Considering a VMware vSphere 5 upgrade?

When virtualization giant VMware launched vSphere 5 in July 2011, it was billed as an all-in-one virtualization platform. With the release, VMware CEO Paul Maritz sought to continue his company’s dominance over Microsoft in the virtualization market by stealing a play from their rival’s playbook.

"It's like what we did at Microsoft years ago when I was there,” Maritz said. "We looked around and saw we had Word, PowerPoint, Excel and other single business software [applications], and we decided to put them together to make Office."

Although the gap is closing, VMware’s vSphere 5 is still the preferred choice over Microsoft’s Hyper-V and other virtualization products, amongst most SMBs. This guide provides a comprehensive overview of what you should know if you’re considering a VMware vSphere 5 upgrade. Our experts can help you understand the licensing changes, decide whether to upgrade to version 5 and show you how to get the most out of the product if you are a current user.

Table of contents:

Important features to evaluate when considering a VMware vSphere 5 upgrade

VMware vSphere 5 contains an impressive amount of new features not available in version 4. In vSphere 5, storage resource management greatly improved with the introduction of Storage Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS) and Profile-Driven Storage. Increased scalability and licensing changes also grabbed the headlines but there were also other important features that you might have missed. Network I/O Control can help administrators prioritize VM traffic, while redesigned mechanisms for Storage vMotion and a new method for network packet receive processing improve efficiency.

Five big changes in VMware vSphere 5 to consider before updating
The release of VMware vSphere 5 was predicted to significantly affect the way IT pros design and manage their data centers. New features, such as Storage DRS and a redesigned VMware High Availability were welcomed, but new licensing restrictions caused some to fear restrictive server deployments and users being forced to waste existing physical memory. Take a look at our five most important vSphere 5 game changers.

What’s new in VMware vSphere 5 upgrade: Delving into Storage DRS and VMware HA

VMware vSphere 5 includes Storage DRS, which uses Storage vMotion to automatically load balance disks. Adding to the storage enhancements is VMware High Availability (HA), which now has a new monitoring system based on storage heartbeats. Contributor Mike Laverick looks at how some of the new features in vSphere 5 affect storage.

Five vSphere 5 features that flew under the radar
A few vSphere 5 features perhaps deservedly took all the headlines, but it also included several overlooked features, which could be sway people toward adopting the platform. The new Virtual Machine Files System (VMFS), SplitRX Mode and Network I/O control all flew under the radar, but could be important selling points for VMware users considering a VMware vSphere 5 upgrade.

Top five vSphere security features in VMware vSphere 5 upgrade
The release of VMware vSphere 5 brought a number of security enhancements. VMware added a firewall to ESXi and a new Auto Deploy feature uses a Preboot Execution Environment (PXE) to boot servers and install ESXi 5. VMware vSphere 5 also includes more options for centralized logging and data collection in the event of a server crash. We explore these and more in our review of the top five vSphere security features you need to know about.

Five exciting VMware networking features in vSphere 5
VMware vSphere 5 brought many new features, including Storage DRS, high availability improvements and changes to VMFS. However, there are also new VMware networking features in vSphere 5 that you may not have heard about. Here are our top five exciting new networking features in vSphere 5.

Understanding licensing changes with VMware vSphere 5 upgrade

With vSphere 5, VMware moved to per-socket licensing with a set amount of virtual RAM (vRAM) tied to each license. The vRAM entitlements are pooled in vCenter Server and distributed among powered-on virtual machines (VMs). These changes to VMware’s vSphere 5 licensing drew significant criticism from some users. VMware responded to the criticism by raising the vRAM limits that users feared would increase costs and reduce flexibility.

Why VMware licensing changed in vSphere 5 and what it means for you
VSphere 5’s licensing changes were by far the most controversial change introduced by VMware. With vSphere 5, VMware moved to per-socket licensing with a set amount of vRAM tied to each license. The vRAM entitlements are pooled in vCenter Server and distributed among powered-on virtual machines (VMs). In this column, virtualization expert Eric Siebert makes sense of the controversy and provides hype-free conclusions on how these changes might affect your business.

VMware licensing FAQ: Navigating View vCenter and vSphere 5 licensing
VMware made headlines with the licensing changes in vSphere 5, but the new vRAM licensing model isn’t the only challenging part of VMware licensing. VSphere isn’t the only VMware technology you’ll need to license. Learn about VMware licensing for vCenter and VMware View licensing, the vRAM model and more in this frequently asked questions feature.

Customers ponder effect of vSphere 5 licensing changes
Changes to VMware’s vSphere 5 drew significant criticism from users. While the backlash calmed down somewhat, the changes were still a matter of concern and confusion for many VMware customers. Rather than rehash the arguments for or against the vRAM model, we focus on the adjustments VMware made to its vSphere 5 licensing model and how those changes affect users.

VMware vSphere 5 licensing demystified
VMware vSphere 5 facilitates the move to shared infrastructure-as-a-service. VMware has altered the vSphere 5 licensing model to enable customers to move to a more cloud-like, “pay for consumption” model. This tip explains how the VMware vSphere 5 licensing changes will affect users.

VMware CTO explains vSphere 5 licensing changes
In this video; VMware CTO Steve Herrod explains the changes and the future of VMware's cloud offerings on Cloud Cover TV. Herrod discusses VMware's Virtual Storage Appliance, new vShield capabilities to address the "noisy neighbor problem" and how much impact Citrix can have on VMware's business.

VMware blinks on vSphere 5 licensing
In late 2011 VMware finally responded to the uproar over vSphere 5 licensing, raising the vRAM limits that users feared would increase costs and reduce flexibility. The company said it made these changes – just three weeks after announcing the new licensing model – to better fit with how customers assign memory to VMs.

Storage improvements in VMware vSphere 5 upgrade

Storage is a key deciding factor for most organizations when it comes to selecting virtualization software. Upon vSphere 5’s release, VMware boasted of enhanced storage capabilities and a more user-friendly storage management system. VSphere 5’s Storage Profiles enable virtual machine storage provisioning to be independent of specific storage resources available in an environment, while the expansion of DRS to include storage is arguably vSphere 5’s most notable storage improvement.

VSphere storage functionality gets big boost in vSphere 5
With vSphere 4’s vStorage APIs, released in 2009, VMware made strides toward addressing the way its platform interacted with storage resources. But, for the most part, the company paid scant attention to storage management from within vCenter Server. VSphere 5 contains many improvements, both big and small, that make it an exciting release for storage. In this tip we will survey all the new vSphere storage enhancements.

VMware storage management in vSphere 5: VSA, VMFS and VASA
VMware improved storage management significantly with the release of vSphere 5. Not only does the new version include Storage DRS and storage intelligence in VMware HA, but it also improves the file system and storage APIs, and added a new storage appliance. Mike Laverick walks us through some of the major VMware storage management improvements in vSphere 5.

VMware vSphere replication and data protection upgrades in Version 5
vSphere replication and data protection capabilities have been significantly upgraded in vSphere 5. Now the VMware VM environment supports a range of new data protection features built on a bigger file system in VMFS and improvements to Storage vMotion. In this interview, SearchStorage.co.UK Bureau Chief Antony Adshead speaks with Chris Evans, an independent consultant with Langton Blue, about the changes to VMware vSphere 5 that have helped improve its replication and data protection features.

VMware vSphere 5 demo: Storage DRS and more
VMware vSphere 5 came with highly anticipated features, including Storage Distributed Resource Scheduler, a vCenter Server virtual appliance and a Web-based vSphere Client. Our video demo provides insight into how these key features function and what they could bring to you your virtualization needs.