Posts Tagged ‘vSphere’

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.

How to properly remove vSphere datastores

January 18th, 2012

Right click on the datastore object and choose Delete, right? Wrong.

Following are two good VMware articles outlining the correct procedure for removing datastores in a vSphere environment:

 

Path Set for Dell Storage Forum 2012 London

January 11th, 2012

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In just a few days, Dell Storage Forum 2012 kicks off at the Grange St Paul’s Hotel in London. I will be in attendance and I hope that you will have the chance to join myself and the rest of the Dell staff and of course an array of storage customers, channel partners, enthusiasts, and analysts. At DSF your appetite will be satisfied with Executive lead Keynote sessions, Breakout sessions delivered by Technical Experts, Instructor lead training, and Hands-on/Self-Paced labs covering Compellent Storage Center, Dell EqualLogic, and PowerVault storage.

This venue won’t be an exact carbon copy of past DSF events. Dell Storage will be showcasing an updated product roadmap and we’ll also see new product announcements. One of the announcements you’ll hear about is the availability of Compellent Storage Center 6.0. As a Technical Marketing Product Specialist who spends all time working on the VMware integration points, this is a release I’ve been looking forward to since starting my career at Dell Compellent in May of last year. This is a significant launch for Dell Compellent from an architectural perspective. SC 6.0 now leverages the FreeBSD 64-bit platform. The 64-bit architecture is the springboard for new features launched this week (such as multithreading opportunities and 12GB memory per Series 40 controller) and will serve as a key enabler for future scalability, integration, and feature enhancements.

If you’re a current Dell Compellent customer with vSphere 4.1 or newer in your datacenter, you know that through SC 5.5.x we supported one VAAI primitive: Zero Blocks or Write Same. Storage Center 6.0 supports additional VMware vSphere VAAI primitives:

  • Copy Offload
  • Hardware Assisted Locking
  • Of course we still support Block Zeroing

On a side note, VMware also released a 4th VAAI primitive in vSphere 5 focusing on Thin Provisioning for block storage arrays.  However, shortly after the release, VMware pulled support on this primitive (applies to all storage vendors) to work out some kinks.  I wrote about that here.

VAAI excites me because of the performance and scalability gains it brings to the vSphere virtual datacenter in addition to vSphere bolt ons such as VMware View and vCloud Director.

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Compellent SC 6.0 VAAI support:

  • 41% faster block cloning operations on Eager Zeroed Thick and Lazy Zeroed Thick virtual disks
  • 98% faster Eager Zeroed Thick disk creation
  • Up to 100% reduction in Block Zeroing data traffic from host to storage
  • Offloaded operations result in significantly reduced copy traffic between host and storage
  • Offloaded operations result in reduction of ESX(i) host resource and storage fabric utilization

Find more details about VAAI at VMware KB 1021976 vStorage APIs for Array Integration FAQ.

This should be a really great week.  Personally, it will be my first Dell Compellent focused conference.  I do hope to see you there and look forward to some good discussions.  If you’re not able to attend in person, you can use these links to follow the action remotely:

Event Links:

Twitter/Social Media Links:

Other Links:

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.

Veeam Offers Free NFR License for Backup & Replication v6

December 23rd, 2011

Veeam is once again blessing the community with their generous holiday spirit, which of course includes gifts!  Veeam recently launched version 6 of their flagship Backup and Replication product which now includes support for Microsoft Hyper-V.  Those who are heavily active in the Microsoft and/or VMware community and formally recognized as such, are eligible to register for their free gift from Veeam – NFR licensing for Backup and Replication v6. 

I will attest that I’ve been using Veeam Backup & Replication to protect valuable data in my home lab for a few years and I’ve had to rely on it for recovery more than once.  I also included it as a backup and disaster recovery replication solution in my VCDX design submission which I successfully defended in February 2010.

Below you’ll find two promotions for redeeming the NFR licenses.  First is the Hyper-V promotion for MVPs, MCPs, and MCTSs, followed by the VMware promotion for vEXPERTs, VCPs, VCIs, and registered VMUG members (remember, anyone can be a registered VMUG member, it’s free to sign up, so why not do it today?)

 

 

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Free NFR license for
Veeam Backup & Replication v6 for Hyper-V
Get this holiday gift from Veeam!

If you are a Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP), Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) or a Most Valuable Professional (MVP), you can get a FREE 2-socket NFR* license for Veeam Backup & Replication v6 for your home or work lab.

Register NOW! Get your FREE NFR license from Veeam

*An NFR (Not for Resale) license can only be used for evaluation or demonstration purposes. Read EULA for more details.

 

 

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Free NFR license for
Veeam Backup & Replication v6 for vSphere
Get this holiday gift from Veeam!

If you are a VMware vExpert, VMware Certified Professional (VCP), VMware Certified Instructor (VCI) or VMware User Group (VMUG) member, you can get a FREE 2-socket NFR* license for Veeam Backup & Replication v6 for your home or work lab.

Register NOW! Get your FREE NFR license from Veeam

*An NFR (Not for Resale) license can only be used for evaluation or demonstration purposes. Read EULA for more details.

VMworld 2011 Hands On Lab Posters

December 15th, 2011

If you were at VMworld 2011 US and/or Europe, you may have seen or heard of the posters being given away at the Hands On Labs.  Supplies were limited at the US conference and if you attended in Copenhagen maybe you didn’t get a chance to get into the labs to grab some posters.

Although VMworld is over, you still have access to the posters.

One way would be to request a Dell Compellent Executive Briefing with me. I brought a few pounds of posters back from Copenhagen and what’s mine is yours if you’re willing to listen to me talk about the great integration points Dell Compellent Storage Center has with VMware’s growing portfolio.

The other option would be to go online and grab a copy of the posters which you can view electronically or have printed at your local copier shop.  This blog post was inspired by Xtravirt email bulletin 94 – thanks for pulling together the links guys.

vSphere 5.0 CLI Reference Poster

 

VMware Management with PowerCLI 5.0 Poster

vSphere 5 Clustering Technical Deepdive Sale

November 26th, 2011

I assume you follow Duncan and Frank and read their blogs, but in case you don’t, check out this Crazy Black Friday / Cyber Monday deal!  Between now and Monday 11:59pm PST, prices are slashed on Frank and Duncan’s ebook vSphere 5 Clustering Technical Deepdive.

The sale pricing is as follows:

US – ebook – $ 4.99

UK – ebook – £ 3.99

DE – ebook – € 3.99

FR – ebook – € 3.99

If you’re serious about vSphere 5, you need this book in your technical library.  Even if you’re already a seasoned vSphere expert, there are some major changes in the features which Duncan and Frank deepdive on.  Tis the season for giving so if you already have a copy for yourself, take advantage of these prices to pick up another copy for your favorite co-worker, employee, manager, spouse, or child.  Now is as good a time as any to get the young ones started on VMware virtualization.