For those who may be interested in an upcoming Palo Alto defense date, plan accordingly to make sure you meet the pre-requisite exam requirements. Details for the application process can be found here:
vmware.com/go/vcdx > VCDX Defense Overview
For those who may be interested in an upcoming Palo Alto defense date, plan accordingly to make sure you meet the pre-requisite exam requirements. Details for the application process can be found here:
vmware.com/go/vcdx > VCDX Defense Overview
On day 1 of Hitachi Data Systems Geek Day 2.0, we met with Michael Heffernan, Global Product Manager – Virtualization. You might know him as @virtualheff on Twitter. I was pleased to listen to Heff as he discussed HDS integration with VMware vSphere vStorage API for Array Integration (VAAI for short and most easily pronounced “vee·double-ehh·eye”). For those who aren’t aware, VMware introduced VAAI with the GA release of vSphere 4.1 on July 13th of last year. In short, VAAI allows the burden of certain storage related tasks to be offloaded from the ESX/ESXi hypervisor to the storage array. Generally speaking, the advantages touted are performance improvement of intrinsic tasks and increased scalability of the storage array. HDS is one of a few storage vendors who supported VAAI integration on the July launch date and in February of this year, they announced VAAI support with their VSP (see also Hu Yoshida’s writing on the announcement).
Heff started off with some virtualization in the datacenter background and IDC stats. Here are a few that he shared with us:
A few time line infographics were also shown which tell a short story about VMware, HDS:
VMware provides several integration points which storage vendors can take advantage of, VAAI being just one of them. These integration points are use case specific and standardized by VMware. As such, integration is developed in parallel by competing vendors and most often the resulting offerings from each look and feel similar. Great minds in storage and virtualization think alike.
Heff also used this opportunity to mention Hitachi Dynamic Provisioning (HDP) technology which is essentially HDS thin provisioning plus other lesser known benefits but has nothing more to do with VAAI than any other storage vendor which supports both VAAI and thin provisioning. Others may disagree but I see no sustainable or realizable real world benefit with VAAI and thin provisioning at this time; the discussion is rather academic.
HDS went on to show VAAI benefits are real. Tests show an 18% efficiency improvement in the block copy test on a 30GB virtual disk. 85% decrease in elapsed time to eager write zeros to a 30GB virtual disk. The third VAAI benefit, hardware assisted locking, can be a little trickier to prove or require specific use cases. Following are examples of VMFS operations that require locking metadata, and as a result a SCSI reservation which hardware assisted locking improves, per VMware KB Article: 1005009:
Heff showcased the following hardware assisted locking results. Up to 36% increase in performance and 75% reduction in lock conflicts for the power on/linked clone test:
VAAI offloads some of the heavy lifting from the hypervisor to the back end storage array so it was appropriate for the discussion to ultimately lead to impact on the array. This is where I currently feel the bigger benefit is: better scalability or more mileage out of the array. HDS is also the second storage vendor I’ve heard say that block LUN size and number of VMs per LUN is no longer a constraint (from a performance standpoint, everything else being equal). This point always interests me and is frankly a tough pill to swallow. I wasn’t able to pin Heff down to more specific details nor have I seen actual numbers, case studies, or endorsements from any storage vendor’s customer environments. To some degree, I think this design consideration is still going to be use case and environment dependent. It will also continue to be influenced by other constraints such as replication. It may become more of a reality when VMware expands VAAI integration beyond the original three features. HDS did mention that in vSphere 5, VMware is adding two more VAAI features bringing the total to five assuming they are released.
HDS offers competitive storage solutions for the VMware use case and it is clear they are totally committed to the virtualization push from both a storage and compute perspective. You can learn more about these solutions and stay in tune with their evolution at their VMware Solutions site.
Full Disclosure Statement: HDS Geek Day is a sponsored event. Although I receive no direct compensation and take personal leave to attend, all event expenses are paid by the sponsors. No editorial control is exerted over me and I write what I want, if I want, when I want, and how I want.
Xangati Delivers First Solution for Managing VDI to Operational Scale
New Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) Dashboard Leverages Powerful Performance Health Engine to Ensure Optimal End-user Experience
Cupertino, CA – March 22, 2011 – Xangati, the recognized leader in infrastructure performance management, today introduced the Xangati VDI Dashboard, the industry’s first solution designed to comprehensively track all key infrastructure components that affect VDI performance, giving administrators the confidence and ability to successfully implement large-scale VDI deployments. Leveraging Xangati’s powerful real-time memory-based analytics engine architecture, the Xangati VDI Dashboard tracks and continuously monitors activity of all VDI components within the infrastructure without requiring any agents. The new dashboard also includes a performance health engine that automatically and visually alerts administrators in real-time about the precise location of performance issues.
By providing a solution that covers components in and outside of the virtual infrastructure (VI), the Xangati VDI Dashboard gives administrators comprehensive “cross silo” awareness into all critical elements linked to – including clients, desktops, networks, servers, storage, applications and VDI protocols – which ultimately provides a positive VDI user experience.
“The ultimate success of VDI projects depends 100 percent on the ability to provide users with the same level of application performance and availability that they are accustomed to in conventional desktop environments,” said Alan Robin, CEO of Xangati. “However, prior to the release of Xangati’s solution, VDI administrators were flying blind to the source of end-user performance issues not linked to their VDI software – oftentimes leading to stalled implementations and cancelled projects. Xangati is the first to market with a solution to tackle these challenges head on through a UI structured specifically for VDI support, an agent-free model, and a rapid installation process that provides immediate download to value.”
“Xangati has once again demonstrated its talent for developing and delivering innovative infrastructure performance management solutions that are needed to help businesses successfully implement and benefit from emerging and transformational technologies, such as VDI,” said Bernd Harzog, analyst of virtualization performance and capacity management at The Virtualization Practice. “Its new dashboard not only gives the highest level of visibility into all the moving parts in the VDI ecosystem but also extends its real-time and continuous monitoring to include proactive, system-generated health alerts and visual recordings about performance issues.”
Through relationships and support from VMware and Citrix, Xangati has designed the Xangati VDI Dashboard to fully complement both VMware View and Citrix XenDesktop environments.
Xangati VDI Dashboard: Breakthrough Features
Real-time Performance Health Engine
The cornerstone of the Xangati VDI Dashboard is its patent-pending performance health engine that analyzes the health of VDI in an unprecedented four microseconds. Relying on Xangati’s memory-driven architecture, the performance health of the VDI is being continuously monitored across a broad spectrum of performance metrics to the unrivaled scale of 250,000 objects (which can include desktops and clients). In contrast, other performance management architectures are database-driven and unable to keep apace of dynamic interactions to scale that are fundamental to VDI.
The output of Xangati’s performance health engine is a real-time health index that is linked to the health of every client, desktop, network link, host, VDI protocol and IT server that can impact VDI end–user experience. In real-time – as an object’s health shifts – the health index changes to reflect the urgency of the performance issue. Moreover, the performance shift will trigger a real-time alert, which is uniquely paired with a DVR-recording.
The DVR-recording will show exactly where the performance problem stems from and present contextual insights about what is driving the sub-optimal performance. For instance, a specific user community is seeing obvious delays in screen presentation due to a high latency network link. These DVR recordings capture issues that are often outside of a VDI vendor’s software framework and can be passed to the appropriate IT function, e.g. to the storage team when storage latency is at the heart of the performance issue.
All VDI Operations in a Single Pane of Glass
For the very first time, a VDI team can see in one pane of glass all the critical components that sustain the VDI, as well as the desktops and their clients. Through this structure, the Xangati solution is the only purpose-built dashboard framed to replicate how a VDI administrator seeks to run their operations. Additionally, the VDI dashboard incorporates Xangati’s visual trouble ticketing model that allows end-users to initiate DVR recordings when they are experiencing issues. In this manner, the VDI administrator can see, for example, that a user’s poor VDI experience on an iPad is due to a highly congested WiFi network.
In contrast to other solutions marketed as VDI-focused, the Xangati solution can populate itself with incredibly rich data without requiring guest software agents. It is this agent-free model that allows Xangati to be deployed rapidly, even during proof of concept phases, as well as when an enterprise wishes to scale their virtual desktops into the thousands or tens of thousands.
School District Earns an A+ in Performance with Xangati’s VDI Dashboard
Manchester Essex Regional School District (MERSD) turned to VDI last year as a way to enable faster provisioning and deployment of new desktops and reduce its operational costs. MERSD is an early adopter of the Xangati VDI Dashboard and is maximizing VDI benefits through the capabilities of its performance health engine.
“In order to keep our schools’ virtual computers running while school is in session, we must be able to quickly and accurately identify performance problems – ideally before they occur,” said Stephen Kwiatek, network administrator for MERSD. “Having a Health Index that alerts us to potential issues takes a huge load off of our shoulders by giving us an automated way to monitor the VDI infrastructure. This is a tremendous advantage in providing our staff and students with the highest quality of computing and the success of our VDI initiative. The Xangati VDI Dashboard is absolutely unique as a real-time window into our virtual world.”
Pricing and Availability
The Xangati VDI Dashboard is available immediately and can also be downloaded for a free two-week trial via the Xangati website. Priced at just $25 per desktop in a starter kit of 100 desktops, the Xangati VDI Dashboard enables a company to implement a VDI initiative for just $2,499 – making it one of the most affordable options today. For more information about the new Xangati VDI Dashboard and to start a free trial, go to http://xangati.com/VDI_dashboard.
Xangati, the recognized leader in Infrastructure Performance Management (IPM), provides unparalleled performance management for the emerging and transformational data center architectures impacting IT today, including server virtualization, cloud computing and VDI. Its award-winning suite of IPM solutions accelerates cloud computing and virtualization initiatives by providing unprecedented visibility and real-time continuous insights into the entire infrastructure. Leveraging its powerful precision analytics, Xangati’s health performance index provides a new way to view and manage performance – in real-time – at a scale previously not possible.
Founded in 2006, Xangati, Inc. is a privately held company with corporate headquarters based in Cupertino, California. Xangati has been granted numerous technology patents for its unique and comprehensive approach to Infrastructure Performance Management. Xangati is a VMware Technology Alliance Partner and certified Citrix Ready Partner and supports VMware View and Citrix XenDesktop, as well as other virtualization environments. For more information, visit the company website at http://www.xangati.com.
It has been an exciting couple of months for VMware in terms of product releases. Now, VMware has done it again. Effective immediately, the vSphere Client for iPad is announced and is generally available for download from the Apple App Store. Leave your wallet and iTunes gift cards parked. Similar to the VMware View Client for iPad, this app is also brought to the community free of charge. From anywhere, we can now view key performance metrics and perform essential management tasks in a simplified and portable interface.
The new client is not meant to be functionally equivalent to the existing vSphere Client for Windows. Rather, the idea is to be able to perform the most common vSphere administrator tasks. This release is version 1.0.1. As such, not all of the desired features and functionality is baked in. Future development will be an iterative process from the GA release point forward. Feedback from end users will be collected and improvements will be built into future versions. vMotion will perhaps be the most desired feature but unfortunately it did not make GA release. VMware promises it will be the next feature added so that is more good news to look forward to on the horizon.
Other potential wish list items which didn’t make the GA build are ESX Service Console, ESXi DCUI, and guest VM console access. In my opinion, I wouldn’t look for console features any time soon. I believe the spirit of the vSphere Client for iPad is to provide simplified management through an easy to use interface ala knobs and buttons. Console access falls into that last 20% of advanced troubleshooting which extends beyond the intended use case of the iPad Client.
So what’s under the hood? Let’s take a look. Aside from the foundational vSphere infrastructure (which is available as a free 60-day evaluation), there are two components, both free, which enable the delivery of portable management bliss: the vCMA and the client for iPad itself. To connect with the client from a remote location via the internet, a VPN connection on the iPad placing it local on the destination network is required. Like the View Client for iPad, the vSphere Client for iPad is developed for iPad only. No iPhone, iOther, etc. The logic is built into the vCMA which will make it extensible for Android in the future. Additionally, the vCMA will eventually be retired and its functionality will be rolled natively into vCenter Server. I like this idea because my lab is getting to be somewhat appliance heavy which limits capacity to run the traditional VMs I want to be testing with. Following is a visual overview of the architecture:
As mentioned earlier, future development will be an iterative process based on customer feedback. These discussions can be aired in the vSphere Client for iPad VMTN Community forums located at the URL below. Do not be shy. VMware WANTS your feedback:
Now let’s take a bit of a deeper dive by looking at the installation process and the management capabilities of the app.
Installation and Configuration
Search for vSphere hosts and virtual machines.�
Reboot vSphere hosts or put them into maintenance mode.
Manage virtual machines with the ability to start, stop and suspend.�
View and restore virtual machines’ snapshots
Monitor the performance of vSphere hosts and virtual machines:
Diagnose vSphere hosts and virtual machines using built-in ping and traceroute tools:
Following are a few short video clips which VMware has made available covering the vSphere Client for iPad.
Configure the vCMA Virtual Appliance:
Configure & use the iPad app:
Summary of the iPad development by VMware at VMworld in Copenhagen October 2010:
VMware is sure to gain popularity by offering virtualization and cloud management tools for portable devices… and at the right price. VMware is listening to feedback and has already reacted with a modified list price in this GA release. I think last week’s launch of the View Client for iPad was a big hit. It will be interesting to see how well received this app is, particularly by the *nix folks who have been patiently waiting their turn for some client development love.
Updated 3/20/11: Srinivas Krishnamurti, Senior Director for Mobile Solutions at VMware, has written a piece on his blog over at the Office of the CTO. Read it here: VMware vSphere Client for iPad has left the building…
I’ve been a fan of the Car Talk radio program since I was introduced to it in 1993. I hope the Tappet brothers don’t mind if I borrow the theme from one of their popular segments appropriately called Puzzler. It seemed fitting for this article which I’m going to call VMware Talk Puzzler. Not surprising, the goal of the Car Talk Puzzler is to listen to the problem (which is typically not simple), then provide the root cause. In this adaptation, I’ll present a real life vSphere problem. If you choose to take a stab, your job is three fold:
1) Identify the root cause of the problem.
2) Identify the solution.
3) Identify the unique tasks or chain of events which lead to the problem.
Here we go.
I was called in to help troubleshoot a problem. “Carl” had created a virtual machine in a VMware vSphere 4.1 Update 1 cluster. The problem Carl was experiencing was that the VM would not power on. Error messages in vCenter include but are not limited to:
I asked if the ESXi cluster and vCenter were licensed. Carl confirmed by showing me that vCenter was licensed with Standard Edition and the hosts which wouldn’t power on the VM were still using 60 day Evaluation licensing as they were just recently built. I further verified the Evaluation licensing had not yet expired.
I asked Carl to show me details of the VM. He proceeded to show me the VM was created with the following shell specifications:
1) Identify the root cause of Carl’s vSphere problem.
2) Identify the solution for Carl.
3) Identify the tasks or chain of events which lead to Carl’s problem.
If you think you know the answer, write it on the top of a shrink wrapped pallet containing a Cisco UCS 5100 Series Blade Server Chassis, fully loaded with UCS B200 M2 Blade Servers each with 192GB RAM, UCS 6100 Series Fabric Interconnects, and a pair of Cisco Nexus 5548P next generation 10GbE switches and send to my mailing address.
Or… reply in the comments section below.
The first correct and complete answer (I hope there is just one) will receive internet recognition, real life respect, and if I can find one, a prize. No promises on that last one but I’ll see what I can do.
A few months ago, I wrote about the arrival of the new VMware vSphere 4.1 HA and DRS technical deepdive book. Having finished reading the book, I thought I’d write a quick follow up.
This book was a pretty easy read, and by that I mean it as a compliment in that the authors did a superb job in conveying the details of deep technical discussions in a way that I think is easy to comprehend and understand at different levels. At the same time, the coverage did not disappoint. All aspects of HA, DRS, and even DPM were discussed at length. Along the way, Basic Design Principles in each section were highlighted to summarize the technical detail.
Duncan and Frank cover not only the supported parameters, but the unsupported and sometimes undocumented tweaks as well. Most important, they are very clear in pointing out what’s supported by VMware and what’s not.
I feel that I have a pretty good handle on HA and DRS but that doesn’t mean that time spent reading this book was wasted. I picked up some design bits that I hadn’t thought about before having not been exposed to the environments in which they would apply. Some sources do a fine job in discussion either HA or DRS, but what sets this book apart is that it expands into how the two operate together which is just about as important to understand as the individual topics themselves. The DRS and DPM chapters exposed the computational math behind the decisions which DRS makes. Quite honestly, I probably learned the most here. Not that I’ll be able to keep the formulas in memory for very long, nonetheless the content and the size of the book will make it a great reference.
Capping the end of a great book I was pleasantly surprised to find an Appendix containing all of the Basic Design Principles, as well as all of the advanced parameters for HA and DRS. If you’re short on time for reading, advanced to the 11 page Appendix in the back and you’ll get a pretty good summary of the first 18 chapters.
If you buy the book, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Thanks Duncan and Frank!
If you manage EMC unified storage running at least FLARE 30 and DART 6, or if you’re using a recent version of the UBER VSA, or if you’re one of the fortunate few who have had your hands on the new VNX series, then chances are you’re familiar with or you’ve at least experienced Unisphere, which is EMC’s single pane of glass approach to managing its multi protocol arrays. For what is essentially a 1.0 product, I think EMC did a great job with Unisphere. It’s modern. It’s fast. It has a cool sleek design and flows well. They may have cut a few corners where it made sense (one can still see a few old pieces of Navisphere code here and there) but what counts for me the most at the end of the day is the functionality and efficiency gained by a consolidation of tools.
You’re probably reading this because you have a relationship with VMware virtualization. Anyone who designs, implements, manages, or troubleshoots VMware virtual infrastructure also has a relationship with storage, most often shared storage. Virtualization has been transforming the datacenter, and not just it’s composition. The way we manage and collaborate from a technology perspective is also evolving. Virtualization has brought about an intersection of technologies which is redefining roles and delegation of responsibilities. One of the earlier examples of this was virtual networking. With the introduction of 802.1Q VST in ESX, network groups found themselves fielding requests for trunked VLANs to servers and having to perform the associated design, capacity, and security planning. Managing access to VLANs was a shift in delegated responsibility from the network team to the virtualization platform team. Some years later, implementation of the Cisco Nexus 1000V in vSphere pulled most of the network related tasks back under the control of the network team.
Storage is another broad reaching technology upon which most of today’s computing relies upon, including virtualization. Partners work closely with VMware to develop tools which provide seamless integration of overlapping technologies. Unisphere is one of several products in the EMC portfolio which boasts this integration. Granted, some of these VMware bits existed in Unisphere’s ancestor Navisphere. However, I think it’s still worth highlighting some of the capabilities found in Unisphere. EMC has been on an absolute virtualization rampage. I can only imagine that with their commitment, these products will get increasingly better.
So what does this Unisphere/vSphere integration look like? Let’s take a look…
In order to bring vSphere visibility into Unisphere, we need to make Unisphere aware of our virtual environment. From the Host Management menu pane in Unisphere, choose Hypervisor Information Configuration Wizard:
Classic welcome to the wizard. Next:
Select the EMC array in which to integrate a hypervisor configuration:
In the following screen, we’re given the option to integrate either standalone ESX(i) hosts, vCenter managed hosts, or both. In this case, I’ll choose vCenter managed hosts:
Unisphere needs the IP address of the vCenter Server along with credentials having sufficient permissions to collect virtual infrastructure information. FQDN of virtual infrastructure doesn’t work here (Wish list item), however, hex characters are accepted which tells me it’s IPv6 compatible:
I see your infrastructure. Would you like to add or remove items?
Last step. This is the virtual infrastructure we’re going to tie into. Choose Finish:
Congratulations. Success. Click Finish once more:
Once completed, I see that the vCenter server I added has nested in the ESX host which it manages. Again we see only the IP address representing a vCenter Server, rather than the FQDN itself. This could get a little hairy in larger environments where a name is more familiar and friendlier than an IP address. However, in Unisphere’s defense, at the time of adding a host we do have the option of adding a short description which would show up here. Highlighting the ESX host reveals the VMs which are running on the host. Nothing Earth shattering yet, but the good stuff lies ahead:
Let’s look at the ESX host properties. Here’s where the value starts to mount (storage pun intended). The LUN Status tab reveals information of LUNs in use by the ESX host, as well as the Storage Processor configuration and status. This is useful information for balance and performance troubleshooting purposes:
Moving on to the Storage tab, more detailed information is provided about the LUN characteristics and how the LUNs are presented to the ESX host:
The Virtual Machines tab is much the same as the VMware Infrastructure summary screen with the information that it provides. However, it does provide the ability to drill down to specific VM information by way of hyperlinks:
Let’s take a look at the VM named vma41 by clicking on the vma41 hyperlink from the window above. The General tab provides some summary information about the VM and the storage, but nothing that we probably don’t already know at this point. Onward:
The LUN Status tab provides the VM to storage mapping and Storage Processor. Once again, this is key information for performance troubleshooting. Don’t get me wrong. This information alone isn’t necessarily going to provide conclusive troubleshooting data. Rather, it should be combined with other information collected such as storage or fabric performance reports:
Similar to the host metrics, the Storage tab from the VM point of view provides more detailed information about the datastore as well as the VM disk configuration. Note the Type column which shows that the VM was thinly provisioned:
There are a few situations which can invoke the age old storage administrator’s question: “What’s using this LUN?” From the Storage | LUNs | Properties drill down (or from Storage | Pools/RAID Groups), Unisphere ties in the ESX hosts connected to the LUN as well as the VMs living on the LUN. Example use cases where this information is pertinent would be performance troubleshooting, storage migration or expansion, replication and DR/BCP planning.
VM integration also lends itself to the Unisphere Report Wizard. Here, reports can be generated for immediate display in a web browser, or they can be exported in .CSV format to be massaged further.
If you’d like to see more, EMC has made available a three minute EMC Unisphere/VMware Integration Demo video which showcases integration and the flow of information:
With all of this goodness and as with any product, there is room for improvement. I mentioned before that by and large the vSphere integration code appears to be legacy which came from Navisphere. Navisphere manages CLARiiON block storage only (fibre channel and native CLARiiON iSCSI). What this means is that there is a gap in Unisphere/vSphere integration with respect to Celerra NFS and iSCSI. For NFS, EMC has a vSphere plugin which Chad Sakac introduced about a year ago on his blog here and here. While it’s not Unisphere integration, it does do some cool and useful things which are outlined in this product overview.
In medium to large sized environments where teams can be siloed, it’s integration like this which can provide a common language, bridging the gap between technologies which have close dependencies with one another. These tools work in the SMB space as well where staff will have both virtualization and storage areas of responsibility. vSphere integration with Unisphere can provide a fair amount insight and efficiency. I think this is just a slight representation of what future integration will be capable of. VMware’s portfolio of virtualization, cloud, and data protection products continues to expand. Each and every product VMware delivers is dependent on storage. There is a tremendous opportunity to leverage each of these attach points for future integration.