Posts Tagged ‘Hyper-V’

Virtualization Manager Mobile (VMM) beta 1 released

January 16th, 2009

Lostcreations, an Austin-based software company which specializes in .NET and Java solutions for the heterogeneous virtualization sector of IT, has released beta version 1 of a product they are calling Virtualization Manager Mobile (VMM).

While the product is new, the concept is not:  Remote monitoring and management of your datacenter when you’re at the beach (or wherever remote management is inconvenient using traditional tools like laptops and WiFi).  It’s done through a hand held device having a web browser.

Beta 1 has the ability to monitor virtual machine CPU and memory utilization, as well as stop, start, suspend, and reset the VM.  The product currently supports VI3, and VMware Server 2.  Expect many new features in future versions including support for Hyper-V and XenServer 5 as well as the ability to develop your own plug-ins to extend other hypervisors.

The technology behind the tool includes AJAX and the Google Web Toolkit and the application back end installs on Windows, Linux, and OS X.  Lostcreations even provides a live demo to see the tool in action first hand!

After a decade of talking about it, we’re finally getting there!

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Guest blog entry: VMotion performance

January 5th, 2009

Good afternoon VMware virtualization enthusiasts and Hyper-V users whom Microsoft has condoned on your behalf that you don’t have a need for hot migration if you have an intern and $50,000 cash.

Simon Long has shared with us this fantastic article he wrote regarding VMotion performance.  More specifically, fine tuning concurrent VMotions allowed by vCenter.  This one is going in my document repository and tweaks ‘n’ tricks collection.  Thank you Simon and everyone please remember that virtualization is not best enjoyed in moderation!

Simon can be reached via email at contact (at) as well as @SimonLong_ on Twitter.

I’ll set the scene a little….

I’m working late, I’ve just installed Update Manager and I‘m going to run my first updates. Like all new systems, I’m not always confident so I decided “Out of hours” would be the best time to try.

I hit “Remediate” on my first Host then sat back, cup of tea in hand and watch to see what happens….The Host’s VM’s were slowly migrated off 2 at a time onto other Hosts.

“It’s gonna be a long night” I thought to myself. So whilst I was going through my Hosts one at time, I also fired up Google and tried to find out if there was anyway I could speed up the VMotion process. There didn’t seem to be any article or blog posts (that I could find) about improving VMotion Performance so I created a new Servicedesk Job for myself to investigate this further.

3 months later whilst at a product review at VMware UK, I was chatting to their Inside Systems Engineer, Chris Dye, and I asked him if there was a way of increasing the amount of simultaneous VMotions from 2 to something more. He was unsure, so did a little digging and managed to find a little info that might be helpful and fired it across for me to test.

After a few hours of basic testing over the quiet Christmas period, I was able to increase the amount of simultaneous VMotions…Happy Days!!

But after some further testing it seemed as though the amount of simultaneous VMotions is actually set per Host. This means if I set my vCenter server to allow 6 VMotions, I then place 2 Hosts into maintenance mode at the same time, there would actually be 12 VMotions running simultaneously. This is certainly something you should consider when deciding how many VMotions you would like running at once.

Here are the steps to increase the amount of Simultaneous VMotion Migrations per Host.

1. RDP to your vCenter Server.
2. Locate the vpdx.cfg (Default location “C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\VMware\VMware VirtualCenter”)
3. Make a Backup of the vpxd.cfg before making any changes
4. Edit the file in using WordPad and insert the following lines between the <vpdx></vpdx> tags;


5. Now you need to decide what value to give “maxCostPerHost”.

A Cold Migration has a cost of 1 and a Hot Migration aka VMotion has a cost of 4. I first set mine to 12 as I wanted to see if it would now allow 3 VMotions at once, I now permanently have mine set to 24 which gives me 6 simultaneous VMotions per Host (6×4 = 24).

I am unsure on the maximum value that you can use here, the largest I tested was 24.

6. Save your changes and exit WordPad.
7. Restart “VMware VirtualCenter Server” Service to apply the changes.

Now I know how to change the amount of simultaneous VMotions per Host, I decided to run some tests to see if it actually made any difference to the overall VMotion Performance.

I had 2 Host’s with 16 almost identical VM’s. I created a job to Migrate my 16 VM’s from Host 1 to Host 2.

Both Hosts VMotion vmnic was a single 1Gbit nic connected to a CISCO Switch which also has other network traffic on it.

The Network Performance graph above was recorded during my testing and is displaying the “Network Data Transmit” measurement on the VMotion vmnic. The 3 sections highlighted represent the following;

Section 1 – 16 VM’s VMotioned from Host 1 to Host 2 using a maximum of 6 simultaneous VMotions.
Time taken = 3.30

Section 2 – This was not a test, I was simply just migrating the VM’s back onto the Host for the 2nd test (Section 3).

Section 3 – 16 VM’s VMotioned from Host 1 to Host 2 using a maximum of 2 simultaneous VMotions.
Time taken = 6.36

Time Different = 3.06
3 Mins!! I wasn’t expecting it to be that much. Imagine if you had a 50 Host cluster…how much time would it save you?
I tried the same test again but only migrating 6 VM’s instead of 16.

Migrating off 6 VM’s with only 2 simultaneous VMotions allowed.
Time taken = 2.24

Migrating off 6 VM’s with 6 simultaneous VMotions allowed.
Time taken = 1.54

Time Different = 30secs

It’s still an improvement all be it not so big.

Now don’t get me wrong, these tests are hardly scientific and would never have been deemed as completely fair test but I think you get the general idea of what I was trying to get at.

I’m hoping to explore VMotion Performance further by looking at maybe using multiple physical nics for VMotion and Teaming them using EtherChannel or maybe even using 10Gbit Ethernet. Right now I don’t have the spare Hardware to do that but this is definitely something I will try when the opportunity arises.

Update 4/5/11Limit Concurrent vMotions in vSphere 4.1 by Elias Khnaser.

Update 10/3/12:  Changes to vMotion in vSphere 4.1 per VMware KB 1022851:

In vSphere 4.1:
  • Migration with vMotion and DRS for virtual machines configured with USB device passthrough from an ESX/ESXi host is supported
  • Fault Tolerant (FT) protected virtual machines can now vMotion via DRS. However, Storage vMotion is unsupported at this time.
    Note: Ensure that the ESX hosts are at the same version and build.
In addition to the above, vSphere 4.1 has improved vMotion performance and allows:
  • 4 concurrent vMotion operations per host on a 1Gb/s network
  • 8 concurrent vMotion operations per host on a 10Gb/s network
  • 128 concurrent vMotion operations per VMFS datastore

Note: Concurrent vMotion operation is currently supported only when source and destination hosts are in the same cluster. For further information, see the Configuration Maximums for VMware Sphere 4.1 document.

The vSphere 4.1 configuration maximums above remain true for vSphere 5.x.  Enhanced vMotion operations introduced in vSphere 5.1 also count against the vMotion maximums above as well as the Storage vMotion configuration maximums (8 concurrent Storage vMotions per datastore and 2 concurrent Storage vMotions per host as well as 8 concurrent non-vMotion provisioning operations per host).  Eric Sloof does a good of explaining that here.

Microsoft Hyper-V customers to expect upcoming downtime

December 17th, 2008

This morning Microsoft issued an out of band security bulletin rated Critical which impacts Microsoft Hyper-V virtualized environments (and their respective running VMs) hosted on a Windows platform running any version of Internet Explorer.  The critical vulnerability is Remote Code Execution.  The bulletin advises that a reboot of the host may be required, which is Microsoft lingo for “you can count on a reboot”, they just don’t want to be nailed down to saying as such.  With some companies in their official year end freeze period where no changes other than emergency are allowed, there is no doubt this vulnerability comes at an inconvenient time leaving many IT skeleton crews scrambling.

VMware ESX/ESXi hosts are not directly impacted by the vulnerability and may continue running business as usual.  Those who are running VMware VirtualCenter on Microsoft Windows will likely require a reboot of the Windows host, however, this does not impact running VMs or ESX/ESXi hosts.

A great disturbance in the Force

December 15th, 2008

Today I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices cried out in terror.  Mohamed Fawzi of the blog Zeros & Ones posted a VMware vs Hyper-V comparison that I felt was neither fair nor truthful.  In fact, I think it is the worst bit of journalism I’ve witnessed in quite a while and even in the face of the VMworld 2008/Microsoft Hyper-V poker chip fiasco, I don’t know if Microsoft would even endorse this tripe.

I didn’t have a lot of time today for rebuttal and thus following are my brief responses:

Cost: It is impossible to summarize cost of a product (and TCO) in one short sentence as you have done.

Support: VMware was the first virtualization company to be listed on the Microsoft SVVP program.  Enough said about that.  If you want to talk about Linux, VMware supports many distros.  Hyper-V last time I checked supports one.

Hardware Requirements: No comparison.  Microsoft does not have VMotion/hot migration or similar.  New server “farms” are not necessarily needed, although a rolling upgrade can be performed using Enhanced VMotion Compatibility where the majority of the technology that will allow this comes from the processor hardware vendors.

Advanced Memory Management: Content based page sharing is a proven technology that I use in a production environment with no performance impacts.  Microsoft does not have this technology and therefore forces their customers to achieve higher consolidation ratios by spending more money on RAM than what would be needed in a VMware datacenter.  Other memory overcommit technologies such as ballooning and swapping come with varying levels of penalty and VMware offers the flexibility to the customer as to what they would like to do in these areas.  Microsoft offers no flexibility or choices.

Hypervisor: ESXi embedded is 32MB.  ESXi installable is about 1GB.  Hyper-V’s comparable products once installed are 1GB and in the 4-10GB neighborhood.  Your point of the Hyper-V hypervisor being 872KB, whether truth or not, bears no relevance for comparison purposes.

Drivers Support: VMware maintains tight control which fosters platform stability.  Installation of XYZ drivers and software adds to instability, support costs, and down time.

Processor Support: False.  ESX/ESXi operates on x86 32bit and x64 64bit processors.  Current 3rd party vendor neutral performance benchmarking between ESX and Hyper-V shows no performance degradation in ESX compared to Hyper-V as a result of address translation or otherwise.  A more truthful headline to be exposed here is Hyper-V isn’t compatible with 32-bit hardware.  Why didn’t you mention this in your Hardware Requirements section?

Application Support: I don’t see any Windows support issues.  Again I remind you, VMware is certified on the Microsoft SVVP program.  Another comparison is made with a particular VMotion restriction.  I’ll grant you that if you admit Microsoft has no VMotion or hot migration at all.

Product Hypervisor Technology: We already covered this in the Drivers Support section.

Epic virtualization and storage blogger Scott Lowe provides his responses here.

Mohamed Fawzi, while it is nice to meet you, it is unfortunate that we met under these terms.  Having just discovered your blog today, I hope you don’t mind if I take a look at some of your other material as it looks like you’ve been at the blogging for a while (much longer than I).  I hope to find some good and interesting reads.

Virtualization rematch corrections and clarifications

December 4th, 2008

In the December 2008 issue of Windows IT Pro magazine, Michael Otey publishes part two of his VMware ESX/Microsoft Hyper-V comparison. From the VMware side of the world, I felt the article was well written, fair, and mostly accurate, however, there are a few things that I wanted to point out to minimize the confusion for those still trying to decide which hypervisor and feature set is best for them.

  • For most of the article, ESX is referred to as ESX Server. VMware dropped the word “Server” from their bare metal hypervisor a while back. ESX Server is merely ESX or ESXi and should not be confused with VMware’s free hosted product VMware Server.
  • Page 22 mentions the most noticeable missing feature from the Virtual Infrastructure Client is a native Windows Explorer-like file manager and direct connection from host to host. This is incorrect. From the VIC, you can either double click or right click on any datastore seen by the host and choose “Browse Datastore”. From the Datastore Browser, files and folders of the VMFS volume structure can be copied, cut, moved, renamed, created, deleted, and downloaded to the desktop. To address the host to host communication piece, the scp command can be used in the service console (COS) of an ESX host to copy files to or from another ESX host (ok, it’s not pretty, but it’s an option that does exist and I’ve used it many times).
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  • Michael goes on to say the VIC doesn’t provide the ability to copy or clone VMs. I grant Michael that in this example the VIC is not as intuitive as the other VMware hosted product management consoles which provide the user menu driven options to clone VMs, however, as I explained in the bullet above, the Datastore Browser will copy VMs which accomplishes one part of a manual cloning process. Another cloning step I will talk about in the next bullet.
  • Lastly, Michael explains he doesn’t get a graphical option to register VMs. Once again, using the Datastore Browser, we can right click on the VM’s *.vmx configuration file and choose “Add to Inventory” which registers the VM on the host (this is equivalent to the vmware-cmd -s register <config_file_path> command in the service console).
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This appears to be a simple case of Mr. Otey missing the Datastore Browser feature in the VIC which I’ve shown does exist and provides great utility and improvement over the MUI based file manager we had in the legacy ESX 2.x days. The Datastore Browser is a direct result of VMware listening to and responding to end user feedback stating we weren’t satisfied with using out of band 3rd party utilities like WinSCP for ESX host file management. Michael’s conclusion was a five-diamond rating for ESX over Hyper-V. He goes on to recommend ESX to midsized-to-large businesses looking for performance and manageability. With ESXi offered for free from VMware, I think he is missing the value of performance and manageability for small businesses as well.

Speaking of Windows IT Pro magazine, little known fact, I was the winner of the Reader Challenge in the April 2000 issue. Back then, the magazine was called Windows 2000 Magazine (and before that Windows NT Magazine). Back in the Windows NT days, the magazine was as thick as a 20,000 family telephone book. These days, the magazine still has some good articles like those written by Michael Otey, but sadly it has dwindled to 65 pages, the majority of which seem to be filled with ads and they still boast a $54.95 annual subscription cost. I’m not sure how they sleep at night.

Microsoft focus on features and marketing talk; delivery a secondary objective

November 15th, 2008

Looking for the SCVMM 2008 management pack? It doesnt exist much to the contrary of the documentation. Microsoft marketing is five steps ahead of the development team. That’s old news.

I’m so glad I’m not a Microsoft virtualization customer. What a let down it must be at times. Want to put Hyper-V and VMware pricing head to head? This is what you get. These are the soft details price comparisons don’t reveal. This is what Microsoft isn’t going to openly admit at the booth. For my dollar, today’s innovative features are what count.

Anyway, that’s quite enough press for Microsoft on my blog. Read the rest at VCritical.