Posts Tagged ‘ESXi’

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.

Link Layer Discovery Protocol (LLDP)

November 17th, 2011

Several months ago I co-wrote a piece titled Cisco Discovery Protocol (CDP) Tag Team.  The article talks about CDP, walks through some working examples, and provides a view of what information the protocol advertises.  CDP is a great tool but it’s proprietary to Cisco network gear.  In the past, if you were using non-Cisco switches, you couldn’t leverage CDP in either direction (listen or advertise).

Today is the first look at a new vSphere 5 networking feature which is Link Layer Discovery Protocol – essentially CDP for every other switch vendor which supports this IEEE 802.1AB open standard.

Take a look at the images below which show a side by side comparison of LLDP and CDP from the vSphere Client perspective:

Snagit Capture  Snagit Capture

As you can see, there’s a lot of parity between the two protocols.  Each provides some very helpful information from the upstream physical network perspective.  Namely the identification of the switch and the port number.  From what I’ve seen so far, LLDP is a completely viable alternative to CDP.

In case you’re wondering where to configure LLDP or CDP on a vNetwork Distributed Switch, it’s an advanced setting of the vDS itself:

Snagit Capture

Unable to Remove Stubborn Hosts from Unisphere (and the solution)

November 14th, 2011

Last weekend I was working in the home lab and needed to remove a few fibre channel connected hosts from the EMC Celerra NS-120.  This is the procedure I followed:

  1. Open Unisphere
  2. Drill down to the CLARiiON side of the Celerra (APM000…)
  3. From the menu on the left, choose Storage System Connectivity Status
  4. Drill down on the host to remove, highlight each HBA one by one and click the Deregister button
  5. Click OK

Snagit Capture

Unfortunately, I ran into an issue.  The problem which occurred was that the host I was attempting to remove remained in the host list instead of being deleted once the final HBA was deregistered.  This was a problem because I needed to add a new host with the same name.  At this point, there was no clear way to remove the host:

Snagit Capture

Logging in to Engineering mode (I found this on the public facing/Google cached EMC Community Network forums searching for help… CTRL + SHIFT + F12 password messner) did not provide me with additional options to remove the host.

Thanks to the help from Jase McCarty who had a watchful eye on Twitter, I was able to follow a procedure to resolve the situation:

  1. Access each of the Storage Processor Management Servers (http://w.x.y.z/setup)
  2. Scroll down and click the Restart Management Server button (each can be performed in parallel; doesn’t impact storage connectivity)
  3. Wait 5 minutes for the reboot of the Management Servers
  4. Close and Re-open Unisphere
  5. The host is now gone from all host lists.  Problem solved.

This was an isolated incident.  I wasn’t able to repeat this problem but if it happens in the future, I’m ready.  All I have to do is search Google and end up at my own blog.

Thanks Jase!

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.

Add ESXi to an Active Directory OU

November 10th, 2011

While working with vSphere 5 and vCloud Director, I stumbled onto a piece in the vSphere Client Help files that I haven’t seen in previous versions of vSphere (or maybe it existed and I wasn’t aware).  That is, the ability to add an ESXi host to a specific Organizational Unit above and beyond adding it to Active Directory.  VMware ESXi Active Directory integration has gotten much easier once they partnered with Likewise.  In vSphere 4 if I wanted an ESXi computer account to drop into a specific OU, I pre-created the computer account before the ESXi host to the domain.  In vSphere 5, the ESXi host can be joined to the domain and placed into an explicit OU all in the same step.

Say for example I wanted my esxi5 computer account to be placed into the boche.mcse domain in an OU path of /Lab/Servers as shown below:

SnagIt Capture

I can accomplish this now by providing the full path in the Domain field as shown below:

SnagIt Capture

The result is that the esxi5 computer account is now placed in the desired OU hierarchy:

SnagIt Capture

What Does ESX Mean To You?

November 9th, 2011

Today is Wednesday November 9th, 2011. I have a few simple questions for you.  Don’t over analyze.  Go with your 1st instinct.

 

Question 1: When you see the written word ESX in a tool or documentation, what does it mean or imply to you?

A) ESX literally translates to ESX, an explicit VMware Type 1 hypervisor with a RHEL Service Console.

B) ESX is a marketing term which translates to ESX, ESXi, or both, two generations of Type 1 hypervisors from the VMware portfolio

 

Question 2: Is the written word ESX interchangeable with ESXi?

A) No

B) Yes

C) I really don’t care

 

Question 3: Should tools, documentation, and marketing make clear distinctions between ESX and ESXi?

A) No

B) Yes

C) I really don’t care

VMware vSphere 4.1 Update 2 Released

October 27th, 2011

As I sit here working on an SRM lab, VUM just sent an email to me reporting 28 new patches for ESX(i) 4.1 including the release of 4.1 Update 2.

What’s New

The VMware vCenter Server 4.1 Update 2 release offers the following improvements:

  • Support for new processors: vCenter Server 4.1 Update 2 supports hosts with processors on AMD Opteron 6200 series (Interlagos) and AMD Opteron 4200 series (Valencia).
    Note: For the AMD Opteron 6200 and 4200 series (Family 15h) processors, vCenter Server 4.1 Update 2 treats each core within a compute unit as an independent core, except while applying licenses. For the purpose of licensing, vCenter Server treats each compute unit as a core. For example, although a processor with 8 compute units can provide the processor equivalent of 16 cores on vCenter Server 4.1 Update 2, only 8 cores will be counted towards license usage calculation.
  • Additional vCenter Server Database Support: vCenter Server now supports the following databases.
    • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Express (x32 and x64)
    • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Express (x32 and x64)
  • Resolved Issues: This release delivers a number of bug fixes that have been documented in the Resolved Issues section.

What’s New

The following information describes some of the enhancements available in this release of VMware ESXi:

  • Support for new processors – ESXi 4.1 Update 2 supports AMD Opteron 6200 series (Interlagos) and AMD Opteron 4200 series (Valencia).Note: For the AMD Opteron 6200 and 4200 series (Family 15h) processors, ESX/ESXi 4.1 Update 2 treats each core within a compute unit as an independent core, except while applying licenses. For the purpose of licensing, ESX/ESXi treats each compute unit as a core. For example, although a processor with 8 compute units can provide the processor equivalent of 16 cores on ESX/ESXi 4.1 Update 2, it only uses 8 licenses.
  • Support for additional guest operating system ESX 4.1 Update 2 adds support for Ubuntu 11.10 guest operating system. For a complete list of guest operating systems supported with this release, see the VMware Compatibility Guide.

Resolved Issues In addition, this release delivers a number of bug fixes that are documented in the Resolved Issues section.