Archives For VMware

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!

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

I am pleased to report that after 18 months work the VMware View book I have been working with alongside co-author Mike Laverick has now been released.

EUC-ViewBook

I originally embarked on this project after Mike Laverick released his original View 4.5 authors edition manuscript, Mike was looking for someone to update it to View 4.6 whilst he was working on his SRM book, being up for a challenge I volunteered having never attempted to write a book before. Back then I never thought a year and a half later we would just be finishing.

This was for a number of reasons, initially my home lab was a big weakness when trying to run multiple desktops, causing many problems, after many upgrades I was finally in a lot better position to complete the content. Secondly trying to write a technical book and beat the manufacturers release schedule proved very difficult, with the View 4.6 book quick turning into a View 5.0 book and finally View 5.1, each time there was a new release the whole content of the book needed reviewing, each procedure recreating, screenshots retaking etc. Thirdly Mike and I had a very good catchup at VMworld Europe last year to discuss the book and agreed to add a lot more content than the previous manuscript contained, the result of this is a 188 page manuscript has now turned into a 559 page book, the final book also contains many other end user computing technologies such as ThinApp, Horizon Application Manager and ThinApp Factory. Lastly I have to thank my ever patient wife Laura as not only have I been working on the book with Mike over the last year and half, I have got married and moved house, this teamed by only being able to work on the book in my evenings and weekends meant progress wasn’t as quick as I would have liked to at times and Laura was very understanding allowing me to prioritise the book on a number of occasions.

Anyway excuses over I have to thank Mike Laverick for giving me the opportunity of working with him on this project, it has certainly opened my eyes to the work involved in creating a technical book, Mike was certainly good at getting me to refocus, I think for both of us if it was an individual project we may have let it goto the wayside at some point.

We’d both like to take this opportunity to thank everyone one who has assisted in bringing this text to the Community.

From VMware would like to thank – Spencer Pitts, Peter von Oven, Peter Björk, Christoph Harding and Matthew Northam. Additionally I would like to thank Aaron Black, Jared Cook, Alejandro Guzman, Alan LaMielle and Deam Flaming who helped greatly with the ThinApp Factory and Horizon Application Manager chapters.

We would also like to thank Paul Pindel of F5 Networks, Andrei Valentin of BitDefender and Elcio Mello of Teradici.

Finally, we would like to thank all the people in the vExperts Community and elsewhere who assisted in the review process including: Duco Jaspars, Gabrie Van Zantan, Chris Mohn, Jonathan Medd, Rick Al Eqesem, Bas Raayman, Jane Rimmer, Stu McHugh, Ivo Beerens, Chris Deardon, Bilal Hashmi, James Bowling, Brian Jordon, Shane Williford, Andrew Hancock, Brian Suhr, Alex Muetstege, Dan Berkowitz, Matt Murray, Ryan Makamson, Julian Wood, Tim Myers, Matthew Northam, Alan Renouf, Michael Letschin and Kong L. Yang.

As special thanks goes to  Christian Mohn who wrote the forward to the book.

Due to time restraints mainly on my side we decided we wanted to self publish rather than take up an offer from a publisher, so for now the book is only available from LULU, to either be downloaded or as a hardcopy , with all royalties going to UNICEF as a charitable donation after 1 year. When I originally purchased Mike’s authors edition manuscript this was largely because he was donating the money to charity as well as the content, so when Mike asked me if I was happy to do this again I was more than happy to continue in this vein.

As Mike is taking up a new role this is going to be his last book in a while, but when View .next appears I maybe looking for help from the community to upgrade the content to the new version. Mike and I have had numerous conversations about the book writing process and both agree that some kind of online community project maybe the way we want to take this kind of content, this will allow us to speed up the process and keep ahead of the curve of the technology. With the frequency of updates in the industry today printed material becomes very quickly outdated, so an online version of some kind seems to make sense, I will be looking into ways of doing this over the coming months.

Lastly from me, the experience has certainly been an eye opener, I am looking forward to having at least a couple of months off from book work to catchup with some DIY on the new house and also put some focus back onto my blog and podcast. But I can definitely see me tackling something like this again, I did find the process of reviewing someone else’s work, trying to recreate exactly and up date a difficult task and very time consuming but creating the new content was very enjoyable and actually a lot quicker than the chapters that needed updating. So maybe the correct answer would have been to start from scratch with only the headers to work from.

If you would like to download an electronic please head over to LULU at the link below. The hard copy should be available in a few weeks

Veeam recently introduced the beta of their new and improved Exchange Recovery tool, whilst they have had the ability to be able to restore granular items from Exchange for some time with Surebackup in real life scenarios it could take longer than you may wish with typical recoveries taking 30 minutes plus to boot the needed servers to complete the Surebackup recovery. With the introduction or Exchange Explorer you are able to simply recover individual items using an Explorer style interface that interacts with the backup of the edb file. 

Veeam have stated in their press release that this tool will work with both the free and paid for versions of Veeam backup which is fantastic news. 

I have been lucky enough to be able to give Exchange explorer a go and you will see the steps below. 

First we start by conducting a file level recovery of our Exchange server (Note that Veeam only support Exchange 2010 and there are no plans to support older versions however I understand they are working on an Exchange 2013 version already)

Veeam

Once we have select Windows Guest File we choose which backup we wish to restore from

Veeam

We choose the recovery point either a full or incremental / reverse incremental

Veeam

After entering a restore reason and clicking finish we are able to use the backup browser to browse to our edb file, once we have found the edb file (Read Update at the bottom) we can select Explore to view the edb file in Windows Explorer.

Veeam

We now copy the path ready to use Veeam Exchange Explorer

Veeam

We are now going to select Add Store and browse to our edb file location that we noted in the previous step, Veeam notes that a log replay will be needed and in my case has automatically filled in the log file location.

Veeam

Once complete we are able browse the edb file instantly and choose which granular items we wish to recover by sending back to the user or by exporting to a pst.

Veeam

 

Thoughts and Conclusions 

This is certainly a lot quicker and easier way of recovering granular items within Exchange, if you were to buy tools such as OnTrack to do this previously you would have been charged a heavy sum. As ever I have been left wanting more and hope in a final version we will see the Exchange Explorer recovery item listed in the initial recovery options to cut down on the steps required and I would really love to see the ability to recover the item directly back to the users mailbox as we do with SureBackup today. 

This is a fantastic leap forward by Veeam though and I hope they are able to bring technology like this to other applications, if they were able to do it for Sharepoint they would certainly be onto a winner. 

If you would like to join the beta be sure to register your interest here >> http://www.veeam.com/veeam-explorer-features.html

 

Update

As Anton from Veeam comments below you can actually double click the edb file in the backup browser to open it directly in the Exchange Explorer, this certainly saves a few steps.

I have recently been working with Swivel Secure to create a KB article for using Swivel Secure with VMware View, luckily this was relatively simple thanks to the introduction of RADIUS authentication for second form factor in View 5.1. I plan on posting a more detailed post at a later date but in the mean time you can check out the KB article here >> https://kb.swivelsecure.com/wiki/index.php/VMware_View_Integration

I have also recorded a short video depicting the process a user needs to follow to login to their View Desktop secured by Swivel using their IOS application. I recommend watching the video in full screen rather than embedded below.

From a user perspective the user logs in using the View Client as usual but at the first logon screen they now get asked for a passcode, the user then uses the IOS application to generate a 10 digit one time code, you input the numbers from the code that correspond to your pin, you then enter your usual windows password and finally you can then connect to your View Desktop.

I will post a more technical setup video shortly.

I have recently been lucky enough to have access to TrainSignal’s latest SRM training, the training is hosted by fellow vExpert Sean Clark. I have been fortunate to have work with SRM quite a bit over the years with the current and previous versions, but my main interest in the training was the sections on vSphere Replication. When I have installed for customers we have always used supported SANs with their SRA’s, so I have never configured the new vSphere Replication that was introduced in SRM 5 in anger.

SRM5

The course is split in 14 lessons as follows

Lesson 1 – Getting Started with SRM 5Lesson 2 – Course ScenarioLesson 3 – Lab SetupLesson 4 – Installing SRM for vSphere ReplicationLesson 5 – vSphere Replication ConfigurationLesson 6 – Protecting VMs with vSphere ReplicationLesson 7 – Recovering VMs with vSphere ReplicationLesson 8 – Evaluating vSphere ReplicationLesson 9 – SRM 5 and Array Replication Part 1Lesson 10 – SRM 5 and Array Replication Part 2Lesson 11 – SRM 5 and Array Replication Part 3Lesson 12 – Custom Recovery PlansLesson 13 – SRM OperationsLesson 14 – Next Steps

What I like most about the TrainSignal training and these videos is the ability to follow at your own pace and the fact that the training is based around real world scenarios, which helps considerably when wanting to understand concepts and use cases.

I highly recommend their training if you are new to SRM or would like to have a better understanding, for more information check out their website here >> http://www.trainsignal.com/VMware-Site-Recovery-Manager-5.aspx