What is vSphere 4.0? VMware is renaming its flagship VMware Infrastructure product to VMware vSphere. VMware vSphere 4.0 is the next major version of VMware Infrastructure 3, the virtual datacenter operating system from VMware.
With this new release, the VMware virtual datacenter operating system continues to transform x86 IT infrastructure into the most efficient, shared, on-demand utility, with built-in availability, scalability and security services for all applications and simple, proactive automated management. The new and enhanced features in vSphere 4.0 are listed below and grouped by their main benefits:
Maximum Infrastructure Efficiency
Power Management
Power Management — ESX/ESXi 4.0 supports Enhanced Intel SpeedStep® and Enhanced AMD PowerNow! CPU power management technologies. With dynamic voltage and frequency scaling (DVFS), ESX/ESXi can save power consumed by ESX hosts when they are not operating at maximum capacity.
DPM Full Support with IPMI and iLO Remote Power On — IPMI and iLO have been added as DPM remote power-on mechanisms, alternatives to Wake on LAN. DPM used with IPMI, iLO or Wake on LAN is now fully supported in DRS clusters that have been tested and configured in accordance with VMware guidelines. For more information on IPMI, iLO, and these guidelines, see the vSphere Resource Management Guide.
Host Scalability
64-bit Service Console — The Linux-based Service Console for ESX 4.0 is now 64-bit. The new Service Console version is derived from a recent release of a leading Enterprise Linux vendor.
64-bit VMkernel — The VMkernel, a core component of the ESX/ESXi 4.0 hypervisor, is now 64-bit. This provides greater host physical memory capacity, enhanced performance and more seamless hardware support than earlier releases.
512GB Host Memory — ESX/ESXi 4.0 supports systems with up to 512GB of RAM. See the Systems Compatibility Guide Additions and Modifications for a list of systems for which 512GB host memory is supported.
64 Logical CPUs and 256 Virtual CPUs Per Host — ESX/ESXi 4.0 provides headroom for more virtual machines per host and the ability to achieve even higher consolidation ratios on larger machines.
CPU Efficiency
VMDirectPath for Virtual Machines — VMDirectPath I/O device access enhances CPU efficiency in handling workloads that require constant and frequent access to i/o devices by allowing virtual machines to directly access the underlying hardware devices. Other virtualization features, such as VMotion, hardware independence and sharing of physical I/O devices will not be available to the virtual machines using this feature. VMDirectPath I/O for networking I/O devices is fully supported with the Intel 82598 10 Gigabit Ethernet Controller and Broadcom 57710 10 Gigabit Ethernet Controller. It is experimentally supported for storage I/O devices with the QLogic QLA25xx 8Gb Fibre Channel and the LSI 3442e-R and 3801e (1068 chip based) 3Gb SAS adapters.
Optimizations for Storage and Networking
Virtual Disk Thin Provisioning — VMware thin provisioning enables virtual machines to utilize storage space on an as-needed basis, further increasing utilization of storage for virtual environments. vCenter Server 4 enables alerts, provides alarms and reports that specifically track allocation and current usage of storage capacity to allow vi administrators to optimize the allocation of storage for virtual environments. Thin provisioning allows users to safely optimize available storage space by using over-allocation and greatly reduce the storage costs for virtual environments.
Storage Stack Performance and Scalability — The combination of the new in-guest virtualization-optimized SCSI driver, described earlier, and additional ESX kernel-level storage stack optimizations dramatically improves storage I/O performance—making even the most I/O intensive applications such as databases and messaging applications prime candidates for virtualization.
iSCSI Support Improvements — Updates to the iSCSI stack offer improvements to both software iSCSI (that is, in which the iSCSI initiator runs at the ESX layer) and hardware iSCSI (that is, in which ESX leverages a hardware-optimized iSCSI HBA), resulting in a dramatic improvement of both performance and functionality of both software and hardware iSCSI and delivering significant reduction of CPU overhead for software iSCSI.
vStorage VMFS Volume Grow — vCenter Server 4 allows dynamic expansion of a VMFS volume extent to add capacity to an existing datastore. VMFS Volume Grow is a new method for expanding a datastore without disrupting running virtual machines. Once a LUN backing that datastore has been grown through an array management utility, the vi administrator can use VMFS Volume Grow to expand the VMFS extent on the expanded LUN. The newly available space appears as a larger VMFS volume (datastore) along with an associated grow event in vCenter.
Hot Extend for Virtual Disks — Hot extend is supported for VMFS flat virtual disks in persistent mode and without any VMFS snapshots. Used in conjunction with the new Volume Grow capability, the user has maximum flexibility in managing growing capacity in vSphere 4.0.
New: Software iSCSI and NFS Support with Jumbo Frames — vSphere 4.0 adds support for Jumbo Frames with both NFS and iSCSI on 1Gb and 10Gb NICs.
vNetwork Distributed Switch — VMware's next generation virtual networking management solution. The vNetwork Distributed Switch (VDS), spans many ESX/ESXi hosts enabling customers to significantly reduce ongoing network maintenance activities and quickly scale up networking capacity. vNetwork embeds new network VMotion technology and associated set of APIs that further enables partners to build rich, VMotion-aware networking applications on top of vSphere 4.0. Other vNetwork enhancements include:
Private VLAN Support — Private VLAN support enables broader compatibility with existing networking environments deploying Private VLAN technology. Private VLANs enable users to restrict communication between virtual machine on the same network segment, significantly reducing the number of subnets needed for certain network setups.
Network VMotion — VDS enables tracking of a virtual machine's networking state as it moves around in the virtual infrastructure, greatly simplifying network monitoring and troubleshooting activities.
3rd Party Virtual Switch Support — The vNetwork Distributed Switch (VDS) includes initial support for 3rd party virtual switches. For more information on 3rd party virtual switches please visit our partner site (Cisco) at: [url]www.cisco.com/go/nexus-beta[/url]
VMXNET Generation 3 — VMXNET3 is the third generation para-virtualized NIC from VMware. New VMXNET3 features over previous version of Enhanced VMXNET include:
MSI/MSI-X support (subject to guest operating system kernel support)
Receive Side Scaling (supported in Windows 2008 when explicitly enabled through the device's Advanced configuration tab)
IPv6 checksum and TCP Segmentation Offloading (TSO) over IPv6
VLAN off-loading
Large TX/RX ring sizes (configured from within the virtual machine)
Built-in Application Services
Fault Tolerance — VMware fault tolerance provides zero downtime and zero data loss availability for all virtual machines against x86 hardware failures. Enabling fault tolerance for a specific virtual machine enables that workload to run on two different ESX hosts simultaneously and allows the virtual machine to run seamlessly in the event of hardware failures on either host.
VMware HA Improved Admission Control — Admission Control has been improved to provide more flexible configuration options to reserve failover capacity.
VMware HA Maintenance Mode — VMware HA now supports Maintenance Mode that suspends failover actions during maintenance operations.
Enhanced Storage VMotion — Storage VMotion can now be administered through vCenter Server and will work across NFS in addition to Fibre Channel and iSCSI. Resource consumption has been minimized, with Storage VMotion requiring less than 2 times the memory and CPU of the host, while leveraging a new and more efficient block copy mechanism called Changed Block Tracking. Virtual disk formats can also be converted during a Storage VMotion session; an example migration between datastores can convert thick formats to thin virtual disk format. The Storage VMotion of virtual machines running in snapshot mode is not supported in this release; snapshots must first be committed prior to executing the Storage VMotion session.
Increased NFS Datastore Support — ESX now supports up to 64 NFS shares as datastores in a cluster.
Virtual Machine Scalability and Functionality
New Virtual Hardware — ESX/ESXi 4.0 introduces a new generation of virtual hardware (virtual hardware version 7) which adds significant new features including:
New storage virtual devices:
Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) virtual device for Microsfot Cluster Service — Provides support for running Windows Server 2008 in a Microsoft Cluster Service configuration.
IDE virtual device — Ideal for supporting older operating systems that lack SCSI drivers.
VMXNET Generation 3 — See the Networking section.
Hot plug support for virtual devices, memory and virtual CPUs
Hardware version 7 is the default for new ESX/ESXi 4.0 virtual machines. ESX/ESXi 4.0 will continue to run virtual machines created on hosts running ESX Server versions 2.x and 3.x. Virtual machines that use virtual hardware version 7 features are not compatible with ESX/ESXi releases prior to version 4.0.
8-way Virtual SMP — ESX/ESXi 4.0 provides support for virtual machines with up to 8 virtual CPUs allowing larger CPU-intensive workloads to be run on the VMware ESX platform. It is also possible to assign any integer number of virtual CPUs between 1 and 8 to a VM. See the Guest Operating System Installation Guide for a list of guest operating systems that support 8-way SMP.
256GB RAM — Up to 256GB RAM can be assigned to ESX/ESXi 4.0 virtual machines.
Enhanced VMotion Compatibility — Enhanced VMotion Compatibility (EVC) automatically configures servers whose CPUs feature Intel FlexMigration and AMD-V Extended Migration technologies to be VMotion-compatible with servers that use older CPUs. ESX/ESXi 4.0 adds additional flexibility when configuring EVC clusters over earlier ESX releases that have EVC support.
Virtual Machine Hot Plug Support— The new virtual hardware introduced in ESX/ESXi 4.0 provides support for adding and removing virtual devices, adding virtual CPUs, and adding memory to a virtual machine without having to power off the virtual machine. See the Guest Operating System Installation Guide for the list of operating systems for which this functionality is supported.
Simplified Management
vCenter Server 4 — vCenter Server 4 simplifies management for large environments, improves performance management, reduces storage management costs, and reduces the complexity involved with setup and ongoing management of virtual environments. vCenter 4 simplifies management for large environments with one-time setup and configuration, search-based navigation, and a single-pane-of-glass view for multiple vCenter Servers. vCenter Servers can be inter-connected in Linked Mode which allows administrators to share roles and licenses across multiple, connected vCenter Servers.
Host Profiles — Host profiles simplify host configuration management through user-defined configuration policies. Eliminate per-host, manual, or UI-based host configuration and efficiently maintain configuration consistency and correctness across the entire datacenter by using host profile policies. Host profile policies can capture the blue-print of a known, validated “golden” configuration and use this to configure networking, storage settings, security settings, etc. on multiple hosts. Host profile policies also monitor compliance to standard host configuration settings across the datacenter. Policies greatly simplify host configuration management in small and large environments, especially in scale-out deployments.
vApps — vApps simplify the deployment and ongoing management of an n-tier application in multiple virtual machines by encapsulating it into a single virtual service entity. vApps encapsulate not only virtual machines but also their interdependencies and resource allocations allowing for single-step power operations, cloning, deployment, and monitoring of the entire application. vCenter now includes support for creating and running vApps as well as importing and exporting them in compliance with Open Virtualization Format (OVF) 1.0 standard.
Licensing — In vSphere 4.0, license reporting and management are centralized. If you upgrade all of your hosts, you no longer need a license server or host license files. All product and feature licenses are encapsulated in 25-character license keys that you can manage and monitor from vCenter 4.0.
Performance Charts Enhancements — Performance charts have been enhanced to provide a single view of all performance metrics such as CPU, memory, disk, and network without navigating through multiple charts. In addition, the performance charts also include the following improvements:
Aggregated charts show high-level summaries of resource distribution that is useful to identify the top consumers.
Thumbnail views of hosts, resource pools, clusters, and datastores allow for easy navigation to the individual charts.
Drill down capability across multiple levels in the inventory helps in isolating the root-cause of performance problems quickly.
Detailed datastore level views show utilization by file type and unused capacity.
Events and Alarms Enhancements — Expanded support for vCenter Server alarms on managed entities, such as datastores and clusters, provides better monitoring of infrastructure resources. Low level hardware and host events are now displayed in the vSphere Client to quickly identify and isolate faults. Alarms can now be set to trigger on events and notify when critical error conditions occur. In addition, alarms are triggered only when they satisfy certain time conditions to minimize the number of false triggers.
Granular Permissions for Network and Datastores — vCenter Server 4 supports permissions at the datastore and network level. Access to a datastore or network can be granted or denied for a specific set of users.
Storage Awareness Enhancements — VMware provides increased visibility into vSphere 4.0 interaction with shared storage through customizable reports and topology maps. This release provides control over environment space utilization by using per-Virtual machine, per-datastore, and other reports. Physical configuration issues can be examined using topology maps in the Storage view tab of vSphere Client.
Centralized Datastore Management — Using the Datastores view in the vSphere Client, it is now possible to create, configure, and secure datastores as well as use folders to manage them as organizational structures.
vSphere Command-Line Interface — The vSphere Command-Line Interface (vCLI) included with this release is supported on both ESX 4.0 and ESXi 4.0 Installable. The vCLI has a significant number of new commands, including vicfg-dns, vicfg-ntp, vicfg-user, vmware-cmd, and vicfg-iscsi. See the vSphere Command-Line Interface Installation and Reference Guide.
vSphere Management Assistant — The vSphere Management Assistant (vMA) is a virtual machine which includes vSphere Command-Line Interface and other prepackaged software that developers and administrators can use to run agents and scripts to manage ESX and ESXi systems. One important function of vMA is non-interactive login. You can use vMA to perform many of the tasks commonly performed in the ESX service console. See the vSphere Management Assistant Guide.
Guest Operating System Customization Improvements — vCenter now supports the ability to customize the following new guest OS platforms:
Windows Server 2008 (32-bit and 64-bit)
Ubuntu 8.04
Debian 4.0
In addition, it is now possible for administrators to customize time-zone information for Linux guests as well.
Resource Usage Statistics — vCenter Server now displays detailed CPU and memory usage statistics at both the virtual machine and resource pool aggregation levels in a cluster. Statistics include: CPU usage and demand, Memory usage breakdown: private, shared, ballooned, swapped.
vSphere Host Update Utility — Upgrade ESX hosts (versions 3.0 and later) to ESX 4.0 remotely using the vSphere Host Update Utility. The intuitive user interface provides real-time status of the remote upgrade, and allows you to specify custom post-upgrade scripts. New features include rollbacks after failed upgrades (under supported scenarios). This rollback feature allows easy manageability of smaller environments.
Guided Consolidation Enhancements — Guided Consolidation service is now a modular plug-in to vCenter and can be installed on a different system than the vCenter Server, thereby allowing vCenter Server to perform optimally with lower overheads around consolidation operations. In addition, Guided Consolidation service provides better scalability by concurrently analyzing and making consolidation recommendations for up to 500 physical machines at a given time. Guided Consolidation service by virtue of being internationalized (I18n compliant) is also able to discover and analyze systems running non-English versions of Windows.
Managing VMFS Volumes with Array-based LUN Snapshots — The mounting of array-based LUN snapshots (and array-based LUN clones) now occurs easily and in well-managed way in vSphere 4.0. Now, such LUNs are automatically discovered after a storage "rescan" and single snapshots (or single clones) may be selected for mounting and use by the ESX host. In order to mount a snapshot (clone), however, it must be writeable; specifically, VMFS needs to write a new unique identifier, or a new "VMFS volume signature", to the snapshot or clone in order to safely mount it in the same farm as the original LUN. For disaster recovery scenarios, in which the replicated volume is not in the same farm, LUNs can be mounted without writing a new signature.
Service Management of vCenter Server Components and Plug-ins — vCenter features a service management console that displays the health of the components of vCenter and its associated extensions. Based on the health status, administrators can quickly identify and correct failures in the management infrastructure.
Automation and Orchestration with vCenter Orchestrator — vCenter Orchestrator is a powerful workflow engine that automates tasks for VMware vSphere and enables orchestration between multiple solutions. VMware vCenter Orchestrator allows for best practices to be captured and turned into workflows. This process helps enable consistency, standardization, and achieve overall compliance with existing IT policies. vCenter Orchestrator provides a library of extensible workflows to allow you to create and execute automated, configurable processes to manage your vCenter infrastructure. Orchestrator exposes every operation in the vCenter Server API, allowing you to integrate all these operations into your automated processes. Orchestrator also allows you to integrate with other management and administration solutions via its open plug-in architecture.
Compatibility and 3rd Party Extensibilty
Record and Replay Virtual Machine Execution — ESX/ESXi 4.0 provides the ability to record and replay the execution of a virtual machine for forensic or debugging purposes. APIs enable third parties to control this functionality.
Updated: Additional Guest Operating System Support — ESX/ESXi 4.0 adds support for guest operating systems not previously supported on the ESX platform. Support has been added for the following guest operating systems:
Asianux 3.0 Server
CentOS 4
CentOS 5
Debian 4
FreeBSD 6
FreeBSD 7
OS/2 4, 4.5
MS-DOS 6.22
Windows 3.1
Windows 95
Windows 98
Windows 2000
Windows 7 (experimental)
Netware 6
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5
SCO OpenServer 5
SCO UnixWare 7
Solaris 8 (experimental)
Solaris 9 (experimental)
Solaris 10
Native SATA — ESX/ESXi 4.0 further increases storage choices for customers by providing support for internal SATA disks connected through the SATA interface. This choice allows administrators to reduce storage costs by supporting the lowest cost type of disk storage available.
Pluggable Storage Architecture (PSA) Support — A storage partner plug-in framework enabling greater array certification flexibility and improved array-optimized performance. PSA is a multipath I/O framework that allows storage partners to enable and certify their arrays asynchronous in time relative to ESX release schedules and deliver performance-enhancing multipath load-balancing behaviors that are optimized per array. PSA includes initial support for 3rd party multipathing software. EMC is one of the pioneering partners in this space and is planning the upcoming release of EMC PowerPath ESX.
VMware VMsafe — VMware VMsafe is a new technology that leverages the properties of vSphere to protect virtual machines in ways previously not possible with physical machines. VMware VMsafe provides an application program interface (API)-sharing program to enable partners to develop VMware-aware security products. The VMsafe Security API gives security vendors the insight to leverage the inherent properties of virtualization in their security offerings.
VMkernel Protection — As part of ongoing efforts to protect the hypervisor from common attacks and exploits, mechanisms were introduced to assure the integrity of the VMkernel and loaded modules as they reside on disk and in memory. Disk integrity techniques protect the boot-up of the hypervisor by utilizing the Trusted Platform Module (TPM), a hardware device embedded in servers. To ensure the authenticity and integrity of dynamically loaded code, VMkernel modules are digitally signed and then validated during load. These disk integrity mechanisms protect against malware, which may attempt to overwrite or modify Vmkernel as it persists on disk. VMKernel also uses memory integrity techniques at load-time coupled with microprocessor capabilities to protect itself from common buffer-overflow attacks used to exploit running code. These techniques create a stronger barrier of protection around the hypervisor.
Virtual Machine Communication Interface (VMCI) — ESX/ESXi 4.0 introduces a new virtual device which facilitates high-speed communication between the virtual machine and the hypervisor as well as between virtual machines. VMCI does not rely on guest networking. The VMCI Sockets library provides a convenient interface for using this device.
Virtual Machine Communication Interface Sockets API — VMCI Sockets is a convenience Application Programming Interface (API) for the Virtual Machine Communication Interface (VMCI) which provides fast communication between a virtual machine and the hypervisor as well as between virtual machines.
Virtual Machine Component Framework (Experimental) — The Virtual Machine Component Framework (VMCF) is a secure, standards-based, platform-neutral framework that facilitates the development of distributed applications residing in virtual machines. VMCF is experimental in this release.
Virtual Assertions —ESX/ESXi provides ISVs and developers with a new tool for improving code quality through the use of virtual assertions (VAsserts). Unlike traditional assertions, VAsserts can be left in shipping code and operate only when replaying a recorded virtual machine.
CIM SMASH — VMware hypervisors implement the industry-standard Common Information Model (CIM) interface to monitor and manage the health of server hardware. The implementation is based on the System Management Architecture for Server Hardware (SMASH) profiles defined by DMTF. This interface is supported on ESX/ESXi 4.0. Please refer to the CIM SMASH/Server Management API Programming Guide for more information.
IPv6 Support — vSphere 4.0 adds new support for IPv6 for the Service Console and VMkernel. IPv6 support is limited for ESX 4.0 when you are logged in using the vSphere Client. For more information on IPv6 capabilities in vSphere 4.0, please refer to the ESX Configuration Guide and the ESXi Configuration Guide for more details.