VMware vSphere 6 Revealed

by Sean Michael Kerner

Server virtualization technology gets a massive update with more than 650 new features.

VMware has been testing its vSphere 6 platform for some time and finally announced the platform at an event on Monday. And the new release of vSphere is much more than just a simple number change according to VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger.

"vSphere 6 is the biggest ever release of our flagship product," Gelsinger said during the launch event. Pat Gelsinger "There are over 650 new features in this release that were tested and validated in the longest beta that we've ever run."

Among the innovations in vSphere 6 highlighted by Gelsinger are its large scalability and performance gains. The new release enables a doubling of hosts per cluster form 32 to 64 hosts in a vSphere cluster. Going a step further, vSphere 6 supports four times the number of virtual RAM per Virtual Machine, up to 4 TB.

vMotion Debuts in vSphere 6

Another highly anticipated feature is long-distance vMotion. Gelsinger explained that with long-distance vMotion, VMware users can now move running workloads across data centers and across countries.

Fault tolerance for multi-processor VMs has been improved as well, with the ability to leverage up to four VCPUs.

Ben Fathi, chief technology officer, VMware,  explained how a technology first known as Project Fargo has now landed in vSphere 6 as a feature called instant cloning.

"The idea is very similar to the way that virtual memory works in a laptop computer, so you can use copy-on-write semantics to create instant clones of a running virtual machine," Fathi explained. "The VMs don't use any additional memory or disk footprint until they actually modify the block of memory."

Fathi said that instant cloning is able to provision up to 64 VMs on a single host in under six seconds, making it nearly 13 times faster than prior vSphere releases. He added that the instant cloning feature will be useful for those that want to use Docker containers alongside VMware VMs.

"So developers using containers and Docker can safely use VMs and get all the benefits of running a container inside a VM with isolation and security, without losing any of the efficiency of containers," Fathi said.

Storage via vSAN 6

Complementing the vSphere 6 release is the vSAN 6 and virtual volume releases. Gelsinger explained that vSAN 6 delivers on the concept of storage policy-based management.

"You can now define policies and let the VMware stack manage and execute against those policies," Gelsinger said. "With virtual volume we can now enable storage policy management onto third party external arrays."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at ServerWatch and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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This article was originally published on Tuesday Feb 3rd 2015
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