Archive for February, 2009

Andrew Kutz joins Hyper9

February 28th, 2009

This news is a little over a week old but I just found out two nights ago while reading vExpert profiles and it’s definitely worth repeating.

Andrew Kutz is a recently named vExpert by VMware, Inc. and a well known developer in the VMware community. Andrew has authored a number of VirtualCenter plugins, of which the most famous might be his free Storage VMotion (sVMotion) plugin which provides VMware administrators a GUI interface to hot migrate VM storage from one LUN to another. Andrew has received well deserved praise for his work because he makes the lives of VI administrators easier.

Hyper9 is a startup company in Austin, TX that works in the virtualization infrastructure management space, developing tools that automate the management of virtualization in the datacenter. Hyper9 recently secured an additional round of investment funding and it would seem they are totally serious about delivering quality products to the virtualization community in the hiring of Andrew Kutz. What can we expect out of this? Given what I’ve seen from Andrew in the past, I’ll guess the future will be plugin based architecture which I think makes a lot of sense and is probably what the majority of the community wants.

Congratulations to both Andrew Kutz and Hyper9. I look forward to your accomplishments with great anticipation!

Read the official announcement from Hyper9 here.

VMware next generation datacenter exploration

February 27th, 2009

Find the best data management solutions at Redapt. Data migration services can improve efficiency and cut cost.

Following is a VMworld Europe 2009 preview of features VMware is developing for future versions of vSphere. There is no guarantee or time line of when these features will be introduced into vSphere. Furthermore, the features should not be thought of as a group that will be implemented together at one time. A more likely scenario is that they will be integrated independently into major or incremental future builds. With that disclaimer out of the way, let’s dig in to the good stuff.

Pluggable Storage Architecture (PSA). ESX/ESXi will have a new architecture for storage called PSA which is a collection of VMKernel APIs that allow 3rd party hardware vendors to inject code into the ESX storage I/O path. 3rd party developers will be able to design custom load balancing techniques and fail over mechanisms for specific storage arrays. This will happen in part with the use of VMware’s Native Multipathing Plugin (NMP) which VMware will distribute with ESX. Additional plugins from storage partners may also appear. During the lab, I explored the PSA commands using the ESXi “unsupported” console via PuTTY.

Update: Duncan Epping over at Yellow Bricks just wrote about Pluggable Storage Architecture, expanding quite a bit on its components.  View that post here.

Hot Cloning of Virtual Machines. This upcoming feature is fairly self explanatory. Duplicate or clone a virtual machine while the source VM is running. I think this feature will be useful for troubleshooting or base lining a guest OS on the fly without impacting the source by causing a temporary outage to clone the control VM into the experiment environment. Additionally, during the cloning process, VMware is going to allow us to choose a different disk type than that of the source VM. For example, the source VM may have a disk type of pre-allocated but we can change the clone destination disk type to a thinly provisioned sparse disk. Fragmentation anyone? Speaking of pitfalls, you may wonder how VMware will handle powering on the destination VM for the first time with a duplicate network name and IP address as the clone source that is currently running on the network? Simple. We already have the technology today: The Guest Customization process. While guest customization has always been optional for us, it more or less becomes mandatory in hot cloning so I’d start getting used to it.

Update: As a few people have pointed out in the comments, hot cloning of virtual machines is available to us prior to the release of vSphere. VM hot cloning was introduced in VirtualCenter 2.5 Update 2. See the following release notes: http://www.vmware.com/support/vi3/doc/vi3_esx35u2_vc25u2_rel_notes.html

Host Profiles. Simplify and standardize ESX/ESXi host configuration management via policies. The idea is to eliminate manual configuration through the console or VIC which can be subject to human error or neglect. To a good degree, host profiles will replace much of the automated deployment methods in your environment. Notice I didn’t say host profiles will replace all automated methods. There are configuration areas which host profile policies don’t cover. You’ll need supplemental coverage for those areas so don’t permanently delete your scripts and processes just yet. You’ll need to keep a few of them around even after implementing host profiles. Host profiles can be created by hand from scratch, or a template can be constructed based on an existing host configuration. Lastly, profiles are not just for the initial deployment. They can be used to maintain compliance of host configurations going forward. Applying host profiles reminds me a lot of dropping Microsoft Active Directory Group Policy Objects (GPOs) on an OU folder structure. Monitoring compliance across the datacenter or cluster feels strikingly familiar to scanning and remediating via VMware Update Manager.

Storage VMotion. The sVMotion technology isn’t new to those on the VI3 platform already but the coming GUI to facilitate the sVMotion is. Props to Andrew Kutz for providing an sVMotion GUI plugin for free while VMware expected us to fumble around with sVMotion in the RCLI. Frankly, the sVMotion GUI should have been built into VirtualCenter the day it was introduced. The rumor is VMware didn’t want sVMotion to be that easy for us to use, hence we could get ourselves into some trouble with it. Apparently the same conscience feels no guilt about the ease of snapshotting and the risk associated with leaving snapshots open. VMware borrowed code from the hot cloning feature and will allow disk type changing during the sVMotion process. Using the same example as above, during an sVMotion, on the fly we can migrate from a pre-allocated disk type to a thinly provisioned sparse disk.

vApps. vApps allow us to group together tiered applications or VMs into a single virtual service entity. This isn’t simply global groups for VMs or Workstation teams, VMware has taken it a step further by tying together VM interdependencies and resource allocations which allows things like single-step power operations (think one click staggered power operations in the correct order), cloning, deployment, and monitoring of the entire application workload. The Open Virtualization Format (OVF) 1.0 standard will also be integrated which will support the importing and exporting of vApps. I know what you’re thinking – What will VMware think of next? Keep reading.

VMFS-3 Online Volume Grow. I like to read more into a name or a phrase than I probably should. Does this mean we will see online volume grow in VI3 before the release of VI4? Or does this mean that in VI4, VMFS is unchanged and stays at the “3” designation. The latter would be something to look forward to because personally I can do without datastore upgrades, although with the emerging VMware technology, shuffling VMs and storage around, even hot, makes the process of datastore upgrades pretty easy, however, we still need the time to plan and perform the tasks, plus the extra shared storage to leap frog the datastore upgrades. So what is online volume grow? Answer: seamless VMFS volume growing without the use of extents. OVG facilitates a two step process of growing your underlying hardware LUNs (in a typical scenario this is going to be some type of shared storage like SAN, iSCSI, or NFS), then extending the VMFS volume so that it consumes the extra space on the LUNs. For the Microsoft administrators, you may be familiar with using the “DISKPART” command line utility to expand a non-OS partition . Same thing. Now, not everyone will have the type of storage that allows dynamic or even offline LUN growth at the physical layer. For this, VMware still allows VMFS volume growth through the use of extents but doing so doesn’t make my skin crawl any less than it did when I first learned about extents.

vNetwork Distributed Switch. I think VMware idolizes Hitachi. Any storage administrator who has been around Hitachi for a while will know what I’m talking about here. Hitachi likes to periodically change the names of their hardware and software technology whether it makes sense or not. More often than not, each of their technologies has two names/acronyms at a minimum. In some cases three. VMware is keeping up the pace with their name changes. What was once Distributed Virtual Switch (DVS) at VMworld 2008, is now vNetwork Distributed Switch (vNDS). Notice the case sensitivity there. I have and will continue to ding anyone for getting VMware’s branding wrong, but I promise to try to be polite about it because I realize the number of people who are as anal as I falls within the range of nobody and hardly anyone. The vNDS is a virtual network switch that can be shared by more than one ESX host. I think the idea behind the vNDS falls in line with host profiles: automated network configuration and consistency across hosts. Not only will this save us time from having to manually create switches and port groups (or generate the scripts to automate the process), but it will help guarantee we don’t run into VM migration problems which more and more enterprise features are dependent on (basically any feature that makes use of hot or cold VMotion or sVMotion). Add the Cisco Nexus 1000v into the mix and we see that VMware networking is becoming more automated, robust, and flexible, but with added complexity which could mean longer time to resolve network related issues.

Last but not least, Fault Tolerance. Truth be told, this is another VMware technology that has gone through a Marketing department name change but this was announced at VMworld 2008 and I’ve already ranted about it so I’ll let it go. In a single sentence, FT is an ESX/ESXi technology that provides continuous availability for virtual machines using VMware vLockstep functionality. It works by having identical VMs run in virtual lockstep on two separate hosts. The “primary” VM is in the active state doing what it does best: receives requests, serves information, and runs applications on the network. A “secondary” VM follows all changes made on the primary VM. VMware vLockstep captures all nondeterministic transactions that occur on the primary VM. The transactions are sent to the secondary VM running on a different host. All of this happens with a latency of less than a single second. If the primary VM goes down, the secondary takes over almost instantly with no loss of data or transactions. This is where FT differs from VMware High Availability (HA). HA is a cold restart of a failed VM. In FT, the VM is already running. At what cost does this FT technology come to us? I don’t know. VMware is tight lipped on licensing thus far but I can tell you that FT is enabled at an individual VM by VM level, not at a global datacenter, cluster, or host level. Have you figured out the other significant cost yet? Virtual Infrastructure resources. CPU, RAM, Disk, Network. The secondary VM is running in parallel with the primary. That means for each FT protected VM, we essentially need double the VI resources from the four food groups. This is a higher level of protection of VM workloads, in fact, the highest level of protection we’ve seen yet. This level of protection comes to us at a premium and thus I expect to see carefully planned and sparse usage of FT in the datacenter for the most critical workloads. Hopefully all will realize this isn’t VMware gouging us for more money. I expect FT to be a separately licensed component and by that, VMware gives us the choice whether to implement or not. That’s key because not all shops will have a need for FT so why should they be forced to purchase it? Customers want options and flexibility through adaptive and competitive licensing models.

This is an exciting list of new features and functionality that I look forward to working with. Hopefully we see them in the coming year. Those from the competing virtualization camps that think you are catching up with VMware – here’s your answer. VMware will continue to raise the bar while you play catch up. You’ve not done your homework if you thought VMware would sit back and relax, resting on its laurels. When has VMware ever been known for this? VMware has hundreds of ideas in the queues waiting for development. Ideas for innovation larger than you or I could imagine. Personally I think there is room for all three of the major hypervisor players in the ecosystem. Certainly the competition is good for the customer. It forces everyone to bring on their “A” game. Game on.

VMworld Europe 2009 Wednesday

February 25th, 2009

I need to make this quick because it’s 3:25am and I risk not waking up for my sessions tomorrow in four hours.

It has been a whirlwind of a day. I arrived at the conference and found out by word of mouth VMware had announced their list of vExpert recipients. I was one of 300 people on the planet chosen as a vExpert based on various contributions I’ve made to the VMware virtualization community including forum activity over the years, evangelism through blogging, podcasting, VMUG leader, etc. I can proudly display the silver vExpert logo on my blog. This is a nice gesture from VMware to recognize people in the community that have given much of themselves to promote a product that they believe in and help shape the future of our planet.

I attended some good sessions. Yesterday I learned about VMware vCenter Chargeback. It’s features seem fairly consistent with other chargeback solutions I’ve tested. Still not much automated help for estimating VM infrastructure and operational costs prior to VM deployment for new servers/applications/workloads but when I asked about this during Q&A, the speaker assured me this would be coming in future versions. vCenter Chargeback is also going to add an additional database to vCenter. For those with vCenter and Update Manager, we’re now up to three separate databases. The chargeback database has to be pretty simple – I don’t understand why additional tables can’t be created in the vCenter database for chargeback eliminating the need for an additional database. Where I get nervous about databases is during vCenter upgrades and the additional time and effort required to repair or back out from a failed database upgrade.

I attended a few more good sessions today. Most notably TA15 Protecting your vCenter Server using vCenter Heartbeat and LAB11 VMware VI Toolkit for Windows (PowerShell) where I was assisted by none other than Carter Shanklin whom many might recognize from Twitter. Carter also delivered a knockout session which I hear is currently ranked #1 among all sessions. In the past, it wasn’t a show stopper for the virtual infrastructure if VirtualCenter was down for a brief to moderately extended period of time. With all of the components announced recently that tie into vCenter Server, the importance of vCenter Server uptime (and vSphere as a whole) has increased exponentially. vCenter Server is evolving into an enterprise application requiring 99.9999% uptime. The additional moving parts will introduce increased complexity and potentially new operational and support standards for vSphere. Our models will need to be adapted to fit the uptime requirements of vSphere.

DSC00677The second VMTN: Ask the Experts session was held today. We had more people in the community lounge than yesterday but still not many visitors who were looking for assistance with VMware virutalization. I was pulled away by Jessica, a Systems Engineer with VMware, along with a camera crew to give an interview on vExpert along with some general chit chat about the show. That interview will be posted on vmworld.com.

DSC00711Moving along into the evening, I attended the VMworld party which started at 20:00. It was a great time. To the left, that’s Mike Laverick walking through the entrance with his video camera in tow. There was live music including two women who kicked things off with some techno violin. I thought the food was pretty good and there was quite a variety. The presentation of the food was also interesting as you will see from the photos below. The man at the bar in the brown jacket with his back turned to me is none other than Jonathan Reeve of Hyper9.

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DSC00738I was the lucky recipient of a Flip Video mino HD from Tripwire.

This is a slick little video recording device which records up to 1 hour of HD video and sound on internal memory.

I hung out with a lot friends and talked with some interesting people like Brian Madden who always has interesting stories to tell.

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DSC00745The story behind this picture is that while waiting in line to get into the party, I buried five Euros worth of coins in this hot candle wax 1/2 inch deep along with a few US coins. The experiment was to see if anyone would dig them out after the candle wax had dried. When we left the party, all the Euro coins were gone. Someone later took them out of the hot wax and peeled the wax shavings off which were found on the ground. They left the US coins and my card.

The VMworld party ended at midnight and some of us walked down the strip to a small techno bar that was jam packed. There was a live DJ, dancing, drinking, and making out. Like the Veeam boat party the other night, I ran into Tarry Singh, Strategic Business Consultant: Data Center (Cloud Computing, Virtualization). Tarry is funny as hell and that guy can definitely cut a rug. I’ve got a lot of video footage from tonight but cannot post any due to very poor upload speeds from the hotel.

It’s late and the Hyper9 alien and I are tired. Goodnight.

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VMworld Europe 2009 Tuesday keynote

February 24th, 2009

DSC00569 The general session keynote was kicked off by Maurizio Carli, General Manager EMEA. Maurizio briefly talked about VMware EMEA growth:

  • VMworld Europe 2008 4,500 attendees
  • VMworld Europe 2009 4,700 attendees
  • 100 sponsors this year

DSC00570 Paul Maritz President and CEO began his keynote discussing today’s IT problems and how they are not sustainable into the future. The solution is:

  • Efficiency
  • Control
  • Choice

VMware addresses the above with the following initiatives:

  1. VDC-OS – Foundation for the Cloud
  2. vCloud – Choice and Cloud Federation
  3. vClient – Desktop as a Service

VDC-OS

DSC00575 The Cloud as Architecture from the bottom up. Virtualization is the key to making all of this happen in an evolutionary way:

  • Datacenter/Cloud

VMware vSphere

    • Existing Apps/New Apps – Existing and multiple future app models
    • Management – SLA management model
    • Policies – Security, Compliance…
    • Software – Scale and availability through software
    • Hardware – Industry standard building blocks

Paul went on to discuss the vSphere Architecture and its components. Other than the vSphere name being introduced, the slide looked identical to that of what was presented at VMworld 2008 and what exists on the VDC-OS web page.

VMware vCenter Suite SLA Driven Management Model:

  • Availability
  • Security
  • Performance

2009 is the year virtualization users have been waiting for. Quoting Paul, there will be no reason why we can not virtualize 100% of the workloads in our environment. That is a confident statement and it makes me enthusiastic about things to come.

vCloud

I have been witness to a lot of discussion, including a degree of uncertainty (including my own), concerning cloud computing. VMware is addressing the concerns by working with service providers to ensure compatibility between internal and external clouds (ie. Sungard). In addition, they are working with standards bodies to avoid a “Hotel California” situation where you can check in but never check out.

Paul brought up a few guest speakers to talk about the cloud and they performed live demos as well.

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vClient

Unfortunately at this point, wireless went down and I was scrambling to reproduce content above that was lost and I hadn’t saved yet.  That said, I didn’t get as much of the vClient content as I would have liked.  Brian Madden was licking his chops for desktop content so hopefully he can round out the discussion.

VMware View Enables Desktop as a Service. Layers from the bottom up:

  • VMware View
  • vCenter
  • VDC-OS/vSphere
  • Hardware

VMware View: Complete Roll-Out in 2009:

  • Management
    • Centralized template-based management
    • App virtualization
    • Thin provisioning
  • WAN
    • Hi latency
    • Low bandwidth
    • Productive Desktop
  • LAN
    • HD video
    • Flash
    • 3D graphics
  • Local
    • Use local resources
    • Optimal media experience
    • Rich portable desktop

The next speaker to take the stage talked about SAP.  Rather than listen to him, I spent some time editing this post for final submission.

I’m now heading on to the sessions.

For those interested, don’t miss the VMTN:  Ask the Experts session today and tomorrow at 13:00 in the Community Lounge.  My wife Amy baked chocolate chip cookies for those who attend.  Hurry before they run out!

VMworld Europe 2009 Monday evening

February 23rd, 2009

Tonight I had a nice dinner with Tripwire‘s Karen Hepner and Steve Beaver and a group of other well known virtualization friends and experts at a restaurant called Marina Cafe. A great time was had by all and the conversations were lively thanks to Tom Howarth and Mike Laverick being in attendance. I wish I snapped a better photo; this one is a bit blurry (absent from the photo is Alan Renouf who showed up a little later):

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After dinner, the group separated.

  • Karen went back to her room and may have later went out to a VMUG party according to Twitter.
  • The Dutch and UK guys (and Brenda) went to a pub and supposedly Tom Howarth was arrested and hauled off to French jail for perpetuating the joke about Alan Renouf being French. Duncan Epping was later heard saying Alan looks more English than the Beatles. Clearly, the insults are plenty and don’t end until dawn. Tom’s cell mate, if you are reading this, I’m taking all callers live right now – what is the scoop and what is Tom’s current condition?
  • Steve and I walked a few blocks to find a tobacco shop so I could purchase a cigar. While there, I lent a Frenchman some coin and hopefully picked up some positive French karma along the way. On the walk back to our hotels, we talked about some good stuff.

It’s 1:20am. Tomorrow is when things get pretty exciting from a VMworld/VMware virtualization standpoint. In closing, here are pictures of one of the two casinos I know of on Charles de Gaulle Boulevard. This casino is next to the Palais Des Festivals on the marina which is where VMworld 2009 Europe is being held:

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By the way, the yachts in the marina are ABSOLUTELY SICK. My poor photography skills at night do not do these beautiful boats justice (click on the thumbnails for the larger image):

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VMworld Europe 2009 Monday afternoon

February 23rd, 2009

It’s day number two in Cannes, France. Today is Partner Day which is for VMware Partners and Press. It’s an opportunity for both to get an advanced screening and interpretation of what’s to come during the next three days. I am attending the conference as a blogger with the trip partially made possible by Hyper9. I believe I have a press pass, however, the badge identifies me as a “Blogger” instead of “Press”. Apparently there is difference between the two from a conference access perspective but with some help I was able to manage security and attend a few of the day’s sessions.

Being a blogger or press does have its advantages. For instance, right now I’m sitting in a privately reserved room with wired internet access, peace, and quiet. I’m taking care of as much business as I can here because internet access is pretty brutal back at the hotel room.

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Although there was plenty of content today, no official announcements until tomorrow. Sorry for that. If you need some cool VMware news to tide you over in the mean time, head over to Duncan Epping’s site and take a look at his announcement about vCenter for the Linux platform.

It’s nearly 7pm and I’m heading out now to dinner with Tripwire and some friends from the VMTN and Twitter community.

VMPeople.net extends contract with boche.net

February 23rd, 2009

I am happy to report that VMPeople.net, The Global Virtualization and Cloud Computing Job Board, has extended its partnership with boche.net.

VMPeople.net is a leading source of virtualization networking for job seekers, contractors, consultants, hiring managers, and recruiters.  I would like to to thank VMPeople.net for their continued support!