Monthly Archives: December 2011

Happy Holidays!

Well, that time of year has come around once again!  Through all of the hectic traffic and shopping and people I just wanted to take the chance to wish everyone in the VMware community a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Feliz Navidad, Season Greetings, whatever floats your boat, just be sure to have a safe and relaxing holiday!  Also I just wanted to say Thank You to all my readers who have commented, retweeeted and helped me share the information on this blog.  To be honest when I first started it I didn't know where it would go, but never did I think it would get to the point where it is at now!  So thank you, and thank you to every single member in the VMware community for all of their contributions!  It truly is an open and welcoming community and I'm happy to be a part of it.

So, take some time in the next few weeks to relax and enjoy your time with family and friends.  Eat, Drink, Be Merry and be safe!  For those of you with young children…Have Fun!  I know my son is just a 'tad' bit excited for Sunday!

I'm planning on having a little give-away come the new year so stay tuned and add the blog to your feeds. You won't want to miss out on it!   Again have a great holiday season and a Happy New Sphere!

Mike

The vSphere Web Client Server – First Impressions.

 

The release of vSphere 5 brought us many new features and enhancements around the management and operations of our day to day tasks as a VI Admin.  I'm slowly but surely trying to have a look at each and every one of these to try and validate whether they are valuable in a production environment or more suited for a home lab or test/dev.  Next up is the vSphere Web Client server which essentially provides end-users with an OS independent web based version of the original vSphere Client.  Although some new features, such as the vCenter Server Appliance are not quite ready IMO for the production environment I believe VMware hit a homerun with with the Web Client!

Some spots where the Web Client actually provides an improvement IMO are…

  • Obviously OS Independent.  You can can access this client from your Mac, Linux Box, Tablet.  As long as your device supports flash you can run this. Which leads me to my next point…
  • Prerequisites – Just Flash!  No C++, .net this .net that…just a supported browser (IE and Firefox) No Chrome πŸ™ and Flash!  That's it!
  • The 'Work In Progress' window/widget/component – not sure what they are calling these little windows.  The ability to minimize your current task or wizard that you are running through, go do a few other things, and pick it up where you left off.  This was something you couldn't do in the vSphere Client (for instance, go look at your storage in the middle of creating a new VM).  You can even pick up this task if you log out and log back in!
  • Customization of UI – you can customize this to your hearts delight, minimize certain windows, maximize others.  Only downfall is it doesn't seem to stick after you logout! πŸ™
  • It's Sexy! – Lets face it, we all love a great UI!  The Web Client is no exception.  Built on Adobe Flex framework the client is nicely laid out and very responsive!

There is however a few spots in which the Web Client is lacking; a few that I've noticed so far are listed below…

  • No Access to vSphere Permissions – I can't see the ability to add/edit/modify permissions at all from within the web ui.
  • Cannot create new Datacenters or Clusters, or subsequently connect new hosts to existing ones.
  • No access to apply or generate DRS recommendations.  Better make sure you are running in fully automated mode if you plan to use the web client exclusively.
  • Cannot really modify any entities except VMs.  Meaning you can't change the configuration of a host, switch, cluster, etc.  Basically, outside of editing a VM all you can really do is take hosts in and out of maintenance mode!
  • No access to maps.  I would definitely miss this πŸ™
  • No way to deploy an ovf – With a lot of VMware's new management products being pushed out in an ovf format the ability to deploy them would be…well…it's a must!
  • No access to plugins – No Update Manager, no converter, no VCOPS, etc…

I'm sure there are many more differences, but those are just a few that I've noticed right off the hop.  VMware has said that they are going to continue to develop the Web Client and in fact it will eventually replace the vSphere Client so you can bet that all of the features that are in the Windows client will eventually be ported to the Web Client.  That being said, out of the box today I think it is still a great resource, especially for users just looking to manage their subset of VMs and not worry about the infrastructure behind it.  And for the most part as a VI Admin I believe I can probably perform 80% of my daily tasks from within the Web Client interface.  All in all I'd give VMware a thumbs up on the Web Client.  This is a very good release for a 1.0 version with a lot the functionality from an application owners perspective built in and will eventually be a full fledged vSphere Client for everyone to use.  For more information on how to install and configure the vSphere Web Client check out this post.

Installing and Configuring the new vSphere 5 Web Client server

With the release of vSphere 5 came an alternative means of accessing and managing your virtual infrastructure through a web browser called the vSphere Web Client.  The web client doesn't give you all of the functionality that the original vSphere client does, but it is certainly a great first step in porting over the functionality into a more sustainable means of supporting the VI client.  I don't plan on getting into the differences between the vSphere Client and the Web Client in this post as I've already done that here.  This post will focus mainly on the installation and configuration of the new VMware vSphere Web Client server.

Honestly, installation is a breeze and probably doesn't even warrant a blog post but I've already documented it and will throw it up here just in case its' ever needed.  First off you will need to pick a server to install the Web Client server on.  I personally used my vCenter server and that appears to be the target of choice for other users in the community.  Also, on any workstation/server you wish to access the client from you will need to have flash player 10.1.0 or greater installed.

1.  The Web Client server installation software is bundled in with the vCenter Server installation media.  So mount that ISO or extract the zip archive on your server of choice.  The ISO should autorun.  When it does, select the 'VMware vSphere Web Client server' option and click 'Install'.

 

 

2.  From here until the end of the installation you are on your own.  Honestly there isn't much to configure during the installation process.  Essentially you can define what ports you want to run on and change the licensee information, that's about all!  So for the most part it's a Next Next Finish process.

3.  Wow!  That's it!  Done the install, now time to do a little configuration.  Open up a supported browser (IE 7/8, Firefox 3.6+ – No Chrome πŸ™ ) and browse to Web Client Administration interface @ https://localhost:9443/admin-app/  (replacing localhost and the port with your information of course).  This task cannot be performed remotely from another workstation, it must be done on the server in which you installed the Web Client role.  What we need to do is attach our vSphere Web Client to an instance of Virtual Center.  You do this by selecting 'Register vCenter Server' in the top right hand corner. (optionally you can use a script called admin-cmd.bat to do this as well).

 

 

4.  Enter the appropriate information and user credentials to connect to your vCenter instance.  If you chose to install the Web Client server on the same server as your vCenter instance then your vCenter Server name and your vSphere Web Client server name should match.  Once done click 'Register'  You may get prompted with an SSL warning, just check to 'Install' the certificate and click 'Ignore'.

 

 

There you have it!  The Web Client server is installed and configured!  In order to access it browse to https://WEBCLIENT:9443/vsphere-client/ replacing webclient with your address of course.  For the most part a lot of the functionality around managing a VM is included, however more infrastructure related tasks such as adding hosts or configuring storage seem to be missing.  Be patient though, VMware has come out and said that this is the future of the vSphere Client so it won't be long until we start to see some new functionality rolled into this product.

Holiday Gift From Veeam: Free NFR Licenses of Veeam Backup and Replication v6!

Last year right around this time Veeam announced a program that offered VMware Certified Professionals and VMware vExperts a free dual socket NFR license of their flagship product Backup and Replication v5.  Well, with the recent release Veeam Backup & Replication v6 now supporting Microsoft Hyper-V the qualifications to receive the license have expanded.  The program is now includes the following; VMware vExperts, VMware Certified Professionals (VCP), VMware Certified Instructors (VCI), VMware User Group Members (VMUG), Microsoft Certified Professionals (MCP), and Microsoft Most Valuable Professionals (MVP).  So, if your qualifications fall under any of the above categories head on over to the sign-up page (VMware / Hyper-V) to unwrap your early Christmas gift from Veeam.

Toronto VMUG Recap – Dec 6

Once again Angelo and the organizers of the Toronto VMUG put on a great event with some awesome sponsors and presentations.  Below is just my 2 cents on the material covered!  Angelo was up first talking about how to stay connected in between events with everything happening at the Toronto VMUG.  I would encourage everyone to pick one (or all) of the avenues to stay in touch with what is happening.  Angelo's presentation is below

Peter Creswell from TrendMicro was the first sponsor presentation. Peter went through Trends product line including their Deep Security, as well as spoke about the need to 'rethink' security as we now live in a virtual world. He talked about the importance of having a 'single pane of glass' (yes, there's the key line again!) management solution throughout the security for virtual, physical, and even cloud environments. He went on to speak about 4 security inhibitors in a virtual environment (Resource Contention, Instant-On Gaps, Inter-VM attacks, and Management Complexity) and how to overcome some of those issues (whether using Trends solutions or any solutions, it doesn't change the inhibitors). Overall I thought Peter was an excellent speaker, full of energy and hit on some key points regarding virtualization and security.

VMware was up next with Ken Werneburg all the way from Vancouver talking about SRM 5 and What's New!. Actually, I would classify this presentation more along the lines of a discussion as the room was very active back and forth with Ken. Ken hit on all the main new features of SRM 5 such as automated failback, vSphere Replication, Disaster Avoidance, etc and explained what and what isn't supported in each scenario. It was a great discussion. You can see Ken's presentation below but be warned the slide deck doesn't do the session justice as there was a great deal of interaction.

Josh Tseng was next talking about the WAN optimization, load balancing, and caching solutions that Riverbed has to offer. Josh spoke about the future of data and the ever so changing technology landscape that is forcing all employees to be "remote" in one way or another. From a product perspective, he focused mainly on Riverbeds flagship StealHead products and how to integrate hardware wan optimization solutions into the cloud era using both physical and virtual Steelhead instances. He touched on a new acquisition Riverbed has made which eventually led to the launch of their newest solution Stingray. He also explained how steelhead customers can benefit by the partnerships that riverbed has made with update repositories such as akamai tech and amazon.

Last but not least was Eugene Michenko from Cisco with his session titled Virtualization aware security and networking. Eugene spoke of the different types of workloads ( physical, virtual, and cloud ) running in todays datacentre and how the need to maintain the network visibility that we have in the physical world in the virtual and especially the multi-tenant cloud worlds is crucial. He presented the solution by delivering a somewhat technical dive into some of Cisco's products such as the nexus 1000v and protocols such as VXLAN can help companies provide just that. He talked about Cisco's new virtual security gateway, a zone based firewall can help to further segregate traffic in a virtual environment and showed how policies are created as well as the integration with vCenter. Also he touched on an offering that i didn't know existed which was some hands on labs that Cisco offers their partners and customers to access to play around with products like the 1000v. He directed everyone to get in touch with their Cisco reps to gain access. Quite a nice opportunity that i didn't know existed.

That brought us to the end of the half day event. The full day regional VMUG conference is slotted for February 7th so be sure to schedule it in your calendars as the regional events are always a great time and are now being labeled as a mini VMWorld of sorts containing very technical deep-dives and breakout sessions presented by some of the top names in the industry. You may even find a hands on lab or two there. Once again thanks to Angelo and all those who help to organize and put on these great user conferences for the GTA. And for those who weren't there or for those that were and need a reminder be sure to stay connected with your local Toronto VMUG by following @torontovmug on twitter, joining the Toronto VMUG LinkedIn Group, and subscribe to the Toronto VMUG blog.  As always, you can get more information regarding your local VMUG at www.myvmug.org or by following @myvmug on twitter. Oh, almost forgot, you can circle your Toronto VMUG on google +  now as well!!! See you in February.

How to get rid of your View Composer Linked Clone Replica VM (Without VMware View)

As I've been Storage vMotioning all of my VMs off of my datastores in order to upgrade them to VMFS 5 I cam across a situation where there was one VM that I just couldn't move.  I couldn't remove it from inventory, I couldn't delete it from disk, in fact, I couldn't even see it when I was in 'VMs and Templates' view.  It was almost as if the VM was marked as read only and after a little digging I realized that was exactly the case.

The VM created was actually a replica or clone of a parent virtual machine used for a small VMware View proof of concept that we carried out a a few months ago.  What happens during the provisioning process of a linked clone pool of desktops in VMware View is that a complete copy of the Parent VM and its' associated snapshots are copied into a protected VM.  The proteced VM is then used to scale environments and save disk space.  It was this protected VM was item that I needed to remove or delete in order to format my datastore as VMFS 5.  Obviously in a perfect world it would make sense to remove all of these disks through the View Manager by removing your desktops and desktop pools.  I say in a perfect world because for some reason those pools and desktops no longer existed in my View Manager.  Another option is to 'un-protect' this VM by using the sviconfig on the View Composer.  There's a blog post on the VMware View Blog which outlines the command line parameters to use it.  Again, in a perfect world one would still have a View Composer instance, that which I did not.

So, as a last ditch effort these are the steps I used to remove the replica disk.  

1. Connect directly to the ESXi host and remove the replica

I know I know, you shouldn't perform actions directly on a host if it is connected to a vCenter instance, but I really had no choice on this one.  Find out which host the replica is registered to and connect directly to it (either with the vSphere Client or vMA)  and remove it from inventory.  You should see it disappear from the host, however it will show up as orphaned in vCenter.

2. Maintenance Mode, Disconnect and Remove.

It seems extreme but this is what I had to do.  Drop your host into Maintenance Mode.  When that's complete, disconnect it from the vCenter Server, and when that's completed right click on your host and 'Remove' it from the vCenter instance.

3. Add the host back to your cluster.

In the 'Hosts and Clusters' inventory view, right click on your cluster and select 'Add Host'.  You will have to provide the connection information to the host that you just removed in order to get it reconnected to your vCenter instance.

Voila, the replica VM is gone for good!  It seems a little extreme to go to these lengths to get rid of one VM but its' the only sequence of events that I could process to get rid of it!  As always, concerns, question, comments, suggestions are welcome in the comments below!

Converting Veeam v5 Legacy Replica jobs to v6 VMware Replica jobs

One of the first things that I noticed after upgrading my Veeam Backup and Replication to version 6 was in my replication jobs list.  All of my replications jobs from version 5 had been  labeled as a Legacy Replica.  Now, being the type of guy that I am I didn't want to have Legacy anything hanging around.  Plus, without recreating these jobs in v6, you cannot take advantage of some of the new enhanced feature sets like replication to a cluster, re-IPing, and production/network assignments.

This is the process I used to 'recreate' these jobs in order to take advantage of all the new features.
 
To start out I guess I shouldn't have really titled this post 'converting' because what you are actually doing is recreating these jobs and using the new 'Replica Mapping' feature to map to your original replica's.
 
So, first step, right click in your jobs window and chose ''Replication" to create a new replica job.  In the first window that pops up you can see some of the features that I spoke of above.  For this example however we only need to use one 'Low connection bandwidth [enable replica seeding].
 
Continue through the wizard as you normally would, selecting your source VMs, Replica Destinations (notice the new Cluster/Resource Pool/VM folder options), and Job Settings.  One note, for organizational purposes you might want to select the exact same location and use the same Replica name suffix as you did in the v5 job that you are recreating.  It might make things a little easier for you…
 
When you get to the Seeding section this is where the magic happens.  You can now map the VMs in your new job to existing replica VMs, or you could even seed your initial replica from a backup repository residing at your DR site if you have a backup of it.  (this is awesome!).
 
In this example I'm simply going to point the VMs in my new job to the replica VMs from my original v5 job.  Check the 'Map replicas to existing VMs' check box
 
Here is where you can either manually specify which VMs to map to the replicas, or you can have Veeam use its' magic and detect it by itself, Either way, select your VM you want to map and click 'Edit' to do it manually, or simply click 'Detect' to use the magic.
 
The rest of the wizard should be pretty straightforward as the options are very similar to those in v5.  Once you have completed and saved the job give it a whirl and make sure it is working as expected.  Be sure to disable your old v5 'Legacy Replica' job as we do not want this running along with the new one.  One of the new features in Veeam v6 is the fact that they have improved how they store their replication points of a VM.  In v5 the older restore points were saved as a roll back file (.vrb) and could the replica could only be rolled back by the Veeam server.  Now, in v6 all restore points are native VMware vSphere snapshots taken at a point in time.  Thus, in the event of a failure of your Veeam Backup and Replication server you could still power on a replica VM to any point in time just using the vSphere Client (completely independent of the Veeam Server).  So, after a few runs you should see your restore points from the vSphere Client Snapshot Manager.  
 
The newly created v6 job has no knowledge at all of the older .vrb files that are associated with the v5 job nor does it know about the older retention policies that you have setup so there is a little manual cleanup involved.  Once you are comfortable with the amount of restore points and retention that you have in your new job, you should go and remove the old VMs from the Veeam database.  To do this, go to the Replicas – Right click on your old job and select 'Remove from replicas'.  We do NOT want to delete as the new replica's are actually using the same vmdk and vmx files as the old ones.  
 
After you have removed from replicas you can now browse to the datastore where the replicas were hosted and delete the unused .vrb files.  Use the vSphere Clients' Datastore Browser or whatever your preferred way to get to the datastores are and find all of the older .vrb files.  These are safe to delete (as long as you are sure you will never need to restore to them again πŸ™‚ )  You can also go and delete your 'Legacy Replica' job as well if you want, as you should probably never run this again.
 
And there you go.  You should be all setup with your new VMware Replica job that is able to take advantage of all of the new and enhanced replication features that Veeam Backup and Replication v6 has to offer.  Again and as always feel free to leave any comments, questions, concerns or corrections in the comments box below.

Welcome to my newest (and first) sponsor! Veeam

I just wanted to take a moment and write up a quick post on my first sponsor Veeam.  If you have read most of my articles on  this blog you will no doubt know that I am a very big Veeam fan and am proud to have them as a sponsor.  The timing couldn't be any better as they have just released a new version (version 6) of their virtual machine protection software called Backup and Replication. You can check out the slew of new features that are bundled int Veeam Backup and Replication by following the banner on the left hand side of this page.

 

The Official Stuff

Veeam is an international company with their North American offices based out of Columbus, Ohio.  The latest customer counts from their website state 30,000 plus and expanding at roughly 1500/month.  Veeam's flagship product called 'Backup and Replication' feels like two products in one allowing for both backup and replication of virtualized guests in both VMware and Hyper-V environments.  Veeam also offers products to optimize performance, configuration, and utilization of VMware environments by bundling three of their products (Veeam Monitor, Veeam Reporter, and Veeam Business View) into their Veeam ONE solution.  Veeam also offers nWorks Management Pack for Microsoft Systems Center and nWorks Smart Plug-in for HP Operations Manager in order to extend the operations and monitoring of virtual environments to your current enterprise reporting tools.

My Stuff

To me, the official company profiles always sound great, but its the experiences you have with the companies and vendors that really make or break a deal, and Veeam is certainly on the make end of things.  I've never had a question go unanswered when either dealing with them through their official support or through social media outlets.  They continue to amaze the masses with the new and exciting features that they pack into their releases.  They have a very strong presence in the VMware community, and for all intensive purposes, have a community of their own.  The Veeam products that I use have been incredibly simple to install, configure and operate.  If you don't believe me, ask one of the other 30,000 customers and I'm sure you will hear the same story.  Veeams always gave back to the community, for example they offer NFR licenses for VCPs and vExperts, throw their infamous Veeam party @ VMworld, and sponsor community and customer blogs such as this one.  So, if you get a chance follow the banner on the right hand side of the page over to Veeam's website, Like them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, Connect with them on LinkedIn, or +1 them on Google.

Installing and Configuring the VMware vCenter Appliance

Well, I've finally got around to getting my 'lab' setup inside of VMware Workstation and I thought the first thing that I would try out would be the new in vSphere 5, the VMware vCenter Appliance.

The VMware vCenter Appliance is a pre-configured Linux-based virtual machine that is optimized for running vCenter Server and its' associated services.  Although the appliance will give you most of what the Windows based vCenter installation will give you there are some limitations.  I'm not going to go too much into detail as many people have already blogged about the situations.  Duncan Epping has a good little post on what it is lacking here.  The biggest for me is no Update Manager, no MSSQL support, and as well if using the embedded DB2 database you are limited for support for only 5 hosts and 50 VMs.  You can get support for more hosts and VMs, but you need to use an Oracle database to support it.

That being said, it's still a great solution for an SMB or a lab situation where you want to get  an instance of VMware vCenter Server up and running quickly as well as save some cost on Microsoft licensing.  The installation and configuration was a breeze and I had the appliance up and running within about 10 minutes.  The official documentation for installing and configuring the appliance can be found here, and mine…below πŸ™‚

First off, you will need to go and download the OVF and the 2 associated vmdk's that go along with it and deploy it as you would any other virtual appliance (File -> Deploy OVF Template).  

Once the appliance has been copied up to your environment, added to your inventory, mapped to your networks, and powered on, have a look at the console to determine how to connect to your vCenter. The console should display what IP has been assigned (you can change this later).  You should be able to access it by opening a browser session to http://IP_ADDRESS:5480/

Once you have your browser window connected, the default credentials to login are root/vmware.  After accepting the EULA, click on the 'Networking' tab and then 'Configure Networking'  Here you can set up your ip address, gateway, dns, etc.

Next is the database, head to the 'Database' tab and input your desired configuration.  I chose to use the embedded option however if you have an Oracle instance you can chose to host your database on it.  Once done select 'Test Settings', if everything checks out click 'Save Settings'.

Then, move to the 'Status' tab and click on 'Start vCenter'.

This process for real takes less than 10 minutes and you now have a functional vCenter instance running in your environment that you can now connect to with either the vSphere Client or the Web Client and configure, manage, and provision to your hearts delight.

I've just grazed over the basic settings here that you need to setup in order to get your vCenter Server Appliance up and running.  There are obviously many other functions and tasks that you can perform in the configuration page of the appliance so I encourage everyone to have a look for themselves or take a peek at the official documentation to get up to speed.  As always comments, issues, concerns, questions, suggestions are welcome and encouraged in the comments box below.