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Tag Archives: vcenter

Configuring NSX-v 6.2 as a Load Balancer for the vSphere Platform Services Controller

VMware released NSX-v (NSX for vSphere) 6.2 back on August 20, 2015. With its release the NSX team introduced support to use NSX-v as a load balancer for the vSphere Platform Services Controller (PSC) for highly available deployments (Release Notes). This is a key new feature that enables customers to further leverage existing NSX-v deployments to simplify their vSphere infrastructure while providing additional HA capabilities for the PSC. This can be a fairly straightforward undertaking when there is an existing vCenter being used for management (e.g. a management cluster).

There is a second scenario, however, that requires some consideration. What if you’re deploying a new vSphere and NSX-v environment where a management vCenter does not already exist? Romain Decker, a Solution Architect in VMware’s Software-Defined Datacenter (SDDC) Professional Services Engineering team has put together a great blog post on the VMware Consulting Blog that walks through that exact scenario and provides a step-by-step instruction on how to work around this chicken and egg scenario using the ability to easily repoint a vCenter Server to an alternate PSC in vSphere 6.0 Update 1.

To learn more about configuring  NSX-v as a load balancer for the vSphere Platform Services Controller, read Romain’s full blog post at:

Configuring NSX-v Load Balancer for use with vSphere Platform Services Controller (PSC) 6.0

What is vCenter Server Watchdog?

If you’ve done any research into the high-availability options available for vCenter Server 6.0, hopefully you have had a chance to read the VMware vCenter Server 6.0 Availability Guide written in collaboration with Technical Marketing and Global Support Services as well as KB 1024051. And you might have noticed particular sections that refer to the vCenter Server Watchdog. But what exactly is the vCenter Server Watchdog?

Enabled “out of the box” in 6.0, the vCenter Server Watchdog provides better availability by periodically verifying the status of vCenter Server.  It does this in two ways:

  1. The PID Watchdog monitors the processes running on vCenter Server
  • The API Watchdog uses the vSphere API to monitor the functionality of vCenter Server.

If any services fail, the Watchdog attempts to restart them. If it cannot restart the service because of a host failure, vSphere HA restarts the virtual machine running the service on a new host.

That’s sounds slick, right? Well, let’s dive in and take a look at each of these watchdogs in detail. Continue reading

Reconfiguring and Repointing Deployment Models in vCenter Server 6.0 Update 1

In my last blog post, we discussed some of the new features and capabilities found in vCenter Server 6.0 such as how you can quickly and easily update the vCenter Server Appliance 6.0 to Update 1.

Now, it’s time to focus our attention on a two key enhancements found in vCenter Server 6.0 Update 1 – both the appliance and Windows-based form factors:

  • Reconfigure – You can now reconfigure an embedded deployment node to an external deployment model, also known as MxN.reconfigure
  • Repoint – Simplified repointing of a management node in an external deployment model from one external Platform Services Controller to another external Platform Services Controller.
  • repoint

Why is this important?

The reconfiguration enhancement enables you to take an existing embedded deployment and transition it to a more optimal external deployment model – MxN.  There is also the simplified ability to repoint a management node to another Platform Services Controller which enables you to quickly recover from an external Platform Services Controller failure and to distribute load to alternate nodes that are in the same SSO domain.

Before moving forward with either the reconfigure or repoint operations, there is a key set of requirements that you need to meet.

Reconfiguration Requirements

  • The vCenter Server instance must be an embedded deployment model.
  • The target Platform Services Controller must be a replication partner of the existing embedded Platform Services Controller in the same SSO Domain.

Note: In vCenter Server 6.0 Update 1, we only support a single transition from embedded deployment to a external deployment (MxN) model for per SSO domain. See the Known Issues section of the Release Notes for additional details.

Repointing Requirements

  • The vCenter Server instance must be an external deployment model.
  • The target Platform Services Controller must be a replication partner of the existing external Platform Services Controller in the same SSO Domain.

We’ve introduced an update to cmsso-util in vCenter Server 6.0 Update 1. This utility can be found in:

  • VCSA: /bin/cmsso-util
  • Windows: <Drive>:\Program Files\VMware\vCenter Server\bin\cmsso-util

This utility automates the entire process by passing the new required namespace (either reconfigure or repoint) and its arguments.  For example, with the VCSA, the namespaces would be:

  • VCSA: /bin/cmsso-util reconfigure
  • VCSA: /bin/cmsso-util repoint

Okay, so, how do we do it? Well, let’s see both namespace options in action in the vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA). Note that the cmsso-util namespaces and arguments are the same for a vCenter Server 6.0 Update 1 instance installed on Windows.

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Updating vCenter Server Appliance 6.0 to Update 1

Earlier this month, we released vSphere 6.0 Update 1. In this update we introduced some awesome new features for vCenter Server. Let’s take a look at some of these just below:

  • Installation and Upgrade using HTML 5 Installer for VCSA: The following installation and upgrade scenarios are now supported for vCenter Server Appliance using its HTML 5 installer:
    1. An installation using HTML 5 installer with a vCenter Server target is supported.
    2. An upgrade using HTML 5 installer with a vCenter Server target is not supported.
    3. An upgrade using command line with a vCenter Server target is supported.
  • Backup and Restore with External Platform Services Controller: vCenter Server deployments with an external PSC (also called MxN) have support for backup and restoration.
  • Appliance Management User Interface: An all new HTML5-based management interface for the appliance at https://<FQDN-or-IP>:5480. 
  • Platform Services Controller Interface: An all new HTML5-based management interface for the Platform Services Controller at https://<FQDN-or-IP>/psc/.  See my earlier blog on the Platform Services Controller Interface.
  • Interoperability: Virtual SAN and SMP-FT are interoperable.
  • Hybrid Cloud Manager: Hybrid Cloud Manager has been updated for vSphere, and can be accessed directly from the vSphere Web Client.
  • VCSA Authentication for Active Directory: VMware vCenter Server Virtual Appliance has been modified to only support AES256-CTS/AES128-CTS/RC4-HMAC encryption for Kerberos authentication between VCSA and Active Directory.
  • Support for SSLv3: Support for SSLv3 has been disabled by default.
  • Customer Experience Improvement Program: The opt-in Customer Experience Improvement Program (CEIP) provides VMware with information that enables VMware to improve the VMware products and services and to fix problems. When you choose to participate in CEIP, VMware will collect technical information listed below about your use of the VMware products and services in CEIP reports on a regular basis. This information does not personally identify you.

One additional feature that we introduced in vCenter Server 6.0 Update 1 is an in-place process for Updates in a major release (e.g. vCenter Server 6.0 to vCenter Server 6.0 Update 1) instead of the migration-based approach that was required in prior VCSA updates (e.g. vCenter Server 5.5 to vCenter Server 5.5 Update 1).

With these new capabilities — and, of course, resolved issues — there’s been a ton of interest in how to update the VCSA to 6.0 Update 1. So, let’s get started and look at the process…

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VMworld 2015: Extreme Performance Series

Who loves virtual Performance? Who wants to learn more about it?

Everybody of course!

I’m very excited about this year’s Extreme Performance Series mini-track being hosted at VMworld San Francisco and Barcelona. These sessions are created and presented by VMware’s best and most distinguished performance engineers, architects and gurus. I’ve tried to provide my personal thoughts on each session but these few words will never do them justice. Hope too see you all there!

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Let Us Wow You with vSphere 6

Not yet on vSphere 6?  Join us for a webcast to learn why you should be.  Starting June 2nd, 2015 and recurring every other Tuesday at 9AM, join the vSphere product experts to learn what’s new and exciting about vSphere 6!  A different topic will be covered each session and time will be allocated at the end of each webcast for Q&A.

Please always check the latest schedule each week as topics may change and sessions may be added or removed.

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Big Data on vSphere : Two Customer Case Study White Papers Published


Two new white papers are now available on the work done at Adobe on virtualizing Hadoop. The VMware-authored paper,  Adobe Deploys Hadoop as a Service on VMware vSphere, focuses on the business background and justifications for virtualizing the workload. It also talks about implementing Hadoop-as-a-Service by the central Technical Operations function to satisfy the needs of the business units and data analysis groups that require Hadoop as a platform. This paper also gives details about the use of the vSphere Big Data Extensions tool which was used heavily in the project, as well as the connection to vRealize Automation that forms the basis for the cloud offering at Adobe.

The second, complementary white paper, on the same architecture, Virtualizing Hadoop in Large-Scale Infrastructureswas written by the EMC consulting team that supported the project. The EMC paper, with the title “Virtualizing Hadoop in Large-Scale Infrastructures”, focuses on the technical reference architecture for the Proof-of-Concept conducted in late 2014, the results of that POC, the performance tuning work and the physical topology that was deployed using Isilon storage. The two papers were written in concert by the organizations and should be read together for a full picture of the Hadoop virtualization project. This system is now live at Adobe Digital Marketing, hosted on their Virtual Private Cloud and it is being used by different groups within the big data community there. The papers together provide an outline reference architecture for use in other installations also. Watch this space, there are more technical case studies in the works.

Speaking of technical reference material for Hadoop on vSphere, here is the current list of technical papers and websites that are now available for people to learn more about this particular subject – for your reference:

Big Data/Hadoop on VMware vSphere – Reference Materials

Deployment Guides

Reference Architectures

Customer Case Studies

Performance Studies

There are some very useful best practices in the first two technical papers.

vSphere Big Data Extensions (BDE)

Other vSphere Features and Big Data

vSphere 6 Web Client

With the recent announcement of VMware vSphere 6, I can finally start talking about the improvements we’ve made for vSphere 6 Web Client.  Over 100 enhancements, with some user actions performing 5x faster.  There are excel sheets and graphs full of performance data, but the best way to see the difference is to experience it yourself.  If you’ve been wary of using vSphere Web Client in the past, you should give it another shot with vSphere 6.

In my time here I’ve heard of many tips on using Web Client that I didn’t learn during training or while using it directly.  I thought it would be helpful to put all of these learnings in one place.  I’m sure many of you reading this know about some of these tips, but hopefully there are some new ones in there that are helpful to you as well.  This is a living document, so if there are tips and tricks not on the list, please share with the rest of us by adding it to the list.  I should stress that this is not an official VMware document:


Short url: http://tiny.cc/webclientwiki


There are also many enhancements in the vSphere 6 Web Client, some of which are highlighted below:

  • Controlling “All Users’ Tasks” for performance

We know that the All Users’ Tasks view of Recent Tasks is an important feature, but  it also turns out to be an incredibly “heavy” feature, which can quickly spiral out of control and impact vCenter Server performance.  The focus of this version of vSphere Web Client was improving performance and giving you more control on customizing your experience.  In order to achieve both of these goals, we had to make it a bit harder to get to All Users’ Tasks.  This will help ensure that your systems will run smoother out of the box, with the option to enable the feature if you need it.  We are also actively working on a better solution for this feature, but couldn’t get it in time for this release.

You’ll see some instructions when you first select All Users’ Tasks, and more detailed steps are in the Release Notes, but I included them here for reference.  Once you’ve enabled this feature, it becomes the default view:

A) Click More Tasks in the Recent Tasks panel to view all users’ tasks.


B) Edit the webclient.properties file and change the “show.allusers.tasks” setting. For large vSphere environments, changing the “show.allusers.tasks” setting can potentially impact performance.

1. Locate the webclient.properties file

For the vCenter Server Appliance, the file is located in the /etc/vmware/vsphere-client/webclient.properties directory.

For vCenter Server on Windows, the file is located in the C:\ProgramData\VMware\vCenterServer\cfg\vsphere-client\webclient.properties directory.

2. Edit the file using a text editor and change show.allusers.tasks=false to show.allusers.tasks=true.

3. That’s it!  No restart of anything should be required.  Go to vSphere Web Client, select “All Users’ Tasks” and it should work.

  • Many performance enhancements

Performance was the primary goal of this release of vSphere Web Client.  Efforts were made to improve the performance of every portion of the interface, and you should see these improvements when you start using vSphere 6.  Here are some of the major areas we worked on: Login and Home page, Summary pages, Networking pages, Related Objects lists, General Navigation, Performance Charts, Action Menus (right click), and reducing unnecessary data retrieval, which also serves to lighten load on vCenter Server.

The net result is that the vSphere 6 Web Client is an entirely new experience and easier to use than previous versions of vSphere Web Client.

  • Tasks where they belong

This was shown at VMworld, but is worth another mention: The tasks pane is now back at the bottom, giving you room to see the information you need.

Tasks at bottom

This comes along with the ability to move and resize panes (we call this Dockable UI), allowing you to customize it to your liking, such as below where Alarms and Work in Progress have been moved to provide a larger workspace.

Dockable UI

  • Reorganized Action menus (right click)

Action menus have been reorganized and flattened so that your actions are easier to find, and placed more familiarly.  It should be much easier to pick up as you transition from the old desktop client to vSphere Web Client.

Action Menus

  • Home menu navigation

The new and improved home button now shows a navigation menu which allows you to jump from wherever you are to one of the common views.  You can now get back to any of the major inventory trees from anywhere in one click!


I hope this overview encourages you to upgrade your existing vCenter Servers to vSphere 6 so that you can experience these improvements (and more!) that we’ve made.

New Release: vCenter Server 5.5 Update 2d

Today VMware released an update to its vCenter Server management solution.

vCenter Server 5.5 Update 2d | 27 JAN 2015 | Build 2442329
vCenter Server 5.5 Update 2d Installation Package | 27 JAN 2015 | Build 2442328
vCenter Server Appliance 5.5 Update 2d | 27 JAN 2015 | Build 2442330

Please make sure to review the release notes and download from vmware.com

While this is a minor release it does resolve many issues previously experienced as summarized here:

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Performance Unplugged: vCenter Performance

Welcome to a new video series I’ve titled “Performance Unplugged”

In this video series, I’ll showcase a number of talented performance gurus and cover commonly asked questions and topics. Performance of the Software-Defined Datacenter should no longer be a concern for customers and we’ll explain why. Links to the latest information pertaining to the topic will also be provided.

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