VMware vSphere 5.5 announced, with general availability the week of September 9 2013 likely

Posted by Paul Braren on Aug 26 2013 (updated on Sep 3 2013) in
  • ESXi
  • Storage
  • The RTM code is now generally available, as of Sep 22 2013, announced by here. So if you're just looking for the exact files you'll want to grab, check out the simpler, newer, shinier articles:
    Download all the VMware vSphere 5.5 pieces to get your home lab started by Paul Braren on Sep 22 2013
    Build your own VMware vSphere 5.5 Datacenter with ESXi and VCSA by Paul Braren on Sep 30 2013

    Original article appears below.

    Sep 22 2013 02:37am Update: The download URL for VMware vSphere Hypervisor (ESXi) has just gone live!

    (links went down, then began to work Sep 22 2013 02:06pm ET), here's the short URL to share with all the latest links for the download:

    Re: "ESXi 5.5 release date" - VMware's August 26 2013 relevant press release here, and all recent press releases here. As of Sep 20 2013, the general availability date for a free Hypervisor 5.5 download hasn't yet been announced, but the client code has surfaced on vmware.com, explained below. Meanwhile, you can read through or watch video at TinkerTry's Build your own VMware vSphere Datacenter in under an hour with the free ESXi 5.5 hypervisor, which will be revisited/refined once ESXi 5.5 once the final build # is confirmed, skipping DVDs for a simpler USB install.

    I didn't manage to get to VMworld this year. But the good news is that I'll have a bit more time to get cranking on some content about 5.5 right away, starting tonight. I'll be doing my usual hands-on, step-by-step approach to highlighting new features I care most about in a home lab situation, with full 1920x1080 video accompanied by my live narration, like I did last year, on the day 5.1 was announced. I'll be cooking up a collection of articles and videos with the latest code I have access to at this time, which is 5.5.0 Build 1266856 installable media.

    I do not know if this will be the same generally available code version that'll likely show up at vmware.com/go/download-vspherehypervisor‎ on the week of September 9 2013. But I did secure official permission to demonstrate this build publicly, moments ago. I'm preparing screenshots and walkthroughs right now, to share with you as soon as possible. Please be sure to follow TinkerTry to stay tuned!

    Meanwhile, I've got a tantalizing list of enhancements to chew on. The 2 chosen areas of focus in this list below are virtual drive sizes finally breaking past the 2TB limitation, and improvements to the vCenter Server Appliance. Those items will help me the most in my own home-lab situation. So, now can you guess what my first 5.5 related articles and demonstrations will be showing?

    (Aug 27 2013 update, new first look video now available here)
    (Aug 29 2013 update, new 5.5 overlook 1 hour video now available here)
    (Sep 03 2013 1st update, new 5.5 comprehensive, step-by-step install and configuration video now available here)
    (Sep 03 2012 2nd update, slightly later code may turn out to be the release to manufacture/generally available level)
    latest updates at the end of the below article

    Storage limits, and vSphere Flash Read Cache

    Introduction to vSphere Flash Read Cache aka vFlash Aug 26 2013 by Duncan Epping

    One of the features which I think people will appreciate is vSphere Flash Read Cache (vFRC), formerly known as vFlash. vFlash was tech previewed last year at VMworld and I recall it being a very popular session. In the last 6-12 months host local caching solutions have definitely become more popular and interesting as SSD prices keep dropping and thus investing in local SSD drives to offload IO gets more and more interesting.

    What’s New in VMware vSphere 5.5 Platform - vSphere Storage Enhancements, page 13:

    Support for 62TB VMDK
    VMware is increasing the maximum size of a virtual machine disk file (VMDK) in vSphere 5.5. The previous limit
    was 2TB—512 bytes. The new limit is 62TB. The maximum size of a virtual Raw Device Mapping (RDM) is also
    increasing, from 2TB—512 bytes to 62TB.

    VMware vSphere 5.5 Storage New Features Aug 26 2013 by Vladan Seget

    62 Tb VMDKs (smaller VMDKs can be grown offline) – only through vSphere Web Client.
    62Tb RDMs supported as well
    Supported on VMFS 5 and NFS
    The existing VMs with VMDKs smaller be resized offline

    64TB VMDKs? Yes we can. Aug 26 2013 by Josh Townsend

    vCenter Server Appliance

    vSphere 5.5 nuggets: vCenter Server Appliance limitations lifted! Aug 26 2013 by Duncan Epping

    the vCenter Server Appliance limitations that there were around the number of virtual machines and hosts are lifted. Where the vCenter Server Appliance with the embedded ternal database used to be limited to a maximum of 5 hosts and 50 virtual machines this has been increased with vSphere 5.5 to 500 hosts and 5000 virtual machines. If you ask me, this means that the vCenter Server Appliance with the embedded database can be used in almost every scenario! That makes life easier indeed.

    Aug 27 2013 Update:

    • VMFS 5.60 is the new file system, seen featured in the picture I updated above.
    • For a look at ESXi 5.5 installation, see also:

    First look at VMware ESXi 5.5 installation on a flash drive, followed by the vSphere client install.

    Aug 30 2013 Update:
    I need to clarify that I have no special knowledge of when 5.5 will be generally available for download. My title says "likely" because it was an estimate made based on the timings of last year's 5.1 release, which I documented back in 2012 here.

    As I mentioned on the air yesterday, here's the timeline:

    VMware vSphere 5.1 and VMware vSphere Storage Appliance 5.1 are expected to be generally available on September 11, 2012.

    So far, since that post, there has been no followup announcements either. We'll just have to stay tuned to the VMware News Releases site here:

    or watch the "Download VMware vSphere Hypervisor for Free" site here.

    Sep 03 2013 09:00am ET Update:
    It has just come to my attention there may be newer builds of ESXi hypervisor and appliance, which might mean my ESXi 5.5.0 Build 1266856, and vCenter Appliance Build 1266838, aren't the release to manufacture code. There's still value in leaving the related articles and video in place, as an early look at how ESXi 5.5 will likely look and behave, once Generally Available. Whether there winds up being any slight changes to the behavior remains to be seen. One thing I'll be keen on re-testing is whether the name and/or IP of the appliance can be changed, without killing the appliance's "Configuring SSO" step roughly 9 out of 10 times.

    Sep 03 2013 09:51pm ET Update:
    In the very-recently-available-to-me, installable ESXi ISO named

    I have located this file in the root (dated Aug 22 at 11:31 PM, as are all the files in that ISO)

    which contains the following line of text (GA-Generally Available):
    **VMware ESXi 5.5 GA**

    Contrast that promising bit of info with the version I used for all my 5.5 related articles, where I used
    which contains the following line of text (RC-Release Candidate):
    **VMware ESXi 5.5 RC**
    with all the files from from August 9th, just 13 days earlier.

    Same kind of thing going on inside the definitely-GA VMware vSphere Hypervisor 5.1 Update 1:
    which contains the following line of text:
    VMware ESXi 5.1u1 GA

    While not definitive, this does seem to indicate that the code I have permission to demonstrate is more likely to be the final GA (Generally Available) release, expected for public download soon.

    I also have VCSA (vCenter Server Appliance) Build 1289424, as well as the vSphere Client Version 5.5.0 Build 1281650 (dated Aug 23 2013) from the vCenter 5.5.0 Build 1289423 ISO, so I'm in good shape to continue testing.

    We won't really know anything 100% for sure, until the GA code shows up at the "Download VMware vSphere Hypervisor for Free" site here. My apologies for any confusion I may have inadvertently caused you, my valued reader, and I sincerely hope this addendum helps clear things up.


    Sep 10 2013 Update:
    I need to wait until I know for sure this is the RTM code that'll become GA, before proceeding with more lab tests and screenshots. Still no announcement of download date here.

    Sep 15 2012 Update:
    Apparently still no official word on when the RTM download will be generally available, or even what the final RTM build #s will be.

    In the very-recently installable ESXi ISO named:

    I have located this file in the root (dated Aug 31 2013 12:03 PM, as are all the files in that ISO)

    which contains the following line of text (GA-Generally Available):
    **VMware ESXi 5.5 GA**

    These files seemingly go along with vSphere 5.5 VMware-VIMSetup-all-5.5.0-1304123.iso and the vSphere vCenter Appliance VMware-vCenter-Server-Appliance-

    Sep 17 2013 Update:
    We have vivek chaturved leaving this comment below the video:
    "First Look at VMware ESXi 5.5" TinkerTry.com LIVE Hangout On Air (recorded 8/29/2013)

    Regarding licensing, if you have 5.0 license then I think you can manage 5.5.... Also, the ETA for 5.5 is 19th sep 2013

    Then there's this VMware Community guess-the-date thread still going strong, since Sep 09 2013:
    Any ETA on release of 5.5?

    Sep 20 2013 Update:

    Not sure what this means yet, and no press announcements of RTM ESXi 5.5/vSphere 5.5 yet. But I did notice that a public URL of the "traditional" C# 32 bit Windows "VMware vSphere Client 5.5" is now live. The direct download URL is from pointing my browser to the ESXi 5.5 Build 1331820 host, and hovering my cursor over "Download vSphere Client" as pictured below.



    vSphere Client Version 5.5.0 Build 1281650 logged into ESXi 5.5 Build 1331820.png