VMware Says the Next Time I Upgrade My Environment, I Wont Have to Restart My Systems Afterward
For my tests, I installed a completely new vSphere 5.1 infrastructure. I created new VMs and then installed the new version of VMware Tools on these systems. According to VMware, the next time I upgrade my environment, I won't have to restart my systems after upgrading the tools. This is a significant improvement, and I look forward to seeing this proved in action at the next release. Another big addition to vSphere 5.1 is single sign-on. Technically, implementing VMware single sign-on (SSO) wasn't significantly more difficult than getting other SSO platforms up and running. All these systems require finicky integration with existing directories. And like many other VMware vSphere 5.1 components, IT mangers should spend far more time understanding how SSO can work in a vSphere environment and planning the policies around SSO and identity management than is spent actually implementing the functionality. In my tests with a very small user data store, I was able to instantiate the SSO feature in a relatively short time. Once it was up and running, it was convenient to be able to move around my virtual infrastructure without having to repeatedly log in.I used features that are available in the small and midsize business (SMB) vSphere Essentials Plus edition, including vSphere Replication and vShield Endpoint security. These features will likely appeal to organizations that have limited IT staff but would like an alternative to Microsoft Windows Server with Hyper-V. In particular, I used the vSphere Replication feature to move VMs within my test cluster without using my shared storage array. vSphere Replication provides "good enough" VM protection with a minimum 15-minute recovery point. Enterprise users or anyone needing iron-clad disaster recovery should consider vSphere Site Recovery Manager (reviewed here) in which replication can be nearly real-time, with a corresponding increase in equipment and license costs. The vSphere Distributed Switch (VDS) got a real facelift in this version of vSphere 5.1. After setting up my test infrastructure, I was able to use the vSphere Web Client to back up my VDS, a new feature in 5.1. I was able to use the related rollback and recovery feature in this version of VDS to more confidently make changes to a working switch configuration. This was a real advantage in testing since I was able to more freely experiment with other new features, including using the SPAN port mirroring feature to try encapsulated SPAN and remote SPAN port to monitor my test network. For the same reason, IT managers will likely find it less nerve-wracking to make switch adjustments knowing that it is simple to restore to a known working state.