We’re just one week away from VMware’s big announcement of vSphere, its next generation data center virtualization product. There is much excitement and anticipation of this new release as it is has been almost 3 years since VMware Infrastructure 3 was released. There are many new features in this new release that are sure to further distance VMware from its competitors.

Here’s a summary of some of the new features that we can look forward to in this new version:

  • Fault Tolerance (FT) - This is the next step up from HA which provided high ability but not 100% availability. Previously users who wanted 100% availability were forced to use a non-VMware native solution like Microsoft Clustering Server.
  • Host Profiles - Host profiles will make ESX and ESXi host configuration much quicker and easier. Host profiles will allow you to create centralized configuration policies that can be applied to your hosts to simply configuration management.
  • Distributed vSwitches - This new type of vSwitch allows for centralized management and configuration of you vSwitches. Previously vSwitches had to be managed individually for each host which made configuration and administration time-consuming and more difficult. Distributed vSwitches allow you to create vSwitches for all your hosts at once rather then one by one and also allow you to maintain consistent configurations across each host.
  • Third-party vSwitch support - The Cisco Nexus 1000v vSwitch will be the first third-party vSwitch that will provide better network integration and management between the virtual and physical network infrastructure.
  • Improved Storage VMotion - No need to use an external plug-in or the Remote CLI anymore as Storage VMotion will be integrated into vCenter Server, also support for NFS storage will be added.
  • VMDirectPath - This new feature enhances CPU efficiency in handling workloads that require constant and frequent access to I/O devices by allowing virtual machines to directly access the underlying hardware devices.
  • VMSafe - A set of API’s that will allow security vendors to better integrate with vSphere to provide increased security for your virtual environment.
  • HA enhancements - New HA features such as improved admission control and host monitoring that suspends failover actions during network maintenance.
  • 64-bit Service Console/VMkernel - The next release of ESX will have a 64-bit Service Console and VMkernel and subsequently will only support server hardware with 64-bit CPUs.
  • Increased VM Memory/CPU support - vSMP support increased for 4 vCPU’s to 8 vCPU’s and the amount of memory that can be assigned to a guest OS increased from 64 GB to 256 GB.
  • Thin-provisioned Virtual Disks - Previously thin-provisioned disks could only be created manually using the command-line interface. You will now be able to create them when creating a guest OS using the vSphere Client.
  • VM hot-plug hardware - You can now add vCPU’s and memory to a VM while it is running if the guest operating system supports it, previously the VM had to be powered off to do this.

There is a lot more to vSphere than what is listed here including many smaller improvements and this promises to be an exciting new release. I look forward to next’s week announcement and the release of vSphere as VMware takes a big step towards their Virtual Datacenter Operating System (VDC-OS) concept.