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Rethink Your vSphere Virtualization Infrastructure for your SMB

By: Gregg Robertson, vExpert

In recent years, virtualization has dramatically changed the infrastructure of companies and helped them to consolidate and optimize their environments. With the change and growth of the VMware vSphere® family of products, a number of features and solutions that were only part of the Enterprise and Enterprise plus licencing packages are now available for the small and midsize business (SMB) market as well. This change is causing SMB customers to rethink and re-evaluate their vSphere virtualized infrastructure to leverage these new offerings and realize the benefits of advanced reporting, data protection, enhanced optimization and advanced service offerings, to name a few.

In the past, many of these new features and technologies made a perfect fit for the SMB market, but costs made them prohibitive. That is now changing with a new wave of virtualization 2.0 technologies, including:

As a senior consultant doing work as a VMware partner and as an extension of VMware PSO, this change is something I am evangelising and explaining to all my customers. I especially want the small and midsize businesses I work with to know the capabilities and solutions that are now available at no extra cost to them, which can help enhance and optimize their virtualized infrastructure.

A large portion of these successes have been through the ability of SMB customers to now utilize vSphere with Operations Management to do reporting, monitoring and future planning through smart alerts, built in reports and health dashboards designed to optimize the utilization of hardware resources, such as CPU, memory and storage.

As shown in the screenshot below, this dashboard enables SMB customers to monitor the state of the environment through the current health score, the potential risks to the environment, the future health of the environment and how well the environment is running through the efficiency score. Each of these scores can be expanded to give further information and methods to improve these rankings. I always like to explain these scores like the the health of a person – the higher your health score is, the healthier you are, and the higher your risk factors, the bigger the chance of your health being impacted. Your efficiency is how well you are doing things and how you could do things better.

 

 

 

I’ve written a whitepaper around the need for SMBs to rethink their virtualization infrastructure and to elaborate on a number of the features and solutions that are now available to SMB customers, like vRealize Operations built into vSphere with Operations Management, as briefly detailed above. Download the whitepaper to learn how these solutions can help your business and your customers.

 

 

 

 

 

If you require any more information or consultancy about the solutions and technologies covered in the whitepaper, then please don’t hesitate to contact VMware Professional Services.

Gregg Robertson is a senior consultant, professional blogger, vExpert 2011 – 2014, VCAP5-DCA/DCD, VCP-Cloud, VCP 3/4/5, VMware communities moderator and co-host of the EMEA vBrownbag weekly webinars/podcasts. Gregg’s blog, TheSaffaGeek , started as a place to write down fixes plus VMware certification links and resources, but has quickly found a large following of readers and subscribers.

 

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How to Avoid Common VDI Mistakes

With a median ROI of over 300%, virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) is becoming an increasingly wise financial and technological choice for businesses. In addition to offering enhanced data protection, VDI improves IT efficiency by reducing overall desktop administrative and management tasks.

With all the benefits, why would anyone hesitate making the switch?

Since VDI changes how desktops are delivered to users, the transition requires a strong IT project path for problem-free implementation. Essentially, VDI benefits require change, and that opens up room for error. This is why proper and thorough planning is critical to successful VDI deployment. Here are a few common pitfalls you can avoid with a little planning.

Pitfall #1: Not Involving Users

Ultimately, the success of a VDI project is dependent on user acceptance. If users reject the change, you’ll have a more difficult time throughout the entire process. Involving stakeholders in the planning and early adoption processes empowers everyone.

The Solution: Involve users throughout the project.

Before deployment, interview users from different business units and ask them what they would like to gain from VDI, or even what they consider to be problematic about the current desktop environment. Continue to ask for feedback during rollout, as well. Try distributing questionnaires so users can share their observations.

Pitfall #2: Putting Together the Wrong Team

Though it might seem like the logical choice, building your VDI team around virtualization architects is actually a poor idea. Virtual desktops are not the same as virtualized servers.

The Solution: Include desktop administrators

Now that desktops are hosted in the data center, it’s vital that the storage systems hosting desktops and the networks used to access them are designed correctly. So, to guarantee a successful project, include the people who design and manage desktop and application environments. Collaborate with storage, server, and network specialists.

 

 

To help your team avoid making these and other VDI-related mistakes, we’ve identified and provided solutions for eight common VDI pitfalls. Download the white paper to learn more about VDI best practices.

 

 

 

 

 

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How to best use the BC/DR features of vSphere

By: Vladan Seget, vExpert

VMware vSphere can be leveraged to ensure application availability, server availability or site availability. In this post I’ll look at different scenarios that might fit your organization.

While it’s quite easy to get protected by High Availability (HA) to prevent hardware failures, there might be scenarios where you also need application protection.

It’s all about granularity

VMware vSphere App High Availability (HA) – Applications First!

When it comes to granularity, you might want to protect your application first. If your application crashes under a heavy load, for example, but the VM is still running fine, nothing happens. Users will start to complain that their application is not available. In this case, vSphere HA won’t trigger an HA event and the VM won’t get restarted. How do you deal with that?

Application High Availability to the rescue! The vSphere Application HA works in conjunction with vFabric Hyperic Server, so you must install and configure Hyperic server in order to use vSphere App HA, and you must deploy a small agent to the VM for monitoring. The whole solution is managed through a plugin visible through the vSphere Web Client only.

Not all Enterprise applications are supported for monitoring – here is the list of currently supported applications:

  • MSSQL 2005, 2008, 2008R2, 2012
  • Tomcat 6.0, 7.0
  • TC Server Runtime 6.0, 7.0
  • IIS 6.0, 7.0, 8.0
  • Apache HTTP Server 1.3, 2.0, 2.2

One prerequisite to installing Application HA on your cluster is to activate VM and Application monitoring (see below) and also to create an IP pool for the subnet where you want to install the product.

App HA can protect your applications, but what about when the underlying VM has a problem? Yes – the usual High Availability mechanism kicks in. In vSphere 5.0 HA was completely revamped, and vSphere 5.5 brought even more options when it comes to affinity rules (or rather anti-affinity rules).

VMware High Availability (HA)

HA can save your bacon. That’s for sure. The main purpose of virtualization is to abstract the hardware to run VMs on any compatible hardware in HA cluster.

Problem with your hardware? No problem, HA kicks in and restarts the VM on another host in the cluster.

Since vSphere 5.x there is only one agent in the cluster which plays the role of Master. The agent is called FDM – Fault Domain Manager. One host takes the role of master. The other agents on other hosts are essentially slaves, but can become masters in the event the master host fails.

FDM master keeps track of all hosts that are members of a cluster, and any adding/removing hosts refreshes this list as well. Now you might be thinking, “What if the master fails?” In that case, there is an election process (this was not the case in vSphere 4) and the host that has access to the greatest number of datastores is elected as master. You might wonder why? It’s because the secondary communication channel is through datastores. There are other considerations for a slave to become elected as a master as well.

In a DRS enabled cluster, prior to vSphere 5.5 (but since vSphere 5.x), after a restart a VM via HA would be placed on a host, and then according to an anti-affinity rule, would move via vMotion to another host (see the left pic). Post vSphere 5.5, this has changed – the VM will start directly according to the anti-affinity rule, where it should.

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8 Myths on Cloud-Based Disaster Recovery…Busted!

This post originally appeared on the vCloud Blog

As high-profile outages continue to make headlines, a secure disaster recovery plan is increasingly becoming a top priority for IT. Not only can a well-developed disaster recovery plan save your data, but it could also save your entire business.

Shockingly, not every company is planned for a disaster or outage – globally 3 out of 4 companies are not prepared for a disaster. There are many  myths about cloud-based disaster recovery, and some have detered business owners from implementing a solution all together. Below, we disclose 2 common myths that surround cloud-based disaster recovery. View the full fact sheet to uncover additional misconceptions about disaster recovery and how you can set up a secure plan.

Myth #1:  Downtime Doesn’t Cost THAT Much

This is one of the most alarming misconceptions about disasters. Some business owners are unaware of the financial dangers a disaster can cost them. Downtime can cost businesses an average of $1,400 to $8,000 per minute! And on average, downtime can cost up to $84,000 an hour. Could your company bear this type of financial burden? If you answered, “No,” you’re not alone – the financial consequences following a disaster have caused other companies to go bankrupt.

Myth #2: Once I Set Up a Disaster Recovery Option, I’m Locked Into a Lengthy Contract

A contract between your business and a provider is common for any disaster recovery option. However, that does not mean you are bound to a contract forever. With VMware vCloud® Air™ Disaster Recovery, you can set the length of your commitment. Contracts and SLAs are not to be feared and can range depending on desired length.

Business owners shy away from implementing a disaster recovery plan because they’re under the influence of myths, theories and misconceptions. But as we hope we’ve demonstrated above, cloud-based disaster recovery solutions are nothing to fear.

 

 

If you’re interested in learning more about disaster recovery for your business, check out our complete list of, “8 Myths on Cloud-Based Disaster Recovery…Busted!”

 

 

 

 

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New Video: VMware Solutions Built for your SMB’s Unique Challenges

For small and midsized businesses (SMB) like yours, every dollar and every minute counts. To keep pace with the competition, you need to give your employees consistent, dependable access to the infrastructure, applications, and services they need—at business speed. At the same time, you need to keep your CapEx and OpEx in line.

Other SMBs face these same challenges. That’s why so many businesses are focusing on cloud and virtualization solutions to overcome these issues. According to the August 2013 Forrsights Hardware Survey from Forrester Consulting, more than half of the SMBs surveyed are planning to:

  • Implement broad use of server virtualization as the standard server deployment. Surveys show that 72 percent of SMBs are currently using server virtualization.
  • Consolidate IT infrastructure via server, storage, network virtualization and consolidation
  • Purchase or upgrade disaster recovery and business continuity (BCDR) capabilities
  • Automate the management of virtualized servers

These ambitious initiatives can span your entire infrastructure and impact both your IT organization and end users. But, putting virtualization in place across more areas of your data center isn’t as daunting as you think. VMware offers a diverse portfolio of cloud and virtualization solutions that align with your priorities, from BCDR to virtualization management to end-user computing.

To find out how we can help, check out our short video. We’ll discuss how you can:

    • Consolidate servers to boost server utilization in the data center by 80 percent—and lower CapEx and OpEx.
    • Build a dependable foundation for BCDR
    • Extend virtualization to your desktops, to deliver applications, and data securely to any workspace and any device

The marketplace can be tough for SMBs on tight budget and resource constraints, but with the right technologies, you can turn these challenges into a competitive advantage. Discover how VMware solutions can help you streamline your IT department so you can focus on growing your business.

Source: Forrsights Hardware Survey, Q3 2013 (An August 2013 Study Conducted by Forrester Consulting):

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VMware CTO Americas to Keynote vForum Online, Nov. 18

VMware’s Vice President and CTO Americas Chris Wolf will kick off the vForum fall event on Nov. 18 at 8:30 a.m. PST by discussing the rapidly changing world of technology – a world in which software-defined solutions are redefining business and empowering companies of all sizes to deliver apps more quickly and more reliably, all while reducing costs and maximizing resources.

His keynote is part of VMware’s Fall vForum event that happens entirely online on November 18 from 8 a.m to 1 p.m. PST. vForum hosts five hours of interactive webcasts, expert chats, and Hands-on Labs.. More than 12,000 registrants signed up for vForum Spring and the fall event is already filling up.

Keynote and Breakout Sessions topics include a broad range of topics to address the needs of your SMB, such as:

  • Virtualization 102: Moving Beyond the Basics
  • Unlock the Power of Virtualization: BC/DR Made Easy
  • Cloud Based Disaster Recovery in Action
  • Building a Business Case for Virtual SAN

Live Technical Chats and Hands-on Labs give attendees the opportunity to share experiences with industry peers and test drive product offerings, including these labs:

  • Virtualization 101 with vSphere with Operations Management
  • Virtual SAN 101
  • vCloud Air – Jump Start for vSphere Admins

Prize Center and Resources give attendees have a chance to win great prizes like an Apple iPad Air or Sony PS4, and also download white papers, case studies, tips and tricks.

You can also visit the VMware virtual booth, to get information on the latest products and solutions for your SMB.