Posts Tagged ‘Cloud’

vSphere 5 Configuration Maximums Updated For The Cloud

November 11th, 2011

A few nights ago, Chris Colotti and Dave Hill presented a vCloud Architecture Deep Dive brown bag session.  Among the tips I picked up in that session was a comment from Chris that my most favorite VMware document of all time had been updated within the last 6 weeks – vSphere 5 Configuration Maximums.  Basically what was added was the inclusion of vCloud Director configuration maximums:

Item Maximum
Virtual machine count 20,000
Powered‐On virtual machine count 10,000
Organizations 10,000
Virtual machines per vApp 64
vApps per organization 500
Number of networks 7,500
Hosts 2,000
vCenter Servers 25
Virtual Data Centers 10,000
Datastores 1,024
Catalogs 1,000
Media 1,000
Users 10,000

If you’ve been following the progression of this document, you will have noticed that VMware has been adding more application layer components to it.  That is because VMware has broadened its cloud platform portfolio which is fundamentally dependent on vSphere.  Chris mentioned this in his lecture and I began noticing it a few years ago, vCenter now extends beyond just a tier 2 management application.  It has become a tier 1 cornerstone for other VMware and partner ecosystem cloud applications and infrastructure tools.  Be mindful of this during the design phase and do not neglect its resource and redundancy requirements as your scale your vCloud environment.

Enjoy.  And by the way, Chris has a Dell T310 Server with 20GB RAM for sale.  Check it out.

Virtualization Wars: Episode V – VMware Strikes Back

July 12th, 2011

Snagit CaptureAt 9am PDT this morning, Paul Maritz and Steve Herrod take the stage to announce the next generation of the VMware virtualized datacenter.  Each new product and set of features are impressive in their own right.  Combine them and what you have is a major upgrade of VMware’s entire cloud infrastructure stack.  I’ll highlight the major announcements and some of the detail behind them.  In addition, the embargo and NDA surrounding the vSphere 5 private beta expires.  If you’re a frequent reader of blogs or the Twitter stream, you’re going to bombarded with information at fire-hose-to-the-face pace, starting now.

7-10-2011 4-22-46 PM

 

vSphere 5.0 (ESXi 5.0 and vCenter 5.0)

At the heart of it all is a major new release of VMware’s type 1 hypervisor and management platform.  Increased scalability and new features make virtualizing those last remaining tier 1 applications quantifiable.

7-10-2011 4-55-28 PM

Snagit Capture

ESX and the Service Console are formally retired as of this release.  Going forward, we have just a single hypervisor to maintain and that is ESXi.  Non-Windows shops should find some happiness in a Linux based vCenter appliance and sophisticated web client front end.  While these components are not 100% fully featured yet in their debut, they come close.

Storage DRS is the long awaited compliment to CPU and memory based DRS introduced in VMware Virtual Infrastructure 3.  SDRS will coordinate initial placement of VM storage in addition to keeping datastore clusters balanced (space usage and latency thresholds including SIOC integration) with or without the use of SDRS affinity rules.  Similar to DRS clusters, SDRS enabled datastore clusters offer maintenance mode functionality which evacuates (Storage vMotion or cold migration) registered VMs and VMDKs (still no template migration support, c’mon VMware) off of a datastore which has been placed into maintenance mode.  VMware engineers recognize the value of flexibility, particularly when it comes to SDRS operations where thresholds can be altered and tuned on a schedule basis. For instance, IO patterns during the day when normal or peak production occurs may differ from night time IO patterns when guest based backups and virus scans occur.  When it comes to SDRS, separate thresholds would be preferred so that SDRS doesn’t trigger based on inappropriate thresholds.

Profile-Driven Storage couples storage capabilities (VASA automated or manually user-defined) to VM storage profile requirements in an effort to meet guest and application SLAs.  The result is the classification of a datastore, from a guest VM viewpoint, of Compatible or Incompatible at the time of evaluating VM placement on storage.  Subsequently, the location of a VM can be automatically monitored to ensure profile compliance.

7-10-2011 5-29-56 PM

Snagit CaptureI mentioned VASA previously which is a new acronym for vSphere Storage APIs for Storage Awareness.  This new API allows storage vendors to expose topology, capabilities, and state of the physical device to vCenter Server management.  As mentioned earlier, this information can be used to automatically populate the capabilities attribute in Profile-Driven Storage.  It can also be leveraged by SDRS for optimized operations.

The optimal solution is to stack the functionality of SDRS and Profile-Driven Storage to reduce administrative burden while meeting application SLAs through automated efficiency and optimization.

7-10-2011 7-34-31 PM

Snagit CaptureIf you look closely at all of the announcements being made, you’ll notice there is only one net-new release and that is the vSphere Storage Appliance (VSA).  Small to medium business (SMB) customers are the target market for the VSA.  These are customers who seek some of the enterprise features that vSphere offers like HA, vMotion, or DRS but lack the fibre channel SAN, iSCSI, or NFS shared storage requirement.  A VSA is deployed to each ESXi host which presents local RAID 1+0 host storage as NFS (no iSCSI or VAAI/SAAI support at GA release time).  Each VSA is managed by one and only one vCenter Server. In addition, each VSA must reside on the same VLAN as the vCenter Server.  VSAs are managed by the VSA Manager which is a vCenter plugin available after the first VSA is installed.  It’s function is to assist in deploying VSAs, automatically mounting NFS exports to each host in the cluster, and to provide monitoring and troubleshooting of the VSA cluster.

7-10-2011 8-03-42 PM

Snagit CaptureYou’re probably familiar with the concept of a VSA but at this point you should start to notice the differences in VMware’s VSA: integration.  In addition, it’s a VMware supported configuration with “one throat to choke” as they say.  Another feature is resiliency.  The VSAs on each cluster node replicate with each other and if required will provide seamless fault tolerance in the event of a host node failure.  In such a case, a remaining node in the cluster will take over the role of presenting a replica of the datastore which went down.  Again, this process is seamless and is accomplished without any change in the IP configuration of VMkernel ports or NFS exports.  With this integration in place, it was a no-brainer for VMware to also implement maintenance mode for VSAs.  MM comes in to flavors: Whole VSA cluster MM or Single VSA node MM.

VMware’s VSA isn’t a freebie.  It will be licensed.  The figure below sums up the VSA value proposition:

7-10-2011 8-20-38 PM

High Availability (HA) has been enhanced dramatically.  Some may say the version shipping in vSphere 5 is a complete rewrite.  What was once foundational Legato AAM (Automated Availability Manager) is now finally evolving to scale further with vSphere 5.  Some of the new features include elimination of common issues such as DNS resolution, node communication between management network as well as storage along with failure detection enhancement.  IPv6 support, consolidated logging into one file per host, enhanced UI and enhanced deployment mechanism (as if deployment wasn’t already easy enough, albeit sometimes error prone).

7-10-2011 3-27-11 PMFrom an architecture standpoint, HA has changed dramatically.  HA has effectively gone from five (5) fail over coordinator hosts to just one (1) in a Master/Slave model.  No more is there a concept of Primary/Secondary HA hosts, however if you still want to think of it that way, it’s now one (1) primary host (the master) and all remaining hosts would be secondary (the slaves).  That said, I would consider it a personal favor if everyone would use the correct version specific terminology – less confusion when assumptions have to be made (not that I like assumptions either, but I digress).

The FDM (fault domain manager) Master does what you traditionally might expect: monitors and reacts to slave host & VM availability.  It also updates its inventory of the hosts in the cluster, and the protected VMs each time a VM power operation occurs.

Slave hosts have responsibilities as well.  They maintain a list of powered on VMs.  They monitor local VMs and forward significant state changes to the Master. They provide VM health monitoring and any other HA features which do not require central coordination.  They monitor the health of the Master and participate in the election process should the Master fail (the host with the most datastores and then the lexically highest moid [99>100] wins the election).

Another new feature in HA the ability to leverage storage to facilitate the sharing of stateful heartbeat information (known as Heartbeat Datastores) if and when management network connectivity is lost.  By default, vCenter picks two datastores for backup HA communication.  The choices are made by how many hosts have connectivity and if the storage is on different arrays.  Of course, a vSphere administrator may manually choose the datastores to be used.  Hosts manipulate HA information on the datastore based on the datastore type. On VMFS datastores, the Master reads the VMFS heartbeat region. On NFS datastores, the Master monitors a heartbeat file that is periodically touched by the Slaves. VM availability is reported by a file created by each Slave which lists the powered on VMs. Multiple Master coordination is performed by using file locks on the datastore.

As discussed earlier, there are a number of GUI enhancements which were put in place to monitor and configure HA in vSphere 5.  I’m not going to go into each of those here as there are a number of them.  Surely there will be HA deep dives in the coming months.  Suffice it to say, they are all enhancements which stack to provide ease of HA management, troubleshooting, and resiliency.

Another significant advance in vSphere 5 is Auto Deploy which integrates with Image Builder, vCenter, and Host Profiles.  The idea here is centrally managed stateless hardware infrastructure.  ESXi host hardware PXE boots an image profile from the Auto Deploy server.  Unique host configuration is provided by an answer file or VMware Host Profiles (previously an Enterprise Plus feature).  Once booted, the host is added to vCenter host inventory.  Statelessness is not necessarily a newly introduced concept, therefore, the benefits are strikingly familiar to say ESXi boot from SAN: No local boot disk (right sized storage, increased storage performance across many spindles), scales to support of many hosts, decoupling of host image from host hardware – statelessness defined.  It may take some time before I warm up to this feature. Honestly, it’s another vCenter dependency, this one quite critical with the platform services it provides.

For a more thorough list of anticipated vSphere 5 “what’s new” features, take a look at this release from virtualization.info.

 

vCloud Director 1.5

Snagit CaptureUp next is a new release of vCloud Director version 1.5 which marks the first vCD update since the product became generally available on August 30th, 2010.  This release is packed with several new features.

Fast Provisioning is the space saving linked clone support missing in the GA release.  Linked clones can span multiple datastores and multiple vCenter Servers. This feature will go a long way in bridging the parity gap between vCD and VMware’s sun setting Lab Manager product.

3rd party distributed switch support means vCD can leverage virtualized edge switches such as the Cisco Nexus 1000V.

The new vCloud Messages feature connects vCD with existing AMQP based IT management tools such as CMDB, IPAM, and ticketing systems to provide updates on vCD workflow tasks.

vCD originally supported Oracle 10g std/ent Release 2 and 11g std/ent.  vCD now supports Microsoft SQL Server 2005 std/ent SP4 and SQL Server 2008 exp/std/ent 64-bit.  Oracle 11g R2 is now also supported.  Flexibility. Choice.

vCD 1.5 adds support for vSphere 5 including Auto Deploy and virtual hardware version 8 (32 vCPU and 1TB vRAM).  In this regard, VMware extends new vSphere 5 scalability limits to vCD workloads.  Boiled down: Any tier 1 app in the private/public cloud.

Last but not least, vCD integration with vShield IPSec VPN and 5-tuple firewall capability.

vShield 5.0

VMware’s message about vShield is that it has become a fundamental component in consolidated private cloud and multi-tenant VMware virtualized datacenters.  While traditional security infrastructure can take significant time and resources to implement, there’s an inherent efficiency in leveraging security features baked into and native to the underlying hypervisor.

Snagit Capture

There are no changes in vShield Endpoint, however, VMware has introduced static routing in vShield Edge (instead of NAT) for external connections and certificate-based VPN connectivity.

 

Site Recovery Manager 5.0

Snagit CaptureAnother major announcement from VMware is the introduction of SRM 5.0.  SRM has already been quite successful in providing simple and reliable DR protection for the VMware virtualized datacenter.  Version 5 boasts several new features which enhance functionality.

Replication between sites can be achieved in a more granular per-VM (or even sub-VM) fashion, between different storage types, and it’s handled natively by vSphere Replication (vSR).  More choice in seeding of the initial full replica. The result is a simplified RPO.

Snagit Capture

Another new feature in SRM is Planned Migration which facilitates the migration protected VMs from site to site before a disaster actually occurs.  This could also be used in advance of datacenter maintenance.  Perhaps your policy is to run your business 50% of the time from the DR site.  The workflow assistance makes such migrations easier.  It’s a downtime avoidance mechanism which makes it useful in several cases.

Snagit CaptureFailback can be achieved once the VMs are re protected at the recovery site and the replication flow is reversed.  It’s simply another push of the big button to go the opposite direction.

Feedback from customers has influenced UI enhancements. Unification of sites into one GUI is achieved without Linked Mode or multiple vSphere Client instances. Shadow VMs take on a new look at the recovery site. Improved reporting for audits.

Other miscellaneous notables are IPv6 support, performance increase in guest VM IP customization, ability to execute scripts inside the guest VM (In guest callouts), new SOAP based APIs on the protected and recovery sides, and a dependency hierarchy for protected multi tiered applications.

 

In summary, this is a magnificent day for all of VMware as they have indeed raised the bar with their market leading innovation.  Well done!

 

VMware product diagrams courtesy of VMware

Star Wars diagrams courtesy of Wookieepedia, the Star Wards Wiki

Watch VMware Raise the Bar on July 12th

July 11th, 2011

On Tuesday July 12th, VMware CEO Paul Maritz and CTO Steve Herrod are hosting a large campus and worldwide event where they plan to make announcements about the next generation of cloud infrastructure.

The event kicks off at 9am PDT and is formally titled “Raising the Bar, Part V”. You can watch it online by registering here.  The itinerary is as follows:

  • 9:00-9:45 Paul and Steve present – live online streaming
  • 10:00-12:00 five tracks of deep dive breakout sessions
  • 10:00-12:00 live Q&A with VMware cloud and virtualization experts
    • Eric Siebert
    • David Davis
    • Bob Plankers
    • Bill Hill

In addition, by attending live you also have the chance to win a free VMworld pass.  More details on that and how to win here.

I’m pretty excited both personally and for VMware.  This is going to be huge!

Open Source for Managing Cloud – Developer/Administrator Meetup May 18th

May 5th, 2011

Event: Open Source for Managing Cloud – Developer/Administrator Meetup May 18th

Just a quick heads up on an upcoming event which was brought to my attention by Steve Jin.  A meetup to be held in Palo Alto is scheduled for folks who would like to discuss cloud management with open source tools.  Although the meetup is being held at VMware HQ, live remote access is being made available to those who register.

When:
May 18, 2011, 6:30PM to 9:00PM PDT

Location:
Building C Café
3401 Hillview Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94304
* Online access links will be emailed to registerers. *

Speakers/Panelists:
Jeff Hu, Principal Engineer at VMware
Steve Jin, Author of VMware VI and vSphere SDK, Creator of open source VI Java API
Giridhar Padmanabh, Sr. Director of newScale
William Lam, vExpert 2010/2009, Creator of vGhetto project
Boris Strongin, VP Engineering, Hytrust
Dave Briccetti, Independent consultant, opensource Lift framework committer

Register:
http://www.doublecloud.org/event-registration/

More Details:
http://www.doublecloud.org/2011/04/mark-your-calendar-for-our-first-community-event/

GeekFest 2010

October 29th, 2010

Are you looking for something fun and exciting to do in November? How about a free technology event with a tie to virtualization? Nexus Information Systems, a regional leader in sales and service of hardware, storage, networking, and managed services, has cooked up something for you!

On Wednesday November 10th, Nexus is hosting an all day event called GeekFest 2010 at their offices in Minnetonka, MN. Here is what they are saying about it:

The day is comprised of different technologies and industry sessions focused around challenging data center solutions and services. GeekFest is a FREE event where you can register to come and go to just individual sessions or register for an all-day pass. Attendees to GeekFest will be exposed to the newest technologies from both industry-leading and up & coming providers.

What else is cool? GeekFest 2010 has a special guest moderator Greg Schulz of Storage IO who is a 25+ year technology veteran, storage industry analyst, and vEXPERT.

The uber agenda looks like this:

  • 8:00am – Session #1 Registration “Multi-vendor storage panel breakfast”
  • 8:30am – Session #1 Start
  • 11:00am – Session #1 End
  • 11:30am – Session #2 Registration “Emerging technologies lunch”
  • 12:00pm – Session #2 Start
  • 1:30pm – Session #2 End
  • 2:00pm – Session #3 Registration “Beyond VMworld & shadow installs of Thinapp and other VMware Technology”
  • 2:30pm – Session #3 Start
  • 4:30pm – Session #3 End
  • 5:00pm – Game Night!  Maybe it will look something like the following 😀

dh04w

Nexus Information Systems is located at:
6103 Blue Circle Drive
Minnetonka, MN 55343

I hope to be there and I hope to see you there as well! Don’t forget to register.

OVF? OVA? WTF?

July 2nd, 2010

If you’ve worked with recent versions of VMware virtual infrastructure, Converter, or Workstation, you may be familiar with the fact that these products have the native ability to work with virtual machines in the Open Virtualization Format, or OVF for short.  OVF is a Specification governed by the DMTF (Distributed Management Task Force) which to me sounds a lot like RFCs which provide standards for protocols and communication across compute platforms – basically SOPs for how content is delivered on the internet as we know it today.

So if there’s one standard, why is it that when I choose to create an OVF (Export OVF Template in the vSphere Client), I’m prompted to create either an OVF or an OVA?  If the OVF is an OVF, then what’s an OVA?

 7-2-2010 8-00-01 PM

Personally, I’ve seen both formats, typically when deploying packaged appliances.  The answer is simple: Both the OVF and the OVA formats roll up into the Specification defined by the DMTF.  The difference between the two is in the presentation and encapsulation.  The OVF is a construct of a few files, all of which are essential to its definition and deployment.  The OVA on the other hand is a single file with all of the necessary information encapsulated inside of it.  Think of the OVA as an archive file.  The single file format provides ease in portability.  From a size or bandwidth perspective, there is no advantage between one format or the other as they each tend to be the same size when all is said and done.

7-2-2010 8-13-26 PM

The DMTF explains the two formats on pages 12 through 13 in the PDF linked above:

An OVF package may be stored as a single file using the TAR format. The extension of that file shall be .ova (open virtual appliance or application).

An OVF package can be made available as a set of files, for example on a standard Web server.

Do keep in mind that which ever file type you choose to work with, if you plan on hosting them on a web server, MIME types will need to be set up for .OVF, OVA, or both, in order for a client to download them for deployment onto your hypervisor.

At 41 pages, the OVF Specification contains a surprising amount of detail.  There’s more to it than you might think, and for good reason:

The Open Virtualization Format (OVF) Specification describes an open, secure, portable, efficient and extensible format for the packaging and distribution of software to be run in virtual machines.

Open, meaning cross platform (bring your own hypervisor).  Combined with Secure and Portable attributes, OVF may be one of the key technologies for intracloud and intercloud mobility.  The format is a collaborative effort spawned from a variety of contributors:

Simon Crosby, XenSource
Ron Doyle, IBM
Mike Gering, IBM
Michael Gionfriddo, Sun Microsystems
Steffen Grarup, VMware (Co-Editor)
Steve Hand, Symantec
Mark Hapner, Sun Microsystems
Daniel Hiltgen, VMware
Michael Johanssen, IBM
Lawrence J. Lamers, VMware (Chair)
John Leung, Intel Corporation
Fumio Machida, NEC Corporation
Andreas Maier, IBM
Ewan Mellor, XenSource
John Parchem, Microsoft
Shishir Pardikar, XenSource
Stephen J. Schmidt, IBM
René W. Schmidt, VMware (Co-Editor)
Andrew Warfield, XenSource
Mark D. Weitzel, IBM
John Wilson, Dell

Take a look at the OVF Specifications document as well as some of the other work going on at DTMF. 

Have a great and safe July 4th weeekend, and congratulations to the Dutch on their win today in World Cup Soccer.  I for one will be glad when it’s all over with and our Twitter APIs can return to normal again.

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 http://www.flickr.com/photos/31838982@N08/

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.

wordpress-flickr-manager/js/wfm-lightbox.php
wordpress-flickr-manager/js/media-panel.php
wordpress-flickr-manager/js/wfm-hs.php

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!