Category Archives: Other

Q&A: Data Center Expert Shares What’s Next for Higher Education IT

Check out my interview with Nicci Fagan here:

Q&A: Data Center Expert Shares What’s Next for Higher Education IT

VMware PEX 2014 – Notes Part 1 – The Bad

I have been attending various VMware Partner Exchange (PEX) and VMworld events since around 1996. Typically, I prefer to attend PEX over VMworld. The number of attendees is significantly smaller and access to the VMware brain trust is easier. There is usually a good mix of NDA roadmaps and decent technical information. The Solutions Exchange floor is less crowded and the vendors are able to spend more time with you. The hands on labs are the same top-quality as VMworld, but typically with no lines.

I did not attend VMworld 2013, but I did attend PEX 2014 last week. Sadly, I was a little bit underwhelmed again this year, as I was last year too. There was no real feeling of innovation. No buzz. Just ho-hum. There seemed to be fewer exhibitors on the Solutions Exchange floor as compared to previous years. I did have some very educational conversations with some vendors that I will detail later.

Despite all of the drama around Veeam and Nutanix being missing in action, there was no mention of VMTurbo. The people at the Cisco booth had nothing about Whiptail or Insieme.

The push is bundled suites of software, which will offer a single management point and a common interface. But many parts of these suites will likely end up as shelf-ware to many. Let’s face it, many enterprises will need to change significantly in order to fully utilize the vCloud suite. If it is not a top down directive, either the networking silo or storage silo is going to protest over lack of control. Try explaining to network engineers that you need a pool of VLANs and associated IP addresses that will be out of their control and probably will be difficult to integrate with the many manual processes that are used.  Try telling a storage administrator that we can now do self-service provisioning of a storage array, including all of the parts in the middle, like zoning and masking. Like VDI, they see that ROI is heavy on “soft costs.” Try explaining how you save on labor costs without reducing workforce in this economy where IT shops are already understaffed. Many people don’t get it when it comes to Cloud, which suddenly became Software Defined Data Center (SDDC) and now Software Defined Enterprise (SDE). But that can be the subject of a future post.

There was a little video before the keynote on Tuesday morning that hammered it home. Think about VMware in its first ten years. No one “got” virtualization. But VMware persisted and stuck to its guns. Now it has become standard issue in a data center. VMware is taking the same approach to the Software Defined Data Center. They are even starting to call it Software Defined Enterprise instead. Their stance is that, with persistence, the SDDC message will be heard and will become the norm. There is a constant struggle between the people that deliver IT and the people that consume IT. The fundamental ideas of SDDC help calm that struggle.

Right now, Microsoft appears to be hot on the tail of VMware and I see many people seriously reconsidering their method of delivery. I think the biggest things that VMware has going for it right now are vCenter Operations Manager (vCOPS) and Site Recovery Manager (SRM). I think that SRM is possibly the only thing keeping some enterprises on VMware for business critical applications. VMware is trying to display an air of non concern. Possibly, they are ignoring the “Evil Empire.” When many enterprises are already paying for Windows Datacenter Edition and System Center, there needs to be justifications to keep vSphere. I see Hyper-V taking a foothold, especially in SMB and branch offices and in places where basic server virtualization is good enough.

It is interesting to see some of the visions play out over the course of time. I remember back in 2007 or 2008, when PEX was still Technical Solutions Exchange (TSX). I remember Carl Eishenbach (http://www.vmware.com/company/leadership/carl-eschenbach.html) announcing the VCDX program. I remember he said that there would be about 200 of us by the end of 2008. Back then, customers needed someone to design their greenfield environment and assist with migration from physical to virtual. I don’t find myself needing to prove that vMotion works any more. Although there are likely many greenfield opportunities out there, most of my design expertise is now spent assisting with creating higher consolidation ratios and helping customers deliver a more optimized datacenter that may not always have vSphere at the top of the list. I have seen VMware go from a stand alone hypervisor to centrally managed solution to the defacto standard then to what I describe as “meh.” There is no pop anymore. No excitement. Maybe I am getting too pessimistic in my old age.

Stay tooned! I have more to come on the interesting finds on the Solutions Exchange floor.

We'll Miss You VI:OPS of Yore

VI:OPS is was a VMware Forum that dedicates dedicated itself to providing information related to operations surrounding a VMware Infrastructure. The “Proven Practice” documents are were submitted and reviewed by moderators before they are published. The published documents allow for peers to comment on the documents.

I made it point to meet Stevie Chambers because he used to be the driving force behind VI:OPS. When he took his helmet with the big red plume and his sword and armored kilt over to Cisco, everything seemed to just freeze at VI:OPS. It took a week to have my last post approved. PMs were not returned quickly. It just died. No gladiator to defend it.

This morning, I was trying to answer a VCB question on the forums. The person posting had a simple question about the operation of VCB with BackupExec. I have not been very active on the communities lately, but I still scan through them and try to post answers when I can. Most of the time, my response to VCB questions include a reference to a “Proven Practice Guide that I posted on the VI:OPS communities:

VIOPS: Proven Practices for Deploying and Managing VMware: Proven Practice: Setting Up VMware Consolidated Backup for any Backup Software

Its GONE! I suspected something was up when someone posted that they could not find the Visio stencils that were on VI:OPS. What happened? Stwike them woughly centurions!

I hastily posted the PDF here for the forum response because I was trying to hurry out the door. I am working to update the doc and will post it soon. Check out the posted copy and use the comments section or DM me on twitter with any corrections.

Another great job by the VMware Performance Team!

I just stumbled upon a fresh post by Hal Rosenberg, a Performance Engineer from VMware. Its a great doc, titled Performance Troubleshooting for VMware vSphere 4. It has some great flowcharts and steps to take to come to a root cause analysis for performance issues. Although it is written for vSphere 4, much of the methodology applies to earlier versions as well.

Another great job by the VMware Performance Team! Thanks Guys!

The Science of VMware and the Art of Photography

While attending VMworld this year, I participated in Greg Lato’s VMworld 2009 Portrait Project. Greg works days for VMware and freelances as a photographer. I can barely maintain one blog, Greg has two. Latoga Labs chronicles his vocation and Latoga Photography chronicles his art. Below are a couple of great examples of his art. Even Greg can make my ugly mug look pretty good. Add both of his blogs to your feed reader.

UPDATE: Greg posted a portrait of each of the participants on his blog the other day. Check it out here.

.

Thanks to Greg Lato

Greg's point of view

It seems like there are quite a few of us out there that at least dabble in photography. The VMworld 2009 Photos thread can attest to this. Even I posted a few pics on my Facebook page.


Discounted Exams Available at VMworld

VMware just set up some discounted certification exams at VMworld. It just gives you another reason to go!

Hi all,

VMware will be providing onsite exam services at this year’s VMworld. The exams available are the VCP on VI3, VCP on vSphere 4 and the VCDX Enteprise Administration and Design Exams. Both VCP exams can be taken for only $85, but you MUST pre-register to get this great deal! You can pre-register by visting the Pearson VUE website at http://pearsonvue.com/vmware/vmworld/ . If you do not have the opportunity to pre-register for the exam, you can take it onsite (assuming seats are still available) for only $105, which is still a significant savings.

For more information on the VCDX exams, see my post at: http://communities.vmware.com/thread/222194

So good luck to you all on your path to becoming a VCP and I look forward to seeing you at the VMworld event!

Regards,

Jon C. Hall
Technical Certification Developer
VMware, Inc.

What are you waiting for? I already registered!

VI3 ATDG Available as a free download now!

Just like they did with the Advanced Technical Design Guide for VI2, Scott, Mike and Ron are releasing the VI3 ATDG today. I read it when it was first released and it is a great reference.

Go get some -> http://www.vmguru.com/

Dear VMware: Pick a Common (SUPPORTED) Virtual Appliance OS…Please….

One of my pet peeves is that each virtual appliance coming out of VMware is that each different virtual appliance released by them is based on a different OS. Some of these do not even have documented methods for updating the OS. We all know that no matter what OS is running on a system, there will be updates for stability and security. Almost every time I begin an engagement with a customer and it involves using a virtual appliance, their security wonks get all pissy with me and I need to show that I have the latest security patches installed before I even connect the appliance to their network.

This all started with the HealthCheck Appliance, which is a tool available to partners. Its running Ubuntu 7.10 Server JEOS. Great! It is an unsupported, deprecated OS. If you know anything about Ubuntu, you know that the “Long Term Support” (LTS) versions are released every other year. So, the latest LTS version is 8.04 and the previous is 6.06. No big deal, right?

Now to further complicate things, the VMware Data Recovery appliance and the vSphere Management Assistant run completely different OS versions. The VDR runs CentOS with a kernel version 2.6.18-92-el5. The vMA runs RedHat Enterprise Linux with a kernel version 2.6.18-128.1.1.el5.

Updating the vHA

The documentation that comes with the vHA explains how to update the OS using apt-get, and it explains it in such a way that anyone can do it. BUT…Ubuntu 7.10 has been deprecated and the repositories were recently removed. Running apt-get update results in a bunch of http 404 errors because the repositories are no longer where the OS thinks they belong. Now what?

I did a quick search on google and found a blog post on NewAdventuresInSoftware about a work around, so thanks goes out to Dan Dyer for providing this solution. Its pretty straight forward and I added how to install VMware Tools to it. The 7.10 repositories haven’t been completely removed, they were just moved to a different url: http://old-releases.ubuntu.com/releases. The apt-get utility uses the file “/etc/apt/sources.list” to determine where to go for patches and software packages. In order to upgrade the OS to 8.04, you need to install the update-manager-core first and then upgrade the OS. So, you need to point apt-get to the new url to install the update-manager-core package and all the dependancies. But, before upgrading the OS, you need to point back to the original repositories, because that is where the 8.04 packages reside. Here is a step-by-step list of how to get this done:

1. Make a backup copy of the /etc/apt/sources.list file:

Edit the original file:

Comment out any reference to a CDROM using #

Use the global search and replace command in vi to change the references:

Save and quit:

Install the update-manager-core package and all dependancies:

Copy the original sources.list file back because it gets changed during the upgrade:

Edit the original sources.list:

Comment out any reference to a CDROM using #

Save and quit:

Run the OS upgrade routine:

Install the packages required for VMware Tools to be compiled:

Install VMware Tools as listed in the instructions (Replace the ?.?.?-?????? with the proper tools version)

You should be prompted to automatically run vmware-config-tools.pl

Once the installation is completed, install the vmxnet drivers:

sudo modprobe vmxnet
sudo /etc/init.d/networking start

Verify your IP address:

Updating the vMA

The vMA has a well documented process for updates, using sudo vima-update scan and sudo vima-update update for updating the OS. I am assuming that eventually, patches will become available from VMware, but there is nothing right now. The vima-update utility can also be configured to look at a different repostory for patches. That is documented in the Admin Guide and I won’t get into it here. The is nothing about updating VMware Tools, but a simple VMware Tools process for RPM based distros will work. Just copy the VMwareTools…rpm from the tools cd image and run rpm -i VMwareTools…rpm. Substitute the proper file version.

Updating VDR

HA! Nothing is documented for VDR about updates. Nothing. Not even a mention. It is running an older, unpatches kernel and an old version of VMware Tools. I found a post on the communities about how to update the OS using yum update and VMware Tools. Basically, vmware-config-tools.pl is hard-coded to to older versions of libssl and libcrypto, so symlinks need to be added to install VMware Tools properly:

DISCLAIMER:

Since some of these methods are NOT documented by VMware, they may not be supported. Sometimes, you have to weigh security concerns against ultimate support ooptions.

Storage Protocol Differences and FCoE Diagrams

Just thought I would share these diagrams that I used in a recent training session. I used them to explain the differences in the storage protocols that may be used for a vStorage Cloud and how FCoE works. Click on the images for a larger view.

Storage Protocol Differences

The first image shows the differences between the common storage protocols and what it takes for the data to get from point A to point B.

FCoE Packet

This diagram demonstrates the FCoE packet. The top block is an Ethernet Packet and the bottom block is the FCoE data.

Converged Network Adapter

This diagram shows the data flow within a Converged Network Adapter (CNA).

Converged Enhanced Ethernet Bridge

This diagram is the Converged Enhanced Ethernet Bridge. CEE in one end, FC out the other.

VMware Capacity Planner 2.7 – Lipstick on a Pig

Last week’s upgrade / outage of the VMware Capacity Planner Dashboard was a COMPLETE surprise to me. I was trying to access data on Friday with no success. Why? Because I just don’t pay attention to the notices on the front page of the dashboard. Low and behold, the Capacity Planner Dashboard is now available! It has been upgraded to version 2.7 with perty colors and everything!

Capacity Planner 2.7 Dashboard

Capacity Planner 2.7 Dashboard

Actually, I use “Lipstick on a Pig” lovingly. Capacity Planner is huge – thus the “Pig” part. It collects and analyzes monster amounts of data rather well. I use it frequently.  I am currently involved in an assessment of about 1300 systems. I have learned from experience to “scale” the Capacity Planner “Data Collectors” by using multiple collector machines, limiting to about 200-250 systems per collector. All of the inventory and performance data gets collected efficiently and is uploaded to the mother ship in multiple, but smaller, chunks. All of the heavily lifting is done at the mother ship, so you don’t need a beefy machine for the data collection. Creating reports and Optimization Scenarios (Formerly known as Consolidation Scenarios) in the Dashboard is fairly straight-forward and the reports generate in about 10-15 minutes with larger assessments. Far better than some of the competing products that I have used.

The new version brings some nice new features as well. It makes it easier to perform desktop virtualization assessments and it looks like they are gearing up to provide application virtualization assessments as well. They have also tweaked users, groups, access and permissions as well. Although it works fine on my Linux desktop running Firefox 3,  sadly, VMware only officially supports Internet Exploser 5.5 and above.

So what is the difference between CP and the “competing” products? Why are people still paying for something that they can get for free from VMware or a VAC partner? The first is access to the data. You need a login to access the CP Dashboard. Other products are run locally. I say “So what?!”You can get your VMware guru to collect your data and then generate optimization scenarios and reports for you. They will give you some nice stuff with plenty of information. All you have to do is ask.

The other thing at issue with CP is the ability to generate graphs and charts for the corner office people. The CP Dashboard has a few graphs mixed in, but there are many other things you may want to put into a graph. In order to do this with CP, you need to dump the data into a spreadsheet and generate graphs and charts with the spreadsheet software. This can sometimes be a daunting task to some.

One of the few useful graphs in CP

One of the Few Useful Graphs in the CP Dashboard

Just an aside: As you can see from the screenshot above, even with a ton of servers, the vast majority of systems only show 10% or less processor utilization. This is typical for an assessment.

The final reason why you might NOT want to use Capacity Planner is that the Optimization Scenarios are locked in to VMware ESX or VMware Server. You cannot run a scenario against XEN, KVM or *GASP* Hyper-V…. But that doesn’t matter because you really WANT to use VMware anyway. So, what are you waiting for? Go forth and virtualize!

Below are the release notes:

VMware Capacity Planner Release Notes

Current Version 2.7 Build 32117
Last Updated 5/20/09

VMware Capacity Planner Version 2.7 is an upgrade from Version 2.6.x.  The purpose of this upgrade is to release new features.

What’s New in Capacity Planner 2.7

Capacity Planner 2.7 has a new look and feel. Many of the menu options have changed, and reports have been enhanced. The following items are the main changes in this version.

  • Desktop Virtualization. VDI assessments enable you to virtualize destops utilizing software profiles and base images.
  • Software Profiles. Software profiles replace application profiles and can now be edited by Partners. Software Profiles allow tags to describe the software. Software Profiles can represent applications and operating systems. They keep track of individual process utilization as well as system-wide use. More computing resource utilization dimensions are shown for each profile.
  • Base Image Creation. System Software Cluster analysis is used to build a few images that maximize software usage.
  • VM Template Sizing. You can create VM Templates, based on various base images, during an Optimization Scenario Analysis.
  • Reporting. Optimization reports now includes new reports. These reports are formally known as the Consolidation Estimator Reports. The new report is a complete assessment report. The controls for the output are located in the Assessment Global Settings. The link to get to the Global Settings is at the bottom of the Optimization Report Page. This report is the only place that contains the following information at this time: VM-to-VM Template mapping, VM Template Sizes, and Base Image Report. For the Custom Report, the display limit is set to 10,000. If the amount of data exceeds this limit, the data that exceeds the limit is not displayed.
  • Scenario. The scenario now includes the ability to select by system attributes. It also has a Base Image selection page. Selecting Base Images is required to include the Base Image, VM Template Size, and VM-to-VM Template mapping sections in the Assessment Report.
  • User Groups. You can now create a user group to give users access to a company, template, report, or scenario.
  • Access and Permissions. The security model that has been used by company roles is now extended to templates. This allows individual access to templates by a single user or a group of users. Partners and VMware can create templates that are meant only for a certain group of users. This will remove the need to create multiple companies to manage users and templates.
  • Date Range Selection. Users can now select a range of dates to be used for the assessment.
  • Alerts and Anomalies. The behavior of alerts and anomalies has changed in this release.
  • User Self-provisioning. A Partner Company (only partner) can adjust the security settings in their company to allow users with the same email suffix that is supplied in the company information to request and automatically approve a login account. The Partner will need to create a suffix to enable this feature adjust the Security Policy to allow self-provisioning.
  • Collector SSH Port setting. The collector now allows the user to change the SSH port to something other than 22. This is a global setting and will not allow per system port settings for now.
  • Collector/Dashboard Inventory Additions. The Collector and the Dashboard now collect desktop inventory and show Video Card, PnP Devices, Pagefile, and Printers for the purpose of doing desktop assessments.
  • Create new CE users. You can now create a user within a CE assessment.
  • Multiple Assessments. More than one assessment per company is now supported.
  • Sudo support. Sudo support has been added in this release.

Redesigned Interface

This release introduces a new look for the Dashboard. Many of the menus have changed. Online help is now available from the Help menu. The Online Library containing the Installation Guide, Getting Started with Capacity Planner, the Troubleshooting Guide, and the Reference Guide is available from the Portal. In addition, the Installation Guide and Getting Started with Capacity Planner are available as PDF files in the Portal.

The major changes for the Dashboard include:

  • Style changes
    • Style. The background and logo have changed.
    • Labels, Titles, Menus. The menu structure and labeling have changed. For example, Consolidation has changed to Optimization. The Roles label has changed to Access and Permissions.
    • Forms and Wizards. Several have been improved: New Assessment, New User, Access and Permissions
  • Feature changes
    • Notifications. Notification creation is now simpler.
    • Architecture. An analysis engine and a reporting engine have been added.
    • Software Profiles. Application Profiles is replaced with an improved Software Profile and Report feature.
    • Software Profile Templates are created and managed from Dashboard > Assessment > Assessment Tools > Software Profile Templates.

    • Online Help is a new addition available from the Help link. Other online documentation is available from the Portal link.
    • Reports. Reports have been enhanced. A storage report has been promoted to first class from the custom reports. It is located under Performance and does not include all the columns of the custom report.
    • Application Analysis. Application Analysis allows you to analyze application usage and create Base Images.
    • Base Images are created and managed from Dashboard > Analyze > Base Images.

All of the documentation is provided in HTML format. We would like to know what you think. Please take a moment to do our survey:

Differences between vSwitches and dvSwitches

There are not huge differences between a vNetwork Standard Switch (vSwitch, vSS) and a vNetwork Distributed Switch (dvSwitch, vDS). The big thing is the concept of dvSwitches being centralized in vCenter and using the concept of compliance to assign a dvSwitch to a host.

Both types of switches provide the following:

  • can forward L2 frames
  • can segment traffic into VLANs
  • can use and understand 802.1q VLAN encapsulation
  • can have more than one uplink (NIC Teaming)
  • can have traffic shaping for the outbound (TX) traffic

Other “features” of dvSwitches are the following:

  • can shape inbound (RX) traffic
  • has a central unified management interface through vCenter
  • supports Private VLANs (PVLANs)
  • provides potential customisation of Data and Control Planes
    • supports using the Nexxus 1000v

For more information on the concepts of dvSwitches and the differences between vSwitches and dvSwitches, check out this VMware KB Article.

vSphere Install and Upgrade Best Practices KB Articles and Links

So, I use NewsGator to aggregate a BAZILLION feeds from several sources, blogs, like this one, actual news feeds and a bunch of VMware feeds. The VMware feeds are from the VI:OPS and VMTN forums. The VMTN forums allow you to create a custom feed by selecting the RSS link at the bottom right of each page or you can get a feed from a specific section of the forum by clicking the link on the bottom left of a list. On of the custom feed options is to get a feed of the new KB articles.

VMware has released quite a lot of new KB articles surrounding vSphere. They just released nice best practice guidelines for installing or upgrading to ESX 4 and vCenter 4. They are short and to the point. There is also a nice article covering best practices for upgrading an ESX 3.x virtual machine to ESX 4.0. One thing I noticed, but never thought about is this :

“Note: If you are using dynamic DNS, some Windows versions require ipconfig/reregister to be run.”

Eric Seibert over at vSphere-Land posted a nice set of “missing links” for everything vSphere. This is a nice, comprehensive set of links to evetrything you need for vSphere upgrades or installs.So, go check that out as well.

SPLUNK! Goes the Syslog Server…

The use of a “syslog” server is important in today’s data center. Most network and SAN switches, along with Unix and Linux servers are capable of sending logging information to a syslog server. The obvious reason for a syslog server is to centralize all of your logs. This enables you to troubleshoot issues more efficiently. Most syslog servers allow you to do a time-line based analysis of log data so that you have an enterprise – wide view of all activity. This allows you to see how different devices interact.

An less obvious reason for a syslog server is for security purposes. The theory is that an attacker will attempt to elevate to root privileges and then try to delete or alter logs to hide evidence of the attack. If all log information is relayed to a syslog server, the hope is that this data is secured for forensic study, if needed.

I have tried a few different “free” and non-free syslog servers. I didn’t do extensive research into all available syslog servers, but I have to say that I like Splunk the best. It starts with a free server with a limited amount of data. This may be fine for smaller shops. There is also a paid version that allows for more data collection. The fully “free” syslog server that came close was the combination of syslogd and phplogcon on a Linux server. I also tried Kiwi syslog, which also has a “free” version and a paid version. But it only installs on winders. Most of the syslog servers are great. There were a few capabilities I felt made Splunk a nice syslog server:

  • Act as a standard syslog server.
  • The ability to “scrape” directories.
  • Monitor Windows logs.
  • Allow for upload of log data.
  • Provide Time line Analysis.

Acting as a standard syslog server is really a no-brainer. All of the packages that I tested worked fine in this respect. You set up pointers to the syslog server in the *nix /etc/syslog.conf file and all logs are automatically sent.

When dealing with collecting logs on an ESX server, the standard syslog.conf settings may not cut it. The HA logs reside in a different location and should be “scraped”. In this context, “scraping” is the process of reading all of the text files in a specified directory and compiling them into the syslog database.

Monitoring Windows logs is also a key ingredient in the datacenter stew. If you are going to do centralized collection of logs, collect everything. Splunk uses WMI to gather this information.

The ability to upload log data manually is also a nice option. I was recently troubleshooting an issue with VMware Consolidated Backup and I was able to manually upload all of the related VCB logs right into a Splunk server VM. I exported the Windows system and application logs to .csv files and copied them to a directory on the Splunk server. I also copied the VCB logs and ESX logs to the same directory. After a few minutes, the data was assimilated into the database and ready for analysis. I was able to look at a specific point in time and look at errors across the entire environment. I could see errors in the VCB logs and relate them to errors in the Windows system and application logs. I was also able to track all of the ESX and VM logs for the time period.

The Splunk server offers WAY more than the logging functions described here. It is also a great tool for compliance, change control, security, server management, etc. It has install packages for winders, Linux, Solaris (x86, x64 AND Sparc), Mac OSX, FreeBSD and AIX.

As you can see, the Splunk server is very useful for capturing all kinds of logs for security and troubleshooting purposes. In part two, I will dig deeper into setting up a Splunk server and configuring *nix, ESX, ESXi and winders machines to send their logs. As with the VCB Proven Practice Guide, there will be a companion doc on the VI:OPS site.

Pre-order Scott Lowe's "Mastering VMware vSphere 4" Here

Pre-order Scott Lowe’s “Mastering VMware vSphere 4” Here

Mastering VMware vSphere 4

VI4 Certification News

From the VMware Certification Site:

Certification News:

  • VMware Certified Professional on vSphere™ 4
    With the launch of vSphere™ 4, a new certification will be available. The VMware Certified Professional (VCP) on vSphere™4 beta exam will be available 30 days post GA. Candidates eligible for the beta exam will be contacted directly by VMware.

    There are four possible paths to acheive VCP on vSphere™ 4

    1. If you are NEW to VMware
      • Attend the VMware vSphere™ 4: Install, Configure, Manage course (first courses available in late June 2009) OR attend the VMware vSphere 4: Fast Track (available in Q3)
      • Take and pass the VCP on vSphere™ 4 exam
    2. If you are currently a VCP on VMware Infrastructure 3
      • Take and pass the VCP on vSphere™ 4 exam. This option will only be available until December 31, 2009. Beginning in 2010, VCPs on VI3 must attend the VMware vSphere 4: What’s New class in order to upgrade.
    3. If you are currently a VCP on ESX 2.x
      • Take and pass the VCP on VMware Infrastructure 3 exam
      • Take and pass the VCP on vSphere™ 4 Exam. This option will only be available until December 31, 2009. Beginning in 2010, VCPs on VI3 must attend the VMware vSphere™ 4: What’s New class in order to upgrade.
    4. If you are not a VCP on VI3, but have attended one of the prerequisite classes (Install & Configure; Deploy Secure & Analyze; or Fast Track).
      • Take and pass the VCP on VMware Infrastructure 3 exam OR attend the VMware vSphere™ 4: What’s New course.
      • Take and pass the VCP on vSphere™ 4 Exam.

    …more info

VMware Partner Exchange Technical Notes

Below are some notes that I took from the VMware Partner Exchange technical sessions that I attended.  I left off the BCDR Workshop because it will become a separate post.

Upgrade and Migration Tips:
This session was conducted by Mustafa Kahlil, who is probably THE senior SE at VMware. He has over 10 years with the company and started around ESX 0.9. The session centered around a group of flow charts that followed a nice decision tree for upgrade or migration to VI4. The flowchart will provide everything you need for a upgrade / migration engagement. Some highlights: “Upgrade VMotion” will perform a combination VMotion from ESX 2.5 to ESX/ESXi 4 and a Storage VMotion from VMFS 2.x to VMFS 3.x. A VMotion licence will be required. This will allow direct MIGRATION from ESX 2.5 to ESX/ESXi 4. In order to UPGRADE, the latest update build of ESX/ESXi 3.5 will be required. A “vSphere Update Utility” (AKA VMware Infrastructure Update Utility) will be used to update ESXi if VUM is not used. VUM will be the easiest path. The utility will only be able to update one host at a time, but could be scripted to perform a chain of updates. THERE WILL BE NO UPGRADE PATH FOR VMs ON NFS! Only migration will be used for NFS VMs. The most interesting thing Mustafa said was

“Eventually, no service console”

Remember this in your Plan and Design engagements for VI3. I have always been a supporter of ESXi over ESX.

Performance Best Practices for ESX:
This was, by far, THE BEST session. It was two hours of drinking from a fire hose. I took three pages of notes and they didn’t get through all of the slides. Next week, they are expecting to release an updated performance whitepaper on the VROOM! site. Here are the main things that should be considered for performance:

First and foremost, VM performance has little to do with the ESX configuration tweaks, but has a LOT to do with VM configuration tweaks. The main points were this – Understand the application profile, choose the platform wisely and tune the VM settings. All of the performance information below assumes enough CPU and RAM are provided to an app.

Most CPU intensive apps virtualize very well. Most memory intensive apps virtualize very well. As stated before VMware demonstrated a RHEL/ORA VM that could handle 8x of Visa’s online transactions.

Network usage – between 1 and 16 Gbps will virtualize with proper VM tuning, Over 16Gbps will not. (40Gbps in VI4)
Storage I/O – between 10-100k will virtualize with proper VM tuning. Over 100k will not (200k in VI4)
Anything with more than 8CPUs or 255GB RAM will also not virtualize.

See the doc -> http://www.vmware.com/pdf/asplos235_adams.pdf

Use Intel VT / AMD RVI. The newer chips also include hardware based paging for memory, which takes a load off of the hypervisor.

Use TSO and Jumbo Frames for networks. JF is disabled by default and must be enabled on all devices involved – NIC BIOS, vSwitch, VM OS, pSwitch. VI4 will support JF in iSCSI as well. pNICs should also handle 64bit DMA and multiple scatter/gather elements for the frame. Also, force speed and duplex, separate traffic, use teamin, etc.

Configure storage properly – spindle count, hot spots, LUN layout, etc. Use VMFS instead of RDMs. Use 4k I/O for best performance over 16k and 64k.

VM setting:
Choose the proper OS. This determines the proper monitor type, optimal devices, etc.
Use 64bit OSes for high memory usage
Enable large pages in OS and app (default is disabled)
most apps do not scale well beyond 4/8 CPUs with the exception of RHEL/ORA

See the doc http://www.vmware.com/files/pdf/consolidating_webapps_vi3_wp.pdf

“STORAGE QUEUE SETTINGS ARE ALREADY OPTIMIZED”

They should not need to be tweaked! Kernel latency MAY indicate it is necessary to tweak queues.

Perform adminitsrative tasks (new VMs, clones, etc.) during off hours. These produce storage performance hits.

Its VMware Patch Friday…

VMware just released a round of patches. Go get some -> http://support.vmware.com/selfsupport/download/

Obviously, if you have VMware Update Manager set up, he’ll do all of the work for you. :o)

VMware Virtual User Group

Virtual-Al mentioned the possibility of a VMware Virtual User Group, similar to a Powershell Virtual User Group that has been around for a while.  He started a quick, seven question survey to measure interest. Please click here to take the survey.

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