VMware just announced vSphere 6.5 almost a year and half after the release of vSphere 6.0 and this post will give you a quick summary of all the new features and enhancements in this release. There is actually quite a lot packed into this release and rather than try to cover it all in detail here I will be doing separate posts that go into much more detail on vSphere 6.5, VM Encryption, VSAN, VVols and much more. As much of the new stuff is more minor in nature I first wanted to highlight a few big things in this release.
- Support for VVol Replication (VASA 3.0)
- External protocol support for VSAN (iSCSI)
- Photon Platform support for VSAN
- VM-level native encryption via SPBM
- HTML5 vSphere Client
- Automatic Space Reclamation (UNMAP)
- Encrypted vMotion
- vCenter High Availability
- HA Orchestrated Restart
And now for the full list which is based on the VMware published What’s New doc from the Beta 3 release combined with my own additions and embellishments.
vSphere Lifecycle Management
- Enhanced vCenter Install, Upgrade, Patch: Streamlined user experience while deploying, upgrading and patching for vCenter Server. Support for CLI template-based vCenter Server lifecycle management.
- vCenter Appliance Migration Tool: Single-step migration process for existing Windows vCenter Server to latest release of vCenter Server Appliance. Support for both CLI and UI methods.
- vSphere Update Manager for vCenter Server Appliance: Fully embedded and integrated vSphere Update Manager experience for vCenter Server Appliance – with no Windows dependencies!
- Enhanced Auto Deploy: New capabilities such as UI support, improved performance and scale, backup and restore of rules for Auto Deploy.
- Improvements in Host Profiles: Streamlined user experience and host profile management with several new capabilities including DRS integration, parallel host remediation, and improved audit quality compliance results.
- VMware Tools Lifecycle Management: Simplified and Scalable approach for install and upgrade of VMware Tools, Reboot less upgrade for Linux Tools, OSP upgrades, enhanced version and status reporting via API and UI.
- (New) vSphere Automation API: A new REST based API, SDKs and Multi Platform CLI (DCLI) is now available to provide simplified VM management and automation of the VCSA based configuration and services.
- Expanded Support for New Hardware, Architectures and Guest Operating Systems: Expanded support for the latest x86 chipsets, devices and drivers. NVMe enhancements, and several new performance and scale improvements due to the introduction of native driver stack.
- Guest OS and Customization Support: Continue to offer broad support for GOSes, including recent Windows 10 builds, the latest from RHEL 7.x, Ubuntu 16.xx, SUSE 12 SPx and CoreOS 899.x. and Tech Preview of Windows Server 2016.
- VMware Host Client: HTML5-based UI to manage individual ESX hosts. Supported tasks include creating and updating of VM, host, networking and storage resources, VM console access, and performance graphs and logs to aid in ESX troubleshooting.
- Virtual Hardware 13: VMs up to 6TB of memory, UEFI secure boot for guest OS.
- Virtual NVMe: Introducing virtual device emulation of NVMexpress 1.0e specification.
- Increased Scalability and Performance for ESXi and vCenter Server: Continued increases in scale and performance beyond vSphere 6 – stay tuned for more information. For reference, with vSphere 6, cluster maximums increased to support up to 64 nodes and 8K VMs. Virtual Machines supported up to 128 vCPUs and 6TB vRAM and Hosts supported up to 480 physical CPUs , 12 TB RAM, 64 TB data stores, 1000+ VMs. Also adding support for 25G and 100G Ethernet as well as 32G fiber channel.
- (New) Para-Virtualized RDMA: Introducing para-virtualized RDMA driver in Linux environment which is compliant to RDMA over Converged Ethernet (RoCE) version 1.0.
- (New) RDMA over Converged Ethernet (RoCE): Introducing RoCE version 1.0 and version 2.0 support and associated I/O ecosystem.
- (New) I/O Drivers and Ecosystem: Updating existing and introducing newer versions of IO device drivers. This includes various NVMe, NIC, IB, SATA and HBA device drivers. For a detailed list of drivers please refer to the VMware vSphere Download Beta Community, ESXi section.
- (New) vSphere Fault Tolerance: Performance improvements, multi-NIC aggregation on the FT network for better performance with shared 10Gb+ NICs, interop with DRS (automated initial host placement)
- Enhancements to Storage I/O Control: Support for I/O limits, shares and reservations is now fully integrated with Storage Policy-Based Management. Delivers comprehensive I/O prioritization for virtual machines accessing a shared storage pool.
- Storage Policy-Based Management Components: Easily create and reuse Storage Policy Components in your policies to effectively manage a multitude of data services including encryption, caching, replication, and I/O control.
- Enhancements in NFS 4.1 client: Support for stronger cryptographic algorithms with Kerberos (AES), support for IPV6 with Kerberos and also support for Kerberos integrity check (SEC_KRB5i). We have PowerCLI support for NFS 4.1 as well in this release.
- Increased Datastore & Path limit: Number of LUNs supported per host increased to 1024 and number of Paths increased to 4096. (Note I heard this was scaled back to 512 LUNs & 2048 paths)
- (New) 512e drive support: Due to the increasing demand for larger capacities, the storage industry has introduced advanced formats, such as 512-byte emulation, or 512e. 512e is the advanced format in which the physical sector size is 4,096 bytes, but the logical sector size emulates 512-bytes sector size. Storage devices that use the 512e format can support legacy applications and guest operating system. When you set up a datastore on a 512e storage device, VMFS6 is selected by default but 512e can also be used with VMFS5 datastores.
- (New) VMFS6: SESparse will be the snapshot format supported on VMFS6, we will not be supporting VMFSparse snapshot format in VMFS6, though it will continue to be supported on VMFS5. Both VMFS 6 and VMFS 5 can co-exist. There is no inline upgrade from VMFS5 to VMFS6 available but customers can do data migration from VMFS5 to VMFS6 datastore using Storage vMotion.
- (New) Virtual Volumes Replication: Support for VVol replication is included as part of the new VASA 3.0 spec. You can now use Virtual Volumes to replicate your Virtual Machines using your storage array’s native replication capabilities. This delivers a policy driven and integrated experience to deploy VM-centric replication offloaded to your array.
- (New) Enhancements in VMware vSphere Storage APIs – Data Protection:
- Configurable VSS parameters such as VSS_BACKUP_TYPE
- Configurable timeout for creating quiesced snapshots
- Transfer compressed data using NBD mode
- Reuse vCenter Server session
- Automatic Space Reclamation (UNMAP): VMFS6 now supports automatic UNMAP, which asynchronously tracks freed blocks and sends unmaps to storage in background to release free storage space on thin-provisioned storage arrays that support unmap operations to free up storage space when you delete a VM, migrate a VM with vSphere Storage vMotion, consolidate a snapshot, and so on.
- (New) Virtual SAN iSCSI support: Add support for native iSCSI support within VSAN. The main use cases are supporting physical servers and also Microsoft Clustering Technologies that require shared disks. One can create iSCSI Targets and LUNs on VSAN and use iSCSI initiator to access the storage.
- (New) 2 node direct connect: VSAN now has the ability to directly connect two nodes using crossover cables. This provides network higher availability and allows you to separate VSAN data traffic from witness traffic
- (New) All-Flash support available in VSAN Standard edition: New licensing models allows customers to use All-Flash with VSAN Standard but without space efficiency features (de-dupe, compression, erasure coding)
- (New) VSAN Advanced for ROBO licensing: New offering brings all-flash VSAN and space efficiency features to ROBO customers. Complements existing ROBO VSAN Standard offering and sold in 25-VM packs.
- (New) Power CLI Support: Enhanced Power CLI support for Health Check and remediation, capacity and resync monitoring, proactive testing and 2 node/stretched cluster support.
- (New) Support for Cloud Native Apps: To complement existing support for vSphere Integrated Containers, VSAN now supports the Photon Platform as well which is the non-vSphere SDDC stack for deploying containerized applications at scale.
- Content Library Improvements: Enhancements to Content Library including ISO mount to a VM directly from Content Library, VM Guest OS customization, simplified library item update capabilities and optimizations in streaming content between vCenter Server.
- Enhanced DRS: Enhancements to DRS settings with addition of DRS Policies that provides an easier way to set several advanced options such as even distribution of virtual machines, consumed vs. active memory, CPU over-commitment.
- Orchestrated VM Restart using HA: Orchestrated restart allows admins to create dependency chains on VMs or VM groups, allowing for a restart order of these dependencies chains or multi-tiered applications (should an HA restart occur). Not only will Orchestrated Restart do this in the order specified by the admin, it can also wait until the previous VM is running and ready before beginning the HA restart of a dependent VM.
- vSphere Web Client enhancements: New Web Client UI features like Custom Attributes, Object Tabs, and Live Refresh are presented alongside other performance and usability improvements.
- (New) vSphere Web Client Reorganization of tabs: The tabbing structure for most vSphere objects have been changed to be more familiar and easier to use.
- (New) Client Integration Plugin (CIP) removal: Client Integration Plugin was previously necessary for a certain set of functions in the vSphere Web Client. Most of these have been redesigned to remove any dependency:
- Datastore File Upload/Download
- OVF Export, Deploy
- Content Library Import/Export
The only remaining function that has dependencies is Windows Session Authentication, so any user that does not use this functionality does not need to install CIP.
- (New) vSphere Client (vSphere HTML5 Web Client): The popular fling has been integrated within vCenter. Currently it requires manually starting the service, but a few quick steps and it will become available alongside the vSphere Web Client.
- (New) Proactive HA: Proactive HA leverages sensor data from server vendors to add an additional layer of availability for VMs by proactively leveraging DRS to vMotion virtual machines off of a degraded host prior to the host failing. This will result in fewer potential HA restarts and data loss by not requiring restarts, rather, continuing “business as usual” because of the vMotions that take place. (This can be modeled using the Beta Proactive HA Demo Plugin)
- (New) VMware Platform Service Controller enhancements: New PSC HA features include zero configuration high availability with automatic vCenter failover to another PSC within a site. New PSC Site Management client side tools for viewing your topology and viewing PSC HA status.
- (New) vCenter High Availability: Protect mission critical vCenter deployments with a native high availability solution that will not only protect against host and hardware failures, but also against vCenter application failures. The new vCenter HA solution provides automated failover from active to passive vCenter with expected RTO < 5 mins, and will only be available to the vCenter server appliance.
- (New) vCenter Server Appliance and Database Management: The new 6.5 Appliance Management Interface includes usage monitoring of the embedded vCenter Postgres database by data type and utilization trends, and sends database usage alerts directly into the vSphere web client. Monitor appliance CPU, Memory, and networking utilization trends for more targeted troubleshooting. Send syslog data to remote hosts.
- (New) Native vCenter backup and restore: Back up the vCenter Server Appliance and Platform Services Controller in three simple steps in the Appliance Management Interface using industry-standard protocols. The file-based backup will include the embedded Postgres database, vCenter inventory, and all configuration files required to recover vCenter. Restore the appliance from the new vCenter Server 6.5 installer. (Note: VADP-based backup is still supported for vCenter 6.0 and above)
- (New) Upgrades over IPv6: Upgrade vCenter management network over IPv6 protocol. Management network must entirely run on IPv6 or entirely on IPv4.
- (New) Virtual Machine Console: VMRC 9.0 supports Linux as well as Windows and Mac OS, auto-detect proxy settings, and access to VM consoles without host permission. HTML console supports additional languages (Japanese, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese) and mouse display without VM Tools installed.
- (New) Network-aware DRS: Network-aware DRS is used to determine if the host that DRS has chosen for workload placement of a VM is network-saturated or not. If the chosen destination host is above 80% saturated, it will attempt to place the workload on a different host. This feature does not balance the cluster based on network saturation, however, it uses network utilization metrics to ensure the final target host will not perform negatively from a networking standpoint
- (New) VM-level Encryption: Native VM-level encryption managed by storage policies (SPBM). VM and storage agnostic encryption that encrypts VM and VMDK files with no access to the encryption keys from the guest OS.
- Secure Boot Support for ESXi Host and Guest VM: At boot time, we have assurance that ESXi and Guest VM’s are booting the right set of vibs. If the trust is violated, ESXi and the VM’s will not boot and customers can capture the outcome.
- Enhanced vCenter Events, Alarms and vSphere Logging: Enhancements to vSphere Logging and events to provide granular visibility into current state, changes made, who made the changes and when.
- (New) Encrypted vMotion: Data transferred over vMotion protocol will be encrypted providing confidentiality, integrity, and authenticity of data transferred during live migrations.