Tag Archives: vSphere

Infinio leveraging VAIO with Accelerator 3.0

infinioJust this past Monday Infinio announced the general availability of the third iteration of their performance enhancing software, Accelerator 3.0.  If you haven’t heard of Infinio I would certainly recommend checking them out – They are one of really only a few companies providing true server-side caching for virtual machines.  On a side note one interesting fact about Infinio is that they actually came out of stealth during a Tech Field Day presentation – a pretty cool entry if you ask me!

Accelerator 3.0 marks the third major release from Infinio since they entered the market in 2013 – with each bringing something new and exciting to the table.  So what’s new this go around? – A few things caught my attention…

Built on VAIO

VAIO

Along with vSphere 6.0 U1 came something called VMware VAIO, or more specifically vSphere APIs for IO Filtering.  This is essentially a framework – a framework provided by VMware allowing for third party vendors to insert their technology directly into an IO stream of a VM.  As you can imagine disrupting the I/O stream of a VM could potentially have performance implications.  By utilizing VAIO, third parties are now able to do this is in a safe and certifiable manner – using API calls and technology that is supported by VMware.  Accelerator 3.0, from what I can see is one of the first products to be certified on and utilize VAIO.  It should be noted however that even though VAIO was available with vSphere 6.o U1, Accelerator 3.0 requires vSphere 6.o U2!

VM-Level Acceleration

vmlevel1

The Infinio I/O filter gets installed onto each host within your cluster, which then in turn provides acceleration on a per-VM basis, rather than accelerating complete datastores.  This type of functionality is also completely integrated within the Storage Policy-Based Management functionality – For instance with VVOLs we are able to dictate via policy which type of disk our VMs sit on along with many other array provided technologies they utilize – in addition to this Infinio Accelerator will allows us to attach policies to determine the cache properties and acceleration of these VMs.

Memory and SSD
ramssd

Infinio has always been known for their use of server RAM for an acceleration medium.  In addition to this, Accelerator 3.0 gives customers the choice to offload cache to local SSDs and PCIe/NVMe flash as well, all the while supporting the acceleration of any type of storage be it SAN, NAS, DAS, VSAN, VMFS, vVOLs, etc.  In the end we have somewhat of a tiering effect for cache – RAM being the primary and as data is aged it flows down to flash – allowing us to have  fast performance for primary cache while having an option for a larger cache size.

While these were the features that certainly grabbed my attention its the performance that Infinio is highlighting.  Through it’s early adopters of Accelerator 3.0 Infinio has seen 1 Million IOPS per host, coupled with an astounding 20GB/sec of throughput!!  If you are interested in learning more about the product I suggest that you jump onto one of their 30 minute demos that they offering – with the next one occurring on June 23rd @ 1PM EST.  Also, if you need a little literature before hand you can also pull down the product whitepaper!  More of a hands on type of person – get your hands on a 30 day free trial here!  Infinio has always stressed that they are a risk free product – in the past I’ve installed and removed Infinio into live production environments without experiencing any downtime whatsoever – and I’m sure things haven’t changed with this release!

 

Chrome and the endless Client Integration plug-in install prompt!

I think we can all agree that ol’ Al Einstein was a pretty smart dude right?  Especially when it came to his thoughts around insanity and the “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results” spiel.  The thing is Al’s not here anymore and while yeah, he was a wise one, he never had to install the vSphere Client Integration plug-in inside of the newest version of Google Chrome – if he did, he’d certainly place himself inside of his own definition!

installplugin

So here’s the issue at hand – One fine July morning I find myself sitting in front of the same message shown above!  “How odd…” I thought, “I could’ve swore I’ve already installed this!”  Either way it’s not a big deal, I’ll just install it again!  So, shutdown the 84 tabs inside of Chrome that I have open and away we go – next, next, next my way through the wizard, re-open my 84 tabs and…

installplugin

Huh?!?  Now I know that I’ve installed this!  Maybe it’s just not enabled!  So I check out plugins section within Chrome to see that…

plugin-listing

Wow!  It’s not even listed anymore!  Now I know it used to be there as I can remember going in and ensuring that it was always allowed to run.  After another failed attempt at installing it with the same result I do what I always do – Google!  And to my surprise end up at this KB.

To the point!

To skip my little story and get to the point the problem resides with NPAPI – an architecture used to extend browser functionality.  Google says the 90’s era architecture is outdated and causes crashes and therefore, as of Google Chrome 42 – not enabled!  That same 90’s era architecture is the delivery model within the vSphere Client Integration plug-in – so you can see where the problem now lies!

To make a long problem short all we need to do in order to get the plug-in to run is simply enable NPAPI within Chrome, which is done by entering “chrome://flags/#enable-npapi” in the address bar and simply clicking ‘Enable’.

enablenpapi

This will get us through….for now!  Who knows when Google may decide to phase support for this out completely?  They are on their own schedule and it wouldn’t surprise me to see them just drop support sometime in the near future!  I mean, it does stand for the Netscape Plugin Application Programming Interface, which to me sounds just a little archaic 🙂

warning

In the meantime we will have to put up with a nifty little warning every time we fire up the vSphere Web Client – because, who doesn’t want to close two warnings every morning?!?!  Either way it’s working now, I tried something different and got different results!  My man Al would be proud!

4315428821_einstein6_xlarge

A Google Cloud to Amazon vMotion – The Ravello Way!

v2Ravello_Logo_largeToday Ravello Systems, a company based out of Palo Alto and Israel announced a new beta, a beta that I think is going to go over very well within the VMware community – one that will allow us to spin up vSphere labs, complete with vCenter Server, ESXi hosts, Domain Controllers, Storage and Network services and all the VMs that go with the punch inside of Google and Amazon’s cloud.  To be honest I was kind of skeptical when I first started working with Ravello?  I mean, come on, an ESXi host in Amazon, let alone and ESXi host running VMs inside of Amazon, an ESXi host running VMs with little to no performance penalty, all running within Amazon – you can see why I might of cringed a bit.  But Ravello gave me a shot to try it for myself – and during the introductory chat as they were showing me how things worked I thought, hey, what a use case for the new cross vCenter vMotion capabilities in vSphere 6!  A lab in Amazon, a lab in Google Cloud, and VMs migrating between them – how cool is that?

Who and what is Ravello Systems?

Now, before I get into the details of the vMotion itself I want to take a step back and explain a little bit about Ravello Systems themselves, and what they have to offer.  Ravello was founded in 2011 with the sole purpose of supporting and driving nested virtualization to the next frontier and did so when they launched their product globally in August of 2013 (You had to of seen the scooters at VMworld 🙂 )  They didn’t just want to simply provide an environment for nested virtualization though, they wanted to make it simple and easy for companies to replicate their data center infrastructure into the public cloud.  The core technology behind all of this is their HVX hypervisor – essentially acting as a Cloud VM, sitting in either Amazon or Google and providing overlay networking and storage to the VMs that are placed on top of it.

RavelloHVX

As per the diagram above the VMs present can be built from scratch or imported via an OVA within Ravello’s very easy to use intuitive interface – but perhaps more interestingly you can utilize the Ravello Import Tool(??), point it to your ESXi host or vCenter, and import VMs directly from your environment into the cloud!  But they don’t stop there, Ravello can also detect and create every network your VM is attached to, deploying an exact duplicate of your network infrastructure!  Now if this wasn’t good enough for you the beta today announces the ability to support Intel VT through HVX – which means we can now run VMs on top of ESXi on top of HVX on top of Amazon or Google!  True inception leaving us with a setup shown in the diagram below.

RavelloHVXVT

A great place to break things!

There is a reason why Ravello dubs their technology as having the ability to create “Smart Labs”!  Throughout my early access to the solution I broke and fixed so many things within my applications – and Ravello always gave me a way to rebuild or reconstruct my labs in a very efficient manner.

RavelloSaveToLibraryFirst up we are able to save our VMs to the library – which is essentially a personal set of VMs and images that we can re-use in all of our applications.  For example I only had to build my ESXi 6.0 image once – after saving this to the library I was able to simply drag and drop this VM as many times as needed to as many applications as needed, simply re-ip and re-naming after I was done.

RavelloSaveToBlueprintHaving the ability to re-use VMs is cool but the blueprint functionality that Ravello provides is really where I see value!  We are able to take a complete application, in my instance an ESXi host, domain controller, vCenter Server, etc and save the entire application as a blueprint.  Blueprints are then available to be used as starting points for new applications – meaning I can build a complete lab on Amazon, save as a blueprint, and then publish a new application to Google which is an exact identical copy, networks and all.  Blueprints are an excellent way to test out the different public clouds as well as version or snapshot your entire lab before making any major changes – if things go awry you can simply republish your saved blueprint to a new application.

RavelloBlueprints

Enough talk – Let’s see the vMotion!

Alright!  Let’s get to it!  Let me first warn you, the environment I built to do this was quick and dirty – not a lot of polishing going on here.

The two applications we will be using are Google-vxlan and EC2-vxlan – I’ll let you guess which public clouds each is published to.

ravellovmcanvas

As shown above these applications are pretty similar; each containing an Ubuntu server (used to establish the vxlan tunnel between EC2 and Google), a pfSense appliance that provides a VPN for my vMotion networks, a vCenter Server (the Windows version), and an ESXi host (just one for now).  The EC2 application also contains a jumpbox VM which provides entry into the local network as well as DNS services.

ravelloNetworkingboth

As far as networking goes the setup at both Amazon and Google is almost identical with the exception of the jumpbox.  The 192.168.0.0/24 network is available at both EC2 and Google.  The 10.0.0.0/24 network is the only network that is routed to the internet, therefore my only access into the labs outside of the Ravello GUI – this is why the jumpbox also has a connection to this network – to act as an RDP gateway of sorts.  The two Ubuntu servers have an elastic public IP attached to them in order to ensure the public IP doesn’t change and mess up my vxlan config.  The free trial of Ravello gives you two elastic IPs, and four other DCHP public IPs (subject to changing every now and then).  The vxlan tunnel is established between the two elastic IPs in order to provide Layer 2 connectivity between Amazon and Google.  The pfSense boxes each have a dynamic public IP attached to them with an IPSEC tunnel established between the 192.168.1.0/24 and the 192.168.2.0/24 networks.

vsphereshotOn the VMware side of things I have two vCenters with embedded PSCs (i know – bad practice) – one in Amazon and one in Google, which are attached to the same SSO domain and configured in Enhanced Linked Mode.  Therefore whatever is at Google can be seen at Amazon and vice versa.  As far as vMotion goes I’ve simply enabled this one my existing management interfaces (more bad practice – but hey, it’s a lab).  There is local storage attached to the ESXi hosts and one VM named EC2-VM1 present.

So my goal was to migrate this VM from Amazon to Google and back again, taking both the compute and storage with it.  Now just writing about a vMotion is not that exciting so I included a video below so you too can see it move 🙂  It’s my first attempt at a video and had some screaming kids while I made it so yeah, no narration – I’ll try and update with a little tour of the Ravello environment later 🙂

So there you have it – a VM moving from Amazon to Google and back, all while maintaining its’ ping response – pretty cool!

Is Ravello worth it?

esxi-home-labSo, with all this the question now remains is Ravello worth the cost?  Well, considering as how Ravello estimates the cost of a two ESXi Node, vCenter and Storage lab to be on average $0.81 – $1.71 per hour (usage based, no up front costs) I would certainly say it is!  The ability to run nested ESXi hosts on top of the public cloud provides a multitude of use-cases for businesses – but honestly I see this being a valuable tools for the community.  I plan on using Ravello solely for my home lab usage over the next year or so – it’s just so much nicer to break things and simply re-publish an application than it is to try and rebuild my lab at home.  If you want to give Ravello a shot you can sign up for the beta here – Even after the beta expires you simply swipe your credit card and pay Ravello directly – no Amazon accounts, no Google bills – just Ravello!  You will be limited during the beta’s and free trials in the amount of CPU, RAM and concurrent powered on VMs but they definitely give you enough resources to get a decent lab setup.

Ravello has a great solution and certainly expect more from me in regards to my lab adventures in the public cloud.

Disclaimer: Ravello gave me early access to their ESXi beta in order to evaluate their solution – I first signed up for a free trial and did get the amount of RAM and number of VMs available to me increased.  They didn’t however require that I write this post nor write anything for that matter, or provide any $$$ for anything that was written – these are all my words!

vCenter Operations Manager now sits at 5.7

VMware LogoIt should be no surprise to any of my regular readers or followers that I am a huge fan of vCenter Operations.  Being a VMware customer I find that it is a huge time-saver when trying to pin point performance issues within our environment, as well as giving us a great first step in trying to do capacity planning and figure out where we are going to need to go next.  So, it should also be no surprise that I get just a little excited when there is a new release of the product; be it only a .1 release, still super awesome none the less.

It goes without saying that you should see a few posts diving deeper into some of the new features listed below as well as in the official release notes, as well as a quckie about how to upgrade, but for now, without further ado, the newest features from vCenter Operations 5.7 from vmware.com…

More Flexibility with Capacity Planning

  • Assess capacity risk and plan by allocation and/or actual demand: Set policies based on your varying business needs to assess capacity risk, efficiency, and forecast. For example, different buffers, over-commit ratios, alert thresholds, business hours, etc., across production and test-dev environments.
  • New views for Cluster Capacity Risk: Quickly identify via color-coded Cluster capacity risk view which clusters grouped by business criteria, etc., are at capacity risk—facing a capacity shortfall now or in the near future or just not sized right. Drill down for each cluster in the Cluster Risk Detail view to analyze which resource is it constrained on and why.
  • New policies for common environments and workloads: New out-of-the-box policies, such as Production and Test-Dev policies, enable quick set-up of vCenter Operations Manager capacity settings for common types of environments. Additional new out-of-the-box policies, such as Batch workload, Interactive workload, and Ignore VMs policies, help fine-tune capacity configuration settings to accurately right size and analyze different workloads based on their performance characteristics.

Improved Self-Monitoring

This release introduces new diagnostics metrics to monitor the health and availability of vCenter Operations Manager components, such as Analytics, Collector, Active MQ, Web server, database, and operating system.

Widgets with Improved Flexibility and Usability

  • Health Tree Widget: Easy visualization for large number of objects.
  • Generic Scoreboard Widget: Support for Sparkline, string metrics, and metrics filtering by resource.
  • Metric Sparkline Widget: Configurable color ranges and units, support for resource type and label.
  • Resource Widget: Customizable to add metrics beyond health.
  • Top-N Analysis Widget: Support for analysis based on latest values.

New Custom Relationship Widget

Allows you to build a custom resource hierarchy and relationship view, just like the existing out-of-the-box vCenter Server view.

Custom UI Import and Export Changes for Dashboards and Super Metrics

  • Export format changed from binary (.bin) to XML (.xml): .bin formats are still supported for backward compatibility.
  • DBCLI Enhancements: Programmatically import and export Super Metrics.
  • Pre-population of Dashboard objects during import.

Balanced Metrics Profile

This release introduces a new metrics profile that reports a reduced set of metrics. Increase the scalability of vCenter Operations Manager to support more resources by changing the metrics profile to the new “Balanced” profile in vCenter Operations Manager Administration.

VMware vCenter Infrastructure Navigator Filtering Capability

You can configure how resources discovered by vCenter Infrastructure Navigator are displayed in vCenter Operations Manager. This release introduces a configurable filtering capability to the vCenter Infrastructure Navigator adapter to control Application service and Application resource reporting. For each resource type, you can configure either “blackList” or “whiteList” filtering in the configuration file filterList.txt.

  • blackList: The vCenter Infrastructure Navigator adapter ignores specified entries. If an Application Service name or an Application name is included in the “blackList,” it is not reported by the vCenter Infrastructure Navigator adapter. This is the default setting. The vCenter Infrastructure Navigator adapter filters unknown Application service names by default.
  • whiteList: The vCenter Infrastructure Navigator adapter reports only the specified entries. If there are no entries added to the whiteList mode, none of the resources of the corresponding resource type are displayed.

 New Browser Support

This release adds new support for the following browsers: Apple Safari version 6, Google Chrome versions 24 and 25, and Mozilla Firefox 18 and 19.

Security Hardening

This release includes additional security hardening and increases compliance with The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) and The Security Technical Implementation Guides (STIG) guidelines.

 Go and download a fully featured 60 day trial for yourself here.

Designing VMware Infrastructure by @scott_lowe and @trainsignal

Are you ready?  Let’s go!  That seemed to be the catch phrase that presenter Scott Lowe (blog/twitter) rhymed off before starting off the awesomesauce that is each lesson of Trainsignal’s Designing VMware Infrastructure video training.  Now I know the word awesomesauce is overused, I’ve even used it multiple times but in this case there is just no other way to describe the content and how Scott delivers this content throughout this course.  And speaking of content there is a lot of it, over 6 hours of training at your fingertips and in true TrainSignal fashion available in multiple formats (DVD, iPOD/iPAD, Online).  Don’t trust my word that Scott’s presentation and knowledge is awesomesauce?  Check out a little (1 hour) teaser called VMware vSphere Design 101 over on TrainSignals site.  Its a great example (minus the audio) of how well of a speaker and how knowledgeable Scott is in the realm of design.   Below you can see how the course is laid out in the form of lesson content and as you can see it covers a wide variety of details.

Lesson 1 

Getting Started with Designing VMware Infrastructure

Lesson 2 

Designing vSphere Environments in the Real World

Lesson 3 

Understanding vSphere Design Terminology

Lesson 4 

Determining vSphere Design Factors

Lesson 5 

Defining a Logical Design

Lesson 6 

Defining a Logical Compute Design

Lesson 7 

Creating a Logical Network Design

Lesson 8 

Creating a Logical Storage Design

Lesson 9 

Building Security Into the Logical Design

Lesson 10 

Specifying Backup and Availability in the Logical Design

Lesson 11 

Designing the Management Layer

Lesson 12 

Mapping the Logical Design to Actual Solutions

Lesson 13 

Creating a Physical Storage Design

Lesson 14 

Creating a Physical Network Design

Lesson 15 

Sizing Hosts, Clusters, and Resource Pools

Lesson 16 

Defining VM Attributes

Lesson 17 

Incorporating Implementation and Test Plans

Lesson 18 

Bringing It All Together

Lesson 19 

Preparing for Your VCAP-DCD Certification Exam

Lesson 20 

Next Steps

So on to the meat and potatoes.  This course covers everything you need to know about vSphere Design.  Scott described vSphere design as a holistic design, meaning everything is connected and interlinked.  Even the way he delivered the course was holistic, meaning in almost every lesson Scott went back and stressed the importance of how the four main design factors (Requirements, Assumptions, Risks, and Constraints) affect the area being discussed and how they are interlinked to every step of the design process.  Now I can’t go through every single lesson, I’ll let you do that, the outline is listed above but what I can do is highlight some of my favorite items…

  • Throughout the course Scott frequently accesses and references a couple real design documents.  One being the VMware Cloud Infrastructure Case Study (available online), but here’s the exciting part, the other being Scott’s actual design he used during his VCDX defense.  Very cool to have that high level of an example embedded into the course
  • Secondly I love the flow of this course – meaning in a large number of lessons Scott will often reflect on some learning from another lesson and show you how everything is related and how any decisions made in one part of the design phase can most likely affect decisions made in another and inevitably affect your overall design.
  • Scott does an awesome job at explaining the four key factors in vSphere design and repeatedly refers to them and shows how four simple terms basically define your complete design.

In my current role I’m more adapted to a sysadmin, you know, the guy that’s primarily responsible for maintaining and implementing everything…not the architect, not the designer – but – after watching this course I’ve gotten excited about design and excited about architecting solutions.  Heck, I’m now thinking about maybe tackling the VCAP-DCD.  So I’m not going to say that this course is only for the designers and architects because it’s not.  This is a great course for anyone working within a vSphere environment, anyone with passion for VMware’s technology, or how would TrainSignal put it..any vNerd!  As with all of TrainSignal’s VMware Training I thoroughly enjoyed this one and would most certainly recommend this to anyone!

And guess what?!?!  It’s that special time of year again to say Happy New Sphere to everyone and maybe get yourself a copy of this training for yourself complements of Trainsignal!  Watch this space closely for details as mwpreston.net along with Trainsignal will be giving away a copy of this along with a few other prizes (hopefully).  Are you ready, Let’s go!

Toronto VMUG – November 6th Recap

Once again i was lucky enough to attend my local quarterly Toronto VMUG meeting at the convention center in Toronto   Since i missed the last one i was beginning to run short of my VMUG fix but this one certainly fulfilled that. All in all it was a fantastic day getting to talk to VMUG leader Angelo Luciani and fellow member ( and presenter for the day) Eric Wright (blog/twitter).  Below are my thoughts and comments from the presentations for the day.  As the slide decks come in i will be sure to add them to this post.

Angelo started off the day with a brief overview of what’s new and upcoming with the Toronto VMUG.  Honestly, the amount of work and time this guy puts into making each and every one of these days informative and a success  is amazing.  He is a great advocate for the VMware community as he seems to be in the know about almost everything that is happening within it.  The full day VMUG regional conference is coming up sometime in February and I can’t wait till that one, as they are always a huge benefit to anyone in any stage of virtualization.

 

 

 

Next up Mike from VMware Canada gave a brief presentation outlining some of the announcements and releases that came out of VMworld.  Included in this was a great explanation on how VMware is perceiving the vCloud Suite as the building blocks or the infrastructure behind the cloud and more specifically the software defined datracenter.  It’s too bad that these presentations don’t have audio because I found this slide deck very beneficial in my understanding of where VMware stands with these products as well the various pieces that are  included within them.

 

 

 

And now on to the sponsors, McAfee gave a great presentation on how they have aligned a number of recent acquisitions and products to the complete datacenter stack and how each and every component of the datacenter requires an effective level of security.  They spent a great deal of time displaying features and different configurations on how customers can deploy their MOVE AV solutions.  This looks like a pretty solid piece of technology and has an interesting take on providing security by white-listing safe applications to protect against zero day exploits.  As consolidation ratios continue to grow our perception on how to tackle antivirus will certainly have to change and I think McAfee has certainly taken a step in the right direction in providing customers with different options.  As always, any presentation revolving around security sparked a ton of conversation within the room, and McAfee did a fabulous job at fielding all the questions.

 

 

 

PureStorage was the next sponsor on stage…well kinda.  There was an unfortunate event (SANDY) which resulted in the presenter not being able to attend, however as always, Angelo did a great job at setting up a go to meeting with another presenter.  PureStorage did a great job at attempting to present offsite as well as field questions (a tricky combo).  They have a pretty niche product in their all flash array and have done a great job at keeping that price point down into an affordable range as well as providing some pretty nifty looking software management tools around it.  I thought that the go to functionality worked fine (well, till the end) and hope this can help to open up more doors for the Toronto VMUG.  Angelo’s already begun to envision the presenters and subject matter experts that we may be able to facilitate presenting in a web-ex fashion whom otherwise may not be able to.

And finally to cap off the day we had a great presentation titled BCP for VMware environments put on by community member and blogger Eric Wright.  Eric first talked to the audience about BCP in general and how he has tackled setting up various teiring levels to protect his critical VMs based on RTO, RPO, and SLA’s defined within his corporation.  He then went on to talk about how he has applied three separate products (Double Take, Veeam Free Edition, and vSphere Replication) to those different protection levels.  Eric is a great speaker and I’m glad he decided to share this with the group.  It’s always great to hear it from a community member as there are no sales or pitches included in the presentation, just what he has done, how he did it, what worked, what didn’t, etc…  Invaluable to other community members like myself.  If you don’t already I would recommend following Eric on Twitter and reading his blog.   Hats off to Eric, great presentation!

 

 

 

So as always I encourage everyone to get out and attend your local VMUGs (not sure if you have one, find out here) !  Every time I attend one of these I always come back with some great takeaways and benefits that I can immediately begin to implement or adjust in my current environment.  Big thanks once again to Angelo organizing this awesome day!  As always there are multiple ways to stay connected with the Toronto VMUG (and they are always updated and active)  including reading the blog, follow them on twitter, connect on LinkedIn  and circle them on Google +.  See you all in February!!!!

Friday Shorts – Baby 1000v, VNXe cmdlets, @herrod on #vBrownbag

Cisco Nexus 1000v Free

In early October Cisco announced a bit of a pricing change and deployment model to their Nexus 1000v virtual switch appliance.  And by a bit of a pricing change I mean FREE!  The new packaging model includes an advanced edition as well as the newly announced free essentials edition (blog post here).  In all cases I’ve read that it is free * – the asterisk meaning there is a nominal support fee (whatever that means).  All in all, support fee or not I think it’s a good move by Cisco to help get the 1000v some more exposure into the community and help generate some more buzz around the network giants flagship virtual swtich.

Import-Module ItsCrazyWhatACommunityCanDoTogether

All I can say about this is Wow!!!  David Muegge with some help from Henri Hamalainen has developed some awesome PowerShell cmdlets and packaged them into a nice little module you can download.  What does this module do?   Well, check out his blog post here but in a nutshell it queries a ton of stats and performance metrics on your EMC VNXe and presents them into some nice little graphs for you.  I can’t wait to give these a go!  Great work David and Henri!!!

Steve Herrod rocks a #vBrownbag

All I can say is wow!  Ive been attending the vBrownbags for quite sometime now and seen a fair share of rockstars drop quite a bit of knowledge on them but having Steve Herrod, CTO of VMware present certainly takes the cake.  Steve came on to speak briefly about certification and what it means to VMware, the software defined datacentre, and how technologies such as vSphere 5.1 provide the building blocks for the infrastructure that powers it.   Although he did have an agenda he left quite a bit of time for open topics which resulted in great conversation around Nicira, Openstack, hands on labs platforms, VMworld locations, Horizon Suite, and more and more and more.  The vbrownbag audience certainly took advantage of having someone with some answers in the goto presenter role.    First off big thanks to Steve fore taking the time to come on, its amazing to see how VMware as a company, even c level execs care about the community that has formed around them.  Secondly, big big thanks to the vBrownbag crew (Cody Bunch, Josh Atwell, Damian Karlson, Alistair Cook, Nick Marshall) for putting out soooo much great content week after week.  If you have yet to check out the vBrownbag make sure you do, there is awesome certification series on there and a slew of VCDX presenters coming up

Friday Shorts – .net AJAX Autocomplete with no webservices, youcanthavethisforapassword, Education VMUGS and more

Alright, here we go, week 2 of this series of posts…enjoy 🙂

Using the AJAX Autocomplete in .net without engaging web services

I’ve found a new appreciation for the autocomplete functionality that languages such as ColdFusion provide out of the box. In a .net project I have been working on I simply wanted to have a textbox where the end user could begin typing in a students name and have the application make suggestions based on what they were typing and what was stored in one of my database tables. Easy enough right? No! You see, most of my googling resulted in setting up webservices to serve the data to the textbox. All in all it seemed pretty ugly. In the end I figured out how to avoid the webservices call altogether following a great article on aspsnippets.com. Obviously you need to tweek to get the results you want, but it all works in the end…trust me!

Seriouisly Microsoft – Only 16 character passwords

I seen a tweet from John Troyer this week which eventually lead me to this article. Now it seems kind of ridiculous to me! What’s the logic in only letting people have a 16 character password? Now my password is a lot less than that and I probably wouldn’t have one any bigger than that but still…It just doesn’t make sense why they would limit a password length – why lessen your security? And what have they done with those users that are already over 16 characters. The section on whether or not they have only hashed the first 16 characters of your password is interesting and honestly I wouldn’t be surprised if that is the way they went. Either way, it’s a great article, have a read and see if you are as dumbfounded as me…

Vertical based VMUGS

In an effort to share knowledge, learn from our peers and just plain ol’ get together we are now, along with a handful of other public school districts are getting together to share ideas, fixes, scripts, etc with each other. So this is planned for a few times a year and based on certain common types of technologies that we all work with, VMware being one of them. That got me to thinking. I love the structure of the VMUGs and I find them extremely valuable on a personal and a business level. However, implementing something into an educational environment vs almost any other environment is a completely different type of beast! There’s a slew of requirements and constraints associated with education. I’d love to see a series of VMUGs or learning sessions or whatever they could be called be held based on business vertical. Off the top of my head you could have Education, Healthcare, Government, etc…. Not saying we need one per quarter, but a couple per year would be cool…ah well, a man can dream…

Skewed Usage Reports in VCops 5 – No problem!

A couple of years ago I downloaded and installed a trial of CapacityIQ.  It wasn't necessarily the capacity planning for the future capabilities that I was looking for, but more for the under/over sized VM reporting that it included.  Honestly, I didn't get a lot of time to evaluate it and all I really did was run a few reports and determine that we were heavily oversizing our VMs.  Although I found it useful, I couldn't justify a recommendation to gain budget for just the functionality that CapacityIQ provided.

Fast forward to last year.  I now find myself participating in a beta for VCops 1.0. I was extremely excited about this product the first time I seen it at our local Toronto VMUG.  Ever since then I've been using VCops on almost a daily basis to monitor and keep track of events and changes within our environment.  

And now here we are today with the recent release of VCops 5.  This release, now including CapacityIQ reporting and metrics has taken me back in time to those days I was evaluating CapacityIQ by itself.  And so I find myself once again looking at those under/over sized VM reports (with a little more time and focus this time around) and kind of scratching my head a bit.  A lot of the recommendations it was making around over provisioning vCPU's were correct, however I do have some VMs containing 2 vCPU's that it was recommending to drop to 1.  Now I know these VMs need 2 vCPU's as we have ran them with a single vCPU before and the performance just wasn't there.  So why is it recommending 2?  Well, by default VCops collects usage data of the VMs 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, so when you think about, in this case, these VMs basically do nothing at all during the night and on weekends, but still, there usage data for those off times was being used in the overall calculations, thus, bringing the total average down.  Thankfully there is an option to change this, follow the steps below to do so…

Log into VCops and click the 'Configuration' link in the top right hand side of the screen.  From there you will be presented with all the configurable options for VCops.  Under Planning & Reports click the 'Usage Calculation' link.  By default 'All hours on all days' will be selected, meaning VMs usage data is being used 24/7.  To change this, simply select 'Specific Hours and Days' (as shown below) and select  your desired days and hours…easy!.

 

 

There you have it!  Your VMs usage outside of the hours and days that you define here will now be excluded in your report calculations.  Keep in mind that this is a global setting and will apply to all VMs.  There isn't a way to do this on a per-VM basis that I can find, but would probably be beneficial in some cases.  These settings are not only useful when trying to exclude idle time, but you can also use them to exclude times when they might be busier than normal (A backup or maintenance window)  As always, any comments, questions, concerns, suggestions are more than welcome in the comment box below.

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

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.