a large number of data centers that are geographically dispersed. The vSphere 6 preceding long-distance migration of virtual machines was complicated by some problems and required a large bandwidth as well as a small delay for a successful migration. The new version of vSphere 6 introduced lower requirements for network connections, vMotions can be used for connections with a delay of 100 ms or less, and also require a channel of 250 megabits per vMotion performed.

In addition, virtual machines can be migrated between vCenter servers, and with the right infrastructure, vMotions can be migrated without the use of paired storage. However, there are some limitations with the expansion of capabilities, mainly in the form of the correct network diagram on each side in order to ensure proper communication between virtual machines for each network.

The ESXi 6.0 hypervisor in vSphere 6 can support up to 64 physical hosts per cluster, increasing this number from 32. Each image can also support up to 480 CPUs, 12 TB RAM and 1000 virtual machines. Each virtual machine can work with 128 vCPUs and use 4 TB RAM with the ability to hot add vNUMA memory.

Improvements in the vSphere environment management environment (VMware vCenter Server)

On the management side, the vCenter Server Appliance is now fully functional at the copy level on Windows. Previously, you had to start the Linux-based vCenter Server Appliance and manage ESXi hosts, but some of the more advanced features (especially the update manager) from the Windows-based vCenter Server were not available. As for vSphere 6, an application can perform all the possible tasks that a Windows-based application performs.

Those who run vCenter Server on Windows may note that the installation procedure is greatly simplified, but you still need to take some steps before completing the installation. All installation steps performed by vCenter Server are now formed in one installation program, including the new controller services platform, which contains SSO, license and certificate management. vCenter Server can be deployed with all components on the same system, or it can be distributed across multiple systems with a platform controller and installed divided.

Both vCenter Server for Winows and the vCenter Server Appliance now use the local PostgreSQL database by default, although Microsoft SQL and Oracle database injections are also supported. Switching to PostgreSQL will be very important for those who work with local databases on earlier versions of vSphere, because the restriction from previous Microsoft databases is no longer present; thus, local databases can support up to 1000 hosts and 10 thousand virtual machines.

vSphere web-client, right-clicking opens the context menu, which still works slowly, but still faster than before.

Web UI Improvements

The first version of vSphere Web Client was slow, incomplete, and not as transparent as the Windows client, and most users refused to work with it. In vSphere 5.5, we see improvements to the web client, but so far it does not reach the Windows client. In vSphere 6, the new usability and faster web interface make the web client more interesting in that it provides the use of more supported browsers and operating systems. Client-integrated tools that allow you to work with important utilities, such as console access to VM, are now available on most platforms, including Mac OS X.

Users who will work with the web interface will note that it is very similar to the client for Windows, including a panel with recent tasks at the bottom of the screen that shows what recent actions have been performed on the infrastructure. Further, the context menu is accessible through a right-click, it is now faster to compose and all navigation through the web client works better than in previous versions of the web client.

Web client success is critical to VMware. Companies are very concerned that support for a separately installed client for management will be discontinued soon for some software implementations and are currently upset that using a separate client will limit vSphere functionality for version 5.0. Features and properties from vSphere 5.5 are no longer available for the Windows client.

Creating a new virtual machine in vSphere 6 using the web client

Virtual volumes in VMware

VMware introduces a new storage integration system with vSphere 6 called Virtual Volumes. This is the most tight integration with SAN and NAS devices for managing storage operations at the virtual disk level. Virtual volumes are designed to eliminate the need to shut down a large number of LUNs or volumes with virtualized hosts, as well as to offload operations related to storage management for compatible arrays, with partitioning at the virtual disk level.

Integration includes vSphere policy-based storage management, which uses the VMware API to communicate with the storage array, as well as to connect to virtual machines and storage through the vSphere user interface. In this way, policies can be created and applied to virtual machines through vCenter, while functions will be supported initially by arrays.

VMware now includes vSphere data protection with vSphere Essential Plus or higher versions of vSphere 6. This is a backup and restore tool that was previously known as vSphere Data Protection Advanced and was a separate feature. This tool can be used to support program-oriented virtual machine backup and recovery, including support for Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Exchange up to the mail level, as well as other popular databases and applications.

View of the new vSphere web client

Upgrade with vSphere 5.5

Starting with vSphere 6, VMware offers a set of starter features that are now more related as separate products. A number of already installed features appeared and the installation process was streamlined. The web client can still become a subject of discontent for those who previously used an individual client from the very beginning, but the web client has become much better than its previous execution.

Improvements to vMotion and other cross-directional capabilities are limited in the need to use a large bandwidth for a large number of connected data centers to support the main features. But VMware reduces bandwidth and latency requirements, meaning the viability of the system features provided.

There is no doubt that VMware continues to hold a leading position in server virtualization, but with the future setting the best vendors, convergence continues and competing solutions continue to become more complete. All this leads to the fact that in the near future we can see the crossover of functionality and simplified licensing. And vSphere 6 supports itself among the creams of this society.

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