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The latest version of VMware’s vSphere ESXi platform is now generally available (GA). There are tons of new features and tweaks, and we are going to highlight just a few in this article, but before we go any further let’s get straight to the point: vSphere 7 U3 is supported in Runecast Analyzer.  

The whole team at Runecast takes great pride in being up to date with new releases like this as quickly as possible. This means that you can now check your environment in Runecast Analyzer to demystify potential outcomes and begin your upgrade journey.

Below we’ve talked about some of the changes in Update 3, some of the highlights and some of the potential issues. We know that some of you reading like to operate on an N-1 release program, for any number of reasons, and all the information around Update 2 is still in Runecast Analyzer if you’re considering that upgrade.

vSphere with Tanzu

Tanzu is the name for a pretty big feature that VMware is excited about: Kubernetes integration. Integrating the two technologies means your organisation can run and support container-based applications on your existing infrastructure.

One of the ways in which they’ve done this is to use DHCP. Flexible DHCP means that you can automatically add IP addresses, DNS, NTP, etc. as needed, including overriding addresses. And if you have your management traffic on a separate network to your workload network, don’t worry, you can choose to use the flexible DHCP on both, either, or neither.

The official VMware blog recommends using DCHP reservations to ensure that IP addresses don’t change even if the MAC addresses of cluster VMs change, which can happen during some upgrades or configuration changes.

Runecast Analyzer already works with Kubernetes and VMware, along with AWS and Azure. And it tracks configuration drift across multiple parameters, so you can keep on top of multiple environments with the same proactive monitoring you’ve come to expect from Runecast Analyzer. 

NVIDIA AI Enterprise Suite

NVIDIA and VMware are two of the biggest names in computing and this is a collaboration leading them both into the AI and Machine Learning Space. This is great news for Data Scientists and lots of the frameworks and tools built by NVIDIA are now available to be deployed in VMWare. Things like PyTorch, TensorFlow, TensorRT and RAPIDS, along with others.

There’s also flexibility in GPU virtualisation with Bitfusion 4.0. Bitfusion allows resource management and pooling of resources and separates GPUs from workloads to give you more flexibility in management.

Resource Management

If you utilise persistent memory features this update is for you: there are new performance stats visible directly in the vSphere UI. In previous versions the memory performance statistics weren’t readily visible in the UI, but now they’re right here. The advertised compatibility is with Cascade Lake and Ice Lake Intel CPUs, but there is a full compatibility matrix.

Preferred Datastores for vSphere Cluster Services VMs

VMware released vSphere Cluster Services in version 7 Update 1. Now in Update 3 they have given the ability to set preferred datastores for these VMs. When you do this, you dictate which storage should be provisioned to the vCLS VMs, which enables you to separate them from other types of VMs, old or problematic datastores, etc.

NSX and vSphere integration

VMware has added a new plug-in for vCenter Server which will enable NSX to be controlled directly from the vCenter Server. This sounds like a small addition but could be quite a nice time saving feature. It should cut down on the amount of times you would need to flick back and forth between NSX Manager and vCenter, as many of the networking and security options from NSX Manager will now be accessible in one place.

SD cards/Boot media

The recommendation from VMware is not to use USB or SD Card storage as boot media on ESXi hosts. We know this has been an issue for a number of people in vSphere 7 and there was a patch released as part of ESXi 7 U2c, however it seems that VMware is moving away from USB drives and SD cards as boot media entirely.

If you use this kind of removable media as a boot volume you’ll get a message that it’s in a ‘degraded’ mode, as VMware are now limiting the writes to the drive. This doesn’t mean it can’t be used at all, just that there may be issues using SD Cards or USB drives as boot media.

This has been on the cards and was highlighted by VMware in a KB article in September. As with all KB articles, this information is available in Runecast Analyzer for you to use when monitoring your environment. 

VMware recommends SSDs and NVME drives or any persistent local storage with a minimum of 32GB. This is due to long term reliability concerns with SD Cards and USB drives.

How Runecast aids your upgrade to the latest vSphere

As always, Runecast Analyzer is here to help in planning and executing your upgrade. Its Hardware Compatibility List (HCL) upgrade simulator has many power features including:

  • Proactively discovering incompatible hardware components or incompatible combinations of driver, firmware, BIOS, etc.
  • Recommending compatible combinations, so you can upgrade your hardware before software, if needed
  • Identifying any issues in your hardware stack, including your server platform and I/O devices

Runecast Analyzer can save weeks of manually digging through the Hardware Compatibility List and comparing the infrastructure. You can use the automated KB analysis to eliminate any hidden risks associated with the upgraded version that have already been described in Knowledge Base (KB) articles. And its Config Vault enables configuration drift management to eliminate deviations and ensure consistent configuration after your upgrades.

About Runecast

Runecast Solutions Ltd., headquartered in London, UK, with offices worldwide, is a leading provider of actionable predictive intelligence for the Hybrid Cloud. Its patented, award-winning Runecast Analyzer software, regularly lauded by IT experts, provides real-time, automated configuration and security compliance analysis for AWS, Azure, Kubernetes and VMware. In 2020, Runecast was named a Gartner Cool Vendor and won Computing Magazine awards for Best Place to Work in Digital and Cloud Security Product of the Year. 

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