The improvements and new features in vSphere 6 vCenter Server is huge, see the extensive list below.vSphere 6 vCenter Server

vCenter Server

The great news is, that the vCenter virtual appliance and the installable vCenter Server are on par. Meaning that the scalability and feature set of both vCenter versions are identical.

vCenter 6 - scalability

There is a minute difference in the supported databases though. The Windows installable vCenter Server supports Postgres and External SQL and Oracle DBs, the vCenter virtual appliance supports embedded Postgres and external Oracle DBs (so no external SQL).

  • Both the classic Windows installation and the vCenter Server appliance support all the new vCenter Server 6 scale numbers.
  • There is no longer a difference in scale between Windows and the Appliance!
  • Supported databases for the Windows installation are SQL 2008 R2, 2012 and 2014, Oracle 11g and 12c as well as the option to use an embedded vPostgres database.
  • vPostgres on Windows is limited to 20 hosts and 200 virtual machines. Upgrades where SQL express was installed will be converted to vPostgres.
  • The vCenter Server Appliance supports embedded vPostgres at full scale, 1000 host and 10,000 virtual machines and is the recommended database for the vCenter Server appliance.
  • The Appliance supports embedded Postgres or external Oracle Databases. Full scale is still supported when running the embedded Postgres database.
  • Customers can now deploy the version that makes sense for their business without worrying about sacrificing stability or scalability.
  • Customers can begin to move to the Appliance at their own pace while still having full interoperability between the Windows and Appliance vCenter Servers.

Platform Services Controller (PSC)

The Platform Services Controller (PSC) includes common services that are used across the suite. These include SSO, Licensing and the VMware Certificate Authority (VMCA).

The PSC removes services from vCenter and makes them centralized across the vCloud Suite. This gives customers a single point to manage all their vSphere roles and permissions along with licensing and reduces vCenter Server installation which enables faster install or upgrade to vSphere 6.

The PSC is the first piece that is either installed or upgraded. When upgrading a SSO instance becomes a PSC. There are two models of deployment, embedded and centralized.

  • Embedded means the PSC and vCenter Server are installed on a single virtual machine. – Embedded is recommended for sites with a single SSO solution such as a single vCenter.
  • Centralized means the PSC and vCenter Server are installed on different virtual machines. – Centralized is recommended for sites with two or more SSO solutions such as multiple vCenter Servers, vRealize Automation, etc. When deploying in the centralized model it is recommended to make the PSC highly available as to not have a single point of failure, in addition to utilizing vSphere HA a load balancer can be placed in front of two or more PSC’s to create a highly available PSC architecture.

PSC

Use of the embedded model is meant for standalone sites where this vCenter Server will be the only SSO integrated solution and replication to another PSC is not needed. The recommendation is to deploy external PSC’s in any environment where there is more then one SSO enabled solution (vCenter Server, vRealize Automation, etc) or where replication to another PSC, such as another site, is needed.

When performing an upgrade the PSC will be placed wherever SSO is currently.

Linked mode

Linked mode in previous versions was restricted to the Windows installation of vCenter Server only. This is no longer the case in vSphere 6. By using the PSC’s built in replication Windows and Appliance based vCenter Servers joined to the same SSO domain will be in vSphere 6 enhanced linked mode. Yes, the Appliance and Windows based vCenter Servers will be in enhanced linked mode simply by joining the same SSO domain.

This differs from what we had previously when pointing vCenter Servers at the same SSO server, in that scenario we only had a single pane of glass view, with vSphere 6 enhanced linked mode we have full replication of roles and permissions, licensing, tags, and policies. vCenter Linked mode 

vSphere Client

The first major improvement because it irritated a lot of people, including me, the Windows installable vSphere Client now has the ability to manage virtual hardware 10 and 11 virtual machines. Any new feature to virtual hardware 10 and 11 are read only. Still one ‘missing feature’ ESXi patching using VUM still requires the regular Windows installable vSphere Client.

vSphere client features

Another frustration for a lot of people was the Web Client performance. VMware put the vSphere Web Client went through extensive optimization around both performance and usability.

Performance

On the performance side engineering went screen by screen optimizing every query being made back to the Inventory Service, and SSO. This resulted in 13 times faster login. Right click menus appear and are useable 4 times faster. And most tasks are now at least 50% faster. Performance charts now render and are usable in less then half the time.

VMRC has also been integrated, now administrators can perform the same actions from a virtual machine console as they did in the Windows client. Below is a chart which shows the improvements made, feature by feature.

vSphere Client performance

Looking at the chart the blue lines represent the time in milliseconds an operation took in previous web client versions.

NOTE: Firefox is still a supported browser but the performance when using it is 3-4 times slower compared to using Chrome or Internet Explorer. So do NOT use FireFox.

The vSphere Web Client is the client going forward. In this release VMware has made significant gains in performance bringing it on-par with the Windows Client.

Usability

On the usability side improvements include an enhanced “Home” button. Simply hover over it and you can get to any area in the Web Client in a single click. Also, the Right Click Menu has been flattened and to make getting to where you need as fast and easy as it was in the vSphere Client.

VMware moved the recent tasks list back to the bottom, allowing for more information to be displayed and a more consistent feel when compared to the vSphere Client. And lastly the UI is dockable. You can re-arrange your screen layout in anyway you want.

Content Library

Centralized repository that provides simple and effective management for content including virtual machine templates, ISO images and scripts. With vSphere Content Library, it is now possible to store and manage content from a central location and share through a publish/subscribe model.

Many organizations have several vCenters servers across diverse geographic locations, and on these vCenters there is most likely a collection of templates and ISOs. Currently there is function within vCenter to centrally manage the templates and distribute them to all locations. The Content Catalog provides the ability to centrally manage content and ensure it’s distributed across the infrastructure.

Content Library vCenter’s Content Library provides simple and effective management for:

  • VM templates
  • vApps
  • ISO images
  • Scripts

 There are three types of Catalog Libraries

  • Local Catalog – Local only to the local vCenter
  • Published Catalog – A local library that is published for catalog subscribers
  • Subscribed Catalog – A library that syncs with a published library

There are also two types of subscriptions to a published catalog.

  • Immediate Download (aka Automatic Subscription) – The entire contents of the published catalog are copied to the subscriber.
  • On-Demand – Instead of downloading all the data at once, only the metadata is downloaded as a reference to the content on the published library. This allows the administrator to download full catalog items only when needed by synchronizing individual items of within the catalog.

Here are some of the technical details for the Content Library.

  • The Content Library and Transfer service are the main services and are included as part of vmware-vdcs which is the Virtual Datacenter Service that is installed as part of the vCenter Management Node.
  • The Content Library Service is responsible for keeping track of the metadata of all the Content Libraries it is in charge of as well as checking for updates on a publisher.
  • The Transfer Service does most of the heavy lifting and is called by the Content Library Service to copy content between libraries
  • The Content Library also utilizes the same database as vCenter, that is the VCDB.
  • If stored on a datastore, 64TB is the maximum size
  • Maximum of 256 content items per library.
  • Maximum of 10 simultaneous copies.
  • Synchronization occurs once every 24 hour.

Expanded Guest OS Support

VMware vSphere 6.0 also introduces support for the following guest operating systems:
  • Oracle Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel Release 3 Quarterly Update 3.
  • Asianux 4 SP4.
  • Solaris 11.2.
  • Ubuntu 12.04.5.
  • Ubuntu 14.04.1 • Oracle Linux 7 • FreeBSD 9.3.
  • Mac OS X 10.10.
A full list of supported guest OSs can be found at here.