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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

VMware Releases vSphere and vCenter 6.7

I was fortunate to be part of a blogger vExpert early access program and got to see the new product version before the launch. Having taken part in the vSphere beta for the past few years, I have been very much looking forward to this release. I was under embargo but can now share some of these things with you as that has been lifted as of today.


Installation

The Clarity UI is used for the installation. This is a nice new look for the installation and upgrade processes. One of the main benefits now is a browser and platform agnostic approach to the install.



Here are the supported upgrade paths, note that the path from 6.5U2 to 6.7 support is not live yet, but will be in the future. If you are currently on vSphere 5.5 you will need to upgrade to 6.0 to be able to get to 6.7. Another side note vSphere 5.5 support ends on September 19th so if you haven't already considered this now is the time! **NOTE** This is the last release for Windows based vCenter




vCenter improvements

vCSA migration now supports your current custom ports for services during the migration process if you have changed any of the default ports on your install these settings will be preserved on the new vCSA.

New and improved vCenter Appliance Management Interface (VAMI)





There is a new Monitoring screen, this screen will give much more detail
with everything under one tab. Their are CPU and Memory graphs for viewing real time and historic data. A welcome addition is the visibility to the individual disks of the vCSA to show you if there is a space issue and it will kick off an alarm inside of the vCenter web client to let you know there is a problem, this screen received some much needed improvements.



You can also see details on vCenter services and which ones are running and get alert flags if there is a problem. The VAMI interface supports forwarding logs to up to 3 external syslog servers.



Backup/Restore options have improved. You can now do a scheduled backup of the vCSA from the VAMI, this is a key piece that was missing in the last version as backups had to be manually created. You also have retention options for those backups.



Backup activity is logged and the vCSA state is verified before the backup starts. The backup will not run if there are issues, they will resume upon issue resolution. The idea here is that you will always have a reliable backup to restore from, it ensures the integrity of the appliance before backing up. Restore method is from the vCSA ISO, and then browse for backup files from your repository.



For patching you can now choose which version to upgrade to instead of just the latest version. You can also now stage updates and remediate later. It no longer has to be done right away. Update methods are either from CD-ROM, default URL or custom URL



vCSA CLI Tools

You can now reconfigure from embedded to external PSC deployment. You can now also repoint vCenter server to a PSC inter-site and across sites.



vSphere client

The big news here is that the client is now HTML5 based, This was available with 6.5 but it is now much more robust and almost on parity with the web client. The big items like vSAN and vROPS integration, vSphere Update Manager are all now here. The UI design teams have worked hard to make sure that the workflows require fewer clicks to accomplish tasks. The flex web client is still around, but the HTML5 client will be the platform of choice and all new features will be added to the HTML5 client only going forward. This should sound familiar as this was the same way the transition from the vSphere thick Client in 5.5 to the Flex Web Client in 6.0 was handled.


There are some new features at the VM level as well. There is a new Virtual Hardware version (14). I am excited to see some of the new capabilities in this version. One of the features stands out however and that is VM level EVC mode enablement. This allows you to improve VM mobility beyond your local cluster including the cloud.







Update Manager
vSphere 6.7 is now the first official release to include vSphere Update Manager (VUM) in the HTML5 interface. This will be interesting to see. Much like the rest of the UI workflows have been optimized to require fewer clicks for increased efficiency. He is a list of what is included in this initial VUM HTML5 release:


Efforts have also been made to reduce downtime with updates within VUM, there are two methods. One is called Single Reboot Upgrade and the other is called Quick Boot. They each have different features and requirements that are broken out below.


Single Reboot Upgrade

Prior to vSphere 6.7 upgrades required 2 reboots, now when upgrading from 6.5 to 6.7 one reboot is required, the first reboot is eliminated for faster host uptime, and there is nothing to configure, you can take advantage of this automatically, note upgrades from 6.0 still require 2 reboots.




Quick Boot

Another outstanding feature meant to reduce downtime in enterprise data centers is the new Quick Boot. This allows you to reboot the hypervisor without rebooting the physical hardware. VMware is working with hardware partners to get this certified for other manufacturers. Currently it is supported with only a small amount of Dell and HP hardware and requires vSphere 6.7. So this will be a new feature going forward on supported hardware.





Host Profiles

Host profiles are now also included in the HTML5 Client. This is the initial release and provides basic functionality. Currently supported functions are creating host profiles from a host, edit host customizations, check compliance, and Remediate. I am sure this will continue to get more functionality added to it in the future.



vSphere Restful API's

There are many new API's added in this release. Here is a list:


Security

There have been many security enhancements to vSphere 6.7. vSphere 6.7 is using TLS 1.2 by default. There is the ability to use Virtual TPM 2.0 with support for VM encryption. You can also see there are options for Virtualization Based Security. I will not go into the weeds on this topic here.




VM Encryption can now be enabled with a single click. This can be done on a granular per VMDK basis if you have sensitive data only on one virtual disk. This is handy if you have PCI or HIPA requirements in your organization.




Universal Application Platform



There are some significant features in here related to NVIDIA GRID vGPU's including vMotion using the suspend and resume option. This will be huge for those using these cards for 3D graphics.



Persistent Memory (PE)

This will significantly impact VM performance as these devices become available running almost at RAM speed to increase workload performance in VM. These devices are cheaper than system RAM but are faster than SSD.





This is just a small sample of all the new features and enhancements as I haven't the time to cover them all.

Congrats to the VMware UI design teams and the vCenter/vSphere teams for all of their hard work on the UI and the back end and feature improvements. This looks to be a great release with many pain points addressed. I can't wait to get my hands on the bits and play with the GA release in the lab. That is all for now. I hope you enjoyed this preview of vSphere and vCenter 6.7. Thanks for reading! Cheers!

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