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RUSH POST: VMware Tools and RSS Incompatibility Issues

UPDATE:

We have just released a new version of the VMware Tools which fixes the issue described in this post (below).

Please download and install this version of the VMware Tools, especially if you are using the VMXNet3 vNIC type for your Windows VMs.

We thank you very much for your patience and understanding while we worked on fixing this problem.

From the Release Notes:

Receive Side Scaling is not functional for vmxnet3 on Windows 8 and Windows 2012 Server or later. This issue is caused by an update for the vmxnet3 driver that addressed RSS features added in NDIS version 6.30 rendering the functionality unusable. It is observed in VMXNET3 driver versions from 1.6.6.0 to 1.7.3.0.

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“RAC” n “RAC” all night – Oracle RAC on vSphere 6.x

“I wanna “RAC” and “RAC” all night and party every day” – mantra of an Oracle RAC DBA.

Much has been written , spoken and probably beaten to senseless 🙂 about the magical “Multi-writer” setting and how it helps multiple VM’s share vmdk’s simultaneously for Clustering and FT used cases.

I still get question from customers interested in running Oracle RAC on vSphere about if we have the ability to add shared vmdk’s to a RAC cluster online without any downtime ? Yes we do. Are the steps of adding shared vmdk’s to an extended RAC cluster online without any downtime the same? Yes.

 

Introduction

By default, the simultaneous multi-writer “protection” is enabled for all. vmdk files ie all VM’s have exclusive access to their vmdk files. So in order for all of the VM’s to access the shared vmdk’s simultaneously, the multi-writer protection needs to be disabled.

The below table describes the various Virtual Machine Disk Modes:

As we all are aware of , Oracle RAC requires shared disks to be accessed by all nodes of the RAC cluster.

KB Article 1034165 provides more details on how to set the multi-writer option to allow VM’s to share vmdk’s. Requirement for shared disks with the multi-writer flag setting for a RAC environment is that the shared disk is

  • has to set to Eager Zero Thick provisioned
  • need not be set to Independent persistent

While Independent-Persistent disk mode is not a hard requirement to enable Multi-writer option, the default Dependent disk mode would cause the “cannot snapshot shared disk” error when a VM snapshot is taken. Use of Independent-Persistent disk mode would allow taking a snapshot of the OS disk while the shared disk would need to be backed up separately by a third-party vendor software.

Supported and Unsupported Actions or Features with Multi-Writer Flag:

**** Important ***
•    SCSI bus sharing is left at default and not touched at all in case of using shared vmdk’s
•    It’s only used for RAC’s with RDM (Raw Device Mappings) as shared disks

 

Facts about vmdk and multi-writer

Before version 6.0, we had the ability to add vmdk’s with multi-writer option to an Oracle RAC online , the only caveat was that this ability was not exposed in the vSphere Web/C# Client .We had to rely on PowerCLI scripting to add shared disks to an Oracle RAC Cluster online.

Setting Multi Writer Flag for Oracle RAC on vSphere using Power Cli
https://blogs.vmware.com/apps/2013/10/setting-multi-writer-flag-for-oracle-rac-on-vsphere-without-any-downtime.html#more-864

http://www.virtuallyghetto.com/2015/10/new-method-of-enabling-multiwriter-vmdk-flag-in-vsphere-6-0-update-1.html

With vSphere 6.0 and onwards, we can add shared disks to an Oracle RAC Cluster online using the Web Client.

 

Key points to take away from this blog:
•    VMware recommends using shared VMDK (s) with Multi-writer setting for provisioning shared storage for ALL Oracle RAC environments (KB 1034165)
•    vSphere 6.0 and onwards, we can add shared vmdk’s to an Oracle RAC Cluster online using the Web Client
•    Prior to version 6.0, we had to rely on PowerCLI scripting to add shared disks to an Oracle RAC Cluster online

 

Example of an Oracle RAC Setup

As per best practices, the 2 VM’s, ‘rac01-g6’ and ‘rac02-g6’ , part of the 2 node Oracle RAC setup was deployed from a template ‘Template-12crac’.

The template has 10 vCPUs with 64 GB RAM with OEL7.3 as the operating system.

The template has 2 vmdk’s, 50GB each on SCSI 0 controller (Paravirtual SCSI Controller type)
•    Hard disk 1 is on SCSI0:0 and is for root volume (/)
•    Hard disk 2 is on SCSI0:1 and is for oracle binaries (/u01 for Grid and RDBMS binaries)

Hard Disk 1 (OS drive) & Hard Disk 2 (Oracle /u01) vmdk’s are set to
•    Thin Provisioning
•    No Sharing i.e. exclusive to the VM
•    Disk mode is set to ‘Dependent’

Template has 2 network adapters of type VMXNET3.
•    Public adapter
•    Private Interconnect

Public Adapter:

Private Interconnect:

Lets add a shared vmdk of size say 50GB to both the VM’s online without powering down the VM’s.

Add shared vmdk to an Oracle RAC online

1. Adding shared disks can be done online without downtime.

2. Add a PVSCSI Controller (SCSI 1) to RAC VM ‘rac01-g6’. Right Click on ‘rac01-g6’ , ‘Edit Settings’ and add New Controller of Type ‘Paravirtual’

Leave the SCSI Bus Sharing to ‘None’ (default)

3. Next step is to add a 50 GB shared vmdk to VM ‘rac01-g6’  to SCSI1:0 bus slot ( you can add the new vmdk it to any slot on SCSI 1 you want to)

Right Click on VM ‘rac01-g6’ and Choose ‘Edit Settings’. Choose ‘New Hard Disk’ ,  set Sharing to ‘Multi-writer’ , leave Disk mode to ‘Dependent’ and click ‘Add’. Click ‘OK’ and monitor progress.

4. Repeat Step 2 to add new ‘Paravirtual’ Controller SCSI 1 to RAC VM ‘rac02-g6’

5. . The new vmdk (vmdk with multi-writer option) created on VM ‘rac01-g6’ at SCSI1:0 bus slot needs to be shared with ‘rac02-g6’ VM for clustering purpose

6. Right Click on VM ‘rac02-g6’, Choose ‘Edit Settings’. Choose ‘Existing Hard Disk’ and Click ‘Add’.

7. Navigate to your Datastore [Group06], expand the Datastore contents and click on ‘rac01-g6’ folder. Click on the shared vmdk ‘rac01-g6_2.vmdk’ which was created on ‘rac01-g6’. Click ‘OK’

8. Note that the Sharing attribute for this vmdk needs to be set to ‘Multi-Writer’ and the SCSI controller set to the same SCSI controller as we did for ‘rac01-g6’ i.e SCSI1:0. Click ‘OK’ when done.

9. Scan the bus on the OS of both VM’s to see the new disk added and list the devices

[root@rac01-g6 ~]# fdisk -lu

Disk /dev/sda: 53.7 GB, 53687091200 bytes, 104857600 sectors
Units = sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disk label type: dos
Disk identifier: 0x00098df2

Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
/dev/sda1   *        2048     2099199     1048576   83  Linux
/dev/sda2         2099200   104857599    51379200   8e  Linux LVM

….
Disk /dev/sdc: 53.7 GB, 53687091200 bytes, 104857600 sectors
Units = sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
[root@rac01-g6 ~]#

[root@rac02-g6 ~]# fdisk -lu
Disk /dev/sda: 53.7 GB, 53687091200 bytes, 104857600 sectors
Units = sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disk label type: dos
Disk identifier: 0x00098df2

Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
/dev/sda1   *        2048     2099199     1048576   83  Linux
/dev/sda2         2099200   104857599    51379200   8e  Linux LVM
….
Disk /dev/sdc: 53.7 GB, 53687091200 bytes, 104857600 sectors
Units = sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
[root@rac02-g6 ~]#

10. Partition Align the shared disk (/dev/sdc) on ‘rac01-g6’ (do this on one node only) using the fdisk / parted utility / tool of your choice) :

11. After partition alignment:

root@rac01-g6 ~]# fdisk -lu /dev/sdc
……
Disk /dev/sdc: 53.7 GB, 53687091200 bytes, 104857600 sectors
Units = sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disk label type: dos
Disk identifier: 0x4402e64c

Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
/dev/sdc1            2048   104857599    52427776   83  Linux
[root@rac01-g6 ~]#

[root@rac02-g6 ~]# fdisk -lu /dev/sdc
…..
Disk /dev/sdc: 53.7 GB, 53687091200 bytes, 104857600 sectors
Units = sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disk label type: dos
Disk identifier: 0x4402e64c

Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
/dev/sdc1            2048   104857599    52427776   83  Linux
[root@rac02-g6 ~]#

As we can see, we have now added a shared vmdk of size 50 GB to both VM’s without any downtime online.

The rest of the steps to create the Oracle RAC is exactly the same as shown in the Oracle documentation
https://docs.oracle.com/database/122/CWSOL/title.htm

########
Summary
########
Key points to keep in mind:

  • VMware recommends using shared VMDK (s) with Multi-writer setting for provisioning shared storage for ALL Oracle RAC environments (KB 1034165)
  • vSphere 6.0 and onwards, we can add shared vmdk’s to an Oracle RAC Cluster online using the Web Client
  • Prior to version 6.0, we had to rely on PowerCLI scripting to add shared disks to an Oracle RAC Cluster online

Best Practices needs to be followed when configuring Oracle RAC environment  which can be found in the “Oracle Databases on VMware – Best Practices Guide”

https://www.vmware.com/content/dam/digitalmarketing/vmware/en/pdf/solutions/vmware-oracle-databases-on-vmware-best-practices-guide.pdf

All Oracle on vSphere white papers including Oracle licensing on vSphere/vSAN, Oracle best practices, RAC deployment guides, workload characterization guide can be found in the url below
Oracle on VMware Collateral – One Stop Shop
https://blogs.vmware.com/apps/2017/01/oracle-vmware-collateral-one-stop-shop.html

CenturyLink Transforms SAP Deployment Model with VMware Virtualization

CenturyLink SAP

We recently worked with CenturyLink, one of the largest telecommunications companies in the United States, to optimize their virtual SAP HANA solutions. The outcome is below referenced success story, where CenturyLink describes how they use the VMware platform, to provide a customized private cloud for SAP applications, including SAP HANA in less than 28 days, with no compromise on performance.

A SAP infrastructure project duration of 28 days may not sound so fast, but remember, this is a for a completely customized SAP private cloud solution and not just some standard, simple SAP HANA instances running somewhere in the public cloud, as a test or development system. Regarding CenturyLink, customers can deploy new SAP workloads up to four times faster, compared to in-house implementations, where these deployments typically take over 100 days!

Deploying a complete SAP landscape includes several systems like SAP Solution Manger, SAP Gateways, load balancers, several applications servers and finally the SAP HANA database. All these systems need to get configured, patched up to the latest software release level and connected by maintaining highest security standards. All this will get done, if wished, by CenturyLink.

Beside faster time to market, CenturyLink can utilize templates and repeatable processes, which helps it easily standardize and scale its offering while managing costs, complexity, and risks. This all leads to CapEx savings of up to 60 percent and OpEx savings in a similar range for CenturyLink customers. For instance, as an SAP HEC partner, CenturyLink had to deploy without SAP HANA VMware vSphere virtualization, 20 physical server systems to support 20 independent SAP HANA systems in the past. Now they deploy a VMware cluster of 8 hosts to support these 20 SAP HANA instances, including HA, which is a HW reduction by 12 hosts or 60 percent. 60 percent less power and cooling costs, rack space savings and reduced HW maintenance costs are only the more comprehensible cost savings realized. Additionally, to this the easier operation of a virtual, software defined environment, are major, long-term, cost saving factors.

These are the reasons why CenturyLink wants to go one step further towards a fully software defined data-center and plans to implement a VMware Virtual SAN™ based hyper-converged infrastructure ready to run even the more demanding SAP workloads.

For more information please review the success story posted here:

To be “RDM for Oracle RAC”, or not to be, that is the question

Famous words from William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet. Act III, Scene I.

This is true even in the Virtualization world for Oracle Business Critical Applications where one wonders which way to go when it comes to provisioning shared disks for Oracle RAC disks, Raw Device Mappings (RDM) or VMDK ?

Much has been written and discussed about RDM and VMDK and this post will focus on the Oracle RAC shared disks use case.

Some common questions I get talking to our customer who are embarking on the virtualization journey for Oracle on vSphere are

  • What is the recommended approach when it comes to provisioning storage for Oracle RAC or Oracle Single instance? Is it VMDK or RDM?
  • What is the use case for each approach?
  • How do I provision shared RDM (s)  in Physical or Virtual Compatibility mode for an Oracle RAC environment?
  • If I use shared RDM (s)  (Physical or Virtual) will I be able to vMotion my RAC VM ’s without any cluster node eviction?

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Streamlining Oracle on SDDC – VMworld 2017

Interested to find out how to streamline your Business Critical Applications on VMware Software-Defined Datacenter (SDDC) seamlessly?

Come attend our session at VMworld 2017 Las Vegas on Thursday, Aug 31, 1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. where Amanda Blevins and  Sudhir Balasubramanian will talk about the end to end life cycle of an Application on VMware SDDC.

This includes provisioning, management, monitoring, troubleshooting, and cost transparency with the vRealize Suite. The session will also include best practices for running Oracle databases on the SDDC including sizing and performance tuning. Business continuity requirements and procedures will be addressed in the context of the SDDC. It is a formidable task to ensure the smooth operation of critical applications running on Oracle, and the SDDC simplifies and standardizes the approach across all datacenters and systems.

Signup for our session here
https://my.vmworld.com/scripts/catalog/uscatalog.jsp?search=virt1625bu&showEnrolled=false

Oracle on vSAN HCI – VMworld 2017

Interested to find out how VMware HCI vSAN solution provides high availability, workload balancing, seamless site maintenance, stability, resilience, performance and cost effective hardware required to meet critical business SLA’s for running mission critical workloads?

Come attend our session at VMworld 2017 Las Vegas on Wednesday, Aug 30, 2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. where Sudhir Balasubramanian and Palanivenkatesan Murugan will talk about the VMware HCI vSAN solution for Mission Critical Oracle workloads

This session will showcase deployment of Oracle Clustered and Non Clustered databases along with running IO intensive workloads on vSAN and also talk about seamlessly running database day 2 operations like Backup & Recovery, Database Cloning , Data Refreshes , Database Patching etc using vSAN capability.

Signup for our session here
https://my.vmworld.com/scripts/catalog/uscatalog.jsp?search=STO1167BU&showEnrolled=false

Application Workload Guidance and Design for Virtualized SAP S/4HANA® on vSphere (Part 4/4)

In part 1 we introduced the concept of SAP HANA Application Workload guidance and using example business requirements to come up with a workload and vSphere cluster design for the SAP environment. In part 2  we looked at storage, network and security design for the proposed customer environment. In part 3 we looked at monitoring & management, backup/recovery and disaster recovery for SAP S4/HANA.  In this final part we look at validating the design we built over the past three parts and conclude the four part blog series.

SAP S/4HANA Design Validation

Validation of an SAP design is often difficult because of the absence of publicly available validation and performance tools. This design utilizes best practices derived from vendor testing conducted in SAP labs. The SAP HANA database tier is critical to the infrastructure and must be validated. So as part of this SAP S/4HANA VVD solution, some SAP standard validation tools were used to exercise the designed infrastructure.

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Application Workload Guidance and Design for Virtualized SAP S/4HANA® on vSphere (Part 3/4)

In part 1 we introduced the concept of SAP HANA Application Workload guidance and using example business requirements to come up with a workload and vSphere cluster design for the SAP environment. In part 2  we looked at storage, network and security design for the proposed customer environment. In this part we will look at monitoring & management, backup/recovery and disaster recovery for SAP S4/HANA.

SAP S/4HANA Monitoring and Management

Nearly every component of the IT stack contributes to application performance, which can make it challenging to identify the cause of issues when they arise. For many organizations, a lack of visibility can lead to mean-time-to-innocence hunts that waste time and create alert storms that drain the productivity of business teams. With a complex application such as SAP S/4HANA, performance issues can be even more difficult to specify because the application requires resources from the virtual environment, the network, and databases. However, integrating monitoring into a single console—such as VMware vRealize Operations Manager  can provide visibility into SAP workloads and other IT relationships to impact performance.

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Application Workload Guidance and Design for Virtualized SAP S/4HANA® on vSphere (Part 2/4)

In part 1 we introduced the concept of SAP HANA Application Workload guidance and using example business requirements to come up with a workload and vSphere cluster design for the SAP environment. In the second part we will look at storage, network and security design for the proposed customer environment.Availability Design

The availability design depends on the single point of failure (SPOF) analysis of components. There are components in the SAP infrastructure that are one of a kind and are potential SPOFs; other components are capable of having multiple instances for load balancing and availability.

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Oracle on VMware vSphere & vSAN – Asks the Oracles

In the last post, we endeavored to explain how to go about an Oracle Licensing Audit effectively by meticulously collecting all artifacts needed for the audit.

We recommend as artifacts, Proof of Compute Enclosure and Audit Trail entries as part of the lists of artifact to collect and store for at least 2-3 audit cycles.

We also concluded that Oracle Licensing Audit should not be taken lightly just as you would for any other software vendor but not special and one does not have to fear it.

This post endeavors to highlight the typical questions customers might have in their minds after reading articles on internet or talking to other colleagues or questions they might have encountered talking to licensing auditors.

 

Oracle Licensing Journey

During the course of my career as an Oracle DBA and Architect working on Oracle technologies, Oracle licensing was one of the facets of a DBA life I had to go through and really , nothing has changed much.

Working as the Oracle Technologies pre-sales Lead in VMware since 2012 and being the lead Oracle pre-sales field guy, talking to customers and clarifying their questions about Oracle licensing on VMware SDDC is one of my charters.

 

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Application Workload Guidance and Design for Virtualized SAP S/4HANA® on vSphere (Part 1/4)

SAP Business Suite 4 SAP HANA (or SAP S/4HANA) is the SAP Business Suite that is built on SAP’s in memory columnar database platform SAP HANA. SAP HANA®, the in-memory real-time platform, was initially introduced as a physical appliance and has steadily evolved to include support for virtualization with VMware vSphere® and SAP HANA tailored data center integration (TDI). Virtualized SAP HANA is now supported in scale-up and scale-out configurations in VMware® environments. Running SAP HANA on vSphere offers customers agility, resource optimization, and ease of provisioning. This solution enables SAP customers to provision instances of SAP HANA more quickly and effectively by using vSphere virtual machines (VM). Using the SAP HANA platform with the vSphere virtualization infrastructure constitutes an optimized environment for achieving a unique, cost-effective solution. VMware capabilities such as VMware vSphere vMotion®, VMware vSphere Distributed Resource Scheduler™ (vSphere DRS), and VMware vSphere High Availability (vSphere HA) are inherent components of the virtualized SAP HANA platform.

The need exists for a comprehensive, “end-to-end” solution that describes the implementation of a virtual SAP HANA deployment. VMware Solutions Labs was chosen to first develop a robust validated end to end solution. This is the first solution that takes the VMware Validated Design concept and then uses its components to run an Enterprise application like SAP on top of it. This prescriptive approach called Application Workload Guidance Design applies the VMware Validated Design (VVD) to SAP S/4HANA on the vSphere platform.

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