vSphere 5.5 – My Take On What’s New/Key Features

vSphere 5.5With the release of vSphere 5.5, it’s been tough keeping up with all the tweets and information from VMworld 2013 San Francisco.

Having this plethora of data, I thought it would be handy to blog about the key features that will have the biggest impact on my everyday life, in bite size chunks!

Like you I have a great deal of reading to do, to get myself up to speed, understanding when a feature should be used and it’s limitations.

Virtual Machine Enhancements

vGPU – With vSphere 5.5 the list had been extended so we aren’t limited to NVidia cards now.  Also we have the ability to vMotion to hosts with different GPU’s inside of them without any downtime.

62TB VMDK – Yes, no  more working within the 2TB minus 512 bytes limitation.  What’s even better is that snapshots can be used so your backup software will work.

Low Latency Applications – These are applications which must have minimal network latency and want fast response times.   Four settings are available Low, Normal, Medium and High.

vCenter Server Enhancements

vCenter Server Appliance – Has been given a turbo boost and now supports up to 5,000 VM’s and 500 ESXi Hosts making it a viable option to a Windows based vCenter.

vSphere App HA – This is the ability to monitor Application Services and then restart them or trigger an alert when a given event happens.  This is achieved by deploying two virtual appliances, vSphere App HA which stores and managed Application HA policies and vFabric Hyperic which monitors applications and enforces HA policies.

At the moment, a limited number of applications are supported, the one that rings out is MSSQL 2005, 2008, 2008 R2 and 2012.

vSphere Replication – We now have the ability to fail back to multiple point on time snapshots.  This is a good enhancement, but having a string of snapshots over in your DR site, worries me.

SSO – I know the bane of your life, but VMware has listened and redesigned it.  In fact I think they must have been talking to Microsoft as it now used the ‘multi master model’ found in Active Directory.  Perhaps more importantly VMware are soon to release vCenter Server Design Recommendations.

Storage Enhancements

VAAI Unmap – It’s gotten simpler, rather than having to specifiy a percentage we can now just type ‘esxcli storage vmfs unmap’

vSphere Flash Read Cache – Write I/O’s are received by the vSphere Flash Read Cache to enhance VM storage performance. Flash devices installed on the ESXi Hosts are pooled.

VSAN – (Yes that is meant to be a big V and the product is still in beta).  The aggregation of local storage making it persistent using RAIN (Redundant Array Independent Nodes).  Read’s and writes are sent to the SSD cache to improve VM storage performance.  The hard limitation is 8 ESXi Hosts at the moment in a VSAN.

Networking Enhancements

LACP – We now have 64 Link Aggregation Groups (LAG’s) per host and per vDS.

Traffic Filtering – Essentially Access Control Lists have come to town.

QoS – Not wanting to be left out, QoS has joined the party with Differentiated Service Code Point (DSCP).


This is the only downsides, it appears that all the ‘cool’ new stuff is only available in Enterprise Plus, see the vSphere Edition Comparison.

Questions I Have

VUM – Will VMware Update Manager be fully integrated with the vSphere Web Client?

VSAN – When will this be out of beta?

vSphere App HA – When will support for applications such as Exchange 2007/2010/2013 be released?

vSphere Web Client – Will the response times for this be improved? As my general feeling is that it plays second fiddle to the vSphere Client.

3 thoughts on “vSphere 5.5 – My Take On What’s New/Key Features

  1. Hi there good feedback.
    What are the new features regarding FT, is the limit still restricted to one vCPU?

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