VMware Infrastructure 3.5 (VI3.5) saw major updates last fall with the release of ESX 3.5, VirtualCenter 2.5, and ESX 3i. Just what do these new products mean for IT administrators? What functionality have these three SKUs added to the VI3 bundle? Mike Laverick from RTFM-Education fame produced a great 88 page PDF that details the updated features at on his blog. Eighty-eight pages is a long read, so I decided to collapse the material into the most important points that readers need to take from Mike’s awesome document. So here they are, the 18 changes you need to know about:
– The default mode for port groups created via Kickstart is now “Active/Standby” instead of route-based-on-virtual-port-ID, despite the assertion by the installer that the latter option is the default.
– Enabling the iSCSI initiator via Kickstart no longer opens the iSCSI port (3260).
– You can now load-balance HBAs via a new method, albiet experimental, Round-Robin.
– ESX now supports a boot-from-SATA option.
– Using N_Port ID Virtualization (NPIV) you can now assign WWNs to VMs directly.
– The “Create a VM” wizard let’s you set a VM’s MAC address to a static value.
– You can finally set a boot delay (in MS) for a VM, giving you time to hit the ESC key in order to boot from a CD-ROM (or ISO image).
– You can turn on paravirtualization support for VMs that have guests (Linux only right now) that support it. Expect to see some performance increases for those guest OSs that do.
– There is an option to turn on MMU virtualization, allowing a VM to manage its own page tables. The host system must support the Nested Page Table or Extended Page Table processor extensions to be able to use this option.
– Yipee! You can finally resize a VM’s disks via the VI client (the guest OS must be able to claim the new space).
– Distributed Power Management (DPM) finds its way into ESX clusters allowing you to set rules similar to DRS that will put ESX servers into a power-saving stand-by mode if they are underutilized and could transition (re: VMotion) their VMs to other ESX servers in the cluster.
– Where once there was 16, there are now 32. That’s 32 ESX hosts per ESX cluster.
– The HA algorithm goes to school and actually searches for the ESX server with the most available resources to place VMs on instead of just looking down the alphabet.
– You can configure HA per VM failure by monitoring the VM with a heartbeat alarm.
– Storage VMotion allows you to move a VM to a new LUN while it is running. It is not that big of a deal, even though everyone seems to think it is (How often are you re-carving your SAN where there isn’t expected downtime?)
– VMware Update Manager (VUM) allows easy patching of ESX and VirtualCenter servers, as well as patching of some Windows and Linux guests.
– An exciting new feature is the ability to create plugins for the VirtualCenter client, such as the Guided Consolidation Manager or VUM.
– Jumbo frames!
For a full list of features I recommend you read Mike’s report as well as check out VMware’s changelog.