Posts Tagged ‘Microsoft’

The 9/11 Post

September 10th, 2011

Snagit CaptureMy memory isn’t what it used to be but there are a few experiences in the past which remain clear in my mind.  The first time I met the person who would eventually become my wife. The birth of my daughter. The first time I saw VMware ESXi at a Minneapolis VMUG meeting.  September 10th, 2001 and of course what followed the next morning.  A lot of people have a 9/11 story.  I have mine.  Tomorrow being the 10 year anniversary, I’ll share it here as requested.

In 2001 I worked as a Systems Engineer for a large bank based out of Minneapolis, MN.  One of our datacenters was located in Columbia, MD which is situated between Baltimore, MD and Washington D.C.  We were re-IP’ing the datacenter the weekend before 9/11 so I had spent the prior week on site making the final preparations for the long weekend ahead which I would also be involved in.

As I recall, it was a pretty long weekend working around the clock.  Par for the course when we had to deal with the finicky attitude of Microsoft SQL Server clusters.  We got through it and Monday morning arrived.  I would usually stick around through mid day Monday for this type of activity to make sure we were out of the woods, then fly out in the afternoon or early evening.  There were no issues to speak of but I hung out with my Maryland co-workers until the last possible minute I had to leave for the airport.  This was my normal routine.  At this point in time there was no reason to arrive at the airport two hours early.  There weren’t security checkpoints & the associated lines to deal with.  However, I had cut it way too close this time and was going to miss my flight.  I didn’t know it at the time but arriving late and missing my flight would allow me a brush with fame opportunity.

Snagit CaptureAt this time it’s probably 5:30pm EDT.  I worked with the ticketing agent to find a later flight out.  Fortunately there was a later flight, I believe it was the last out of BWI.  I checked my bag and made my way to the gate for the long wait.  The portion of the airport where my gate existed was fairly empty.  I was doing the long walk thing to one of the last gates.  As I’m walking, a young guy who had gotten off a plane is walking towards me from the opposite direction.  From a distance he’s tall and has a baseball cap on.  As we passed each other, I got a closer look.  One thought immediately entered my mind as he was walking away “He looks like Travis Pastrana (a pro motocross Suzuki rider).”  The DUH moment followed “Travis and his parents live in Maryland.”  When you eat, sleep, and breathe motocross, you follow motocross and pro riders closely. You know these things.  I spun around and called out his first name “Travis!” from 20 feet away.  We talked for about a minute.  He was a nice guy and autographed a full spread poster of him performing a lazy boy contained in a motocross magazine I happened to be carrying in my laptop bag.  Then we went on our respective ways.  I called my wife (girlfriend at the time) and told her she’d never guess who I just met.  I spent the rest of the evening smiling.  I would always remember that particular day (but not necessarily the date September 10th itself), as one of the best days in my life.  The following day would be one of the worst.

Tuesday morning I woke up and drove to work in downtown Minneapolis.  As I waited at the intersection of 11 Street to turn right onto Hennepin Avenue, the frantic reports started coming in over the radio.  For me, that’s where I was when 9/11 happened – at that intersection making a right turn, trying not to believe what I’m hearing on the radio.  The details of that event are known by all and don’t need repeating here.  I had a difficult time grasping what had happened, how they could have happened.  I thought about how close I had been to one of the sites the night before.

The following weekend I loaded up the truck to race at Mazeppa.  There was such a poor turnout due to the week’s events that the races were cancelled and for those that stuck around, we just practiced the entire day.  A small and inconsequential example of how the events 9/11 would impact the future.  By the grace of God, I didn’t lose any of my own loved ones, friends, or co-workers but when I see the faces of the innocent people who lost their lives, I can’t help but feel a connection to each of them.  I’ve watched interviews of so many who suffered the loss of family members and I absolutely cannot comprehend how they dealt with it.  I pray that those who passed on and their family members who remain receive love and comfort from God.  It will be an emotional morning at church tomorrow as we join together in a special service of remembrance.

My daughter started kindergarten last week.  I also have a three year old boy.  In time they will learn about 9/11 and will inevitably talk about it and/or ask my wife and I questions about it.  I hope that it is the type of event they will only have to learn about through history books.  Tomorrow I’ll pray for peace and hope that my children and my children’s children can grow up in a better world.

On a creepy side note, for the first part of my tenure at the bank, each time I traveled to the Columbia site, a national level tragedy occurred:

  • Columbine High School tragedy – 4/20/99
  • 9/11 tragedy – 9/11/01
  • Space Shuttle Columbia tragedy – 2/1/03

I no longer work for the bank and as such, no longer travel to this site.

vCenter Server 5.0 and MS SQL Database Permissions

August 20th, 2011

It’s that time again (to bring up the age old topic of Microsoft SQL database permission requirements in order to install VMware vCenter Server).  This brief article focuses on vCenter 5.0.  Permissions on the SQL side haven’t changed at all based on what was required in vSphere 4.  However, the error displayed for lacking required permissions to the MSDB System database has.  In fact, in my opinion it’s a tad misleading.

To review, the vCenter database account being used to make the ODBC connection requires the db_owner role on the MSDB System database during the installation of vCenter Server.  This facilitates the installation of SQL Agent jobs for vCenter statistic rollups.

In the example below, I’m using SQL authentication with an account named vcenter.  I purposely left out its required role on MSDB and you can see below the resulting error:

The DB user entered does not have the required permissions needed to install and configure vCenter Server with the selected DB.  Please correct the following error(s):  The database user ‘vcenter’ does not have the following privileges on the ‘vc50’ database:

EXECUTE sp_add_category

EXECUTE sp_add_job

EXECUTE sp_add_jobschedule

EXECUTE sp_add_jobserver

EXECUTE sp_add_jobstep

EXECUTE sp_delete_job

EXECUTE sp_update_job

SELECT syscategories

SELECT sysjobs

SELECT sysjobsteps

Snagit Capture

Now what I think is misleading about the error thrown is that it’s pointing the finger at missing permissions on the vc50 database.  This is incorrect.  My vcenter SQL account has db_owner permissions on the vc50 vCenter database.  The problem is actually lacking the temporary db_owner permissions on the MSDB System database at vCenter installation time as described earlier.

The steps to rectify this situation are the same as before.  Grant the vcenter account the db_owner role for the MSDB System database, install vCenter, then revoke that role when vCenter installation is complete. While we’re on the subject, the installation of vCenter Update Manager 5.0 with a Microsoft SQL back end database also requires the ODBC connection account to temporarily have db_owner permissions on the MSDB System database.  I do believe this is a new requirement in vSphere 5.0.  If you’re going to install VUM, you might as well do that first before going through the process of revoking the db_owner role.

An example of where that role is added in SQL Server 2008 R2 Management Studio is shown below:

Snagit Capture

USB Thumb Drive Not Recognized – 3 Fast Beeps

July 27th, 2011

No Earth-shattering material tonight.  In fact this tip isn’t even VMware/virtualization related other than the fact that the problem came up while working in the lab.  It has been several months since the last article I wrote under the “General” category which contains no VMware/virtualization content.

Anyway, I was working in the lab when…

My Windows 7 OS would no longer recognize my USB thumb drive.  Inserting the thumb drive into any of the USB  ports produced three quick USB-style beeps.  Having cut my x86 teeth in the days when A+ certification amounted to quite a bit, the three beeps told me something wasn’t right from a hardware standpoint but with a hint of driver hence the USB audio indicator.  I was mildly concerned because I sometimes carry data around on this drive which hasn’t been backed up or cannot be quickly reproduced.  A warm reboot of the OS produced no joy.  Neither did a power off.

Back in Windows Device Manager, the device was shown as disabled with an option to re-enable.  This did not work however.

Snagit Capture

This being a USB device which can easily be reinstalled, the next step was to uninstall the driver by right clicking on the device and choosing Uninstall (notice the “down arrow” depicted on the device indicating it is disabled):

Snagit Capture

After the uninstall of the driver, I unplugged the USB thumb drive, waited a few seconds, plugged it back in, and immediately heard the friendly USB sound I had been wanting all along.  Windows 7 went through a device discovery process, installed drivers, and I was on my way.

New Diskeeper White Paper: Optimization of VMware Systems

June 28th, 2011

diskeeperDiskeeper Corporation reached out to me via email last week letting me know that they’ve released a new white paper on optimizing VMs.  I’m making the three page document available for download via the following link:

Best Practice Protocols: Optimization of VMware Systems (416KB)

He is serious, and don’t call him Scott

May 20th, 2011

5-20-2011 10-47-54 AMHappy Friday!  Today’s treat is the announcement of a new tech blog by my friend in VMware virtualization, Microsoft SQL,  and the occassional fine cigar, Todd Scalzott (@tscalzott).  I love the title of his blog: Don’t Call Me Scott.  Content focus will be Tech ramblings from a guy named Todd, too often called Scott.  I’m looking forward to what you have to share Todd!

Performance Overview charts fail with STATs Report Service internal error

May 11th, 2011

A few months ago I was troubleshooting a problem with the Overview charts in the Performance tab of the vSphere Client.  This was a vSphere 4.0 Update 1 environment but I believe the root cause will impact other vSphere versions as well.

Instead of displaying the dashboard of charts in the Overview display, an error was displayed:

STATs Report service internal error
or
STATs Report application initialization is not completed successfully

One unique aspect of this environment was that the vCenter database was hosted on a Microsoft SQL Server which used a port other than the default of TCP 1433.  VMware KB Article 1012812 identified this as the root cause of the issue.

To resolve the issue, I was required to stop the vCenter Server service and modify the statsreport.xml file located on the vCenter Server in the \Program Files\VMware\Infrastructure\tomcat\conf\Catalina\localhost\ directory by inserting the line in bold.  Note the italicized components will vary and are environment specific based on the SQL server name, database name, alternate TCP port in use, and authentication method (SQL/false or Windows integrated/true):

<Resource auth=”Container”
   name=”jdbc/StatsDS”
   type=”javax.sql.DataSource”
   factory=”org.apache.tomcat.dbcp.dbcp.BasicDataSourceFactory”
   initialSize=”3″
  maxActive=”10″
  maxIdle=”3″
  maxWait=”10000″
  defaultReadOnly=”true”
  defaultTransactionIsolation=”READ_COMMITTED”
  removeAbandoned=”true”
  removeAbandonedTimeout=”60″
  url=”jdbc:sqlserver://sqlservername:1601;instanceName=sqlservername;
     databaseName=sqldatabasename;integratedSecurity=false;”
/>

Don’t forget to restart the vCenter Server service after saving the statsreport.xml file.

network bandwidth transfer.xlsx

March 19th, 2011

SnagIt CaptureMany years ago, before I got involved with VMware, before VMware existed in fact, I was a Systems Engineer supporting Microsoft Windows Servers.  I also dabbled in technology related things such as running game servers like Quake II and Half-Life Counter-Strike on the internet.  One area where these responsibilities intersected was the need to know the rate at which data could traverse a rated network segment in addition to the amount of time it would take for said data to travel from point A to point B. 

At that point in time, there wasn’t half a dozen free web based calculators which could be found via Google search.  As a result, I started an Excel spreadsheet.  It started out as a tool which would allow me to enter a value in KiloBytes, MegaBytes, or GigaBytes.  From there, it would calculate the amount of time it would take that data to travel across the wire.  This data was useful in telling me how many players the Counter-Strike could scale to, and it would provide an estimate for how much the bandwidth utilization was going to cost me per month.  I also used this information in the office to plan backup strategies, data transfer, and data replication.

I’ve expanded its capabilities slightly over the years as well as scaled it up to handle the volume of data we deal which has increased exponentially.  In addition to the functions it performed in the past, I added a data conversion section which translates anything to anything within the range of bits to YottaBytes.  It performs both Base 2 (binary) and Base 10 (decimal) calculations which are maintained on their own respective worksheet tabs.  I prefer to work with Base 2 because it’s old school and I believe it is the most accurate measure of data and conversion.  To this point, WikiPedia explains:

The relative difference between the values in the binary and decimal interpretations increases, when using the SI prefixes as the base, from 2.4% for kilo to over 20% for the yotta prefix.  This chart shows the growing percentage of the shortfall of decimal interpretations from binary interpretations of the unit prefixes plotted against the logarithm of storage size.

SnagIt Capture

However, Base 10 is much easier for the human brain to work with as the numbers are nice and round.  I believe this is how and why Base 10 became known as “Salesman Bytes” way back when.  I’ll be darned if I can find a reference to this term any longer in Google.

Long boring story short, this is a handy storage/network data conversion tool I still use from time to time today when working with large or varying numbers.  For those who don’t have a preferred tool for whatever use case, you’re welcomed to use the one I created.  A few notes:

  • Due to the extreme length of two of the formulas in the workbook, I had to upgrade it to Excel 2007 format at a minimum which is the reason for the file extension of .xlsx.
  • The data transfer section assumes the most optimal of conditions, no latency, etc.

Download network bandwidth transfer.xlsx (22.6KB)