Monthly Archives: January 2012

The Happy New Sphere Trainsignal Giveaway Winner!

First off I want to say sorry!  I'm pretty late on this one.  I've been very busy with my VCP notes and whatnot lately so haven't had the time to even write up this post, as small as it's going to be!  Secondly I wanted to say that a winner has been chosen at random.  I basically took every ones comments and tweets, dumped them into an excel spreadsheet, assigned a random number to a column, then sorted from smallest to largest, picked a random number from random.org and selected that row number in the spreadsheet.  So, without further ado congrats to Matthew Brender!  He has won the copy of Trainsignals VMware vSphere 5 Training.

 

 

And of course a big thank you to the sponsor Trainsignal.  I have been through several of their training DVDs and without a doubt it is some of the best video training I've seen.  So if you get a chance head on over to the VMware section of their website and see what they have to offer!  Happy New Sphere!

vCenter Operations 5 – First Impressions

Following the Twitter feed from VMworld Copenhagen this year there seemed to be a common theme coming out of all the buzz – operations and management.  Product wise it was  AppBlast and Horizon that really took center stage in Vegas, but it was vCenter Operations 5 that stole the show in Europe.

i have been a VCops user since the beginning (well, since VMware purchased Integrien) beta and have been completely sold on the product ever since. Although the production environment i look after is relatively small in the eyes of VMware (150 VMs or so) that doesn't mean that the day to day operations and performance of those VMs isn't just as important as the larger environments. To be completely honest, VCops filled a huge gap between the standard vCenter alarms and performance graphs and our traditional monitoring software.

Alerting
This was certainly an item that came out of the version 1 beta. The metrics that VCops collects is crazy and the analytics behind determining health and workload scores is insane. But the issue with v1 was that i never knew if my VM or host was experiencing a low health score unless I actually logged into the application. This was addressed in v5 with the system now sending out email alerts. Now beware when just simply enabling all alerts, you may end up with an astronomical amount of emails. This is certainly a feature that you will need to tune in order to only receive those alerts you want to act upon.  We all know what happens when you start to receive too many alerts…filters get created and alerts end up being ignored.  So be sure to fine tune your alerts to meet the needs of your business.

 

 

CapacityIQ
A few years ago i pulled down a trial copy of CapacityIQ and gave it a whirl. Mainly i wanted to check out some of its over and under provisioned VM reports. I thought the reports were great but at the time couldn't justify the cost of the application for what it was providing. Well now I'm happy to see that it has been simply ported into VCops. Honestly its a great fit for this product as now you can gain visibility into not only health and workload, but capacity, utilization, efficiency and risk.

 

 

New Dashboards
Here is where VCops really shines. I have never seen so much information collected and analyzed be presented in such a simple interface. I've solved issues with our environment using VCops in basically, minutes. I mean, a host is red, click it. It drills down and shows you the VMs. You can see if its just one VM causing the issue or if all VMs are experiencing issues. You can see sibling hosts and VMs. VMs on the same datastore to determine if it might be a storage problem. This is all done within less than a minute from logging in.

 

 

Honestly these are only a few of the new features that are included in VCops 5. There is a slew of other features including Chargeback, Configuration Manager, Application Dependencies to name some.  For a full list check out the official VCops VMware page here as well as a launch anouncement on the Management Blog here.  As well the product is now branded as vCenter Operations Suite now including not just VCops but vCenter Infrastructure Manager as well.  I haven't had a whole lot of time to explore everything it has to offer yet but will definitely do an update when I have.  For now, go and pull down the trial for yourself

Top Virtualization Blogs Voting Is Now Open (and little ol’ mwpreston is on the list)

Once again Eric Siebert has put in the time and effort to coral a ton of VMware/Virtualization blogs and opened up the polls to find the top 25..  This is something that I have participated in before but never as a blogger.  To be honest when I first started this blog I never expected it to grow as big as it has.  Although it's not that big when compared against the rock star blogs that are on the list, it's definitely receiving more traffic than I have anticipated and never did I think I would be sponsored this quick.  I know that I received one vote for the top 10, but completely understand that this is probably the only vote in that category that I will get.  I'm still new to this and am trying to do my best to at the very least have consistency on this blog.  So, nonetheless, get over to Eric's blog post on vsphere-land and cast your vote and while your at it have a look at the 'Best New Blog' and 'Best Independent Blog' and see if you can't find mwpreston.net amongst all the other giants.  Not that I expect to receive a lot of votes, really, it's an honor just to have my blog listed amongst the giants that are there.

Looking back from now I'm happy with the content I have provided over the last 6 months.  When I started I had no idea how much work this actually is.  I've tried to put together relevant and accurate posts with walkthroughs and information centered around all that virtualization has to offer.   I've put countless hours into trying to put together a somewhat deep-dive of the VCP 5 Exam Blueprint in efforts to help myself and others achieve their certification as well as lobbied for a giveaway of Trainsignal's VMware vSphere 5 Training.  Blogging certainly takes up a lot of your time, your spare time at that.  That's why its important that you vote and show the bloggers that dedicate their time to providing you with great content that it is appreciated.   Happy Voting πŸ™‚  And if you get a chance, thank Eric for putting it all together.  He not only stops at a voting system, but he puts together RSS feeds and Twitter lists.  The vLaunchPad is truly a work of art and a one stop shop to the Virtualization/VMware blogosphere!

VCP 5 – The Final Push

For those VCP 4's who are looking to upgrade to a VCP 5 there is only a little over a month now to book and pass your exam.  February 29th is the last day that VMware is waiving the course requirements that normally are attached to the VCP certifications and it's starting to come down to the wire for a lot of people.   I myself and in the middle of my studying for the exam and let me tell you there is a lot of information to cover on the exam blueprint.  Of course all of it might not be on the test, but the fact of the matter is that any of it could be, so you best know it inside out.  From what I've heard and read about exam experiences is that the VCP 5 is a bit more difficult than the VCP 4 and that real-world experiences and knowing how to do is certainly giving people a huge advantage when it comes to the exam.  Below you will find a bunch of resources that I'm using to prepare for my exam…

Study Notes

  • My own VCP 5 page – I'm in the process of creating my own study notes for each initiative and section on the blueprint.  I should hopefully be completely finished in the next couple of weeks.
  • Jason Langer and Josh Coen have done an AWESOME JOB at doing the same thing on their respective blogs Virtual Langer and Valco Labs – of course, theirs is complete πŸ™‚
  • Forbes Guthrie's vSphere 5 documentation notes. – AWESOME AGAIN!
  • There are countless other resources that I've used, but these are the main ones.  I will try to add all of them to my VCP 5 page (Time is of the essence right now)

Brownbags

  • Damien Karlson and Cody Bunch have done an awesome and timely job at lining up some great speakers to go over a section of the blue print each week.  Sections 1 and 3 have already been covered, with Scott Lowe covering Section 2 this week.  This is an awesome complement to your own studying.  It's always nice to hear someone else's take on the items included on the section.  Don't miss these!  All the info can be found here.

Books/Training

  • Scott Lowe's Mastering VMware vSphere 5 is an awesome source not only for VCP preparation, but for general administration in your day to day job.  I wrote a full review on the book here and would certainly recommend it to anyone!
  • Trainsignals VMware vSphere 5 Training also covers everything on the blueprint.  This is also a huge complement to your studies.  Along with the slides and information the tasks are actually carried out before your eyes which is certainly as close as you can get to  the 'real-world experiences' without actually doing.

Installing offline bundles in ESXi 5

So I ran into a situation where I needed to get the HP CIM providers onto ESXi 5 in order to gain more visibility into the hardware that was running my ESXi 5 install.  This is a relatively easy task but I thought I would throw the process I used up here anyways in the case that it might help others.  This should apply to other vendors who package their CIM providers as well however for this case I will use the HP Offline Bundle for ESXi as an example.

First off, there are a couple of different ways you can do this.  Using the vSphere CLI or utilizing vSphere Update Manager.  I initially used the CLI method as I only had one host to do, but for these purposes I will explain both ways.  The Update Manager process will most certainly  help if you need to deploy these packages to more than one host.  Either way, you end up with the same results.

So to start obtain the HP ESXi Offline Bundle from HP's website.  Simply find your model of server and it should be listed in the Drivers and Software section under VMware vSphere 5.

Using the CLI

First off you will need to copy the bundle from HP locally onto the ESXi server.  There are a few ways to do this.  You can utilize a program such as WinSCP to connect and transfer the file (you will need to enable SSH on the host) or you could simply upload this to a datastore that the host has access to using the Datastore Browser.  Either or, just get it on the host.

Once it's on the host it's a matter of using Putty to ssh into your host or connecting directly to the DCUI and launching the ESXi Shell and running the following command…

esxcli software vib install -d path_to_bundle.zip

If you are using a remote CLI installation then you need to add a few options to provide the server and credentials as follows

esxcli -s SERVERNAME -u root -p Password software vib install -d path_to_bundle.zip

Once this command executes it should delve into the zip file and install the packages that are applicable to your host.  Once completed you will need to reboot your host.

Using VMware vSphere Update Manager

Using Update Manager takes a little longer to setup but will save you time in the long run if you need to apply a package or patch on a large scale.  The process to getting the bundles on your hosts is two-fold.  First we need to update the patch and create a baseline and then simply attach that baseline, scan, and remediate our host just as we always have for the standard ESXi patches.

So first off we need to be in the Administration View of Update Manager.  This can be accessed by either clicking the 'Update manager' icon under the Solutions and Appliances section of the Home screen or by selecting 'Admin View' while on the Update Manager tab.  Once in Admin View we have a couple of tasks to perform; we need to upload our new patch and then create a baseline containing it.

Navigate to the Patch Repository tab and click 'Import Patches' in the top right corner.  The remainder of this process is quite simple.  Browse to the zip file containing the patches and upload the file.  Once uploaded you should see your patch in the list (it will be bolded).

Now we need to navigate to the Baselines and Groups tab to create our baseline.  Right-click in some white space on the Baselines and Groups tab and select 'New Baseline'.  Give your baseline a name and a description and select 'Host Patch' as the Baseline Type.  On the next screen we are going to want to select 'Fixed' as our Patch Option as this baseline is only going to contain one patch and it is never going to change.  Now we should be on the step where we need to select our patches to add to the baseline.  Find your newly uploaded patch and click the down arrow to add it to the baseline.  Once completed click 'Finish'.

So now that we have a baseline created containing our patch that we want installed, the process of getting it on to the hosts should be quite familiar if you are using Update Manager in your environment.  Simply attach your new baseline to the host, Scan it, and Remediate.

Scott Lowe’s Mastering VMware vSphere 5 – A Review

Throughout the holidays I had a little downtime and what better way to fill it but with some new learning.  I've had a copy of Scott Lowe's Mastering VMware vSphere 5 laying around for a few weeks and with my intents to start ramping up my VCP 5 studies I thought I would would dive right into it.

Now, I've never had the opportunity to read Scotts precursor 'Mastering VMware vSphere 4' bur from the reviews that I have read it was a smashing success.  I can honestly say that Mastering VMware vSphere 5 is the same.  A whopping 768 pages covers everything vSphere 5 has to offer and is laid out in such a fashion that it is understandable to the newbie to virtualization, yet still dives technically into subjects to provide that level of interest to an expert.  By that I mean Scott not only covers off the basics of virtualization, the basics of vSphere technology and the initial setup of common components, but he takes you deeper into the products by explaining many advanced features and how to configure them (using not only the vSphere Client but the vMA command line as well).  To top it off he does this in a fashion that is understandable and applicable to me as a vSphere Admin (If you have ever seen any of Scotts' presentations you will know what I mean).

Mastering VMware vSphere 5 covers everything you need to know to install, configure and manage a solid vSphere 5 environment covering off every aspect of the journey.  The chapter layout says it all…

  • Introducing VMware vSphere 5
  • Securing VMware vSphere
  • Planning and Installing VMware ESXi
  • Creating and Managing Virtual Machines
  • Installing and Configuring vCenter Server
  • Using Templates and vApps
  • Installing and Configuring vSphere Update Manager
  • Managing Resource Allocation
  • Creating and Configuring Virtual Networks
  • Balancing Resource Utilization
  • Creating and Configuring Storage Devices
  • Monitoring VMware vSphere Performance
  • Ensuring High Availability and Business Continuity
  • Automating VMware vSphere

For anyone looking to achieve VCP 5 status (like myself), each and every chapter contains a section at the end titled 'The Bottom Line'.  The Bottom Line contains key takeaways from the chapter and then asks you questions under a Master It heading.  To me this is a huge selling point of this book as it triggers you to think back on what you have just read, answer questions, and apply it to certain scenarios that you are presented with.  A great way to help you retain and apply knowledge!

Honestly I sat and read this book from cover to cover which I rarely do with technical books.  But that's not to say that it isn't referencable in any way.  In the few short days I've had it on my desk at work it is already peppered with post-it notes, bookmarks, and torn pieces of paper with chicken scratch and design ideas scribbled all over. This book provided me with a great resource to help with the install/upgrade and management of my vSphere environment and an excellent piece of study material to help complement all of the documentation on the VCP 5 exam blueprint, and a great technical overview of some of the functions of vSphere that I haven't had the chance to explore myself.  So, if you are looking for any or all of those things I would most certainly recommend picking up a copy of Scott Lowe's Mastering VMware vSphere 5.  The book is available directly from the publisher both in e-pub format as well as paperback.  You can also find it on iTunes, Barne's and Noble, and Amazon.  Also Scott has a fantastic blog where you can read more of his words, and don't forget to follow him on Twitter.

Veeam v6 Distributed Architecture – Proxies, Repositories and Bears! OH MY!

With the release of Veeam Backup and Replication v6 came a completely redesigned distributed architecture.  This architecture, coupled with many other enhancements to v6 (listed here) work together to help you achieve faster transfer speeds, more concurrent jobs, and removes the load off of your Veeam Backup server.

I decided to run a few tests just to see if in fact they are faster!  Now I only replicated local, as well, I only ran one concurrent job, and I only included one VM so make note that I'm not using this technology to its' full potential, but none the less, I did still see an improvement.

So I fired up an 80 GB VM and first ran replication the way I would normally have in v5.  That is replicated directly to an ESXi host.  

So as you can see it took roughly 59 minutes to complete the first full replication of the VM.  Also it specifies the bottleneck as being my target, in this case, the host that I'm replicating to.  So, I created a Windows 2008 VM on the target ESXi host and added that VM to Veeam as a Backup Proxy.  I created a new replication job targeting the same VM, duplicated all of the settings from the first job but this time specifying my newly created VM as the Target Proxy.  Re-ran the job with the following results…

and voila.  This time my full replication only took roughly 45 minutes!  I know you may be thinking that's only 14 minutes faster, but it's also just 1 VM.  Take that 14 minutes and multiply it by 50 VMs or 100 VMs and you end up with a nice little time saver!  As well, you can see now that my target is no longer by bottleneck.  This inspired me to go one step further.  I created another VM and set this one up as a Backup Proxy as well.  Again, duplicated the job, this time setting my new proxy as the Source Proxy and leaving the Target Proxy as the one I created in the last step.  Once again I did a full replication of the VM…

OK!  Now we're talkin!  Coming in now at just under 26 minutes we have shaved off 33 minutes and cut our replication time more than half!   This to me is a huge advantage, especially if you are doing any sort of replication across a WAN.  Again, these are just my tests so you may not get the same results.  But for the most part this is what I have been seeing with my replication jobs in v6 so far.  So if you aren't using any of the new distributed architecture components included in Veeam v6 I would probably read up on them and get them into your environment.  Veeam has done a great job with this release and this is just one of many new features and enhancements that they have included.  On another side note, subsequent incremental replication jobs on this VM are taking a whopping 4 minutes and processing at a rate of 300 MB/s or so.  WOW!

Again as always, any comments or question or corrections don't hesitate to post in the areas below…

VMware vSphere Troubleshooting and VMware vSphere Performance Monitoring Training by TrainSignal

AND LESS WE FORGET A NICE LITTLE GIVE-AWAY AT THE BOTTOM….

Being an active member of the virtualization community I have been fortunate enough to have won a couple of Trainsignal VMware  training DVDs (Performance and Troubleshooting).  I thought I would do up this post in order to help people understand how these  dvd's have helped me, and maybe help people make a decision about picking up some TrainSignal training if they are on the fence. 

First off I want to mention the enthusiasm and energy from the presenter David Davis really makes these videos top notch.  I've  watched video training before that tends to put you to sleep and eventually results in you not even completing the courses, but the  excitement in David Davis' voice coupled with the technical quality of the content he covers really keeps you engaged in the  videos.  You can really tell that David is passionate about what he does and really takes pride in the quality of the end result.

As for the content, the Troubleshooting Training takes you through 30 lessons each broken up into a handful of subsections.  David  starts at how to setup your own lab and ends with a video outlining where to go to solve some of the most common situations  quickly.  The meat and bones of the course is in between these lessons.  David takes you through complete scenarios around  troubleshooting networking, storage (FC, NFS, and iSCSI), vCenter, ESX and ESXi, vMotion, SVMotion, DRS, HA, and VM Power On  Failures.

The Performance training is divided up into a whopping 40 lessons that again start with a lab setup and include everything and  anything you need to know about tuning and optimizing your vSphere environment to get the best possible performance out of it.  Again, every possible performance related subject is covered including Memory, CPU, Storage, and DRS.  You will not find a better performance monitoring resource out there anywhere.  This training not only touches on using VMware's monitoring products such as AppSpeed, vCenter Operations, Capacity IQ, esxtop, ESXPlot, and IO Blazer but it also covers a wide range of third party applications like Veeam Monitor, vKernel vOperations Suite, Xangati, and XtraVirt.

To be honest both of these training courses by TrainSignal are a must have for any VI Admin or anyone looking to obtain their VCAP certifications.  Both the troubleshooting and the performance monitoring along with the vSphere Security and vSphere PowerCli Training are combined in a VCAP package on TrainSignal.com.   They are jam packed full of quality content that can be viewed directly off the DVD's, on your IPAD, or even on TrainSignals Training Portal online.  They are laid out in a way where you can either sit through them from start to finish, or skip directly to your desired location.  I would recommend these to anyone looking to expand their knowledge in regards to vSphere.

AND ON WITH THE GIVE-AWAY!! YOU COULD WIN A COPY OF TRAINSIGNAL'S VMWARE VSPHERE 5 TRAINING!!!

No Way!!!

Yes Way!  Get  your hands on a copy of TrainSignal's VMware vSphere 5 Training by David Davis and Elias Khnaser.  Nearly 17 hours of jam-packed vSphere 5 training on to 3 DVDs.  This is the perfect training for anyone looking to prepare for the VCP 5 certification or even if you are just looking to expand your knowlege around what's new with vSphere 5!

How do I get my hands on this?  

Hey that's the easy part!  Simply comment in the form below and let the world know what your favorite new feature of vSphere 5 is!  To be honest you could just comment on whatever you want but I was just trying to make it interesting…!  Be sure to put your twitter handle the comment somewhere if you want that extra entry!

What!?!?  Extra entries!! OMG!

Sure, why not.  Simply follow me on twitter and send out the tweet below and I'll throw an extra ballot in for you!  If you can't see the tweet box below it is because you are just on the main page, you might need to click directly into this article…or just tweet this.. I just entered the @mwpreston @trainsignal #happynewsphere contest via http://blog.mwpreston.net/

 

 

So how do I know if I won?

On January 16th or so I'll do some sort of random number generation compared to excel spreadsheet magic hat operation and pick a winner!  From there I'll get in touch with the winner whether it be through email, twitter, facebook, telephone, telegram, etc and let them know…after I have confirmation I'll post an update here!  If for some reason I don't hear back from the winner or they don't want the prize or whatever, I'll do it all again!

Good Luck!!!