Why the upcoming vCenter Operations Management Suite has me excited

I would like to start off by saying that it’s nice to see VMware starting to bundle up some of their offerings into more complete packages. Many of these tools were acquired recently and it takes time to integrate them with their own applications. I have not looked recently to see if there is any price advantage to buying the bundle versus the apps separately. The main thing is that they continue to add functionality by tightly integrating the apps to work together.

The new vCenter Operations Management Suite has 4 versions available for the package, you can view the table here to compare versions. The highest version available is the Enterprise Plus, it looks like maybe VMware is starting to standardize on their version naming to match what vSphere has been using for years. This version offers the performance monitoring of vCOPs, Infrastructure Navigator, Chargeback manager and Configuration Manager. Until recently you would normally have to purchase these all separately and the cost was per VM based and could be pretty expensive for large environments.

One of the features that has me most excited was the integration between configuration manager and vCOPs. I saw a demo and cannot find it again right now. It showed that when viewing a host for example that is experiencing a performance issue you can correlate the change in performance with any configuration changes that took place at the same time the issue started. So if another team member or maybe yourself was updating a value on network cards and it did not produce any noticeable errors during the change. But vCOPs was tracking a change in performance the new suite will help brings these 2 separate tracks of information together to help fix issues and find root causes faster. Once I can find the screen shot again I will try to remember to update this post with it.

 

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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Walk through of new vSphere 5 web client interface


In this post I will cover the new Web Interface that is available in vCenter 5 that was announced this past Tuesday. This is something that should be welcomed by non Windows users. With growing number of admins using Apple computers these days they have been long waiting for a way to manage their vSphere environment without having a Windows VM running also. The vCenter Web Interface is a Flex based console that is not fully featured yet but does offer many of the things you would need on a daily basis.

You definitely will not be using it to setup hosts and networks and that type of setup & configuration work. But you can create VMs and other daily functions as well as look at performance charts.

To get started point your browser to your vCenter server using a link similar to below. If you pint straight to the vCenter without the port and trailing string you will get a page similar to what your used to seeing in the past. It will allow you to download the regular vSphere Client and will also have a link to the web client.

Below you can see the login screen for the Web Client, nothing earth shattering from this view. Only thing to point out is at the bottom of the screen there is a download link for the Client Integration Plug-in. This is necessary to view the console of a VM through the web client. So download and install to get all of the functions opened up to you.

Manage a Virtual Machine with Web Client

The image below shows the summary view of a virtual machine. Its got pretty much all of the same details were used to seeing in the thick client. You get power status and details about VM hardware and storage. From this view you can control the power of the VM and edit its settings like in the past. At the end of this section I have included images of all the options located in the menu for a VM.

 

 From the next image we can see that the Monitor section includes sections for Tasks, Events, Performance and Alarms. These are all things you should be used to seeing also and are easily accessible in the Web Client also. I was pretty impressed with the performance chart options that are available with this being the first attempt by VMware. They have had practice by  using the Flex client model for View manager and vCloud director now.

The last section of the VM menu is resource management. You can have a look at the familiar looking CPU and Memory bar charts that we use in the regular client.

The group of images below show the menu options that are available to you when managing a virtual machine. You have the normal power options. Under configuration you can edit settings and upgrade Tools and virtual hardware. The Inventory menu allows you to Migrate or Clone. And the Snapshot menu give you the normal options you would expect.

 

Migrate a Virtual Machine with Web Client

This is a really nice feature to have available in the web client. This is something that in the past you would have had to fire up the full vSphere client to do. All the normal options seem to be available for this process.

 

 Edit VM properties in Web Client

This section is pretty straight forward and you can see form the two images below that all of the normal options are available to you in the Web Client. You can edit and add virtual hardware to you VMs.

This second image shows the normal VM Options that you can edit also.

Creating a Virtual Machine with Web Client

I’m not sure how much I will use this to start, but its pretty awesome that this feature is there at the beginning. You can create a VM from the Web Client, using all the same choices that you would normally.

Simple screen that allows you to name your virtual machine and select the folder location in the datacenter.

The next image shows you the ability to select the resources that it will run on. For example you can choose a host or cluster to place the VM on to start.

The next screen shows you available storage options. The Web Client provides you with plenty of detail to make educated decisions.

This section allows you to choose from available Virtual Machine hardware versions. It also explains the options for both so people can make educated decisions.

Next up in the process is to choose the guest operating system.

The last screen before the review allows you to adjust any of the virtual hardware that you want in your VM. There are plenty of options here and at first look I don’t see anything missing from the regular client.

ESXi 5 Host management from Web Client

From the image below you can see the summary screen that shows information about a ESXi host. All the normal details appear to be here and are presented in a easy to consume manor. From the right side of the screen you can see recent tasks and running tasks to keep an eye on what is happening in your environment.

The image below shows the monitoring screen so that you can view Tasks, Events, Alarms and Performance data on the vSphere host. This is also really nice to have in the Web Client so that you can see what is going on.

 

Cluster views form vSphere Web Client

The next image is the Cluster Summary view from the Web Client. These are not much different form the host views, they just present you with higher level details.

This image shows you cluster services to be able to view DRS information within the cluster. You can see History, Faults and Recommendations form this area.

 The last screen that I have shown here gives you Resource management details for the cluster. You can view whats happening cluster wide on CPU, Memory, Storage and utilization details.

 

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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First look at VMware vCenter 5 appliance setup and management console

I thought that I would not dwell on all of the licensing craziness and wanted to start writing about some of the cool new stuff that VMware announced. In this post I will cover the install and setup of the new vCenter 5 server appliance from VMware.

The vCenter appliance is exactly that a Virtual Appliance built and maintained by VMware. It is based on SLES 11 linux and now offers an option to IT shops that are not bound to Windows. From my point it looks like VMware is continuing to build it’s management tools with no need for Windows or at least the option of choosing your OS that the tool will run on. This is something that I’ve heard complaints about for years and will certainly make some people very happy.

The install of the appliance is very straight forward just like most virtual appliances are. You must first download the package from VMware which is just shy of 4GB in size. The package is a OVF so the next step was to deploy the OVF and power it on afterward.

Once the appliance boots if you open up a console to the VM you will see a screen like the one below. The device will grab an IP from DHCP if its available. Once you have an IP you can open up a browser and point it to https://appliance_IP_address:5480.

Once you browser connects to the appliance you will be presented with the screen below. This screen is the management console for the appliance. This is where you can enter in settings that control the appliance its self and not virtual machines. I will cover the web console in a separate post. The default login for the appliance is listed below.

User – root

Password – vmware

Once you log in to the appliance you will be presented with a screen shown below. This gives you some basic information about the appliance. You can see from the screen shot that this appliance has already been connected to an Oracle DB hosted on a separate server. The appliance supports Oracle and DB2 databases currently, which allows you to be totally Microsoft free. You can also stop/start the vCenter from this screen.

 The next step in setting up the appliance would be to point it to the database. In this step you can see the details of the Oracle DB that we are using in the lab.

 The next screen shown below is the Settings section that shows you the default Ports that the appliance uses and allows you to make changes. You can also select the inventory size for the vCenter Appliance, this is based on how many virtual machines it will manage. There are RAM recommendations listed based upon the inventory size that you select. The appliance comes built with 8GB RAM and 2 vCPUs.

The Administration section is pretty straight forward. You can change the admin password and Enable or Disable SSH access to the appliance.

The last section under the vCenter Server area is the storage section. This allows you to store log files off on a NFS share rather than withing the appliance.

 In the image below you are now looking at the Services menu which allows you to control services like Syslog, NetDump and Autodeploy that run on the appliance. I did not take screen shots of each sub menu to keep this from getting too long. This screen allows you to start and stop the services and the individual sub menus allow you to change the IP ports that they function on.

Next up is the Authentication section. This allows you to setup NIS or Active Director based logins. From the image below you can see we have already setup the appliance for AD logins.

From the Active Directory sub menu you can point the appliance to the AD domain that you wish to use for authentication. All you need is the Domain name and an Admin user and password. The setup was very easy the only thing is that you must restart the appliance before you will be able to login with AD credentials. As a note once setup I was able to log into this console without a reboot, but connecting to manage VMs required the reboot before it would work.

The Network section is up next which is also very simple. You can manually provide all network related configuration settings from this section.

The System menu does not have many options that you can see from the image below. It shows you some appliance version information and host name. There is a sub menu to set the Time Zone. The main function here is the ability to Reboot or Shutdown the appliance with the buttons on the right.

The image below shows the update section that appears to allow you to setup automatic updates of the appliance. There is not a lot of details around this area yet so I will continue to watch.

The last menu section of the appliance is the upgrade area. Now from first look I figured this would be a way to apply a version upgrade to the appliance. But from further looking it appears to be a way to link a source and destination vCenter appliance. And then import the configuration in the destination one. I’m guessing that you could download the latest version of the appliance and then import your configuration over. If someone has more details around this drop me a comment below.

 

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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Facts about VMware vSphere 5 License changes

In case you were sleeping today VMware announced vSphere 5 and all of its 150 plus glorious new features. I’ve been lucky enough to be using it for sometime in the Beta program and its really a big step forward. There are tons of new features that people have been waiting for.

But with all of the new stuff it seams a licensing change has kind of put a cloud over the shinny new features. Along with the new version VMware has change the licensing model that vSphere 5 will use, moving towards a vRAM pooled model that I will attempt to explain further. Now for some organizations this will be great and for others it will add additional cost.

There has been a lot of banter on twitter today about the licenses changes and in the VMware forums. I am holding back making a decision until I can digest this further. But from what it looks like is building a scaled up design model would be more expensive with the new licensing model.

Here is some highlights from the vSphere 5 license white paper that VMware release. You can download the full paper here.

 vSphere 5.0 will be licensed on a per-processor basis with a vRAM entitlement. Each vSphere 5.0 CPU license will entitle the
purchaser to a specific amount of vRAM, or memory configured to virtual machines. The vRAM entitlement can be pooled across
a vSphere environment to enable a true cloud or utility based IT consumption model. Just like VMware technology offers
customers an evolutionary path from the traditional datacenter to cloud infrastructure, the vSphere 5.0 licensing model allows
customers to evolve to a cloud-like “pay for consumption” model without disrupting established purchasing, deployment and license management practices and processes.

 

You will still be buying your licenses based on sockets but there is now the vRAM amount to factor in.

Licensing Unit: Per Processor (CPU)
vSphere 5.0 is still licensed on a per-processor basis, allowing customers to continue leveraging established purchasing,
deployment and license-management processes.

So what is a vRAM Entitlement
We have introduced vRAM, a transferable, virtualization-based entitlement to offer customers the greatest flexibility for vSphere configuration and usage. vRAM is defined as the virtual memory configured to virtual machines. When a virtual machine is created, it is configured with a certain amount of virtual memory (vRAM) available to the virtual machine. Depending on the edition, each vSphere 5.0-CPU license provides a certain vRAM capacity entitlement. When the virtual machine is powered on, the vRAM configured for that virtual machine counts against the total vRAM
entitled to the user. There are no restrictions on how vRAM capacity can be distributed among virtual machines: a customer can configure many small virtual machines or one large virtual machine. The entitled vRAM is a fungible resource configured to meet customer workload requirements.

What is Pooled vRAM Capacity in vSphere 5?
An important feature of the new licensing model is the concept of pooling the vRAM capacity entitlements for all processor licenses (see Figure 1). The vRAM entitlements of vSphere CPU licenses are pooled—that is, aggregated—across all CPU licenses managed by a VMware vCenter instance (or multiple linked VMware vCenter instances) to form a total available vRAM capacity (pooled vRAM capacity). If workloads on one server are not using their full vRAM entitlement, the excess capacity can be used by other virtual machines within the VMware vCenter instance. At any given point in time, the vRAM capacity consumed by all powered-on virtual machines within a pool must be equal or lower than the pooled vRAM capacity.

How would I monitor the Pooled vRAM Capacity
Available and consumed vRAM capacity can be monitored and managed using the licensing-management module of VMware vCenter Server. Customers can create reports and set up alerts to obtain automated notification of when the level of vRAM consumption surpasses a specified level of the available pooled capacity.

So if I run out of Pool vRAM how would I increase the Pooled vRAM Capacity
If necessary, the easiest way to expand pooled vRAM capacity is to add more vSphere CPU licenses of the same edition to the vRAM pool. Alternatively, customers can upgrade all CPU licenses in the vRAM pool to a vSphere edition with a higher base vRAM entitlement.

Some Licensing Examples

 vSphere 5 License pricing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 balance VMware ESX hosts paths on HP EVA arrays

Here at 64k, in our smaller cube near the vending machines, we storage-oriented folks like to mull over ideas big and small, 4k at a time.  We also deal in a great number of puns, so consider yourself warned.  Today, in our maiden voyage, I’d like to talk about some of my experience with HP’s line of EVA storage arrays.  As many of our readers know, the EVA line is a middle tier offering from HP.  Though likely to be usurped in the near future by 3PAR’s goodies, I am not here to begin that debate.  Rather, let us delve into a few common gotcha’s that can be overlooked in environments where EVAs live.

ONE]

The tight rope act begins with the storage array, our bright and shiny EVA.  At a fundamental level, an EVA is comprised of two controllers.  The operating environment of the EVA is such that it can, in a semi-intelligent fashion, manage vdisk ownership between the two controllers itself.  By default, vdisks are set to no preference for a failover/mode setting at the time of creation.   This means the EVA will decide which controllers get which vdisks when it (the EVA itself) boots.  Every vdisk is assigned to a controller (and only one controller).  If the non-owning controller is receiving the IO for a server(s) talking to a vdisk, it will after a period of time change the ownership of the vdisk.  This will reduce the load crossing the mirror ports.   While the EVA can run in this fashion, it is sub-optimal.

The other side of the tight rope of this balancing act is the hosts.  IO can walk many paths from host to array, some optimal and others not.  The start of such begins at the host’s adapter.  If it is a dual port (or multiple single port) host, then you have all the more paths to choose from.  Even in the case of a single port host, you can still cover multiple paths to arrive at the vdisk.  The handling of the proper path comes in the form of multipathing software.  From HP for Microsoft operating systems, we have Device Specific Module (DSM), which uses MS’s MPIO stack as its basis.  HP makes specific DSM’s for each of its line of arrays.  Without the MPIO stack, the host will see a drive presented once for each host port.  In an 8×00 series array, that is 8!  So clearly the MPIO software and HP’s DSM is needed for correct operation.  The default install does not enable Adaptive Load Balance (ALB).  This hampers read operations by not passing through the correct controller for a vdisk.  Note that non-MS based operating systems (like VMware) have their own multipathing stacks.  In the case of VMware ESX(i) 3.x, the options are fixed and mru.  In the case of vSphere, we get round robin added to the mix.  In pre-vSphere environments, the fixed path does not by default balance load across the host ports.  You can end up with all your VM traffic running over one host port!  Yikes!

TWO]

Now, to balance things out, let me start with the array.  A good habit to get into involves understanding your environment from an IO perspective.  You need to understand the profile, or workload, of your IO, so that you can balance between the controllers (among other things!).  Make sure to capture your performance data using evaperf (or other tools) to allow you the view of your controller’s current load.  As you add new vdisks, you can balance them by setting the failover/mode setting to the controller with failover + failback.  This will allow the balancing to remain should you lose and regain a controller.  Further, this specifies the controller for the vdisk in terms of mastership.  This helps from the host side as the controller it needs to talk through is clearly defined.  One thing to keep in mind also is the need to accept all load on one controller should failure occur.  This should be something you are aware of via your performance data.  A good rule of thumb is a controller should be no more than 30% ideally (at least in my experience).   And as always, have the latest Command View and XCS code.  One other thing to check for balance is to make sure the host ports are set to their top speed (4GB, except the very old EVA models) as well as properly balanced on the fabric (equal ports on both sides).  One customer I came across had all ports from controller A on fabric A and all ports of controller B on fabric B!  Definitely a big problem there!

For the host side, there is a bit more that can be done.  There is some work to be done on the array as well, which I will address.  The hosts should have the latest firmware, drivers, and software for their HBAs.  Additionally, make sure you have the latest HP DSM software.   Within the DSM software, you will want to enable Automatic Load Balancing.  As I stated before, this is not enabled by default.  To enable, just right click on each LUN (listed by WWN) that is listed and choose Enable ALB.

So, as a quick explanation:  write requests from hosts will hit the controller that owns the vdisk in question, but that write will propagate over the mirror link into both controllers’ cache.  This is in case a controller is lost, the write can still be committed.  Read requests will hit whichever controller, and if it is the wrong controller, will have to travel over the mirror ports to the correct controller.  This is sub-optimal, but is alleviated by enabling ALB.  ALB communicates with the array and will always communicate its read requests through the owning controller.  Very handy!

Now, from a VMware standpoint, let’s talk about fixed and then round robin (two most common multipathing situations found today).  For Fixed, you will need to balance IO to your datastores over the host ports of the controllers.  Also keep in mind which controller you selected at the array.  As an example, if I have 8 datastores of average IO (no virtualized heavy apps) then I would want 4 datastores on each controller.  To further balance, I would have each datastore talking over one of the host ports for each of the controllers (4 ports per controller x 2 controllers).  The IO is evenly balanced.  To set this, simply go into each datastore properties (via the VI Client) and pick the WWN for the corresponding host port).  Under heavy IO circumstances, you may not be able to move your traffic to a different host port.  Just try again at a later date.  When it comes to round robin, the IO works a bit differently.  Round Robin will send IO to each host port in turn after a certain amount of IOPS.   In the HP best practices for vSphere on the EVA, it states to change this value to 1 (and thus pushing even IOPS over every host port visible).  There was a bug which would, after a reboot of the ESX(i) host, reset this to a very high number.  I have found in my experience that leaving it as-is seems to work fairly well.  I would guess there is good reason that HP came up with that figure, and so at this point, with vSphere 4.1, I would suspect you could set this without issue.

Summary

Presented here are some of the findings I have come across in working with different customers.  I figure that having these kinds of storage discussions can help to make for a very engaging conversation.  Let me know what you think (and if I make any errors, which being human, am prone to!

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VMware Labs releases PyvCO for vCO communications

Earlier today the crack team over at VMware Labs released a new Fling or app. The Labs team creates these pet projects and releases them to the community to offer creative solutions for admins to use.

VMware Labs presents PyvCO – Python bindings for VMware Orchestrator.

This module helps in integration of vCO in a Python environment as well as a useful testing environment. Some of the uses are:

  • Communicate with vSphere 4.1 vCO using SOAP interface.
  • Provide a consistent API for synchronous and asynchronous applications (Twisted is supported)
  • Create, delete a file or a directory in guest
  • Write tests targeting vCO.
  • Provide enough information to extend vmw.vco in such a way that above use cases remain consistent.

Be one of the first one to try, rate and comment – http://labs.vmware.com/flings/pyvco

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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