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New VMware vSphere 6 Features

Sep. 11, 2015
Rebecca Fitzhugh


With the release of vSphere 6, there are big changes that allow for zero downtime with data access and recovery. The new features enable live migrations across long distances with enhanced vMotion features, datastore backup capabilities around Fault Tolerance upgrades and a new Content Library. These advances help you keep up to date with the latest in server virtualization.


VMware takes another step forward, building on previous vSphere generations, toward fully enabling the Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC). VMware vSphere 6 brings tighter integration between products, much needed improvements to several core features, as well as the bundling of backup and recovery functions. This white paper will provide a look at many of the new features but does not exhaustively cover every change.

We will discuss the following changes, enhancements, and new features:
 - vSphere platform (to include virtual machine [VM] and ESXi maximums, vCenter Server architectural changes and scalability)
 - vSphere High Availability (HA)
 - vSphere Fault Tolerance (FT)
 - vSphere vMotion
 - Virtual Volumes
 - NFSv4.1
 - Network I/O Control
 - Content Library

Licensing Overview

As with any major VMware release, the vSphere licensing scheme has been updated to include the new vSphere 6.0 features and functionality. vSphere 6.0 has three license editions available with Operations Management:
 Standard Edition – contains the hypervisor and 1 vCenter Server Standard license, VMware vRealize Operations Standard, vMotion, Cross vSwitch vMotion, Storage vMotion, vSphere HA, vSphere Data Protection and vSphere Replication, Fault Tolerance (up to 2 vCPUs), vShield Endpoint, Virtual Volumes (as well as vSphere APIs for Storage Awareness), and Content Library.
 Enterprise Edition – same as the Standard Edition, plus it includes APIs for Array Integration and Multipathing, Distributed Resources Scheduler (DRS) and Distributed Power Management (DPM), and Big Data Extensions.
 Enterprise Plus Edition – includes aforementioned features plus the addition of Fault Tolerance (up to 4-vCPU), Distributed Switch, Storage DRS, Network and Storage I/O Controls, Host Profiles and Auto Deploy, Flash Read Cache, and Cross vCenter and Long Distance vMotion.

There are also two vSphere Essentials kits available to purchase. The Essentials license contains one vCenter Server Essentials license and hypervisor licensing. Essentials Plus consists of one vCenter Server Essentials license, hypervisor licensing, vMotion and Cross vSwitch vMotion, vSphere HA, Data Protection, Replication, and vShield Endpoint.

New Features

This section of the white paper will provide an overview of the most anticipated new features or changes in vSphere 6. It is not meant to be an all-inclusive list of the changes and features introduced in the new release.

Bigger Everything!

The maximums associated with ESXi hosts have increased once again . . . the maximums were already large and now they are huge! The amount of ESXi hosts in the cluster doubles as well. Note that the host maximums do not align with the cluster maximums. 64 ESXi hosts x 1,000 VMs = 64,000 VMs but the cluster maximum is 8,000. This maximum stems from vCenter Server and not an ESXi limitation.

ESXi hosts aren't the only thing to see an increase in maximums-VMs have also seen some increases. vSphere 6 introduced VM hardware version 11, bringing a handful of changes. The following list provides some of the most useful enhancements:
 - up to 128 vCPUs per VM
 - up to 4 TB RAM per VM
 - up to 32 serial ports per VM
 - hot-add memory is NUMA aware
 - removal of serial and parallel ports
 - WDDM 1.1 GDI acceleration
 - USB 3.0 xHCI

Prior to vSphere 6, hot adding memory to memory would result in new memory being allocated to NUMA node 0. Now memory is allocated equally across all NUMA regions.

vCenter Server Architectural Enhancements

The architecture for vCenter Server has changed with 6.0; there are now two main installable components: the new Platform Services Controller (PSC) and the vCenter Server system and their respective services. The PSC includes the following services:
 - VMware vCenter Single Sign On
 - VMware Directory Services
 - VMware License Server
 - Lookup Service
 - Certificate Authority
 - Certificate Store

The group of vCenter Server services contains the following:
 - vCenter Server
 - vSphere Web Client
 - VMware Inventory Service
 - vSphere Auto Deploy
 - ESXi Dump Collector
 - vSphere Syslog Collector

There are two deployment models for vCenter Server 6.0, embedded and external. An embedded deployment co-installs the two components on the same machine, whereas an external deployment results in the PSC and vCenter Server on separate machines. The group of services associated with the two installable components will be installed; there are no longer installers for each of the services. The exception to this is vSphere Update Manager, which is installed as a standalone Windows installation.

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