VMware Releases Infrastructure 3.5 Update 2, ESX and VirtualCenter Get Upgrades, ESXi Now 100% Free

VMware has released Update 2 for Infrastructure 3.5, listing a whole set of updates and features. At the same time, the company has made the license for ESXi completely free, as announced last week during the earnings call.

These are the highlights of some of the enhancements available in this release of VMware Infrastructure 3 (free evaluation here):

  • Windows Server 2008 support – Windows Server 2008 (Standard, Enterprise, and Datacenter editions) is supported as a guest operating system. With VMware’s memory overcommit technology and the reliability of ESX, virtual machine density can be maximized with this new guest operating system to achieve the highest degree of ROI. Guest operating system customizations and Microsoft Cluster Server (MSCS) are not supported with Windows Server 2008.
  • Enhanced VMotion Compatibility – Enhanced VMotion compatibility (EVC) simplifies VMotion compatibility issues across CPU generations by automatically configuring server CPUs with Intel FlexMigration or AMD-V Extended Migration technologies to be compatible with older servers. Once EVC is enabled for a cluster in the VirtualCenter inventory, all hosts in that cluster are configured to ensure CPU compatibility for VMotion. VirtualCenter will not permit the addition of hosts which cannot be automatically configured to be compatible with those already in the EVC cluster.
  • Storage VMotion – Storage VMotion from a FC/iSCSI datastore to another FC/iSCSI datastore is supported. This support is extended on ESX/ESXi 3.5 Update 1 as well.
  • VSS quiescing support – When creating quiesced snapshot of Windows Server 2003 guests, both filesystem and application quiescing are supported. With Windows Server 2008 guests, only filesystem quiescing is supported. For more information, see the Virtual Machine Backup Guide and the VMware Consolidated Backup 1.5 Release Notes.
  • Hot Virtual Extend Support – The ability to extend a virtual disk while virtual machines are running is provided. Hot extend is supported for vmfs flat virtual disks without snapshots opened in persistent mode.
  • 192 vCPUs per host – VMware now supports increasing the maximum number of vCPUs per host 192 given that the maximum number of Virtual Machines per host is 170 and that no more than 3 virtual floppy devices or virtual CDROM devices are configured on the host at any given time. This support is extended on ESX 3.5 Update 1 as well.

As for the hardware enablement and management:

  • 8Gb Fiber Channel HBAs – Support is available for 8Gb fiber channel HBAs. See the I/O Compatibility Guide for ESX Server 3.5 and ESX Server 3i for details.
  • SAS arrays – more configurations are supported. See the Storage/SAN Compatibility Guide for ESX Server 3.5 and ESX Server 3i for details.
  • 10 GbE iSCSI initiator – iSCSI over a 10GbE interface is supported. This support is extended on ESX Server 3.5 Update 1, ESX Server version 3.5 Update 1 Embedded and ESX Server version 3.5 Update 1 Installable as well.
  • 10 GbE NFS support – NFS over a 10GbE interface is supported.
  • IBM System x3950 M2 – x3950 M2 in a 4-chassis configuration is supported, complete with hardware management capabilities through multi-node Intelligent Platform Management Interface (IPMI) driver and provider. Systems with up to 32 cores are fully supported. Systems with more than 32 cores are supported experimentally.
  • PMI OEM extension support – Execution of IPMI OEM extension commands is supported.
  • System health monitoring through CIM providers – More Common Information Model (CIM) providers are added for enhanced hardware monitoring, including storage management providers provided by QLogic and Emulex. LSI MegaRAID providers are also included and are supported experimentally.
  • CIM SMASH/Server Management API – The VMware CIM SMASH/Server Management API provides an interface for developers building CIM-compliant applications to monitor and manage the health of systems. CIM SMASH is now a fully supported interface on ESX Server 3.5 and VMware ESX Server 3i.
  • Display of system health information – More system health information is displayed in VI Client for both ESX Server 3.5 and VMware ESX Server 3i.
  • Remote CLI – Remote Command Line Interface (CLI) is now supported on ESX Server 3.5 as well as ESX Server 3i. See the Remote Command-Line Interface Installation and Reference Guide for more information.

VirtualCenter 2.5 update 2 adds full support for monitoring individual virtual machine failures based on VMware tools heartbeats. This release also extends support for clusters containing mixed combinations of ESX and ESXi hosts, and minimizes previous configuration dependencies on DNS. It also extends support for alarms on the overall health of the server by considering the health of each of the individual system components such as memory and power supplies. Alarms can now be configured to trigger when host health degrades.

VirtualCenter 2.5 Update 2 provides the ability of creating a clone of a powered-on virtual machine without any downtime to the running virtual machine. Therefore, administrators are no longer required to power off a virtual machine in order to create a clone of it. Also, you can now automatically authenticate to VirtualCenter using your current Windows domain login credentials on the local workstation, as long as the credentials are valid on the VirtualCenter server.

This capability also supports logging in to Windows using Certificates and Smartcards. It can be used with the VI Client or the VI Remote CLI to ensure that scripts written using the VI Toolkits can take advantage of the Windows credentials of your current session to automatically connect to VirtualCenter.

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