Today we have a guest post from Ganesh Shetty, who is a Tech Support Engineer in our Bangalore office who specializes in Licensing issues. He’s currently focused on writing Knowledgebase articles. Today, he brings us some good advice advice in minimizing licensing headaches.
If you previously used Virtual Infrastructure 3, you may remember using license files to license ESX hosts. Although vSphere 4 does not use license files, this does not apply if you are managing ESX 3.x hosts using virtual center 4.x, as most of you may know. We still have a lot of customers using a mixed environment, comprising of ESX 3.x, ESX 4.x hosts managed by Virtual Center 4.x. This introduces some challenges in licensing the Environment.
There are several errors associated with an improperly licensed ESX 3.x host managed by a Virtual Center 4.x. In this post, I will be discussing a few steps to keep in mind when licensing ESX 3.x hosts being managed by a Virtual Center 4.x and I’ll also give you a few tips to fix errors related to this.
License files in place
The first and foremost step is to ensure that your license files are in place. Quite often the source of a lot of licensing issues is a corrupt license file. When in doubt about a license file, it is always better to delete and regenerate that license file. You can refer the knowledge base article Creating a Single Host and Centralized License file on the License Portal (1005132) for a detailed explanation on how to generate server based license files.
If regenerating the license file is not an option, you can check if the license file is valid or not by pasting its content in the server based license checker . Open the URL: http://www.vmware.com/checklicense/ and paste the contents of your license file, in the empty box. Click on validate.
This will tell you if the license file is valid or not. You need not be including a virtual center 2.x license file since you are using virtual center 4.x, so you may get an error message ‘No VC Management License found’ when validating the license file. This error can be ignored. The screenshot below indicates a valid instance of an Enterprise license file for 2 processors.
- If you generate a VI3 Enterprise license, you will not see the option ‘Enterprise’ in the server based license checker. Instead you see 2 Standard + 2 vMotion +2 DRS + 2 HA + 2 VC Agent + 2 VCB licenses.
- The license checker can only be used to validate ‘Server based’ license files and not ‘Host based’ license files.
It is always recommended to not modify the contents of a license file. Manual consolidation of many license files into one file is possible, however, if done incorrectly, can corrupt the license file. As seen in the screenshots below, this license file is corrupt and will certainly give you an error when licensing the host. In such a scenario you must regenerate the license file.
You can also refer the knowledge base article Troubleshooting an error when uploading a license file (1005440) for additional causes of an invalid license file.
The license file is coded in UNIX and contains a number of stanzas which starts with ‘INCREMENT’. The header which follows the word ‘INCREMENT’ indicates the license type (e.g. Foundation, Standard, Enterprise etc.) and the quantity. It is helpful to understand these headers and what they denote. This will come in handy when performing a ‘Status Enquiry’ in the license server. I’ll show you how it is done later in this post.
The KB article Understanding VI3.5 Licensing: Server- and Host-Based Licensing Models (1003295) provides a detailed explanation on what these headers denote in a license file. I have listed a few important ones to keep in mind
· INCREMENT VC_ESXHOST VMWARELM 2005.05 permanent 2 :
2 processors of Virtual Center Agent
· INCREMENT VC_VMOTION VMWARELM 2005.05 permanent 2 :
2 processors of vMotion
· INCREMENT VC_DAS VMWARELM 2005.05 permanent 2 :
2 processors of High Availability
· INCREMENT VC_DRS VMWARELM 2005.05 permanent 2 :
2 processors of DRS
· INCREMENT PROD_ESX_FULL VMWARELM 2005.05 permanent 2
2 processors of Standard
· INCREMENT ESX_FULL_BACKUP VMWARELM 2005.05 permanent 2 :
2 processors of VCB
· INCREMENT PROD_ESX_STARTER VMWARELM 2005.05 permanent 2 :
2 processors of Foundation
After you have ensured the license file is valid, save the license file with a .lic extension.
Installing the License Server
If you have already installed the license server and need to upload the license file, simply follow steps 1 to 9 in the KB article Installing Licenses for ESX Server 3.x (1001383)
After you have generated (and saved a copy) of your license file, ensure you have downloaded the license server. The standalone version of the License server is available for download in the VI3 download section. When installing the license server for the first time, you are asked to browse to the source of the license file. Point to the location of the license file and complete the installation.
There have been reported issues of the standalone version of the license server not installing in Windows Server 2008. If you run into this, follow the KB article Unable to install the license server on Windows Server 2008 (1018118) to obtain a workaround.
After uploading the license file to the license server, it is recommended you restart the license server by clicking on Stop Server, Start Server and Reread License File, in the order shown here:
There are some occasions where you get the error message ‘cannot stop the server’ after clicking on Stop Server and subsequently the error message ‘Cannot ReRead license file’ when you click on ReRead License File. In such situations, reinstallation of the license server will fix the issue.
vCenter Server Settings
After the license file has bee
n reread successfully, Login to the virtual center using vSphere Client. Click on Home, vCenter Server Settings and ensure that you have entered the IP address or the name of the machine where the license server is installed. It is also necessary that you check the option Reconfigure ESX 3 hosts using license servers to use this server.
Note: Please ensure that the Virtual Center 4.x is licensed with a valid license key.
To license the ESX 3.x host follow steps 14 and 15 in the KB article Installing Licenses for ESX Server 3.x (1001383) . Finally, ensure that the ESX host is pointing to the correct IP address/name.
If you still get an error not enough licenses, check if the licenses available is greater than or equal to the processor socket count of your ESX 3.x host. This can be done by clicking on Configuration, Processors (Under Hardware) and look at the count next to Processor Sockets
In odd instances I have noticed that there will be sufficient licenses but the ESX 3.x host has not picked up the licenses from the license server. In such scenarios you can check if the issued license files have been assigned or not. This can be done by clicking on Server Status on the license server and then clicking on Perform Status Enquiry
As previously mentioned above, headers in the license file denote the license type and also its quantity. In the above screenshot, it indicates that the licenses and its various features have been issued but not assigned to the ESX 3.x host. This is a good indicator as to why you get an error ‘Not Enough Licenses’ despite having sufficient licenses. Sometimes, only one feature may show up as ‘not assigned’ while the other features may have successfully been assigned to the ESX host. For example VC_ESXHOST (VC Agent) may show up as ‘not assigned’. This means that the ESX host is not able to pick the VC Agent licenses and hence will not allow you to add the ESX host to the Virtual Center (since VC Agent licenses are required to add an ESX host to the Virtual Center) by throwing up an error ‘Not Enough Licenses’.
To fix this, restart the license server from Services.msc. The licenses will start reassigning themselves from scratch and whatever feature was not assigned will be successfully assigned by the license server.
Many KB articles have been referenced here, an they’re all well worth checking out when you have licensing problems.