Archives For vSphere

This is something one of my team pointed out to me earlier that I hadn’t previously been aware off, so thumbs up to Josh Herbert for putting this together. 

You have the ability to Schedule Tasks in the vSphere Web Client by holding down CTRL when right clicking on objects, now I had been aware of the task scheduling functionality in the C client and had assumed it was in the web client, but this implementation of it actually makes it very easy to use.

When you hold down CTRL you get the option to schedule many items as follows

 NewImage 

This then gives you some options to schedule a task to be completed when you choose and it can also email you once the action has been completed!:

 NewImage

 You can also use this on a host to deploy VMs on a schedule

 NewImage

Im sure many of you have read the manual and are aware of this but it was a first for me. 🙂

 

 

 

This week VMware have held their annual US event in San Francisco and as usual there have been a mass of updates. In this post I will focus upon vSphere 5.5 and what’s new but we have also seen a number of other releases and announcements in key areas.

To read the full list of what’s new check out the What’s New in VMware vSphere 5.5 Platform document from VMware Here >> http://www.vmware.com/files/pdf/vsphere/VMware-vSphere-Platform-Whats-New.pdf

The updates to vSphere are separated into 5 key areas, ESXi Hypervisor Enhancements, Virtual Machine Enhancements, vCenter Server Enhancements, vStorage Enhancements and vSphere Networking Enhancements. Having a quick look through the list their are some updates that I know a number of my customers and colleagues will be very happy about, these include support for VMDK’s up to 62TB in Size, enhancements to single sign on as well as others.

vSphere ESXi Hypervisor Enhancements

There are three key enhancements for the Hypervisor these include the ability to hot add or hot remove PCIe based SSD devices such as Fusion-IO Cards, traditionally this may have been seen as a disadvantage of this type of SSD over SAS or SATA based hard disks. The ESXi Hypervisor is now able to make use of the CPU’s Reliable Memory Technology to ensure the hypervisor is running keys processes such as the hostd and watchdog process in the most reliable areas of memory to minimise issues from memory errors. Finally the balanced policy for power management is now aware of the deep processor power stage known as C-State, previously it has only been aware of the performance stage (P-State) with this increased awareness it will introduce additional power saving benefits and may also increase performance due to the nature of the turbo mode frequencies in the intel chipsets.

Virtual Machine Enhancements

Normally every year we hear how the monster VM can be bigger and better than last years monster VM, this year is no difference but with some introductions that have been long awaited by some.

vSphere 5.5 brings another new virtual machine hardware version, version 10. Included in this version is a new virtual SATA controller, allowing up to 30 devices per controller, so with a maximum of 4 controllers per VM we can now support double the amount of disk devices from 60 to 120 per VM. As to what the use case would be for this number of disks i’m not sure, but if you have one let me know!

In vSphere 5.1 we saw the introduction of support for hardware based GPUs but it was limited to NVIDIA based GPUs, with 5.5 we now are able to use both AMD and Intel based GPUs. There are three supported rendering modes, automatic, hardware and software and vMotion can still be leveraged even across hosts with GPU’s from different vendors. Check out the document linked to above for more detail on this.  For the first time we are also seeing GPU acceleration for Linux in this release as well.

vCenter Enhancements

SSO

One of the biggest improvements that I know the engineers I work with are going to love is the face that SSO has been re-built from the ground up, this was an area of much frustration since the release of 5.1. With 5.5 there is an improved multi-master architecture, built in replication and site awareness. On top of this there is now no database required and a much simplified one deployment model for all scenarios.

When installing you will now be presented with 3 options 

  • vCenter Single Sign On for first or only vCenter server
  • vCenter Single Sign On for an additional vCenter server in the same site
  • vCenter Single Sign On for an additional vCenter Server in a new site (Multisite)

VMware are now also publishing simplified recommendations for vCenter deployment options as follows.

Single vCenter Design Recommendation

image

Multiple Remote vCenter Server Design Recommendation

image

Mac Support

Another enhancement that I know will be popular with the community is the fact that the web client is now fully supported by Mac OSX meaning you now have remote console support as well as the ability to mount CD-ROMs etc. The usability of the web client has also been improved with support for drag and drop, additional filter support and a new recent items navigation view.

vCenter Appliance

The embedded database within the appliance that has previously been focused at small environments has been re-engineered to allow up to 500 hosts and 5000 virtual machines to be managed. Meaning this limitation to adoption is no longer a barrier, although as I understand it you will still need a Windows VM for the Update manager component which for a smaller environment does limit the desire to implement the Linux based appliance.

vSphere App HA

Whilst vSphere Application HA has been around for some time it has always relied on third party technologies to actually monitor your applications, with 5.5 that has changed. With the new vSphere App HA feature it is possible to monitor and detect an issue with an application service, upon detection the service will be restarted, if that fails to resolve the issue the VM will be rebooted, this is also fully integrated with vSphere alerting to ensure you are aware of any resolved or unresolved issues. To deploy application HA you are required to deploy the AppHA and Hyperic Appliances, the AppHA appliance stores and manages the vSphere App HA policies and the Hyperic appliance monitors and enforces the policies. Once the appliances have been deployed a Hyperic agent is installed in the virtual machines whose applications will be protected by AppHA.

 

The supported services listed in the beta documentation we as follows.

image

It is good to see IIS, MSSQL and Apache on this list and it would be good to see MySQL supported in the future. I would also query the possibility of adding Domino and Exchange? Whilst these applications as does SQL have many ways of protecting it itself the ease and simplicity of this solution would particularly be useful for protecting your email services in a smaller environment.

Storage

Probably the most asked for feature for me especially since Hyper-V started supporting larger disks was the ability to create virtual machine hard disks bigger than 2TBs in size, with vSphere 5.5 we now have a vDisk and Virtual Mode RDM limit of 62TB. Whilst I believe there is usually better ways of storing large data for organisational and protection purposes there are still a lot of people that need disks a lot bigger than 2TBs.

A number of improvements to enable the use of MSCS in virtualised environments, again this has been a sticking point with some of my customer in the past with 5.5 the following configurations are now supported.

Microsoft Windows 2012

Round-Robin path policy for shared sotrage

iSCSI Protocol for Shared storage

FCoE for Shared Storage

There is now true end to end support for 16GB FC.

vSphere Replication has been enhanced to allow greater interoperability with storage vMotion and Storage DRS as well as the introduction of vSphere Replication Muti-Point-in-Time snapshot retention meaning we can keen historical recover points at the DR site to allow multiple different recovery options. My biggest gripe with vSphere Replication is the fact it doesn’t allow you to test failover like SRM, whilst I can understand why VMware don’t want to introduce this it still makes this feature unusable for me. Your DR plan is only as good as your last test!

vSphere Flash Read Cache

With vSphere 5.5 a new feature called Flash Read Cache has been introduced allowing performance enhancements for read intensive applications by pooling of multiple locally attached flash based devices into a single vSphere Flash Resource which is consumed in the same way as CPU and Memory are today.

image

I will be blogging about this feature in more detail as soon as I can.

Networking

There are a number of updates to networking for the distributed vSwith, check out the document above for more detail.

Conclusions

Whilst many people may have been expecting to see vSphere 6 this year I don’t think the features in vSphere 5.5 will disappoint. I have not seen any updated licensing documents yet to fully understand where the new features will be sitting but we can expect many like the flash read cache to appear top end I would have thought. I will be digging a little deeper into this features as soon as I can as well as the new vSAN beta!

VMware have now released a patch for vSphere 5.1 that makes it compatible with View 5.1. I have been running the two in my lab for a little while whilst avoiding to use the storage accelerator where the problem previously existed but with this update we will now finally be able to start offering our customers upgrades to vSphere 5.1.

Note you will either need to download and install a patch to your vSphere hosts or download the new vSphere ISO

Full details are here

http://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?language=en_US&cmd=displayKC&externalId=2035268

This week VMware have been holding its annual conference in San Francisco, as usual VMware have used this opportunity to release a number of new updates and changes to it suite of products. 

The day one keynote started with the hand over of the reins from current CEO Paul Maritz to incoming CEO Pat Gelsinger

VMwareCEOChange

One of Pat Gelsinger’s first announcements as a CEO was the removal of the VRAM allocation from the licensing model, this was met by applause and cheers from the audience. Realisticly we hadn’t seen many issues with the VRAM policy but we had certainly seen customers need to purchase a higher licensing model than was required for the functionality they needed, particularly within the Essential bundles. This change in policy may also be a hard pill to swallow for those that upgraded their licensing model to meet the VRAM policy. But largely I think this will allow VMware to continue to be competitive in the industry against the likes of Microsoft. 

NovRAM

vCloud Suites

The first product announcement on the day one keynote was the vCloud Suite. 

The vCloud suites are bundles of VMware products that gives you the full stack of software required to create your cloud  

The suites are available in three flavours, Standard, Advanced and Enterprise Plus detailed as below. 

vCloudSuites

All the suites include vSphere Enterprise Plus, Cloud Director and Cloud Connector, and “Standard” vCloud Networking and Security, the advanced suite then adds the advanced vCloud Networking and Secuirty features as well as vCenter Operations Advanced. 

The differences between vCloud Networking Advanced and Standard is as follows >> http://www.vmware.com/products/datacenter-virtualization/vcloud-network-security/compare-editions.html

vCloudNetworkingEdition.png

The final Enterprise Plus edition adds vCenter Charge Back, Config Manager, Infrastructure Navigator and vFabric Application Director. The introduction of these suites certainly makes the purchase of products easier and more defined. 

vSphere 5.1

Pat Gelsinger handed over to CTO Steve Herrod to talk about the new technical product updates, one of the first announcements was the increase in girth for the monster VM

 

MonsterVM

Realistically I image these maximums are way over and above most customers workloads but it certainly adds to the fact that all workloads should now be able to be virtualised, the most impressive one of these figures is probably the ability for an individual VM to be able to cope with in excess of 1million IOPS.

vSphere 5.1 includes a number of new features these included

  • Enhanced vMotion
    • Enhanced vMotion adds the ability to be able to vMotion a VM without shared storage, basically the ability to be able to storage vMotion and vMotion at the same time. This certainly adds to the functionality of vMotion and introduces new possibilities for those without shared storage or with multiple SANs ETC.
  • New Web Based Client
    • The web based client has been completely redesigned and is now the favoured method to administer your vCenter, the standard Windows client is still available at the moment but you will find that most of the new 5.1 functionality on exists in the new web client. I have been lucky enough to be part of the vSphere 5.1 beta and whilst getting used to the new client took awhile I could fine my way around it a lot easier and in certain situations found it a lot faster than the Windows client
  • vSphere Data Protection
    • Gone is the previously bundled vSphere Data Recovery product and we now have a new bundled backup product based on EMC Avamar technology. Im looking forward to playing with this product to see how it compares to the likes of Veeam and indeed vSphere Data Recovery. 
  • vSphere Replication
    • Previously only bundled with SRM 5.0, vSphere Replication is now available with VMware Essentials Plus and above, allowing you to replicate your VM’s to another ESXi host up to every 15minutes, this certainly adds a new opportunities particularly to SMBs and Branch offices that would previously only be available through SAN based replication, SRM or another third party product. This is something that Microsoft are introducing in Hyper-V 3.0 so you can see why VMware have had to include this. 
  • Zero Downtime Upgrade for VMware Tools
    • Subsequent VMware tools updates after 5.1 will no longer require a VM reboot, so hopefully gone will be the excuse that the VM Tools are out of date because you havent been able to reboot a VM.

WebClient

These are just a taster of some of the updates and I will do some more dedicated hands on blog posts with these features soon, for a more extensive list check out the whats new white paper here >> http://www.vmware.com/files/pdf/products/vsphere/vmware-what-is-new-vsphere51.pdf 

vSphere 5.1 Licensing Updates

Other than the removal of the vRAM restriction there is also a number of other licensing changes, one of which is a new vSphere Standard with Operations Manager bundle, in my mind this is aimed to compete with Microsoft HyperV 3.0 with System Center directly. There are also a number of changes such as storage vMotion and FT are now available as low as Standard where as previously they have only been available in Enterprise. vShield Endpoint is now also bundled with Essentials Plus and above which certainly makes the AntiVirus solutions that plug into Endpoint more affordable. One other thing that I noticed is that the VSA (Virtual Storage Appliance) now appears to be bundled with Essentials Plus and above, previously this was a seperate SKU only available for the Essentials Bundles. Full details on the licensing can be found here >> http://www.vmware.com/files/pdf/vsphere_pricing.pdf

vCloud Director 5.1 

There were also a number of updates to vCloud Director which has now been bought up to date with the version number of vSphere, vCloud Director goes from 1.5 to 5.1 and adds a number of new features including

  • Support for vSphere 5.1 (No Supprise There)
  • Software Defined Storage – vCloud Director is now aware of storage profiles as defined within vCenter, A primary VDC (Virtual Datacenter) is able to consume all storage tiers, the organisation administrator is then able to define a default storage tier which can then be overridden by the vApp author as needed for the requirement of the vApp.
  • Software Defined Networking
  • Usability Enhancements
  • Snapshot functionality as a cloud consumer
  • Load balancing as part of the VCNS Gateway

All the details for the vCloud Director update can be found in this white paper >> http://www.vmware.com/files/pdf/techpaper/Whats-New-VMware-vCloud-Director-51-Technical-Whitepaper.pdf

One of my key goals for 2012 is to get up to speed with vCloud Director, I have had the opportunity to use it as an end user on a number of occasions and have completed the VMworld labs but I am going to concentrate on the architecture and administration now and will blog as I learn more. 

SRM 5.1

SRM also features an incremental update adding a number of improvements, check out the blog post here for more information >> http://blogs.vmware.com/vsphere/2012/08/srm-5-1-and-vsphere-replication-as-a-standalone-feature.html

I was really happy to see that Essentials + would now be supported with SRM, I have a number of customers who use Essentials Plus or were forced to but a higher edition just because they wanted to be able to use SRM. 

 vSphere, vCloud Director and the vCloud Suite 5.1 will be available as of September 11th 2012

Xangati StormTracker

August 22, 2012 — Leave a comment

Today Xangati have announced StormTracker the latest feature coming to their monitoring product, I was lucky enough to get a pre-release demo with Nathanael Iversen VP for Product Management at Xangati.

For those of you who aren’t aware of Xangati their monitoring product offers a realtime insight into your virtual environment by not simply just collecting the statistics from vCenter but also by being able to inspect many key network elements. It also has PVR like functionality allowing you to capture what is going on during key points during the day or when an alarm was raised, this means you can go back in time and look at exactly what was happening.

See the video below to give you an overview of their VI dashboard, it is a little old now but will give you a good flavour.

The new StormTracker adds further intelligence to their product allowing live performance storms to be detected and the route cause to be pinpointed with a simple easy to use UI, this new functionality is being added to their Management Dashboard Suite as well their free 1 host version at no extra cost to customers.

storms

The view above shows the StormTracker view inside the product, each of the clouds shown are representing ESX hosts and their virtual machines followed by the data stores, network interfaces and finally the applications, we can see that the darker clouds are indicating some kind of performance storm is apparent at that level, severity is then marked by the darkness of the cloud. By clicking down through the storms we are quickly and easily able to get to the route cause with a clear explanation of the problem and how we should look to rectify it. This level of intelligence in the product is something I am really pleased to see, the Xanagati dashboard collects such a large amount of data that often trying to pinpoint the route cause yourself can take time, but with the new StormTracker functionality Nathaneal was able to show me that within 4 clicks we had found the storm, tracked the route cause and the StormTracker was even suggesting some remedial actions for us.

Analyzestorm

recommendation

Xanagti will be demonstrating this new functionality at VMworld in San Francisco and it will be ready for public release on the 30th September, I am really looking forward to putting it to action and seeing how good it actually works.

For more information be sure to check out Xangati’s site here >> http://xangati.com

When setting up a new Veeam demo I was presented with a problem where I was unable to mount the new Veeam NFS store, upon inspection I was unable to mount any NFS store to my host.

The error I was receiving was as follows

Error performing operation: Unable to resolve hostname ‘demo-veeam.Demo.local’

My new VM wasn’t however called demo-veeam and I got the same error when trying to mount any NFS store. Looking in datastores there were no NFS datastores showing and from the command line when using the esxcfg-nas -l option I received the same error

# esxcfg-nas -lError performing operation: Unable to resolve hostname ‘demo-veeam.Demo.local’

To resolve this I added a dummy host name entry for demo-veeam.demo.local into the \etc\hosts file

I was then able to run

# esxcfg-nas -lVeeamBackup_DEMO-VEEAM is /VeeamBackup_DEMO-VEEAM from demo-veeam.Demo.local unmounted unavailable

I was then able to delete this old NFS mount with

# esxcfg-nas -d VeeamBackup_DEMO-VEEAM

After cleaning up my hosts file I then retried adding the NFS datastore through the GUI and it worked correctly.

 

With the announcement of vSphere 5 this week brings many new features, I attend to be picking of features one by one and looking at them with a bit more depth.

With vSphere 5 is a completely new vSphere vCenter web interface, previously the web interface was slow and extremely limited with what could be done with it, to be honest I don’t think I ever really used it apart from when I couldn’t get near a Windows PC to start the vSphere Client.

The new web client is written in Adobe Flex the same as the View and vCloud Director user interfaces, I believe in the long term this is the way we will see the full client heading. The new interface isn’t designed to fully replace the functionality of the Windows Client at the moment but has most functionality that you will use from an administration perspective.

The new web interface is installed as a separate component to the vCenter, also notice the shiny new installer!

vCenter Install

The vSphere Web Client (server) can be installed on a server with network connectivity to the vCenter, in my demo lab I have it installed on my vCenter but I haven’t found the best practise regarding this yet.

Installer

Once the web client server is installed you need to configure it to be able to see your vCenter, this is achieved by going to the URL below direct from the server where the Web Client is installed.

https://127.0.0.1:9443/admin-app

Once at the above page you need to register your vCenter with the web client server

register

details.png

 

We can now see the registered vCenter in the list

registered.png

Once you have registered the vCenter you are able to login using the web client from any machine with Adobe Flash 10.1.0 installed. The web client is accessed from the following address

https://%5Bwebclientserver%5D:9443/vsphere-client/

login.png

In the bottom left you can install the client integration plug-in, this is a Windows only plugin, this is responsible for the console view I haven’t found any other uses for it yet.  Once in you should find most day to day tasks can be completed here.

Creating a new virtual machine

newvm

Looking at performance

Editing a VM

EditVM

Resource Management

Resource Management

Conclusion

Being a Mac user an improved web client is a very welcome addition for me, after using it for a while I feel I could happily do most daily admin with it. Moving forward if the Windows client were to reach end of life I would have to see how some of the more complex elements would port over to this web client.

There are some nice features like the arrows in the top right of the windows can be used to minimise a task into the work in progress panel while you do something else

Work in Progress

I would hope to see cross platform support for the client integration plug-in in a future release as well.