vSphere 5.5 - Key Points

Fri 04 Oct 2013 | View all blogs

There’s many new features and enhancements and if you want to know about them all, why not just read the official VMware Whats New PDF

Here’s three of the features that we think will make the biggest difference day to day. Why have we listed only three? Simply because in the course of normal day to day actions many of the enhancements won't be of benefit to most customers. As an example, one talked about performance enhancement is the vSphere Flash Read Cache (which replaces the swap to SSD option in prior releases). Well at Cronos since we have the latest in all-SSD storage arrays this isn't something we need or would benefit from.

1. 62TB Virtual Disks (VMDK)

Up until now, the largest virtual disk that could be allocated to a VM was 2TB in size. If you wanted to go larger the typical approach was to make use of a logical volume manager (Dynamic Disks on Windows OS) but this added complexity. Now a single virtual disk can be up to 62TB in size which should be enough for 99.9% of VMware users.

2. vCenter Single Sign-On rewritten

Single Sign-On was the cause of grief for many VMware 5.1 users. Many didn’t understand what it did, why it was required or what benefits it brought; it was regarded simply as a pre-requisite for vCenter installations.

The official VMware PDF says “has been greatly enhanced” but in truth it’s a complete rewrite from the ground up. There is now no external database requirement and installation/management is much easier. More information is available in a VMware blog by Justin King

Already there is a "gotcha" in this release. If you attempt to install SSO on a Server 2012 host where the AD server is also 2012 then authentication fails. Come on VMware thats a bit poor, hardly an "edge case" scenario as its basically a green field fresh install. There is a patch available for this.

3. vSphere Web Client enhanced

Another source of grief for many VMware 5.1 users was the new web based client. Whilst the reasons for discontinuing the Windows only C# client are clear, the largest complaint regarding the web client was regarding performance – it was just too slow, especially expanding out context menus. Performance has been improved and now the web client offers all of the functionality of the desktop client. The desktop client will not be in future releases so now is the time to start using it.

The big new feature that everyone is talking about is VMware Virtual SAN, or vSAN. This product is available as a beta and requires vSphere 5.5 hence why it’s making news with 5.5 although not really anything to do with the new release. vSAN makes use of local storage in ESX servers to create resilient shared storage. Ideal for smaller VMware customers who perhaps don’t require an expensive SAN.

We will be upgrading our test platform with vSphere 5.5 however as there are no enhancements or features which will significantly improve customer experience, we’ll only be upgrading once we are fully satisfied there are no issues.

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