New Features in vSphere 6

Esxi-LogoVMware vSphere 6 is another step forward to enabling the Software Defined Data Center (SDDC). There are some very exciting new features that have just been announced so here is a (non-exhaustive) list broken down by area. I’ve also added some comments and bolded some of my favorite items.

vSphere Platform (including ESXi)

  • Increase in vSphere Host Configuration Maximums
    • 480 Physical CPUs per Host
    • Up to 12 TB of Physical Memory
    • Up to 1024 VMs per Host [Updated from 1000 per Product Management]
    • Up to 8000 VMs per Cluster [Updated from 6000 per Product Management]
  • Virtual Hardware v11
    • 128 vCPUs per VM
    • 4 TB RAM per VM
    • Hot-add RAM now vNUMA aware
    • Serial and parallel port enhancements
      • A virtual machine can now have a maximum of 32 serial ports
      • Serial and parallel ports can now be removed
  • ESXi Account & Password Management
    • New ESXCLI commands to add/modify/remove local user accounts
    • Configurable account lockout policies
    • Password complexity setting via VIM API & vCenter Host Advanced System Settings
  • Improved Auditability of ESXi Admin Actions
    • Prior to vSphere 6.0, actions taken through vCenter by any user would show up as ‘vpxuser’ in ESXi logs.
    • In vSphere 6.0 actions taking through vCenter will show the actual username in the ESXi logs
  • Enhanced Microsoft Clustering (MSCS) Support
    • Support for Windows 2012 R2 and SQL 2012
    • Failover Clustering and AlwaysOn Availability Groups
    • IPv6 Support
    • PVSCSI & SCSI controller support
    • vMotion Support
      • Clustering across physical hosts with Physical Compatibility Mode RDMs (Raw Device Mapping)
      • Supported on Windows 2008, 2008 R2, 2012, and 2012 R2

vCenter 6.0

  • Scalability Improvements
    • 1000 Hosts per vCenter
    • 10,000 VMs per vCenter
    • 64 Hosts per cluster (including VSAN!)
    • Up to 8000 VMs per Cluster [Updated from 6000 per Product Management]
    • Linked Mode no longer requires MS ADAM
  • New Simplified Architecture with Platform Services Controller
    • Centralizes common services
    • Embedded or Centralized deployment models
  • Content Library
    • Repository for vApps, VM templates, and ISOs
    • Publisher/Subscriber model with two replication models
    • Allow content to be stored in one location and replicated out to “Subscriber” vCenters
  • Certificate Management
    • Certificate management for ESXi hosts & vCenter
    • New VMware Endpoint Certificate Service (VECS)
    • New VMware Certificate Authority
  • New vMotion Capabilities
    • Cross vSwitch vMotion
    • Cross vCenter vMotion
    • Long Distance vMotion
    • vMotion across L3 boundaries

Storage & Availability

  • VMware Virtual Volumes (VVOLS)
    • Logical extension of virtualization into the storage world
    • Policy based management of storage on per-VM basis
    • Offloaded data services
    • Eliminates LUN management
  • Storage Policy-Based Management
    • Leverages VASA API to intelligently map storage to policies and capabilities
    • Polices are assigned to VMs and ensure storage performance & availability
  • Fault Tolerance
    • Multi-vCPU FT for up to 4 vCPUs
    • Enhanced virtual disk format support (thin & thick disks)
    • Ability to hot configure FT
    • Greatly increased FT host compatibility
    • Backup support with snapshots through VADP
    • Now uses copies of VMDKs for added storage redundancy (allowed to be on separate datastores)
  • vSphere Replication
    • End-to-end network compression
    • Network traffic isolation
    • Linux file system quiescing
    • Fast full sync
    • Move replicas without full sync
    • IPv6 support
  • vSphere Data Protection
    • VDP Advanced has been rolled into VDP and is no longer available for purchase (the features of VDP-A are now available for free to Essentials Plus and higher editions of vSphere!)
    • Protects up to 800 VMs per vCenter
    • Up to 20 VDP appliances per vCenter
    • Replicate backup data between VDP & EMC Avamar
    • EMC Data Domain support with DD Boost
    • Automated backup verification

So there you have it – a pretty long list of updates for vSphere 6.0. One thing that I definitely was hoping to see was the “waterfalling” of the Distributed Switch into Standard & Enterprise licensing but it is still an Enterprise Plus-only feature.  Also, note that vSphere Application HA has been removed in vSphere 6.0 due to a lack of demand for the feature.

Another note, especially if you participated in the vSphere 2015 Beta program, is that you may have noticed and even used the new construct of VDCs or Virtual Data Centers. VDCs were meant to be used with the new Policy Based Management engine but due to some challenges the team elected to remove that functionality from vSphere 6.0. I do not have any details on what the future of that functionality may or may not be in upcoming releases.

Overall, though, I am definitely really excited about this release. The new vMotion capabilities are tremendous and will open the doors to many new design possibilities.  I’ll also comment that I’ve been using the RC code quite a bit and am happy to see an improvement in stability and performance. It’s not perfect but definitely going in the right direction.

If you want to get some more details about some of the above listed features, an updated version of HOL-SDC-1410 will be available sometime soon after VMware Partner Exchange 2015 concludes this week.  Stay tuned!

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