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VMware vSphere 8.0: Virtualization Perfected

By Alberto Jimenez, Sr. Systems Administrator

vSphere is a server virtualization software application from VMware. It is a hypervisor and management suite for IT infrastructure providers. Sometimes referred to as a cloud operating system or virtualized data center platform, VMware vSphere is designed to enable IT departments to run application workloads on more efficient, fault tolerant, and cost-effective compute resources.

Released on October 11, 2022, vSphere 8.0 comes with a collection of exciting new features. To begin, vSphere 8.0 now supports Virtual Machine Hardware 20. This virtual hardware version provides support for vSphere DataSets, Device Groups, and Application Aware Migrations, among other features.

vSphere 8.0 now officially supports Windows 11, which requires a TPM. VMs running Windows 11 therefore need virtual TPMs, or vTPMs. A new feature in vSphere 8.0 is the TPM Provisioning Policy which allows the cloning of a Windows 11 VM by stripping out its vTPM to create a new VM with a new vTPM. vSphere 8.0 continues to provide the vSphere Native Key Provider introduced with vSphere 7.0, which is what allows the addition of vTPM devices to VMs without third party software.

Device Groups is a new feature which allows vSphere to detect and add groups of devices to virtual machines. NICs and GPUs are compatible with the new device group construct. When you add a device group, you are adding a group of hardware to a virtual machine. The ESXi host will have one set of hardware, but vSphere is smart enough to provide that hardware to VMs separately.

VMware vSphere 8.0 introduces the Distributed Services Engine to work with the headlining feature of vSphere 8.0, support for Data Processing Units (DPUs). DPUs are special system-on-chip cards that are essentially mini computers which can be installed in a host. This will provide security and performance advantages. ESXi 8.0 can be installed onto the DPUs so ancillary services like NSX can be offloaded from the host CPUs onto the DPUs. In terms of security, having the vSphere management plane running in a separate environment like a DPU provides separation from other calculations taking place on the CPU, increasing security.

Due to many architectural changes, including DPU support, vSphere LifeCycle Management had to be overhauled. The vSphere Update Manager is now being deprecated in favor of the image-based process provided by vSphere LifeCycle Manager.

Speaking of patching, ESXi host updates can now be staged ahead of remediation. Clustered hosts can also finally be remediated in parallel instead of the single-host remediation vSphere has been limited to in the past.

Configuration management is an important part of overall security and to ensure all hosts are configured consistently, VMware has introduced something called vSphere Configuration Profiles as an evolution of Host Profiles. The new Configuration Profiles help prevent configuration drift across vSphere hosts.

Application Aware Migration is another impressive new feature. Some applications cannot tolerate the “stuns” associated with vSphere vMotion. Applications can now be written to be aware of vMotion so they can prepare for the migration between hosts with timeouts or delays, even stopping services and performing an automatic failover in clustered applications.

These features and many more pack vSphere 8.0 with valuable changes that any organization seeking, or already employing the use of virtualization applications would benefit from greatly as server hardware becomes more compute dense and security focused.



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