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Dec 12 2016

Top 10 things you must read about vSphere 6.5

There have been so many documents, white papers, videos and blog posts about the vSphere 6.5 release that it’s hard to keep up with them all. Fortunately you don’t have to as I have over 300 links gathered in my vSphere 6.5 Link-O-Rama and it is still growing. With so many links it’s easy to miss some of the really good ones so I thought I would put together a top 10 list of my hand picked links that highlight the best ones that you don’t want to miss. If you are looking to upgrade to vSphere 6.5 or just want to find out what you are missing out on you are definitely going to want to read these. You can start out with my quick summary of everything that is new in vSphere 6.5 and the configuration maximum changes in vSphere 6.5 and then continue on below for much more…

1 – The official VMware What’s New in vSphere 6.5 series

Traditionally VMware releases a slew of What’s New white papers to support a new vSphere release that cover specific areas (i.e. storage, platform, networking, etc.). This time around VMware released a lot of blog posts instead of publishing white papers that cover the new features and enhancements in a lot more detail than their standard one page overview document that covers them at a high level. Be sure and give these a read as they provide good in depth information written by the VMware technical experts that will help you better understand the changes and new things in vSphere 6.5:

2 – You can now natively encrypt VMs in vSphere 6.5, find out how

VM-level encryption has been a long awaited feature and it’s finally here in vSphere 6.5. While it’s fairly easy to encrypt a VM using Storage Policy Based Management (SPBM) the setup of the vSphere environment to support encryption can be a bit complicated. Key management servers must be leveraged for encryption so before you dive into encryption learn how to do it properly and understand the impacts on performance that encryption will have. The below links will get you started on working with encryption in vSphere 6.5:

3 – HA & DRS get some nice enhancements, find out how you can use them

The vSphere High Availability (HA) & Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS) features have been around all the way back to VI3. HA & DRS are features that we take for granted and are at the very core of vSphere and invaluable to maintaining a resilient and efficient virtual environment. Over the many vSphere releases between now and then there have been some tweaks and enhancements as to how those features function. Now in vSphere 6.5 there are some new enhancements that teach those old dogs some new tricks, read all about it here mostly courtesy of VMware’s Brian Graf:

4 – Virtual Volumes (VVols) goes 2.0 in vSphere 6.5 and it’s all about replication

VMware VVols, the next generation vSphere external storage architecture was first introduced as part of vSphere 6.0 as a better alternative to VMFS. Now in vSphere 6.5 it has matured and is essentially is a 2.0 architecture with support for array-based replication and some additional enhancements. If you haven’t checked out VVols yet I highly encourage you to give it a look, there are a lot of benefits to using it as it provides storage arrays with VM-level granularity which is integrated with vSphere3s SPBM system. The below links cover what is new with VVols in vSphere 6.5 (mainly replication) and if that leaves you wanting to know more be sure and check out my huge VVols link page:

5 – Automatic space reclamation (UNMAP) is back, learn how it’s changed in vSphere 6.5

Way back in vSphere 5.0 VMware introduced support for automatic space reclamation which allowed vSphere to send UNMAP commands to a storage array so space from deleted or moved VMs could be un-allocated (reclaimed) on the storage array. Shortly after this feature was introduced problems started surfacing and as a result VMware disabled UNMAP support and made it a manual process using CLI commands. While this worked it took quite a while to execute and was very resource intensive on the array. In vSphere 6.5 they have again made it an automatic operation but not in the same way as before as it operates in the background based on priority levels that can be set on VMFS datastores. Find out everything you need to know about getting your disk space back at the following links:

6 – The vCenter Server Appliance gets a big overhaul in vSphere 6.5 including native HA

Ever since vSphere’s core management component, vCenter Server (VCSA) was introduced as a virtual appliance years ago VMware has steadily been improving the scalability, availability and management of it. With the vSphere 6.5 release the VCSA takes a big step forward introducing built-in high availability support (VCHA), integrated Update Manager, new management interface, native backup & restore options and much more! In addition the VCSA has been containerized as well and is the first VMware appliance to run on their new Photon OS. So you have plenty to learn about VCSA and VCHA so dive right in and start a learning at these links:

7 – VSAN continues to evolve in vSphere 6.5 with support for iSCSI

With the vSphere 6.5 release VSAN turns 2 1/2 years old and it’s remarkable how far it has come in that time frame. Unlike previous versions there isn’t a huge list of things that are new with this release of VSAN but that doesn’t mean that there are not some big things in it. Here are some links that will deep dive into what’s new in VSAN version 6.5:

8 – VMFS & Storage I/O Control change in vSphere 6.5, find out the details

vSphere 6.5 has introduced a new VMFS version 6 and there are a few changes in it compared to VMFS version 5 that you should be aware of especially when upgrading from a previous vSphere version or operating in a mixed vSphere version environment. Storage I/O Control (SIOC) has been am around for quite a while but it got a big overhaul in vSphere 6.5 as it now leverages the new vSphere API’s for I/O filtering (VAIO) and Storage Policy Based Management (SPBM). The following links cover the differences between VMFS5 & VMFS6, upgrade considerations and how SIOC works in vSphere 6.5:

9 – R.I.P. vSphere C#, welcome HTML5 Web Client, hello frustration managing vSphere 6.5

Now that vSphere 6.5 is here VMware delivered on their promise to eliminate the C# client in vSphere 6.5 in lieu of the new HTML5 client that they have been working on to replace the current flash-based vSphere web client that everybody hates on. The new HTML5 web based client is much faster then the old flash client and is a great improvement but the only problem is that its only half done and has a lot of limitations right now. Give the following links a read to understand what awaits you while trying to managing vSphere 6.5:

10 – The VMware Knowledge Base is full of all sorts of useful info on vSphere 6.5

The VMware Knowledge Base has more than just solutions to problems, it also has a lot of great information and how-to articles as well. Quite literally the VMware KB is a fountain of information that contains dozens of great informative articles specific to vSphere 6.5. This includes articles that will help you with upgrading and installing vSphere 6.5 as well as tons of great tips, gotchas and solutions to issues. So before you even touch vSphere 6.5 save yourself some frustration by reading through the VMware KB and I guarantee your journey to vSphere 6.5 will be much smoother. Here’s just a few of the valuable vSphere 6.5 links that you will find inside the VMware KB:

So there you have it, the top 10 things you should read about vSphere 6.5, I’m sure I missed some other great ones as well so feel free to shout out in the comments some additional links that you feel people must read. Also be sure and bookmark my vSphere 6.5 Link-O-Rama, new links are added daily and you will find almost everything you need there to get you going with vSphere 6.5.

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