New storage features in vSphere 5.1

With the announcement of vSphere 5.1 at VMworld yesterday some more detailed information is becoming available around the new storage features included in vSphere 5.1.There are some really great stuff on this list that has not gotten much notice yet. I really like that many of these features are now supported in both View and vCloud director.

  1. VMFS file sharing limits – The previous limit for number of hosts that could share a single file was 8 for block storage, in 5.0 it was raised to 32 hosts for NFS datastores. In vSphere 5.1 the limit for block storage or VMFS datastore has been raised to 32 hosts also. This is compatible with both VMware View and vCloud director, the primary use for this is linked clones.
  2. VAAI updates – The use of VAAI NAS based snapshots for vCloud director is now available, this was previously available to only View in vSphere 5.0. This allows hardware based snapshots for faster provisioning of linked clones in both products.
  3. Larger MSCS clusters – The previous limit of 2 node MSCS clusters has been raised to allow for up to 5 node MSCS clusters with vSphere 5.1
  4. All Paths Down update – The timing out I/O on devices that enter into an APD state has been updated to address hostd from being tied up.
  5. Storage Protocol enhancements – The ability to boot from software FCOE was added to vSphere 5.1.  Jumbo frame support has been added for all iSCSI adapters with UI support. Full support for 16Gb Fibre Channel HBA adapters that can run at full speed. In vSphere 5.0 16GB adapters could be used but had to run at 8Gb speeds.
  6. Storage IO control (SIOC) updates – SIOC will not figure out the best latency setting for your datastore as opposed to the manual setting in vSphere 5.0. By default SIOC is not turned in a Stats only mode so that it wont take any action but will be collecting stats for your before you configure  settings.
  7. Storage DRS (SDRS) enhancements – vCloud director can now use SDRS for initial placement of Fast provisioning linked clones for managing free space and IO utilization. This is an update from the previous free space method that vCloud 1.5 used and had no support for SDRS.
  8. Storage vMotion enhancements – Storage vMotion performs up to 4 parallel disk migrations per Storage vMotion operation.

 

About Brian Suhr

Brian is a VCDX5-DCV and a Sr. Tech Marketing Engineer at Nutanix and owner of this website. He is active in the VMware community and helps lead the Chicago VMUG group. Specializing in VDI and Cloud project designs. Awarded VMware vExpert status 6 years for 2016 - 2011. VCP3, VCP5, VCP5-Iaas, VCP-Cloud, VCAP-DTD, VCAP5-DCD, VCAP5-DCA, VCA-DT, VCP5-DT, Cisco UCS Design

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VMware now includes vSphere Replication for free

Tucked in the back pocket with all the other big announcements today at VMworld is the availability of vSphere Replication as a standalone option. It is no longer tied to SRM 5.0 as it was originally made available. This is probably to line up with the FUD that Microsoft has been pushing with their Hyper-V replica being free.

What this means is that small shops will have a way to protect their virtual servers on a per VM basis rather than on a entire datastore/LUN basis. This does not offer in of the fancy logic and auto recovery options that SRM gives you but if you need some base level replication and you don’t have any array based options. Then this should make you pretty happy. Bellow is the announcement from VMware.

vSphere Replication was introduced with SRM 5.0 as a means of protecting VM data using our in-hypervisor software based replication.  It was part of SRM 5.0, and continues to be, carrying forward, but now we are offering the ability to use this technology in a new fashion.

Today’s announcement about vSphere Replication is a big one:  We have decoupled it from SRM and released it as an available feature of every vSphere license from Essentials Plus through Enterprise Plus.

Every customer can now protect their environment, using vSphere Replication as a fundamental feature of the protection of your environment, just like HA.

VR does not include all the orchestration, testing, reporting and enterprise-class DR functions of SRM, but allows for individual VM protection and recovery within or across clusters.  For many customers this type of protection is critical and has been difficult to attain short of buying into a full multisite DR solution with SRM.  Now most of our customers can take advantage of virtual machine protection and recovery with vSphere Replication.

Check out an introduction to vSphere Replication at http://www.vmware.com/files/pdf/techpaper/Introduction-to-vSphere-Replication.pdf

About Brian Suhr

Brian is a VCDX5-DCV and a Sr. Tech Marketing Engineer at Nutanix and owner of this website. He is active in the VMware community and helps lead the Chicago VMUG group. Specializing in VDI and Cloud project designs. Awarded VMware vExpert status 6 years for 2016 - 2011. VCP3, VCP5, VCP5-Iaas, VCP-Cloud, VCAP-DTD, VCAP5-DCD, VCAP5-DCA, VCA-DT, VCP5-DT, Cisco UCS Design

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What tools should a VMware team have to monitor their environment

I have worked with a bunch of customers over the last couple of years and there has been a very common theme. The overwhelming majority of IT shops have not invested in any tools to help them manage and monitor their VMware environments. Sure they have vCenter and you can get some great info out of it, but unless something is going really wrong or has already you might not have a clue. You are essentially driving blind.

This guy does not monitor his vCenter server

This guy does not monitor his vCenter server

VMware event monitoring

To me the first thing that I think shops should invest in if they don’t already have a tool capable of doing this is, get something that can properly monitor your VMware environment. To be clear of what I mean by this is a tool that will scrape logs and watch for events in your environment and notify you about issues. How it notifies you can vary, whether you want a ticket created or simply an email.

Without something actively monitoring your hosts and vCenter you could be missing some very serious issues. I’ve seen customers that had paths down and did not know about them. You could also be exceeding some threshold that could be pointing to something more serious. Basically there are a ton of small and large issues that you could discover with proper monitoring.

There are products from several companies like Veeam, Quest software. One of the tools that has impressed me a few times was the SCOM plugin called Veeam Management Pack. This is a very powerful tool that can be used by Windows shops that already have SCOM deployed and are monitoring. The plugin contains a ton of items that it monitors for and maybe the most extensive set of items that I have see out of any tool so far.

About Brian Suhr

Brian is a VCDX5-DCV and a Sr. Tech Marketing Engineer at Nutanix and owner of this website. He is active in the VMware community and helps lead the Chicago VMUG group. Specializing in VDI and Cloud project designs. Awarded VMware vExpert status 6 years for 2016 - 2011. VCP3, VCP5, VCP5-Iaas, VCP-Cloud, VCAP-DTD, VCAP5-DCD, VCAP5-DCA, VCA-DT, VCP5-DT, Cisco UCS Design

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How to create an Elastic vDC in VMware vCloud director

Something that was slipped into vCloud 1.5 that did not get much press was the idea on an elastic vDC. This gives the ability to add extra capacity to the underlying provider vDC in vCloud. If you have worked with vCloud before you might be saying wait I could always do this by expanding the size of my cluster or pool that was providing the resources. And this was certainly one option for adding more capacity. But what if you had larger clusters that could not be expanded or if you were using linked clones (Fast Provisioning) and you reached the 8 host maximum for your cluster. You would have to create a new provider vDC and present this capacity as a new Org vDC to your cloud consumer.

The idea of an elastic vDC allows you to add another resource pool to a provider vDC which in turn presents this capacity up to the Org vDC. Now today this option is only available for Org vDCs that are setup for the Pay as You Go allocation model. What it allows you to do is add in the resources from additional vCenter resource pools to a provider vDC. Thus allowing you to grow the resources that are presented up to any Org vDCs using the proper allocation model.

You can see from the image at the bottom of this post that the first resource pool presented is marked as the primary and is what would be used to provide resources to Org vDCs that are using the Allocated or Reserved allocation models.

To add another resource pool you must navigate to the provider vDC that you wish to add the resources to and select the resource pool tab. Then simple click the green plus icon to add the resources by selecting from the vCenter that you choose. Below is a summary of the VMware KB that describes the features and limitations as they stand today.

About Brian Suhr

Brian is a VCDX5-DCV and a Sr. Tech Marketing Engineer at Nutanix and owner of this website. He is active in the VMware community and helps lead the Chicago VMUG group. Specializing in VDI and Cloud project designs. Awarded VMware vExpert status 6 years for 2016 - 2011. VCP3, VCP5, VCP5-Iaas, VCP-Cloud, VCAP-DTD, VCAP5-DCD, VCAP5-DCA, VCA-DT, VCP5-DT, Cisco UCS Design

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How to upgrade to VMFS 5 on VMware and VMFS 5 facts

I wrote this last year but never published, working on clearing out some old posts. Along with the long list of other features added to vSphere 5, VMware has included a new version of VMFS. The upgrade in VMFS brings us to version 5 of the file system.

The main focus of VMware while creating VMFS seems to be making it easier to manage storage in virtual environments. In VMFS-5 the number of storage related objects that need to be managed by an VMware administrator are far less. For example you can now use larger and fewer datastores, because the scaling limits of VMFS-5 have been increased.

 

VMFS-5 New Features

  • Unified 1MB File Block Size. Past versions of VMFS used 1,2,4 or 8MB file blocks. The larger block sizes would allow you to create files larger than 256GB. There is now just one block size in VMFS-5 allowing you to create up to 2TB VMDK files using the 1MB file blocks.
  • Larger Datastores. In previous versions of VMFS, the largest datastore size without extents was 2TB-512 bytes. With VMFS-5 this limit has been increased to 64TB.
  • Smaller Sub-Block. VMFS-5 introduces a smaller sub-block. The new size is now 8KB rather than the old 64KB size from previous versions. Now a small file less than 8KB but larger than 1KB in size will only consume 8KB rather than 64KB. This will reduce the disk space being consumed by these small files.
  • Small File Support. Support for files less than or equal to 1KB, now use the file descriptor location in the metadata for storage rather than file blocks. If they grow above 1KB, these files will then start to use the new 8KB sub blocks. The net result is a reduction in space consumed by small files.
  • Increased File Count. VMFS-5 now allows support for more than 100,000 files. In VMFS-3 the limit was 30,000 files.
  • ATS Enhancement. ATS is now used all through VMFS-5 for file locking. ATS (Atomic Test & Set) is a Hardware Acceleration primitive, and is part of the VAAI (vSphere Storage APIs for Array Integration). This improves the file locking performance over previous versions of VMFS.

About Brian Suhr

Brian is a VCDX5-DCV and a Sr. Tech Marketing Engineer at Nutanix and owner of this website. He is active in the VMware community and helps lead the Chicago VMUG group. Specializing in VDI and Cloud project designs. Awarded VMware vExpert status 6 years for 2016 - 2011. VCP3, VCP5, VCP5-Iaas, VCP-Cloud, VCAP-DTD, VCAP5-DCD, VCAP5-DCA, VCA-DT, VCP5-DT, Cisco UCS Design

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vSphere ESXi 5 upgrade or install how to steps

This something that I wrote last year during the vSphere 5.0 beta and I had intended on using it with another project. After holding it for a longtime I finally decided to publish it here. There will be some other related content coming soon.

With the release of vSphere 5, VMware has entered the era of ESXi only hypervisors. This has been promised by VMware for the last couple of years, so it should be of no surprise to anyone. The ESXi platform has under gone a big coming of age journey since its first release. With each new version and update the ESXi platform has narrowed the feature gap that had previously existed with its brother ESX classic.

With this release VMware’s type 1 hypervisor has entered its fifth generation and in this book we are going to assume that you have a base level of experience. We will not be holding your hand showing each step of a base installation. We will be talking about topics that concern admins on important projects, daily tasks and showing you how to accomplish some of the new features in vSphere 5.

Upgrade considerations and dependencies

With any VMware related upgrade there are numerous items that should be considered when planning to move to the next release. Whether you’re going to be upgrading using existing hardware or purchasing new servers. You need to spend the time to examine the parts of your servers and validate they are supported by the release of vSphere that you plan on using. This can be done by using the VMware HCG or Hardware Compatibility Guide also commonly referred to as the HCL.

The release of vSphere 5 offers most of the same paths for upgrading, but also offers some not possible in the past. To make this easy to digest we have created Figure 1.0 that covers the upgrade paths and if they are possible with ESXi 5. Each of these methods will be expanded upon within the sections of this chapter.

About Brian Suhr

Brian is a VCDX5-DCV and a Sr. Tech Marketing Engineer at Nutanix and owner of this website. He is active in the VMware community and helps lead the Chicago VMUG group. Specializing in VDI and Cloud project designs. Awarded VMware vExpert status 6 years for 2016 - 2011. VCP3, VCP5, VCP5-Iaas, VCP-Cloud, VCAP-DTD, VCAP5-DCD, VCAP5-DCA, VCA-DT, VCP5-DT, Cisco UCS Design

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