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VMware vSphere 5.1 updates include Web client, disaster recovery

Many IT pros commended the technical improvements in vSphere 5.1, saying they were just as important as the move away from vRAM licensing.

SAN FRANCISCO – The hoopla over the death of VMware’s vRAM licensing model overshadowed  important technical improvements the company made in vSphere 5.1.

I feel like I'm dying inside a little bit, every time we have to install Windows just to run VMware.

Mike Rios,
distributed systems administration specialist, Argonne National Laboratory

While the new pricing structure will certainly simplify things, there are other reasons to be excited about vSphere 5.1, said Mike Rios, a distributed systems administration specialist for Argonne National Laboratory, in Argonne, Ill.

An improved Web client with better scalability and disaster recovery capabilities should make admins lives easier.

The new Web client will be the default interface for vSphere 5.1. In fact, features new to 5.1 will not be available in the Windows-based client.

"Get familiar with the Web client now. Look for the Windows-based client to go the way of the dodo bird in future releases." said Michael Adams, group product line manager with VMware Inc.

Eliminating the Windows client is welcome news to Rios.

"I'm part of my company's Open Source Technology Team, so we run mostly Unix and Linux,” Rios said. “I feel like I'm dying inside a little bit, every time we have to install Windows just to run VMware."

VMware claims the Web client will have better scalability, which should eliminate the "white screen of death" administrators sometimes encounter with the Windows-based client when managing large numbers of virtual machines. It will also add Chrome and Safari to its list of supported browsers.

New availability and storage features

VSphere 5.1 will also see the addition of vSphere Data Protection (VDP), a new disaster recovery utility that uses EMC Avamar technology. VDP replaces the VMware Data Recovery (VDR) backup utility.

VSphere Replication, a feature once available only with VMware's Site Recovery Manager, is now included with vSphere 5.1. Replication allows an admin to mirror a VM to another location so that it can be restarted if the primary storage fails.

VDP and vSphere Replication make for a very functional built-in disaster recovery solution, Rios said. Specifically, the new features would make it much easier to test and prove disaster recovery plans.

"It allows for non-disruptive testing in a way that we'll be able to show management that we've got it covered,” Rios said. “Disaster recovery is not a guess anymore. It is provable."

New vMotion enhancements that allow for the migration of workloads across hosts without shared storage also excited some VMware customers.

For organizations with limited budgets, the ability to migrate workloads without an expensive storage array is an important feature, said Julian Miranda, a senior analyst on data center operations for Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta.

"The ability to use direct attached storage as a distributed and resilient data store is huge,”  Miranda said. “It has to work as advertised, though."

Administrators will get to see how these features work when vSphere 5.1 becomes available on September 11.

For more news and updates from, follow Nick Martin on Twitter @ServerVirt_TT.

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