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Monthly Archives: October 2012

vCenter 5.1.0A Readme

I was involved with a document for the release of vCenter Server 5.1.0A which when released I could not find. It wasn’t until I raised this internally that I found where the document was actually listed. This document is a readme for the vCenter 5.1.0A release and contains information that will help with vCenter Single Sign-On design and installation. I thought I would share it here as more than likely you missed it as well.

For reference the file is located in the notes section of the vCenter 5.1.0A download page and I have linked it here

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Connection Timeout when PXE booting HP DL380G7

I recently came across an interesting issue where a customer wasn’t able to successfully PXE boot their HP DL380G7 servers using AutoDeploy.   All attempts to PXE boot would result in a “connection timed out” error.  They opened a support case with HP and verified they had the required updates installed, but despite this they continued to get “connection timed out” errors.

Long story short, when they figured things out they found that the problem was not with the HP DL380G7 servers, the firmware, or the NIC drivers as was initially suspected, but rather it was an issue with Spanning Tree Protocoal (STP) settings on the switch ports.  What the customer discovered was that the timeout was occurring because PortFast had not been enabled on the switch ports.  Once they enabled PortFast the PXE boot worked as expected.

After reading up on the Spanning Tree Protocol and how PortFast works what I learned is that when the ESXi host would power up and begin the PXE boot, the switch port had to go through a STP listening and learning state before transitioning into a forwarding state.  This transitioning through the listening and learning states induced a delay that  caused the PXE boot to timeout.  What PortFast does is causes a switch port to enter the forwarding state immediately, bypassing the listening and learning states, and hence eliminates the delay and avoids the timeout.

In researching this I did a quick search of the VMware knowledge base portal and found KB1003804 which helped me understand a bit more about PortFast and why it’s a good idea to have it enabled, even when you are not PXE booting your vSphere hosts.

Follow me on twitter @VMwareESXi.

Restart virtual machine by HA? Destination: cluster or resource pool?

Recently I received the same questions from multiple customers, if HA restarts a virtual machine will it be placed in the resource pool it belongs or will it be restarted in the root resource pool (cluster-level)?

The answer is that HA will restart the virtual machine in the root resource pool, DRS will move the virtual machine into the correct resource pool once DRS is invoked. As the default invocation period of DRS is 5 minutes, the virtual machine is active at the cluster level for no more than 5 minutes.

What about share values? What if the virtual machine has an large number of shares assigned to it, or maybe worse a low number of shares? During this 5-minute period the relative share value of the virtual machine might dominate the other child objects such as resource pools or its performance might be squeezed by the share values of the other child objects.

To address this situation, HA will “flatten” the share value of the virtual machine before power-on. This flatten process ensures that the virtual machine will get the resources it would have received if it was placed into the correct resource pool. After DRS re-parents the virtual machine and places it in the correct resource pool, the virtual machine will receive the original configured shares again.

Beta Customers Wanted!

VMware currently has a beta program available for the VMware vCenter Support Assistant.  This product is designed to help customers accelerate the support process when they have issues by allowing them to open support cases and automatically collect and send diagnostic information to VMware right from their vSphere client.

There’s a lot of information on the functionality of the VMware vCenter Support Assistant on the TAM blog here.  If interested, you can sign up for the beta here and it will run through from now until mid-December.

vSphere Replication patch released

Some of you may have noticed that vSphere Replication 5.1 has been unavailable to install or upgrade through either VAMI upgrades or the VUM repositories.  We’ve just released which is now available through either mechanism!

There are a few means of upgrading you can choose: Either using the built-in VR Appliance web console upgrade method, or through VUM.

Whichever method you choose, and I’ll show you both in a second, I very strongly recommend you upgrade immediately as this patch fixes some important problems!

To upgrade through the VAMI, you log onto the web console of your VR Appliance,  navigate to the “Update” tab, and click “Check Updates”.

If an update is available, you simply click “Install Updates”.  This will take a few moments to download and install the patch that is needed, and then you reboot your VR Appliance.  That’s it!


To use Update Manager, go to your VUM icon in the vSphere Client.  I usually go to the “Configuration” tab, and click to “Download Now” to force an updated list of patches.  Click on the “VA Upgrades”.  This will show you all VMware Virtual Appliance updates that are available, including, hopefully, the VR Management Server update.


Once you see that it is present, you can simply return home to your “VMs and Templates” section, and make sure that you’ve applied the “VA Upgrade to Latest” baseline to your VR Appliances.

Scan and remediate… and you’re done, fully upgraded!

Again, this fixes a very important problem that led to difficulty recovering a VM if the host that held it at the protected site crashed, or its storage path to the primary vmdk went away.  This fixes that problem, documented in kb 2035929 so please upgrade ASAP!


Snapshots with vCloud Director 5.1

With the release of vCloud Director 5.1, it is now possible to take advantage of snapshots.  This highly requested feature allows you to capture the state of a VM or vApp at a particular point of time.  At a later time, you can then revert back to the snapshot.

This is great for environments where you are performing destructive testing or are experimenting with something as you can quickly return to a baseline.

The snapshot functionality works for both virtual machines and vApps.  In the case of vApps, a snapshot request will create snapshots for all of the virtual machines within that vApp.  It works with both powered on and powered off VMs.  You also have the ability to snapshot the disk and the memory contents as well.

Currently, it does not support multiple snapshots however.  This means that if you have a existing snapshot and then take another, the previous snapshot will be overwritten.  Users of Workstation where one can have a tree of snapshots may find this somewhat limiting, but it can only get better in the future.  Snapshots also do not save the network config.  You’ll notice that after you take a snapshot, the ability for you to change the networking settings is disabled.  The reason for this to avoid any issues where one tries to revert a snapshot back after changes to the network have taken place, thereby causing things not to work.

For a demonstration of the snapshot feature in vCloud Director 5.1, the following short video will show you how easy it is to use.


VSA v5.1.1 Released

An updated version of the vSphere Storage Appliance (VSA) was released yesterday (Oct 25th). This 5.1.1 version is primarily a maintenance release and contains the following fixes as documented in the release notes.

  • While upgrading from VSA 1.0 to VSA 5.1, if you run install.exe without any parameters, the existing VSA 1.0 clusters are deleted. This issue is resolved in this release.
  • The AutoRun application in the VSA 5.1 ISO runs install.exe instead of the Installation and Administration Guide. This issue is resolved in this release. The AutoRun application in the VSA 5.1.1 ISO runs the Installation and Administration Guide.
  • While upgrading from VSA 1.0 to VSA 5.1, if you run the cleanup.bat script with fewer than three parameters, the existing VSA 1.0 clusters are deleted. This issue is resolved in this release. A warning message is now displayed stating that all VSA clusters will be deleted if you proceed.

So if you are considering deploying the VSA, be sure to pick up the 5.1.1 version. Of course, there are bunch of major new features in the 5.1.x release which you can find out here. We also have a bunch of evaluation videos to get you up and running quickly with VSA 5.1.x. And if you want more detail on VSA 5.1.x, there is a whitepaper which contains all the new features.

Get notification of these blogs postings and more VMware Storage information by following me on Twitter: @VMwareStorage

Update to vSphere vCenter Server, version 5.1.0A released

A new version of the vSphere vCenter Server has been released to address some of the issues encountered with various scenarios of deploying and operating the 5.1.0 version. This release is a full version and you can upgrade from 4.0-5.1GA to 5.1.0A

I’ve listed some information specific to the issues resolved however do check out the full release notes for install instructions and a list of known issues with workarounds.

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vCloud Director 5.1.1 Released!

Today, VMware has released vCloud Director 5.1.1.  This minor release has a few important updates, including:

  • The vCD Appliance now has sets net.ipv4.conf.all.rp.filter = 0 in the /etc/sysctl.conf file.  This fixes an issue with a loss of network connectivity that was observed with the 5.1 release.
  • Snapshots were unnecessarily created.  This occurred when fast provisioning was enabled and a copy of a vApp template across datastores was performed.
  • An exception would be generated in cases where an external network was created without any available DVportgroups.  The exception returned would look similar to:

Problem accessing /cloud/. Reason: could not load an entity:

  • Some changes were introduced into the Allocation Model with vCloud Director 5.1 to enable elastic VDCs.  With these changes, some customers had issues if they configured the vCPU to Mhz mapping too low which would result in VM performance issues for some initial VMs in the resource pool as the limit is set too low. If these same customer set the vCPU to Mhz mapping too high it would result in limiting the maximum number of VMs that can be provisioned in the pool significantly.
  • There have been some changes to assist our partners in the development of solutions.  This includes enhancing the ability to insert 3rd party services on VXLAN networks, and other minor fixes.

As usual, the release notes contain a wealth of information that you should take a look at.  You can find the binaries and the documentation at the usual place (https://www.vmware.com/products/vcloud-director/overview.html). Happy upgrading!

Stop vs Pause with vSphere Replication

Something to be aware of with regards to vSphere Replication is how we handle stopping vs pausing replication.  With a pause we temporarily stop shipping differential data to the recovery site, but with a stop we completely stop the replication, remove it from the UI *and delete the recovery data*.

Let’s take a look at this.

Say we have a VM that’s replicated, in this example “TestSRV1”.


We can see the replication in the “Outgoing Replications” tab, everything is looking good.  We can go take a look at the recovery site datastore to see what files are there.


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