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Monthly Archives: December 2007

Happy New Year!

VMTN Blogging will be slow for the next week because of vacation and a bad cold: however, plenty of good posts keep popping up over on Planet V12n.

New blogs I’m going to be adding soon: A Little Truth: Mike D’s Virtualization Blog and Virtualization Tips & Tricks from petri.co.il.

We’ve been thinking about new directions for 2008 — what would you like to see on the VMware blogging front next year?

Happy New Year to all.

GigaOM Interview: Dr. Mendel Roseblum, Chief Scientist, VMware

Link: GigaOM Interview: Dr. Mendel Roseblum, Chief Scientist, VMware

Let’s talk about the data center for a minute. Do you think the whole architecture of the data center needs rethinking?

We went down a rat hole on how we built the data centers. I am not
surprised with all the problems we are having with data centers. In my
opinion, the architecture has problems because it was built with
inferior solutions. What you had was people placing services on servers
in a way that led to lightly loaded machines that were idle most of the
time. The whole thing was built for peak performance (and not maximum
utilization.) Well, idle machines use as much energy as fully utilized
machines. The way out of this is to put more on the machines, and get
them to be more efficient and take on the work load that will, to some
extent, lower the power consumption.

I wrote about pizza boxes becoming a problem, mostly due to low
utilization and higher power consumption. It kind of ties in with your
thesis.

You have to see them not as boxes but as resources. People are now
beginning to utilize virtualization and federate these pizza-box
servers. I think if you start to view them as one unit, you can get
more utilization out of them. I think in coming months you are going to
see a big push to make all servers (and other hardware) inside a data
center look more like a single unit. Ironically, if you look at the
future — low-end pizza box servers with multicore CPUs running our
software — you will start to see the big machine we were building where
we got started.

Hyper-V like VMware Server, but not as polished, says InfoWorld

Hyper-V is "roughly analogous VMware Server 1.0, although not as polished" says Paul Venezia in InfoWorld. Ouch.

Link: Next-gen virtualization from Microsoft | InfoWorld | Review | 2007-12-19.

From what I’ve seen, Microsoft’s Hyper-V is
roughly analogous to VMware Server 1.0, although not as polished. It
doesn’t appear to be a significant challenge to VMware’s Virtual
Infrastructure and ESX Server products, and given the fact that VMware
Server is free, runs on Linux and Windows, and is considerably more
mature, it’s questionable how many infrastructures will benefit from
using Hyper-V over VMware Server.

Make sure you read that right — Paul is comparing Hyper-V, not to our enterprise platform VI3, but to the last version of the free VMware Server, and even then he thinks it comes out behind.  Hyper-V is not even in the same league as VMware Infrastructure, not ready to roll out in the enterprise, and it’s questionable if it has value at all. Again, ouch.

After my brief look at the beta release, I can
confirm that this is truly beta, and it has a long way to go to be
production-ready.

Look, it’s a beta, and betas can be rough, so let’s not start feeling too superior. Hyper-V will be better when it’s released, and it will get better over time. But Microsoft needs to deliver its best effort here on to make this enterprise-ready infrastructure software that your whole data center will depend on. In the hubbub and hype and wishful thinking even before the product is released, people have forgotten that Hyper-V will be first generation software. It will be real world software with real-world issues; already it has been delayed and critical features (Live Migration = VMotion) have been dropped. VMware Infrastructure is a full virtualization platform, trusted at over 40,000 customers, production-ready, and not standing still.

Heck, even if you want to start out with free, then go with the more mature VMware Server — although Paul compared Hyper-V to version 1.0, version 2.0 is now in beta. But there’s no need to wait for Godot, Microsoft, or Superman to save us. The ROI is clear right now. Go forth and virtualize.

–John Troyer

VMware Fusion named Macworld Editors’ Choice!

Eddy2006Yes indeed, we gone and won an "Eddy"!

Yesterday, Macworld, arguably as august an arbiter of "Mac-ness" as Saint Jobs himself, named VMware Fusion to its list of 2007 "Editors’ Choices" where VMware Fusion joined the ranks of Mac OS X Leopard, Adobe’s much anticipated Premiere CS3, iWork, and a host of other assorted Mac community worthies.

VMware Fusion has had quite the run in the just-shy-of-five months it’s been out, garnering the praise of of technologists from all across the spectrum, and not a few industry accolades along the way, including those from the "Mac old guard" such as an Editor’s Choice award from Macworld UK, and a "PC Pro Recommended" designation from PC Pro Magazine.

But the chattering mavens of the blogosphere have taken note as well.  The Mac-soaked bible of personal productivity, Lifehacker, named VMware Fusion one of its "Top 10 Apps of 2007", joined by a host of others, from TUAW to Chris Pirillo to Dwight Silverman, Paul Thurrott, TechCrunch, Scott Beale and more.

On behalf of the whole team, I can say that we are honored and humbled by the award, and thrilled that Macworld has recognized the hard work the VMware Fusion team has done in bringing the most advanced, mature, stable, x86 virtualization platform in the world to the most advanced personal computing platform available.

VMworld Europe – Update

Richard Garsthagen reports from Cannes on VMworld Europe. This event will sell out, and the early-bird discount ends December 31, so don’t make one of your New Year’s Resolutions "Next year I’ll register for VMworld in time!" Register today.

Link: www.run-virtual.com » Blog Archive » VMworld Europe – Update.

Well I did not have much time for x-mas shopping yet, as we are
working very hard on the first VMworld Europe event. In 2 months time
we will be opening our doors to 4.000 people and that is a big and fun
challenge. In the last 2 weeks we have selected a great attendee
package, with a really nice custom made polo, we have very nice bags
custom made in VMware style and after 2 very long food tasting sessions
we have selected an awesome caterer for the event, so likely if you
will come to Cannes, you will gain some weight as I can say the food
was truly fantastic.

VMworld Europe is not just about VMware,
but the entire virtualization industry will be present. At this moment
we have 69 other companies joining us to present their solutions in the
virtualization space, including partners from VMware, but the
competition will be present as well, making VMworld really an industry
virtualization event.

To get your hands ‘dirty’ at the event
we are designing some good hands-on labs, including on some new topics
like PowerShell for the VI3 SDK and Update Manager. We are still trying
to figure out if we can run a SRM (Site Recovery Manager) lab, but it
would require an insane amount of ESX servers, so we are trying to
figure out how we can solve that.

Well I am really looking forward to February 26th, first that would mean all the hard work is done :-)
But mainly to actually attend the event myself and enjoy all the great
sessions and talk to all the vendors in this cool industry. If you are
thinking about attending, keep in mind the early bird registration ends
December 31st, but if you are a VCP, you will always get a even better
discounted price.

See you all in Cannes :-)

How many patches does your virtualization platform have?

VMware’s own Mike DiPetrillo surveys the current state of patching virtualization platforms and it’s not pretty. Link: VMware Patch Tuesday from Mike’s blog A Little Truth.

Microsoft’s new hypervisor based product called “Hyper-V” requires a
Windows operating system in the Parent Partition. Given that you’ll
need to patch that Windows OS just like any other Windows OS I decided
to look at the history of Microsoft patches for Windows Server 2003. …

Virtual Iron actually uses the Xen open-source hypervisor. There are a lot of other vendors out there that use that same
hypervisor (Red Hat, SUSE, SUN, Citrix/XenSource, and Oracle to name a
few). While the hypervisor itself is pretty good the architecture still
requires a general purpose operating system in Domain 0 (the Parent
Partition in Microsoft land). What does this mean? Well, you’re back to
having to patch a general purpose Linux operating system which
introduces downtime for you system. …

Last, we’ll go into a totally different architecture for the last
vendor – Virtuozzo. … you to install the patch once on the host and everyone
inherits it. Guess what? It works! … Let’s say you deploy
that patch and it blows up one of the VMs on the host. If you’ve never
had a patch blow up something in your environment then I want to meet
you. Anyhow, something blew up so we’ll need to back that patch out. Oh
wait…all of the other VMs are inheriting that same patch. …

Mike isn’t shy about sharing from his long experience in virtualization, and in my experience he knows what he’s talking about. Welcome to the blogosphere, Mike. I hope we see more of you around here.

VMworld Expert Session online: Chargeback

Did you know that vmworld.com was more than just a place to register for VMworld Europe? The team has some interesting developments in the pipeline, including building an increased presence on the site from across the broader virtualization ecosystem. The first of these developments is a new series of Expert Sessions. You can think of these sessions as a bit of slow-motion Q&A — an expert on a topic comes in, gives a recorded presentation, and then sticks around for two weeks and answers your questions.

The first one is on Chargeback, and the session leader is Alex Bakman of VKernel.

Link: VMworld: Chargeback Expert Session.

Chargeback_2Learn how to achieve Cost Visibility and implement Chargeback in a
virtualized datacenter. Understand why Cost Visibility and Chargeback
are needed, what organizations need to Chargeback for and discuss when
to begin the process. The advantages and disadvantages of various
Chargeback models will be explored followed by a presentation of how to
calculate Chargeback rates for CPU, memory, storage and network. The
discussion will conclude by reviewing a suggested roadmap for
Chargeback adoption and implementation to help you move forward with
your current project.

You’ll need to register for a free VMworld account, separate from your VMware Communities/VMTN account. You’ll also get access to a white paper and a chargeback calculator spreadsheet. This seems like an interesting way of getting access to industry experts who otherwise don’t often hang around in a community setting.

Capacity Planner, profiling, and offline analysis

Toni Verbeiren has been doing some thinking about capacity planning and Capacity Planner:

Capacity Planning: What to monitor and how to interpret

  • Are you aware of the utilization of your systems?  Even of your workstation?
  • Would you have any idea how many of your servers could be placed on a virtualization platform with a specific set of hardware characteristics?
  • Would you know when your mail server had the hardest time managing inbox the last couple of weeks?

Probably the answer is ‘no’. Maybe the answer is ‘I don’t care’?

Most companies do care, because of several reasons: cost, manageability, flexibility, scalability, environment, space, etc.

A little scripting gives you access to your data offline for more analysis:

And some articles on analyzing performance data:

Weekend reading: new white papers

Six new white papers in the directory:

Virtual Machine Failure Monitoring

VMware® High Availability (VMware HA) monitors your virtual
infrastructure for ESX Server host failures and restarts virtual
machines that are interrupted by those failures on alternate hosts.
Starting with ESX Server 3.5, VMware HA can also detect and handle the
failures of individual virtual machines and respond appropriately based
on your specifications.
With this additional functionality, called Virtual Machine Failure
Monitoring, VMware HA deals with both host operating system and guest
operating system failures.

Firewall Configurations for Backup Clients on ESX Server 3

This document provides information about how to configure connections
between different backup software products and VMware® ESX Server 3
hosts. The document explains how to open predefined firewall ports for
supported backup products and how to open specific ports from a command
line. If the backup product you use requires additional configuration
changes to work with ESX Server 3, the document describes any specific
steps you need to perform.

Round-Robin Load Balancing

VMware® ESX Server 3.5 and ESX Server 3i version 3.5 enhance ESX Server
native multipathing by providing experimental support for round‐robin
load balancing. This technical note explains how round‐robin load
balancing works and how to set it.

Configuring and Troubleshooting N-Port ID Virtualization

N‐Port ID Virtualization (NPIV) is an ANSI T11 standard that describes
how a single Fibre Channel HBA port can register with the fabric using
several worldwide port names (WWPNs). This allows a fabric‐attached
N‐port to claim multiple fabric addresses. Each address appears as a
unique entity on the Fibre Channel fabric.
The primary source of information on configuring NPIV in a VMware
Infrastructure 3 environment is the Fibre Channel SAN Configuration
Guide, available on the VMware Web site.
This technical note provides additional details about certain specific
NPIV configurations and information on diagnostic techniques that may
be helpful as you configure NPIV. It also includes information to help
you understand error messages that may appear as you are working with
NPIV in a VMware Infrastructure environment.

Enabling NetFlow on Virtual Switches

NetFlow is a general networking tool with multiple uses, including
network monitoring and profiling, billing, intrusion detection and
prevention, networking forensics, and SOX compliance. NetFlow sends
aggregated networking flow data to a third‐party collector (an
appliance or server). The collector and analyzer report on various
information such as the current top flows consuming the most bandwidth
in a particular virtual switch, which IP addresses are behaving
irregularly, and the number of bytes a particular virtual machine has
sent and received in the past 24 hours.

VMware OVF Tool

The Open Virtual Machine Format (OVF) is a virtual machine distribution
format that supports sharing virtual machines between products and
organizations. The format facilitates the use of virtual appliances,
which are preconfigured virtual machines that package applications with
the operating system they require. Because OVF runs on multiple
platforms, a virtual appliance is ready to run without significant
additional configuration.

The Why’s and How’s of ESX patching

From the new VMware Security Blog, Nand Mulchandani responds to the article by Ron Oglesby and Dan Pianfetti at virtualization.info about the number of patches that VMware has released for VI3.

Link: VMware Security Blog > ESX patching questions.

Recently there was an article on “Patch Tuesday for VMware”
over at Virtualization.info. It is an interesting article that raised
some questions that we thought we might be able to shed some light on.
The article was more focused on patching and not security alone, but
since patching has now been so closely associated with security, so
I’ll jump in and provide a response on our security blog.

As the article points out, "patching is a necessary evil" – and that the existence of ESX patches should not come as a shock to anyone. So let’s talk about the sinister plan behind the increase in ESX patches. …

You should read the whole thing. (Seriously. Nand explains it well.) One gee-whiz part for me is with the new Update Manager — and even pre-3.5 with just DRS and VMotion — how the end-user and admin experience for VI patches is very much not like MS Patch Tuesday. The other gee-whiz is the percent of patches that have been going to the Red Hat-derived Service Console, which of course with 3i is now  gone.