Posts Tagged ‘VMware’

vCenter Storage Monitoring Plug-in Disabled

October 18th, 2010

Those who have upgraded to vSphere (hopefully most of you by now) may become accustomed to the new tab in vCenter labeled Storage Views. From time to time, you may notice that this tab mysteriously disappears from a view where it should normally be displayed.  If you’re a subscriber to my vCalendar, you’ll find a tip on July 18th which speaks to this:

Is your vSphere Storage Views tab or host Hardware Status tab not functioning or missing? Make sure the VMware VirtualCenter Management Webservices service is running on the vCenter Server.

The solution above is an easy enough resolution, but what if that doesn’t fix the problem?  I ran into another instance of the Storage Views tab disappearing and it was not due to a stopped VMware VirtualCenter Management Webservices service.  After a short investigation, I found a failed or disabled vCenter Storage Monitoring (Storage Monitoring and Reporting) plug-in:

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For those who cannot read the screen shot detail above, and for the purposes of Google search, I’ll paste the error code below:

The plug-in failed to load on server(s) <your vCenter Server> due to the following error: Could not load file or assembly ‘VpxClientCommon, Version=4.1.0.0, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=7c8-0a434483c7c50’ or one of its dependencies. The system cannot find the file specified.

I performed some testing in the lab and here’s what I found.  Long story short, installation of the vSphere 4.1 Client on a system which already has the the vSphere 4.0 Update 1 Client installed causes the issue.  The 4.1 Client installs a file called SMS.dll (dated 5/13/2010) into the directory C:\Program Files (x86)\VMware\Infrastructure\Virtual Infrastructure Client\Plugins\SMS\ overwriting the previous version (dated 11/7/2009).  While the newer version of the SMS.dll file causes no issues and works fine when connecting to vCenter 4.1 Servers, it’s not backward compatible with vCenter 4.0 Update 1.  The result is what you see in the image above, the plugin is disabled and cannot be enabled.

Furthermore, if you investigate your vSphere Client log files at C:\Users\%username%\AppData\Local\VMware\vpx\ you’ll find another similar entry:

System.IO.FileNotFoundException: Could not load file or assembly ‘VpxClientCommon, Version=4.1.0.0, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=7c80a434483c7c50’ or one of its dependencies. The system cannot find the file specified.

Copying the old version of the SMS.dll file into its proper location resolves the plug-in issue when connecting to a vSphere 4.0 Update 1 vCenter Server, this much I tested, however I’m sure it immediately breaks the plug-in when connecting to a vCenter 4.1 Server (I didn’t go so far as to testing this).

Essentially what this boils down to is a VMware vSphere Client bug which is going to bite people who have both vCenter Server 4.0 and 4.1 in their environment, and the respective clients are installed on the same endpoint machine.  I expect to hear about this more as people start their upgrades from vSphere 4.0 to vSphere 4.1.  Some may not even realize they have the issue, after all, I didn’t notice it until I was looking for the Storage Views tab and it wasn’t there.  After lab testing, I did some looking around on the net to see if anyone had discovered or documented this issue and the only hit I came across was a recently started VMware Communities thread, however, there was no posted solution.  The thread does contain a few hints which would have pointed me in the right direction much quicker had I read it ahead of time.  Nonetheless, time spent in the lab is time well spent as far as I’m concerned.  Unfortunately, there’s no fix here I can offer.  This one is on VMware to fix with a new release of the vSphere 4.1 Client.

Update 12/1/10:  VMware has released KB 1024493 to identify this problem and temporarily address the issue with a workaround:

Installing each Client version in different folders does not work. When you install the first Client you are asked where you want to install it. When you install the second Client, you are not asked for a location. Instead, the installer sees that you have already installed a Client and automatically tries and install the second client in the same directory.

To install vSphere Client 4.0 and 4.1 in separate directories:

  1. Install vSphere Client 4.0 in C:\Client4.0.
  2. Copy C:\Client4.0 to an external drive (such as a share or USB).
  3. Uninstall vSphere Client 4.0. Do not skip this step.
  4. Install vSphere Client 4.1 in C:\Client4.1.
  5. Copy the 4.0 Client folder from the external drive to the machine.
  6. Run vpxClient.exe from the 4.0 or 4.1 folder.

I’m expecting a more permanent fix in the future which addresses the .DLL incompatibility in the 4.1 vSphere Client.

Update 2/15/11:  Through some lab testing, it looks as if VMware has resolved this issue with the release of vSphere 4.1 Update 1 although KB 1024493 has not been updated yet to reflect this.  I uninstalled all vSphere Clients, then installed vSphere Client 4.0 Update 1, then installed vSphere Client 4.1 Update 1.  The result is the vCenter Storage Monitoring plug-in is no longer malfunctioning.  The Storage Views tab is also available.  Both of those items are a positive reflection of a resolution.  The Search function is failing in a different way but I’m not convinced it has anything to do with two installed vSphere Clients because it is also failing on a different machine which has only one vSphere Client installed.

I’m a VCAP4-DCA

October 14th, 2010

I couldn’t have asked for a better night:  I attended the Minnesota Wild home opener with VMware, EMC, Tom Becchetti, Scot Joynt, met Paul Hokanson (TC with EMC), great customers, and the Wild defeated the Edmonton Oilers 4-2 in convincing fashion.  However, this was not the end of the evening coolness.  I checked my email when I got home and received the following notification from VMware:

Congratulations on passing the VMware Certified Advanced Professional vSphere4 Datacenter Administration exam!

I’m now a VCAP4-DCA.

On short notice, I was offered a chance  to sit the VCAP4-DCA BETA exam before it closed.  I drove 220 miles back in June to sit the exam.  I found the test to be extremely difficult and wasn’t expecting a passing score based on my experience.  I won’t go into the details now about the exam since I’ve already written about that previously.  Oddly, I sat the exam on 6/21/10, yet the date on the transcript shows 21-Jul-10.

I am pleased to have this exam in the books after previously thinking I would have to retake it.  It will allow me to focus on the VCAP4-DCD exam which will uplift my VCDX3 certification to VCDX4 certification.  Yes John Troyer, I am collecting them all.

Update 12/15/10: VMware has notified me that my transcript has been updated in the portal.  When I took a look, I saw I was awarded VCAPDCA-14.  I’m guessing this means #14.  If you don’t know what I’m referring to, VMware assigns sequential numbers to candidates who successfully meet the certification requirements, much like Microsoft did or still does (My MCP # from 1997 is 423097).  My VCP # is 2712 and my VCDX # is 34 (still not reflected in the portal).  On a podcast a few weeks ago, Jon Hall stated a new number would also be assigned for the VCAP4-DCD track.  I haven’t gotten the results of that BETA exam yet.

ESXi 4.x Installable HP Customized ISO Image DNA

October 12th, 2010

Those of you who are deploying ESXi in your environment probably know by now there are a few different flavors of the installable version you can deploy from:

  • ESXi 4.x Installable (the non-hardware-vendor-specific “vanilla” ESXi bits)
  • ESXi 4.x Installable Customized ISO Image (hardware-vendor-specific bits)
    • ESXi 4.x Installable HP Customized ISO Image
    • ESXi 4.x with IBM Customization
    • ESXi 4.x Installable Dell Customized ISO Image

Each of the major hardware manufacturers does things a little differently with respect to what and how they bake in their special components into ESXi.  There doesn’t seem to be much of a standard which the vendors are following.  The resulting .ISO file naming convention varies between vendors and even between builds from a specific vendor.  The lack of standards here can make managing a library of ESXi releases among a sea of datacenter hardware difficult to to keep track of.  It seems a bit careless if you ask me, but there are bigger fish to fry.

This short post focuses specifically the HP flavor of ESXi.  What’s the difference between ESXi 4.x Installable and ESXi 4.x Installable HP Customized ISO Image?  The answer is the HP ESXi Offline Bundle.  Essentially what this means is that if you install ESXi 4.x Installable, then install the HP ESXi Offline Bundle, the sum of what you end up with is identically equivalent to installing the ESXi 4.x Installable HP Customized ISO Image.

In mathematical terms…

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Where are these HP ESXi Offline Bundles?  You can grab them from HP’s web site.  Thus far, HP has been producing an updated version for each release of vSphere.  For reader convenience, I’ve linked a few of the most recent and relevant versions below:

In addition to the above, both ESX 4.1 and ESXi 4.1 on HP systems requires an add-on NMI Sourcing Driver which is discussed here and can be downloaded hereFailure to install this driver might result in silent data corruption. Isn’t that special.

vSphere Upgrade Path

October 11th, 2010

Old habits can be hard to break.  Such was the case today when I called out an individual for producing an ESXi 4.0 Update 2 upgrade document without referencing the requirement to upgrade vCenter 4.0 Update 1 to Update 2 first as a prerequisite. 

Up until the release of vSphere 4.0 Update 1 back in November of 2009, the VMware virtual infrastructure upgrade path was such that the vCenter Server was upgraded to the newer release, then the ESX(i) hosts were upgraded afterward.

As shown in the ESX and vCenter Server Compatibility matrix below, beginning with vSphere 4.0 Update 1, ESX(i) hosts can be upgraded ahead of their vCenter Server counterparts.  In fact, VMware allows a radically wider in versioning variation in that vCenter 4.0 (released May 2009, with no update) is compatible with ESX(i) 4.0 Update 2 which was released in June 2010, over a year later.

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After being corrected, I recalled hearing of this new compatibility some time back but the bits had fallen off the platter.  For the record, I’m not always right.  I’m fine with being wrong.  It happens plenty enough.  For me, it’s all about the learning.  Retaining the knowledge is an added benefit but isn’t always guaranteed if not used on a regular basis.

This mantra will provide some flexibility which may be needed to upgrade smaller groups of clusters or hosts (say for troubleshooting purposes) without impacting the centralized vCenter Server which in turn would impact the remaining clusters or hosts it manages by way of agent upgrades blasted out to each attached host.

Before you celebrate in the end zone Dallas Cowboys style, do note from the chart above that the upgrade to vSphere 4.1 reverts back to the old methodology of upgrading the vCenter Server first, and the attached ESX(i) hosts afterward.  In other words, ESX(i) 4.1 is ONLY compatible with vCenter Server 4.1.

Go Vikings!

VMworld recap and “The Social Network” premier screening 10-1-10

September 30th, 2010

Quick (and awesome) invite for Minneapolis VMware User Group (VMUG) and virtualization community members from St. Croix Solutions – this event is being put on TOMORROW Friday October 1st:

I’d like to invite any and all members of the VMware User Group to join us on Friday for a breakfast presentation and a movie at the new Showplace Icon movie theater in St Louis Park. St Croix engineer, Bill Oyler, will recap his top 5 take-aways from VMworld and take some follow-up Q&A along with Jim Yanik from VMware. We’ll follow up the presentation with a complimentary premier screening of “The Social Network” movie. Concessions will be provided.

Schedule for Friday, October 1st:
—————————————————————
8:00-8:30 Registration & Breakfast
8:30-10:00 “Best of VMworld” presentation, Q&A
10:00-12:00 “The Social Network” Premier Screening

More details online here:
http://www.facebook.com/#!/event.php?eid=102243959840607

VMUG members can RSVP here:
http://www.stcroixsolutions.com/vmworld

Thanks,
Corey Donovan
Marketing Director
St Croix Solutions
cdonovan@stcroixsolutions.com
952-653-1731

Open in New Window

September 22nd, 2010

The VMware vSphere Client has a right-click menu option for most objects called Open in New Window

For instance, when right-clicking on a cluster object, the Open in New Window menu item appears:

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After choosing Open in New Window, a new vSphere Client window indeed appears.  Like many common tasks in the vSphere Client, this procedure has a shortcut key combination (CTRL + ALT + N).  Does this imply this is a commonly used feature? 

It’s not a commonly used feature by me.  To be honest, I didn’t know this feature existed until this week.  I was intrigued and played around with it for about 15 minutes.  First I tried to understand where this feature was presented.  I found it on most objects.  When I saw this, I looked for a way to exploit it.  The result was a rather anticlimactic failure.

This still left me wondering what the use case was for this feature.  There is one which comes to mind but I’m going to keep that to myself for now.  I’d like to hear from you.  Do you use this feature?  What are the use cases?  If you don’t use the feature, can you imagine a use case?  Open the vSphere Client and give it a try.  Be sure to try different infrastructure views.  There’s really no defined set of correct answers here, I’m looking for practical or creative ideas around the feature.

Respond in the comment section below.  The first responder with a relevant or interesting use case will be the winner of a VMware vSphere video training package from Train Signal.

Meet the Engineer: VMware vMotion

September 14th, 2010

I caught this VMware video announcement on Twitter but didn’t see a formal blog post or landing page to provide the proper introduction which it deserves, so I’ll go ahead here and do the cheeseful.  I have no shame in this.

vMotion is a historically significant technology in VMware’s portfolio of datacenter products and has become a staple of virtualized datacenter operations.  It paves a foundation which many other key VMware technologies leverage.  Dilpreet Bindra is the Senior Engineering Manager, VM Mobility Team at VMware (which encompases both vMotion and Storage vMotion).  

Dilpreet is the star of this video and he explains some of the barriers his group has conquered in vSphere 4.1 – these are awesome improvements!  Watch the video. You’re being treated to a sizable slice of VMware history.