Tuesday, 13 July 2010

vSphere 4.1 is released

Well after a fair bit of hype online over the last few days (ie. somebody out there violating the VMware NDA they signed), VMware have now released the 4.1 version of vSphere. The binaries are available for download too, so we can all now get our hands on the latest versions of ESX, ESXi, and the various vCenter components.

Apparently there are over 150 new features, I'm sure the release notes will offer a good amount of detail on those, here's a link to the new What's New in VMware vSphere 4.1 page.

I've been on the private beta for 4.1 for some time now, so I've been aware of many of these new features for a while. With my new vExpert status, I was lucky enough to join an exclusive webcast last week, to give myself and the other vExperts a chance to get a more formal head start in learning more about some of the new features.

A few facts about vSphere 4.1:
VMotion will now be known as vMotion, and Storage VMotion will now be known as Storage vMotion
ESXi free is now known as vSphere Hypervisor
The paid license versions of ESX/ESXi are now defined as Hypervisor architectures
New license bundles for Essentials and Essentials Plus, the latter to include vMotion for the first time
ESX will be deprecated in 2011, when vSphere 5 will be released
vCenter Server 4.1 is only available as a 64-bit application, giving significantly greater scalbility

Here's some notes about the most significant features/changes in vSphere 4.1:

ESXi is now defined as best practice for deployment over ESX
ESXi now supports scripted installation, boot from SAN, and easier CLI options for troubleshooting

Network I/O Control
Set per port group or port, only available on the vNetwork Distributed Switch
Designed for 10GigE, where a host is likely to only have 2 NICs in total
New version of the Cisco Nexus 1000v has a "fair wait queuing" feature

Load-based NIC teaming
New configuration option to complement existing teaming choices

Storage I/O Control
Prioritized use of storage, across hosts, set per VM
Kicks in once latency is over 35ms
FC/iSCSI only for now, support for NFS is coming

Storage performance reporting
More granular, and new NFS measurements

Array integration API
Allows cloning and migration functions to be carried out directly at the storage layer
API-based operations are between 5 and 20 times quicker than non-API
EMC, HP, Dell, NetApp, HDS are initial partners for the API

Memory compression
Designed for over-commit situations, 1000x faster than swap
Makes memory over-commit more viable as an option

DRS host affinity
Group of VMs set to run against set of defined hosts
Hard rules, never breached by DRS
Preferential rules, DRS attempts to maintain defined rules

HA diagnostics and healthcheck
GUI improvements on host/cluster status
HA/DRS have better integration on VM placement
Application API, making it possible for HA to detect application-level problems inside a VM
HA/DRS cluster sizes aligned better

vMotion speed and scale
4 concurrent migrations with 1GigE, 8 concurrent with 10GigE
Migrations 5x faster than 4.0 with 10GigE
Enhanced vMotion Compatibility enhancements

Active Directory integration (host-level)
vSphere Client options to configure ESX/ESXi to authenticate against Active Directory

More VMs, more hosts
3000 VMs per cluster
1000 hosts per vCenter
10000 VMs per vCenter

I can also confirm that the new 5-day vSphere: Install Configure Manage course will be based on the 4.1 vSphere release.


  1. Thanks Scott, very useful summary mate. :-)

  2. The part that really caught my attention (for several reasons) is the bit about ESX 5 coming out in 2011. From a training/certification point of view, that REALLY means the clock is ticking, especially if you are preparing for one of the advanced certifications. Basically, a year after the VACP for 4.x is released, it will be unavailable .... unless I misread something.


  3. Don't forget that VMware don't retire certifications, nor do they make the exams for them unavailable as soon as a new version is released - the VCP3 exam was still available for 10 months after the release of vSphere 4.0 for example.