VMware used to be all about server virtualization, back in the day, but the Dell-controlled company has since gone on to encompass virtualized storage, virtualized networks, containers, and much more. So sometimes it can be easy to forget the importance of the company’s core hypervisors and vSphere server virtualization platform.
But the good news is that the company hasn’t lost sight of its server virtualization roots, and in mid-April it released vSphere version 6.7.
So what’s new in the latest release?
One area that is becoming increasingly important to VMware is the hybrid cloud, thanks in large part to VMware Cloud on AWS, as well as in IBM’s cloud and other cloud providers. So if you use VMware in one of these clouds, you may be interested to know that vSphere 6.7 introduces vCenter Hybrid Linked Mode.
What vCenter Hybrid Linked Mode means is that if you are using vSphere 6.0 or later on premise you can use it to control your VMware hybrid environment there and also in the cloud. What’s key here is that you don’t have to be running the same version of vCenter on premise and in the cloud, so you don’t have to keep your deployments in sync when you go about developing a hybrid cloud. And it frees VMware to continue on with developing VMware Cloud on AWS without leaving potential hybrid cloud customers behind.
Using Hybrid Linked mode, you can also carry out tasks such as performing a hot vMotion (i.e. moving a running virtual machine) from on premise to the cloud or back. Previously virtual machines had to be shut down before being moved “cold” from one environment to the other.
Performance Boosts from vSphere 6.7
Another new feature is the ability to carry out upgrades or install patches much more quickly and conveniently, by halving the number of host reboots required from two to one. On some hardware (including Dell’s and HPE’s, initially) it is now also possible to skip some hardware initialization steps to make restarts even quicker. “This is really a big deal,” Mike Adams, a VMware senior director, told Virtually Speaking. He pointed out that if you have an environment with hundreds or even thousands of virtualization hosts, the total reduction in your downtime after upgrades and patches could be very significant.
That’s not the only performance boost VMware promises with vSphere 6.7. It now supports the use of non-volatile memory such as Intel’s Optane to provide cost-efficient performance boosts of up to 600% to applications of many different types, the company claims. vSphere Persistent Memory, as VMware is calling it, is exposed as block storage to VMs and byte-addressable storage to guest OSes.
And thanks to various software optimizations and a little fine tuning, the overall performance of the vSphere 6.7 server appliance is double that of vSphere 6.5 when it comes to vCenter operations per second. It also uses about one third of the memory compared to version 6.5, and performs three times faster when it comes to DRS-related operations, the company claims.
VMware has also given vSphere’s security credentials a boost by introducing support for TPM 2.0 to guarantee that your hypervisor and supporting software can be trusted and has not been modified by any malicious actor. A “virtual TPM 2” also can be used to shield guest secrets from a public cloud administrator, and also to protect data from “in-guest” attacks.
To go with the new vSphere 6.7 platform the company has also released an enhanced vSphere client. This HTML-5-based software introduces new functionality that lets you manage VMware NSX virtual networking, vSAN virtual storage and vSphere Update Manager, along with increased support for third-party products.
vSAN 6.7 Makes Its Debut As Well
And talking about vSAN, VMware has also released vSAN 6.7 at the same time as the vSphere release. This includes a number of enhancements, including new intelligent self-healing capabilities, enhanced encryption with FIPS 140-2 validation, and the ability to monitor capacity, performance, KPIs, and alerts, using vRealize Operations 6.7 dashboards embedded in vCenter Server 6.7.
This capability does not require a separate vRealize Operations license and is available to you if you have a vSAN Advanced or vSAN Enterprise license.
Paul Rubens is a technology journalist and contributor to ServerWatch, EnterpriseNetworkingPlanet and EnterpriseMobileToday. He has also covered technology for international newspapers and magazines including The Economist and The Financial Times since 1991.