VMware announced General Availability of VMware vSphere 6.5 on November 15 2016 and it provides a lot of cool features and functionalities that has been enhanced and I decided to dedicate this article to talk about these new features/functionality specially focussing on vCenter Server 6.5 which has been added as part of this release.

vCenter Server Appliance 6.5 Installer

  1. With VMware vSphere 6.5, there has been a lot of improvements that we can see in vCenter Server 6.5 which provides us various options to install a new vCenter Server appliance/Platform Services controller or we can upgrade from an existing vCenter Server appliance to vSphere 6.5, Migrate from an Existing vCenter Server for Windows to a vCenter Server appliance and last, but not the least we can also restore from a previous backup of vCenter Server appliance
  2. vCenter Server appliance includes update manager extension, high availability support, file based backup and restore for platform services controller and vCenter Server which can be done by accessing vCenter Server appliance management user interface which is a HTML based client https://fQDN/IP:5480
  3. vCenter Server appliance uses the embedded PostgresSQL database and supports 2000 ESXi hosts and 25000 powered on virtual machines and 35000 registered virtual machines which has been enhanced from 1000 ESXi hosts, 10000 Powered on and 15000 registered virtual machines as seen in VMware vSphere 6.0
  4. Significant availability improvements have been made in watchdog services in vCenter Server 6.5, vCenter Server Watchdog is replaced by VMware Service Lifecycle Manager (vMon) responsible for restarting the vCenter Service if it fails by monitoring the health of services
  5. With vSphere 6.5, Update manager has been fully integrated with vCenter Server Appliance hence eliminating the additional resources required for another windows based virtual machine,and also removing any database dependencies. With this integration of vSphere Update Manager with vCenter Server 6.5, it leverages the same vPostgresSQL database however the data is stored using a separate schema
  6. As far as the installation goes, deployment models are same as seen in VMware vSphere 6.0 wherein we can either go with embedded installation (PSC+vCenter Server) running on the same machine or we can choose external installation PSC running on a separate machine and vCenter running on another one and availability of platform services controller can be achieved the same way by placing them behind the network load balancer plus some additional options available to choose from

  7. Embedded vCenter
    ​Image Source- VMware

  8. Both embedded and external deployment method can be used and works with vCenter HA however when we select the embedded installation we got two options to proceed with. 1 ) Basic configuration Workflow in which we deploy the vCenter server appliance that becomes active node and then we configure the network for HA traffic to be carried on each ESXi host and proceed with vCenter Server basic configuration option by providing the details including IP address and host/cluster and the clone process for passive node is initiated, created and configured with same settings as Active node, once this process is completed the active node is cloned again to create a lightweight witness node. 2 ) Advance Configuration workflow is another option wherein with we have to manually clone the active node to create passive/ witness node as soon as the deployment process is completed. vCenter performs replication to ensure both active and passive nodes are synchronized with each other.
  9. External vCenter

    Image Source- VMware

  10. vCenter Server high availability can be achieved by deploying a 3 node (Active which runs the active vCenter Server appliance instance and communicates with passive and witness node over vCenter HA network which should be separated from mgmt network, Passive is an initial clone of active node which receives the updates from active node and becomes active in case of a failure and Witness node which is responsible in avoiding split brain scenario), vCenter Server cluster nodes which communicates to each other as part of private network and has to be configured initially with latency less than 10 ms as part of this setup
  11. 3Node vCenter

    Image Source- VMware

  12. REST – based API which was available in VMware vSphere 6.0 for managing the content library and tagging has been enhanced in VMware vSphere 6.5 to provide features with the help of which we can configure the vCenter Server appliance, provide Virtual Machine Management capabilities thus enabling access to automation and standard tools helps us to reduce the overall API development and complexity time
  13. Another key enhancement which has been done in the vCenter Server appliance 6.5 is that it provides us the exclusive access to information about disk, network and database related stats in addition to the Cpu and memory statistics information which help us to reduce the overall dependency on the command line management when it comes to basic monitoring, accessible at https://FQDN/IP:5480.

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