vSphere 5.1 – My Take On What’s New/Key Features

With the release of vSphere 5.1, it’s been tough keeping up with all the tweets and information from VMworld 2012 San Francisco.

With the plethora of data, I thought it would be handy to blog about what the key features that will have the biggest impact on my every day life.

Licensing

vRAM – It’s gone, licensing is back to per physical processor.

vSphere Essentials Plus – Now includes vSphere Storage Appliance and vSphere Replication.

vSphere Standard  – Now includes vSphere Storage Appliance, vSphere Replication, Fault Tolerance, Storage vMotion and vCentre Operations Manager Advanced.

Beneath The Hood

Monster Virtual Machines

Virtual Machines, can now have the following hardware features:

1TB RAM
64 vCPUs
> 1 Million IOPS per VM

Wonder if I will continue to have those we need a physical SQL server conversation?

This is made possible by Virtual Machine Format 9.

vMotion

vMotion no longer requires shared storage.  This has been achieved by combining vMotion and Storage vMotion into a single operation.  So when a VM is moved, it moves the memory, processing threads and disk over the network to it’s target.

Now what is really, cool it maintains the same performance levels as the older vMotion with shared storage!

Note, I recommend that you use multiple NIC’s for vMotion as per my post High Availability for vMotion

vSphere Replication

Enables virtual machine data to be replicated over LAN and WAN.  Previously to achieve 15 minutes  a-synchronous replication you need sub 2 ms latency.

vSphere Replication integrates with Microsoft’s Volume Shadow Copy (VSS) ensuring that applications such as Exchange and SQL will be in a consistent state if DR was implemented.

vSphere Replication can be used for up to 500 virtual machines.

The initial seed can be done offline and taken to the destination to save bandwidth and time.

VMware Tools

No more downtime to upgrade VMware Tools.

vSphere Web Client

This is going to be the tool for administrating vCentre.  Some pretty cool features like vCenter Inventory Tagging, which means you can apply meta data to items and then such on them e.g. group applications together for a particular department or vendor.

We now have the ability to customise the web client to give it ‘our look and feel’.

Always getting called away when you are half way through adding a vNIC to a VM, well we can now pause this and it appears in ‘work in progress’ so we never forgot to complete an action.

For the pub quiz fans, you can have 300 concurrent Web Client users.

Link Aggregation Control Protocol Support

Used to ‘bind’ several physical connections together for increased bandwidth and link failure (think Cisco Port Channel Groups), this is now a supported feature in vSphere 5.

Memory Overhead Reduction

Every task undertaken by vSphere has an overhead, whether this is a vCPU or a vNIC, it requires some attached memory.  A new feature allows upto 1GB of memory back from a vSphere host which is under pressure.

Latency Sensitivity Setting

vSphere 5.1 makes it easier to support low latency applications (something which I have encountered with Microsoft Dynamics AX).  The ability to ‘tweek’ latency for an individual VM is great.

Storage

We now have 16Gb Fiber Channel support and iSCSI Storage Driver has been upgraded. Some very impressive increases in performance.

Thin provisioning has always been an issue unless your array supported T10 UNMAP.  With vSphere 5.1 a new virtual disk has been introduced the ‘sparse virtual disk’ AKA SE spare disk.  It’s major function is to reclaim previously used space in the guest OS.  This feature alone is worth the upgrade.

4 thoughts on “vSphere 5.1 – My Take On What’s New/Key Features

  1. Hi, i just was searching for Dynamic AX 2012 in combination with vmware esx 5.1. Google came up with your post. I`m very interested in what you came across with dynamic ax2012..
    I hope to hear from you.

    1. Hi Hans, thank you for reading the blog. We have built a couple of vSphere environments for Dynamics AX 2012, one with a virtual SQL backend and another with a physical SQL cluster, not had any issues with either.

      1. thanks, but did you do anything special? I already do thinks like the use vmxnet3. Did you use local storage (flash?) for temp file etc? Did do something with interrupts on the nic’s?

      2. The storage was on 3PAR for the larger rollout and Lefthand for the smaller. TempDB etc are on the SAN, performance was specified by the AX partner (who wrote Implementing Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 with Sure Step 2012). VMXNET3 used and we disabled TCP Offload Engine, apart from that all standard.

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