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Monthly Archives: April 2010

Top 5 Planet V12n blog posts week 16

Week 16, no small talks just the facts:

  • Eric Sloof – Online Training – Automating vSphere with the VIX API
    The API 1.10 Beta was released last February; this is the preliminary standalone VIX release that runs with VMware vSphere 4.x. This release also bundles earlier VIX libraries, including the libraries delivered for Workstation and VMware Server. I’ve created a new tool called the vmFilemanager; this tool is completely built on the VIX API 1.10 Beta. It’s not available for download yet, but I’ve recorded a demo which show how to copy files into a virtual machine. The awesome part is that I’ll also show you how easy it is to create such a tool in the free version of Microsoft Visual Basic 2008, AKA the Express Edition.
  • Maish Saidel-Keesing – ESXi Deployment Solution – Part 1 & Part 2
    The idea is basically the same. There is the same kind of client/server framework. The ESXi host is deployed and when completed it notifies (client) a Powershell script (server) of its existence. The script then performs the configuration steps that you define on the new host. I was not satisfied with the results I was getting from the ideas that were posted above. There are some flaws in the process (at least from my point of view) and the flexibility of being able to make changes was minimal. I find that this new approach simplifies things for me and allows for greater flexibility.
  • Scott Drummonds – A Performance Tip for ESX 3.0 and ESX 3.5
    Because hardware assist was once so slow, older versions of ESX would utilize our faster-performing binary translation in many situations. But virtualization assist in today’s processors–and here I am talking about Intel and AMD processors manufactured in the past two years–is generally faster than binary translation. This means your virtual machines running on ESX 3.5 on shiny new processors may not be reaching their full potential performance.
  • Luc Dekens – Find unused portgroups in a cluster
    This cmdlet returns a VMware.VimAutomation.Types.Host.VirtualPortGroup object, which contains a very useful property called Ports. In that property it lists all the guests that are connected to a port on the portgroup. That would be the solution to find unused portgroups, I thought. But while the vSphere Client also shows powered off guests that are connected, the Port property returned by the Get-VirtualPortgroup cmdlet doesn’t.
  • Steve Kaplan – Cloud computing lessons from bacterium
    This private cloud model of Infrastructure as a Service is still in its infancy, but will undoubtedly prove to be very effective for larger organizations which can easily justify the investment in new equipment and software. They also are more likely to have the qualified IT staff available to manage it. Even so, many are likely to utilize some aspects of public cloud computing such as SaaS or hosted disaster recovery.

Top 5 Planet V12n blog posts week 15

What a week. Not only did I start on one of the first cloud engagements in EMEA but also one of the largest clouds was implemented in Iceland and because of this (ash) cloud I got stuck in the UK. I wanted to get the weekly top 5 done in the morning but ended up spending my morning on something else and the afternoon walking around in London. I did manage to squeeze in a couple of minutes this morning to get this article out though, and just before you start reading don't forget the vExpert "awards" for 2010!

  • Richard Garsthagen – unofficial SDK for VMware View
    Welcome to this first part of the ‘unofficial SDK for VMware View”. You might wonder, why “unofficial”? Well, simple, VMware View is one of the few products from VMware that does not have an SDK So if you want to script/program/automate anything against VMware View, you are out of luck. That is, officially you can not.
    VMware View uses Microsoft ADAM (Active Directory Application Mode) to store its data. After a day of googling and puzzling, I was finally able to figure out how to do some of these ADAM calls myself using visual basic and powershell. In this part 1, I want to share 2 beginning powershell scripts with you.
  • Scott Drummonds - Windows Guest Defragmentation, Take Two
    Before I describe the test and its results, I want to share an important point on guest defragmentation. Most of the computer literate are aware that file fragmentation–the separation of logically contiguous pieces of a file–can hurt storage performance. But many may not realize that free space fragmentation is as big of an issue. When free space is fragmented, writes take longer and files are re-fragmented rapidly. PerfectDisk defragments files and free space and the results below benefit from both of these improvements.
  • Stuart Radnidge – Be Agile
    Agility is another buzzword that goes hand in hand with Cloud, but what I’m referring to here is more aligned with Agile as a philosophy or methodology rather than the conventional interpretation (although of the course the 2 are closely linked). Agile is most often used for software projects, so you may initially think it’s a bit strange to use for something that is as much infrastructure as it is software but trust me, it works exceptionally well.
  • Eric Sloof - What’s faster E1000 or VMXNET3 – let’s see what PassMark’s PerformanceTest says
    When both virtual machines are hosted on the same ESX server and only using the “left side” of the distributed virtual switch the network performance is 300% faster. I know these network graphs show details of the TCP/IP network transfer speed (in kilobits / sec) over short period of time and are not really representative, the average network speed may be limited by the LAN card, the CPU or network infrastructure such as firewalls and switches. But I’ve learned two lessons, the VMXNET3 is faster and local ESX traffic outperforms external traffic by 300%.
  • Gabrie van Zanten – [Gestalt] vBlock, great product, just not for you
    What I don’t understand though is where the bottleneck is in a Vblock type 1 to use only 48GB? When starting with 2 chassis there is plenty of memory that could be added before adding a 3rd chassis. CPU shouldn’t be the problem, since the Vblock type 2 blades are the same B-200 blades, all running 96GB RAM and are able to host more VMs per blade than the Vblock type 1. Would storage be the bottleneck? Actually, I doubt that, since adding a 3rd or 4th chassis would put more VMs on the storage and ask more IOPS from the storage, which the Vblock can deliver according to the specs. Then why would the balance be gone when adding more memory? I have no answer on that, I can only say that where 4 chassis with each 6x 48GB + 2x 96GB blades will give me 1920GB RAM, a non-supported config with 3 chassis of 8x 96GB blades would give me 2304GB RAM and thus save me buying that 4rd chassis.

VMware vExpert 2010 applications now open

We're pleased to announce that applications for the vExpert 2010 program are now open. To find out more about the program, and to apply or nominate someone, go to the new vExpert 2010 site. The deadline for application is April 30 at midnight Pacific time.

[There seem to be some temporary caching issues; If you don't see the new vExpert site with the new logo, check back in a bit.]

The vExpert designation is based on your activities in 2009, and lasts for one year.  vExperts from 2009 should reapply for the 2010 program. I encourage everyone interested in participating to fill out the application form, since we don't otherwise have a comprehensive record of all your virtualization evangelism activities in 2009. Of course, if you'd like to nominate someone else, feel free. (Multiple nominations don't count extra, so 'get out the vote' campaigns are not necessary.)

The vExpert program is a way for VMware to acknowledge and help those who 'go the extra mile' and give back to the VMware user community by sharing their expertise and time. vExperts are bloggers, book authors, VMUG leaders, event organizers, speakers, tool builders, forum leaders, and others who share their virtualization expertise.

The first year of our program was 2009, and we designated almost 300 people as vExperts. Among the various activities the vExperts participated in this year were:

  • nomination for private beta programs
  • pre-release product briefings
  • access to conference content vmworld.com
  • featured at a vExpert demo pod at the VMworld Communities Lounge
  • VMworld meeting with Steve Herrod 
  • featured at the Online Virtualization Forum

vExperts also had access to a private community that let them network, share knowledge, and get to know each other. 

We had a great first year to kick this new program off. This year, we have more resources and some amazing plans for 2010. Thanks to everyone who participated in the vExpert 2009 program, and I'm looking forward to working with all of you more closely, and to your continued success. If you have any questions about the process or the program, you can leave a comment here or email us at vexpert@vmware.com.

Apply at the vExpert site. [There seem to be some temporary caching issues; If you don't see the new vExpert site with the new logo, check back in a bit.]

John Troyer
VMware vExpert Program Manager

Top 5 Planet V12n blog posts week 14

It seems that podcasts are getting more popular by the day. I usually don't add them to the top 5 as it's not really a blog post however some of them would deserve it. A couple of weeks I already mentioned Mike Laverick's chin wags and this week I want to give an honourable mention to Virtumania hosted by Rich Brambley and Marc Farley. 

  • Joshua Townsend – Storage Basics – Part VI: Storage Workload Characterization
    You’ll recall that we divide into 1000 to remove milliseconds from the equation, leaving (Seek Latency + Rotational Latency) as the important part of the equation. Rotational latency is based on the spindle speed of the disk – 7.2k, 10k, or 15k RPM for standard server or SAN disks. If we consider the same Seagate Cheetah 15k drive from Part II, we see that rotational latency is 2.0ms. The only way to change rotational latency is to buy faster (or slower) disks. This essentially leaves seek latency as the only variable that we can “adjust”. You’ll also recall that seek latency was the larger of the latencies (3.4ms for read seeks, and 3.9ms for write seeks) and counts more against IOPS capability than does rotational latency. Seeking is the most expensive operation in terms of performance.
  • Rich Brambley – Why Does Cloning A VM From Template Take A Long Time?
    Obviously, the type/performance of the disks, the number of disks, and the type of array makes a huge difference. I should also point out that I am using 8 ms as the value for the seek latency. I’m not as focused on technical accuracy because my point is served without it, but changing this value makes a significant difference as well. If you want technical accuracy and more explanation about some of the numbers to use in the calculator check out these posts on the topic of IOPS and the impact on a virtual environment…
  • Luc Dekens – LUN report – datastore, RDM and node visibility
    When you are running multi-node vSphere clusters, you probably already had the experience that one or more of your LUNs were not visible on all nodes. Now you can try to find out which LUN is missing on which node the hard way through the vSphere client. Or you can use the force of PowerCLI and run a script that will report all this in a handy spreadsheet.
  • Scott Drummonds – Processor Utilization Calculations
    Where things get really confusing is when these results are combined into three system-wide, aggregate utilization numbers, as seen by esxtop’s batch printout. The three utilization types above generated different utilization numbers. Unfortunately esxtop’s batch mode labels these counters slightly differently.
  • Vaughn Stewart – Raising Awareness Around the Misalignment of Data
    Duncan Epping – Aligning your VMs virtual hard disks
    In my opinion there is no need to discuss VMFS alignment. Everyone, and if  you don’t you should!, creates their VMFS via vCenter which means it is automatically aligned and you won’t need to worry about it. However you will need to worry about the Guest OS. Take Windows 2003, by default when you install the OS your partition is misaligned. (Both Windows 7 and Windows 2008 create aligned partitions by the way.) Even when you create a new partition it will be misaligned. As you can clearly see in the diagram above every cluster will span multiple chunks. Well actually it depends

Top 5 Planet V12n blog posts week 13

I almost forget about this one… Although the weekend is officially over it was Easter Monday so I take that as an excuse for being late. Here’s this weeks top 5:

  • Hany Michael – VMware vSphere on IBM BladeCenter H – (Part 1 of 2)
    Due to the insane number of expansion modules/options available in the IBM BladeCenter H, I had to split this post into two parts. In fact, I was initially planning to have around 12 different designs for vSphere on BladeCenter H (yes twelve) but I then I started to shrink and skip some designs to fit as many scenarios as possible in a reasonable two-part article. With that said, the following is by no mean a list of all the possible design scenarios you can achieve with this hardware platform. If you started the “mix and match” game, you may literally end-up with uncountable possibilities!
  • Scott Drummonds – Memory Reservations Drive Over-commit
    What do I mean by “drive over-commitment”? I mean that, when properly used, memory reservations allow a VI admin to optimally pack virtual machines across a cluster’s memory. With properly set reservations, an admin can continue to power on a cluster’s VMs until vCenter’s admission control refuses to allow more. At that point you can know that you the optimal number of virtual machines is on your hosts.
  • Scott Lowe – The View from the Other Side
    Let me make something clear: I’m not advocating against high consolidation ratios. What I’m advocating against is a blind race for higher and higher consolidation ratios simply because you can. Steve’s article seems to push for higher consolidation ratios simply for the sake of higher consolidation ratios. I’ll use a phrase here that I’ve used with my kids many times: “Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.”
  • Chad Sakac – Understanding more about NMP RR and iooperationslimit=1
    So… What did we test? Answers below. BTW – this is still (IMO) a “non ideal” test – as it didn’t show even further scaling in terms of datastores, VMs (which is expected to make IOoperationslimit values even more neutral in a comparison), or under network/port congestion (which is expected to to benefit the adaptive/predictive PP/VE model more in a comparison), but this is a useful set of data. The really weird IOoperationslimit value is what it changed to on ESX reboot (included for completeness)
  • Duncan Epping – What’s the point of setting “–IOPS=1″ ?
    So far none of of the vendors have published this info and I very much doubt, yes call me sceptical, that these tests have been conducted with a real life workload. Maybe I just don’t get it but when consolidating workloads a threshold of a 1000 IOPS isn’t that high is it? Why switch after every single IO? I can imagine that for a single VMFS volume this will boost the performance as all paths will be equally hit and load distribution on the array will be optimal. But for a real life situation where you would have multiple VMFS volumes this effect decreases. Are you following me?