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What’s new in vSphere 6.5

As of today 18 October 2016, the VMware vSphere 6.5 has been officially announced at VMWorld Europe!

VMware vSphere will continue the innovations in the industry-leading virtualization platform from VMware.

That’s some exciting news right? Great! Let’s jump right in to what’s new! There a some really cool new features added in this release.

What’s new in vSphere 6.5

vCenter Server Appliance

  • 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 Server Appliance Migration Tool: Single-step migration process for existing Windows vCenter Server to latest release of vCenter Server Appliance. Assumes the identity of the source Windows vCenter (UUID, IP, OS Name). Support for both CLI and UI methods. Migrations for both embedded and external topologies. VMware Update manager is now included in the migration process.
  • Sphere 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.
  • 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.
  • Platform Service Controller High Availability: The PSC HA feature 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. Available for both Windows and Appliance PSCs.
  • 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 vCenter HA solution provides automated failover from active to passive vCenter with expected RTO < 5 mins. Uses synchronous replication so there is no data loss and operates in an Active-Passive configuration with a Witness. Requires 2 network adapters, one for the “public” network and one for the “private” network. And is only be available to the vCenter Appliance.
  • 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.
  • Native vCenter Server 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 like HTTP(S), SCP or FTP(S). The file-based backup (encryption optional) 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.

Compute

  • 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 NVMe: Introducing virtual device emulation of NVMexpress 1.0e specification.
  • Para-Virtualized RDMA: Introducing para-virtualized RDMA driver in Linux environment which is compliant to RDMA over Converged Ethernet (RoCE) version 1.0.
  • RDMA over Converged Ethernet (RoCE): Introducing RoCE version 1.0 and version 2.0 support and associated I/O ecosystem.
  • I/O Drivers and Ecosystem: Updating existing and introducing newer versions of IO device drivers.
  • 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).

Storage

  • 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.
  • vMotion Acceleration with Virtual Volumes Replication: Use Virtual Volumes to replicate your Virtual Machines using your storage array’s native replication capabilities. Reduces load on the network during migrations as bulk of the data is already available at the target. Delivers a policy driven and integrated experience to deploy VM-centric replication offloaded to your array.
  • 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
  • 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.
    • 2-node Direct Connect and Witness traffic separation: Allows customers with old slow switching to use 10Gbps for vMotion and Virtual SAN using a pair of low cost Cat6 or TwinAX cables. No need to route the Virtual SAN storage network over the WAN, and reduces the need for multi-cast configurations, and VLAN’s for vMotion and Virtual SAN. By separating out the Witness traffic from the VSAN data traffic, this reduces the footprint for remotely accessing data. Note that this function can be used even without cross over.
    • Support for latest hardware: Support for 512e drives, 100 Gbps & InfiniBand networking technologies.
  • VMFS 6 Datastore: To support 512e drives and LUNs, VMware made changes into VMFS and is introducing VMFS 6 datastore. This version also supports automatic UNMAP, which asynchronously tracks freed blocks and sends unmaps to storage in background. Also, SE Sparse will be the snapshot format supported on VMFS6. It will not be supporting VMFSparse snapshot format in VMFS6 but 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 you can do data migration from VMFS5 to VMFS6 datastore using Storage vMotion.

Management

  • 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.
  • vSphere Web Client Reorganization of tabs: The tabbing structure for most vSphere objects have been changed to be more familiar and easier to use.
  • 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.
  • vSphere HTML5 Web Client: The popular fling has been integrated within vCenter. Integrated into vCSA 6.5 and can be accessed via https://vcsa.fqdn/ui
  • 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.
  • Upgrades over IPv6: Upgrade vCenter management network over IPv6 protocol. Management network must entirely run on IPv6 or entirely on IPv4.
  • 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.
  • 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 utilisation metrics to ensure the final target host will not perform negatively from a networking standpoint.
  • PowerCLI: This release of PowerCLI will be fully module based so no more snap-ins. New modules for VSAN and VMware View. PowerCLI will be multi-platform so you can run it on any OS via PowerCLI Core fling.

Networking

  • Improved performance for Nested ESXi: Added MAC learning to avoid promiscuous mode for outer vNIC and avoids unnecessary packet deliveries to VMs, high CPU usage, low network throughput.
  • Improved manageability for infrastructure networks: Allow different gateway for different services like DRS, iSCSCI vMotion. Eliminate need to add static routes on all hosts, which is cumbersome, difficult to manage and not scalable.

Security

  • VMDK Encryption Manageability: Scalable and easy to manage encryption that is managed via Storage Polices. When you apply a Storage Encryption Policy, no modification takes place within the guest OS. The guest OS is also not aware of the encryption and has no access to the encryption keys.
  • 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 (PSOD) and you can capture the outcome. Requires hardware that supports UEFI.
  • 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.
  • Encrypted vMotion: Data transferred over vMotion protocol will be encrypted providing confidentiality, integrity, and authenticity of data transferred during live migrations.
  • New Role – No Cryptography Administrator: This is a new role within the vCenter Server and members of this group can still do things like power on/off a VM, vMotion it, etc. However, they can’t get access to the console or download the VM files off a datastore. Nor can they do any crypto operations like encrypt or decrypt.

Massive update right! 🙂 Awesome!

Cheers!

– Marek.Z

About Marek (293 Articles)
Marek is an IT professional with 15+ years of experience in the IT industry and is currently working as PSO Senior Consultant SDDC at VMware for the NEMEA region.

6 Comments on What’s new in vSphere 6.5

  1. Thanks for taking the time to writing this up, Marek!

    Kind regards, Wilbert

  2. Thank you for your great article.
    It was really helpful 🙂

  3. What about storage on Infiniband for ESXi 6.5? I am reading that the OFED SRP drivers do not work. Is this correct?

    • Hi,

      There were some issues with Infiniband in the past. I don’t know of any issues on current release. I am sorry.

      Cheers!

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