Last week VMware has made headlines with the latest release of vSphere dropping for public availability. VMware vSphere 6.7 has been released to the world of adoring VMware admins and it certainly is an exciting release with many new features and enhancements that are definitely worth taking a look at.
It seems like it wasn’t long ago that vSphere 6.5 released with major press and new features. However, vSphere 6.7 builds upon the architecture that vSphere 6.5 brought to the table and takes it even further. VMware has been on a blistering pace of ingenuity and product success.
VMware vSAN 6.7 was basically released simultaneously with vSphere 6.7 and touts many new features and benefits that build on top of the architecture made possible because of vSphere 6.7. In this post, we will cover the new major features and enhancements to be found in this latest release of the VMware vSphere ESXi hypervisor as well as the enterprise component of vSphere – vCenter Server 6.7.
VMware vSphere 6.7 – New Features and Enhancements
The core of the vSphere enterprise architecture is vCenter Server. VMware vCenter Server unlocks all of the powerful enterprise features that allow the vSphere hypervisor, ESXi, to reach its full potential. All of the VMware products and ancillary plugins hook into VMware vCenter Server. Much of the core feature and functionality enhancements are driven from VMware vCenter down to the hypervisor level. So what is new with vCenter Server 6.7? There are quite a few noteworthy, points, enhancements, and features including the following:
- This is absolutely the last version of vCenter Server that will be released on the Windows Server platform
- All new HTML5 clarity UI is more fully implemented in the vCenter Server 6.7 release
- VMware has simplified the architecture of vCenter Server through vCenter Server running with Embedded Platform Services Controller with Enhanced Linked Mode
- Much improved VAMI administrative management interface
- New CLI functionality and tools for use with the new vCenter Server
Let’s dive into each one of the enhancements above to see the benefits that each bring to the new vSphere 6.7 vCenter Server platform.
vCenter Server 6.7 – Last Windows Server Version
This should come as no surprise to anyone keeping up with VMware over the past couple of releases. The writing has been on the wall now for some time with VMware only introducing certain features within the VCSA appliance platform and not in the Windows platform such as the HA failover functionality with the 6.5 appliance. We knew the day was coming when the last Windows version of vCenter Server ships and vSphere 6.7 looks like it is that final release for Windows. Most VMware administrators have already begun if not already completed a migration away from the Windows Server version of vCenter Server over to the VCSA appliance. If not, now is the time to be making plans for that migration.
vCenter Server 6.7 HTML5 Clarity UI Almost Complete
Another obvious continued deprecation with this release of vCenter Server is the Flash (Flex) client is also getting much closer to being totally replaced. VMware has made a hard push to get their Clarity UI HTML5 themed web client much further along in development with each subsequent release of the product. Now with vCenter Server 6.7, the HTML5 client is said to be about 95% complete. It is certainly a much faster, efficient, and cleaner interface than the Flash counterpart. Also, VMware is making strides to not simply port over the Flash client in a “1-for-1” type of transition. They have taken a serious look at the workflows and how those can be simplified and made more efficient, less clicks, and less looking around for what you need.
The HTML5 UI is much closer to completion in vCenter Server 6.7
vCenter Server 6.7 Simplified Architecture
VMware has taken steps to simplify the vCenter Server architecture in vSphere 6.7. With vSphere 6.7, VMware has made things easier with going back to a model of services all running on a single vCenter Server. New to vSphere 6.7, vCenter server with the Embedded Platform Services Controller comes with Enhanced Linked Mode. This allows VMware administrators the following benefits:
- Elimination of a required load balancer for HA purposes. It now supports the native HA found in vCenter Server
- SSO site boundaries have been removed which greatly increases the flexibility of the vCenter Server deployment
- The vCenter Server scalability maximums are supported in this configuration
- A total of 15 deployments are supported in a vSphere SSO domain
- Greatly reduces the complexity and sheer number of nodes to manage
Greatly Improved VAMI interface in vCenter Server 6.7
The VAMI or administrative interface to the VCSA appliance has received a pretty major upgrade in vSphere 6.7. The new VAMI interface in vCenter Server 6.7 is now sporting the HTML5 Clarity UI interface. Additionally, the file level backup that was introduced with vCenter Server 6.5 has been enhanced. The scheduling feature was sadly lacking in the VCSA 6.5 VAMI interface, so you could back up VCSA files, but you had to do this manually.
There were a few PowerCLI scripts that surfaced to automate this, however, the native functionality was still missed. With vCenter Server 6.7, a new backup scheduler feature has been introduced into the VAMI backup interface. File level backups can now be scheduled along with multiple backup points.
Also new in the VAMI interface is the ability to monitor disks with this release. This includes disk partitions, space available, and the utilization of the disks. The Services portion of monitoring the VCSA appliance has been “rightly” taken out of the vSphere client and moved into the VAMI. After all, if there is an issue with one or many of the services with vCenter Server, most likely you will not be able to get into the vSphere client. So, this is a wise move of functionality into the VAMI for services. You can now forward to three different syslog collectors instead of the single forwarder that was allowed in vSphere 6.5.
The new vCenter Server 6.7 VAMI interface includes disk monitoring
vCenter Server 6.7 New CLI Tools
This release of vCenter Server includes some really nice additions and enhancements to the CLI interface. There are now new templates contained on the vCenter Server ISO that allows batch operations utilizing the JSON templates in bulk and in the correct sequences. Also, the return of a tool that existed in previous vSphere releases but not found in vSphere 6.5 is the CMSSO-Util command line utility that allows repointing vCenter Server within a site or across sites. Also, you can repoint a vCenter Server across a vSphere SSO domain using the utility, exclusive to vCenter Server 6.7.
vSphere 6.7 ESXi Server Enhancements
What about the vSphere ESXi hypervisor? There are many enhancements and new features with ESXi 6.7 that will make VMware administrators excited. Many of those features and enhancements are storage related and include the following:
- New Quick Boot feature that allows simply restarting the hypervisor services rather than an entire physical server. This drastically reduces maintenance windows related to upgrades and patching
- Support for 4K Native Drives – Finally with the vSphere 6.7 release, VMware now officially supports 4K Native drives. This also includes VMware vSAN support for 4K Native drives
- New Offloading capabilities with SANs and VAAI that allow offloading certain operations off to capable SAN hardware
- VVOLs now support Windows Failover Cluster and meet the iSCSI-3 reservation requirement that is needed for Windows Failover Clustering to utilize the virtual volumes for shared storage. VMware vSAN also provides the ISCSI-3 reservations with vSphere 6.7 and also support Windows Failover Clustering Services
- Persistent Memory support – Using supported servers, customers can take advantage of ultra high-speed storage with cheaper DRAM prices
- New Security certifications – This release of vSphere 6.7 has passed the FIPS 140-2 validation program and is currently the only HCI vendor officially certified with this rating
VMware has certainly upped the ante with the competition with this release of vSphere 6.7. VMware has been on a bullish trend in the industry with a lot of momentum and success behind them and this year looks to be equally successful with the release of vSphere 6.7. The new vCenter Server features as well as ESXi hypervisor level enhancements and features make for a powerful, robust platform that allows enterprises the tooling and flexibility to run workloads where they want, how they want, and without many notable limitations. The new vSphere 6.7 release is now GA for download for existing VMware customers.