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Automation in vSphere helps to speed the deployment and patching of hosts in the virtual environment. Mike Adams, group manager in VMware's vSphere product marketing team, says that adding a new host in a high availability environment used to take an hour, but vSphere 5 customers will be able to do it in less than two minutes.
While patching and updating virtual machines in vSphere 4 used to require touching each individual host, vSphere can simultaneously apply patches to multiple servers, Adams said.
Also new in vSphere 5 is Storage Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS), an extension of DRS, a VMware feature that automatically moves applications around in a pool of machines to optimize performance. While DRS looks at CPU and memory, Storage DRS applies the same functionality to storage environments, said Adams.
Another new addition, Profile Driven Storage, lets customers group their available third party storage technologies into different classes based on performance characteristics. VMware has defined generic APIs and exposed them to all of its storage partners, and this allows Profile Driven Storage to normalize performance data from heterogeneous vendor storage arrays, said Balkansky.
"When you need to provision a new workload, you create a new virtual machine, click on a drop down menu and make your selection -- that’s it," said Balkansky. "Our automation kicks in at that point: We take the workload, look at all the available hardware storage arrays with the characteristics you selected and figure out which is the best array for you to put the new workload."
With vSphere 5, VMware is taking aim at opex cost in the data center and trying to help customers run their data centers more efficiently, and this is where the automation comes into play.
VMware is getting rid of the ESX hypervisor and going with ESXi in vSphere 5. ESXi's footprint is smaller and more streamlined, which means better security due to its smaller attack surface. In addition, the automatic deployment of hosts is only possible because of the arch in ESXi, Adams said.
There are several aspects of vSphere 5 that start to address the next layers of virtualization, said Keith Norbie, vice president of sales at Nexus Information Systems, a Minnetonka, Minn.-based solution provider.
"The second generation of server virtualization design is not just about how many operating systems you stack on one server, but understanding how to isolate in vShield zones and dealing with virtual machine sprawl," Norbie said.
Customers that deploy VMware's cloud stack -- which includes vSphere, vCenter, vShield, and vCloud Director -- will be able to cut out the manual aspect and achieve higher numbers of virtual workloads, Balkansky said.
"The reason automation is so important is the benefits associated with cloud have to do with agility and responding to business faster," Balkansky said. "The only way to satisfy service requests quickly is to automate the execution on the back end."