Tag Archives: VMware

Test driving vCloud Air On-Demand–Part 1

vmware-vcloud-air-virtual-private-cloud-ondemand-1-638

As a vExpert I tend to get a number of opportunities to evaluate different pieces of software and platforms – and as much as I’d like to simply look at every one I just don’t have the time to do so.  That said, when the vCloud team reached out with an offer to have a go at their vCloud Air On-Demand service I rearranged some of my priorities – partly because cloud is interesting to me, but mostly because they also gave me the chance to let my readers have the same opportunity!  VMware offers everyone $300 in service credits to evaluate vCloud Air On-Demand, but they gave me an extra $200 – and the promotional code to give you guys the same!  So, if you register at using this exact link – and use the promo code Influencer2015, you too can have a total of $500 in service credits to play with.  Just a note – you have 90 days to use up your credits before they expire – oh, and you need to register before June 30th, 2015 – so hurry!  Another caveat, this offer is valid for NEW MyVMware accounts only – so, ummm, uh, yeah, find another email to register with Smile

On to the evaluation

So I’ve recorded a couple of videos in regards to what I’ve done inside of vCloud Air, the first one, attached just below this paragraph takes us through a little tour of the vCloud Air web UI, and shows us the steps to get our first VM up and running.

 

Now if you don’t feel like listening to my Canadian accenty, cold-infested, whispering (I had a house full of sleeping kids) voice I’ve written the process down as well.  Hey, we all learn in different ways right – some people like videos and others can’t stand them – so here’s both.

Judging a book by its’ cover

A simple, clean interface can go a long way when it comes to peoples reaction and opinions on the software that they use.  The vCloud Air team certainly kept this in mind when developing the UI supporting their on-demand service.  It’s very clean – showing only the basic information that one would really need to see to get a handle on their virtual data centers and VMs.  If you have ever used vCloud Director (vCD) you know just how many different tabs and options are available within VMware’s cloud offering – there are a ton of them, and I find the vCD interface cumbersome and hard to use.  It’s nice to see that VMware has taken some of the basic functionality that vCD provides, and abstracted it away to the vCloud Air UI – allowing their customers to perform common tasks such as power operations, network setup, and VM creation/snapshotting without having to ever set foot inside of vCD.

Let’s Cloud Bro!

Let’s get to it!  The first step after logging into the vCloud Air portal is to create a virtual datacenter.  Before we do that though we have to determine exactly what region we want to work in.  As shown below we have some options as to where we would like our virtual datacenter to be located – I’ve chosen Virginia for some of my testing – but if you are following along, chose one close to you.

vd

To create our Virtual Data Center select the + icon next to the Virtual Data Centers label.  As you can see there isn’t a whole lot of configuration required in this step, simply a name.  Also you can see that each VDC allows for 50 VMs containing 130 GHz CPU, 100GB of RAM and 2TB of both SSD accelerated storage and standard storage.

createVDC_thumb[1]

At this point automation kicks in and our virtual data center is created.  Once it’s complete we can see that a number of components will be created and configured by default for us.  Selecting our VDC from the left hand menu and clicking on the ‘Networks’ tab we can see a number of these pre-configured items such as our public gateway IP address, the default gateway IP for our internal network, as well as the IP range that will be handed out to VMs within our VDC.  We can also create new networks from directly within the vCloud Air UI, however if you need to delve a little deeper into the services offered you can do so by using the ‘Manage in vCloud Director’ link in the top right hand corner.  This will open an already authenticated vCloud Director session where you can manage your networks and add services such as DHCP, load balancing, etc. Essentially all of the functionality that you would normally have when running a full instance of vCD.

networkstab_thumb[1][1]

In order to create firewall rules, nat rules, and assign an accessible public IP to our gateway we need to select our default gateway under the ‘Gateways’ tab.  Again, we can break out into a vCloud Director window here as well.   We will come back to this section in part 2 of this series to connect our VM to the internet and grant ssh access but for now its just good to know where this information is located.

gateway_thumb[1][1]

Speaking of VMs let’s get on with the show here and get our first VM created.  This is done on the ‘Virtual Machines’ tab (Use the giant “Create your first virtual machine” button).  When creating a VM you can select from the catalog which has been provided by VMware, or by creating a catalog, uploading and ISO and creating your VM from scratch.  For the sake of this evaluation I just used the 32 bit Ubuntu server provided by VMware.

createVM_thumb[1][1]

After selecting your VM from the catalog you can then name it and customize the cpu/memory/storage to your choosing.  vCloud Air will default these settings to their preferred amounts but you can change them using their respective sliders.  What’s nice about his screen is that you can see how s simple CPU, RAM and Storage change can affect your price per hour.  In my case, this Ubuntu VM with 1 CPU, 2GB RAM and 10 GB of accelerated storage is a mere 5 cents/hour – not bad

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Once the VM has been created it should now be listed under the Virtual Machines tab.  Right-clicking the VM will bring up a context menu showing all the actions available, including power options, console access, snapshotting, etc..

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Clicking on the VMs name within our list will also bring us into more details in regards to that VM.  The ‘Resource Usage’ tab showing estimated costs, ‘Settings’ tab showing various configurable items, and the ‘Networks’ tab showing the networking information for the VM.  As shown below we can see that our new Ubuntu VM has claimed the first address within our IP pool – 192.168.109.2.

vmnetwork_thumb[1][1]

Another important note about the ‘Settings’ tab is the ‘Guest OS Password’ section.   In order to login to our newly created VM we will need the root password.  This can be revealed by clicking ‘show initial password’.  By default, all the VMs from the default catalog provided by vCloud Air will prompt you to change the default password after first login.  Let’s make note of this password and go ahead and open a console to change it.

changepassword_thumb[1][1]

As we can see below the console provided by the vCloud Air UI is pretty barebones – allowing us to simply provide input to the VM and a button to send CTRL+ALT+DEL to the VM.  I found this a little frustrating at times, especially since I was using a Linux VM.  There were times where I had to direct a CTRL+C command to the VM but had no way of doing so, instead I had to proceed with a complete reboot of the VM.  An on-screen keyboard may be a better solution here.

keyboard

At this point we are done with part 1 of my test drive.  My goal here was simply to get a VM up and running and we’ve certainly accomplished that.  So far my opinion around vCloud Air On-Demand is a good one – Aside from a little hiccup of trying to send CTRL+ commands to the VM through the built-in console everything else has been a breeze.  I really like the UI – how they have taken some of the complexity involved with trying to certain tasks within vCD and provided a one-click, automated solution without ever having to touch vCD – yet still giving users the option to move into vCD if needed.  In part 2 we will have a look at setting up some of the networking and firewalling in our virtual data center – things will get a bit more complicated as we explore the NAT and firewall rules inside our gateway.

If you have any experience or thoughts about vCloud Air I’d love to hear them – leave a comment below or find me on twitter.  And as mentioned before if you wanted to evaluate vCloud Air On-Demand yourself go ahead and register here, using the Influencer2015 promotional code to get yourself $500.00 in service credits.

Don’t forget to read Test Driving vCloud Air On-Demand Part 2

Unitrends Free equals Free Unitrends!

Recently Unitrends have released a free product cleverly titled Unitrends Free.  The product, which is unlimited in terms of VMs, sockets, scheduling will allow members of the Unitrends community to protect 1TB of VMs absolutely free, forever!  I had the chance to get on the beta for this product and loved every bit of it.  It’s a great product with a beautiful UI – and given the price (FREE) I would certainly recommend you give Unitrends Free a shot to see if you have a place for it.

Installation

Installation of Unitrends Free is a breeze – after meeting a couple of requirements in terms of .net 3.5 and 4.0 configurations you simply point the installer to either and ESXi host or vCenter server within your environment – from there you specify desired storage locations and IP information for your Unitrends appliance.  You can also chose to size your backup storage at this point – allowing you to add a disk to the appliance.

Installations storage

From there the magic of automation takes over as your Unitrends Free appliance ovf is deployed, powered on, network configured, virtual disk for backup storage is added and finally a browser is opened putting you directly into a configuration wizard where items such as NTP, SMTP, hostname, and root passwords are setup.

installwizard

Once completed we move directly into the newly redesigned Unitrends Free user interface.

Speaking of UI

Wow!  They say that first impressions count and this one really did with me.  I love the design and intuitiveness of this user interface.  It’s very clean, lots of whitespace, and very very easy to use.  The default dashboard makes it easy to see all the important aspects about  the health of your backup environment; the performance and speed, the unprotected VMs, any active jobs as well as the status and capacity of your storage.  To top that if you are a member of the Unitrends Community forum you can see to the top posts here as well (which is where support for the product is provided BTW).  All of this, on one single section of the UI.

UnitrendsUI[1]

Getting up and running

addvCenter[4]Pretty is definitely a selling factor but functionality is key  There are only a few things you need to do to get running with UF.  First, we simply need to add our vCenter server or ESXi host as what Unitrends calls a ‘Protected Asset’.  This is done on the ‘Protected Assets’ tab inside of the ‘Configure’ section by clicking ‘Add’.  From there enter in the standard fqdn/ip and authentication information for vCenter and save.

Now that we have configured our vCenter we can begin the process of setting up a backup job.  Clicking ‘Create Job’ from the ‘Jobs’ section will get us there.  The backup job creation is very intuitive; first selecting which VMs we want inside the job from the tree view and then defining a few job settings revolving around scheduling and backup verification.

createjob1[1] createjob2[1]

Your backup job status can be monitored  through the ‘Active Jobs’ tab in the “Jobs’ section of the UI, however to get a very clean quick overview of our complete environment we can head to the ‘Protect’ section – As shown below we can see that we have a successful backup for the OnIceEntertaintment VM on Thursday but we have yet to process a backup of the Scoreboard VM.  A very nice overview of just how protected our environment is.  And, if we desired, we could simply select our VM from this view, click ‘Backup’ and create a job directly from here as well.

protectionoverview

Unitrends Free also offers deduplication and compression as it pertains to storing your backed up VMs.  I can tell you that the OnIceEntertainment VM was just over 2GB in size, and when Unitrends was all said and done with it the amount of data laid down during the first full backup to the storage, after deduplication and compression, was just under 1GB – a 50% reduction – not bad.  An incremental backup after laying down another 1GB file to the VM resulted in another 200MB of space being utilized – not too shabby : 0.  The first full backup of my VM took a mere 2.5 minutes, with the incremental taking only 1.5 minutes.  Even though it is a small VM these are still pretty impressive performance statistics.

Backups are processed in what Unitrends calls an Incremental Forever strategy – meaning we have an initial full backup followed by daily incremental backups.  The appliance will automatically create synthetic full backups from the existing incremental backups in order to ensure very quick restores in the event you need them.

incrementalforever

Recovery

RecoverOptions Let’s face it – we can backup to our hearts delight but when push comes to shove it’s the recovery that we really need to be top notch!  Unitrends Free provides three different recovery options as it pertains to your virtual machines; recovering the entire VM, individual file level recovery, and instant recovery.

Recovering the entire VM is pretty self explanatory – you simply select your restore point, provide the location in which you want to restore to and Unitrends will restore a complete duplicate of your VM.  In my testing, the 3GB OnIceEntertainment VM was restored in only 3.5 minutes.

That said, if you can’t wait the 3.5 minutes Unitrends also provides the instant recovery option.  Instant Recovery reserves a portion of your appliance backup storage for use as an NFS datastore which gets mounted directly to your hosts.  From there, VMs are recovered and powered on within vSphere utilizing the actual backup files stored on the Unitrends appliance.  What this does is provide a super fast way to recover your VMs – mine was up and responding to pings within 2 minutes.  From there the VM is relocated to a datastore (utilizing Storage vMotion) of your choosing during the restore wizard.  Instant Recovery is a great way to get VMs up and running quickly, while ensuring that they eventually get moved back to a production datastore.  Instant Recovery also provides an “Audit Mode” which allows us to simply ensure that the backup itself is indeed restorable.  When/if you wish to end your Instant Recovery job you can do so by clicking ‘Tear Down’ from the Instant Recovery tab.

instant recovery

If you aren’t looking for a complete VM restore and just need a simple file that may have been deleted off of your VM then the File Level Recovery option is the way to go.  The FLR does not actually perform an restoration of files to your VMs, but provides accessibility to your desired restore point utilizing either a CIFS or iSCSI connection to your Unitrends appliance.  The intention is that you and/or the app owner would simply connect to either the CIFS share or iSCSI target and perform the actual copying of data back to your VM or other desired location manually.  This is basically an Instant Recovery with no visibility into the VM from vSphere and only internal network access into the recovered VM from the Unitrends appliance.  Once the files have been recovered the backups are then un-mounted from the Unitrends appliance by clicking ‘Remove’

flr

Is it worth the price?

Given that the product is FREE, yes FREE I would definitely say so.  It does a lot of things well, backup, restore, reporting, etc.… and it has one of the nicest user interfaces that I’ve seen – it’s clean, easy to use, and very intuitive.  Not once did I have to ready any manuals and/or forums to perform any of the backups or restores.  Not that they don’t exist because they do – support also exists for the product as well.  Unitrends Free is designed bo be a product for the community and keeping true to the community philosophy this is offered through the Unitrends Free Community forums as well as through a multitude of knowledge base articles.  Although I only tested with vSphere the product does support Hyper-V as well, which is also FREE!    The product is unlimited in terms of the number of VMs, sockets, retention and scheduling – this is all included in the free edition.  You will be limited however to 1TB of protected capacity.

Honestly I think this is a great product and I like the way that Unitrends are marketing this as a “community” product.  As always I encourage you to go ahead and check it out for yourself  and let me know what you think – you can’t go wrong being that the price is free.

Note: I was given compensation from Unitrends in exchange for getting on their beta, checking out Unitrends Free and posting my thoughts around it!  Key here is that they are my thoughts – Unitrends in no way told me what to say or how to say it!

Friday Shorts – Certs, Tools, Loads, VVOLs and #SFD7

It’s been quite a long time since my last “Friday Shorts” installment and the links are certainly piling up!  So, without further ado here’s a few tidbits of information that I shared over the last little while…

A little bit of certification news!

VMware LogoVMware education and certification has certainly taken it’s fair share of backlash in the last few months, and honestly it’s rightly deserved!  People don’t like when they invest in a certification, both in money and time, just to have an expiry date placed on all their efforts!  Either way, that’s old news and nothing is changing there.  What I was most concerned about was whether or not I would be able to skip my upgrade of my VCP and just take a VCAP exam instead, which would in turn re-up my VCP.  Then the announcement of no more VCAP was made – which through those questions of mine for a loop – but now, after this announcement it appears that their will be an upgrade/migration path for those current VCAP holders to work towards the newly minted VCIX.  Have a read and figure out where you fit in and start planning.   I already hold a VCAP5-DCA so by taking the design portion of the VCIX I would be able to earn my VCIX certification in full – sounds good to me!  Now we just need the flipping exams blueprints to come out so we all can get to studying! 🙂

New version of RVTools!

rvtoolsYup, the most famous peice of “nice to haveware” has an updated version.  I’ve used RVTools for quite some time now – as an administrator any piece of free software that I can get to help me with my job is gold!  RVTools saves me a ton of time when gathering information as it pertains to my virtual environment and my VMs.  If you haven’t used it definitely check it out – if you have, upgrade – you can see all of the new changes and download here!!

KEMP giving away LoadMaster!

kempKeeping on the topic of free tools let’s talk about KEMP for a moment!  They are now offering their flagship KEMP LoadMaster with a free tier!  If you need any load balancing done at all I would definitely check this out!  Now, there is going to be some limitations right, nothing in this world is completely free 🙂  Certainly it’s only community supported and you can only balance up to a maximum of 20 MB/s – but hey, may be a great solution for your lab!  Eric Shanks has a great introduction to how to get it up and going on his blog so if you need a hand check it out!  I’ve also done up a quick review a few months back on load balancing your LogInsight installation with KEMP.  Anyways, if you are interested in checking it go and get yourself a copy!

You got your snapshot in my VVOL!

As my mind wanders during the tail end of the NHL season I often find my mind racing about different things during the commercial breaks of Habs games – this time I said to myself, self, do snapshots work the same when utilizing the new VVOL technology.  Then myself replied and it said, hey self, you know who would know this answer, Cormac Hogan.  A quick look at his blog and low and behold there it was, a post in regards to shapshots and VVOLs.  If you have some time check it out – Cormac has  a great  way of laying things out in quick and easy to follow blog posts and this on is no exception.  In fact, before the first place team in the eastern conference returned from the tv timeout I had a complete understanding of it – now, back to our regularly scheduled programming.

 #SFD7 – Did you see it?

SFD-Logo2-150x150It appears that most if not all the videos from Storage Field Day 7 have been uploaded from the Silicon Valley internets into the wide world of YouTube!  There was a great list of delegates, vendors and presenters there so I would definitely recommend you check them out!  There were crazy hard drive watches, fire alarms, and best of all, a ton of great tech being talked about!  IMO the show could of done with just a few more memes though 🙂  With that said you can find all their is to know about Storage Field Day 7 over at GestaltIT’s landing page!

Rock the vote! Top vBlog voting now open!

2014_Award-Banner_Top-25-smallIt’s that special time of year again – a time for the virtualization community to come together and vote for their favorite virtualization blogs.  Yes – the Top vBlog Voting for 2015 is underway over at vSphere-land.com.  As much as this is just simply a ranking of blogs I’m not going to lie – it feels great to be recognized for all the work that I put into this blog and I appreciate each and every vote and reader that I have here on mwpreston.net.  This will be my forth year participating in the Top vBlog voting and honestly I’m so humbled by the way things have turned out.  In 2012 I put myself out there in the contest and came in at #125, 2013 I moved up to a whopping #39, and last year, 2014 I landed in spot #20 (wow!)  Thank you all for the support!

That’s one small step for man, one giant…I have a dream!

black-sheep-1996-02-gI know the sub title above doesn’t make much sense but wanted to somehow sneak a picture of Farley into this post, so there’s that!  – Seriously though, if you are a reader of this blog, or any blog on the vLaunchpad for that matter be sure to get over to the survey and vote!  Help pay respects and give recognition to the bloggers that spend countless hours trying to bring you relevant and useful information.  Be sure to read this post by Eric Siebert outlining a few tips and things to keep in mind while voting.  This isn’t a popularity contest – vote for the blogs you feel are the best – and if you aren’t sure, take a look back at some of the content they’ve produced over the past year.  Eric has links and feeds to over 400 blogs (insane!) on the launchpad if you have a spare 3 or 4 days 🙂

Speaking of Eric

Don’t forget to give huge thanks and props out to Eric for the time that he spends putting this thing together.  I can’t imagine the amount of work that goes into maintaining something like this.  Honestly I don’t know how he keeps up with it all, the linking, etc.  I have a hard enough time going back through my drafts and creating hyperlinks 🙂  So props to you Eric and Thank You!  Also, reach out to the wonderful folks at Infinio and thank them for once again sponsoring the Top vBlog Voting!  A lot of what goes on within the community wouldn’t be possible without sponsorships and help from all of the great vendors out there!

You have until March 16

That’s right, this whole thing wraps up on March 16 so make sure you get your choices in before then.  You will find mwpreston dot net front and center on the top of your screen once you start the survey (just in case you are looking for it :)).  Obviously I’d appreciate a vote but be true to yourself, if you don’t think I deserve it, skip me and move on to someone you think does 🙂

mwpreston dot net vote

I tend to use the Top vBlog Voting as a time to reflect back on what I’ve accomplished over the last year and 2014 was a super one for me!  I had the chance to attend a couple new conferences –  VeeamON, and Virtualization Field Day 4 – all of which I tried my best to cover on this blog.  I’ve also been doing a lot of writing for searchVMware.techtarget.com which has been a blast (if you are looking for a best news blog vote, check them out).  No matter where I end up it’s simply an honor to be part of this community and to have made so many new friends from across the world!  So here’s to an even better 2015

The Software Defined VMUG Advantage

vmugI’ve been a VMUG Advantage member going on three years now so I’ve experienced first hand some of the great value that it brings along with it.  Basically, if you plan on attending VMworld and doing a couple of exams or training courses throughout the year the VMUG Advantage discounts offered more than pay for the program fees.  The full VMUG Advantage beneiftis can be seen here, but for laziness sake, here’s a quick outline of the “biggies”.

  • $100 discount on VMworld
  • 20% off VMware delivered classes
  • 20% off VMware certifications
  • Access to all VMworld online content
  • 50% off VMware Workstation/Fusion
  • Discounts on VMware Learning Zone, VMware On-Demand, Lab Connect and more.

With that said, those that can’t attend VMworld or are not planning on taking any VMware training or exams might find themselves scratching their heads wondering what real value the VMUG Advantage program can bring to them.  And honestly, before now their wasn’t a whole lot.

Enter EVALExperience

New in 2015 VMUG Advantage subscribers will now have access to EVALExperience!  EVALExpereince provides subscribers with exclusive access to certain pieces of VMware software, coupled with a 365 day non-production NFR license.  Basically, VMUG Advantage subscribers will be able to download and use nine different pieces of VMware software in their home labs in order to explore new features, gain hands on experience and further educate themselves on the offerings.  So what’s included?  Well, it’s not a simple lightweight set of software – there is some expensive sweet applications included (shown below) that should be able to keep you busy for the year

evalexperienceproducts

VMware vCenter Server 5 Standalone. VMware vSphere w/ Operations Management (Enterprise Plus), VMware vCloud Suite Standard, VMware vRealize Operations Insight, VMware vRealize Operations 6 Enterprise, VMware vRealize Log Insight, VMware vRealize Operations for Horizon, VMware Horizon Advanced, VMware Virtual SAN

To me, EVALExperience is a solution to a couple of gripes within the community.  First, it adds that extra value to those VMUG Advantage subscribers that don’t attend VMworld, or don’t take any official training or certifications.  IMO the ability to evaluate and download software for longer than the usual 60 day trial period is well worth the $200 price tag of VMUG Advantage.  Secondly, it provides somewhat of a replacement to the VMTN that VMware used to offer.  The VMTN which offered a similar type solution of downloading and using NFR licenses of VMware’s products was put to rest a number of years back.  The community for a while now have been trying to get VMware to reinstate the VMTN – this to me, along with teaming up with VMUG, answers those screams about the VMTN.

So, if you are already a VMUG Advantage subscriber you should have received an email outlining how you can gain access, if you aren’t, go and sign up here.  More info on the EVALExperience program can also be found here.  For now, a big thanks to VMUG and Happy Testing!!!

What’s in a name? – The importance of naming conventions

namebookAll to often I find myself in the following situation – I’m in the midst of deploying a new service or project into our environment.  I have gone through tons of user manuals and articles, went through weeks of training and technical tutorials, successfully completed proof of concepts and pilots, yet as I’m beginning the production deployment I sit at my desk puzzled, staring into space in deep thought, perplexed by the multitude of options running through my mind over what I am going to name this server.  In the Windows world, those 15 simple characters allowed in the NetBIOS name puts my mind in such a tailspin – sure, we have our own naming conventions for servers, first three digits are dedicated to a location code, followed by a dash, then whatever, then ending in a “-01” and increment – so that leaves me now with 8 characters to describe the whatever part that I’m deploying, and in some instances, it’s those 8 simple characters that tend to be the most difficult decision in the project – even with somewhat of a server and endpoint naming convention in place.

But it goes beyond just servers and endpoints.

Sure, most companies have naming processes in place for their servers and workstations – and I’ll eventually come up with something for those 8 characters after a coffee and some arguments/advice from others.  The most recent struggles I’ve had though, apply not to servers, but to inventory items within vSphere.  There are a lot objects within vSphere that require names – Datastores, PortGroups, Switches, Folders, Resource Pools, Datacenters, Storage Profiles, Datastore Clusters…..I can go on for quite some time but you get the point.  All of these things require some sort of a name, and with that name comes a great deal of importance in terms of support.  For outsiders looking in on your environment and their understanding of what something is, as well as for your own “well-being” when troubleshooting issues – a name can definitely make or break your day.

So how do we come up with a naming convention?

boy-61171_640This sucks but there is no right or wrong answer for your environment – it’s your environment and you need to do whatever makes sense for you!  Unlike naming children we can’t simply pick up a book called “1001 names for vSphere Inventory Items” and say them out loud with our spouses till we find one that works – we need something descriptive, something we can use when troubleshooting to quickly identify what and where the object is.

Back to my recent struggle – it had to do with datastores.  For a long time I’ve had datastores simply defined as arrayname-vmfs01 and increment.  So, vnx-vmfs01, vnx-vmfs02, eva-vmfs01, etc…  This has always been fine for us – we are small enough that I can pretty much remember what is what.  That said, after adding more arrays and  a mixture of disk types (FC, SAS, NLSAS, SATA) I began to see a problem.  Does eva-vmfs01 sit on SAS or SATA disks?  Is it on the 6400 or 4400?  Is it in the primary or secondary datacenter?  Is this production or test storage?  Does it house VMs or backups?  What is the LUN ID of eva-vmfs01?  I know – most of the questions can be answered by running some CLI commands, clicking around within the vSphere client or performing a little more investigation – but why put ourselves through this when we can simply answer these questions within the objects name?

So I set out to Twitter, asking if anyone had any ideas in regards to naming conventions for datastores – and I got a ton of responses, all with some great suggestions, and all different!  So to sum it all up, here are a few suggestions of what to include in a datastore name that I received.

  • Array munufacturer/model/model number
  • Disk Type (SAS, FC, NLSAS, SATA, SCSI)
  • Lun Identifier/Volume Number
  • Destination Type (Backups, VMs)
  • Storage Tiers (Gold, Silver Bronze/Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier3)
  • Transport type (iSCSI, NFS, FC, FCoE)
  • Location/Datacenter
  • Raid Levels
  • vSphere Cluster the datastore belongs to
  • Of course, Description

Yeah, that’s a crap-load of information to put in a name – and maybe it makes sense to you to use it all but in my case it’s just too much.  That said, it’s all great information, the toughest part is just picking the pieces you need and arranging them in an order that you like.  Having something named DC1-TOR-HP-EVA-6400-FIBRE-FC-R6-VM-GOLD-CLUSTER1-L15 is a little much.

And in the end

So what did I chose?  Well, to tell you the truth I haven’t chose anything yet.  I thought by writing this post I might spark some creative thinking and it would pop into my head – but no – I’m more confused than ever.  Honestly, I’m leaning towards something like array-disktype-lunid, like EVA-FIBRE-L6 or VNX-NLSAS-L4, but I just don’t know.  This stuff is certainly not a deal breaker, but I’m just trying to make my life a bit easier.  If you think you have the end all be all of naming conventions feel free to leave a comment!  I’m always open for suggestions!

mwpreston at #VMworld

With less than a week until the big show and only three days before I hop into the big tin can to get there I thought a post in regards to my “planned” VMworld experience is in order!  I say planned since VMworld is always a crazy experience and things can change quickly with so much to do and learn. That said I do know of a few items in my calendar that are set in stone!

Opening Acts

This is a great idea for a conference primer that is taking place this year!  The VMunderground team, along with the vBrownbag crew have set the stage for some great knowledge dropping fun Sunday before VMworld.  I’m happy to say that I will be taking a spot on the last panel of the day, dealing with Architecture and Infrastructure.  Needless to say I’m excited to be taking part but what I’m most excited about is the other rockstars I’ll be sitting next to – Melissa Palmer (@vmiss), Phoummaia Schmitt (@exchangegoddess), Maish Saidel-Keesing (@maishsk) and John Arrasjid (@vcdx001) and moderated by Matt Liebowitz (@mattliebowitz).  Umm, yeah, you read that right – the FIRST VCDX!  I’ll certainly be sitting on the shoulders of giants during this one and hopefully have a little to contribute, but am mostly looking forwarded to learning from the best!.  Opening acts kicks off at 1PM at City View at Metreon with our panel starting at 3pm.

Book Signing

Yeah, so not only do I get to partake in a panel session with some of the brightest virtualization minds in the world, I get to also sit down and sign books for a half an hour – Each and every VMworld experience seems to be topping the previous ever since I’ve been attending.  Anyways, I’ll be at the VMworld bookstore from 1:00PM to 1:30PM on Tuesday if you want to have  your copy of Troubleshooting vSphere Storage signed.  Honestly, this is a first for me so I have no idea what to write in a book and Google hasn’t been much of a help with this one!  Either way, if you want the book signed, any other book signed Smile, or just want to chat come on by and I’ll be there!

Other Stuff

booksHey, I’ll also have a dozen or so copies of Troubleshooting vSphere Storage to give away so if you are looking for one come and find me – I may have one on me at the time and if I do it’s yours!  Where might you find me?  Well, you can bet your a$$ that I will be at VMunderground on Sunday!  Monday, probably the VMUG leader reception and vFlipcup.  Tuesday, VMUG leader lunch, the vExpert reception, CTO party, Veeam – ugh!  Exhausted just thinking about all of this!  Wednesday I will be sure to hit up the VMware Canada reception eh!  Then move on to of course, the VMworld party!!!  Also you can find me in the hang space and blogger tables periodically throughout the conference.

stickers

On another note, I have a ton of these mwpreston dot net stickers to hand out as well (Don’t worry, I’ll cut them) – I’ll probably just scatter them throughout the place but if you can’t find one and really really want one for some odd reason, just ask!   It’s my crazy shameless self promotion plug of a way of saying thank you to all of you for making this blog what it is today!

Anyways, there’s lots to do and lots to pack so I’ll leave it at this!  Can’t wait to see everyone again – the community really makes the VMworld experience for me – if not for community, it’d just be another conference!

5 Reasons you need to attend VeeamON

If you haven’t heard already Veeam is setting the stage for a backup extravaganza in sin city on October 6th through the 8th.  That’s right!  The long time leader in modern data center availability have locked down the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas to host their (and the worlds) first data center availability event – VeeamON!  Personally, a Veeam conference is something that really excites me.  Being a long time Veeam customer I’ve seen them grow from a quite a small company into the powerhouse they are now, and release after release, they have been consistent in delving groundbreaking features into their products that never fail to surprise me!  I mean, who ever though I would be using my backup software to run intrusion tests on applications?

Veeam On

So what’s the deal with VeeamON and why should you go?  Well, hopefully my handful of reasons is compelling enough to convince you to attend!

Reason 1 – Content is King

Honestly you shouldn’t need to read the remaining 4 reasons after reviewing the content line-up that Veeam has in store for us.  With over 50 breakout sessions, broken down into two three main tracks (Technical, Business, Partner) there will most definitely be enough Veeam goodness to fill anybodies schedule.  Whether you are a customer just starting out or a long time Veeam user looking to dive deeper into the technology, a partner looking to better understand the Veeam solution in order to help with customer needs or a value add re-seller needing a little sales guidance I’m sure you will be able to find value in the session catalog.

veeamtracks

I think we can sum up the VeeamON conference content with one word – Technical!  Looking at the sessions that are available I can honestly say I’m interested in attending almost every single one.  Most breakouts tend to lean more towards the IT professional like myself, someone who wants to skip all of the FUD and dive deep into the technology and learn how it works, how I can better my environment, and common mistakes that are made.  Want an example?  Here are some of sessions that really caught my attention.

Backup Bottleneck Technical Deep Dive

This session is a guide to detect and fix performance issues in your backup infrastructure. This session will focus on a prepared lab and real cases with common bottlenecks and recommendations on how to fix them. Built-in tools from Veeam® Backup & Replication™, Hyper-V and vSphere are used to analyze performance bottlenecks. This session is based on many aspects of real-world examples and deep analysis. Specific topics include:

  • The data flow process
  • Considerations for CPU, I/O and network usage during jobs
  • Considerations on WAN cache and IOPs
  • Performance log deep dive
PowerShell and RestFUL API: Ten Things That You Cannot Do with the GUI

Have you ever faced an issue that you were not able to solve using the Graphical User Interface (GUI)? Your vCenter has a new IP address or DNS name, and jobs started failing immediately? You introduced a new vCenter to your environment, registered hosts and VMs under it, and backup jobs started creating new full backups, instead of incrementals―the situation you would like to avoid? This session will discuss some problems the GUI cannot address and will provide real-life examples of how you can automatically bypass these limitations. This breakout session will feature:

  • Problems that can’t be addressed with the GUI
  • Scripting examples
  • Tips for service providers
  • Customer-submitted scripts
Top 10 Most Common Misconfigurations in Veeam Backup & Replication

Why make a mistake that someone else already made? Attend this breakout session from Veeam® Tech Support to hear the top 10 misconfigurations with Veeam Backup & Replication™. While you may not have these configuration issues, everyone can benefit from how support has corrected the most common mistakes. Attend this breakout session to learn about:

  • Top architecture mistakes and resolution paths
  • Top proxy and repository configuration mistakes and how to fix them
  • Resources for ongoing optimization as environments grow
  • Tips for installing new versions of Veeam software
Top 10 Reports for your Veeam Backup and Virtual Infrastructures

All virtual and backup infrastructures have common configuration flaws. This session will show how you can address these flaws easily with Veeam® Backup Management Suite™. Have you ever wondered which virtual machines (VMs) are (and are not) backed up? Can you ensure all of your critical VMs have the requisite number of restore points? What about the underlying virtualization infrastructure storage? Is it healthy and performing to expected levels? This session will cover the most critical reports for your backup and virtual infrastructures, including:

  • Identifying VMs with potential configuration issues that can prevent you from backing them up
  • How to manage storage the right way, identify wasted space and plan future usage growth
  • Identify protected and unprotected VMs
VMware Backup Best Practices for 2014 using Veeam

Are you looking for the best way to back up your vSphere environment? Attend this session for the latest strategy for VMware backup best practices using VMware vStorage API-based backup solutions. Attend this session to see how the vStorage API has changes over the years. This includes any gotchas and new technologies like VMware Virtual SAN. There are a lot of details around sizing vCPU and storage hardware that can improve your backup strategy. Also you’ll get an exclusive tool that you can use to simulate repeatable workloads. Additional areas covered in this breakout session include how to:

  • Identify the popular processing modes and best practices (Hot Add, NBD, SAN)
  • Identify the most neglected VMware backup steps that cause the most problems during disaster recovery
  • Perform periodic health checks of your backup infrastructure

Aside from the technical sessions expect to hear some keynotes and general sessions as well.   The speakers as it stands today are listed here.  You know, small time guys like Doug Hazelman, Dave Russell, Jason Buffington, Ratmir Timashev, and Anton Gostev.  I’ve seen most of these people speak at previous conferences and I can tell you that we are all in for a treat when they take the stage.

Reason 2 – Get Certified

certified Content not enough to get you there?  How about hefty discount on the newly minted Veeam VMCE training and certification.  Throughout the week the required training course for the VMCE certification will also be taking place, allowing you not only gain the skills and knowledge required to design, architect, configure, install and deploy Veeam, but to tick that box saying the required training has been completed.  Normally this training runs upwards of $3000, but at VeeamON, how’s $650 sound? Not too shabby of a discount for VeeamON attendees!  Oh, and to top that off let’s throw in a voucher for the actual certification itself!  They say what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas but in this case, the VMCE certification knowledge and voucher can follow you home.

Reason 3 – Lab Warz

Still not convinced?  Well, how’s $10,000 sound?  That caught your attention didn’t it?!?  You can have the chance to win $10,000 by participating in Lab Warz!  Onsite at the conference you will find 48 different scenario based hands on labs available to take.  Each lab is 15 minutes and as you can see below, progress through levels starting at beginner through all the way through to architecture.

labwarz

Scenarios such as troubleshooting, designing, configuration and installation will all be covered.  Go ahead and register now, compete against your peers and prove your skills for the chance to take home $10,000 – That’s a lot of zeros!!!!

Reason 4 – Networking

veeamusergroupAnyone who has been to a conference knows that the “hallway” track is one of the most beneficial session you can attend – and the way Veeam has supported the community over the years you can bet that there will be plenty of places and chances for you to network with your peers!  One official event being the Veeam User Groups.  User group meetings will take place on the Monday of the conference and no doubt they will be hugely beneficial to anyone running Veeam products.  You can expect to see technical experts walk you through items such as setting up your environment, upgrading to the latest and greatest Veeam Backup and Replication v8 as well as technical enablement in many different areas.  Discuss all of this with Veeam experts and other end-users.  There’s nothing better than hearing it from your peers and other users that are “in the trenches” with the software.  Aside from the official user group meetings you can expect to see a lot of industry experts on the floor at VeeamON.  Rockstars like Rick Vanover, Anton Gostev, and Doug Hazelman are just a few that I know for sure will be attending, but you can bet that there will be many many more.

Reason 5 – Party!

veeampartyIf money, content, certification, and networking has not been enough to get you to book that flight to Vegas I’ll leave you with two words – Free Beer!  Those that have been lucky enough to attend one of the infamous Veeam parties at VMworld know that they are EPIC!  Well, take that party and multiply it by a thousand since this is Veeam’s event we can be sure the party will be done the “Veeam way”.  Take a moment to put the hustle and bustle of the conference behind you and relax with your peers, industry experts, and Veeam rockstars in a more laid back fashion over a beverage or two!  Also, what better place to have a glowing green party other than fabulous Las Vegas!

So hopefully I’ve given you enough information to convince you to get registered for VeeamON.  Hey, even if you need a little help convincing your boss Veeam has you covered here with this letter template that you can modify to your hearts delight.  Don’t forget to mention the jam packed agenda shown below as well!

veeamonagenda

But wait if that’s not enough how’s a discount sound?  Use the promo code VEEAMONSN14 when registering and you can get yourself a cool 100 dollars off the registration fee!  Here’s hoping I’m lucky enough to to get there myself so we can all get our VeeamON!

Friday Shorts – Free #VMworld passes, #VeeamON, Session Builder, #VirtualDesignMaster and more

Dad!  What are you doing?  It’s Shark Week!.’  –  Dale Doback (John C Reilly) in response to his father shutting off the tv – Step Brothers

Get to VMworld – for free!!!!

vmworld-nolimitsIn case you haven’t heard there are a couple of vendors that currently running contests that could result in YOU getting a free conference pass to VMworld!  So if you haven’t signed up for any of them I suggest that you do!  VMworld is a great time and very informative – it’s pure bliss for the likes of myself!  So, who’s dishing out the passes.  Well, just as they did last year Infinio is giving away a full conference pass, along with a coveted golden ticket to the VMunderground party!  Simplivity has a couple of passes to give away – plus a hefty travel stipend to boot!  VMturbo – a great sponsor of this blog has already drawn for a couple free passes so if you missed the boat there, don’t miss this one!

Register for you session now!

Keeping on the VMworld theme did you know that Session Builder has opened up this week?  If you didn’t you do now.   So, if you have a spare hour or two I would suggest you get over there and start to shape your VMworld experience.  You’ll have over 300 rich technical sessions to chose from and it’s not an easy choice.  I will be posting some of my favorites as soon as I get time to go through it but I suggest you don’t wait for me and go ahead and schedule yours as sometimes the most popular ones fill up fast – and you don’t want to stand in the standby line!!!!

Do you have what it takes to become a virtual design master?

vdmlogoIf so you are a little late but there is always 2015!!!  The second installment of Virtual Design Master has kicked off in fine form and the contestants have been handed their first challenge.  From what I can tell there looks to be 11 participants this year which is completely awesome!  Expect to see some great designs coming from this group!  Angelo and Eric have really kicked up the prize lot this year too with a ton of awesome prizes donated by a slew of great sponsors!  Be sure to catch up by watching the first episode as well as any subsequent episodes here.

Vote for your VeeamON Sessions!

veeamlogoHopefully by now we all know that Veeam is heading to Vegas to host their first ever user/partner conference dubbed VeeamON.  Veeam has received a ton of session requests from both internal and external and unfortunately can’t fit all that Veeam goodness into 4 days – so, they are asking you to take a quick survey to pick ‘la creme de la creme’ and help them get the absolute best of the best in terms of session content!  If you plan on attending VeeamON in October I suggest filling this out.  I also suggest taking me with you as I am not registered and very envious of you!   I’m sure it will be a great time!

Need some books – check out #vBrownBag

vbrownbagAside from dropping simply awesome knowledge on the community on almost every night of the week the #vBrownBag can also hook you up in terms of a little bit of summer reading.  Currently they are hosting the Summer Book-apolooza contest on their site.  They have a ton of great books to give away so if you need something to read on your flight to VMworld, chilling on the beach with your family, or some just all-around great bedtime stories for your kids get on over to professionalvmware.com and fill out the form!

Unitrends Virtual Backup 8 and me! A review!

When Unitrends acquired PHD Virtual back in 2013 the question lingering on everyone’s mind was will and how the two backup vendors would merge into a single product.  For over 20 years Unitrends has had a play in the backup space with their series of hardware appliances and more recently has made a play into the virtual space with Unitrends Enterprise Backup.  PHD Virtual, who showed up on the scene in 2006 with a mission to help enterprises protect their virtual environments have been innovating ever since with their flagship PHD Virtual Backup software.  Fast forward to today and we can now see the fruitions of the acquisition with the release of Unitrends Virtual Backup 8.0

Disclaimer – This review was sponsored by Unitrends/PHD and I have recieved compensation (A guys gotta get to VMworld right 🙂 ) – That said, all of the words are my own – if you have any doubts I suggest you head over to Unitrends.com and grab a copy for yourself and check it out!  If you have any questions – feel free to reach out!

You will notice during this review that I don’t necessarily provide a lot of “how to” type scenarios – and that is mostly due to the fact that UVB is so simple to get installed, configured and running.  I’ll simply touch on a bunch of the features that I thought helped UVB stand out against some of their competitors.

On with the installation

It’s on OVF – simply import it and power it on!  At this point you are done!  It doesn’t get much easier than that!

Configuration

Although not quite as simple as the installation the configuration is still a matter of 5 clicks. UVB is broken down into three main roles; Engine, Management and Presentation.  The Engine is the workhorse of UVB that performs all of the backup and recovering processes.  The Management role contains the functions necessary to manage a single environment, meaning a single vCenter or Hyper-V instance – whereas the Presentation role delivers a single master view of all of your management and engine roles.

2 - DeploymentScenario

Deployment Scenarios

For my purposes and my lab I simply decided to configure all three roles on a single instance of UVB.  The configuration first starts with asking whether this is your first instance of UVB or whether you are looking to scale an existing instance.  Then, as shown we can see how we can quickly setup UVB by selecting a deployment scenario based on the size and scale of our environments.  From there it’s a matter of setting up the roles (Management, Engine, Presentation) by providing credentials to your vCenter as well as some backup storage.   From the time that I deployed the OVF to the time I began my first backup was under 10 minutes.

All new interface

The first thing I noticed after logging into UVB is the dashboard.  The UI has been completely redesigned and is very simple to navigate through.  As you can see below, the UI has been dramatically improved to give you a ton of information organized into 6 main sections; Dashboard, Protect, Recover, Jobs, Reports and Configure.

PHD-02-Dashboard

Everything you need to know on one screen!

The initial dashboard provides you with an at a glance view on what is going on inside your backup environment as well as what parts of your infrastructure are protected or unprotected.  I really love the dashboard for a couple of reasons.  1 – I don’t have a lot of time so it’s nice to see an overview of my backup infrastructure in one place, including all running jobs and replication/restore status.  2 – These days environments are very dynamic, with VMs being deployed and destroyed all the time.  Having the visibility at a glance to see that I have X number of VMs which aren’t protected or backed up is crucial to me, especially with many different administrators doing things many different ways.

Protection

Let’s face it!  We can have an easy installation, a breeze of a configuration and the most intuitive UI but when it really comes down to it we need a backup solution that can protect and recover our VMs – and UVB does just  that!

Creating a job is very easy and can be done in a couple of ways.  You can either browse through your inventory on the ‘Protect’ tab, or create the job from scratch on the ‘Jobs’ tab.  Both ways are incredibly easy, so I’m not going to go into detail on how to create a job, but will touch on a few of the details and features that really stuck out in my mind.

Backup

The first backup-related item that really impressed me about UVB was speed – and not just how fast it could backup my VMs (which was lightening quick) but how fast I could go from having nothing configured to backing up my entire environment.  I counted – it took me four clicks to have a job setup to protect my entire environment.

Aside from speed and ease of use, the granularity that UVB provides was another item that stood out.  Utilizing the ‘Protect’ tab in the UI you are able to define things such as retention, compression, and even backup block size on a per-VM basis, not on a job based basis.  Say for example you had 10 VMs –  5 requiring 10 restore points, 3 requiring 20 restore points and 2 requiring only 2 restore points you are able to do so inside of UVB, all while backing up these VMs from within the same job definition.  Also, you could have one VM use a different level of compression than the others or even define priorities on a Low, Medium, High scale to determine which VMs from within the job are going to backup first.

Per VM Retention, Compression & Priority

Per VM Retention, Compression & Priority

Pinned backups will not be removed by retention policies.

Pinned backups will not be removed by retention policies.

Another useful feature of UVB 8 is the ability to pin backups.  By pinning a backup, or more specifically a restore point within a backup you can guarantee that retention policies and processes will ignore that specific restore point, thus keeping it intact until it is unpinned.  This to me seems like a small, but a very important feature as there are many times where I would like to keep a backup a bit longer than what my retention policy dictates – after major upgrades or changes for example.  All while maintaining the deduplication and compression that has been applied to the backups.

Replication

So with our backups out of the way let’s move on to replication.  The way UVB handles replication differs a bit from some of the other players in the backup space – and in a good way.  UVB will actually create and deploy your replica’s from your already existing backup files.  Therefore, there you only need to touch your production VMs once during your backup cycle and you are able to perform both backup and replication.  This is huge as we all know snapshotting a VM can impact performance, let alone take time and resources away from our production environment – why not use the backups we already have!

Another great feature included with UVB and replication is around change.  If a new disk or new network card is added to the source VM, UVB will automatically update the replica during the next scheduled job run so you can be sure that your replica’s are exact copies of your production VMs.  When or if you ever need to use them, the last thing you need is a missing disk.

Replica's are updated when new disks/nics are added to the source VM

Replica’s are updated when new disks/nics are added to the source VM

Recovery

Let’s face it – we can backup and replicate to our hearts delight but the fact is if we can’t recover from a failure our backup solution itself has failed.  UVB tends to take this to heart as they provide a number of ways to recover aside from your standard full VM restore.  For instance, if we are only dealing with a partial failure and need to recover a single file or even a single Exchange or SharePoint item, UVB can do that.  If the failure is a little more immediate you could consider failing over to a replica.  If you haven’t enabled replication for that specific VM don’t worry, using Instant Recovery UVB is able to power on and run your VM directly from the backup file.

Aside from the many restore capabilities UVB also provides that “piece of mind” when disaster strikes that your backups and replicas are truly restorable.  Utilizing a functionality called Reliable DR, both PHD (now UVB) and Unitrends appliances can automate, and orchestrate both the live failover as well as test failovers in order to ensure that their backed up and replicated VMs are truly restorable in the event of a disaster.  You will notice I mentioned both PHD and Unitrends – this is where a lot of the IP of the two companies has came together.  Reliable DR not only supports the testing of VMs from the UVB (PHD) virtual appliances, but fully supports all of the Unitrends physical appliances as well.  In essence, Reliable DR can power on your backups at a secondary location, hosting them in an isolated network and perform various task to ensure that the VMs have been replicated properly.  You can either use the built in tests that come with Reliable DR, or add your own custom scripts to be executed against the VMs.  As with most of what I have talked about in this review, this is very easy and fast to setup.

Conclusion

When Unitrends aquired PHD I wasn’t sure what to expect – but UVB has certainly not disappointed.  There is still some previous functionality that PHD had, such as CloudHook (Backing up to the cloud) , PHD Exporter (Being able to export backups to an OVF) and support for the vSphere Web Client that haven’t quite made their way into UVB yet, but these are not necessities and have been slated to be “baked” in at a later date.  That said it should be noted that most any of the wizards inside of the application can be launched utilizing a plugin for the c# client.  The ease of use and granularity that UVB provides is key to this release.  It seems as if Unitrends and PHD have really focused on the “little things” in this release – and honestly, when we see how far a lot of backup vendors have gone in the virtualization space, it’s going to be these “little things” that really help set you apart from the rest.  If you are looking for an enterprise backup solution for your environment, I would definitely recommend having a long look at UVB.  They most definitely have a lot to bring to the table.

ESXi 5.5, Dell VRTX and Storage – or the lack there of!

8306.VRTX.jpg-1024x0Over the past couple of months I’ve been working on some vCO workflows to setup and configure a Dell VRTX as we are on the verge of deploying a handful of them.  Now this isn’t going to be a big post about what VRTX can do nor is it how to use vCO to set it up – I’ll save them for later – this is simply one small quirk that I’ve found when installing ESXi 5.5 onto the blades inside of the VRTX.

 

Small is the new big.

I shouldn’t have said small quirk – it’s somewhat of a show stopper.  If you simply throw on the vanilla ESXi 5.5 image, or even the Dell released image of ESXi 5.5 you will quickly notice that you have absolutely no storage available to you from the shared PERC controller that sits inside the VRTX.  Kind of hard to use the box with no storage 🙂

Before I go into my Dell rant if you are just looking for the solution, just scroll down to the “Driver thang” section of this post.  For the rest of us…

Since writing this Dell has released a supported version of ESXi 5.5 for the Dell VRTX blades.  Head over to Dell.com and punch in your service tags to get the image.  I’ve used and tested this and it work flawlessly 🙂  Thanks Dell!

Start-Rant -Type ‘Mini’

ESXi 5.5 is not certified on a Dell VRTX, so ultimately, you could say, it isn’t supported – not by Dell or not by VMware.  What I don’t understand here is that how Dell can release a “converged” solution, promote the crap out of it stating how great it is to run VMware on, and not support the latest release of ESXi!?!?!  I mean, this thing was released in the summer of 2014.  ESXi 5.5 was announced at VMworld in August 2013!  You would think that Dell would have the drive to hit the market with this thing supporting the latest and greatest software – but no – either way, I’m sure it will all be updated soon, and I’m sure they have their reasons – but for the meantime, here’s how to get it going…

Stop-Rant

Ain’t nuttin but a driver thang.

The fact that you don’t see storage isn’t the result of any major issue or complex problem.  It’s simply a driver.  The driver that the shared PERC uses included with the ESXi 5.5 image is just too new (?!?!?!).   However the version you need, or the version that I’ve found to work is labelled megaraid_sas version 06.801.52.00.  What the difference is between these two versions I have no idea, i just know you need 6.801.52 to make it work.  You can grab that here.

Once you have the file you are just a vib install away from VRTXing all night long.  Pick your poison when it comes to vib installs; update manager, vMA or esxcli – for the sake of not having to put too much effort into anything I’ll go over the esxcli way of installing the vib.  First things, upload that VIB to one of your datastores or an accessible area on the host.  From there, ssh in and install the vib using the following command.

esxcli software vib install -d /tmp/megaraid/megaraid_sas-06.801.52.00-offline_bundle.zip

The only thing that stands in between you and your VRTX storage now is a reboot, so go ahead and do that.

There you have it – storage!

This is only the way I’ve found to make storage work with the VRTX and 5.5 and hey, I could be crazy by doing all of this – so if you have any other suggestions, concerns, or comments I encourage them below or send me a message on Twitter – Like I said, I have a handful of these to configure so I’d rather not roll them out in some kind of crazy state 🙂