What Is VMware vSphere 4.0?

In June 2009 VMware launched ESX 4.0, which now falls under the vSphere 4.0 suite of products. vSphere 4.0 encapsulates both vCenter and ESX 4.0, along with other products that we don’t discuss in this book. This new release not only brings incremental improvements but takes the virtualization platform to a whole new level by letting you think in terms of complete installations or deployments instead of managing your site server by server. However, it’s worth mentioning that ESX 4.0 is a completely new product:

• ESX4 is 64-bit, as compared to the 32-bit versions of ESX 3.x.

• ESX4 supports more hardware and more virtual machines.

• The new version sets the bar for commercial virtualization products even higher, with new features such as fault tolerance, vShield, distributed switches, and much more.

For a complete list of new features, please visit the following website:

Here are 10 features we feel are worth highlighting:

vCenter server linked mode
This mode allows you to connect multiple vCenter servers in a “linked” fashion. Doing this allows them to share licenses and roles and provides them with an “overview” of the entire virtual environment.

Host profiles
Host profiles are provided in Enterprise Plus to make it easy to push a template of an already existing ESX host to a new server. This feature is a huge benefit, as it means you no longer need to manually configure networks, storage, and so on in your new ESX Servers.

Performance, graphs, and events
CPU, memory, storage, and networking graphs are now displayed on one central page. In additional to improved graphs, customers will benefit from improved event messages, alarm settings, and error reporting.

Storage VMotion within vCenter
You can initiate a storage VMotion within the vCenter client. This takes away the need for the command-line management or third-party plug-ins that were popular with the ESX 3.x versions.

Enhanced VMotion
Enhanced VMotion Compatibility (EVC) allows customers to initiate VMotion between Intel FlexMigration and AMD-V Extended Migration technologies. In essence, this means you can now move a running server between hosts using different CPU technologies.

Virtual machine hot add support
You can add CPU and memory resources to an existing virtual machine without having to reboot.

Virtual machine hardware improvements
Virtual machines can now scale up to eight virtual SMP processors and up to 255GB of RAM. vSphere supports IDE devices, Serial Attached SCSI (SAS), and VMXNET Generation 3 network support.

Physical node improvements
Physical hosts can now have up to 1TB of memory, 64 logical CPUs, and 320 virtual machines. The 64-bit architecture of ESX4 allows greater memory capacity, better performance, and seamless hardware support compared to previous releases.

Storage improvements
ESX 4.0 brings a huge set of improvements to the realm of storage within ESX. Thin provisioning for virtual disks enables virtual machines to utilize storage on an as-needed basis, eliminating a major source of wasted space on a storage area network (SAN). The VMFS Volume Grow feature allows you to dynamically grow a Virtual Machine File System without interrupting the running virtual machines. There is also enhanced support for NFS and iSCSI software initiators, which now supply support for jumbo frames on 1GB or 10GB local networks.

Distributed switch
A distributed switch is provided on Enterprise Plus to let customers create a virtual switch for all their ESX hosts to connect to and utilize. This helps reduce network maintenance and allows virtual machines to be moved to any host using VMotion without having to worry about network connections.

As we mentioned earlier, this is only a small subset of the new features available in vSphere 4.0.

Source of Information : Oreilly - VMware Cookbook (11-2009)


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