VMware vSphere 5.0 Sets Stage for Giant VMs

High availability, storage and networking capabilities also get a work over.

VMware vSphere 5.0 continues to set the pace for data center x86 server virtualization and remains the clear leader for IT managers who need a virtual infrastructure that can handle production workloads while containing operational costs.

The vSphere 5.0 ship date is imminent but as yet undisclosed; however, eWEEK Labs obtained an advance copy.

In assessing the technology, IT managers should look for significant changes to functions such as HA (high availability), VMware's DRS (Distributed Resource Scheduler) and new network-monitoring tools, and a complete reliance on the ESXi hypervisor. Despite changes to the VMware licensing model, the bottom line remains the same: Organizations will pay a premium to use the enterprise-class components that make up vSphere 5.0.

IT managers who are already using vSphere 4.1 or 4.0 will quickly come up to speed on this latest version. For experienced users, changes that bolster existing features-including enhancements in the CLI (command-line interface), HA and VMware's exclusive use of ESXi (ESX hosts are still fully supported in vSphere 5.0)- while powerful, are not radically different from previous versions. Where they are significantly different, as in HA, my tests show that the change usually reduces the amount of training needed to use the feature.

One area that will need some new thinking is the sizing and outfitting of physical hosts. The new configuration maximums allow for the creation of virtual machines with up to 1TB of memory and up to 32 virtual CPUs. I can't say much about how these giant systems would work. Our modest-sized workloads running on medium-to-slow speed iSCSI storage worked well. I will be following up with enterprise managers who are using the giant-sized VMs to see how well these Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade-sized systems perform in the field. I'll be paying special attention to the physical machine configurations needed to run these much larger VMs as well.