What's New in vSphere 5.5
vSphere 5.5 is now available with myriad small improvements such as a faster Web Client, LACP, Autoscale and higher configuration maximums. In addition, there are changes coming such as VSAN, which may be ground-breaking in regard to VM storage of the future. Since the release of vSphere 5.5, they have not yet announced a change to the blueprint for the test. That being the case, I will say, for now, that the VCP-510 test should remain unchanged as well. My goal here is not to reeducate you on everything that you need to know for the test; instead, it is to point out the few changes that might apply in your company or organization.
When I was writing my latest book The Official VCP5 Study Guide, I spoke with many VMware experts who can generally predict the future of certifications with some accuracy. I was assured that the details of the blueprint that make up the VCP-510 test would not change until the next major revision of the software (e.g. vSphere 6.0?). At that time, vSphere 5.0 was the "flavor of the day," and vSphere 5.1 was yet to be released. True to form, when VMware released vSphere 5.1, they did not change the blueprint; at least not in any appreciable way. They did change the name of the certification thrice! First it was changed to VCP-DV and then, with little warning, it was changed again to VCP-DCV; and finally (at least for now), it was changed to VCP5-DCV.
It doesn't really matter why the name of the certification changed, or that it did, for that matter. What does matter is that the specifics of the blueprint, and, therefore, the material that you need to know for the test, did not change. For example, there was no mention of Single Sign-On or Enhanced vMotion (now to be called XvMotion) on the blueprint, even after the release of vSphere 5.1. That being the case, there was no reason to write a supplemental technical paper such as this one.
Well, since the release of vSphere 5.5, they have not yet announced a change to the blueprint for the test. That being the case, I will say, for now, that the VCP-510 test should remain unchanged as well. My goal here is not my usual, to reeducate you on everything that you need to know for the test; instead my aim is to point out the few (or at least limited) changes of which you should be aware as they might apply in your company or organization. (When the blueprint finally changes, I will write another paper to address the changes more directly as they relate to the test.) Therefore, in my opinion, the most significant changes from vSphere 5.1 to vSphere 5.5 are as follows:
Single Sign-On Re-Written - You need to understand Single Sign-On; you need to know its requirements and know how to configure all of its components;. That hasn't changed. What has changed is the way that VMware is implementing Single Sign-On, which may work much better for you.
vSphere Distributed Switches Are Improved - There are new features on version 5.5 vSphere Distributed Switches (vDSs) that enhance their functionality and security. You should understand the latest changes and how they might affect your design and your management.
VSAN - This is a new storage feature that allows you to use previously wasted storage space and create reliable and redundant storage options for your VMs. It may just revolutionize the way we look at VM storage!
Of course, there are many other tweaks, such as a much more responsive Web Client, and higher configuration maximums (links below), but these are the three "game changers," in my opinion, between vSphere 5.1 and 5.5. I will start at the top of the list, with Single Sign-On.
Single Sign-On Rewritten
I can still remember when there was no reconciliation of permissions between the ESX/ESXi 3.5 host accounts and Active Directory accounts; and that was stated as an advantage because it confined the permissions to only VMware administrators and could not "accidentally" give Domain Admins, who did not generally manage VMware, the ability to manage the host due to the Domain Admins global group being added to the local Administrators group on the ESXi host. In fact, in 3.5 the host never actually was a computer account in the Active Directory, and all of this was considered good.
Well, through a series of changes and enhancements, we have lived through vSphere 4.0, 4.1, and 5.0. We have arrived at a point where we not only want to authenticate the ESXi hosts through the Active Directory, but we also want to be able to authenticate the administrators of the systems in whatever way we can; and this is all considered good. My how times have changed!
It is not my intent to teach you everything that you need to know to configure and manage Single-Sign On. That is better served by just giving you the latest links for it, which I have listed at the end of this paper. My intent is for you to have a general understanding of Single Sign-On and understand what it will change and what you are looking for in regard to your study of Single Sign-On. In other words, you are better served if I give you the 30,000-foot view and the latest links to get the details.