Tag Archives: vSphere

VMware vSphere Troubleshooting and VMware vSphere Performance Monitoring Training by TrainSignal


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

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

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

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

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


No Way!!!

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

How do I get my hands on this?  

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

What!?!?  Extra entries!! OMG!

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



So how do I know if I won?

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

Good Luck!!!

The vSphere Web Client Server – First Impressions.


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

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

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

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

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

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

Installing and Configuring the new vSphere 5 Web Client server

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

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

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



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

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



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



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

Converting Veeam v5 Legacy Replica jobs to v6 VMware Replica jobs

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

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

Installing and Configuring the VMware vCenter Appliance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Veeam Backup and Replication v6 Now Available

Open the floodgates and let the masses through.  Today, after being alerted by the twitterverse I noticed that version 6 of Veeams' flagship product Backup and Replication was available for download. (well, for those lucky enough to fight off the traffic and get it)! This long awaited release is exciting for me for a couple of reasons. Firstly, i get to see all of those new features that have been promoted for the last few months through their featured webinars and Anton's' Whats New' document (you can find a summary of my favorites here). And secondly, we now have the support for VMwares' vSphere 5 meaning i have a slew of upgrades to perform over the next little while. (Veeam, vSphere, vCenter, View, Powercli, VMA). Needless to say it is all work that i enjoy doing so it should be a fun xmas for me! That doesn't sound too much like a stereotypical geek does it?

So, off to the races!  Head on over to the downloads section of Veeam.com and get your copy. I'm sure there will be some sort of spectacular launch message soon to follow :), not to mention blog posts of all of the community members upgrade experiences.

Access to VM Console without the vSphere Client

How can I grant access to the console of a VM to an end user without requiring them to install the vSphere client? How do I grant one of our vendors or partners access to the console of a VM without allowing them to see all of our guests?. I see questions like these pop up on the VMTN forums over and over again and I always answer it the same. Generate a VMware Remote Console URL! Or I guess a Virtual Machine Shortcut would be the official wording for it. Basically a Virtual Machine Shortcut is simply a URL that you can generate through vCenter Web Access which would allow anyone(with authentication of course) to connect to the console of a VM using only a supported browser. Now I say supported browser due to the fact that a plug-in needs to be installed in order to view the VM console. Currently supported browsers include only Microsoft Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox.  I'm not even sure of the versions that are required as I can't seem to find any documentation around the plug-in itself.  The end user will also need to have valid permissions set up within vCenter on the targeted VM. As long as the end user meets those two requirements then actually generating the URL is pretty simple and straightforward.  And here's how…

Login to the vCenter Web Access by pointing your browser to https://ip-of-your-vcenter-server/ and select the 'Log In To Web Access' link in the top right hand corner.

From here, after you are logged in you will have to navigate on the left hand side through your datacenters and folders until you locate and select the VM you would like to grant access to.  Once the VM is selected you should see the 'Generate Virtual Machine Shortcut' option under the commands section on the summary tab.

Once the Generate shortcut link is clicked you will be presented with the actual URL and a few options.  Here is where you can do things like hide the event log of the selected virtual machine, as well as limit the view to that Virtual Machine only, and obscure the URL that it generates as well to make it harder to guess.

Simply send this URL to your end user and once they have entered this address into a browser they should be good to go and you should be happy that your work is done.  All they need to do is copy/paste that URL into either IE or Firefox and they should be presented with the console of the VM.

What I'm not sure of, and might be a good idea to have, is the ability to have these URLs expire or time-out.  I don't think you would want them just hanging around forever. πŸ™‚

The number of virtual devices exceeds the maximum for a given controller!!

Yes, that's the error I was presented with this morning after attempting to clone a new VM from a template. The number of virtual devices exceeds the maximum for a given controller!!

It's such a great error message, so explanatory. immediately I went to look at the number of drives in the VM, thinking maybe it has too many virtual disks or is attached to some other virtual disk or something, however, it only had 2….so, once again I turn to my pre-vmware support techniques (Google).

So, results pointed me to this KB article. Easy enough fix right, don't edit the hardware while cloning. which after some digging was exactly what had been done. Well…problem solved right?  Not really…

I looked at a few of the other google results, which all pointed to converting the template back to a vm, and selecting the correct network. I thought I would do this, as some of our templates still had the old default 'VM Network' attached to them, and since then we have added some different VLAN networks, which were our new default vm networks. So, hey, lets just do it anyways, templates were probably in dire need of some updating anyway.

So, convert to VM, right click -> Edit Settings…. Lets have a look….

or not!!!!

PropertyCollector.RetrieveContents for object "propertyCollector" on vCenter Server blah blah blah….of course….that's what's wrong with it…

So….what to do now…a few more google searches and the old remove/add trick and I'm back in business…

Basically, right click the VM -> Remove from Inventory. Then, browse the datastore that the VM lives on, right click on the .vmx file and 'Add to Inventory' and I was back in business….

I could once again edit the settings of that VM. By the time I got around to this however, I was tired…and couldn't remember what I was looking for in the first place…right, the networks…Nope! They were fine…However after completing all these steps I was able to do a successful clone.

vMotion with your finger!!! – New vSphere Client for IPAD

As if the magic of vMotion wasn't good enough, you can now do on your IPAD.  Thats right, you now have the ability to take a running production virtual machine and move it from one piece of hardware to another using nothing but your finger!  And to top it off, it has sound effects!  (Why do I feel like there was an over abundance of plane noises coming from the sessions at vmworld europe?)

Along with vMotion the new IPAD vSphere client added support for older (3.5) and new (5) versions of vSphere and some other bug fixes and features.  So, if you haven't upgraded you might as well.  It's available in the app store now.  Keep in mind, you will have to upgrade your VCMA to 1.2 as well, which is available on VMwares' fling pages here.  It's a pretty painless and quick task.

On a serious note it is nice to see more administrative type tasks coming into to client built for tablet use.  The need for lugging laptops around is getting smaller and smaller with every release!