Posts Tagged ‘3rd Party Apps’

Gestalt IT Tech Field Day – Veeam

July 15th, 2010

Gestalt IT Tech field Day – Day 1:  First on the agenda this morning is Veeam.  Their focus for today will be on Backup and Replication which is great because I was wanting more details on their SureBackup offering.  A quick introduction on some products and Veeam’s charter:

Free Products

  • Veeam FastSCP
  • Veeam Business View
  • Veeam Monitor Free Edition
  • Veeam Reporter Free Edition (announced today, available within 30 days)

Pay Products

  • Veeam Backup & Replication
  • Veeam Reporter
  • Veeam Monitor
  • nworks

The Veeam Product Strategy Alignment:

  1. Past and Present: VMware vSphere
  2. What’s next: Hyper-V

Today’s focus: Veeam Backup and Replication

Virtualization introduces a paradigm shift in our datacenter processes surrounding data protection and business continuation planning.  Traditional tools don’t fit any more.  Veeam provides the right tools for the virtualized datacenter.

Veeam has also introduced vPower: Virtualization-Powered Data Protection.  vPower is not a single product or technology in and of itself, it’s a suite of existing and new technologies.  What are the key components of vPower?  SureBackup, InstantRestore, and SmartCDP.  Let’s take a look in more detail:

  • Run a VM directly from a backup file
  • Automatically manager isolated virtual lab
  • Instant VM recovery
  • Universal application item recovery (U-AIR)
    • Wizard driven recovery for technologies such as MS AD, MS Exchange, and MS SQL
    • User directed item recovery from any application or database
  • Recovery verification
  • Rapid execution keeping RTO to a bare minimum

Veeam proceeded with a live lab demo using alpha code.  There was plenty of enthusiasm in the room from the delegates about the technology as it relates to virtualization.  The delegates revealed a strong foundation in virtualization concepts.  Generally speaking, this is cool and revolutionary technology, however, there were concerns expressed in a few areas:

  1. Networking:  How do we ensure an isolated lab environment to avoid the pitfalls of duplicate machine identities or unintentional routing on the network?
  2. Performance:  How well does the VM run which is tied to archive files?  Is there measurable, and more importantly, predictable overhead for common workload types?
  3. Understanding:  This data protection and recovery approach, while innovative, is nonetheless new. Is there a with an inherent learning curve for datacenter operators or administrators?  Enabled with a wizard driven interface, I’d argue no, not really.  So long as the product works as designed, should we care how it ticks?  Like Lab Manager or Willy Wonka, you don’t ask how it works, “it just does”.

Veeam already has solid products but it is clear they aren’t content with resting on their laurels.  They continue to push the envelope in backup, replication, and disaster recovery, making the lives of data administrators and lowering RTO.

Availability: Q3 2010 (VMworld launch?)

Note : Tech Field 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 through Gestalt IT Media LLC. No editorial control is exerted over me and I write what I want, if I want, when I want, and how I want.

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.

VKernel Capacity Analyzer

May 6th, 2010

Last month, I attended Gestalt IT Tech Field Day in Boston.  This is an independent conference made up of hand selected delegates and sponsored by the technology vendors whom we were visiting.  All of the vendors boast products which tie into a virtualized datacenter which made the event particularly exciting for me!

One of the vendors we met with is VKernel.  If you’re a long time follower of my blog, you may recall a few of my prior VKernel posts including VKernel CompareMyVM.  Our VKernel briefing covered Capacity Analyzer.  This is a product I actually looked at in the lab well over a year ago, but it was time to take another peek to see what improvements have been made.

Before I get into the review, some background information on VKernel:

VKernel helps systems administrators manage server and storage capacity utilization in their virtualized datacenters so they can:

  • Get better utilization from existing virtualization resources
  • Avoid up to 1/2 the cost of expanding their virtualized datacenter
  • Find and fix or avoid capacity related performance problems

VKernel provides easy to use, highly affordable software for systems managers that:

  • Integrates with their existing VMware systems
  • Discovers their virtualized infrastructure and
  • Determines actual utilization vs. provisioned storage, memory, and CPU resources

And the VKernel Capacity Analyzer value proposition:

Capacity Analyzer proactively monitors shared CPU, memory, network, and disk (storage and disk I/O) utilization trends in VMware and Hyper-V environments across hosts, clusters, and resource pools enabling you to:

  • Find and fix current and future capacity bottlenecks
  • Safely place new VMs based on available capacity
  • Easily generate capacity utilizatino alerts

Capacity Analyzer lists for $299/socket, however, VKernel was nice enough to provide each of the delegates with a 10 socket/2 year license which was more than adequate for evaluation in the lab.  From this point forward, I will refer to Capacity Analyzer as CA.

One of the things which was noticed right away by another delegate and by myself was the quick integration and immediate results.  CA 4.2 Standard Edition ships as a virtual appliance in OVF or Converter format.  The 32-bit SLES VM is pre-built, pre-configured, and pre-optimized for the role which it was designed for in the virtual infrastructure.  The 600MB appliance deploys in just minutes.  The minimum deployment tasks consist of network configuration (including DHCP support), licensing, and pointing at a VI3 or vSphere virtual infrastructure.

CA is managed by HTTP web interface which has been the subject of noticable improvement and polishing since the last time I reviewed the product.  The management and reporting interface is presented in a dashboard layout which makes use of the familiar stoplight colors.  A short period of time after deployment, I was already seeing data being collected.  I should note that the product supports management of multiple infrastructures.  I pointed CA at VI3 and vSphere vCenters simultaneously.

5-5-2010 10-58-08 PM

One of the dashboard views in CA is the “Top VM Consumers” for metrics such as CPU, Memory, Storage, CPU Ready, Disk Bus Resets, Disk Commands Aborted, Disk Read, and Disk Write.  The dashboard view shows the top 5, however, detailed drilldown is available which lists all the VMs in my inventory.

5-5-2010 10-48-59 PM

Prior to deploying CA, I felt I had a pretty good feel for the capacity and utilization in the lab.  After letting CA digest the information available, I thought it would be interesting to compare results provided by CA with my own perception and experience.  I was puzzled by the initial findings.  Consider the following physical two node cluster information from vCenter.  Each node is configured identically with 2xQC AMD Opteron processors and 16GB RAM. Each host is running about 18 powered on VMs.  Host memory is and always has been my limiting resource, and it’s evident here, however, with HA admission control disabled, there is still capacity to register and power on several more “like” VMs.

5-5-2010 10-46-54 PM

So here’s where things get puzzling for me.  Looking at the Capacity Availability Map, CA is stating
1) Memory is my limiting resource – correct
2) There is no VM capacity left on the DL385 G2 Cluster – that’s not right

5-5-2010 10-46-01 PM

After further review, the discrepancy is revealed.  The Calculated VM Size (slot size if you will) for memory is at 3.5GB.  I’ not sure where CA is coming up with this number. It’s not the HA calculated slot size, I checked.  3.5GB is nowhere near the average VM memory allocation in the lab.  Most of my lab VMs are thinly provisioned from a memory standpoint since host memory is my limiting resource.  I’ll need to see if this can be adjusted because these numbers are not accurate, thus not reliable.  I wouldn’t want to base a purchasing decision on this information.

5-5-2010 10-59-20 PM

Here’s an example of a drilldown.  Again, I like the presentation, although this screen seems to have some justification inconsistencies (right vs. center).  Reports in CA can be saved in .PDF or .CSV format, making them ideal for sharing, collaboration, or archiving.  Another value add is a recommendation section which is stated in plain English in the event the reader is unable to interpret the numbers.  What I’m somewhat confused about is fact that the information provided in different areas is contradicting.  In this case, the summary reports VM backupexec “is not experiencing problems with memory usage… the VM is getting all required memory resources”.  However, it goes on to say there is a problem in that there exists a Memory usage bottleneck… the VM may experience performance degradation if memory usage increases.  Finally, it recommends incresaing the VM memory size to almost double the currently assigned value – and this Priority is ranked as High.

5-5-2010 10-42-01 PM

It’s not clear to me from the drilldown report if there is a required action here or not. With the high priority status, there is a sense of urgency, but to do what?  The analysis states performance could suffer if memory usage increases.  That typically will be the case for virtual or physical machines alike.  The problem as I see it is the analysis is concerned with a future event of which may or may not occur.  If the VM has shown no prior history of higher memory consumption and there is no change to the application running in the VM, I would expect the memory utilization to remain constant.  VKernel is on the right track, but I think the out-of-box logic needs tuning so that it is more intuitive.  Else this is a false alarm which would cause me to overutilize host capacity or I would learn to ignore which is dangerous and provides no return on investment in a management tool.

I’ve got more areas to explore with VKernel Capacity Analyzer and I welcome input, clarification, corrections from VKernel.  Overall I like the direction of the product and I think VKernel has the potential to service capacity planning needs for virtual infrastructures of all sizes.  The ease in deployment provides rapid return. As configuration maximums and VM densities increase, capacity planning becomes more challenging.  When larger VMs are deployed, significant dents are being made in the virtual infrastructure causing shared resources to deplete more rapidly per instance than in years past.  Additional capacity takes time to procure. We need to be able to lean on tools like these to provide the automated analysis and alarms to stay ahead of capacity requests and not be caught short on infrastructure resources.

Flickr Manager Plugin Fix

April 27th, 2010

I’m a visual and hands-on kind of person and as such, I tend to make use of images in my blog posts. Flickr is an online provider that hosts images free of charge which saves me bandwidth costs and delivers content to blog readers quickly. In a sense, they are a cloud provider. Flickr Manager is a WordPress plugin that allows me to efficiently browse and insert Flickr images from the comfort of my WordPress blog editor, among other things.

Several months ago, the Flickr Manager overlay stopped working correctly.  The overlay was no longer inserting images into my blog posts as I had been instructing it to.  I filed a bug (#144) with the author as follows:

What steps will reproduce the problem?

1. Create a new blog post or page

2. Click on the “Add Flickr Photo” icon.

3. In the overlay under “My Photos” tab, click on a photo to insert.

4. In the summary overlay page, once the photo is selected in the overlay, click the “Insert into Post” button.

5. The summary overlay page for the photo returns and no photo is inserted into the blog post.

What is the expected output? What do you see instead?

I expect the photo to be inserted into the blog post and the Flickr overlay should close. Instead, the overlay stays open as if nothing has happened. The same thing happens if I check the box “Close on insert” on the overlay page.

What version of the plugin are you using? Which version of WordPress? Flickr Manager version 2.3. WordPress 2.9.2

Please provide a link to your photo gallery, or the page that has the bug: My Flickr Photostream is at

Which hosting provider are you on? What version of Apache or IIS are you using? Self hosted out of my home. Windows Server 2003, IIS 6

Please provide any additional information below.

This plugin was working fine for the first several months but after a while it stopped inserting photos. I can’t associate the breakage with any sort of upgrade such as a WordPress upgrade, plugin upgrade, or theme change. Any help would be appreciated.

Browsing my Flickr album, grabbing URLs for images, and inserting them into my blog posts manually is a painful process involving multiple browser windows.  I was really missing the functionality of Flickr Manager.  It was deterring me from writing blog posts which I knew I wanted to incorporate images.  Using Google, I was able to locate a few others who had stumbled onto this problem, but I was unable to find any solutions.

I turned to Twitter, a universe of technical expertise, among many other things I’m sure.  Kelly Culwell and Grant Bivens, Solution Architect and Web Developer resepectively of Interworks, Inc., answered the call.  I had spoken with Kelly off and on the past few months regarding VMware topics.  They quickly turned me on to this page which described fix.  All I had to do was modify three of the plugin files, removing any occurrance of the @ symbol.  Grant described the problem as a JavaScript selector the author used which has since been depreciated.


Happy days once again, the solution worked!  These guys wanted nothing in return but their kind offer to help and quick solution definitely deserves mention.  My faith in humanity has been partially restored thanks to these gentlemen.  Kudos and great job!

RVTools 2.8.1 Released

February 21st, 2010

Rob de Veij has released version 2.8.1 of his stellar virtualization utility RVTools.  I love this free tool as it provides valuable information about my infrastructure in a fast and easy format.

New in this version:
– On vHost tab new field: number of running vCPUs
– On vSphere VMs in vApp where not displayed.
– Filter not working correct when annotations or custum fields contains null value.
– When NTP server(s) = null the time info fields are not displayed on the vHost tabpage.
– When datastore name or virtual machine name containts spaces the inconsistent foldername check was not working correct.
– Tools health check now only executed for running VMs.

Go download this tool today and be sure to tell Rob how much you appreciate his development efforts!

VMware, much of this information is vital as it pertains to configuration maximums and should be available in the VMware vSphere Client for capacity planning purposes.

Service Console Directory Listing Text Color in PuTTY

January 25th, 2010

Curious about the default colors you see in a remote PuTTY session connected to the ESX Service Console?  Some are obvious such as the directory listings which show up as blue text on a black background.  Another obvious one is the compressed .tar.gz file which will show up in a nicely contrasting red text on black background.  Or how about this one which I’m sure you’ve seen, executable scripts are shown as green text on a black background.  You might be asking yourself “What about the oddball ones I see from time to time which don’t have an explanation?”  I’ve provided an example in the screenshot – a folder named isos shows up with a green background and blue text.  What does that mean? 

There’s a way to find out.  While in the remote PuTTY session connected to the ESX Service Console, run the command dircolors -p from any directory.  Here’s the default legend:

# Below are the color init strings for the basic file types. A color init
# string consists of one or more of the following numeric codes:
# Attribute codes:
# 00=none 01=bold 04=underscore 05=blink 07=reverse 08=concealed
# Text color codes:
# 30=black 31=red 32=green 33=yellow 34=blue 35=magenta 36=cyan 37=white
# Background color codes:
# 40=black 41=red 42=green 43=yellow 44=blue 45=magenta 46=cyan 47=white
NORMAL 00 # global default, although everything should be something.
FILE 00 # normal file
DIR 01;34 # directory
LINK 01;36 # symbolic link. (If you set this to ‘target’ instead of a
 # numerical value, the color is as for the file pointed to.)
FIFO 40;33 # pipe
SOCK 01;35 # socket
DOOR 01;35 # door
BLK 40;33;01 # block device driver
CHR 40;33;01 # character device driver
ORPHAN 40;31;01 # symlink to nonexistent file
SETUID 37;41 # file that is setuid (u+s)
SETGID 30;43 # file that is setgid (g+s)
STICKY_OTHER_WRITABLE 30;42 # dir that is sticky and other-writable (+t,o+w)
OTHER_WRITABLE 34;42 # dir that is other-writable (o+w) and not sticky
STICKY 37;44 # dir with the sticky bit set (+t) and not other-writable
# This is for files with execute permission:
EXEC 01;32
# List any file extensions like ‘.gz’ or ‘.tar’ that you would like ls
# to colorize below. Put the extension, a space, and the color init string.
# (and any comments you want to add after a ‘#’)
# If you use DOS-style suffixes, you may want to uncomment the following:
#.cmd 01;32 # executables (bright green)
#.exe 01;32 01;32
#.btm 01;32
#.bat 01;32
.tar 01;31 # archives or compressed (bright red)
.tgz 01;31
.arj 01;31
.taz 01;31
.lzh 01;31
.zip 01;31
.z 01;31
.Z 01;31
.gz 01;31
.bz2 01;31
.deb 01;31
.rpm 01;31
.jar 01;31
# image formats
.jpg 01;35
.jpeg 01;35
.gif 01;35
.bmp 01;35
.pbm 01;35
.pgm 01;35
.ppm 01;35
.tga 01;35
.xbm 01;35
.xpm 01;35
.tif 01;35
.tiff 01;35
.png 01;35
.mov 01;35
.mpg 01;35
.mpeg 01;35
.avi 01;35
.fli 01;35
.gl 01;35
.dl 01;35
.xcf 01;35
.xwd 01;35
# audio formats
.flac 01;35
.mp3 01;35
.mpc 01;35
.ogg 01;35
.wav 01;35


Applied to the screenshot example above, the legend tells us that the isos directory is: OTHER_WRITABLE 34;42 # dir that is other-writable (o+w) and not sticky.

Another color you may commonly see which I haven’t yet mentioned is cyan which identifies symbolic links.  These can be found in several directories.  Most often you will see symbolic links in /vmfs/volumes/ connecting a friendly datastore name with it’s not so friendly volume name which is better known by the VMkernel.

That’s it. Not what I would considering Earth shattering material here, but maybe you’ve seen these colors before and haven’t connected the dots on their meaning.  For people with Linux background, this is probably old hat.

Hyper9 Named One of 10 Virtualization Vendors to Watch in 2010

January 19th, 2010

Press Release:

Hyper9 Named One of 10 Virtualization Vendors to Watch in 2010

Company Concludes Banner Year, Closes Largest Quarter To-Date

AUSTIN, Texas – Jan. 20, 2010 – Despite a tough economy and increased competition
in the virtualization market, Hyper9, Inc. today announced the close of a banner year in
2009, capped off by a fourth quarter that was the company’s strongest quarter to-date.
Demonstrating positive momentum across all areas of the business, Hyper9 won
numerous industry accolades in 2009, most recently landing on’s third-annual
list of intriguing innovators in virtualization management, 10 Virtualization Vendors to
Watch in 2010

“Virtualization is no longer a buzzword that people just talk about,” said Bill Kennedy,
CEO of Hyper9. “In 2009, more enterprises embraced virtualization as an effective way
to optimize IT operations. As organizations continue to face the challenge of doing more
with less, virtualization will play a strategic role in enhancing the performance and agility
of key business initiatives.”

Hyper9 attributes its success to several key factors, including new product innovation, an
expanded customer base across numerous industries, strategic partnerships and
industry accolades. Recent accomplishments include:

  • Sales – 4Q09 was the company’s largest quarter to-date, with bookings four-
    times larger than the previous quarter. New contracts came from both private and
    public sectors across multiple verticals, including travel, sports and
    entertainment, consumer goods and technology. Key customer wins included:
    HomeAway, the National Football League, Major League Baseball and Whole
    Foods, among others.
  • Product Innovation – Product innovation continued with the launch of Hyper9’s
    Virtual Environment Optimization Suite, a second-generation virtualization
    management solution that provides enhanced business insights to address the
    growing demands of virtualized applications. The company also unveiled an
    open-sourced version of its Virtualization Mobile Manager.
  • Strategic Partnerships – Alliances with key services providers extended
    Hyper9’s reach in Canada, Ireland and the United Kingdom, while providing
    expanded integration and service capabilities for customers. New partners
    include: IGI, INX, IVOXY Consulting LLC, Softchoice, Righttrac and DNM.
  • Industry Accolades – Several industry analyst firms published reports
    highlighting Hyper9’s virtualization innovation, including Gartner’s Cool Vendor in
    IT Operations and Virtualization and Taneja Group’s whitepaper, Business-
    Driven Virtualization: Optimizing Insight and Operational Efficiency in the Dynamic
    . Additionally, the company kicked off 2010 being named
    One of Ten Virtualization Vendors to Watch in 2010 by, and being listed
    as a featured vendor in Gartner’s report Virtualization is Bringing Together
    Configuration and Performance Management.

Virtualization has quickly evolved into a strategic enabling technology now widely
deployed at all levels of the IT stack – from servers and desktops to networks, storage
and applications. Hyper9’s flagship product, Virtual Environment Optimization Suite,
helps organizations virtualize more resources, faster, to meet today’s sophisticated
business requirements.

About Hyper9, Inc.
Hyper9 is a privately-held company backed by Venrock, Matrix Partners, Silverton
Partners and Maples Investments. Based in Austin, Texas, the company was founded in
2007 by enterprise systems management experts and virtualization visionaries. Since
then, Hyper9 has collaborated with virtualization administrators as well as systems and
virtualization management experts to develop a new breed of virtualization management
products that leverages Internet technologies like search, collaboration and social
networking. The end result is a product that helps administrators discover, organize and
make use of information in their virtual environment, yet is as easy to use as a consumer
application. For more information about Hyper9, visit