At the VMUG event I learned about a few new features that are available in ESX 3.5 & VC 2.5. Jeremy van Doorn told us about:
- Distributed Power Management (Still experimental)
- NPIV support (connect a HBA to a VM instead of an ESX host)
- VMware update manager (formerly Shavlik)
- Storage VMotion (VMotion the storage of a VM to a different location, only through command line)
- Paravirtualization possible on a per VM basis
- More RAM for a VM, up to 64GB and more RAM for the host, max 128GB
- SATA drives support (not known which drives are supported)
- Hardware page tabels for even less overhead when virtualizing memory
- 32 nodes instead of 16 in a DRS / HA cluster
- Up to 10 isolation addresses in HA
- A VM can now have a local swap file
- Cisco Discovery Protocol
- Wake On LAN for your nics
- And a very important VCB feature: restore files on VM
Apart from these items, I discovered some more nice little improvements in the interface. So the next post will be only screenshots and short comments on each new feature or button I discovered
Just some screenshots and comments about new ESX 3.5 & VC 2.5 features.
Logon with the VI Client
Starting the VI Client, I noticed a little change in the text and when you logon using the hostname instead of the FQDN, you’ll receive a certificate warning box
Getting Started Wizard
Next thing you’ll immediately notice is the “Getting Started Wizard”. On quite a number of levels, you can find these wizards like Hosts & Clusters view, Datacenter, Host, VM, Resource Pools and Clusters. The wizard helps you with the most common task to get you familiar with VC 2.5 as soon as possible. Did you notice the “Close tab” in the upper right corner? The wizards can be disabled for the advanced users.
In the menu-bar I noticed a plugins option. Clicking it and installing the”VMware Update Manager Extension” and “VMware Converter Enterprise”, gave me two new options in the top bar. The “Consolidate” button and the “Update Manager” button. I’ll explore boh buttons later on.
Hosts & Clusters
To wade through all the options I started at the “Hosts & Clusters” level and the DataCenter level (alsmost identical). The datacenter tab didn’t bring anything new and the virtual machines tab looks the same as in VC2.0. I did notice I can now also view the column DNS Name, not sure if this was in VC2.0 already. On the hosts tab and the task & events tab, I couldn’t find any new info or columns. Except for quite a number of warning messages that my storage for VMware Update Manager is low. It is pointing to c:\documents and Settings\….. have to get an extra disk for this :-). It a shame that you can’t select the warning or error message in the “Event details” screen. Would be much easier for copying and pasting when looking for support. The alarms tab, permissions tab and maps tab look like there hasn’t changed anything. But the “Update Manager” tab is completely new. On a seperate page I’ll write more about the update manager.
At the hosts level, there is ofcourse the “Getting Started” tab again and at the “Summary Tab” there now is an option to make an Annotation. I often use them for my VMs, but not yet for the hosts. We’ll see
The “Resource Allocation” tab showed different values then the one I was used to see. When looking at the cpu reseravtions and shares, I noticed that each VM (all single cpu) still had the value “Normal Shares” but the “Shares Value” now was set to 4000. I edited the cpu resources for a VM and noticed that the values related to the settings Low, Normal, High had changed. They now are: low = 2000, normal = 4000, high = 8000 shares. They doubled each value. Well no big deal I guess, because its all relative When using esxtop at the cos, I noticed that there was a change in how the shares are displayed. In ESX 3.0.2 one could see the number of shares in the “ASHRS” column like 1000, 2000, 2217, etc. But now in ESX 3.5 it shows only a value of -3 in my case. See the screenshots below:
For the memory resources there is a change as well. Low memory shares is a value of 327680, normal is 655360 and high is 1 million shares.
It is now easier to switch from cpu to memory or other standard graphs. In the upper right corner, there is a little pulldown menu for easy switching. It also includes a new graph “Management Agent” which shows the memory usage of the service console. Another new option is “System” which shows quite a number of cpu and memory countes for the host.
I discovered it gets even better. You can save your own views and have them listed in the dropdown menu !!! For example, for the realtime network counters, I would like to add “Network Packets Transmitted” and “Network Packets Received” and view this on a regular basis. You can now save your view by pressing “Save chart settings” and the name of this chart setting will be available in your dropdown list.
First thing to notice are the extra options “Time configuration” and “Virtual Machine Swapfile location”. When selecting a ESX 3.0.2 host, the “Virtual Machine Swapfile location” option is not displayed, but the “Time configuration” option is. Its just limited in options now.
In the hardware settings for processors, memory and storage I can’t spot any differences with previous versions. In the networking properties there is a little extra balloon showing behind each nic. If you click it, it displays the Cisco Discovery Protocol settings. I haven’t used CDP before so I google a little on it and found this link with some explanation about it: http://www.javvin.com/protocolCDP.html
I browsed through all the other network options, creating vSwitches adding nics etc, but can’t find any news there. I was just wondering, when creating a new vSwitch, is the option “Promiscuous Mode” always set to “Reject” ? Not sure if the default changed here.
Couldn’t find any new options in here, but I was very pleased to find that my SATA controller showed ass Storage device I have an ASUS P2M5-SAS mainbord which I choose because of the LSI Logic Controller that emulates SCSI for the SAS controller. Now I probably can connect my disks directly to it. Small problem with the LSI controller is that you have to create an array (raid1 or 5) to present the disks to ESX. My guess is that I don’t need to do this anymore with the SATA disks.
A new column here: “Wake on LAN supported”. This feature is needed for Distributed Power Management. DRS is now able to powerdown a host when it doesn’t have a workload, should the host be needed again, then a Wake On LAN signal is needed to power it on again. Jeremy van Doorn (VMware) explained that this feature still experimental because integration with monitoring tools isn’t finished yet. Should DRS decide that an ESX host can be powered down, a lot of alarms will be triggered on severall external tools because they don’t understand why the host went down. Another thing I thought of myself, the HP DL 585 server I’m working with at my customers site, don’t power down. If I enter a “shutdown -h now”, ESX goes down, but finaly holds with the message “You can power down your system now” (or similar :D). My guess is that WOL won’t be able to power on the server when its in this state.
I was pleased to find that suddenly my Intel NIC showed in the Network adapters list. This nic wasn’t supported or found when ESX 3.0.2 was running on it. I also noticed a change in vSwitches. I used to have a vswitch vsw-vm01 to which vmnic0 and vmnic1 were assigned. Now it only has vmnic0 assigned. The intel nic that was left in the system and is recognized now, became vmnic2 and my other nic which used to be vmnic1, has now become vmnic3. So be sure to backup your nic config / vSwitch config before upgrading. Although I guess only few people have non-working nics in their system before upgrading
At a first glance, nothing new here. But when selecting the license source, there is a different window for selecting the license source. There are 4 options now.
- “Use evaluation mode”. This provides unlimited host services during the evaluation period. It may not be selected once the evaluation has expired.
- “Use serial number”. License host edition and add-ons using a serial number.
- “Use License Server”. Acquire licenses for host edition and add-ons on demand from the following server. VirtualCenter may change this server while this host is under management.
- “Use Host License file”. License host edition and add-ons using a file installed on the host.
This option makes it much easier to configure NTP. When you click properties, you first have a window in which you can set the date and time manually, next you can enable or disable the NTP client. Through the “Options” button you can configure the general settings and NTP settings. The general settings let you set the startup behavior of the NTP daemon. You can also start, stop and restart the NTP daemon at this point. The NTP settings let you define the NTP servers you wish to use. Nice feature is that enabling or disabling the NTP client, also updates your security profile and opens or closes the NTP client port (123). Hmmm, this would be nice with iSCSI. I’ve seen a number of failed iSCSI installations because the admin forgot to open iSCSI port on the firewall.
DNS and Routing
No changes here I guess.
Virtual Machine Startup / Shutdown
Again no changes.
Virtual Machine Swapfile location
This is a completely new feature. You can choose if your VM stores its swapfile with the VMX file or on a different datastore. This datastore can also be a local VMFS datastore !!! I remember that when running a Microsoft Cluster within ESX, there is the requirement that the boot-drive of your Windows guest, has to be on local storage. Someone explained me this is because sometimes there might be just too much delay if the guest wants to write to swapfile which might trigger the cluster to failover. I asked Jeremy van Doorn if I would now be able to put the cluster VM on SAN and VMotion it, but he thinks this is not the case yet. Unfortunately
No changes here
System Resource Allocation
Looks like no changes to me
I did notice some changes here, but I can’t find all of them. For sure I know that LVM has much less options to configure. There are some new sections called VMKernel and Config section. I’m not sure if options have just moved arround, seemed a bit much to search for now
That’s all for the “Configuration tab” of a host through VC2.5.
On the summay tab, I see two small GUI changes. First is that now the DNS name of a VM is mentioned, second it shows a “Memory Overhead” value. Not sure how this value is determined and what it would tell me :-)On the performance tab, I see the same changes as on the upper levels. Although the set of settings you can define yourself, is a new set. So you can have different sets at different levels. On the other tabs there are no new things to be found, so lets edit the VM settings
Virtual Machine Settings: Hardware tab
First thing to notice is the max ammount of RAM I can give to the VM. We can now go to 64Gb RAM assigned to a single VM… that’s realy nice Doubt if I’ll ever need it. There is also a change in the recommended values. There are now 4 values suggested by VC, see the screenshot below.
On the network properites, I see a new box to change the MAC Address for a VM. You can choose Automatic or Manual and when selecting Manual, you can change the MAC Address. Very nice, no more editting the VMX.
In the virtual disk properties, you can resize your VMDK ! That’s realy nice. You can only increase the size, not shrink it.
Virtual Machine settings: Options tab
On this tab I immediately noticed quite a number of extra options. Lets have a look. On the “VMware Tools” item, I see an extra section “advanced”. Here you can check to “Check and upgrade Tools before each power on” and “Synchronize guest time with host”. Next there is a new section called “Power Management”. Here you define how the VM should respond when the guest OS is placed on standby. You can choose to suspend the VM or Put the OS in standby mode and leave the VM powered On. Plus you can define which nic should listen for Wake On LAN signals.
In the advanced section of the options tab, we see a number of unchanged options. One of them is the general section, which only has a different view under the “Configuration Parameters” button. The CPUID section hasn’t changed.
A new option is the “boot” option. Two settings can be made here, first is the Power-On boot delay. Here you can enter the number of miliseconds the boot is delayed after a VM is powered on or reset. Default value is 0 ms. Next option is “Force BIOS Setup”. This is a nice feature. Ever had to reset a VM multiple times because you were too slow pressing ESC or F12 to get into the BIOS? That’s history now, just enable “The next time the VM boots, force entry into the BIOS setup screen”. Now it will go into the BIOS without keypress
YES !!! WOW !!! We can now use the Paravirtualization technique if needed for a VM. Mostly Linux systems with kernel 2.6.21 and up, will be able to benefit from this. As the tab explains:
VMI is a paravirtualization standard supported by some guest operating systems. Guests that recognize VMI will gain significantly improved performance with VMI support. Guest operating systems which do not use VMI will gain no performance benefit from this support.
Fibre Channel NPIV
As the tab says: Virtual Machines running on hosts with Fibre Channel hardware that supports NPIV can be assigned virtual WWNs for advanced features.
For cpu’s that support virtualizing the MMU, you can set if the VM will be using the automatic settings from the ESX host, force the use of this feature or forbid the use of this feature. I’m surprised that this MMU feature can be changed on a VM basis, very nice.
Tip: If you want to learn more about MMU and Paravirtualization, read this pdf:
The last option is the SwapFileLocation of the VM. Here you have three options:
- default, use the host settings
- always store with the VM
- Store in the host’s swapfile datastore
The first two options are self explaining I think, the third one is a bit strange I think. The explanation in the text is: “If a swapfile datastore is specified for the host, use that datastore. Otherwise store the swapfile with the VM.”. Wouldn’t this be the same as “default”. Because setting a swapfile datastore at host level, will also enable it. If there is no datastore, then the VM can’t store the swapfile in a different location.
Today it became official, the release of ESX 3.5 & VC 2.5 & Converter 4.0.
When looking at the UN-official release of last friday, it seems that only the ESX buildnumber has changed.
ESX Server Version 3.5 | 12/10/2007 | Build 64607
VirtualCenter Version 2.5 | 12/10/2007 | Build 64201
Homepage at: http://www.vmware.com/products/vi/
Download at: http://www.vmware.com/download/vi/
Release notes at: http://www.vmware.com/support/vi3/doc/vi3_esx35_vc25_rel_notes.html