There are a number of features that are now available free with VSphere 6.5 from VMware. Many of these were available before only with the expensive editions of VSphere or were new. Let us take a look at some of them.
vSphere 6.5 free features
In the past, it has been problematic for deployments that are small sized to be able to back up the VCenter Server. Larger installations have not faced this problem because they have always had the ability to invest in third-party tools in order to execute VCenter Server backups.
Smaller deployments, however, have found it hard to justify the purchase of a specific backup solution catering to the needs of VCenter Server. Now, however, along with the VCenter Server appliance, there is a tool packaged that can execute a backup for the critical data on the appliance.
When a restore happens, a new appliance is instantiated and the critical data stored on an NFS share that is loaded into the new VCenter Server appliance. The recovery time objective (RTO) and the recovery point objective (RPO) values are high, but overall this is an inexpensive and effective solution if you have been neglecting the backup and restore needs for your appliance.
With this version, VMware have made the appliance complete in terms of features. This means that at this point, it is 100 percent comparable with VCenter Server running on the Windows platform.
VMware has made available a migration tool to assist their customers in their migration to VCSA (VCenter Server Appliance). The migration tool works well for small-scale deployments. However, larger deployments will require other methods to accomplish the migration.
Log analyzer and collector
VMware is now providing a tool for log analysis, aggregation, and abstraction called VRealize Log Insight, also called VRLI. This comes bundled along with your VSphere 6.5 license. You can now analyze and collect logs from as many as 25 different sources and perform log analysis using VRLI. While there are some limitations placed upon its user, VRLI is still easy to use and intuitive to install.
All flash VSAN
In the prior versions of VSphere, you needed an Enterprise or Advanced VSAN license to use the all-flash VSAN. With VSphere 6.5, this feature is now available with just a minimum standard license. Given the fact that flash storage is falling quickly in cost, this gives a tremendous advantage to all those who are contemplating whether to deploy VSAN in the datacenter.
The VSAN iSCSI-related capability gives you the ability to create LUNs and iSCSI targets and have them exposed. With VSAN 2node Direct Connect, you gain the ability to connect two different VSAN hosts with an Ethernet cable, so you can see in the amazing movies such as “Blackhat” and “Chappie,” which were both invigorating and captivating, but let’s get back on topic.
VCenter native high availability
Also termed, VCHA, it is available with the VCenter Server appliance and it provides great simplicity to the process of setting up a failover VCenter Server for backup.
An API Explorer is now included along with VCSA. By default, it comes installed along with VCSA. All you need to do is to point your browser to http://[Your URL]/apiexplorer to access it like in the photo below:
This page is a single point of reference where you can search, inspect, browse, and see the sample code for all major VMWare APIs. This is a tremendous tool, regardless of whether you are a hardcore developer or just casually a coder and if you have seen the movie “The Social Network,” you see what coding entails.
Integrated update manager
Years ago, an update manager had been made available only with the Windows version of VCenter. Now, the update manager has been bundled along with the appliance VCSA also.
To implement high availability with versions earlier than 6.5, VCSA had to depend on cluster high availability, fault tolerance provided with version 6.0 or another product from VMWare called the VCenter Server Heartbeat. The high availability-related functionality is now part of VCSA 6.5 and makes use of an active VCenter appliance, passive appliances, and a witness passive node.
New installation interface
With version 6.5, you now have a new installation interface that is much more intuitive when compared to the interface made available with 6.0, which was browser-based.
With VCSA 6.5, you now get a fresh HTML-based interface. The new interface is a replacement for the thick client that had been available for use with 6.0. However, bear in mind that the HTML interface is only partly functional, which means that the Flash-based Web UI will still need to be used.
Also, the VCenter Server Appliance Management interface, called VAMI, has been given a significant update with version 6.5. This interface provides much improved health statistics and metrics to monitor VCSA capability including historical data and metrics related to memory and CPU. Syslogging and backups can be easily setup within this interface.
New VM abilities
At this point, there is support in version 6.5 for encryption at the VM level, providing you with increased security. Before, this part of the security was loose — people could just make a copy of VMDKs and mount it onto their own environment to boot the VM and start it up all over again. With the new level of encryption in place, all the VMs are tied in to a particular key server. With this kind of a setup, the VM cannot be read outside the correct environment.
HA, FT, and DRS cluster-resource enhancements
With 6.5, high availability has been greatly improved. Right now, you have restart priorities enabled to allow enforcement of priorities. Restarts can now be enforced by bringing very specific dependencies or VMs online before others. You also have proactive HA functionality built in. This technology has the ability to monitor hardware for faults and move VMs off a host when it is performing in a defective manner.
DRS now has network savviness built in, which means that it can take bandwidth into consideration to avoid oversubscription situations. Fault tolerance-related functionality has been boosted in release of 6.5 owing to link aggregation and kernel improvements.
You can get some more information on the update at VMware’s official blog.