vSphere 7: My thoughts & what’s new

It is fair to say everyone has been waiting for some good news recently, well in the world of tech that good news is the release of vSphere 7.0 and it is jam packed with new features and functionality.

This is the first major release for quite some time, if my memory serves me correctly it was March 2016 when vSphere 6 launched. This release is very much focussed around making containers a first-class citizen and running these alongside traditional virtual machines with unified management. At the moment vSphere with Kubernetes is only supported with VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF). Kubernetes is certainly a hot topic for this year and something I needed to get a better understanding of, so seeing it integrated into vSphere with certainly help me on this journey.

There are far too many features to into in this short post but here are my top 3.

vSphere Lifecycle Management (vLCM)

I’ll be honest, this is something I’ve been waiting a while and it’s great to see it finally arrive. Any vSphere admin will know of the pain in keeping hosts updated when it comes to firmware and software versions. VUM has done a great job until now in easing some of that pain but it has some limitations and vLCM is here to save the day.

In summary you now have the concept of a desired state, which consists of am ESXi version, vendor add-ons, and firmware. This can all be applied at once using an automated workflow through a cluster. The real benefit comes with compliance checking. You can quickly see the state of all your ESXi hosts in the cluster and make sure they all have the same ESXi build, driver software and firmware versions. I’m really excited about this and when I get my hands on some hardware, I plan to create a blog post just on this topic. With the initial release the only supported vendors are Dell and HPE but I’m sure others will come in time.

vMotion Enhancements

Anyone who saw a vMotion in the first days of ESXi would have had the wow factor, and to be honest it still amazes me today that you can seamlessly move a VM from once server to another, or even the cloud. Now over time workloads have grown and some customers have challenges using vMotion with these large (or monster) VMs due to the stun times involved. With 6.7 it’s possible to have a VM with many TB of RAM and hundreds of vCPUs.

From what I can tell, the biggest change to the process in vSphere 7 comes from page tracing. Now only a single vCPU is used for page tracing and makes the process more efficient. Niels Hagoort does a great job of explaining this and I’ll include the link below.

Improved DRS

DRS is another hidden gem that does not get the credit it deserves. Now you need to have Enterprise Plus licensing to use it but with vSphere 7 it gets a tune up. The DRS score is now calculated every minute compared to 5 minutes on previous versions. Not only that, but the score is also calculated on each VM and the host with the highest score is where the VM is migrated.

As you can see above the VM DRS scores are split into five bandings and take into consideration metrics such as CPU RDT time, cache behaviour, and memory swap. The score also considers how much headroom a host has and how this compares to others in the cluster. All this intelligence is used to provide a more granular optimisations of resources in vSphere 7 and keep the workloads balanced.
For more details on the other features and enhancements with vSphere 7, and a more detailed explanation of DRS and vMotion enhancements I’ve included the links below.

Useful Links