Is VMware's vSphere 4.0 Update 1 enough to get you to upgrade?

For all of the VMware VI3 customers waiting for the vSphere virtualization equivalent to a Windows Service Pack 1 update, wait no more!

After numerous rumors about when Update 1 for VMware vSphere and vCenter would be released, VMware finally put things in motion with its announcement Friday. While the company didn't release the update as early as some rumors had it, VMware did beat expectations of an end-of-month release.

So now that Update 1 has been released, what effect will it have on vSphere?

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In speaking to many virtualization administrators and VMware shops since vSphere's release, I have heard a common thread. Many of those shops were waiting to implement an upgrade from VMware Infrastructure 3.x to vSphere 4.0. Rather than jumping on the virtualization bandwagon to move to the latest and greatest technology, many organizations decided to wait and let others test the water first. These shops typically went through painstaking efforts to establish a stable and high-performing virtualization environment, and jumping the gun to upgrade to a brand-new platform in their production environments didn't make a lot of sense to them.

I've seen this attitude before and I've lived it in my own IT career. The idea is much the same as in Windows shops. Ever hear a Windows administrator say, "No thanks, I'll wait until Service Pack 1 comes out before I migrate my Windows environment"? This VMware upgrade is very similar. It's one thing to update or upgrade an application; it's another to upgrade the underlying technology that operates your entire infrastructure.

So now that vSphere and vCenter have been tested by the early bird folks, what do people get with the Update 1 release besides a more thoroughly tested virtualization platform?

The biggest new features are the addition of Windows 7 as a supported host platform for vSphere client, and Windows 7 and Windows 2008 R2 as supported guest operating systems. VMware also finally added vSphere support for VMware View 4.0, the company's virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) solution.

There has also been an update to VMware's configuration maximums. VMware High Availability (HA) clusters can now support 160 virtual machines per host with eight nodes or less. The maximum number of virtual machines supported per host in cluster sizes of nine hosts or greater is still 40, which allows for a maximum of 1,280 virtual machines per HA cluster. They've also raised the limit on vCPUs supported per core from 20 to 25.

A few other important updates to note include the following:

  • Support for Microsoft Cluster Server (MSCS) for Windows 2000 and 2003 and Windows Server 2008 Failover Clustering with VMware High Availability (HA) and Dynamic Resource Scheduler (DRS) clusters
  • Support for boot disk devices attached to a Paravirtualized SCSI ( PVSCSI) adapter has been added for Windows 2003 and 2008 guest operating systems
  • Improved vNetwork Distributed Switch Performance
  • Support for the Xeon processor 3400 series

To help with upgrading, VMware has included a number of applications and scripts like the Pre-Upgrade Checker Tool to help examine the current environment in order to help with the upgrade process.

An interesting take away from the Update 1 release notes alludes to VMware having future plans for making the move to a 64-bit-only world for its virtualization management platform, vCenter. VMware notes:

Future releases of VMware vCenter Server might not support installation on 32-bit Windows operating systems.  VMware recommends installing vCenter Server on a 64-bit Windows operating system.

If you were one of the VMware ESX administrators waiting for Update 1 before taking the plunge into vSphere 4.0, wait no more. VMware vSphere 4.0 Update 1 is now available for download on VMware's Web site.

This story, "Is VMware's vSphere 4.0 Update 1 enough to get you to upgrade?," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in virtualization at InfoWorld.com.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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