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vSphere 6 – In Practice

Posted 11 December 2015 by Kelvin Papp

We’re a way down the road with the latest incarnation of VMware vSphere. Announced in February, it was touted as “the biggest ever release of the product”… so has it lived up to expectations?

Despite the glitz and hype surrounding the launch event, the release of vSphere 6.0 came with relatively little fanfare in March, ushered in for the most part only by the ever-growing virtualisation blogging community and the excellent documentation that we’ve come to expect from VMware Support. Given some of the functionality announced you could be forgiven for feeling like the launch did the product an injustice, although if there’s one thing I’ve learnt about VMware over the years, it’s that they generally let their products do the talking.

In the case of VMware, major release launches are exactly that - major. There are always the usual increases to maximums that we’ve come to expect; in this case, an increase to 64 Hosts per Cluster, 480 Logical CPU’s / 12TB of RAM per Host and 128 vCPU’s / 4TB RAM per VM to pull out some highlights - I’m sure we all have a need for that 128 vCPU VM! But then there are the ground-breaking changes; the functionality additions that open up a world of new use cases, or in some instances that redefine IT all over again (I’m sure we all remember the moment we first encountered vMotion).

For me, the launch of vSphere 6 was slightly different to launches of old. For the first time it felt like the emphasis was on solidifying and improving an already robust and widely deployed product for existing users, rather than on dazzling would-be virtualisation candidates with promises of efficiencies around management and maintenance. It’s perhaps fair to say though that this is reflective of modern-day IT, with most organisations having already deployed virtualisation and instead looking for reasons to “stick” with VMware, rather than jump ship to up-and-coming products like Microsoft Hyper-V. In this respect, vSphere 6 (and more recently, vSphere 6 Update 1) haven’t disappointed, with major improvements to architecture and functionality acting as the main drivers for those looking to upgrade, as opposed to a more general desire to stay on the latest release.

From a technical standpoint, many of the enhancements in vSphere 6 are aimed at removing barriers that restrict the migration of workloads to the Cloud, be that Public, Private, or Hybrid. The notion that a workload can be agile, scalable and portable whilst also remaining secure is central to vSphere 6, with many limitations relaxed, or removed altogether when compared with legacy versions.

At a high level, this is underpinned by the extraction of key Virtual Infrastructure services into the new Platform Services Controller (PSC). The PSC can scale up and out using a Multi-Master deployment model to incorporate High Availability, and multisite deployments with ease. This is supplemented through improvements to vMotion, Fault Tolerance and Storage to name just a few, which provide far greater mobility of server workloads – not just within the corporate datacentre, but across sites, and out to the wider world. This enables relative freedom for in-house IT teams to access and leverage the Cloud in a way which has not been possible previously.

Our experience in the relatively short period that vSphere 6 has been available has been tremendously positive. Whether tackling a greenfield deployment or upgrading existing infrastructure, the capabilities available within the product have opened up valuable new use cases for our customers and are increasingly forming an integral part of the solutions we design. We’ve always looked to VMware as the market leader in virtualisation to innovate, and excite the industry through continual evolution of their products, and I’ve been pleased to see that vSphere 6 has proved no exception.

Clearly it’s difficult within the confines of a blog like this to detail the many new capabilities of vSphere 6. To discuss some of the aspects mentioned in more depth, please contact us at enquiries@bluechip.com to find out more or call us on 01202 464 207.

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