vSphere 6 Configuration Maximums – Super Scale

monster-vmRemember when we thought that 32 vCPUs and 1TB of memory was a “Moster VM”?  Well…it still is.  However, with applications demanding more resources (think big data or intensive transactional apps), VMs will continue to consume larger chunks of the underlying hardware. With VMware aiming to run any application on their platform, they have continued to build super scalability into the product. vSphere 6 blows past the days of the fierce Monster VM and doubles, triples, even quadruples the limits of the previous 5.5 version (see VMware’s chart below). You can now provision VMs with 128 vCPUs and 4 TB of memory!  I’m not sure what the host would look like, but the bottom line is vSphere is built to handle it.

hw-max-60

These are some incredible leaps beyond the previous version.  Delving back into the archives, it’s fun to see how far VMware has come over the last ten years.  Below is a table showing their progression since the earlier days of GSX 2.0.

VMware Release

2.0 3.0 3.5 4.0 4.1 5.0 5.1 5.5 6.0
vCPU per VM 2 4 4 8 8 32 64 64 128
RAM per VM 3.5 GB 16 GB 64 GB 255 GB 255 GB 1 TB 1 TB 1 TB 4 TB
CPUs per Host 16 32 32 64 128 160 160 320 480
RAM per Host 64 GB 64 GB 256 GB 1 TB 1 TB 2 TB 2 TB 4 TB 12 TB
VMs per Host 128 320 320 512 512 512 2048
Hosts per Cluster 16 32 32 32 32 32 32 64
VMs per Cluster 1280 3000 3000 4000 4000 8000

For simplicity, I’ve added an additional breakdown of all the known configuration maximums for vSphere 6. I’m still waiting to see storage, network and resource pool maximums and will update those as they become available.

vSphere 6 Configuration Maximums

  • vCenter (installable or appliance)
    • 1000 hosts
    • 10,000 virtual machines
  •  Cluster
    • 64 hosts
    • 8000 virtual machines
  •  Host
    • 480 physical CPUs
    • 12 TB RAM
    • 2048 virtual machines (What’s New document states 1000 VMs)
  • Virtual Machines
    • 128 vCPUs
    • 4 TB RAM
    • 32 serial ports
  • vSphere Fault Tolerance
    • 4 vCPUs per virtual machine
    • 64 GB RAM per virtual machine
    • 4 FT protected VMs per host
    • 8 protected vCPUs per host
  • vSphere High Availability
    • 64 hosts
    • 6000 virtual machines

Of especially important significance is the increase of vSphere FT jumping from its hard limitation of 1 vCPU to 4 vCPU.  Finally, the more critical applications that often demand the higher resource capacity and have zero tolerance for downtime, can now be fully protected.

vSphere 6 brings additional scalability enhancements such as vMotion between data centers and hot add memory  support for NUMA nodes.  More to come on these!

For more information, read VMware’s What’s New in the vSphere 6.0 Platform or find additional links on my vSphere 6.0 Announced! page.

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vSphere 6.0 Announced!

The long awaited major upgrade of vSphere has been unveiled! Today, VMware’s Pat Gelsinger and Ben Fathi made the official announcement of the vSphere 6.0 release with some amazing innovations. They claim this release offers 650+ new features and enhancements!  The following list highlights just a few of the more noteworthy features:

  • Install and upgrade capability enhancements
  • New hardware, architectures, and guest OS expanded support
  • Scalability increases
  • Storage IO Control additions
  • Storage and availability integration increases
  • NFSv4.1 with Kerberos
  • vMotion enhancements
  • vSphere Fault Tolerance for multi-processor VMs (SMP-FT)
  • vCloud Air integration
  • vSphere replication improvements in scalability and performance
  • App HA expanded support
  • Network IO Control expanded support
  • Web Client enhancements
  • Multi-site content library
  • vSphere host client
  • VMware certificate life cycle management

Along with this product launch, VMware also made announcements of upgrades and advances to the following products:

I will be posting articles over the next few weeks as I delve further into these products and upgrades.  Feel free to check back as I share more content on these exciting releases.  In the meantime, browse the technical docs that VMware has already published:

Or give the products a spin on the free hosted evaluations (Hands On Labs):

VMware will continue to promote these announcements over the next month on their One Cloud, Any Application announcement page as well as on Twitter (along with the rest of the community) with the #vmw28days hashtag.  Be sure to follow!

The New vSphere 6.0 Web Client

While VMware has been busy working on major feature upgrades to the core vSphere product for the 6.0 release, one of the most noticeable and welcomed upgrades might be the enhancements to the Web Client. We are all aware of the difficulties of the previous versions: very slow interface, items in unfamiliar places and missing functionality and plugins. Those who have been in the trenches with VMware over the past many years have grown very accustomed to the comfortable and familiar feel of the vSphere C# Client.  In fact, even with some of the newer features missing from the traditional client, we too often have gravitated back to it because that’s what we know and are used to with its quicker responsiveness.

VMware is trying hard to change that!

They’ve listened to the community and have produced a web client that just might convert the most resistant of users. This client has made vast leaps beyond its predecessors primarily in performance and user experience.

Performance

VMware sifted through every part of the Web Client, determined to make improvements to every part of the user interface and all the way through the software stack. They removed unnecessary code and streamlined the functionality to make this vastly quicker than its predecessors. VMware claims that log in times within the new web client are now up to 13x faster than before, going from an average of 25-30 seconds with the old client to a staggering 5 seconds with the new one. Additionally, each screen and menu click was examined and almost all items were streamlined to run faster. The chart below shows the performance gains, sometimes showing a 4x increase in speed when navigating the user interface. Disclaimer: This chart was part of VMware’s informational overview of the beta version of this product.

Speed-difference-5x-60

I ran my own tests which confirmed the increased speed that VMware has claimed. All navigational clicks are quicker, sometimes only by ½ to 1 second, but that can make a huge difference when working regularly with the Client. The biggest performance leap I noticed goes back to the login sequence. In the 6.0 version, the login prompt displays almost instantly, whereas in the older 5.x Client, there was usually an eight or nine second delay!

One of the challenges VMware had in re-engineering the Web Client were the differences among the various web browsers and how they handle code. One of their major findings was that Firefox was much slower than Internet Explorer or Chrome when using the Web Client. In some cases, Firefox took almost twice as long to load certain elements. VMware’s recommendation is to use IE or Chrome to get immediate performance enhancements even with the older 5.x version of the Web Client.

Improved User Experience

VMware really set out to bring some of the familiarity of the C# Client to the Web Client by putting elements back in their place. For example, the Recent Tasks pane was returned to the bottom of the screen where it has traditionally lived in the C# Client. This not only aides easier transition to this Client, but also provides more space to display more data. When previously placed on the side, the amount of space was too constrained for key information.

Right-click drop-down menus have been flattened, which allows for quicker interaction and easier flow. Instead of drilling into sub-menus such as the “All vCenter Action Items” sub-menu in the previous Web Client, we now get all of our major menu action items from each primary drop-down menu.

The illustration below shows the difference between the menus in the 5.5 Client and 6.0 Client.

Web5x-dropdown-menu
5.5 Web Client
6.0 Web Client
6.0 Web Client
Home button and menu on Web Client 6.0
Home button and menu on Web Client 6.0

Another enhanced feature is the Home button. Just hovering over the Home button near the top of the UI, brings up the root menu for all major inventory components of the infrastructure. Now, one click is all that’s required to navigate to each of the most used components and options. This might seem like a minor improvement over the Home and vCenter buttons with the 5.x Web Client, however the simplicity of having all functionality in one menu and with one click just seems more streamlined.

Finally, each of the element panes of the user interface can be moved around. If you prefer to have the Recent Tasks on the side, move it back. If you wish to have the Alerts pane on the bottom of the interface to mimic the C# Client, move it there. The layout is a property of the user profile, so multiple users can have their own customized layout upon logging in. This feature can also be completely disabled by the administrator to further control its use. Working with this feature, I personally had some struggles moving the panes and formatting everything to my liking. The functionality does appear to be a bit on the clunky side, and I did at one point get the UI a bit jumbled, but thankfully there is a “Reset to Default” option under the Help menu to restore the panes back to their original spots.  Harmony restored.

Added functionality

This release of the Web Client added little to the Plugin functionality that wasn’t already there. SRM functionality was missing until the latest release of SRM 5.8, but as of today, it works with the current 5.5 and later versions of Web Client. VMware Update Manager, however, is still only available through the C# Client or as a stand-alone install on a Windows Server. VMware has stated they are working on its compatibility for future releases. I expect they will iron out any remaining holes in functionality soon as the C# Client will be shipped one last time, presumably with this 6.0 release. I imagine once VUM is ready for the Web Client, the old client will be phased out completely, going the way of the service console heavy ESX. But for now, this still leaves us with two clients to use if we wish to leverage VUM or other third party plugins that do not have integration developed yet for the Web Client.

VMware has made it clear they are limiting the functionality of new features to the Web Client.  We have already seen this with the previous versions of the C# Client that did not support new products and features such as VSAN, so this is nothing new. However, there is one important exception to this, which has to do with hardware versions 9 through 11 (vSphere 5.1, 5.5 and 6.0, respectively).  Virtual hardware settings from all hardware versions can still be viewed with the 6.0 C# Client.  In addition, the C# Client can be used to modify any hardware feature that was available in version 8 or below, such as adding or removing vCPU/RAM, on any VM, even those with hardware versions 9+. The newer features that were added with versions 9 through 11, such as vSphere Flash Read Cache, can only be modified with the Web Client.

So there it is – a quick overview of the new and relatively zippy Web Client 6.0. As stated, this might be one of the most welcome upgrades offered in vSphere 6.0. The quality of the user experience can mean the life or death of any product and VMware certainly delivered a significantly improved product. Putting in some mileage in my own lab environment, I was excited to witness and experience these enhancements firsthand.  Kudos to VMware for listening to their customers and making these major improvements while setting the stage for greater feature enhancements and functionality down the road.

For additional articles on new vSphere 6 features and product launch info, be sure to link to my vSphere 6.0 Announced! post.