VMware Announces vSphere 6, First Major Update in Years

VMware Inc. announced the availability of the latest edition of its flagship product, vSphere, which in going to version 6 is seeing its first major update since version 5.5 about three years ago.

CEO Pat Gelsinger said it was the biggest release ever when vSphere 6 was announced on Feb. 2. The update includes more than 650 new features, many concerned increased scalability. Those upgrades will make vSphere more ready for the cloud, which is a major goal for VMware.

Some of the most important updates include a doubling of the amount of virtual machines (VMs) available per cluster, from 4,000 to 8,000; a similar doubling of the number of hosts per cluster, from 32 to 64; and tripling the RAM per host, from 4TB to 12TB.

vSphere 6 also upgrades technologies for storage, high availability and disaster recovery. One feature that's received a huge amount of attention is Virtual Volumes, or VVOLs. VVOLs, writes Taneja Group Analyst Tom Fenton, "completely changes the way its hypervisor consumes storage; it radically changes how storage is presented, consumed and managed by the hypervisor." He believes it will revolutionize virtual storage.

VVOLs will also enable a wide range of external storage arrays to become VM-aware, according to one blog post.

Beyond storage, live migration of VMs gets a boost with long-distance vMotion. Live VM migration in vSphere 6 can be performed across distributed switches and vCenter Servers, and over distances "of up to 100ms RTT," according to a vSphere 6 FAQ. Because of that, Taneja Group's Fenton writes, it would be possible to move a live VM across the entire United States.

Fault tolerance has been significantly expanded, as well, with support for workloads with up to four virtual CPUs (vCPUs) now. Previously, Fault Tolerance only supported a single vCPU. This greatly limited its use on vCenter, which requires a minimum of two vCPUs.

Sister publication Virtualization Review has a full slate of coverage on vSphere 6, including:

About the Author

Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Virtualization & Cloud Review. Follow him on Twitter @VirtReviewKeith.