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Author Archives: VMTN

Exploring the My VMware Get Support section

Hello again everyone and welcome to my ongoing series "The Support Outsider", a look into VMware from the point of view of an outsider (me), Intern Moses Masih.

Moses MasihLast week I was talking about buying VMware products and discussed some features of the Products and Downloads section in My VMware. This week I thought I'd briefly explore the Get Support section of My VMware and share with you some useful, related Knowledge Base articles. In the Get Support section you will find quick answers to common questions and you may also file Support Requests here.

Once you are logged into My VMware go to support and click on Get Support (If for whatever reason you have created a profile and logging into My VMware is failing check out Logging in to My VMware fails (2014050)). There are three options when selecting your issue category:

  • Technical issues
  • Licensing issues
  • General Inquiries

From the drop-down menu in these options you can select the issue you are facing. Depending on your choice you are then provided a list of relevant Knowledge Base articles that might help in quickly solving your issue. These articles are specifically chosen to address our most frequent inquiries. If the displayed articles do not help, you may continue the process of filing your request by clicking on the continue button on the bottom of the page. From there you fill out the support request information on the following page and send the request.

If you haven’t filed a support request before using My VMware I would recommend reading Filing a Support Request in My VMware (2006985). This KB has helpful embedded videos that demonstrate the procedures for filing your request for the different issue categories.

Be sure to come back next week to check on my adventures as I go exploring the world of virtualization.  Thanks for your time.

How to Purchase VMware Products

Hello again everyone and welcome to my series The Support Outsider, a look into VMware from the point of view of an outsider (me), Intern Moses Masih.

Moses MasihWhen monitoring Twitter I have often come across people asking questions about how they might buy a VMware product that they had downloaded to try out, and decided after kicking the tires, to purchase.

The answer to their question is simply – through My VMware. If you wish to evaluate a VMware product you will be asked to set up a My VMware account. Some customers have questioned this extra step but I see why this was done. My VMware offers a lot of useful features that help in maintaining your account in an organized fashion.

Once you have logged into My VMware, go to the Products and Evaluations section and you will be able to see all of your current and expired evaluated products. Under Current Evaluations, you will see the product’s name and options like Download and How to buy. When you click on How to buy you will see various options presented which you can then use to buy the product you are evaluating. Check out article http://kb.vmware.com/kb/2007046 to get more information on this topic.

You will also find other features there like Product Registration where you can register license keys Registering a license key in My VMware (2011177), Betas where you can test VMware's cutting edge advancements, and Virtual Appliances where you can explore various cloud-ready virtual appliances, like the one I downloaded from the VMware Solution Exchange (last week’s post). Overall, the registration may seem like an annoyance up front, the payoff is in staying organized over the long term, and organization saves money.

Check out this article if you have any problems downloading any products: Downloading VMware products and troubleshooting issues with downloads (1012245).

The VMware Solution Exchange

Hello again everyone and welcome to my seventh post in our series The Support Outsider, a look into VMware from the point of view of an outsider (that's me), Intern Moses Masih.

Moses MasihThis week I will use this idea to tell you about how I was able to start development in Drupal by simply downloading a pre-built virtual machine which was already fully configured and ready to develop.

This past week I was researching some web and CMS development tools to learn some new development techniques and Drupal came highly recommended by some colleagues here. My team uses it to develop custom web applications. I learned I could get one of these pre-built vms from VMware's Solutions Exchange (VSX) (https://solutionexchange.vmware.com/store) which is VMware’s online virtualization marketplace. Wow, what a place! There are many virtual appliances and solutions available in VSX, so if you haven’t been there already it is definitely worth looking into. No installing of applications, supporting databases, and web servers; it's all done!

The BitNami Stack virtual machine I downloaded (https://solutionexchange.vmware.com/store/products/drupal-7-0-0-ubuntu-10-10 ) had a Ubuntu 10.10 Linux operating system and all the dependencies needed like Apache-MySQL-PHP and phpMyAdmin pre-configured. Talk about a time saver!

I created a new virtual machine using the VMDK virtual disk file provided in the downloaded zip file. Steps for doing this are found in the KB article: Creating a Workstation virtual machine using existing VMDK virtual disks (2010196). I made the mistake of not following the steps one by one however, and after I got so far into the KB, I notice things weren't going as expected.  Turned out to be completely my fault. Lesson learned — follow the KB, one step at a time.

I now can enjoy this new virtual machine, building my development skills instead of using my physical machine. This way, I know I won’t end up crashing my laptop by way of an accident.

Be sure to come back next week to check on my adventures as I go exploring the world of virtualization.  Thanks for your time.

Multicore your vCPUs

Hello again everyone and welcome to my sixth post in our series The Support Outsider, a look into VMware from the point of view of an outsider (that's me), Intern Moses Masih.

Moses MasihThis week was busier than usual but I did come across a cool feature which you can try for your virtual machines. I want to talk about turning single core virtual machines into multicore machines in vSphere and Workstation.

While working on a new video that deals with setting cores in a virtual machine: Setting the number of cores per CPU in a virtual machine (1010184) so that its operating system can recognise the machine as having multi-core CPUs, I found that this process can be used in vSphere and Workstation 8. I tried it and set my single core virtual machines to 4-core machines and also came across some useful details that I will talk about. 

For ESXi 4 and 5 virtual machines the number of cores can be set up with vSphere and the process to do this is explained nicely in the above mentioned article. The article is a good read and will really help you understand the concepts of multi core vCPUs in virtual machines. I recommend reading and understanding the article before performing the steps.

For virtual machines I created in VMware Workstation: Creating virtual machines in VMware Workstation (1018415), the cores can be set by simply going into the virtual machine settings and clicking on processors. There you will see options to change the number of processors as well as the number of cores per processor for you virtual machine.

After restarting my virtual machines, I did not notice a huge difference in speed, but I think that is for two reasons. The application that I am using inside the vm is not very CPU intensive. Another reason I learned is that if your application is very disk intensive, then it doesn't matter how powerful you make your CPU, the disk is what is slowing you down.

When setting the cores for your virtual machines, one of the important issues that came up is that you could end up violating the license of the guest operating system on your virtual machine. You should always check if the new setting are in compliance with your operating systems EULA (End-user license agreement).

Be sure to come back next week to check on my adventures as I go exploring the world of virtualization more.  Thanks for your time.

VMware Workstation 8 as a Server

Hello again everyone and welcome to my sixth post in my series, The Support Outsider – a unique look into VMware from the point of view of an outsider (that's me), Intern Moses Masih.

Moses MasihThis week I am going to briefly talk about a very useful feature of VMware Workstation that I came across this past week.

My first introduction to Workstation came in college where one of my friends had it on his computer and I saw a few things that it offered but had never gotten my hands on the product until I started working at VMware. Installing workstation was very easy and I was easily able to understand how it works on my own from playing around with it.

Last week I was given a task to automate the exporting of reports from one of the analytics packages we use for our ftp site. I was given a choice between either exporting every single report from the first of January 2011 to the current date or to develop a script for automating this process. Naturally I picked developing a script which would be two days of work, over exporting the reports manually which would obviously take longer. Manually exporting would have also consumed time that would be better spent on other tasks later in the week.

I approached one of the developers on a different team to help me develop the script and on his suggestion we created a new virtual machine on my desktop using VMware Workstation 8 following the steps in this KB article: Creating virtual machines in VMware Workstation (1018415).

We developed the script in this virtual machine and then using Workstation's server feature found in Workstation 8 (Running VMware Workstation 8 as a server with shared virtual machines (2005585) I made the virtual machine remotely accessible for the developer to modify the code where and whenever needed and also to check the code I was writing myself and be able to compile the program from his machine. This, I discovered, is a very handy feature in Workstation and it saved me a lot of time.

Once the coding was complete I simply ran the automation script in the background which exported all the reports for me on the same virtual machine used for development purposes while I spent my time working on other tasks. I was already impressed with Workstation for other features that it offers (which I might discuss in future posts) but for developing in a team spread out in different locations this new feature is great!

Find out more about Workstation in the Workstation blog, or to get an overview of the product yourself, visit: http://www.vmware.com/products/workstation/overview.html

Come back next week to check on my adventures as I go exploring the world of virtualization!

Leveraging Multiple-NIC vMotion

A post today from guest blogger Michael Webster, VCDX #66, vExpert 2012 and author of longwhiteclouds.com, specialist in virtualizing business critical apps, and owner of IT Solutions 2000 Ltd. Michael explores a not so well known feature of vSphere 5.

Michael Webster

One of the features many people may not be aware of that was released in vSphere 5 is Multiple-NIC vMotion. This is a feature that allows you to load balance a single or multiple vMotion transmissions over multiple physical NIC’s. This is of significant benefit when you’ve got VM’s and hosts with large amounts of memory, as vMotion migrations will complete significantly faster. So your Business Critical Applications with large amount of memory and CPU’s can now migrate without disruption even faster. Below I’ll briefly cover the good and great of this technology and also a gotcha that you need to be aware of.

The Good

I thought we’d start with the good news. With vSphere 5 you can now split single or multiple vMotion streams over multiple NIC’s. Up to 4 x 10Gb/s NIC’s or 16 x 1Gb/s NIC’s are supported. This magnifies even further the already impressive 30% improvement in vMotion performance vs vSphere 4.1.

The Great

It is super easy to set up multi-NIC vMotion. It’s all explained in KB: Multiple-NIC vMotion in vSphere 5 (2007467). To briefly cover the set up.

  1. You set up multiple vmkernel port groups, each with a different NIC as primary, any other NIC’s as standby or unused, and a different IP address on the same subnet.
  2. You then select the vMotion tick box on the vmkernel port.

That’s it!

Very simple. Now single vMotion’s and multiple concurrent vMotions will be load balanced over the NIC’s. There is absolutely no need to configure any complicated LACP or IP Hash load balancing to make this work, there is no need to use Load Based Teaming (Route based on physical NIC load). You can use this with standard switches, no need for distributed switch. It doesn’t even require Enterprise Plus licenses, but as the benefits are mostly with VM’s and hosts with lots of RAM you’re probably going to have Enterprise Plus anyway.

I tested performance of Multi-NIC vMotion with 2 x 10Gb/s NIC’s in my home lab and got almost 18Gb/s when using Jumbo Frames on vSphere 5. Hosts go into maintenance mode so fast you better not blink! I haven’t retested Multi-NIC vMotion again since upgrading to vSphere 5 U1 and the latest patches. I plan to test it when Update 2 or the next vSphere release comes out.

The Gotcha

There is a condition that may occur during long running vMotion operations that could cause all hosts ports configured for vMotion to be flooded with the vMotion traffic. The way I understand it this occurs when physical switches MAC tables start timing out the MAC’s (before the ARP timeout). The reason it occurs is because although the outbound traffic is split over multiple vmkernel ports and multiple NIC’s the ACK’s coming back from one MAC. So after a while the physical network may time out the other MAC’s as it’s not seeing any traffic from them. As the transmissions are still occurring the switches may start flooding every port that is configured for the vMotion VLAN. Because the problem is generated by MAC timeouts around the 5 minute mark you will be more likely to experience this problem with 1G vMotion NIC’s or with 10G vMotion NIC’s that have Network IO Control or QoS limits imposed, as your migrations will generally take longer.

To work around this problem, you may be able to adjust the MAC timeout values on your switches, depending on the type of switches you’ve got. The default MAC timeout on Cisco switches is normally 5 minutes. On the Dell 8024 10G Base T switch I’ve got in my lab the Address Aging value defaults to 301 seconds and is adjustable. Be careful if you choose to adjust these values as there may be other consequences; any adjustments should be tested, and only applied to the switches connecting directly to your vSphere Hosts carrying the vMotion VLAN.

VMware is aware of this problem and is working on a fix. The fix didn’t make it into ESXi 5 Patch 03 that was released on 13/07/2012 (07/12/2012 for those in the USA). I hope that it makes it into the next vSphere 5 update release. I will update this article when the problem is fixed and let you know what patch or updates you need to apply. Until then I hope you are able to make use of Multi-NIC vMotion by applying the above workaround. At least configure it in your test environments and see how it goes.

Final Word

If you thought vMotion in vSphere 5 was already fast you ain’t seen nothing yet, till you’ve experienced Multi-NIC vMotion. Even with this slight gotcha it still has some benefits if you can apply the workaround in your environment. Especially with very large VM’s >96GB RAM, and large hosts >256GB RAM, it will significantly help your migration times.

A Typical Work Day

Hello again everyone and welcome to my fifth post in our series The Support Outsider, a unique look into VMware from the point of view of an outsider (that’s me), Intern Moses Masih.

Moses MasihThis week I’m going to talk about my typical work day.

In my current role as a multimedia specialist, most of my work revolves around the VMware KBTV blog and also the VMware YouTube channel – VMware KBTV. I help in managing and maintaining them and also help providing a steady flow of new video content. 

Before now, I thought video production to be quick and easy. But after only a week of training I realised that a lot of work goes into producing even the shortest of videos. It involves research and understanding the topic involved, making scripts, shooting the audio and video elements and then combining the two elements to produce a single file and so on.

On a typical work day I come in earlier than most staff members to avoid any unwanted noise in the recordings like fire doors being slammed, people conversing with customers, sneezing, laughing, etc. Getting up early is manageable but not sounding like I just woke up in the recordings is a challenge, so thankful for coffee!

Before I start recording anything I have to research into the topic at hand. When I am given a new video to make I start by looking up the associated KB article and product involved.

Here’s an example. For the first video I was asked to make (running Workstation 8 as a server with shared Virtual Machines:  http://kb.vmware.com/kb/2005585), to research the product I first read the Using VMware Workstation guide first as I had little knowledge about Workstation along with the documentation. Then I read the KB article itself and practised the steps involved a couple of times.  

Once I have a good understanding of the product involved and the steps in the article I try to execute them and record my screen performing the steps using Camtasia Studio 7, a great screen capture utility for video work. After that, I produce a written voice over script, which I’ll use to record the audio.

Once I have the audio and video sections both recorded I bring them into Camtasia Studio 7 for final editing. I have to place the audio clips carefully in the video file and look for opportunities where a zoom or other such effect might be added to emphasis some procedure. We also add some quiet background music to our videos to fill in the dead spots. Once editing is finished, I produce a final draft which is then passed on to other teamates to be double checked and finally published on our VMware KBTV blog and YouTube channel. To see the latest videos we have posted check out http://blogs.vmware.com/kbtv.

So there you have it, a look at my typical workday. Be sure to come back next week to check on my adventures as I go exploring the world of virtualization more.  Thanks for your time.

Team Communications within VMware

Hello again everyone and welcome to my fourth post in our series The Support Outsider, a unique look into VMware from the point of view of an outsider (that's me), Intern Moses Masih.

Moses Masih As I settle into my role here I realize I am working in a global team, the Knowledge management team. Members of the team are spread across the globe, in Canada, America, Ireland and India. As mentioned in an earlier post, one of the challenges being in global teams is communicating effectively with the group. This week I am going to briefly discuss one of the tools, Socialcast, that my team uses to achieve effective communication.

People in the team work in different time zones and hence reaching the team quickly with new data, in case of an emergency or just sharing a new idea, can be challenging. VMware uses Socialcast to provide an enterprise social network to their teams which allows for quick and effective communication among each team as well as the organization.

Email is good for team communication and I talk with a lot of team members using Email, but Socialcast with all its features is just too dynamic when compared to email and in my opinion surpasses monotonous email based communications. Each team can make its own group in Socialcast and within the groups members can post data, ideas, pictures, embed videos, start discussions using threads, etc. (Check out http://www.socialcast.com/ to find out more)

I post weekly work updates in my teams group page, describing what I worked on and learned in the past week and the challenges I faced; so does the rest of the team. Members can comment on any post and we often give feedback to other team members on their work log posts. I find this very useful as the team often shares links with me to useful online resources.

Any user can start a group in Socialcast and though I haven’t started any myself I am a member of a lot of them. The different groups can be team groups, project groups and also groups based on interests. People interested in a particular topic can start a group for that topic or find one that already exists. I am a member of a lot of interest groups and as the discussions in any group focus on the relevant topics, groups are a good way for getting information on particular topics.   

Adapting to Socialcast was easy. Having used other social media outlets for personal use helped but Socialcast is very user friendly already. Much like the features in other social media tools, Socialcast allows users to like/dislike content, comment on content, use @mentions to mention a co-worker in a post. I was already used to these constructs, and other common functionalities which greatly helped me in getting used to Socialcast. 

Easy accessibility allows for quicker communication, with Socialcast being available on a lot of different mobile platforms I sometimes even post content or check out any updates in my groups from my Android phone.

Overall, in my opinion Socialcast is a very cool enterprise social networking solution which greatly improves team communication and has helped me in connecting with my global team, which now seems almost impossible to do using just Email.

If you want to try Socialcast out for your organization you can go here http://www.socialcast.com/pricing  and sign up to get the full Socialcast experience free for up to 50 users.

Here are some hints and tips from the Knowledge Base to help you get started quickly!

Be sure to come back next week to check on my adventures as I go exploring the world of virtualization some more.  Thanks for your time.

Slow Down Time!

On this fine Saturday, my third post in our new series The Support Outsider, a unique look into VMware from the point of view of an outsider (that’s me), Intern Moses Masih.

Moses Masih Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is crucial to enjoy work. This week I am going to discuss a challenge I faced in the first few weeks of the job, work-life balance.

A week or two into the internship I completed basic training and started helping out on small jobs. Soon enough I was given my own work tasks and deadlines too. I was excited to finally contribute to the team so I started putting in some extra time and effort to be more productive. While initially it felt rewarding to work at a high level soon I realised that all I thought of most of the time was work related. My work didn’t stop when I left the office, I was bringing it home with me. I didn’t think this to be a bad thing at the start but pretty soon I started feeling that my work life was over powering my personal life.

I started feeling like my activities at home, away from the job, had shrunk to eating, sleeping and getting ready for work the next day. Though I knew that I spent a lot more time at home than I did at work, my mind was convinced that the majority of my day was spent working. This was rather annoying as I couldn’t share this with my team, I felt like I was the only one who had ever faced this problem. I started looking out for solutions.

One evening I saw the main character in a TV show facing the same problem as me and he took a deep breath and time began slowing down. I tried that the next day and while that approach didn’t necessarily work for me I did understand the point they were trying to get across. I stopped rushing into my work tasks and thought about and allocated the time I would spend on them before I started any work on them. This led me to making a rough timetable of the tasks and time to be spent on each task on a daily basis.

I can share this challenge now, after I have developed somewhat of a work-life balance, but while looking up the subject online I found a lot of good help. So if you are going through the same, my advice would be to develop a healthy work-life balance that suits your job. I enjoy both my work and personal life more now, though taking a deep breath when you feel stressed doesn’t slow down time it still helps.

Be sure to come back next week to check on my adventures as I go exploring this new world of virtualization.

Loving the Internship

Good morning! Today, the second post in our new series The Support Outsider, a unique look into VMware from the point of view of an outsider, Intern Moses Masih.

Moses Masih While preparing for my interview with VMware for the Multimedia internship position, I did some background research into the company, just like you normally do. I prepared myself for any questions about the company if asked, but even from all my research I could never have imagined how big VMware truly is until induction on my first day. Simply reading about thousands of employees working in a company is not enough; it is only when you are part of the huge employee family do you realise just how many people go into making the thousands.

In the career guidance class at college we would occasionally have guest speakers who would share their work experience and give us insights into some problems they faced as new recruits. My first day as I sat in the waiting area that those insights started coming back to me. I understood only then why they were nervous on their first day, but it’s funny how you can never remember the important parts of their insights, like how they overcame this feeling of unease and anxiety.

I had worked part time jobs before but never at a place quite like VMware or in a job of my interest. I felt like a lot would be expected from me right from the start and not knowing or a lack of understanding about something would not be tolerated. This was the first time I felt this type of pressure and I was very uncomfortable on my first day because of this.

Thankfully, the work environment here turned out to be like nothing I had in mind. I was introduced to my team, who are all very supportive and the staff here in general are very friendly. People genuinely want to help and questions are welcomed at any time, even during lunch break. This was a big change from pretty much every place I’ve worked at where people normally didn’t want to have a conversation, especially during their lunch break.

VMware gives its employees a lot of room to work in and learning is always encouraged. Though being in a virtual team (spread across the globe) sounds like a bit of a challenge I got used to it very quickly and with my role and responsibilities clearly outlined I immediately fit in. I will talk about the cool solutions we use for communicating effectively even within a scattered team in the coming posts. I am loving the internship here and there’s always something new to learn.

Be sure to come back next week to check on my adventures as I go exploring the world of virtualization more. Thanks for your time.