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Monthly Archives: November 2008

VMotioning your Service Console?! » Yellow Bricks

Re our post yesterday on ESXi, Duncan dives deeper into one of the tools that VMware is creating so that you don’t have to pop the hood — VMware Infrastructure Management Assistant (VIMA).

Link: VMotioning your Service Console?! » Yellow Bricks.

Some of you might have looked into VIMA
already. Those of you that didn’t please check it out because I expect
this to be the way that VMware is heading. Note, I don’t know if it
really is the way VMware is heading, but a Service Console
with VMotion capabilities sounds like a winner to me. A little birdie
also just told me that APC, the UPS Company, is finishing their VIMA
Compatible UPS software agent!

The cool thing about VIMA is that it includes the RCLI commands, the
Perl toolkit and a logger daemon named vilogd. The last one will be the
topic for this blog. So what does this logger daemon include? The vilogd daemon collects all the logs that are available through the DiagnosticManager VI API:

Keep your VMware ESXi warranty: Don’t break the security shell

ESXi is not your father’s ESX. There is no Service Console, so trying to fit it into the exact same processes that you’re used to with ESX isn’t recommended. I know, I know, you have all those scripts you’re used to running in the console. VMware is building tools to manage and administer your ESXi from outside the box, and while they’re not quite feature complete, they’re well on their way. So don’t pop the hood; it’s welded shut for a reason.

Link: Keep your VMware ESXi warranty: Don’t break the security shell.

Working with VMware ESXi can be frustrating; you’re
not supposed to enable the Dropbear SSH client or use its technical
support mode without the assistance of a VMware support representative.
System administrators, however, may be tempted to use tech support mode
(or enable Dropbear) to fix problems or manage connections on the fly.
Cracking this security shell, however, can void the VMware ESXi
warranty and break support contracts. In this tip, I’ll explain
alternatives that allow you to manage your ESXi virtual machines
without compromising its security — and possibly breaking a support
contract.

Blogs to watch out for: the VMguy

Blogs are a great way learning more about virtualization, getting the best technical tips, and keeping up with the news. (See my last post on Virtualization Alltop.)  One of the nice developments of this year is that we’re seeing more VMware employees blogging.

One of our newest blogs is from Dave Lawrence, a VMware senior systems engineer. He asked for advice as he was starting his blog, and both Mike and I both told him that people come back if you provide value — writing about what you know, so it’s interesting, and posting every day, so there’s something to come back for.

Well, Dave evidently took our advice to heart, because the result is his new blog The VMguy, "Virtualization for the little guy." Dave’s focus is SMB, and I hope he keeps going in that direction, because there’s a dearth of virtualization resources for small business out there, but really the topics so far will be of interest to everybody. Some recent posts:

Which storage protocol is best?

This question is definitely one of the most common that I receive.
"We’re thinking of building a new infrastructure for our virtual
machines, which storage protocol should we use?"  There are two things
to remember for this decision.  Performance and functionality.

HCL Update Recap for the week (btw, new feeds will be coming in that area)

Notable KB Articles from the week

What does 80-cores mean to you?

When you’re running 32-cores in a server how many apps will utilize that
hardware?  Virtualization is the only one.  AMD and Intel’s "arms race"
of processors has left the average software application in the dust.
Most applications in customer’s environments don’t even remotely push
the CPU capacity in the datacenter.  One of the few remaining ways to
utilize these types of processors is virtualization.  If you have not
virtualized as much as you can, keep working towards it.  Remember that
the 4 or 6 core CPU you purchased this year will be end-of-life in 3-5
years.  Perhaps the replacement machine might just have one of the
80-core powerhouses in it.  Then you will be able to migrate all of
your virtual machines to it, without having to modify a thing inside
them.

VMware Converter 4.0 now in beta
White Paper: RVI Performance

Redmondmag.com Reader’s Choice Awards announced

What is Enhanced vMotion Compatibility anyway?

One important factor to note.  In order to enable EVC for a cluster,
you cannot have any virtual machines running on that cluster.  All of
the virtual machines must be powered down (or a clean cluster with no
VMs.)  This protects the stability of the existing VMs.  If you had a
VM running on a host and it changed it’s CPUID while a VM was running,
it would appear to the OS and app that the CPU changed while the VM was
running, thus adding instability just like our original problem above.
Once EVC is enabled for a cluster, there are no more VM outages
required to add additional hosts to that cluster.  …

Another thing to be aware of: the FlexMigration (Intel) and Extended
Migration (AMD) features do not block the actual instructions
themselves.  They only mask what the CPUID instruction reports.  Back
in the 486 days, application programmers would figure out what CPU they
were on by trying different instructions.  Intel formally added the
CPUID instruction in the first Pentium processors in the early 1990’s.
They also recommended that developers use this standard method going
forward to determine CPU functionality.  This is a much better method
as it is much more consistent and reliable.  The point is that it is
possible that there could be code in use today, from the early 1990’s,
that has not been upgraded and does not use the standard CPU checking
with CPUID and tries to determine CPU capability by "trying functions."

Should I buy blades or standalones for my virtualization platform?

VirtualCenter, run it on physical or virtual?

Dave already has it down — a mix of news, tech tips, commentary, and discussion, all inspired by his day job interacting with hundreds of small businesses — and his blog is very worth keeping up with. Please welcome Dave to the virtualization blogosphere.

Continue reading

Another sip from the virtualization firehose

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You should already be aware of Planet VMware and Planet V12n for all your virtualization blog needs — technical tips, industry news, commentary.

But now there’s a new way to scan the best virtualization blogs — virtualization.alltop.com. The Planets present a "river of news" linear reverse chronological aggregation, which is a great way for getting a sense of the last week’s zeitgeist or catching the day’s breaking news, but if your favorite blogger hasn’t updated in the last few days their latest post may get lost in the noise.

Alltop takes a different strategy — their sites give you a grid of blogs and the latest 5 post titles from each. That makes it a good way to check out what’s going on with a particular news source, and since it just includes titles, you can scan pretty quickly. Hover over a topic to get an excerpt.

They also had the good taste to steal liberally from the blogroll at Planet V12n, which shows they have taste. I do think they probably aren’t virtualization experts, because they are definitely missing some feeds. (Like Alessandro at virtualization.info — probably the best-known of all the virtualization blogs…)

Guy Kawasaki was one of the founders of the company, which they liken to a "magazine rack." I thought it was a stupid idea when I saw the first set of topics, but they’re growing on me. The range of Alltop sites are quite wide, but since you’re reading this you might also be interested in the sites covering enterprise and cloud computing.

SRM, it’s just too easy » Yellow Bricks

Duncan over at Yellow Bricks has some words of wisdom for your BCDR project.

SRM, it’s just too easy » Yellow Bricks.

There a whole bunch of SRM projects going on globally where VMware PSO,
the department I work for, is assisting. These projects typically have
a duration of 3 to 9 months, while it seems that with the ease of
VMware Site Recovery Manager this should be a matter of days.

People tend to forget that the most important thing about Distaster Recovery / Business Continuity is the business. You need to know the organisation and IT environment very well before you can even start …

The fact that SRM is so
easy to setup makes it really hard to actually explain to a customer
why a BCDR project will take much longer then he expected.

VI, SRM in a (Workstation) Box

There are a few sets of instructions floating around the Internet on how to run ESX or ESXi inside Workstation 6.5. (Let me Google that for you or just go to xtravirt) Lots of reasons you’d want to do this — for training, testing, lab work, demos, POCs, or even just as a parlor trick to impress your friends. You’ll need recent hardware. Now David Davis has published a nice 14 minute video tutorial on the topic at Petri IT Knowledgebase. Link: Running VMware ESX 3.5 and ESXi in Workstation on your desktop PC.

Site Recovery Manager can be hard to evaluate — you need some shared storage that is going to be replicated and then set up SRM to do all the tricky failover workflow bits. Tomas Ten Dam has laid out a process to set that up in Workstation as well using the NetApp ONTAP simulator: SRM in a Box final release (the complete setup) « Ten Dam. (Looks like you need to be a current NetApp customer to get your hands on it. You should also be able to do this with the EMC Celerra simulator, same conditions apply. Looks like you can do SRM with Lefthand VSA as well, and you can at least do that with a 30-day trial. Has anybody set this up with a free or open source, albeit unsupported, tool? How about a set of virtual appliances?)

Completely new to SRM? Check out this new video (parts 2 and 3 coming soon).

[Update: from Chad Sakac in the comments, the Celerra simulator is available to everybody.]

Communities Podcast Wednesday – open topic

Drop by the Communities Roundtable Podcast tomorrow. It’s an open topic day, meaning we’ll talk about whatever we feel like. We’ll talk about whatever you feel like as well. Listen in and join the conversation.

Some interesting things went on this week. Let’s go over to Planet V12n and see…

Virtualization Team vs. Security Team: It is important to remove the “vs.”!

Rob Randell, one of our security specialists here at VMware, is guest-posting over at Mike D’s blog. (Guys, you’re welcome over here as well.)

Link: Mike D’s Virtualization Blog: Virtualization Team vs. Security Team: It is important to remove the “vs.”!.

Unfortunately, very often this situation is the exception and not the
rule. Many of the customers that I talk to are only talking to me
because they have started a widescale deployment of VMware VI and the
security team gets wind of it once it is well underway or worse some
sort of audit is initiated (PCI, Sarbox, HIPAA, etc…). At this point
the entire architecture needs to be reviewed and very often
rearchitected to meet the necessary security and audit requirements.

See the following article for a great example of this.

(Emphasis mine.) Sounds like a nightmare, so my guess is that you don’t want that to happen to you. Always consult your friendly neighborhood security team first.

Join the VMware Referral Program

We’re pleased to announce a new VMware Referral Program that gives you rewards when you recommend VMware products to others. You can participate even without a blog or website, as we give you the tools to send custom emails or bug your friends on social networks, or if you do have a blog, you can get a spiffy widget like you see on the right, and you can customize what it says. (All rewards through this particular widget go to the Red Cross, by the way.) You’re also giving out a special "friends & family" offer, which at this point is a 10% discount.

You get $10 credit (which can go straight to your PayPal account or to a gift card or charity) every time two VMware Store purchases are made from your referrals. (That $10 number tells me that we expect to moving more copies of Fusion and Workstation than VI Enterprise through this referral, but go crazy selling ESX if that’s what you’re into.) In any case, it’s a great way to spread the word about the solutions you use every day that make your life easier and got you your last promotion.

So sign up now — it takes 3 minutes to get started.

Thank you very much, and I hope you make a bunch of dough.