First look: VMware vSphere 5 looms large
Automated host deployment, revamped HA, large-scale VM support, and storage automation features rev up vSphere for big shopsFollow @pvenezia
The advent of stateless hypervisors may also aid larger shops, as it eliminates the need for any form of local storage on the physical servers. Each physical host can ostensibly boot from the network, configure itself appropriately, and start taking a load of VMs.
The new Linux-based vCenter Server appliance should be a welcome addition in shops large and small. It's based on a Suse 11 distribution and functions just like its Windows-based sibling. However, there's no migration path between the two, so all configuration and historical performance data will be lost if transitioning from the Windows-based vCenter Server to the new Linux appliance. This will likely prevent many existing infrastructures from deploying the appliance, at least in the short term.
As you can see, much of what vSphere 5 brings to the table may not have much impact on smaller virtual infrastructures. The expanded VM scaling is great news to those who need 32-way 1TB VMs, but the vast majority of virtualization shops aren't even running physical hosts with those specs, much less VMs.
VMware vSphere 5: Licensing hubbub
When VMware announced the new licensing scheme for vSphere 5, the hue and cry from existing users was deafening. By tying licensing to virtual RAM utilization rather than physical host sockets and RAM, VMware had many customers looking down the barrel at a massive increase in licensing costs to support their existing infrastructure, much less any additional capacity they may have been planning on.
In fact, the pushback was so severe that VMware backed down and made significant changes to the licensing plan. It doubled the RAM entitlements in the Enterprise and Enterprise+ levels, to 64GB and 96GB respectively, and increased the entitlements in Essentials and Essentials+ to 32GB, versus 24GB in the original plan.
VMware also capped the licensing limit to 96GB per VM, so companies running those monster 1TB VMs pay for only the first 96GB. In addition, it shifted the virtual RAM calculation from current usage to a 12-month average. This was a particularly significant change, because prior to this modification, bringing backup and disaster recovery VMs up for testing and compliance checks could have instantly doubled the RAM utilization, throwing all licensing calculations out the window.
While many folks are still not thrilled with the new licensing scheme, these concessions make it usable. Had the original plan been maintained, it's likely that VMware would have priced itself into oblivion, sparking a mass exodus of users to competing products. In fact, the startling number of customers who began evaluating other solutions after the new licensing was unveiled may have forced VMware's hand and led to these changes.
VMware vSphere 5 gives larger shops many reasons to consider an upgrade, while smaller outfits might want to stick with vSphere 4 for the time. I have vSphere 5 running on several boxes in the lab and will be putting it through its paces for a full hands-on review soon. It's too soon in the testing to know for sure, but I've already encountered a few problems that may point to the common situation of a problematic x.0 release, including what appears to be a tricky spontaneous reboot issue. Stay tuned for that review in the coming weeks.
This article, "First look: VMware vSphere 5 looms large," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in virtualization and cloud computing at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.
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