Archive for May, 2010

vSphere Upgrade Prerequisites Checklist

May 27th, 2010

Upgrading your virtual infrastructure to vSphere?  Be sure to check out this handy reference from VMware:  vSphere Upgrade Prerequisites Checklist.  There are several areas which need to be considered and this document covers them all, including both requirements and recommendations.  If you’re a consultant who visits new customer sites on a regular basis, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to bring this with to each engagement, or at least a condensed version of it.

VMware Workstation Upgrade to 7.1

May 26th, 2010

Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
VMware Workstation 7.0.1 build-227600

I had heard VMware Workstation 7.1 was released.  Unfortunately, the VMware Workstation “check for updates” feature doesn’t seem to be serving its intended purpose as it told me no updates were available.

I downloaded the installation package manually and performed the upgrade.  Two reboots were required:

  1. After the uninstall of my previous version of Workstation
  2. After the install of Workstation 7.1

I hope the usability experience is better than my upgrade experience.  I realize some of the reboot business is on the Microsoft Windows 7 operating system but come on, would someone please figure this out?  Is there no way to perform an in place upgrade of Workstation to minimize the reboots to one?

What’s New in VMware Workstation 7.1

•Support for 8 virtual processors (or 8 virtual cores) and 2 TB virtual disks.

•Support for OpenGL 2.1 for Windows Vista and Windows 7 guests.

•Greatly improved DirectX 9.0 graphics performance for Windows Vista and Windows 7 guests. Up to 2x faster than Workstation 7.

•Launch virtualized applications directly from the Windows 7 taskbar to create a seamless experience between applications in your virtual machines and the desktop.

•Optimized performance for Intel’s Core i3, i5, i7 processor family for faster virtual machine encryption and decryption.

•Support for more Host and Guest Operating Systems, including: Hosts: Windows 2008 R2, Ubuntu 10.04, RHEL 5.4, and more Guests: Fedora 12, Ubuntu 10.04, RHEL 5.4, SEL 11 SP1, and more.

•Now includes built in Automatic Updates feature to check, download, and install VMware Workstation updates.

•Ability to import and export Open Virtualization Format (OVF 1.0) packaged virtual machines and upload directly to VMware vSphere, the industry’s best platform for building cloud infrastructures.

ESX 3.x Host 64GB Addressable Memory Limit

May 24th, 2010

Some time ago, I became aware of an ESX 3.5.0 Update 2 (build 110268) host which had 128GB of RAM physically installed, but only 64GB RAM usable.  The host was showing 128GB of RAM, however, it was consuming 64GB of memory with no running VMs, leaving the other 64GB of RAM addressable for virtual machines.

After further research, it was determined that this host build did not contain the VMkernel change required to properly acknowledge the amount of physical memory installed on the IBM host hardware. 

VMware’s response was:

Prior to ESX 3.5 Update 3, the ability to address more than 64GB of memory on ESX Server 3.5 is suppressed by default. In a standard installation, a 36bit MTRR mask is forced, even though the machine may support 40bit mask values.  This means that the ESX Server may see any memory above 64GB as memory that is in use. For example, if an ESX server has 256GB of RAM, the Memory Usage counter displays 192GB in use and only 64GB free. If you attempt to create a virtual machine using memory exceeding the available 64GB of memory, you see an Insufficient Memory error.  This condition is documented in the following location:

The boot option force36BitMTRRMask is no longer required because of BIOS MTRR issues on certain platforms, ESX Server hosts previously failed to boot unless the VMkernel force36BitMTRRMask boot option was set to false.  ESX 3.5 Update 3 enables full support for memory up to 64GB with no need to specify a boot option.  As a result of this change, the force36BitMTRRMask VMkernel boot option is no longer supported. If the option is set, the result is no operation (NOP) and boot succeeds.

In conclusion, the resolutions are as follows:

1 ) Upgrade to ESX 3.5 Update 3 build 123630 or newer 

2 ) To utilize more than 64GB of RAM, use a larger MTRR mask by disabling VMkernel.Boot.force36BitMTRRMask from the advanced settings. 

To modify the MTRR mask configuration:

Log in to VirtualCenter as an administrator using the Virtual Infrastructure Client. (If not using VirtualCenter, log in to the ESX Server directly as root.)

From the Inventory click the ESX Server:

Click the Configuration tab.

Click Advanced Settings link.

Navigate to VMKernel>Boot.

Deselect the option for VMkernel.Boot.force36BitMTRRMask .

Reboot the ESX Server host for the change to take effect.

This information is perhaps a bit dated, but I know there are some older 3.x environments still in existence.  If those environments are running on host hardware with more than 64GB of RAM installed, this could prove to be insightful.

VMware VCAP Certification Details Announced

May 24th, 2010

VMware has announced the details of their new VMware Certified Advanced Professional (VCAP)certification.  I scribbled some notes from this morning’s VCAP conference call but after visiting VMware’s official announcement page, I see they have detailed out the certification path details nicely in the exhibit I’ve borrowed and posted below:


The VCAP in and of itself is a level of certification that fits technically between the VCP and VCDX levels of certification.  Somewhat similar to the MCSE where an individual can bolt on a specialized designation to their letters, the VCAP was launched with two designations (one or the other is required to earn the base VCAP level of certification):

  • Datacenter Administrator
  • Datacenter Design

The VCAP is directly related to VCDX4 certification in that both exams are required for candidates which are not already VCDX3 certified (also note that VCP4 is required to sit either of the two new VCAP exams).  In other words, the DCA and DCD exams are the VCDX4 version of written exams which map respectively to the Enterprise Administration and the Design exam which VCDX3 candidates would have sat.

The 41 individuals who are already VCDX3 certified must only sit the DCD exam to both upgrade to VCDX4 as well as achieve VCAP-DCD certification.  If this same person would also like the VCAP-DCA designation, he (so far the current VCDX3 pool is all fellas) must pass the DCA exam.  As a VCDX3 myself, I understand and appreciate the requirement to sit the new Design exam to upgrade to VCDX4, but I feel the additional exam requirement for a VCDX3 or VCDX4 to achieve DCA doesn’t make sense.  I see it as additional exam revenue for VMware.  Yes, technically I don’t need to become a VCAP-DCA but if that is something I’d like to add to my resume, the exam and the payment is required.  I guess I was banking too much on the rumors that individuals who already passed the Enterprise Admin exam for VCDX3 would have been grandfathered in to the new certification.  I’d write more but I need to board a plane.  Comments welcome of course. 🙂

Update 5/26/10:  According to the VMTN Roundtable podcast today, the VCAP-DCA exam will be available in July and the VCAP-DCD exam will be available in August.

VCAP Benefits:

  • Industry/Peer recognition
  • New certification logos
  • VMworld discounts
  • Allowed entry in VCAP community site (sounds like nothing more than a VMTN forum)
  • Value-add live lab content which cannot be compromised by brain dump sites

Happy Birthday vSphere!

May 21st, 2010


I was reminded by today’s vCalendar page that vSphere was launched by VMware one year ago today.  Happy Birthday Buddy – you set the bar which all other hypervisors aspire to be at one day.

On this day in 2009, VMware vSphere, the next generation datacenter virtualization product and successor to Virtual Infrastructure 3 (VI3), was released boasting approximately 150 new features, new license tiers, and an amazing 350,000 I/O operations per second (IOPS). vSphere is a 64-bit only ESX host OS.

Don’t have a vCalendar yet?  Get one!

Top 10 Free vSphere ESX Tools and Utilities by

May 19th, 2010 has compiled a nice list of no-cost VMware vSphere utilities. A grading scale was disclosed to provide a value ranking of the utilities.  Information like this is valuable because I often see questions raised in the virtualization community about low-cost or no-cost ways to do this or that with VMware virtual infrastructure (backup is a frequent request).  I will be the first to admit that lab time is precious. has used their free time to install, test, and summarize each application for the benefit of the community.  Nice job and on behalf of the virtualization community, Thank You!

Speaking of free, has also pointed to a VMTN forum member who stumbled onto a way to use a free ESXi 4.0 license key to permanently license ESX 4.0.  Interesting find there.

Minneapolis VMUG / Veterans Sock Drive Benefit Friday

May 18th, 2010

Friendly reminder that from 1-5pm this Friday, the Minneapolis VMware User Group will hold a quarterly meeting in Bloomington.  I expect a lot of VDI content.  The meeting details can be found here.

Hilton Minneapolis
Bloomington Ballroom Foyer A
3900 American Boulevard West
Bloomington, MN 55437

In addition…

VMware is proud to work with the Minnesota Assistance Council For Veterans (MACV) by supporting a one day SOCK DRIVE BLITZ at the VMware User Group Meeting (VMUG). 

On Friday 21 May 2010 MACV and VMware will be collecting packages of new white cotton socks (primarily men’s sizes) as part of the MACV Veterans Standdown. The socks collected will then be distributed to homeless veterans in need at the Various standdown events across Minnesota throughtout the year. 


Items Needed for donations:
Packages of new white cotton socks
(primarily men’s sizes)

Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans (MACV) is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization assisting veterans (and their families) in crisis throughout Minnesota for over 18 years including those who are experiencing homelessness. MACV is the only organization of its kind in the State of Minnesota completely dedicated to serving the needs of veterans, and is nationally recognized for its model and success.