New features in vSphere ESX 4.1
With the Big news that broke late last night and early this morning that vSphere 4.1 was released and available for down. Many of my fellow bloggers have written articles about the great new features that are included with this release. I am going to just offer a summary of some of the high points of the release that I find as the biggest impact. I was not part of the Beta testing for this release so I am just not getting to play with this version. The group of Beta testers have been enjoying and playing with the latest features for sometime now and thats why there has been a sudden explosion of articles that people have been holding until the official realease of the product.
- Scripted Install for ESXi. Scripted installation of ESXi to local and remote disks allows rapid deployment of ESXi to many machines. You can start the scripted installation with a CD-ROM drive or over the network by using PXE booting. You cannot use scripted installation to install ESXi to a USB device.
- vSphere Client Removal from ESX/ESXi Builds. For ESX and ESXi, the vSphere Client is available for download from the VMware Web site. It is no longer packaged with builds of ESX and ESXi. After installing ESX and ESXi, users are directed to the download page on the VMware Web site to get the compatible vSphere Client for that release. The vSphere Client is still packaged with builds of vCenter Server.
- Boot from SAN. vSphere 4.1 enables ESXi boot from SAN (BFN). iSCSI, FCoE, and Fibre Channel boot are supported. Refer to the Hardware Compatibility Guide for the latest list of NICs and Converged Adapters that are supported with iSCSI boot.
- Hardware Acceleration with vStorage APIs for Array Integration (VAAI). ESX can offload specific storage operations to compliant storage hardware. With storage hardware assistance, ESX performs these operations faster and consumes less CPU, memory, and storage fabric bandwidth.
- Storage Performance Statistics. vSphere 4.1 offers enhanced visibility into storage throughput and latency of hosts and virtual machines, and aids in troubleshooting storage performance issues. NFS statistics are now available in vCenter Server performance charts, as well as esxtop. New VMDK and datastore statistics are included. All statistics are available through the vSphere SDK.
- Storage I/O Control. This feature provides quality-of-service capabilities for storage I/O in the form of I/O shares and limits that are enforced across all virtual machines accessing a datastore, regardless of which host they are running on. Using Storage I/O Control, vSphere administrators can ensure that the most important virtual machines get adequate I/O resources even in times of congestion.
- Network I/O Control. Traffic-management controls allow flexible partitioning of physical NIC bandwidth between different traffic types, including virtual machine, vMotion, FT, and IP storage traffic (vNetwork Distributed Switch only).
- Lockdown Mode Enhancements. VMware ESXi 4.1 lockdown mode allows the administrator to tightly restrict access to the ESXi Direct Console User Interface (DCUI) and Tech Support Mode (TSM). When lockdown mode is enabled, DCUI access is restricted to the root user, while access to Tech Support Mode is completely disabled for all users. With lockdown mode enabled, access to the host for management or monitoring using CIM is possible only through vCenter Server. Direct access to the host using the vSphere Client is not permitted.
- Improved Support for Handling Recalled Patches in vCenter Update Manager. Update Manager 4.1 immediately sends critical notifications about recalled ESX and related patches. In addition, Update Manager prevents you from installing a recalled patch that you might have already downloaded. This feature also helps you identify hosts where recalled patches might already be installed.
- ESX/ESXi Active Directory Integration. Integration with Microsoft Active Directory allows seamless user authentication for ESX/ESXi. You can maintain users and groups in Active Directory for centralized user management and you can assign privileges to users or groups on ESX/ESXi hosts. In vSphere 4.1, integration with Active Directory allows you to roll out permission rules to hosts by using Host Profiles.
- Memory Compression. Compressed memory is a new level of the memory hierarchy, between RAM and disk. Slower than memory, but much faster than disk, compressed memory improves the performance of virtual machines when memory is under contention, because less virtual memory is swapped to disk.
You can see the full feature list on the VMware page, the list is pretty long.
About Brian Suhr
Brian is a VCDX5-DCV and a Sr. Tech Marketing Engineer at Nutanix and owner of this website. He is active in the VMware community and helps lead the Chicago VMUG group. Specializing in VDI and Cloud project designs. Awarded VMware vExpert status 6 years for 2016 - 2011. VCP3, VCP5, VCP5-Iaas, VCP-Cloud, VCAP-DTD, VCAP5-DCD, VCAP5-DCA, VCA-DT, VCP5-DT, Cisco UCS Design