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Monthly Archives: July 2008

ESXi is where it’s at: Community Roundtable podcast #11

Once again we assembled from across the planet to bring you the most in-depth, interesting virtualization-related conversation you’ll hear today, although I suspect you can come close at VMworld. VMware Communities Roundtable #11 was focused on the newly-free ESXi. Charu Chaubal was our guest. Listen via the widget on the right, mp3 file, iTunes feed, or podcast feed. (1:09 duration)

By the way, if you are a blogger and would like to talk directly with the ESXi team to write up something for your blog, drop me a line (jtroyer at vmware) and I’ll see what I can do.

Still wondering about ESXi? Webinar, more resources

I hope by now you’ve heard the news – VMware ESXi is available free for the downloading. Download ESXi right now.

If you’re still a little fuzzy on what that all this implies or how to get going check out this webinar: VMware ESXi: The Easiest Way to Get Started with Virtualization. It starts in about 12 hours, Tuesday 9am PDT, but it will be available as a recording afterwards if I haven’t caught you in time.

We’ll also be talking about ESXi at our weekly VMware Communities Roundtable podcast on Wednesday, so keep an eye out for that if you’re of the podcast persuasion.

More ESXi links for you:

  • Free ESXi resources (VMware Communities)
  • For $50, we offer some self-guided ESXi training. (via NTPRO.NL)
  • The folks at Slashdot like ESXi (Not much new here if you’re already a VI user, but looking at the comments, I predict it will now become easier to educate people about the differences between a hosted virtualization platform like VMware Player/Server/Fusion and ESX/ESXi now that we have products in both camps that are free as in beer.)
  • Jason Perlow at ZDNet had to get the right local storage to get ESXi running, but if you check out Dave Mishchenko’s ESX 3.5 and 3i White boxes and working SATA controllers, you’ll find you shouldn’t have to shell out for a RAID controller to get a white box going, and it’ll get easier over time as the HCL widens. (I also question Jason’s closing off-hand comment about performance, because ESXi is the real-deal virtualization engine that is in the full VI3 suite.)
  • Looks like Dugie will be walking us through step by step.
  • David Davis: How do you install ESX Server 3i (ESXi)
  • ESXi forum @ VMware Communities

Hmm, I think I saw a nice ESXi installation tutorial the other day with lots of screenshots, but can’t seem to locate it at the moment — well, don’t worry, because it’s actually really simple, but everybody is   welcome to add any other useful ESXi links in the comments to this post.

VI Toolkit (the PowerShell one) $5K contest + GA

[Update: mark your calendars for the VI Toolkit (for Windows) webinar on August 7.]

I think I’ve made it clear that I believe the VI Toolkit (for Windows) is one of the most powerful tools VMware has ever made for VI admins. It’s designed at just the right level of abstraction that lets a VI admin carry out commands with a very natural syntax — the commands and objects you want are just right there. It’s built on a technology (PowerShell) that is a damn powerful scripting language that lets you pipe objects between scripts, er, cmdlets. And it’s built on top of the VI SDK, which is enormously powerful (and complicated!), basically giving you access to everything that VC and the VI Client can do. And of course, you’re accessing the most powerful, robust, and complete hypervisor in existence.  I will have to admit that the name isn’t my favorite and is
(pretty) awkward to say (and type), and doesn’t even mention
PowerShell, but we won’t hold that against poor little VI Toolkit (for Windows). Once you put that stack all together, in just a few lines of code, you will find you now have amazing VI super powers.

So first of all, although it leaked out earlier this week, the VI Toolkit (for Windows) 1.0 is truly and officially now generally available. Even if you don’t normally consider yourself a scripter, every VI admin should check this out.

And I also think the team has done a great job connecting with the community, both at the VI Toolkit (for Windows) forum here at the VMware Communities, as well as with the greater PowerShell community. Lots of excitement, lots of contributed code, books on the way. People were blogging about this even before the NDA was lifted (I’m looking at you, Sloof), and product manager Carter Shanklin has gone out and connected, podcasted, and social networked his way around the world. (If any social media types are reading this, there’s a case study here.)

When you release an enablement tool like this, part of its process of creation is the co-creation together with the community — ok, here are the raw commands, now what can you do with it? What problems can you solve? How easy can you make it? Is the itch you need to scratch one of reporting, provisioning, maintenance? Something complex with one ESX server or something automated with dozens? To that end, Carter and Pablo scared up some extra cash and have announced the VI Toolkit (for Windows) PowerShell Scripting Contest.

 

The first prize is a trip to VMworld 2008 in Las Vegas; second prize is a MacBook Air; and third prize is an XBox 360 Elite. Or you can take the cash and run. They’re looking for realistic, elegant scripts that solve real world VI administrative problems. The deadline is August 30, so if this is up your alley, go ahead and get started. The worst thing that could happen is that you learn a lot more about VI Toolkit (for Windows), and I guarantee you that will not be bad for your career.

Good luck!

[Update: mark your calendars for the VI Toolkit (for Windows) webinar on August 7.]

Performance, performance, performance: Roundtable #10 podcast

The always-informed and always-informing Scott Drummonds joined us again on the VMware Communities Roundtable this week. Here are some of the topics we talked about. Listen by clicking the button on the right, downloading the VMware Communities Roundtable mp3 (52:48), or subscribing to the VMware Communities podcast RSS feed or VMware Communities podcast iTunes feed.

Why you should know the VIX API – new VIX API Blog

If you’re at all interested in scripting and automated ways to manage your VMware Infrastructure (lazy? I prefer to use the term ‘efficient’), you should already be getting familiar with the VI Toolkit (for Windows) that uses PowerShell to smash everything in its path, currently in beta. The crew over there have made an amazing tool, and the community continues to dream up new ways to use it.

But since we have a full toolbox, and since all problems are not solved with a hammer, let’s not forget about some other finely crafted implements that our product teams have created. Last week Carter Shanklin kicked off the new VIX API Blog, with a good intro on why you’ll want this crowbar — guest accessbility.

Link: VMware: VIX API Blog: What is VIX and why does it matter?.

If you’ve used the VI API,
you’re probably wondering why you should look at VIX. The reason is
pretty simple, the VIX API provides critical functionality that the VI
API lacks, for instance:

  1. VIX allows you to copy files in and out of guests.
  2. VIX allows you to start and stop processes within guests.
  3. With a bit of trickery you can run programs in the guest and get their output (more on this in another post).

In short, VIX allows you to treat the VM as more than just a black box, something none of the other APIs can do today.

Benefits of VMFS: new VMware Storage Blog

We welcome the newest blog on the block, the VMware Storage Blog. Scott Davis starts us off with a closer look at VMFS and its benefits.

Link: VMware: VMware Storage Blog: VMware’s "Proprietary" Clustered File System.

  1. VMware’s instant one click provisioning, including storage.
    Quick, easy provisioning of a new VM, OS and application that does not
    require physical storage LUN provisioning.
  2. Mobility/Portability. i.e Vmotion and storage Vmotion. In a virtual
    world, workloads should be abstracted from, not beholden to, physical
    storage. Just like they should be abstracted from physical servers.
  3. Encapsulation and HW Independence. VMs should be entirely
    encapsulated from the physical world. This simple, but critically
    important facet of virtualization unleashes the power of virtual
    infrastructure. For an example, look at VMware’s new Site Recovery
    Manager that enables DR solutions that no longer require identical
    hardware (and software) configurations at each site.
  4. Reduced complexity. SAN management is hard, complicated work. Why shouldn’t it be simplified?

The take-home? Eliminating the complexity of physical shared storage,
while still allowing you to access the physical disk if needed.

The new VMware Storage Blog joins the VMware Networking Blog and VI Team Blog in getting you your regular dose of VI news and helping you gain a greater understanding of virtualization.

Virtualizing Sharepoint – 74% power savings | Virtual Geek

Link: Virtual Geek: Virtualizing Sharepoint – How about saving 74% of your power?.

Now on to another "Tier 1 app"….
Sharepoint is another great app, and a great app to virtualize since
it’s one that often has a lot of server components (like like Exchange
2007) and people were asking about our experiences running it on
VMware.   Curious?   Read on….

 

The results:

In terms of
performance, (omitting the SQL backend – which has been virtualized in
other tests showing EXCELLENT performance), across 3 baseline tests, on
average:

  • Our Virtualized SharePoint server infrastructure farm out-performed the physical SharePoint farm by 4%,
  • But only used 26% of the electrical power (watts) required to power the physical server infrastructure – put another way, that’s a 74% power saving over physical, put yet another way, going physical means 380% more power.   
  • 1017 Watts versus 3952 Watts. 6 Power cords versus 22

Chad also points out where to get more juicy case studies (well, refererence architectures) and us with this question of the day:

"Why
would anyone deploy in physical vs. VMware (except the obvious "it’s
not a supported guest OS type" or it’s "not an x86-64 workload")."

Podcast grab bag: VMware Communities Roundtable #9

Another Wednesday, another VMware Communities Roundtable Podcast. This week we talked about

Listen over there on the right, or download the mp3. (52:46)

More podcasts (and here).

Update to VI3 Security Hardening Guide | VMware Security Blog

Link: VMware: VMware Security Blog: Update to VI3 Security Hardening Guide.


Update to VI3 Security Hardening Guide

We have recently released an update to the VI3 Security Hardening guide.  The main changes are:

  • new content for ESX 3.5 and VirtualCenter 2.5, including VirtualCenter plug-ins
  • a section specific to hardening for ESXi.
  • new sections for VM configuration as well as client software
  • a greater level of depth for the existing recommendations

And if you missed it, see also: DMZ Virtualization with VMware Infrastructure.

VMware is Storage Protocol Agnostic | VI Team Blog

Link: VMware: VI Team Blog: VMware is Storage Protocol Agnostic.

Which storage protocol to choose?

The most common storage related questions we are being asked today are:

  • What is the best choice for running VI3 on shared storage?

  • Should we use Fibre Channel (FC), iSCSI or NFS?

The answer to these questions will depend on a number of variables
and as such the same answer will not be the same for each environment.
VMware currently supports deployment of VI3 on all three of those
storage protocol choices, as well as on local ESX server storage, and
is focused on enabling customers to be successful at leveraging the
benefits each of those choices available for the virtualization
environment. Although differences exist in which VMware features and
functions are available on them, the current approach is to remove as
many of those differences as possible so that customers can have more
choices available to them.