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Monthly Archives: October 2009

Top 5 Planet V12n blog posts week 43

Compared to the weeks before this week I had an easy week. A design review and some pre-sales related work, it is something else for a change. Something else that's new and exciting; I started working with John Arrasjid and Steve Kaplan on revising a book. It's not going to be a deep technical book, but it will focus more an introduction to virtualization. More on this later. It's top 5 time again, here we go:

  • Scott Sauer – Get Thin Provisioning working for you in vSphere
    So now that we have some of the basics out of the way, I wanted to
    share my thoughts on thin provisioning.  Like many organizations, we
    get requests from our customers that err on the side of caution.  They
    want to plan for the worse case and ensure that their project and/or
    application isn’t setup for failure.  I don’t blame them really, I do
    it myself all the time when I make coffee at home.  I always end up
    making more coffee than I typically drink, just in case I might need
    that extra charge.  The best way to do that is pad it, request more
    than what you might really need, just in case something comes up down
    the road.  Virtual machine disk storage in some cases fits this same
    profile.  If my coffee maker granted me access to hot coffee on demand,
    I would stop making extra coffee.  Thin disks can give your end users
    that capacity on demand so you can gain control of the padding effect
    that typically takes place in most corporate organizations.
  • Rich Brambley – Thoughts and Images of vCloud Express
    When vCloud Express was announced along with the vCloud API at VMworld 2009 in September I decided to sign up and try building VMware virtual machines (VMs) in the Cloud for myself. Being able to provision infrastructure as a service (Iaas) virtually with only a credit card has a certain useful appeal to me, and I wanted to see firsthand exactly what can be done and how much it costs.
    This post summarizes my experience and touches on Terremark’s various options for building VMware Cloud VMs. I also quickly describe/illustrate the difference in charges for Linux versus Windows Cloud servers. This post contains a lot of screen shots, and at the end I’ll offer some opinions on the usefulness of vCloud Express and where this service might make sense for IT shops.
  • Chad Sakac – Cloud Storage – what the hell is EMC building?
    The implications on storage infrastructure of these internal/external cloud models profound. Think of it this way… The vast majority of storage users in enterprises today have a provisioning model where the first step is “tell us whether you want 250GB or 500GB, whether it’s SAN or NAS, and the protection level – then wait a couple weeks as we process the request”. Of course, to fulfill the request, they purchased a wad of storage a year ago. How much did they buy? More than they needed – because god forbid they err with not enough (and in doing that ensure that they err completely in the opposite direction!). And, of course, it’s generally pretty “thickly” provisioned – and even if it is thin, it’s doled out and managed app by app, so the “pools” tend not to be too wide.
  • Vaughn Stewart – VCE-101: Oracle On VMware Without Limits
    After a brief hiatus I am very eager to return to the ‘Virtualization Changes Everything’ series, and today’s post is an impromptu addition to our syllabus. Recently fellow VMware vExpert Steve Kaplan of INX published a rather thought provoking post rallying for the acceleration of the transformation to a 100% virtualized datacenter. Steve waxes poetic advocating acquisition decisions spanning compute, storage and network should be driven by their contribution to data center virtualization success and I would encourage everyone to read it.
  • Duncan Epping – DRS Deepdive Part 1 and Part 2
    Keep in mind that when you change the “Migration Threshold” the value of the “Target host load standard deviation” will also change. In other words the Migration Threshold dictates how much the cluster can be “imbalanced”. There also appears to be a direct relationship between the amount of hosts in a cluster and the “Target host load standard deviation”. However, I haven’t found any reference to support this observation. (Two host cluster with threshold set to three has a THLSD of 0.2, a three host cluster has a THLSD of 0.163.) As said every 5 minutes DRS will calculate the sum of the resource entitlements of all virtual machines on a single host and divides that number by the capacity of the host:
    sum(expected VM loads) / (capacity of host)

Top 5 Planet V12n blog posts week 42

This week was the last week of the VCDX defenses in EMEA. I loved doing it and wished we had these defense panels every week. We certified three people this week and unfortunately some did not pass the exam. I believe we are up to VCDX 028 right now. For those working towards the VCDX Certification, the next opportunity for the Design Defense is Partner Exchange in Las Vegas. But that is not the topic of this article. This article is all about last weeks Planet V12n blog articles. We had numerous excellent articles again and like always it was tough to pick a top 5. This weeks top 5 contains two "new comers" to the blogosphere, welcome Luc Dekens and Andrew Hald. Enough of the small talk here we go:

  • Luc Dekens – Scheduled Tasks – MethodAction
    In the PowerCLI Community there was a recent question on how these Scheduled Tasks can be created from PowerShell (see relocate vm’s from csv file and create schedule task in VC).
    Being able to create a Scheduled Task for a svMotion for several guests from a PowerShell script, instead of clicking away in the vSphere Client, would be another step on the path of vSphere automation.
    The current PowerCLI 4 (build 162509) unfortunately has no cmdlets for Scheduled Tasks. But the SDK contains the CreateScheduledTask method that can be used for this purpose.
    The key parameter to this method is the ScheduledTaskSpec object. In the action property of this object you specify which type of action you want the scheduled task to take. If we want to schedule a Task, we will have to select the MethodAction extension object.
  • Andrew Hald – The Commodity Hypervisor
    This morning Dan Kusnetsky posted a blog entry discussing how VMware is "Facing Challengers on all Sides." I have followed Dan's blog for some time now and don't always agree with his conclusions. In this post, he outlines each of the players in the virtualization industry and their angle at dethroning VMware as the "King of Virtual Machine Technology."
    Dan states that the hypervisor is becoming a commodity. While this may be true in price (Microsoft, Citrix and VMware all offer their hypervisors for free), this is not true for customers and real world virtualization deployments. The hypervisor is not even close to being a commodity yet. The other players would like you to believe that they are on par with VMware, but they are not in the same league.
    A commodity is defined as "some good for which there is demand, but which is supplied without qualitative differentiation across a market." Thus all hypervisors would have to provide the same features for the same total cost to be defined as commodities. When comparing the players in the virtualization market, we immediately see that this is not the case.
  • Eric Sloof – Massive I/O power increase using EMC PowerPath/VE
    You’re about to enter a world where creating a Virtual Machine hot-clone is done faster than powering it off. My former Capgemini colleagues, Ernst Cozijnsen and John van der Sluis recently implemented EMC PowerPath/VE, here's their story.
    It took the guys in storage land a long time to deliver…. But finally it's there…. A really great kick-ass plug-in to boost your vSphere 4 storage performance through the roof.
    In prior versions of ESX the Native Multi Pathing “NMP” plug-in was
    available for balancing the storage load over different Fiber Channel
    HBA’s and storage paths to your storage array(s). Beside that it’s not
    really “Multi Pathing” it had another major disadvantage of being able
    to stress your storage array in such a way it could crash.
  • Eric Siebert – What is virtualization?
    If you work with virtualization for a living, inevitably you’ll be
    asked what virtualization is. Trying to explain it to someone who
    doesn’t work with computers can often be challenging, and after you
    explain it they still may not know what it’s about. So how do you explain it to someone for the first time? I find that
    using analogies that anyone can relate to is a good way to explain
    things to people. Before I attempt a virtualization analogy I’ll try
    explaining it in basic computer terms.
    Virtualization software, also called a hypervisor, emulates computer
    hardware allowing multiple operating systems to run on a single
    physical computer host. Each guest operating system appears to have the
    host’s processor, memory, and other resources all to itself. The
    hypervisor, however, is actually controlling the host processor and
    resources and allocates what is needed to each operating system, making
    sure that the guest operating systems (called virtual machines) cannot
    disrupt each other.
  • Cody Bunch – A Quick PowerCLI Lesson – Digging for Info (Who Powered Off that VM)
    This gives us an idea about the information we’re looking for, as
    well as provides us a place to start looking. Let’s dip into the

    [vSphere PowerCLI] C:\> $vm = Get-VM | where { $_.Name -eq "Wiki" }

    What this does is set the variable $vm to the object that represents
    our VM. What is an object? For our use an object is anything in your
    Virtual Infrastructure, and the properties and methods that belong to
    it. Take a turtle for example (yes… turtle, hang with me). That turtle
    will have some properties: breed, gender, length, weight, etc.

Top 5 Planet V12n blog posts week 41

It was VCDX Defense week this week in Frimley and there were several panels scheduled. I met some cool people and learned a lot during this week. Next week there are VCDX Defense panels in Munich! If you are working towards VCDX, don't forget that panels normally are only scheduled around VMware Events. This means that there are only a couple times per year you can get certified. Blog wise there were a lot of great posts again this week. It was hard to pick only 5, but I did manage to do so:

  • Frank Denneman – Lefthand SAN – Lessons learned
    Blocks will be stored on storage nodes according to replication level.
    If a LUN is created with the default replication level of 2-way, two authoritative blocks are written at the same time to two different nodes.
    If a 3-way replication level is configured, blocks are stored on 3
    nodes. 4-way = 4 nodes. (Replication cannot exceed the number of nodes
    in the cluster)
    SAN IQ will always start to write the next block to the second node containing the previous block.
  • Duncan Epping -  Slot sizes & Alan Renouf – HA Slot size information
    Five hosts, each host has 16GB of memory except for one host(esx5)
    which has recently been added and has 32GB of memory. One of the VMs in
    this cluster has 4CPUs and  4GB of memory, because there are no
    reservations set the memory overhead of 325MB is being used to
    calculate the memory slot sizes. (It’s more restrictive than the CPU
    slot size.) This results in 50 slots for esx01, esx02, esx03 and esx04. However,
    esx05 will have 100 slots available. Although this sounds great
    admission control rules the host out with the most slots as it takes
    the worst case scenario into account. In other words; end result: 200 slot cluster
  • Eric Siebert – New Twitter lists for the top bloggers and VMware/Virtualization people
    Twitter is a great tool for communicating with other virtualization
    professionals, but trying to find interesting people to follow
    especially if you are new to Twitter can be time-consuming and
    difficult. For that reason I put together some Twitter group lists to
    make following people that are related to VMware virtualization easier.
    The first list is just from my Top 20 blogger list on my vLaunchpad that was decided by a poll I did months ago, consequently that one was really easy to put together.

    The second list is the top 100 people to follow that are related to
    VMware & virtualization, this one wasn’t easy at all to put
    together. The list started at about 300+ people that was part based on
    my followers and followings of other popular virtualization bloggers.
    Once I discovered that TweepML had a limit of 100 people I had to
    really trim that list down a lot, that wasn’t an easy task, especially
    the last 20 or so. There were some people I really wanted to keep on
    there but was forced to remove, the 100 person limit made for some
    difficult decisions.
  • Hany Michael – vSphere 4.0 vNetwork Distributed Switch (vDS) – Video Demonstration + Architecture Diagram
    The diagram reflects the exact configuration on the video. I’ve
    done this intentionally to make it easier and faster for any one new to
    the vDS to understand the concept and the various configuration aspects. As I mentioned above, due to the very short period of time that I
    had, I will most probably modify small parts in the diagram to achieve
    better results. You can come back and check the version number of the
    diagram to download the latest updates.
  • Scott Drummonds – Top Five VROOM! Entries for 2009
    I love VMware’s performance blog, VROOM!  It is our most popular
    performance communication vehicle and its content is backed by a
    stellar engineering team with unmatched integrity.  Each article
    details the nuances of VMware performance and educates on application
    and platform best practices.  I love all the articles but am always
    surprised as to which our readers find most popular.  Here is a
    countdown of the five entries most read in 2009.

Join us: ThinApp Lounge: 1st Tuesdays 9am CA time

If you are interested in learning more about VMware ThinApp –  whether you just got started with application virtualization or you've got a particular app you are packaging — join us at the VMware ThinApp Lounge. This online event, held the first Tuesday of each month at 9am Pacific time, is a great opportunity to talk to members of the product team and learn more about ThinApp. (Tell your boss it's free consulting if he thinks you should be alphabetizing your TPS reports instead.)

I wanted to get more of an idea of what the ThinApp Lounge was all about, so I sat down with VMware's own Dean Flaming, host of the Lounge, to find out what goes on there. The next Lounge is tomorrow, Tuesday, October 6, at 9am PDT (-7 UCT). Join Dean each month in the Lounge — and say hi for me!

Q. Who should attend the ThinApp Lounge webinar?
A. Anyone interested in getting an introduction to ThinApp, what it is, how it works, and a demonstration of it.  Questions are welcome!

Q. How long have we been doing the ThinApp Lounge?  Why did we start?
A. VMware has had the ThinApp Lounge since the acquisition of Thinstall and the release of ThinApp.  Originally it was designed as a presentation of a technically specific ThinApp topic with Q&A but was revamped about 4 months ago to become more of an introductory piece to assist both customers and partners, as well as others, in spreading the word on ThinApp.  We started the ThinApp Lounge to give people a means to come find out about ThinApp at a time and place of their choosing without having to interact with additional personnel if they didn’t desire to as we found many IT people like to have the option of scheduling when they wish to learn something as well as learn about something without being hampered by sales types. 🙂

Q. How hard is it to get started with ThinApp?
A. It’s extremely easy to get started with ThinApp.  In fact, a two-part video exists on YouTube and elsewhere showing ThinApp from Start to Finish in 20 minutes from ground up!  http://t3chnot3s.blogspot.com/2009/04/vmware-thinapp-from-start-to-finish-in.html

Q. Do I need to have a ThinApp Problem to join the ThinApp Lounge or will there be other content presented?
A. No problems necessary!  Only a desire to learn a little about ThinApp as a product is needed.  Currently the ThinApp Lounge is defined to deliver ThinApp Introductory webinars but in the near future as demand grows, we look to have some intermediate level webinars as well (such as “How to use AppLink”, “How to use AppSync”, etc.).

Q. Any good stories or “Ah-ha!” moments from the Lounge?
A. One of my favorite things is seeing the light turn on in peoples eyes when they start to realize just how malleable ThinApp really is and the options it presents to customers.  Two areas I commonly see this around are Security and App Packaging.

With Security, the insecurities of a legacy application that is still required often turn out to be the bane of the customer’s issues as that application’s needs end up driving what the customer can and cannot do – especially when compliance requirements come into play.  When that legacy application is wrapped within ThinApp, it’s insecurities start to become insignificant – and depending upon the app and environment,  almost to the point of not needing updates to fix the insecurities of the app.  This is because the insecurities of the app are contained within the “Virtual Bubble” and are not allowed outside that “virtual bubble” onto the native system.

With App Packaging, it’s always fun to show how one can create a ThinApp package which has no executables in it whatsoever – but rather, executes a natively installed application through the “virtual bubble”.  This “virtual bubble” could have additional settings, configurations, plugins, add-ons, or other items which allow the natively installed application to operate entirely differently than it is configured to on the native system.

Q. In a past life, you were a Citrix expert – how should people experienced in Citrix & Terminal Services deployments be thinking about ThinApp?
A. I spent more than 10 years as a Citrix/Microsoft consultant and solutions provider, developing solutions to customers issues and needs.  In that time, I found many customers implementing Citrix solutions often had one or more applications which wouldn’t play nicely with other applications needed by all employees.  This resulted in the creation of a separate Citrix or Terminal Server SILO where that specific app was housed.  Setting up this SILO always took additional time, effort, and money to do as it was just a pain to get that pushed to everyone who needed it.  ThinApp solves this issue with extreme ease by virtualizing the conflicting components or applications so that one can reduce their Citrix footprint.  I’m usually countered on this point by Citrix’s Application Isolation Environment, but I can safely say (and most likely anyone who has worked with an AIE will attest to this) that AIEs are hard to configure properly, still require the application to be installed, and do not virtualize the application but rather just isolate it’s calls via a hidden redirect.  With ThinApp I can also build completely vanilla Terminal Servers and drop in the applications on a per user basis as they login – very similar to a VDI scenario.

Since SBC (Citrix and Terminal Server), VDI, and Application Virtualization solutions can not only work together but can all solve some of the same or similar issues – even though they are all completely different technologies – it is very relevant to ask oneself what the issues really are and what the solutions are accomplishing with regards to business needs.

With ThinApp, we aim to solve software issues with a software solution – and we believe ThinApp is the best, most powerful, and most simplistic application virtualization product on the market. 

Top 5 Planet V12n blog posts week 40

Week 40 already, before you know it it is christmas again. This week we had some excellent posts again, but probably the most exciting thing that happened this week was the VMTN Community Podcast with Vaughn Stewart, Chad Sakac, Andy Banta, Eric Schott and Adam Carter. The vGods of iSCSI. If you didn't join last wednesday you can find it via Vaughn's article here. Here's this weeks top 5:

  • John Arrasjid – VCDX Tips from VCDX 001 John Arrasjid
    Practice what you preach and learn from others. Architects listen first. Don’t assume the answer before the discussion starts! Scenarios for VCDX defenses test journey to solution, not necessarily the final answer. Whiteboard, talk and ask questions. Troubleshooting scenarios – think of the architecture and implementation approach to resolution. Logs, design, SC commands.
  • Eric Gray – PowerShell Prevents Datastore Emergencies
    When a datastore is about to run out of space, the fastest resolution may be to simply migrate virtual disks to another datastore. VMware Storage VMotion provides that capability with zero downtime for VMs and no disruption to end users. Fortunately, PowerCLI can perform this feat with ease, thanks to the Move-VM cmdlet.
  • Chad Sakac – HOWTO: Use Site Recovery Manager and Linked Clones together
    VMware and EMC collaborated on a project recently with a customer, and that project included documenting the detail on why this occurs, and also the workaround.
    If you’re interested – read on!
    The key is that the ADAM and View SQL databases actually store the vCenter instance name (in the form of a Moref ID – also known as the MOID), which after SRM failover has changed, which breaks the replica/linked clone relationship. Further, the parent location is explicitly in the vmdk descriptor.
    You can (without doing anything fancy), you can deploy new desktop pools, but can’t access existing linked clones, or recompose or refresh.
  • Massimo Re Ferre' – Ad Hoc Designed Infrastructures: do they still make sense?
    Simply put, IT is comprised of two major building blocks: Functional Requirements and Non-Functional Requirements. This is how Wikipedia defines them:
    Functional Requirements: "A functional requirement defines a function of a software system or its component. A function is described as a set of inputs, the behavior, and outputs (see also software)"
    Non Functional Requirement: "A non-functional requirement is a requirement that specifies criteria that can be used to judge the operation of a system, rather than specific behaviors. This should be contrasted with functional requirements that define specific behavior or functions".
    So the question I have been thinking about for the last few years is simple: in a virtualization context, do I really need – during a customer engagement – to go through a deep level analysis of the applications currently being deployed or soon to be deployed? In addition, defining the new virtualized infrastructure to support the applications mentioned, do I need to analyze all those applications one-by-one (from a Non Functional Requirement perspective) or can I treat them as a whole? You can depict the answer from the following two slides which are included in a set of charts I created back in 2007.
  • Duncan Epping – What's that ALUA exactly?
    This “problem” has been solved with vSphere. VMware vSphere is aware of
    what the most optimal path is to the LUN. In other words VMware knows
    which processor owns which LUNs and sends traffic preferably directly
    to the owner. If the optimized path to a LUN is dead an unoptimized
    path will be selected and within the array the I/O will be directed via
    an interconnect to the owner again. The pathing policy MRU also takes
    optimized / unoptimized paths into account. Whenever there’s no
    optimized path available MRU will use an unoptimized path; when an
    optimized path returns MRU will switch back to the optimized path. Cool