Archives For vSphere

The long awaited VMware View 4 was announced yesterday along side a newly refreshed VMware website. The biggest features for most are the PCoIP technology that VMware have teamed up with Teradici to enhance the user experience, allow streaming video and enhanced graphics and progressive build up of images so even on a slow connection you are still able to make the most of your view environment. The other feature is of course the introduction of vSphere support, for many this now means a vSphere upgrade can now be completed.

The full list of new features is as follows

      • PCoIP – A display protocol specifically developed for virtual desktop
        delivery. PCoIP is able to dynamically detect and adapt to the end users
        network connection providing each user with the best desktop experience
        regardless of location or task. VMware View with PCoIP is delivered with
        support for software end points, which include the View Client and a
        VMware View virtual desktop. In addition to software support, the VMware
        View solution also supports PCoIP enabled end points to address the
        requirements of even the highest end users
      • vSphere Support – Provides the foundation for VMware View and helps
        to extend the power of the datacenter to the desktop environment by
        delivering powerful business continuity and disaster recovery features
        such as VMotion, High Availability, Dynamic Resource Scheduler (DRS)
        and Consolidated Back Up. Optimized specifically for VMware View
        desktop workloads, VMware vSphere is able to scale to support 1000s of
        desktops to meet the requirements of even the largest organizations. In
        addition vCenter helps organizations to manage more than 1,000 hosts
        and up to 10,000 Virtual Machines from a single console providing a
        common platform to manage both servers and desktops from the
        datacenter to the cloud with unparalleled levels of scale, control and
        automation.
      • Simplified Sign On – Addresses the need for a seamless end user
        experience when logging into a VMware View virtual desktop from a
        physical thin client or workstation. With Simplified Sign On user
        credentials entered into the local client can be reused to authenticate the
        user as they log into their virtual desktop. This makes the login process
        simple and efficient.
      • Restricted Entitlements – Enables to ability to restrict user access to
        desktop pools based on the connection server being used for access.
        With connection servers being deployed across different networks, IT
        organizations can enforce access based on the user’s location.
        Depending on how the connection server is configured a group of users
        can be either permitted or denied access to their virtual desktop according
        to the connection server being used for access.

I was also presently surprised to see the VMware website has had a refresh, I was pleased to see that nearly every page now has a related video which I think helps hold the customers attention and help them get the information they need. Information now seems simpler to find with better navigation and I am pleased that this has also spread through to the partner site for those that are VMware partners.

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I haven’t seen any GA date yet but from what I have heard I believe this should be some time next week, also from rumours this sounds like update 1 for vSphere maybe coming out around the same time.

As I have mentioned numerous times I am a big fan of The VESI and Alan Renouf’s powershell blog, well now Alan has released his powerpack for The VESI which means every VMware admin can have the power of Alan Renouf in their toolkit. Alan has taken his scripts and incorporated them in the VESI powerpack which means they can now be ran simply through the VESI GUI, saving you even more time. Due to current work commitments I haven’t had a lot of time to have a play with the powerpack yet but from the little I have seen it’s fantastic!

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More information on The VESI can be found here

http://www.thevesi.org

and Alan’s powerpack can be found here

http://www.virtu-al.net/2009/11/02/virtu-al-vesi-powergui-powerpack/

If you like what you see and it starts saving you time consider a donation to Alan’s home test environment that will help us all in the long run!

http://www.virtu-al.net/likemyscripts/

When conducting a vSphere upgrade using either the Host Update utility or Update Manager you get the following error appear on the host console. 

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It is first worth checking that you do have enough free space using the vdf –h command and it is worth noting that this error message does not appear on update manager or host update utility and is not visible in any logs only on the console screen.

To resolve this issue download the vSphere Client and Host Update package from vmware.com and reinstall. You should now be able to conduct your upgrade from the host update utility. I haven’t tried using update manager again.

Many thanks to novakk_AH on the VMware community forum for assisting me with this http://communities.vmware.com/message/1407914

Veeam Backup 4 GA

October 28, 2009 — Leave a comment

I always look forward to updates from Veeam their ability to deliver products that are a joy to use and do what they say on the tin is fantastic. Snippets about version 4 have been released practically since version 3’s release and for me seeing version 4 in action at IPExpo proved that Veeam had done it again with the vStorage API integration and the Enterprise Management Console amongst numerous other enhancements.

Veeam are the first 3rd party provider to make use of the vStorage API’s in its backup product and what this effectively means is your backups can now be completed up to 10x faster than previously using ESX4 changed block tracking and native thin-provisioned disk support.

The Enterprise Management Console means you can now manage multiple Veeam installations across your enterprise with a single view, this also means that you no longer need to connect into your backup server to view your backups, this can be done from your desktop by pointing at the Enterprise Management Console website.

I look forward to upgrading customers to version 4 and seeing what performance increase they receive from this upgrade alone, the backup window is often the biggest challenge in the backup solution.

Veeam News Release >> http://www.veeam.com/news/veeam-backup-is10-times-faster.html

Veeam Backup 4 Product Page >> http://www.veeam.com/vmware-esx-backup.html#fragment-1

5 Ways VMware vSphere Improves Backup and Recovery White Paper by Eric Siebert >> http://www.veeam.com/go/vmware-vsphere-backup-wp?ad=veeam_backup

A few pictures from Veeam’s Website

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On with the vSphere blogging competition, the winner of round 2 was announced on Friday and I was extremely surprised to see it was me! All the details can be found here http://blogs.vmware.com/vsphere/2009/10/winning-post-from-cycle-2-distributed-switch.html I would also like to point you in the direction of Hany Michael’s entry on his blog which as per usual was a fantastic source of information http://www.hypervizor.com/2009/10/vsphere-40-vnetwork-distributed-switch-vds-video-demonstration-architecture-diagram/

Onto the third round of the vSphere blogging contest VMware Data Recovery

The Problem

Often when working with SMB’s a key factor in any project is the cost, with lots of companies understanding the benefits of virtualisation the project soon gets of the ground but often is restricted by budget. This often leads to the core system being impletmeneted and features that are seen as nice to have are left until further funding can be allocated. With many companies already having licences for backup products the traditional style of backup (agent inside each VM) is left in place and the added benefits that virtualisation can bring to backup are missed.

The Solution

In steps VMware Data Recovery,

Whilst there are already many excellent backup products on the market for virtualisation, these all mean an additional cost when the budget has already been spent, Data Recovery is included with VMware vSphere Essentials Plus and from VMware vSphere advanced and up.

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VMware Data Recovery works on the basis of a virtual appliance that you deploy from the packaged ovf and a plug-in that you install within your vSphere client to manage and administer the backups. Setup and configuration of your first backup jobs can easily be configured within 30 minutes. VMware Data Recovery can backup a maximum of 100 VM’s and these can be written to a maximum of two datastores at once. Your data will be de-duplicated whilst it is being backed up ultimately saving you space and Data Recovery also makes use of the changed block tracking within vSphere so only has to backup the changed blocks since the last backup, a feature that we are only just seeing introduced in some of the leading products now.

Installation

Now prior to writing this blog post VMware Data Recovery was not a product I had ever used, I am pleased to report that VMware have done a fantastic job making the installation as pain free as possible.

You will first need to download Data Recovery from the download page on VMware’s website.

Steps

You need to deploy the OVF file that is on the Data Recovery ISO to your datacenter, this is done easily with vSphere using the Deploy OVF template option from the file menu.

Once you have deployed the OVF, you can add a hard disk to it to act as a datastore for your backup or skip this step until later, alternatively you are able to use a CIFS share or RDM as your datastore.

You will now need to boot up the Data Recovery appliance and configure the networking.

Once this is complete all is left is to install the Data Recovery plug-in to your vSphere client and configure the plug-in to see your appliance, before you start configuring your backups.

Below is a short video to show you through these steps if you need a little more assistance. Please excuse the poor quality as this is the first video like this I have made, also please excuse my West Country accent! It maybe easier to watch the video straight from Vimeo here >> http://www.vimeo.com/7126178

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “A beginners guide to VMware Data Recovery“, posted with vodpod

Things to be Aware of

Be aware of where you are storing your backups, there is little point to storing them on the same storage device as the VM’s you are backing up. For this reason a CIFs share on a physical server or NAS maybe a good idea. Data Recovery has no ability to be able to backup your VM’s to tape.

Network Destinations Must Be specified Using IP Addresses – Using DNS-resolved names to specify network destinations is not supported with Data Recovery. When adding network destinations using Configure > Destinations, enter an IP address. For example, use \\192.0.2.12\share rather than \\example\share. It has also been reported that by typing your username like There is a file level recovery option but this is only experimental, as such you should not be counting on this in a production enviroment.

Must Read Documents

All the documents relating to Data Recovery can be found at the link here >> http://www.vmware.com/support/pubs/vdr_pubs.html I highly recommend reading all the release notes and admin guide before undertaking and installation of Data Recovery.

I have had some fantastic feedback about my cue cards to help you with studying for the VCP410, I have recently made a few updates including vNetwork Distributed switches and VMware data recovery, to download the latest version please check out my VCP in vSphere 4.0 page here >> https://virtualisedreality.wordpress.com/vcp-in-vsphere-4-0-study-notes/ 

As ever if there is any feedback about the design, content or future requests please let me know.

VMware have now released SRM 4.0 with support for vSphere and NFS amongst other new features. This will bring the ability to upgrade to vSphere to a lot more customers. SRM 4.0 not only supports vSphere hosts but will also support 3.03 and 3.5 ESX hosts, although you do need to be running vCenter 4.0.

 

The features listed as new in this release are as below taken from the release notes

New in This Release

This release of Site Recovery Manager introduces several new features:

  • Full compatibility with vCenter 4.
  • Full support for NFS-based arrays.
  • Support for shared recovery sites.
    Enables many-to-one pairings of protected sites with a recovery site. For more information, see the technical note Installing, Configuring, and Using Shared Recovery Site Support, which is available at http://www.vmware.com/support/pubs/srm_pubs.html.
  • Resilience in the face of vCenter unavailability during a test recovery.
    Placeholder virtual machines can be quickly repaired after the protected site vCenter becomes available again.
  • New repair-mode installation features.
    You can run the SRM installer in repair mode if you need to change configuration parameters such as vCenter credentials, database connection information or credentials, and certificate details.
  • Graphical interface to advanced settings.
    Eliminates most requirements to edit the XML configuration file
  • Support for DB2 as an SRM database server.
  • New licensing options.
  • Improved scalability.
    A single protection group can now include up to 1000 virtual machines.
  • Full Compatibility With DPM (Distributed Power Management)
    SRM recovery plans can now power-on or power-off a host that is in standby mode.
  • New Option to dr-ip-customizer Utility
    The dr-ip-customizer utility now logs less verbose diagnostic output by default. To force dr-ip-customizer to log the same level of diagnostic output that it produced in earlier releases, use the -verbose option.
  • Change in Certificate Validation
    When you select certificate authentication, the SRM installation validates the certificate you supply before continuing. Certificates signed with an MD5 key are no longer allowed.
  • Support for Protecting Fault-Tolerant Virtual Machines.
    SRM can now protect virtual machines that have been configured for fault-tolerant operation. When recovered, these virtual machines lose their fault tolerance, and must be manually reconfigured after recovery to restore fault tolerance.
  • Improved context-sensitive Help.
  • PDF documents available on release media
    Current versions of the PDF documents for this release are available in the docs folder at the root of the SRM 4.0 CD. Updated versions of these documents may be available at http://www.vmware.com/support/pubs/srm_pubs.html.

There is also an Article by Michael White here >> http://blogs.vmware.com/uptime/2009/10/srm-40-is-here-the-wait-for-vsphere-and-nfs-support-is-over.html that discusses the upgrade procedure to SRM 4.0

We’re just waiting for VMware View support now and all our customers will be in a position to upgrade.

We are now onto the second stage of the VMware vSphere Blogging contest, the winner of week one’s FT subject was Hany Michael from http://www.hypervizor.com/ you can read his post here >> http://www.hypervizor.com/2009/09/vsphere-40-fault-tolerance-architecture-diagram-video-and-use-cases/ you can also get the full run down from VMware on the vSphere blog here >> http://blogs.vmware.com/vsphere/ Congratulations to Hany for the win it was well deserved.

Moving onto the next subject vNetwork Distributed Switches, there is already a lot of information regarding the vNetwork Distributed Switches, including a very good white paper by VMware which I have linked to at the end and numerous videos and how to blogs. I have decided to make my blog post more of a guide for potential new users / customers and pass on my thoughts on using vNetwork Distributed Switches.

The vNetwork Distributed Switches vDS for short allows you to configure a single virtual switch to span multiple hosts, so you would be correct in thinking that this means you no longer need to create your virtual machine port groups on all your hosts, saving you time and taking the risk out of accidently spelling one wrong and causing issues for vMotion / HA. The vNetwork Distributed is a feature that is only available to those with vSphere Enterprise plus licensing.

vDS also introduces a number of other features these are :-

• Private VLANs
• Network VMotion—tracking of VM networking state, improving troubleshooting and enabling
• 3rd Party Virtual Switch support with the Cisco Nexus 1000V Series Virtual Switch
• Bi-directional traffic shaping

You did read that third item right, you can now have a Cisco switch as your virtual switch, the Cisco Nexus 1000V is an optional extra that you can purchase that allows you to have a Cisco switch inside your virtual infrastructure, a must have for any large company with Cisco networking throughout. The VMware administrator can now pass the networking back to the networking team, they can now manage the virtual networking in exactly the same way as they do the physical, much to the relief of the networking team who were always probably a bit concerned with the virtual aspect of the network and possibly open the world of virtualisation to some customers who haven’t been able to proceed for this reason.

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Network vMotion allows counters and statistics regarding the virtual machine to move with the machine when it is vMotion’ed this ensures monitoring and troubleshooting is a lot easier for machines that are being moved by vmotion.

vDS

There are two main concepts to understand about vNetwork Distributed Switches these are

Distributed Virtual Port Groups (Left Side of image below) Much like the port groups on your standard virtual switches, these are port groups on the vDS that specify port configuration.

Distributed Virtual Uplinks (Right Side of image below) This is a new concept the Distributed Virtual Uplinks contain the physical NICs that will act as uplinks on your hosts, from here you can configure NIC teaming, load balancing and failover policies.

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If the configuration for some reason differs on one of your hosts maybe due to downtime due to a fault or other host issues you will receive a warning making you aware of this issue.

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When the host then becomes available again the settings will be automatically updated on that host.

When deploying a vDS you are able to automate the configuration of your hosts by using host profiles. This will also allow you to check compliance of your hosts at any time and quickly add new hosts in the future.

My Preference…

My preference when using vDS is to run in a hybrid mode, keeping the service consoles and vmKernel as a standard switch and moving all the Virtual Machine Port groups to a vDS. This means I handle the service console and vmKernel at installation the same as usual then add my host to the vDS, when I then find the need to add a new portgroup to my hosts I have only got to configure it in one place. In large environments this saves considerable amounts of time and the potential for error.

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Although running with the service console and vmKernel as part of the vDS is a fully supported configuration and what a number of people would do, indeed in an environment with less physical NICs this would be what I would choose to do.

I have updated my VCP in vSphere Cue Cards with some key information on vSphere networking to assist you with studying towards the new VCP. These can be found here >> https://virtualisedreality.wordpress.com/vcp-in-vsphere-4-0-study-notes/ 

If you are considering using vDS’s or would like more information the following white paper from VMware is a must read! >> VMware® vNetwork Distributed Switch Migration and Con­guration

VCP in vSphere Cue Cards

September 29, 2009 — Leave a comment

I have added a new section to by blog regarding studying for the VCP in vSphere, as part of this I am currently working on a set of cue cards that may assist you whilst studying. These will be regularly updated so be sure to check back regularly.

The cue cards and other information can be found here or by clicking VCP in vSphere 4.0 on the top menu.

VMware FT

September 24, 2009 — 4 Comments

With the announcement of the VMware blogging contest I thought I would add my two cents, my reasons for doing this are one it gives me an opportunity to blog about something different to my usual support, installation and administration posts and second of all it has meant I can focus on some of the new VMware vSphere features in depth one at a time.

There are already numerous white papers and technical documents surrounding VMware FT so I didn’t want this just to become a rewrite of one of these, I thought I would share some use cases that I have experienced over my past few months installing vSphere, some findings to help you getting started and a step by step overview of enabling FT on your VM’s.  The work I undertake is mainly in the SMB environment so this will maybe give those that work mainly with Enterprise environments another view and also will hopefully be useful to those at all levels of are considering or wanting to know more about VMware FT.

Technical Papers

First the technical papers I spoke about earlier

What is VMware FT?

VMware FT provides continuous protection for the protected VM’s during a host failure, it does this by creating a live shadow of the protected VM and keeps the primary and secondary VM’s in sync using lockstep technology, this means commands that are completed on the primary VM are mirrored in the same order on the secondary VM. If a host failure then causes the VM to fail the secondary will take over with no disruption, FT will then automatically create a new secondary VM to continuously protect your VM once again.

What VMware FT isn’t

VMware FT won’t provide you any protection for storage failure, only host failure.

What do I need to protect my VM’s with FT?

Use Cases

With all the pre-requisites and limitations of VMware FT a lot of people in the communities are saying they can see that this is the start of must have feature but until it supports multiple vCPU’s it will have little use. Whilst this maybe the situation for enterprise customers, a lot of SMB customers are able to start making use of this feature now. Many smaller companies have small IT teams but have servers that run mission critical functions that sometimes will have considerable consequences with any unplanned downtime.

Legal Firm

I have recently completed a project for a legal firm, their Exchange server was at the heart of their business and any downtime during the limited amount of time their barristers have to access email could be extremely costly. Although VMware HA would cover their risk of server failure, they couldn’t afford to trust an unclean power down and the amount of calls to deal with whilst the servers were booted on another host would be huge. With only 2 IT staff managing their IT infrastructure learning, monitoring and maintaining a complicated replication or clustering technology would not be possible. So after viewing a demo of VMware FT it was clear this was a must have feature for them. After initial analysis and ensuring their Exchange server could work within the limitations of FT their Exchange server was virtualised and is now protected with VMware FT.

Hedge Fund

Similarly to the Legal Firm I am currently investigating the possibility to use FT to protect a number of servers within a hedge fund, again with a small IT team and mission critical servers with disastrous consequences if the server was to go down during the working day. 

How easy is it to protect a VM with FT?

Once you have configured your host for FT with the needed VMKernel port for FT and check the various pre-requisites you just need to complete the following step to protect your VM.

Step 1

Right click on your VM and choose the “Turn On Fault Tolerance” option under Fault Tolerance

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You will get a warning regarding the disks for your VM needing to be eager zeroed, that automated DRS will be disabled and that the memory reservation for your VM will be changed to equal the memory size of your VM.

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FT will create the secondary VM

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vMotion is then used to copy the state of the VM to the secondary and enable FT

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Once FT is enabled you will see the colour of the FT enabled VM has now changed to a deeper blue.

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If you look on the summary tab of the protected VM you will now see the FT information

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and if you look on the ESX host where the secondary is located you will see the secondary VM

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Once enabled you are also able to test failover and test restart secondary, which will simulate the failure and recreation of the secondary VM.

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