Posts Tagged ‘ESXi’

How to properly remove vSphere datastores

January 18th, 2012

Right click on the datastore object and choose Delete, right? Wrong.

Following are two good VMware articles outlining the correct procedure for removing datastores in a vSphere environment:

 

StarWind Releases iSCSI SAN Software Enhanced by VM Backup Technology

January 17th, 2012

Press Release:

New StarWind iSCSI SAN v5.8 and Hyper Backup Plug-in are a New Level of Data Protection

SnagIt CaptureBurlington, MA – January 13, 2012StarWind Software Inc., an innovative provider of SAN software for iSCSI storage and VM Backup technology, today announced the release of new StarWind iSCSI SAN v5.8 and Hyper-V Backup Plug-in. The iSCSI SAN software is enhanced by the powerful VM Backup technology that is included as a plug-in.

Backup plug-in is built specifically for Hyper-V-based environments to provide fast backup and restore for Hyper-V virtual machines. The backup solution delivered by StarWind performs all operations on the Hyper-V host level thus it requires no backup agents to be installed on virtual machines (Agentless Architecture).

Hyper-V Backup Plug-in makes fast backups and allows quick, reliable restore of both virtual machines and individual files. It utilizes advanced technologies for maximum disk space saving (Global Deduplication). This backup tool is integrated with StarWind Centralized Management Console that enables managing backup and storage from a single window.

Additionally, a new version of HA plug-in is presented in StarWind iSCSI SAN v5.8 that allows use of raw basic images to create HA targets. A new replication engine based on own technology instead of MS iSCSI transport creates higher performance and reliability. This new engine permits use of multiple network interfaces for synchronization and heartbeat.

To simplify the replacement of equipment and recovery of fatal failures, StarWind Software has implemented the ability to change the partner node to any other StarWind server without any downtime and on the fly. Synchronization engine is improved, and this version allows both nodes to sync automatically even in the case of a full blackout of both servers.

“With the release of StarWind iSCSI SAN v5.8 our company is happy to provide our customers with highly available storage and fast backup software developed by the same vendor,” said Artem Berman, Chief Executive Officer of StarWind Software. “Now small and medium-sized companies have an opportunity to achieve higher performance and absolute data protection.”

About StarWind Software Inc.
StarWind Software is a global leader in storage management and SAN software for small and midsize companies. StarWind’s flagship product is SAN software that turns any industry-standard Windows Server into a fault-tolerant, fail-safe iSCSI SAN. StarWind iSCSI SAN is qualified for use with VMware, Hyper-V, XenServer and Linux and Unix environments. StarWind Software focuses on providing small and midsize companies with affordable, highly availability storage technology which previously was only available in high-end storage hardware. Advanced enterprise-class features in StarWind include Automated HA Storage Node Failover and Failback (High Availability), Replication across a WAN, CDP and Snapshots, Thin Provisioning and Virtual Tape management.

Since 2003, StarWind has pioneered the iSCSI SAN software industry and is the solution of choice for over 30,000 customers worldwide in more than 100 countries and from small and midsize companies to governments and Fortune 1000 companies.

For more information on StarWind Software Inc., visit: www.starwindsoftware.com

VCA4-DT and VCP5 Exam Reviews

January 6th, 2012

With 2011 wrapped up and the holiday festivities over with, I decided to kick off 2012 by sitting a few new VMware certification exams.  Before I get into the details of the exam experience, I must extend my sincere appreciation to the new testing center I tried out – New Horizons Computer Learning Center in Eagan, MN.  It’s a new facility, friendly staff, state of the art equipment, AND THEY ALLOW COFFEE IN THE EXAM ROOM!  I’m locked on to this facility for all future exams.

Ok, VMware Certified Associate 4 – Desktop, otherwise known as VCA4-DT.  Thursday morning, 70 questions, multiple choice, 90 minutes if I remember right. Time isn’t much of a factor on this exam as it has been in past exams I’ve sat.  Unfortunately I failed by a narrow margin. 289/500 (300 is the passing mark).  Not passing was a bummer since I’ve only failed one other exam and that was 14 years ago.  The reality was that I hadn’t had enough View Administrator seat time to recall what was being tested.  I can’t go into specifics but I will say that having a photographic memory of the View Admin console will go a long way to get by this exam.  I’ve managed a tiny View 4.6 and now 5.0 environment in my lab but I haven’t spent countless hours in the console on a day to day basis which is what I think is really required.  That makes sense – after all it is an Administrator role based exam.  My hope was that brushing up on the blueprint objectives and reading Mike Laverick’s Administrating VMware View 4.5 book cover to cover the night before the exam would have been enough to get by.  It wasn’t.  No fault to Mike of course, his was a fine book.  I planned short on the preparation, rolled the dice, and.. well you know by now what happened.  It was a humbling experience but at the same time it’s an effective method to learn more.  After I get back from Dell Storage Forum London I’ll plan on hitting the lab and ultimately finishing the exam the proper way.  After that, I’ve got my sights set on VMware Certified Professional 4 – Desktop (VCP4-DT) which I may already be better prepared for.

On to the VMware Certified Professional 5 or VPC5.  Friday morning, 85 questions, multiple choice, 90 minutes.  I reached the end of the exam with 14 minutes left to review marked questions – I had quite a few.  I don’t know why – I rarely change my answer when reviewing questions.  I mark the questions with the intent that there may be a better answer which comes to me later on in the exam but it rarely happens and I believe statistics prove that on average, first instinct is going to be the better or correct answer.  I’ll be honest, dwelling on yesterday’s fail did a number to my confidence level but I had no choice but to push forward studying the blueprint for a solid 8 hours last night into the wee hours of the morning.  Granted, the VCP5 exam should be higher on the difficulty level, but the infrastructure content maps quite a bit better to my expertise that VMware View administration does.  I had seen some comments from others that the VCP5 exam didn’t contain much along the lines of Configuration Maximums type questions.  Based on that, I didn’t spend much time in the vSphere 5 Configuration Maximums document.  I brushed up on HA, DRS, and although I have little hands on working experience with the appliance based bolt ons like the vCenter appliance, vDR, VSA, or Auto Deploy, I tried to pick up as much as I could on those areas.  On exam difficulty, the content came easier to me based on familiarity.  For most of the exam I was pretty well within my comfort zone.  As a Technical Marketing Product Specialist at Dell Compellent, the storage related questions aren’t quite the level of difficulty they once were.  There was a pretty good blend of easy/medium/difficult questions, and also a few which I felt were worded poorly enough such that I knew the correct answer either way, but interpretation of the question is going to determine a right or wrong answer.  Results on this exam were better – 406/500 (300 passing).  There were plenty of questions on the other vSphere products I talked about earlier such as the vCenter appliance, vDR, VSA, and Auto Deploy. While I feel I did answer a few of those questions correctly, the remainder is likely what accounts for the majority of the points I missed on the exam.  By the way, if you’re not using vSphere Update Manager on a regular basis to assist in upgrading your environment, you should be, and you’ll want to know that product for this exam as well.

Have a great weekend and for those attending Dell Storage Forum London next week, I hope to meet up with you.

Veeam Offers Free NFR License for Backup & Replication v6

December 23rd, 2011

Veeam is once again blessing the community with their generous holiday spirit, which of course includes gifts!  Veeam recently launched version 6 of their flagship Backup and Replication product which now includes support for Microsoft Hyper-V.  Those who are heavily active in the Microsoft and/or VMware community and formally recognized as such, are eligible to register for their free gift from Veeam – NFR licensing for Backup and Replication v6. 

I will attest that I’ve been using Veeam Backup & Replication to protect valuable data in my home lab for a few years and I’ve had to rely on it for recovery more than once.  I also included it as a backup and disaster recovery replication solution in my VCDX design submission which I successfully defended in February 2010.

Below you’ll find two promotions for redeeming the NFR licenses.  First is the Hyper-V promotion for MVPs, MCPs, and MCTSs, followed by the VMware promotion for vEXPERTs, VCPs, VCIs, and registered VMUG members (remember, anyone can be a registered VMUG member, it’s free to sign up, so why not do it today?)

 

 

SnagIt Capture

Free NFR license for
Veeam Backup & Replication v6 for Hyper-V
Get this holiday gift from Veeam!

If you are a Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP), Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) or a Most Valuable Professional (MVP), you can get a FREE 2-socket NFR* license for Veeam Backup & Replication v6 for your home or work lab.

Register NOW! Get your FREE NFR license from Veeam

*An NFR (Not for Resale) license can only be used for evaluation or demonstration purposes. Read EULA for more details.

 

 

SnagIt Capture

Free NFR license for
Veeam Backup & Replication v6 for vSphere
Get this holiday gift from Veeam!

If you are a VMware vExpert, VMware Certified Professional (VCP), VMware Certified Instructor (VCI) or VMware User Group (VMUG) member, you can get a FREE 2-socket NFR* license for Veeam Backup & Replication v6 for your home or work lab.

Register NOW! Get your FREE NFR license from Veeam

*An NFR (Not for Resale) license can only be used for evaluation or demonstration purposes. Read EULA for more details.

VMworld 2011 Hands On Lab Posters

December 15th, 2011

If you were at VMworld 2011 US and/or Europe, you may have seen or heard of the posters being given away at the Hands On Labs.  Supplies were limited at the US conference and if you attended in Copenhagen maybe you didn’t get a chance to get into the labs to grab some posters.

Although VMworld is over, you still have access to the posters.

One way would be to request a Dell Compellent Executive Briefing with me. I brought a few pounds of posters back from Copenhagen and what’s mine is yours if you’re willing to listen to me talk about the great integration points Dell Compellent Storage Center has with VMware’s growing portfolio.

The other option would be to go online and grab a copy of the posters which you can view electronically or have printed at your local copier shop.  This blog post was inspired by Xtravirt email bulletin 94 – thanks for pulling together the links guys.

vSphere 5.0 CLI Reference Poster

 

VMware Management with PowerCLI 5.0 Poster

vSphere 5 Clustering Technical Deepdive Sale

November 26th, 2011

I assume you follow Duncan and Frank and read their blogs, but in case you don’t, check out this Crazy Black Friday / Cyber Monday deal!  Between now and Monday 11:59pm PST, prices are slashed on Frank and Duncan’s ebook vSphere 5 Clustering Technical Deepdive.

The sale pricing is as follows:

US – ebook – $ 4.99

UK – ebook – £ 3.99

DE – ebook – € 3.99

FR – ebook – € 3.99

If you’re serious about vSphere 5, you need this book in your technical library.  Even if you’re already a seasoned vSphere expert, there are some major changes in the features which Duncan and Frank deepdive on.  Tis the season for giving so if you already have a copy for yourself, take advantage of these prices to pick up another copy for your favorite co-worker, employee, manager, spouse, or child.  Now is as good a time as any to get the young ones started on VMware virtualization.

Cloning VMs, Guest Customization, & vDS Ephemeral Port Binding

November 25th, 2011

I spent a lot of time in the lab over the past few days.  I had quite a bit of success but I did run into one issue in which the story does not have a very happy ending.

The majority of my work involved networking in which I decommissioned all legacy vSwitches in the vSphere 5 cluster and converted all remaining VMkernel port groups to the existing vNetwork Distributed Switch (vDS) where I was already running the majority of the VMs on Static binding port groups.  In the process, some critical infrastructure VMs were also moved to the vDS including the vCenter, SQL, and Active Directory domain controller servers.  Because of this, I elected to implement Ephemeral – no binding for the port binding configuration of the VM port group which all VMs were connected to, including some powered off VMs I used for cloning to new virtual machines.  This decision was made in case there was a complete outage in the lab.  Static binding presents issues where in some circumstances, VMs can’t power on when the vCenter Server (Control Plane of the vDS) is down or unavailable.  Configuring the port group for Ephemeral – no binding works around this issue by allowing VMs to power on and claim their vDS ports when the vCenter Server is down.  There’s a good blog article on this subject by Eric Gray which you can find here.

Everything was working well with the new networking configuration until the following day when I tried deploying new virtual machines by cloning powered off VMs which were bound to the Ephemeral port group.  After the cloning process completed, the VM powered on for the first time and Guest Customization was then supposed to run.  This is where the problems came up.  The VMs would essentially hang just after guest customization was invoked by the vCenter Server.  While watching the remote console of the VM, it was evident that Guest Customization wasn’t starting.  At this point, the VM can’t be powered off – an error is displayed:

Cannot power Off vm_name on host_name in datacenter_name: The attempted operation cannot be performed in the current state (Powered on).

DRS also starts producing occasional errors on the host:

Unable to apply DRS resource settings on host host_name in datacenter_name. The operation is not allowed in the current state.. This can significantly reduce the effectiveness of DRS.

VMware KB 1004667 speaks to a similar circumstance where a blocking task on a VM (in this case a VMware Tools installation) prevents any other changes to it.  This speaks to why the VM can’t be powered off until the VMware Tools installation or Guest Customization process either ends or times out.

Finally, the following error in the cluster Events is what put me on to the suspicion of Ephemeral binding as the source of the issues:

Error message on vm_name on host_name in datacenter_name: Failed to connect virtual device Ethernet0.

Error Stack:

Failed to connect virtual device Ethernet0.

Unable to get networkName or devName for ethernet0

Unable to get dvs.portId for ethernet0

I searched the entire vSphere 5 document library for issues or limitations related to the use of Ephemeral – no binding but came up empty.  This reinforced my assumption that Ephemeral binding across the board for all VMs was a supported configuration.  Perhaps it is for running virtual machines but in my case it fails when used in conjunction with cloning and guest customization.  In the interim, I’ve moved off Ephemeral binding back to Static binding.  Cloning problem solved.