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VMware Releases Long-Awaited vSphere 6 Upgrade

It's been three years since VMware has upgraded its flagship hypervisor platform, but the company yesterday took the wraps off vSphere 6, which the company said offers at least double the performance over its predecessor vSphere 5.5. VMware describes its latest release as the "foundation for the hybrid cloud," thanks to the release of its OpenStack distribution and upgrades to components of the suite that integrate virtualized software-defined storage and networking.

The new wares, set for release by the end of March, will offer a key option for enterprise IT decision makers to consider as they choose their next-generation virtual datacenter and hybrid cloud platforms. With the new wave of releases, VMware is advancing and integrating its new NSX software-defined networking technology. VMware, to some extent, is also challenging the business model of its corporate parent EMC by offering new storage virtualization capabilities with its new Virtual SAN 6 and vSphere Virtual Volumes, which will enable virtualization of third-party storage arrays.

The move comes as VMware seeks to maintain its dominant hold on large datacenter installations looking to move to hybrid and public clouds as giants such as Microsoft, Google, IBM and Amazon Web Services are looking to position their cloud platforms as worthy contenders. In what appeared to be a strategically timed move, Microsoft published its Cloud Platform roadmap, as reported, just hours before the VMware launch event.

With this release, it now remains to be seen whether VMware can successfully leverage the virtualized server stronghold it has with its network and storage virtualization extensions to its public cloud, vCloud Air, as Microsoft tries to lure those customers away with its Cloud OS model consisting of Windows Server, Hyper-V and Microsoft Azure. Despite Microsoft's gains, VMware is still the provider to beat, especially when it comes to large enterprise installations.

"VMware's strength remains their virtualization installed base, and what they're doing through NSX is building that out into cloud environments," said Andrew Smith, an analyst at Technology Business Research. "VMware realizes that they need to gain ground, especially in private cloud deployments, so they're going to use NSX to tie into security along with vSphere, to really try and take the hybrid cloud space by storm. And I think with updates to vSphere and the integration with OpenStack it's all pieces of the puzzle coming together to make that a reality to customers."

OpenStack Cloud Support
The VMware Integrated OpenStack (VIO) distribution, the company's first OpenStack distro, includes an API access that provides access to OpenStack-enabled public and private cloud and VMware vSphere infrastructure. "VIO is free to vSphere Enterprise Plus customers and comes as a single OVA file that can be installed in fewer than 15 minutes from the optional vSphere Web client. VIO support, which includes support for both OpenStack and the underlying VMware infrastructure and is charged on a per-CPU basis,  said Tom Fenton, a senior validation engineer and lab analyst with IT analyst firm Taneja Group, in a commentary published on our sister site Virtualizationreview.com.

"VMware brings a lot to the OpenStack table with VIO," according to Fenton. "Many common OpenStack tasks are automated and can be performed from vCenter. vRealize Operations is able to monitor OpenStack, and LogInsight can parse OpenStack logs to separate the considerable amount of log noise from actionable items." The new NSX software-defined networking infrastructure will enable ties to OpenStack-compatible clouds, as well as VMware's own vCloud Air public cloud.

"The company now has offerings that address all layers of the Kusnetkzy Group virtualization model, including access, application, processing, storage and network virtualization, as well as both security and management for virtualized environments, sometimes called software-defined environments," wrote noted analyst Dan Kusnetsky, in his Dan's Take blog post.

Hypervisor Improvements with vSphere 6
Martin Yip, a VMware senior product manager, said in a company blog post announcing vSphere 6 that it has 650-plus new features, increased scale, performance, availability, storage efficiencies for virtual machines (VMs) and datacenter simplified management. "vSphere 6 is purpose-built for both scale-up and scale-out applications including newer cloud, mobile, social and big data applications," Yip noted.

Compared with the existing vSphere 5.5, vSphere 6 supports 64 hosts per cluster which is double the VMs per cluster, 480 CPUs versus 320, triple the RAM with 12TB per host and quadruple the VMs per host with 2,048. It also supports double the number of virtual CPUs per VM at 128 and quadruple the amount of virtual RAM per VM totaling 4TB, according to Yip.

The starting price for vSphere 6 is $995 per CPU. vSphere with Operations Management 6 starts at $1,745 per CPU and vCloud Suite 6 starts at $4,995 per CPU.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 02/03/2015 at 12:19 PM


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