VMware vSphere 5 reaches General Availability

This week, VMware has announced that vSphere 5, the company's long anticipated update to their (and highly controversial) flagship virtualization platform, is now available to the masses. 

The major update brings new features such as support for Windows Aero and USB 3.0 devices, support for Apple products, Storage DRS, Profile-Driven Storage, Storage APIs, scalability improvements and more. In vSphere 5, VMs are now able to have up to 32 virtual CPUs and 1TB of RAM, and migration of VM's via vMotion is now available over high-latency networks. In addition to this, the company has added "ESXi Firewall," a stateless firewall engine built right into ESXi.

With VMware announcing vSphere 5, the company have also updated their suite of products, releasing a new family of products called the "cloud infrastructure suite."

We wrote last month that "the cloud infrastructure suite is made up of vShieldvCenter operationsvCenter Site Recovery Manager , and vCloud® Director 1.5. The products enable businesses to build faster, automated and secure private cloud infrastructure.

As an example of the power the suite provides, vCloud Director makes it easy for organizations to provide VM's and services to end users through a web browser. In essence, By the Bell explains "vCloud Director provides the self-service portal that accepts user requests and translates them into tasks in the vSphere environment."

There is still major controversy surrounding the release, with the company now charging for vRAM usage. In brief, VMware now require a license that governs the amount of RAM a VM uses, with Enterprise+ including 96 GB of virtual RAM, while Enterprise will include 64 GB. vSphere Hypervisor licenses offer 32 GB increments.

More information on these changes are available here, but many believe that the changes may force enterprises to remain on vSphere 4, or look towards Microsoft's Hyper-V product lineup. Previous estimates pinned those fancy new VM's with 1TB of RAM at $76,890 in licensing fees, let alone buying hardware such as a Dell R910 with 1 TB of RAM which will cost around $85,000.

vSphere 5 is available for download or purchase now, over on their website.

Infrastructure Services — Compute, Storage, and Network

  • vSphere ESXi™ convergence—vSphere 5 is converging on the ESXi hypervisor architecture. ESXi—the gold standard in hypervisors— enables vSphere users to leverage a thinner architecture, a more secure footprint, and a streamlined patching and setup model. For more information visit the ESXi and ESX info center at http://www. vmware.com/products/vsphere/esxi-and-esx/overview.html.
  • vSphere Auto Deploy—Auto Deploy is a new deployment and patching model for new vSphere hosts running the ESXi hypervisor. Deploy more vSphere hosts in minutes and update them more efficiently than ever before.
  • New virtual-machine format (Version 8)—The new virtual-machine format in vSphere 5 has several new features, including support for
    • 3D graphics for Windows Aero
    • USB 3.0 devices
  • Support for Apple products—vSphere 5 supports Apple Xserve servers running OS X Server 10.6 (Snow Leopard) as a guest operating system.


  • vSphere Storage DRS—Improve management and enable more-efficient use of storage resources through grouping, placement and balancing.
  • Profile-Driven Storage—Identify the appropriate storage to use for a given virtual machine depending on service level. The result is a streamlined approach to selecting the correct storage and ensuring its delivery.
  • vSphere File System—Leverage enhanced scalability and performance through a non-disruptive upgrade to the platform’s latest clustered file system version.
  • vSphere Storage I/O Control—Improve management and enforcement of service-level agreements (SLAs) through extension of limits and shares in Network File System (NFS) datastores.
  • vSphere Storage API Program—Take advantage of extensions to the Array Integration API that support thin provisioning. Leverage the new Storage Awareness and Discovery API to interface with arrays when using the new vSphere Storage DRS and Profile-Driven Storage features.


  • vSphere Network I/O Control—New per–virtual-machine controls allow more-granular SLA enforcement.
  • vSphere Distributed Switch—Improves visibility of virtual-machine traffic through NetFlow and enhances monitoring and troubleshooting through Switched Port Analyzer (SPAN) and Link Layer Discovery Protocol (LLDP) support.

Application Services — Availability, Security, and Scalability


  • vSphere High Availability—New architecture enables superior guarantees, simplified setup and configuration, and expanded scalability.
  • vSphere vMotion—Migration of virtual machines over higher-latency network links is now supported.


  • ESXi Firewall—New service-oriented and stateless firewall engine restricts access to specific services by IP address or subnet. This is particularly useful for third-party components that require network access.


  • Larger virtual machines—Virtual machines can now grow four times larger than in any previous release to support even the largest applications. Virtual machines can now have up to 32 virtual CPUs and 1TB of RAM.

Management Services

Core Management

  • vSphere Web Client—Access vSphere from any Web browser anywhere in the world.
  • VMware vCenter Server Appliance—Run vCenter Server as a Linux-based virtual appliance.
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