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Monthly Archives: May 2009

Top 5 Planet V12n blog posts week 22

This weeks theme on Planet V12n most definitely was VMworld and all the drama surrounding it. It's been discussed over and over so I will not go in to the details, everyone has his own opinion and let's just leave it at that. Technically speaking it was also an exciting week, VMware View 3.1 has been released and a large number of excellent blogs have been published of which the following 5 where my personal favorites:

  • Arnim van Lieshout – ESX Memory Management – Part 3
    The ESX kernel scans VM memory pages regularly and generates a hash
    value for every scanned page. This hash value is then compared to a
    global hash table which contains entries for all scanned pages. If a
    match is found, a full comparison of both pages is made to verify that
    the pages are identical. If the pages are identical, both physical
    pages (guest) are mapped to the same machine page (host) and the
    physical pages are marked “Read-Only”. Whenever a VM wants to write to
    this physical page, a private copy of the machine page is made and the
    PPN-to-MPN mapping is changed accordingly.
  • Tom Howarth – VMware Release View 3.1
    As you are aware I work in the VDI marketspace and utilize a significant about of  VMware View in my solutions.  These solutions are currently based on VMware View 3.0.1,  but can now be based on wait for it (drum roll please mister musician man) VMware View 3.1. So what is the hype , what is new in VMware View 3.1?
  • Dave Mishchenko – The official unofficial vSphere Whitebox HCL
    The Whitebox HCL is a list of servers, PCs, motherboards and storage controllers that are not officially supported for use with VMware ESX and ESXi, but have been found to function properly. If you have a system that you'd like to try that isn't on VMware HCL or the Whitebox HCL, you can check here to see if ESXi 4.0 will recognize your storage and network controller.
  • Rawlison Riverra – vSphere Lab on VMware Fusion and VMware Workstation
    I know that running ESX in a virtual machine is not new… that kind of thing has been talked about and done all over the web. But lately several people have asked me how to set that up. I guess now that the new vSphere products are on the market, everyone wants to get the most out of their new features. So, here it is… I’m going to share with everyone how I configure my virtualized test environment of vSphere with VMware Fusion.
  • Daniel Eason – Siloed DRS Clusters – Would you, do you or will you have to?
    Getting push back when wanting to Virtualise applications which are still under licensing policies that go back to the dark ages is definitely a kick in the teeth to anyone waxing lyrical about Virtualisation, also its very hard for someone who believes in the excellent benefits of cutting edge technology such as VMware that an ISV could be so backwards and cruel. The most common barrier with the licensing model you experience is you can't virtualise something due to the fact you have to license all Physical CPUs and sometimes even the Cores on 32 hosts in your DRS Cluster just to run it on a single VM instance, the cost just makes it impractical and I think any VM Lover would see sense (after punching a wall) in this.

Top 5 Planet V12n blog posts week 21

With vSphere going GA on Wednesday/Thursday I had a backlog of around 500 blog articles to read. Luckily I'm a fast reader and I usually filter the news related articles for this top 5 which is a huge portion of Planet V12n. This week one of my personal favorite bloggers, Scott Lowe, is finally part of the top 5… It's the first time because he has been very busy with writing a book on vSphere the last 6 months. Click here to see all the details, and don't forget to pre-order it! I promise, it will be worth it.

  • Eric Gray – VMware ESX 4 can even virtualize itself
    You may be pleased to know that the GA build of ESX 4 allows installing
    ESX 4 as a virtual machine as well as powering on nested virtual
    machines — VMs running on the virtual ESX host.  The extra tweaks to
    make it all work are minimal, and I will show you how without even
    opening up a text editor.
  • Steve Chambers – Virtualization Barrier series… (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
    An old mate from my web hosting days has “CAT5″ tattooed on his arm and
    a head shaped like an RJ-45. Ok, the last bit was made up, but you get
    the point. He lives and breathes networking, and much like physicists
    look down upon every other branch of science (but aren’t the
    mathematicians king?) he has little regard for other branches of IT –
    especially server administrators, who he often refers to a “Gollums”.
  • Scott Lowe – VMware vSphere vDS, VMkernel Ports, and Jumbo Frames
    Since I started working with VMware vSphere (now officially available as of 5/21/2009), I have been evaluating how to replicate the same sort of setup using ESX/ESXi 4.0. For the most part, the configuration of VMkernel ports to use jumbo frames on ESX/ESXi 4.0 is much the same as with previous versions of ESX and ESXi, with one significant exception: the vNetwork Distributed Switch (vDS, what I’ll call a dvSwitch). After a fair amount of testing, I’m pleased to present some instructions on how to configure VMkernel ports for jumbo frames on a dvSwitch.
  • Greg A. Lato – Quick Guide to vSphere License Portal
    I’ve had a number of clients already ask me about this portal and
    working with the new License Keys, so I thought I would help the entire
    VMware community by creating this quick guide to the new portal.  Keep
    in mind that the change of licensing in vSphere means that the old VI3
    licenses that were associated to a pair of CPUs are converted to
    License Keys that are associated to a single CPU.  This is the reason
    why you may see your license counts double.
  • Jason Boche – vSphere Has Arrived
    With the vSphere NDA embargo lifted a while back for bloggers, there
    has already been plenty of coverage on most of the new features so I’m
    not going to go into each of them in great detail here. I’ll just touch
    on a few things that have caught my attention. There is plenty more to
    digest on other blogs and of course VMware’s site.

Talking with NetApp technologists – Communities Roundtable podcast #48

We've been doing this podcast thing for a year, so happy anniversary! Since this was podcast #48, and that doesn't count the podcasts we recorded at VMworld, that means we were here every single week except for one week at American Thanksgiving and two at Christmas, and I think we can all agree that a full year of weekly podcasts lies firmly between crazy and genius, leaning towards crazy. The only way we made this possible on our budget (zero) is to (1) use a free service; (2) have zero preparation and zero post-production (although I try to remember to run the audio files through a little volume leveling); but most importantly (3) get smarter people than myself on the line every week. That last one is the key. From the beginning I wanted to pull together a panel of smart VMware experts for commentary and get them to ask questions to a smart technical guest. That setup, now with an expanded live audience of a few dozen smart chatters and callers every week, has turned this thing into a winner. I want to thank the tireless roundtable panel for making time week after week to call in and my VMware colleagues who have learned to duck into an office when they see me wandering the halls looking for guests.

Stop by every Wednesday at noon Pacific time to join in the fun — see below for details on next week's podcast on vSphere performance.

This week we were lucky enough to have Chris Gebhardt and Vaughn Stewart from NetApp as our guests, and obviously storage was the topic — LUN sizing, dedupe, intelligent caching, VMware View, snapshots, SSDs, and more. As always, listen via the widget on the right, the mp3, or via iTunes.


Other things you'll want to listen to:

  • Virtual Thoughts (blog | information) New podcast from Edward Haletky (Texiwill) and Tom Howarth. Topic: vSphere Licensing. Tuesday, May 26, 2:30pm EDT / 1930pm BST.
  • VMware Communities Roundtable. Scott Drummonds on What's New In vSphere Performance. information. Wednesday, May 27, noon PDT / 3pm EDT / 2000 BST.
  •  Virtualization SQL on VMware with Confidence: What You Should Know and How to Get Started (with Rick Scherer from VMwareTips.com; link takes you to free NetApp webinar registration) Thursday, May 28, 11am PDT  / 2pm Eastern / 1900 BST.
  • Online Virtualization Forum from VMware. June 9 & 10, 8am-1pm PDT / 11am-4pm EDT / 1600-2100 BST
  • The Hypervisor Huddle #1 "an audiocast for IT pros in the know" from the SearchVMware.com crew. Topic: vSphere Licensing,  Hyper-V R2, and Oracle-Sun. (monthly, pre-recorded)
  • Virtualization Security Roundtable Podcast. Every other Thursday 11:30am PDT / 2:30pm EDT / 1930 BST
  • You do know about VMware's Webcasts on Demand, right? Look for the ones labeled "Technical Track" for the good stuff.

VMware vSphere 4 has left the building!

We're pleased to announce that VMware vSphere 4 is now generally available. From the press release:

VMware vSphere 4 extends the previous generation VMware platform –
VMware Infrastructure 3 – along three dimensions: it delivers the efficiency and performance required to run business critical applications in large scale environments, it provides uncompromised control over application security and service levels, and it preserves customer choice of hardware, OS, application architecture and on-premise vs. off-premise application hosting.

VMware vSphere 4 enables transformative capital and operational
expenditure cost savings over and above what was previously achievable,
including 30 percent increase in consolidation ratios, 50 percent
storage savings, and 20 percent additional power savings.  With VMware
vSphere 4, even the most resource intensive business critical
applications will benefit from the built-in service level assurance
capabilities for availability, security and scalability. 

I think the vSphere product overview pages explains it well, but if you just want the bullets, this What's New in VMware vSphere 4.0 page sums it up.

For some serious reading, master virtualization encyclopedist Eric Siebert has assembled vSphere: The Missing Links – Every vSphere Link You Need to Get Started.

Greg Lato also has some screenshots of the licensing portal if you want to see our new very non-scary way to get your vSphere licenses: Quick Guide to vSphere LIcense Portal.

There's so so much more going on, like Converter 4.0.1 and vSphere SDKs and PowerCLI, but let's discuss those in the days ahead.

Let's close with Rick @ the VMware Knowledge Base Blog with these places to start and click through for his Top 10 vSphere KB articles: Let's Get This vSphere Party Started Right!

Top 5 Planet V12n blog posts week 20

I need to keep it short this time, for most of you out there it's weekend… for me it's a working day here in Saudi Arabia. This weeks top 5 consists of mainly technical blogs. It seems that the tech-bloggers are picking it up again after all the news around vSphere. Keep them coming!

  • Rich Brambley – Identify ESX Server Switch Ports Without Tracing Cables
    If you’ve ever had to manually trace the cables from servers to network switches in a rack you probably were not very happy about it. In fact, if you’ve ever had to trace 10 cables from each ESX host to multiple network switches you were most likely aggravated to say the least. The good news is that if you have ESX 3.5 and Cisco switches you can determine the switch ports in use via the Cisco Discovery Protocol (CDP).
  • Aaron Sweemer – VCDX Admin Exam Notes section 1.2 (virtual insanity)
    [Duncan: This is something different but very useful for those studying for the VMware Enterprise Exam] Here are my notes for section 1.2 of the VMware Enterprise Administration Exam Blueprint v3.5. Everything in Blue is a direct cut and paste from the exam blueprint….
  • Robert Patton – DIY ESX Server Health Monitoring Part1 & Part2
    In this four part series, we'll build our own ESX health report with a shell script, distribute SSH keys so that one ESX server can run the script on the others, and then email the report using a perl script. We'll then finish with a quick modification to enable the report to trigger an email when performance thresholds are reached. The format of the report will be designed to display perfectly on a BlackBerry Curve set to its smallest font size, allowing us to know about issues from anywhere.
  • Duncan Epping – Block sizes and growing your VMFS
    Although the mechanism behaves differently it does not mean that
    locking does not need to occur. In my opinion it’s still better to have
    1 lock vs 8 locks if a VMDK need to grow. But there’s another good
    reason, with vSphere comes growable
    VMFS volumes. You might start with a 500GB VMFS volume and a 1MB block
    size, but when you expand the disk this block size might not be
    sufficient when you create new VMs.
  • Steve Chambers – VMotion and change management
    Let me ask you a question that a zillion Problem I.T. people have asked me in the past five years:
    “Steve, do other customers have a change record for a vMotion?”
    Instead of just saying “No”, which is the correct answer, I feel there is more value to my customer to ask “Why?” and the discussion goes something like this:
    “We need a change ticket for vMotion because the server has moved.”

First vSphere 4 Exchange reference architecture is up!

I was just catching up on Google Reader and noticed this article below. Chad Sakac posted the first reference architecture for vSphere 4. The reference architecture includes MS Exchange 2007 clustered with the use of VMware Fault Tolerance. The hardware specs are included in the PDF with several diagrams of the setup. Thanks Chad for sharing,

Source: vSphere 4 Exchange Reference architecture is up!

The Solution Validation machine has been churning ever since we got RC1, and then hit full stride when the RTM bits arrived.
Mission Critical Apps on vSphere reference architectures are now starting to roll off the presses pretty fast (next up… Sharepoint, blended Exchange/SQL Server/Sharepoint at very large scale, Oracle 11g). I can see them all coming (I keep getting asked for review cycles!!!)

Highlight in here was that the 1000 user building block performed better in vSphere, and the FT feature was used on the Mailbox Server roles – it worked flawlessly under load.

There are detailed docs that go together with these, for example, here were the detailed FT findings….

Note we tested up to 4 building block units on the single ESX host – didn’t break a sweat. We observed zero outage in the Loadgen test. Direct comment from the wizard (Derrick Baxter) who was doing the tests: “Typical clustering solutions result in a period of downtime, no matter how small of downtime none until VMware vSphere 4.0 were zero, VMware Fault Tolerance has the ability to enable clustered Exchange of having zero downtime.”


Keep posted, I’ll link to them as quickly as I can.

Top 5 Planet V12n blog posts week 19

What a week, it seems like I hardly get any time to catch up on Planet V12n at all these days. This week I attended the VMware Technical Services vSummit in San Francisco. In short, the vSummit is a bootcamp for VMware Consultants, System Engineers, Education and Technical Account Managers. As you can imagine our schedules were packed with sessions and labs. Of course my personal highlight of the week was becoming a VCDX but that is not what this article is about, it is about last weeks top 5 blog posts….

  • Chris Wolf – Oracle Honors its New Year’s Resolution: Non-Oracle x86 Hypervisors are Now Supported
    In case you haven’t seen, Oracle issued a major product support update last month – Platform Vendor Virtualization Technologies and Oracle E-Business Suite – Metalink Note 794016.1 (note that an Oracle support account is needed to view the update). The bottom line – Oracle now offers best effort support for all of its E-Business Suite applications on any x86 hypervisor. Shocked?
  • Eric Siebert – Pointers for using thin-provisioned disks
    In vSphere you can create thin disks using the VI Client when you are creating a virtual machine, as seen in Creating a VMware vSphere guest OS: What’s new. There is also a new Storage View that allows you to see the true size of all your virtual disk files, and you can inflate a thin disk to its maximum size using the VI Client as well as convert an existing thick disk to a thin disk using Storage VMotion. These new features make using thin disks much easier, but before you start using them you should make sure you understand them in order to properly monitor them.
  • Robert Patton – Become friend with find
    A while back I noticed a tip posted somewhere on how to use the find utility to register a bunch a virtual machines at once. It was a really helpful post and illustrated some of the potential of the the Swiss Army-like find utility. But it overlooked one of the coolest features of find, the -exec option. Using -exec, you can launch a command with find and pass each found file as a parameter to it, eliminating the need to run vmware-cmd in a for loop.
  • Duncan Epping – Running vSphere within Workstation will take up a lot of memory…
    I couldn’t find a way of  pre-adjusting the memory requirements but
    there’s a way to change this behavior and to downsize the memory when
    the installation has finished. Keep in mind this is, as far as I know,
    not supported… it’s only to be used to run ESX within VMware
    Workstation for your demo / test environment. I personally use it for
    running 2 ESX servers and vCenter within VMware Workstation on my 4GB
  • Steve Kaplan – Microsoft blog on Hyper-V versus VMware pricing
    Finally, even when evaluating Hyper-V and vSphere on a TCO comparative basis, we still need to consider the context of the overall cost requirements for each. We estimate that Hyper-V will require twice the number of servers as vSphere to handle a similar number of virtual machines (Microsoft and VMware’s recent documents reflect this ratio today for the organizations’ internal virtualization projects). This means a requirement not only for twice as many hosts, but also more rack space, network ports, SAN ports, maintenance contracts, generator and UPS slices, etc. Additionally, Gartner says that it now costs more to power and cool a server than it costs to purchase the machine itself.

Performance monitoring, vStorage, Virtualization Congress, “Free” – Communities Roundtable podcast #46

The talk was lively in this week's podcast. It was an open topic week and we covered a lot of ground. The highlights were a discussion of performance monitoring featuring Thomas Bryant and Doug Hazelman as well a call from Scott Lowe and Steve Beaver from the Virtualization Congress. As always, listen in via the widget to the right, the mp3, or via iTunes.

Next week, May 13, join special guest Paul Manning for a discussion of What's New in VMware vSphere 4: Storage. We meet every Wednesday at noon Pacific.

Upcoming events:

New books:

Links for your linky pleasure:

Have a great week!

How to Get Windows 7 on Mac with VMware Fusion

VMware: Team Fusion: Windows 7 on Mac with VMware Fusion: A Practical Guide Revisited.

win7 There has been a lot of buzz flying around Windows 7 since its public beta release earlier this year. Team Fusion released a Practical Guide to Windows 7 on Mac with VMware Fusion
when the Windows 7 public beta was released earlier and lots of users
took advantage of the opportunity to check out the forthcoming version
of Windows.

In fact, I have been running my day to day work
life out of a Windows 7 Public Beta VM using Mirrored Folders and
Shared Applications since the beta was released and it has been working
really well with a couple of known caveats that we mentioned at the

Today, Microsoft released a public release candidate of
Windows 7. We have installed Windows 7 RC on a number of Macs from a
first generation MacBook Air to a higher end MacBook Pro and Windows 7
RC is really responsive with the default VMware Fusion settings on all
Macs we have tried.

Personally, I am excited to see the
improvements in my day to day use of Windows 7 at work. More important,
I am excited that the Windows 7 Release Candidate is the easiest way
for you to try out Windows on your Mac for FREE (at least until the
beta expires). That’s right, you can download Windows 7 Release Candidate through July 1st and it’s free to use until it expires on June 1, 2010.

VMware Fusion won’t formally support Windows 7 until it is released
later this year, the Windows 7 Release Candidate works really well in
VMware Fusion 2.0.4 based on our initial testing.

Windows 7 RC on VMware Workstation 6.5.2

Go to the Workstation Zealot Blog for more VMware Workstation tips, news, and views »


If you haven’t been there lately, the Workstation Zealot blog is humming. Today Michael Paiko, Workstation’s product marketing manager, gives us the skinny on the now publicly-available Windows 7 Release Candidate.

VMware: Workstation Zealot: Windows 7 RC on VMware Workstation 6.5.2.

There’s been a lot of buzz flying around about Windows 7 and what better way to try out a new operating system and see how it works than in a virtual machine. I am happy to report that you can run Windows 7 RC in a VMware Workstation 6.5.2 VM with all the great features you have come to love, including file drag and drop, text copy and paste, automatic screen resize, shared folders, and Unity. However, before we go further, I want to remind you that Windows 7 RC, both 32-bit and 64-bit, is not an officially supported guest at this time. We plan to support Windows 7 as a guest OS in a future release. This statement reminds me of the great new Mac ad “Legal Copy”.

By the way, if you do not have a copy of VMware Workstation, now is a great time to download a free trial and give both Workstation and Windows 7 a try at the same time. It’s a great way to find out how well your favorite application runs or application you are developing will run in Windows 7. This is one of those rare times when you can get a Windows OS to try without having to purchase a license upfront.

After going through the process of creating a Windows 7 VM, we decided to share some best practices on how to make this happen with some screenshots and suggestions to make it nice and easy for you. If you want to discuss your experiences with Windows 7 and VMware Workstation in more detail, please visit our VMware Workstation community forums.