VMware today released the new version of ESX: vSphere 5. As a VMware minded person I immediately started to download the packages. First things first: Read the manual Upgrade vCenter Server to the new version. This process was quite straight forward. First you update the vCenter server itself, then the vCenter Client, then the Update Manager and finally you install the new Web services.

After installing all vCenter Services it’s time to rock. I noticed a few things: The new vCenter Web services only supports Windows and Linux. The basic stuff works, but I was not able to connect to a console from my iMac running OSX Lion 10.7. That’s really a shame VMware, since you do support Firefox on Linux. The main problem here is that there is no native desktop version available to manage vSphere from your Mac so I really hoped the new Web Services where able to fill this gap. Unfortunately it didn’t, which was quite disappointing.

The second problem I faced was updating my two nodes running ESXi 4.1 to ESXi 5 using the Update Manager. The ESX-nodes where running a Dell ESXi-image so the Update Manager was not able to perform an upgrade using the ESXi5 image from VMware itself due to driver incompatibility. Not a real issue for me. Just burn the ISO to a disk and walk up the stairs to my lab, inserting CD’s and perform the upgrade manually. Although my Dell PowerEdge 840 desktops where not listed on VMware’s hardware list, ESXi 5 runs smooth on these servers.

LAB environment:
Like said, my home lab contains one cluster build on two Dell PowerEdge 840 desktop servers. Both servers have a PERC 5i RAID-controller with 2x 146 Gbyte SAS and 2x 160 Gbyte SATA disks. Both servers have 8 Gbyte of RAM, which is the maximum the server supports. A dual core Intel Xeon 3040 is used as a processor. The only issue I have is that the servers only have 1 Network Card on-board. Though it’s a Gbit port, more NIC’s would be nice to use more features typically done in a lab environment. I have some PCI-e NIC’s available, so when I’m in a good mood I’ll install ESXi on an USB-stick and replace the RAID-controller with the new network cards.

Network storage is provided by an Synology DiskStation DS211 which has 2 iSCSI targets, 512 Gbyte each. Since the unit is running a 2 TByte raid-array build on SATA-disks, this is not really a fast solution but it still performs running 12 Virtual Machines, more than enough for lab purposes.