Once solutions providers create VMware virtual machines (VMs) in vSphere, they can edit settings, add additional hardware and change options and resource settings. There are a number of new features in vSphere that will be useful to you and your customers during this process:
- Hot-add memory and hot-plug CPU -- This feature only appears if you select a guest operating system (OS) that supports these features in the VM's general settings. Depending on the OS selected, you may be able to use either one or both of these features. If you enable these features (figure 1), you will be able to add additional memory and CPUs to the VM while it is powered on. However, removing memory or CPUs still requires that the VM is powered off.
- vApp options -- A vApp is basically a resource container for multiple VMs that work together as part of a multi-tier application. VMware introduced vApps to deal with these problems and to provide methods for setting power options, IP address allocations and resource allocations. VApps also have application-level customization for all of the VMware virtual machines in the vApp. You can enable vApp options (figure 2) on a VM and also set individual options on a VM that may differ from your default vApp objects.
- Display adapter -- In Virtual Infrastructure 3 (VI3), the display adapter of VMware virtual machines was hidden, and it had settings that could not be modified. In vSphere, the display adapter is shown (figure 3) and has a number of settings that you can change, including memory size and the maximum number of displays. Solutions providers will also see a grayed-out option to enable three-dimensional support. The reason you are not able to select this option is because it is not supported in ESX yet. The 3-D support is instead intended for hosted products (like Workstation) that share the same type of virtual hardware format as ESX.
- Show all devices -- Another new option shows all hardware devices of VMware virtual machines in vSphere (figure 4). It displays additional hardware that is normally hidden, such as Peripheral Component Interconnect and IDE controllers. However, you can't change settings for these devices -- it is purely informational. The VM communication interface does show when you select this option, and you can also change its settings. This new device allows select VMware virtual machines in vSphere to communicate directly with each other at high speeds instead of going through a network layer.
- USB support -- You can now add a USB controller to your VMware virtual machines in vSphere (figure 5), which allows the VMs to access USB devices connected to the host server. Although this option exists in vSphere, it is not actually supported yet and is currently intended for hosted products like Workstation. VMware may decide to enable USB support in a future vSphere release, as it is a much requested feature.
Figure 1 -- Enabling hot-add memory and hot-plug CPU
Figure 2 -- Selecting vApp options
Figure 4 -- Viewing all vSphere virtual machine hardware devices
Figure 5 -- Adding a USB controller to the vSphere virtual machine
As you can see, there are many new options for VMware virtual machines in vSphere, which makes it a great improvement over VI3. Solutions providers should take the time to explore these new features and capabilities so that they understand how to use and configure them properly for customers. Just be sure that your customer's VM hardware is version 7. Otherwise, you will not see most of the new options in vSphere.
About the expert
Eric Siebert is a 25-year IT veteran whose primary focus is VMware virtualization and Windows server administration. He is one of the 300 vExperts, named by VMware, for 2009. He is the author of the book VI3 Implementation and Administration and a frequent TechTarget contributor. In addition, he maintains vSphere-land.com, a VMware information site.