Archive for the ‘Virtualization’ category

VMware Social Media Guy Leaks VMworld 2011 Backpack Details

August 17th, 2011

In a surprise move, VMware employee John Troyer flipped on his internet web camera and proceeded to lose his mind.  Troyer is normally a cool cat who knows how to play by the rules of social media and embargoed information.  He lives by these standard sets of commandments on a daily basis – and commonly conveys them to others.

We’re not sure what happened here. An isolated incident for sure.  He sent out a tweet asking followers to help him test a new webcam site.  That was the hook.  Shortly after gaining live viewers he reached down to the floor with his right hand and grabbed the prototype backpack which he claims will be distributed at VMworld 2011.  Patrons of a Lakeville, MN Caribou Coffee shop happened to be logged on to the internet when they witnessed the streaming video.  A Dutch guy on the internet responded “This guy is a vIdiot. He puts his name and company in the video & leaks intellectual property.”

A TMZ correspondent was anonymously logged into the Vokle.com chat room and captured these exclusive photos of the VMworld 2011 backpack – the holy grail of VMworld swag:

This is the first photo. We can see that the prototype is black and red with white emblem stitching.

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Clearly this backpack says “VMworld 2011”

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Inside the backpack will be a pocket designed to hold an iPad.  Not shown is a drink container on the side.

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VMware is aware of the quality feedback on last year’s backpack stitching.  This year’s will be better and should hold up for the long haul.

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The straps are padded for maximum comfort needed during a 4 day conference.  There was also some mention of headphones but those details are unclear.

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This is the color red but we’re unsure of the final color until Mr. Troyer leaks more info.

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** Of course I’m just having fun here.  John is a swell guy and I know he didn’t break any rules – I’m really looking forward to VMworld.  Thank you John for the impromptu preview of the VMworld 2011 backpack 🙂 **

Pulse Check and New Sponsor – Tintri

August 15th, 2011

Hello VMware virtualization enthusiasts!  The month of August has been intense as VMworld 2011 approaches.  I’ve been working on a few projects which need to get out the door before the the big event.  Unfortunately I’ve had no time to polish vCalendar 3.0 such that it’s ready by show time.  As usual, I’ve been collecting the new content throughout the past year but it’s nowhere near ready for presentation.  The good news is that it’s coming but it may not be until mid September or October.  AND… I’ll still plan on releasing the 2.0 PDF version at no cost.  If you’ve been counting on the new vCalendar, thank you in advance for your patience.

I’ve still got a lot of content in the queue to write about here on the blog.  A lot of it vSphere 5 related.  I’ve also been picking up a lot on SRM 5.  I’ll probably get back into the regular writing schedule after VMworld.  It’s a busy time for VMware and their partners.  I’ve always been busy around VMworld but now that I work for a partner, it’s a new level of busy.

Before I get back to it, I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce a new blog sponsor: Tintri.  They are in the business of providing VM-aware storage without complexity and performance bottlenecks.  Tintri offers 8.5TB of usable storage in a 4u single-datastore footprint.  You’ll find their banner on the right edge of this blog.  Check them out online or stop by their booth at VMworld 2011 in Las Vegas.  Last but not least, you can follow them on Twitter – @TintriInc.

Win a VMworld Pass from StarWind Software

August 7th, 2011

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Win a Free VMworld Expo Only Pass* from StarWind Software!!!

Would you like to attend VMworld 2011 Expo in Las Vegas? It’s easy and free! Snagit Capture

Follow these simple steps:

1. Click “Like” on the StarWind Software Facebook Fan Page http://www.facebook.com/StarWind.Software

2. Post five benefits of the StarWind product on your Wall starting with the following words: “I like StarWind because…” and put a link to this posting in a comment on the StarWind Fan Page

3. Retweet the following message: I want to win #VMworld Expo Only Pass from #StarWind! http://ow.ly/5PvFD

That’s it! As soon as the number of our fans reaches 200, two Expo Only Passes, valued at $300 each, will be drawn between StarWind fans, and two people with the most interesting lists of benefits will attend VMworld Expo 2011 for free!

The Rules:

• You must be able to attend VMworld 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada (29 August – 1 September)

• Only one valid entry per person

Note: Here you can view examples of StarWind benefits but don’t use them because we found them first! 🙂 http://www.starwindsoftware.com/benefits 

Read more about VMworld 2011 http://www.vmworld.com/index.jspa

*Expo Only (description):

Solutions Exchange floor access during OPEN hours only, including the Welcome Reception on Monday August 29 5:00-7:30pm. Expo Only passes are NOT admitted to General Sessions, Keynotes, Conference Sessions, Conference Meals or the VMworld Party. Additional Expo Only passes cannot be purchased and will NOT be allowed early access to the Solutions Exchange floor.

VMware Workstation & Fusion Christmas In August Sale!

August 2nd, 2011

30% off through August 4th! All boxed and shrink wrapped copies of VMware Workstation (for Windows & Linux) and VMware Fusion (for Mac) must go!  Hurry while supplies last!  Use promo code PREHOLSALE at checkout for your 30% discount.  Mention boche.net and it is likely that nothing additional will happen.

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Configure a vCenter 5.0 integrated Syslog server

July 23rd, 2011

Now that VMware offers an ESXi only platform in vSphere 5.0, there are logging decisions to be considered which were a non-issue on the ESX platform.  Particularly with boot from SAN, boot from flash, or stateless hosts where logs can’t be stored locally on the host with no scratch partition due to not having local storage.  Some shops use Splunk as a Syslog server.  Other bloggers such as Simon Long have identified in the past how to send logs to the vMA appliance.  Centralized management of anything is almost always a good thing and the same holds true for logging.

New in the vCenter 5.0 bundle is a Syslog server which can be integrated with vCenter 5.0.  I’m going to go through the installation, configuration, and then I’ll have a look at the logs.

Installation couldn’t be much easier.  I’ll highlight the main steps.  First launch the VMware Syslog Collector installation:

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The setup routine will open Windows Firewall ports as necessary.  Choose the appropriate drive letter and path installation locations.  Note the second drive letter and path specifies the location of the aggregated syslog files from the hosts.  Be sure there is enough space on the drive for the log files, particularly in medium to large environments:

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Choose the VMware vCenter Server installation (this is not the default type of installation):

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Provide the location of the vCenter Server as well as credentials to establish the connection.  In this case I’m installing the Syslog server on the vCenter Server itself:

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The Syslog server has the ability to accept connections on three different ports:

  1. UDP 514
  2. TCP 514
  3. Encrypted SSL 1514

There’s an opportunity to change the default listening ports but I’ll leave them as is, especially UDP 514 which is an industry standard port for Syslog communications:

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Once the installation is finished, it’s ready to accept incoming Syslog connections from hosts.  You’ll notice a few new items in the vSphere Client.  First is the VMware Syslog Collector Configuration plug-in:

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Next is the Network Syslog Collector applet:

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It’s waiting for incoming Syslog connections:

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Now I’ll a configure host to send its logs to the vCenter integrated Syslog server.  This is fairly straightforward as well and there are a few ways to do it.  I’ll identify two.

In the vCenter inventory, select the ESXi 5.0 host, navigate to the Configuration tab, then Advanced Settings under Software.  Enter the Syslog server address in the field for Syslog.global.logHost.  The format is <protocol>://<f.q.d.n>:port.  So for my example:  udp://vcenter50.boche.mcse:514.  This field allows multiple Syslog protocols and endpoints separated by commas.  I could write split the logs to additional Syslog server with this entry:  udp://vcenter50.boche.mcse:514, splunk.boche.mcse, ssl://securesyslogs.boche.mcse:1514.  In that example, logs are shipped to vcenter50.boche.mcse and splunk.boche.mcse over UDP 514, as well as to securesyslogs.boche.mcse over 1514.  Another thing to point out on multiple entries.. there is a space after each comma which appears to be required for the host to interpret multiple entries properly:

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There are many other Syslog loggers options which can be tuned.  Have a look at them and configure your preferred logging appropriately.

Another method to configure and enable syslog on an ESXi 5 host would be to use esxcli.  The commands for each host look something like this:

~ # esxcli system syslog config set –loghost=192.168.110.16
~ # esxcli system syslog reload

Now I’ll ensure outbound UDP 514 is opened on the ESXi 5.0 firewall.  If the Syslog ports are closed, logs won’t make it to the Syslog server:

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Back to the vCenter (Syslog) Server, you’ll see a folder for each host sending logs to the Syslog server:

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And here come the logs:

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The same logs are going to the Splunk server too:

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This is what the logs look like in Splunk.  It’s a very powerful tool for centrally storing logs and then querying those logs using a powerful engine:

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And since this host actually has local disk, and as a result a scratch partition, the logs natively go to the scratch partition:

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Notice the host I configured is also displayed in the Network Syslog Collector along with the general path to the logs as well as the size of each host’s respective log file (I’ve noticed that it sometimes requires exiting the vSphere Client and logging back in before the hosts show up below):

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Earlier I mentioned that I’d show a second way to configure Syslog on the ESXi host.  That method is much easier and comes by way of leveraging host profiles.  Simply create a host profile and add the Syslog configuration to the profile.  Of course this profile can be used to deploy the configuration to countless other hosts which makes it a very easy and powerful method to deploy a centralized logging configuration:

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For more information, see VMware KB 2003322 Configuring syslog on ESXi 5.0.

VMFS-5 VMFS-3, What’s the Deal?

July 21st, 2011

New in vSphere 5 is the VMFS-5 file system for block storage.  VMware customers who upgraded from VMFS-2 to VMFS-3 will likely remember the shell game which had to be played in order to migrate VMs from VMFS-2 to VMFS-3.  It worked but it wasn’t the easiest process, particularly if spare storage was not available in order to move VMs around.

VMware has drastically improved the VMFS upgrade process with vSphere 5.  Not only can existing VMFS-3 datastores be upgraded to VMFS-5 in place, but the upgrade can be performed with running VMs on the storage being upgraded.  Now you might be asking yourself a few questions:

  1. If ESXi 5.0 hosts can run VMs on VMFS-3 or VMFS-5 (there’s a flexible improvement right there), then why even bother upgrading to VMFS-5?
  2. Is there any technical difference or advantage between net new VMFS-5 datastores  and upgraded VMFS-5 datastores which were once VMFS-3?

By now, you may understand what new features VMFS-5 offers.  A unified block size, 64TB datastores without using extents, improvements surrounding sub block allocation (SBA), support for many more files on a datastore, and a new partition type which is what enables datastores larger than 2TB.  These new features should answer the first question of “VMFS-5: what’s in it for me?”  But what about the 2nd question of “Does it matter which migration path I take to get my datastores to VMFS-5?

The tactical approach differences are subtle but nonetheless could be impactful depending on the environment.  I’ve compiled information from vSphere 5 beta documentation and VMware blogs.  I then categorized the information into two bulleted lists to compare similarities and contrast the differences.

Similarities between upgraded and newly created VMFS-5 datastores:

  • Both upgraded VMFS-5 and newly created VMFS-5 support the new 64TB datastore limit. Obviously you’ll need an array which supports growing the existing datastores beyond their original size which would have been 2TB-512B or less.
  • Both upgraded VMFS-5 and newly created VMFS-5 support the new 64TB passthru (physical) RDM limit.
  • The maximum size of a non-passthru (virtual) RDM on VMFS-5 is still 2TB -512 bytes.
  • The maximum size of a file (ie .VMDK virtual disk) on VMFS-5 is still 2TB -512 bytes.
  • The VMFS-3 to VMFS-5 conversion is a one-way process. After you convert the VMFS-based datastore to VMFS-5, you cannot revert back to VMFS-3 without creating a new VMFS-3 datastore (which by the way vSphere 5 supports along with the legacy 1, 2, 4, 8MB block sizes).

Differences between upgraded and newly created VMFS-5 datastores:

  • VMFS-5 upgraded from VMFS-3 continues to use the previous file block size which may be larger than the unified 1MB file block size. Copy operations between datastores with different block sizes won’t be able to leverage VAAI.  This is the primary reason I would recommend the creation of new VMFS-5 datastores and migrating virtual machines to new VMFS-5 datastores rather than performing in place upgrades of VMFS-3 datastores.
  • VMFS-5 upgraded from VMFS-3 continues to use 64KB sub-blocks and not new 8K sub-blocks.
  • VMFS-5 upgraded from VMFS-3 continues to have a file limit of 30,720 rather than the new file limit of > 100,000 for newly created VMFS-5.
  • VMFS-5 upgraded from VMFS-3 continues to use MBR (Master Boot Record) partition type; when the VMFS-5 volume is grown above 2TB, it automatically switches from MBR to GPT (GUID Partition Table) without impact to the running VMs.
  • VMFS-5 upgraded from VMFS-3 will continue to have a partition starting on sector 128; newly created VMFS-5 partitions start at sector 2,048.

Based on the information above, the best approach to migrate to VMFS-5 is to create net new VMFS-5 datastores if you have the extra storage space, can afford the number of Storage vMotions required, and have a VAAI capable storage array holding existing datastores with 2, 4, or 8MB block sizes.

For more information about vSphere 5 storage enhancements and VAAI, take a look at the following links:

 

Make-A-File – File Creation Utility

July 20th, 2011

Part of being successful it your role is having the right tool for the job.  If you work a lot with storage, storage performance, tiering, snapshots, or replication (ie. some of the new storage related features in vSphere 5), this tool might come in handy: Make-a-File.  A colleague introduced me to this Windows based utility which creates a file at the size you specify, up to 18 ExaBytes.

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Using the tool is simple, launch Make-a-File.exe

Configurable Parameters:

  • Filename: Specify name and path for the file to be created.
  • Size: Specify a file size between 1 Byte and 18 ExaBytes.
  • Random content: Fills the file with actual random data rather than all zeroes.  Analogous to creating a “thick” file.  For effective storage tests, enable this option.
  • Quick Create: Creates a thin provisioned file using the specified file size to mark the beginning and end geometry boundaries. Doesn’t actually fill the file with data.  Utilizes the SetFilePointer() function to set the end of the file.

Download Make-a-File_src.zip (23KB)

Make-A-File home page