What Does the Announcement of vSphere 5.5 Mean for VMware Users?

Yearly improvements and enhancements to service are essential in the world of IT. With technology moving forward at an alarming rate, missing out on just one round of updates can prove damaging and leave your business languishing behind the competition or open to a security breach.

VMware’s yearly update release was announced on the first day of this year’s VMworld, heralding the introduction of vSphere 5.5. The enhancements and improvements are plentiful, and whilst many of them are incremental, they stretch across the whole of the platform meaning their impact will most certainly be felt across all facets of operational workflow.

Many of the changes have been made as a direct response to customer feedback and requests, whilst others demonstrate VMware’s strategic move toward a fully software-defined data centre.

Increased Virtual Machine Disk Space

vSphere 5.5 sees the maximum size for VMDK files increase from 2TB to a whopping 62TB. It may have seemed inconceivable a few years ago, but the 2TB limit on VM disk space was beginning to feel the squeeze. VMware have generously increased space, whilst keeping the figure under 64TB in order to allow room for snapshots and other required services.

It’s important to note that existing VMDK files will have to be offline in order to be expanded.

Removal of Physical Memory Limits

VMware are no longer limiting vSphere to 32GB of vRam. As laptops and PC’s get bigger, with some now being sold with 32GB of RAM or more themselves, the host server RAM starts to become very limiting and even 32GB can prove as good as useless. With the removal of physical memory limits, businesses have the ability to add more VMs without the need to upgrade for performance or capacity reasons. This allows businesses more freedom to grow, without the financial constraints of expanding physical memory limits.

Enhanced Support

Among many of the highly technical aspects of the upgrades, VMware have also enhanced support across vSphere 5.5, which will make access, compatibility and general management easier across the platform. Most notable are updates to the web client, which is now supported on Mac OS X, to include the ability to access virtual machine consoles, attach client devices and deploy OVF templates. There have also been several usability improvements including support for drag and drop operations, improved search filters to make it easier to find objects, and the introduction of a “Recent Items” icon that makes it simpler to navigate between commonly used views.

Support has also been added for new graphics devices, including both AMD and Intel GPUs. The ability to vMotion a VM between diverse hardware platforms, including disparate GPU support, has also been added. Previously this required similar hardware for vMotion to work. Also included is support for the default graphics API used in popular Linux distributions, including Fedora 17, Ubuntu 12, OpenGL version 2.1.

These are just a handful of the many improvements announced for vSphere 5.5, you can find more information about the others on the VMware website. The official release date for vSphere 5.5 has yet to be announced, but long-standing solution providers will be delivering all of these enhancements within their third party hosting services, to elevate the IT awareness and infrastructure. vSphere 5.5 will usher in a new generation in technology enablement within the workplace.

What Does the VMware vCloud Automation Center Offer Businesses?

Automation is something of a buzzword in the IT industry at the moment because budgets are shrinking, resources are stretched and capacity planning is being looked at in every way as companies attempt to optimise workflow. However, the automation of IT services is something businesses have consistently tried to achieve over many years. Whether in accounting, on assembly lines or in customer service, automation has always been a goal for businesses and one that in most cases sees a plethora of benefits.

Just as so many other processes become automated, the management of cloud hosting is moving in the same direction. Today, many businesses are implementing heterogeneous cloud options which can prove time-intensive to manage. While the cloud does bring a variety of benefits to businesses, it delivers much more effectively on those gains when used with an automation system. Together, through bespoke set-up the cloud delivers on-demand automation across all aspects of business, further enhancing the impact that cloud hosting can have on stakeholders who are intrinsic to your operational workflow.

Automation of End-to-end Delivery of Applications

With multiple departments all vying for IT resources (memory and processor power), as well as your end users demanding instantaneous responses to queries, the fight to maintain optimum server speed and security can be a battle. Requesting virtual machine deployments in the days before cloud automation would have meant yet more time and IT resource being eaten up and often could take several days for requests to be fulfilled. In today’s society of ‘now culture’ that’s pretty useless.

VMware’s vCloud Automation Center provides the ability to create groups of users, who can (dependant on their permissions) request or approve virtual machine deployment. This request then triggers a highly customisable process, meaning smoother and quicker management of memory.

Better Utilisation of IT Resources

Cloud automation tools ensure that everything behind the scenes is as seamlessly integrated and distributed as it is at the front end. These tools, remove the need for daily management by the IT department, leaving them free to focus attention elsewhere, safe in the knowledge that the cloud can operate effectively by itself.

Multi-Vendor Unified Cloud Management

Between private, public and hybrid clouds, it isn’t uncommon for businesses to be running cloud services through a variety of different hosts and servers. Each often has a slightly different way of working, resulting in many man-hours of work and duplicated resourcing. Couple that with the various applications and programmes hosted on the cloud, each with different interactions, permissions, functions, etc. and the process quickly becomes overly complicated.
vCloud Automation Center facilitates the delivery of infrastructure and application services across a wide range of multi-vendor deployment management tools and technologies.

Increase Business Productivity

Cloud automation aims to reduce business processes to a minimal amount of steps. Not only does cloud automation decrease the amount of time it takes IT staff to install new applications, provision servers and manage the cloud, it also enhances the experience of end users, be that staff or customers.

vCloud Automation Center coupled with VMware’s private cloud provides a powerful and effective business tool for companies of all shapes and sizes. Whilst the benefits of cloud hosting can be achieved without it, to truly realise them, cloud automation is essential and will only become more so as the cloud evolves further.

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