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Monthly Archives: March 2010

Top 5 Planet V12n blog posts week 12

Week 12 already, time is flying. I picked 5 excellent posts again, well except for Mike's. Mike's article wasn't selected because of the article it self but because of the book he released. The difference between this book and the others Mike did is that it is freely available for download. However a donation to Unicef is appreciated… Read the articles, download the book and make that donation.

  • Mike Laverick – NEW: Administering VMware Site Recovery Manager 4.0
    I’m pleased to announce the general availability of my new book. It’s free to download as a PDF file – and if you prefer a hard-copy you can print a physical copy of the book from LULU.COM. Both the PDF and the hard-copy are available from the LULU.COM website. Some stats:” The book is just short of 100,000 words, 400 pages, Additional 100 pages of text and supporting graphics from the SRM 1.0 book, Additional 3 chapters…
  • Rodney Haywood – Top 5 Best Practices for Architecting "Existing Workloads" for VMware Cloud
    How tidy and efficient is your wide area and local area networking? Is your IP address register up to date? Would you easily be able to break down your subnets based on associated workloads or are the servers intermixed with the addressing for of your other infrastructure such as networking devices, printers or even desktops. Do you fear changing an IP address on a server because you know it will probably bring down your core application, or who knows what?
  • Alan Renouf – vCheck v5
    There is now a handy link to both the VMware KB site and Google which will automatically search for the errors found on these sites, no longer do you have a reason for not investigating those errors !
  • Frank Denneman – ESX4 ALUA, TPGS and HP CA
    VMware addressed this shortcoming and added ALUA support in the new storage stack of ESX4. The ALUA support is a great feature of the new storage architecture, it reduces a lot of extra manual steps of creating a proper load-balanced environment. But how exactly does ALUA identifies which path is optimized and will HP Continuous Access still have an impact on ESX4 environments as well?
  • Arne Fokkema – vSphere: Unattended ESX4 installation Tips & Tricks
    Before you start the post script, you have to wait until the hostd-vmdb service is ready. This is necessary if you want to use the /usr/bin/vmware-vim-cmd command. With the following while loop, you can check the status of the hostd-vmdb service. When the service is ready, the script continues to configure your ESX server.

Top 5 Planet V12n blog posts week 11

I had a lot of catching up to do this week. Due to the VCDX Defenses in Munich I did not have a lot of time to read blog articles during the week. Normally I take 30 minutes every day, at least, to catch up and read the interesting articles my favourite bloggers wrote. This week I had to prep next days sessions. We had eleven candidates and each of them handed in at least 100 pages of documentation(Design, Test Plans, Ops, etc). But I did manage to catch up yesterday and today, after doing this I came up with the following top 5:

  • Scott Lowe – Understanding Network Interface Virtualization
    As the proliferation of virtualization continues, this trend toward increased complexity also continues unabated. How, then, are we supposed to address this? NIV is intended to help address this problem. NIV seeks to remove the complexity from the edge—the NICs and vNICs—and drive that complexity toward the bridges. That is a key underlying principle behind NIV. Look back at the definitions: one characteristic of an IV-capable bridge is that the IV-capable bridge and all of its associated IVs appear to the outside world as a single bridge.
  • Vaughn Stewart – Transparent Storage Cache Sharing– Part 1: An Introduction
    The enabling components of TSCS is the ability within Data ONTAP to deduplicate storage objects (files, LUNs, volumes) and to create zero costs clones of storage objects (files, LUNs, volumes). These storage savings technologies often get 'parroted' quite regularly by some of the vendors offering traditional storage array platforms. For the sake of this discussion I’d like to differ any comparisons around storage savings technologies for a future post where we can spend the appropriate attention required to discuss these technologies inn greater detail.
  • Alan Renouf – Dell ESXi Management
    To help reduce the system footprint and to simplify deployment, the ESXi software does not have a traditional service console management interface where Dell OpenManage agents are installed. Instead, to provide the required hardware manageability, VMware has incorporated the standard Common Information Model (CIM) management profiles into the ESXi software. The CIM framework is an open standard framework that defines how managed hardware elements in a system are represented.The CIM framework consists of CIM providers developed by hardware vendors to enable monitoring and managing of the hardware device. By representing the hardware elements using standard CIM, ESXi provides any management tool (that implements the same open standards) the ability to manage the system.
  • Nicholas Weaer – FCoE Multi-hop: Why Wait?
    Let me visualize it for you. I want you to picture a FedEx Express truck. It has a simple job. It is given packages (frames) and it delivers them to addresses (FC address). Now, the FedEx Company prides itself on reliable delivery. It has all kinds of processes and methods(Flow Control, Classes of service) for ensuring that the truck reaches the address and delivers the packages on time. These methods have been finely tuned specifically for this job.
  • Duncan Epping – Scale Up
    Now it’s not only the associated cost with the impact of a host failure it is also for instance the ability of DRS to load balance the environment. The less hosts you will have the smaller the chances are DRS will be able to balance the load. Keep in mind DRS uses a deviation to calculate the imbalance and simulates a move to see if it results in a balanced cluster. Another thing to keep in mind is HA. When you design for N+1 redundancy and need to buy an extra host the costs associated for redundancy is high for a scale up scenario. Not only the costs associated are high, the load when the fail-over needs to occur will also increase immense. If you only have 4 hosts and 1 host fails the added load on the 3 hosts will have a higher impact than it would have on for instance 9 hosts in a scale out scenario.

Top 5 Planet V12n blog posts week 10

Busy week coming up. A full week of VCDX defenses again. This time we will conduct VCDX Defense interviews in Munich. I think we have over 10 candidates from 6 different countries and I am confident it is going to be fun again. Well at least for the people on the panel :-). No pressure guys… Anyway, before I pack my stuff to fly to Munich I wanted to give you this weeks Top 5. 

  • Jason Boche – vpxd.cfg Advanced Configuration
    vpxd.cfg is an XML formatted file which can be modified to alter the native behavior of the VMware vCenter Server. Sparse references on the internet document the changes that can be made in this environment. Inspired by Ulli Hankeln, the purpose of this blog post is to collect and document all known, unknown, supported, and unsupported vpxd.cfg modifications in a centralized location.
  • Duncan Epping – Reclaiming idle memory
    By default the balloon driver is used to reclaim idle memory. The balloon driver is in fact used as some operating systems only update there internal free memory map. Basically what I am saying is that the hypervisor is unaware of the fact that specific pages are unused as they might still contain data and the GOS(Guest Operating System) will not report to the hypervisor that the pages are not being used anymore. The balloon driver is used to notify the GOS that there is a lack of memory.
  • Dave Convery – vShield Zones – Some Serious Gotchas
    vShield Zones seems to be the perfect solution for this. It works almost seamlessly with vCenter and the underlying ESXi hosts. It provides hardened Linux Virtual Appliances (vShield Agents) to provide the firewalling. It provides a fairly nice management interface to create the firewall rules and distribute them to the vShield Agents. Best of all, IT’S FREE! At least for vSphere Advanced versions and above. Keep in mind, that this is still considered a 1.x release and some things need to be worked out.
  • Frank Denneman – Removing an orphaned Nexus DVS
    When installing the Cisco Nexus 1000V VSM, the VSM uses an extension-key for identification. During the configuration process the VSM spawns a DVS and will configure it with the same extension-key. Due to the matching extension keys (extension session) the VSM owns the DVS essentially.
    And only the VSM with the same extension-key as the DVS can delete the DVS.
  • Eric Sloof – The vmClient 4.0 is released
    The vmClient is a lightweight tool which enables you to control the power of your virtual machines, it’s also capable of presenting the MKS console of your virtual machines. Before you can use the vmClient, you have to install the vSphere client on the same system. After starting the vmClient, you can logon to your vCenter server or individual ESX4 or ESX4i host. A list with available virtual machines will be presented after choosing the Virtual Machines menu item, you can also easily identify the power state of the virtual machines. Grey is powered off, green is powered on, yellow is suspended and red indicates that the virtual machine has an alarm. When you’re working in an RDP session there’s a menu item which can generate a Ctrl-Alt-Del in the guest OS instead of pressing Ctrl-Alt-Ins. The vmClient can run without borders in borderless mode. The menu bar has an option to search for virtual machines, just type in the first characters of your virtual machine name and the list will be filtered.

Top 5 Planet V12n blog posts week 09

A lot of you have been very busy this week, patching ESX hosts(That would be you Jason ;-)) and hopefully reading all the excellent articles being aggregated on Planet V12n…

  • Duncan Epping – CPU/MEM Reservation Behavior
    The above paragraph is a bit misleading , as it seems to imply that a
    VM has to access its full reservation. What it should really say is
    “Memory which is protected by a reservation will not be reclaimed by
    ballooning or Host-level swapping even if it becomes idle,” and
    “Physical machine memory will not be allocated to the VM until the VM
    accesses virtual RAM needing physical RAM backing.” Then that pRAM is
    protected by the reservation and won’t be reclaimed by ballooning or
    .vswp-file swapping. If there is any .vswp memory at all as no .vswp is
    created when the reservation is equal to the provisioned memory.
  • Scott Lowe – PXE Booting VMware ESX 4.0
    Next, you’ll need the PXE boot files. Specifically, you’ll need the menu.c32 and pxelinux.0 files. These files are not on the DVD ISO image; you’ll have to download Syslinux from this web site. Once you download Syslinux, extract the files into a temporary directory. You’ll find menu.c32 in the com32/menu folder; you’ll find pxelinux.0 in the core folder. Copy both of these files, along with vmlinuz and initrd.img, into the root directory of the TFTP server. (If you don’t know the root directory of the TFTP server, double-check its configuration.)
  • Stu Radnidge – Challenge Convention & Garbage In / Garbage Out & Engage Support Early & Engage Support Early
    The notion of GIGO is of course much older than I am, but it’s one of
    those concepts that is timeless. In relation to Cloud, it’s more
    pertinent than ever. The marketing hype would have you believe that
    Cloud is a panacea, and many people hawking their wares artfully dodge
    the subject of your existing tools and processes. But ignore these at
    your own peril. The COO of the company I work for has a great quote,
    which goes something like “God made the earth in 6 days, because he
    started with a clean slate.”. The same is true of internal Cloud (or
    whatever you want to call it – I’m going to call it that for the sake
    of convenience) – you could probably nail down the platform code and
    functionality that you want to launch with in a few weeks, but making
    the requisite changes to existing processes and integrating with
    existing tools in your environment is what will take the lion’s share
    of time to address.
  • Luc Dekens – Counter the self-aware VUM
    Today there was quite a bit of activity on Twitter following Jason Boche’s blog post titled VMware Update Manager Becomes Self-Aware.
    The problem Jason discovered was that the VUM skipped the guests which are hosting the VUM server and the vCenter server. As a consequence you can not select a cluster, select “remediate” and go out for lunch anymore. The resolution was a rather cumbersome and error prone manual procedure.
    But of course PowerCLI can help the human vSphere administrator…
  • Chris Wolf – RSA, Intel, and VMware Take a Big Step Forward in Cloud Security
    In the past, I have talked about this security dilemma in a couple of couple of key areas. First, we need a standardized set of cloud isolation levels. We also need standard metadata (either de facto or industry standard) so that third party audit tools can properly query an application’s relationship to cloud security policy in relation to virtual and physical controls that are in place. I covered those issues in more depth in the post “The Cloud Mystery Machine: Metadata Standards.” In addition, virtual resources need to be able to answer the question “Where are you?” That applies to both the runtime location and data location. It’s important to ensure that data privacy and governance concerns are met, and regulatory compliance issues such as data export restrictions are satisfied.

Foundation for Cloud Computing with VMware vSphere 4

Recently John Arrasjid(@vcdx001), Steve Kaplan(@roidude) and I (@DuncanYB) released a book titled "Foundation for Cloud Computing with VMware vSphere 4". The book as John Arrasjid described it "provides a starting point for
understanding the requirements to design and optimize a virtualized data
center that also serves as the foundation for efficient and safe cloud
computing."

The book is published by USENIX/SAGE and it is the 21st book in the Short Topics series. SAGE is a Special Interest Group of the USENIX Association. Its goal is to serve the system administration community by organizing conferences and training to enhance the technical and managerial capabilities of members of the profession.

Twenty copies of the book have been given away via Twitter and Mark Vaughn was one of the lucky people who won a copy and published a review. Here's an outtake from Mark's review:

Review by Mark Vaughn
This is not a technical manual designed to walk you through a vSphere installation, this is the book that will explain why you need to develop a virtualization strategy and identify the key items that you will need to address in developing that strategy. This book is a must have reference source for people working with virtualization, whether you are deploying it, developing strategies around it, or simply looking for a better understanding of virtualization technologies and strategies.
This is the 21st book in the Short Topics series by USENIX, available on the SAGE website. In fact, I like this book so much that I will probably join SAGE to get access to more of the Short Topics series.