VMware vSphere 5.0will release "soon" but I've been working with the code for several weeks.
My eWEEK review will be published shortly. Here I want to take a bit more space to further elaborate on my experiences with the premier x86 virtualization platform.
To begin, these next several blog posts will likely be of most use to those people who live in the trenches with vSphere. In particular, I'm hopint that people who do pre-production setup and testing will take an interest in my comments. Feel free to share your vSphere 5.0 beta experience if it furthers the discussion.
Today I'm going to talk about the migration of my vSphere ESX 4.1 physical host systems to vSphere ESXi 5.0. Next will be networking, then HA, then Storage DRS, then the new vCenter Server virtual appliance.
And just to mix it up, I'll be catching up with Navin Thadani, senior director of Red Hat's Virtualization Business, to find out what's happening with the latest beta release of Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization 3.0.
ENOUGH WITH PRELIMINARIES!
So, as I mentioned in my eWEEK Labs review (available shortly at http://www.eweek.com/c/s/Reviews/) migrating existing, previous generation VMware vSphere 4.1 ESX physical hosts to vSphere ESXi 5.0 couldn't be easier.
In fact, during my preliminary briefings with VMware, I had decided to do a wipe and replace, fresh install of vSphere 5.0. But as I proceeded through the installation process, vSphere did such a good job of accurately recognizing both my hardware and the already existing vSphere 4.1 installation that I easily gave in and said "yes, please upgrade my existing vSphere implementation."
Here are the main things that I noted. VMware is doing away with ESX. The only choice--and I think it's an okay one, is to migrate to ESXi. Among the biggest differences is that ESXi does away with the management partition on the physical host. In ESX, VMware management agents and basically any manner of third party agents could be installed and run in this partition.
In ESXi, this management partition, called the Console OS or COS goes away. VMware agents now run on the vmkernel. Only approved, digitally signed third party agents are allowed to run on vmkernel. VMware says, and I agree, that this makes the host more secure. It also makes it harder for a free wheeling community to develop management apps, and that's possibly a negative. I come down on the side of closer control, but only if VMware uses technical--and not marketing--standards for enabling third party tools. This is an area I plan on exploring and reporting on as vSphere 5.0 spreads in the field.
Otherwise, the upgrade process showed the VMware has a masterful command of turning physical, x86 hosts into a "stellar nursery" for virtual machines running a wide variety of operating systems, for a wide variety of workloads.
Speaking of a "stellar nursery" vSphere 5.0 enables the creation of very large VMs. My test infrastructure maxes out at about 50GB of RAM, 1TB of iSCSI storage and around 24 processors. The new VM maximums is 1TB of RAM and up to 32 virtual CPUs. That's a lot more than what I got, so anyone who tested these new large VMs, please let me know what you thought of them.