Posts Tagged ‘vCenter Server’

vSphere 5.1 Update 1 Update Sequence

May 6th, 2013

Not so long ago, VMware product releases were staggered.  Major versions of vSphere would launch at or shortly after VMworld in the fall, and all other products such as SRM, View, vCloud Director, etc. would rev on some other random schedule.  This was extremely frustrating for a vEvangelist because we wanted to be on the latest and greatest platform but lack of compatibility with the remaining bolt-on products held us back.

While this was a wet blanket for eager lab rats, it was a major complexity for production environments.  VMware understood this issue and at or around the vSphere 5.0 launch (someone correct me if I’m wrong here), all the development teams in Palo Alto synchronized their watches & revd product in essence at the same time.  This was great and it added the much needed flexibility for production environment migrations.  However, in a way it masked an issue which didn’t really exist before by virtue of product release staggering – a clear and understandable order of product upgrades.  That is why in March of 2012, I looked at all the product compatibility matrices and sort of came up with my own “cheat sheet” of product compatibility which would lend itself to an easy to follow upgrade path, at least for the components I had in my lab environment.

vSphere 5.1 Update 1 launched on 4/25/13 and along with it a number of other products were revd for compatibility.  To guide us on the strategic planning and tactical deployment of the new software bundles, VMware issued KB Article 2037630 Update sequence for vSphere 5.1 Update 1 and its compatible VMware products.

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Not only does VMware provide the update sequencing information, but there are also exists a complete set of links to specific product upgrade procedures and release notes which can be extremely useful for planning and troubleshooting.

The vCloud Suite continues to evolve providing agile and elastic infrastructure services for businesses around the globe in a way which makes IT easier and more practical for consumers but quite a bit more complex on the back end for those who must design, implement, and support it.  Visit the KB Article and give it 5 stars.  Let VMware know this is an extremely helpful type of collateral for those in the trenches.

Book Review: VMware vSphere 5 Building a Virtual Datacenter

March 4th, 2013

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Publication Date: August 30, 2012 | ISBN-10: 0321832213 | ISBN-13: 978-0321832214 | Edition: 1

I’m long overdue on book reviews and I need to start off with an apology to the authors for getting this one out so late.  The title is VMware vSphere 5 Building a Virtual Datacenter by Eric Maillé and René-François Mennecier (Foreword by Chad Sakac and Technical Editor Tom Keegan).  This is a book which caught me off guard a little because I was unaware of the authors (both in virtualization and cloud gigs at EMC Corporation) but nonetheless meeting new friends in virtualization is always pleasant surprise.  It was written prior to and released at the beginning of September 2012 with vSphere coverage up to version 5.0 which launched early in September 2011.

The book starts off with the first two chapters more or less providing a history of VMware virtualization plus coverage of most of the products and where they fit.  I’ve been working with VMware products since just about the beginning and as such I’ve been fortunate to be able to absorb all of the new technology in iterations as it came over a period of many years.  Summarizing it all in 55 pages felt somewhat overwhelming (this is not by any means a negative critique of the authors’ writing).  Whereas advanced datacenter virtualization was once just a concatenation of vCenter and ESX, the portfolio has literally exploded to a point where design, implementation, and management has gotten fairly complex for IT when juggling all of the parts together.  I sympathize a bit for late adopters – it really must feel like a fire hose of details to sort through to flesh out a final bill of materials which fits their environment.

From there, the authors move on to cover key areas of the virtualized and consolidated datacenter including storage and networking as well as cluster features, backup and disaster recovery (including SRM), and installation methods.  In the eighth and final chapter, a case study is looked at in which the second phase of a datacenter consolidation project must be delivered.  Last but not least is a final section titled Common Acronyms which I’ll unofficially call Chapter 9.  It summarizes and translates acronyms used throughout the book.  I’m not sure if it’s unique but it’s certainly not a bad idea.

To summarize, the book is 286 pages in length, not including the index.  It’s not a technical deepdive which covers everything in the greatest of detail but I do view it as a good starting point which is going to answer a lot of questions for beginners and beyond as well as provide some early guidance along the path of virtualization with vSphere.  The links above will take you directly to the book on Amazon where you can purchase a paperback copy or Kindle version of the book.  Enjoy and thank you Eric and René-François.

Chapter List

  1. From Server Virtualization to Cloud Computing
  2. The Evolution of vSphere 5 and its Architectural Components
  3. Storage in vSphere 5
  4. Servers and Network
  5. High Availability and Disaster Recovery Plan
  6. Backups in vSphere 5
  7. Implementing vSphere 5
  8. Managing a Virtualization Project
  9. Common Acronyms

VMworld 2012 Announcements – Part I

August 27th, 2012

VMworld 2012 is underway in San Francisco.  Once again, a record number of attendees is expected to gather at the Moscone Center to see what VMware and their partners are announcing.  From a VMware perspective, there is plenty.

Given the sheer quantity of announcements, I’m actually going to break up them up into a few parts, this post being Part I.  Let’s start with the release of vSphere 5.1 and some of its notable features.

Enhanced vMotion – the ability to now perform a vMotion as well as a Storage vMotion simultaneously. In addition, this becomes an enabler to perform vMotion without the shared storage requirement.  Enhanced vMotion means we are able to migrate a virtual machine stored on local host storage, to shared storage, and then to local storage again.  Or perhaps migrate virtual machines from one host to another with each having their own locally attached storage only.  Updated 9/5/12 The phrase “Enhanced vMotion” should be correctly read as “vMotion that has been enhanced”.  “Enhanced vMotion” is not an actual feature, product, or separate license.  It is an improvement over the previous vMotion technology and included wherever vMotion is bundled.

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Enhanced vMotion Requirements:

  • Hosts must be managed by same vCenter Server
  • Hosts must be part of same Datacenter
  • Hosts must be on the same layer-2 network (and same switch if VDS is used)

Operational Considerations:

  • Enhanced vMotion is a manual process
  • DRS and SDRS automation do not leverage enhanced vMotion
  • Max of two (2) concurrent Enhanced vMotions per host
  • Enhanced vMotions count against concurrent limitations for both vMotion and Storage vMotion
  • Enhanced vMotion will leverage multi-NIC when available

Next Generation vSphere Client a.k.a. vSphere Web Client – An enhanced version of the vSphere Web Client which has already been available in vSphere 5.0.  As of vSphere 5.1, the vSphere Web Client becomes the defacto standard client for managing the vSphere virtualized datacenter.  Going forward, single sign-on infrastructure management will converge into a unified interface which any administrator can appreciate.  vSphere 5.1 will be the last platform to include the legacy vSphere client. Although you may use this client day to day while gradually easing into the Web Client, understand that all future development from VMware and its partners now go into the Web Client. Plug-ins currently used today will generally still function with the legacy client (with support from their respective vendors) but they’ll need to be completely re-written vCenter Server side for the Web Client.  Aside from the unified interface, the architecture of the Web Client has scaling advantages as well.  As VMware adds bolt-on application functionality to the client, VMware partners will now have the ability to to bring their own custom objects objects into the Web Client thereby extending that single pane of glass management to other integrations in the ecosystem.

 

Here is a look at that vSphere Web Client architecture:

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Requirements:

  • Internet Explorer / FireFox / Chrome
  • others (Safari, etc.) are possible, but will lack VM console access

A look at the vSphere Web Client interface and its key management areas:

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Where the legacy vSphere Client fall short and now the vSphere Web Client solves these issues:

  • Single Platform Support (Windows)
    • vSphere Web Client is Platform Agnostic
  • Scalability Limits
    • Built to handle thousands of objects
  • White Screen of Death
    • Performance
  • Inconsistent look and feel across VMware solutions
    • Extensibility
  • Workflow Lock
    • Pause current task and continue later right where you left off (this one is cool!)
    • Browser Behavior
  • Upgrades
    • Upgrade a Single serverside component

 vCloud Director 5.1

In the recent past, VMware aligned common application and platform releases to ease issues that commonly occurred with compatibility.  vCloud Director, the cornerstone of the vCloud Suite, is obviously the cornerstone in how VMware will deliver infrastructure, applications, and *aaS now and into the future. So what’s new in vCloud Director 5.1?  First an overview of the vCloud Suite:

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And a detailed list of new features:

  • Elastic Virtual Datacenters – Provider vDCs can span clusters leveraging VXLAN allowing the distribution and mobility of vApps across infrastructure and the growing the vCloud Virtual Datacenter
  • vCloud Networking & Security VXLAN
  • Profile-Driven Storage integration with user and storage provided capabilities
  • Storage DRS (SDRS) integration
    • Exposes storage Pod as first class storage container (just like a datastores) making it visible in all workflows where a datastore is visible
    • Creation, modification, and deletion of spods not possible in vCD
    • Member datastore operations not permissible in VCD
  • Single level Snapshot & Revert support for vApps (create/revert/remove); integration with Chargeback
  • Integrated vShield Edge Gateway
  • Integrated vShield Edge Configuration
  • vCenter Single Sign-On (SSO)
  • New Features in Networking
    • Integrated Organization vDC Creation Workflow
    • Creates compute, storage, and networking objects in a single workflow
    • The Edge Gateway are exposed at Organization vDC level
    • Organization vDC networks replace Organization networks
    • Edge Gateways now support:
      • Multiple Interfaces on a Edge Gateway
      • The ability to sub-allocate IP pools to a Edge Gatewa
      • Load balancing
      • HA (not the same as vSphere HA)
        • Two edge VMs deployed in Active-Passive mode
        • Enabled at time of gateway creation
        • Can also be changed after the gateway has been completed
        • Gets deployed with first Organizational network created that uses this gateway
      • DNS Relay
        • Provides a user selectable checkbox to enable
        • If DNS servers are defined for the selected external network, DNS requests will be sent to the specified server. If not, then DNS requests will be sent to the default gateway of the external network.
      • Rate limiting on external interface
    • Organization networks replaced by Organization vDC Networks
      • Organization vDC Networks are associated with an Organization vDC
      • The network pool associated with Organization vDC is used to create routed and isolated Organization vDC networks
      • Can be shared across Organization vDCs in an Organization
    • Edge Gateways
      • Are associated with an Organization vDC, can not be shared across Organization vDCs
      • Can be connected to multiple external networks
        • Multiple routed Organization vDC networks will be connected to the same Edge Gateway
      • External network connectivity for the Organization vDC Network can be changed after creation by changing the external networks which the edge gateway is connected.
      • Allows IP pool of external networks to be sub-allocated to the Edge Gateway
        • Needs to be specified in case of NAT and Load Balancer
    • New Features in Gateway Services
      • Load balancer service on Edge Gateways
      • Ability to add multiple subnets to VPN tunnels
      • Ability to add multiple DHCP IP pools
      • Ability to add explicit SNAT and DNAT rules providing user with full control over address translation
      • IP range support in Firewall and NAT services
      • Service Configuration Changes
        • Services are configured on Edge Gateway instead of at the network level
        • DHCP can be configured on Isolated Organization vDC networks.
  • Usability Features
    • New default branding style
      • Cannot revert back to the Charcoal color scheme
      • Custom CSS files will require modification
    • Improved “Add vApp from Catalog” wizard workflow
    • Easy access to VM Quota and Lease Expirations
    • New dropdown menu that includes details and search
    • Redesigned catalog navigation and sub-entity hierarchy
    • Enhanced help and documentation links
  • Virtual Hardware Version 9
    • Supports features presented by HW9 (like 64 CPU support)
    • Supports Hardware Virtualization Calls
    • VT-x/EPT or AMD-V/RVI
    • Memory overhead increased, vMotion limited to like hardware
    • Enable/Disable exposed to users who have rights to create a vApp Template
  • Additional Guest OS Support
    • Windows 8
    • Mac OS 10.5, 10.6 and 10.7
  • Storage Independent of VM Feature
    • Added support for Independent Disks
    • Provides REST API support for actions on Independent Disks
      • As these consume disk space, the vCD UI was updated to show user when they are used:
      • Organizations List Page
      • A new Independent Disks count column is added.
      • Organization Properties Page
      • Independent Disks tab is added to show all independent disks belonging to vDC
      • Tab is not shown if no independent disk exists in the vDC.
      • Virtual Machine Properties Page
      • Hardware tab->Hard Disks section, attached independent disks are shown by their names and all fields for the disk are disabled as they are not editable.

That’s all I have time for right now.  As I said, there is more to come later on topics such as vDS enhancements, VXLAN, SRM, vCD Load Balancing, and vSphere Replication.  Stay tuned!

Using PowerCLI To Answer Virtual Machine Message Questions

April 17th, 2012

Scripters believe in efficiency, automation, working smarter and not harder, etc.  You’ll sometimes hear them say something like “Any process which is repeated once or more should be scripted”.  Myself, I am not the world’s greatest scripter.  I have to work at it.  Thus my personal threshold for committing to a scripted method is higher than one repetition.

In my environment, I did come across a particular process which needed to be repeated 20 or more times – Answering a virtual machine question.  Based on what I’m working on, conceivably I was going to run into this a lot more.  This is a great candidate for scripting.

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The Virtual Machine Message I’m faced with deals with the relocation of the VM.  Via the vSphere Client, my possible choices to answer the question are “Cancel”, “I moved it”, or “I copied it”.  I don’t have the patience or desire to mouse through this hundreds of times.

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I want to provide the same answer, “I moved it”, for every VM in inventory which has this question.  The script to accomplish this is fairly simple, even by my standards.  Once the PowerCLI connection is established to the vCenter Server or ESX(i) host, it’s a one-liner.  Following is the PowerShell script which gets the job done for my situation:

Connect-VIServer vc501.boche.lab
Get-VM | Get-VMQuestion | Set-VMQuestion -Option “I moved it” -Confirm:$false

Note that there are different types of Virtual Machine Message questions which will yield a different set of possible answers.  Be sure to query a VM having a question via PowerCLI for the possible answers to that question.  Get-VM | Get-VMQuestion -full should do it.  Once the possible answers are revealed, use Set-VMQuestion -Option to provide an answer.

Also note the script above will cycle through all VMs in inventory, and for those having a question, it will provide the same response for each VM.  Thus the assumption is made that all VMs with pending questions have the same question being asked.  To respond to explicit question types or to filter the VMs being looped through, the script would need to be refined.

For more information on the Get-VMQuestion or Set-VMQuestion PowerCLI cmdlets, use Get-Help Get-VMQuestion -full or Set-Help Get-VMQuestion -full respectively.

Update 6/30/15:  I ran into a situation with vSphere 5.5 Update 2 and PowerCLI 5.8.0.6734 where “I moved it” was not being recognized as a valid answer to the question, yet I needed to provide this as the correct answer.

Using:

PowerCLI C:\> Get-VMQuestion -VM mytestvm

Possible answers are:

Cancel, button.uuid.movedTheVM, button.uuid.copiedTheVM

I’m not sure why this changed or when, but in my case the new answer string to provide is ‘button.uuid.movedTheVM’

I needed to answer the same question on a large number of virtual machines so I used the following PowerShell:

Get-VM | Get-VMQuestion | Set-VMQuestion -Option ‘button.uuid.movedTheVM’ -Confirm:$false

VMware vCenter as a vCloud Director vApp

February 27th, 2012

Snagit CaptureThe way things work out, I tend to build a lot of vCenter Servers in the lab.  Or at least it feels like I do.  I need to test this.  A customer I’m meeting with wants to specifically see that.  I need don’t want to taint or impact an existing vCenter Server which may already be dedicated to something else having more importance.  VMware Site Recovery Manager is a good example.  Each time I bring up an environment I need a pair of vCenter Servers which may or not be available.  Whatever the reason, I’ve reached the point where I don’t need to experience the build process repeatedly.

The Idea

A while ago, I had stood up a private cloud for the Technical Solutions/Technical Marketing group at Dell Compellent.  I saved some time by leveraging that cloud environment to quickly provision platforms I could install vCenter Server instances on.  vCenter Servers as vApps – fantastic use case.  However, the vCenter installation process is lengthy enough that I wanted something more in terms of automated cookie cutter deployment which I didn’t have to spend a lot of time on.  What if I took one of the Windows Server 2008 R2 vApps from the vCD Organization Catalog, deployed it as a vApp, bumped up the vCPU and memory count, installed the vSphere Client, vCenter Server, licenses, a local MS SQL Express database, and the Dell Compellent vSphere client plug-in (download|demo video), and then added that vApp back to the vCD Organization Catalog?  Perhaps not such a supported configuration by VMware or Microsoft, but could I then deploy that vApp as future vCenter instances?  Better yet, build a vApp consisting of a pair of vCenter Servers for the SRM use case?  It sounded feasible.  My biggest concerns were things like vCenter and SQL Express surviving the name and IP address change as part of the vCD customization.

The POC

Although I ran into some unrelated customization issues which seemed to have something to do with vCD, Windows Server 2008 R2, and VMXNET3 vNICs (error message: “could not find network adapters as specified by guest customization. Log file is at c:\windows\temp\customize-guest.log.” I’ll save that for a future blog post if I’m able to root cause the problem), the Proof of Concept test results thus far have been successful.  After vCD customization, I was able to add vSphere 5 hosts and continue with normal operations from there.

Initially, I did run into one minor issue and that was hosts would fall into a disconnected status approximately two minutes after being connected to the vCenter Server.  This turned out to be a Windows Firewall issue which was introduced during the customization process.  Also, there were some red areas under the vCenter Service Status which pointed to the old instance name (most fixes for that documented well by Rick Vanover here, plus the vCenter Inventory Service cleanup at VMware KB 2009934).

The Conclusion

To The Cloud!  You don’t normally hear that from me on a regular basis but in this case it fits.  A lengthy and increasingly cumbersome task was made more efficient with vCloud Director and vSphere 5.  Using the Linked Clone feature yields both of its native benefits: Fast Provisioning and Space Efficiency.  I’ll continue to leverage vCD for similar and new use cases where I can.  Lastly, this solution can also be implemented with VMware Lab Manager or simply as a vSphere template.  Caveats being Lab Manager retires in a little over a year and a vSphere Template won’t be as space efficient as a Linked Clone.

View Pool And Desktop Hung in Deleting State

February 7th, 2012

The VMware View 5.0 environment in the lab has been running well and has proven itself as an extremely reliable remote access replacement for the old Citrix Presentation Server 4.0 solution I had in the past.  However, in an effort to address a licensing issue related to the View App for iPad demo environment, I managed to force both a pool and a single desktop from within that pool into a perpetually stuck state of ‘deleting’.  In addition, the VM representing the desktop was gone, but I could see from within vCenter the parent replica for the pool still remained.  I spent some time poking at it from several angles including the View Connection Server, the vCenter Server, and the View Composer Server.  It became clear that the underlying issue was deeper, in a database perhaps, and couldn’t be resolved using the standard management tools VMware offers.

The issue isn’t an uncommon one and I quickly turned up familiar hits at VMware’s community forums spanning a few different versions of VMware View.  The root cause is explained in VMware KB Article 1008658 which applies to View versions 3.x through 5.2.x (this KB article also walks through the steps of manually deleting pae-VMs from the ADAM database as well as manually deleting dubious SVI_rows from various tables in the View Composer database as necessary).  Also see Manually deleting linked clones or stale virtual desktop entries from VMware View Manager 4.5 and later at VMware KB 2015112 (which uses the SviConfig.exe View Composer utility and is linked from KB 1008658):

This issue occurs if a table in the database has an incorrect data. It can also occur if the virtual machine name has been changed in the vCenter Server manually after the pool has been created, causing View Composer and vCenter Server to refer to the same virtual machine with different names.

The problem can largely be avoided by managing the View environment with the intended tool – the VMware View Administrator interface as opposed to making changes outside of View, such as using VMware vCenter.

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Resolving the issue is achieved by following the detailed in the KB articles above.  Follow the steps carefully and slowly in a production View environment and keep in mind that not all steps may be required for your particular situation.

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.