There has been so many documents, white papers, videos and blog posts posted about the vSphere 5.1 release that it’s hard to keep up with them all. I have at least 250 links gathered in my vSphere 5.1 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 that highlights the ones that you don’t want to miss.
1 - VMware’s What’s new in vSphere 5.1 white paper series
VMware released a series of technical white papers that cover the new features and enhancements in vSphere 5.1 in a lot more detail than their standard one page overview document that covers them at a high level. These white papers focus on different areas to highlight in-depth what the key changes are in vSphere 5.1 in specific areas that you should know about. This series is a good read so make a pot of coffee or crack open a beer and learn all about the goodness that exists in vSphere 5.1.
2 - Cormac Hogan’s 10-part What’s New in Storage with vSphere 5.1 series
If you don’t know Cormac Hogan, you should, he’s a senior technical marketing architect at VMware and his focus is on storage which he knows a lot about. He produces a lot of great content for VMware on the vSphere Blog and recently started his own personal blog as well which you should definitely bookmark. With each new release of vSphere Cormac does a What’s New series focused on storage and he’s back at it again with vSphere 5.1 which has a number of new storage features and enhancements. By the time you’ve finished reading through his 10 blog posts on storage you’ll probably know as much about storage in vSphere 5.1 as Cormac, well probably not but you’ll still learn a lot.
3 - Derek Seaman’s 13-part series on installing vCenter Server 5.1
Remember back in the good ole days of VirtualCenter 2.5 when everything was all simple, easy and straightforward? Well over time vCenter Server has gotten more and more complicated and installing and configuring it has become no simple task anymore. With so many pieces and parts to vCenter Server now like the Web interface, Update Manager, Single Sign-On, databases, certificates, etc, installing vCenter Server in 5.1 has become complex and occasionally frustrating. Well Derek Seaman has made it easy for you with his epic 13-part mini-series (and counting?) on installing vCenter Server 5.1. This series will guide you through all the different steps of installing vCenter Server and it’s various components and help you avoid any gotchas that you might encounter. vCenter Server should be the first thing you install or upgrade in your environment so be sure and give these a read.
4 - Kendrick Coleman’s video tutorial series on the vCenter Server appliance and the new vSphere Web Client interface
Kendrick Coleman has been a busy boy recording a nice video tutorial series of 11 videos that will get you familiar with deploying the vCenter Server appliance and also familiar with how to perform various tasks using the new vSphere web client interface. Seeing rather than reading can make it easier to learn which is one reason that TrainSignal has become so popular and Kendrick delivers the good with over 2 hours of videos to help make that transition to the new web client interface an easier one. So make yourself a big bowl of popcorn and enjoy these videos on vSphere 5.1 as Kendrick makes a play to win himself a vEmmy award.
5 - Stephen Foskett’s Storage Changes in vSphere 5.1 post
You can never get too much information on storage and Stephen Foskett, the man behind Tech Field Day, puts his own unique spin on the storage changes that are in vSphere 5.1. This has become a tradition for Stephen as he does this with each vSphere release and he provides a lot of great information and insight from his years of experience working with storage. Stephen often seems to come up with those little nuggets of information about storage and vSphere that you won’t find anywhere else so be sure and check him out and I guarantee you’ll walk away learning something new.
6 - VMware’s VMware vSphere Web Client Video Support Series
The days of our beloved (at least for Windows users) vSphere Client are numbered and the future is with the new vSphere Web Client. Making the jump to this new interface can be challenging so luckily VMware has put together a whole video series to show you how to perform various tasks using the new web UI. While us Windows users may put this off and cling to our vSphere Client as long as possible, Linux and Mac fans will rejoice as they can finally natively manage vSphere without having to install Windows. The sooner you get started with the new web UI the better so don’t put it off as you’ll likely not see the vSphere Client in the next major vSphere release.
7 - Vladan Seget’s posts on vSphere Data Protection
vSphere Data Protection (vDP) is a new product introduced with vSphere 5.1 that is based on Avamar from VMware that replaces vSphere Data Recovery (vDR) that was part of the prior vSphere releases. Being a new product it can be a challenge to learn it and understand how it works. Well Vladan who blogs from the tropical beaches of Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean has made it easier for you with a series of posts and videos that will help you get started and comfortable with it. Once you’ve kicked the tires with vDP and seen how it works you might find yourself desiring a better backup product like Veeam Backup & Replication instead, but hey at least you gave vDP a shot and Vladan is your man to guide you through it.
8 - Chris Wahl’s New 5.1 Distributed Switch Features
A lot of focus is given to storage in each vSphere release but networking sees it’s fair share of new features and enhancements as well. Chris Wahl has done a series of nice posts that cover a lot of the networking stuff that is new in vSphere 5.1. Networking in vSphere can quickly get overwhelming with all those complicated features, layers, packets, ports, switches and acronyms so reading through these posts might make it easier to digest. Even if you’re not a networking person it’s still good to know something about it so be sure and give them a read. For some information on VXLAN be sure and read Duncan’s posts as well, but heck you probably already have since everyone reads Duncan’s blog.
9 - vSphere 5 Licensing, Pricing & Packaging
Another year, another licensing change. VMware’s infamous vTax went over as well as a fart in a spacesuit so VMware has had yet enough licensing change with vSphere 5.1. In addition they have changed feature availability in editions, introduced new cloud suites, eliminated per VM pricing and much more. So what you know about VMware’s licensing has probably all changed so it’s time to study up on it again and figure it all out. Be sure and hurry up and learn it before it all changes again.
10 - RTFM
I shouldn’t have to tell you this but I will, reading the fricking manuals can really be helpful. I know most of us don’t like to read manuals and just want to dive into playing with the products but VMware actually makes some really good documentation that is more than just your typical step-by-step instructions. I highly encourage you to checkout the separate documentation on Networking, Storage, Security, Availability, Resource Management and Performance. These are great guides for learning about the technology and getting some deep dive information on it. VMware even makes it easier for you by putting it in multiple formats such as html, pdf, epub and mobi so you can download it to your device of choice and carry it around with you. Maybe some day they’ll even put it in audio book format so you can listen to James Earl Jones tell you how to configure Storage I/O Control while driving to work, how cool would that be.
So there you have it, the top 10 things you should read about vSphere 5.1, 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 5.1 Link-o-rama, new links are added daily and you will find almost everything you need there to get you going with vSphere 5.1.