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VMware vSphere5.5
VMware vSphere 5.5

Designed for organisations that want to virtualise the entire data centres and deliver IT as a service, VMware® vSphere® includes features for transforming data centres into dramatically simplified cloud computing environments that can deliver the next generation of flexible, reliable IT services.

Single Sign-On

VMware have completely re-written the SSO component within vSphere 5.5.

Some notable changes include:  

  • Support for One-Way and Two-Way AD trusts
  • Multi and single forest
  • Can do local authentication if needed
  • No more manual database configuration
  • New High Availability mode
  • Simpler Installation
Web Interface

The biggest change with the web interface is performance. It is much more responsive and immediately noticeable. There are also a few minor changes to the interface which include additional search filters and the ability to easily jump to your recently viewed inventory items.

Networking

There are a few welcome additions and enhancements on the networking functionality, however these changes require the use of the vSphere Distributed Switch (VDS).

Now you can have multiple Link Aggregation Control Protocol (LACP) Link Aggregation Groups (LAGs) and over 20 choices of load balancing algorithms giving you more flexibility, especially if you can't do LACP LAGs between your different switches.

There are also some marking and filtering changes. You can now apply Access Control Lists (ACLs) to traffic at a port-group or vNIC level to give you stateless traffic filtering. If you need basic IP-based ACLs you can do it without anything extra, but again, stateless. In the same place you can now mark packets with Service Console (COS) and Differentiated Services Code Point (DSCP) values.

Storage

VSAN

There are some great storage additions. The first is VSAN, which allows you to “pool” the local storage in your servers and create an object-based datastore across them.

Both Solid State Drives (SSDs) and regular Hard Drives (HDs) in each server are required. The SSD is there to provide write buffering for better performance. If you want to try out VSAN, you can sign up for the public beta.

vFlash

The second storage-based addition is Virtual Flash (vFlash) which no longer requires you to go third-party. It allows you to use SSDs or flash cards as read-cache in your servers and it’s all integrated into vSphere, so no agents are needed.

The third storage-based addition is a set of enhancements for vSphere Host-Based Replication (HBR), including: 

  • Support for vSAN data stores
  • Better integration with the web interface
  • Can do replication between shared and non-shared storage
  • Provides multiple points in time (snapshots) for protection against logical corruption
  • Support for Storage Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS) balancing across data stores.

Lastly, you can finally have VMDKs larger than 2TB, but you need vSphere 5.5 and VMFS 5.

Other Products & Features

There are several other products and features improved with the 5.5 release. vCloud Director has a number of changes focused around the content catalogue, provisioning, better lifecycle management, and now supports Macs for VM consoles.

Site Recovery Manager

Site Recovery Manager (SRM) has also been revised with new features, including:

  • Support for VSAN datastores with HBR
  • Support for SDRS and Storage vMotion
  • Support for the new HBR snapshot/points-in-time

vSphere App HA

Finally, a new application called vSphere App HA integrates with vFabric Hyperic to provide application level monitoring. If a host crashes or a VM stops responding, we know that vSphere HA will restart it but what if the app inside that VM dies? App HA monitors the application using Hyperic and restarts it if needed.