You might want to check out the VMware KB Mobile Web App

This week VMware announced a Mobile Web app that allows for easy access to their KB or Knowledge Base content. The App is considered a Web App and is not a native app for any specific device, it’s written in HTML5 and currently supported on iPhone and Android devices. Once BlackBerry is able to support HTML5 it will work also. You can access the device just by going to this link.

The app will give you easy access to the following content.

  • Search the KnowledgeBase
  • Read the Support Insider Blog
  • Watch the @vmwarekb twitter feed
  • Watch VMware KBTV How to Videos

You can access the Mobile Web app by going to to this link.

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VMware Provider Partner is looking for vCloud Director beta testers

Yesterday I was contacted by StratoGen a VMware Provider partner that is preparing a vCloud offering and is looking for some users that can help them with Beta testing their offering. You can read details of the request below and the link to sign up and read further details.

StratoGen are seeking experienced VMware users to join the StratoGen vCloud Beta Program which is based on VMware vCloud Director.

Beta testing is a crucial element in the cycle of our product releases, and we work closely with the VMware community to ensure our products are the best they can be.  vCloud Director is a powerful but complex product and as such we are seeking experienced users to provide informed feedback on our product offering.

By participating in the program you will be provided with resources on our enterprise platform enabling you to build, deploy and manage virtual machines, vApps and networks using the StratoGen vCloud Director portal. You will be contacted on a periodic basis for feedback.

StratoGen is a leading VMware Service Provider Partner (VSPP) with an extensive cloud hosting platform based in London, UK.

If you would like to take part in the program please register at http://www.stratogen.net/products/vmware-hosting-vcloud.html

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How to configure EMC PowerPath to work with HP EVA storage arrays

On one of the projects that I have been working on lately we have been replacing all of the existing EMC storage with HP Storage. I’m not going to go into which one I think is better or worse. I am just going to cover how PowerPath is able to work with other storage arrays also. So in my search to determine if I would be able to continue to use the existing PowerPath licenses that exist at the client or if they would need to use the base MPIO software that HP provides. To those that have used PowerPath in the past you would probably agree that it is a great MPIO application and has a lot of other features available also.

For system admins it can make things like monitoring the health of your SAN connections and identifying which LUN correlates to the disk that you need expanded so much easier. So for these reasons it would be best for them to continue to use PowerPath. I searched the web for feedback to see what others have been doing and was surprised to see nothing. There was really no feedback out there. I did find some details about using PowerPath/VE with HP arrays but this version is for Hypervisors not Windows servers.

So after some further digging I was able to determine that I could use PowerPath version 5.5 with Windows servers to manage MPIO with HP Storage arrays. It will work with both EVA and XP class storage from HP. There are 32 bit and 64 bit versions available and I was able to test on both Windows Server 2003 and 2008 so far.

The install of PowerPath is pretty straight forward, the only thing that you must do special is to select the custom install option. You can see from the image below that you will have a few options to choose from for 3rd party Array support. I selected both the HP XP and Hitachi support since they will be using both EVA and HP XP’s which are made by Hitachi in the environment. After a reboot and a quick vDisk assignment on the EVA the storage was showing up properly in Windows.

The only part that was left was to get used to how the storage details would be showing up in PowerPath. Now when your using EMC storage the LUN ID with show up in the LUN column and is nice and clear. But when using it with the HP EVA the only way to match up the windows disk to the vDisk on the EVA was to use the Device details listed for the disk within PowerPath. I took a snapshot of the screen below.

You then need to match up the Device details that you found in PowerPath with the vDisk on the EVA that you can see by using the Command View EVA console. You can see that the WW LUN Name for the vDisk matches up with the Device column inside of PowerPath and this will help you match up your vDisks with the Windows disks. This makes disk expansions and assigning disks with different Raid levels to the proper drive letter in Windows much easier.

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VM Zombie Survival Guide (Part 1)

Administrators unite against the great VM Zombie menace! Long have we toiled to create the pillars of virtual infrastructure! We plan, and overcommit, and squeeze every last resource out of our designs, our environments, our data centers. And yet, we still face a considerable foe in wasted resources. Zombies!

How many times have you stood up a new environment, and migrated VMs, only to come across an old crusty Windows 2000 Advanced Server with Pervasive SQL (oh god, btrieve!) that still lurks in the lower regions of your vm sprawl. Yes, this lower denizen, or Zombie, had its roots in good intentions. You see, in the olden days, VMs sprung into consciousness for all sorts of development duties. However, due to a lack of regulation, and attention, they began to languish. Further, these zombie’s could be multi-headed (from decaying snapshots) and fiendishly hungry (4 vcpu’s for your cold fusion vm or 8GB ram for your 3 SQL instances that just have to mimic production). Before we dig out the shotgun and gas up the chainsaw, let’s look at the characteristics of a VM Zombie.

Know your Enemy: ZOMBIES!

First, it’s important to understand the distinction between a VM Zombie and a Zombie process. Think of them as greater and lesser zombies. A VM Zombie is a virtual machine that has been left to suck resources, yet perform no real task. Its idle hands merely wish to be used to devour tasty ram and cpu cycles. Let it also be known that VM Zombies can drop chunks of body parts (folders/vmdk/files) on your storage array as they stumble through your environment. Gross! A zombie process on an ESX host is a process that is dead, and you cannot kill the dead. We will be focusing on the VM Zombies, so grab your laptop (blunt object trauma!), survival rations (beer), and let’s learn about Virtualization’s Great Menace!

To kill zombies, we need tools. Big, sharp, loud, gunpowder-based tools. We’ve got two two great tools on tap: one paid and one free that I turn to in times of the undead feasting on the living flesh of my hosts. These tools are well known in the community and lots of information can be found about them.

VKERNEL – Optimization Pack

VKernel make a number of excellent tools, both paid for and free. When it comes to quality for decapitation of the Zombie Menace, I have to say I am very pleased with what this application brings to the table. First and foremost, as your virtual infrastructure scales (and sometimes sprawls), it can lead to lots of Zombie action. Wastefinder (a part of this pack) is absolutely brilliant J Not only does it help you find the roving Zombie hoard (snapshots included), it provides the empirical and historical data to validate. This goes hand in hand with rightsizing VMs, which can be troublesome if you get pushback from application owners, management, etc. Virtualizetips.com has had the privilege of previewing these tools, and I agree that their Gold award from VMworld 2010 is well deserved. Take that you brain-slurping bastards!

http://www.vkernel.com/products/optimization-pack

RVTOOLS

I have been using this tool in my home lab for quite some time, and also in my various locales of employ. Being free, this is a very solid app for tracking down zombie bits (both hunks of dead flesh on your storage array, and also snapshots and unregistered, rogue VMs). It will also export in a nice CSV format so you excel nerds can get your game on. I really like the quick and dirty view of an environment. It lets me zoom in and get what info I want quickly. At a glance, you get so much more also: build numbers, VMware Tools levels on your VMs, and all the hardware content for your VMs. This is a great keep-on-the-laptop tool if you have many clients to visit and need to get a quick assessment of their hotspots.

http://www.robware.net/

Coming in Part 2, more tools, tips, and survival tips to bring the fight to the Zombie Horde! Groovy!

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War declared on VM Zombie Nation!

I’ll teach you VM Zombies what for!  Just wait for me to assemble the VMnomican (Unholy book of the Virtual)!  Soon you will know the weapons we use to thwart you (and it’s not just virgins!)

As you can see from the image below our first line protector is ready to use the full power of our Monitoring and Chargeback tools to take down the Zombies. She is already waiting in the Datacenter to blast the offenders.

Also, big thanks for posting my email retort!

http://www.zombievm.org/contact.html

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Chicago VMUG recap of October 20th meeting on VDI

Well we have another successful Chicago VMUG meeting under our belts. With each meeting we have it really feels like were building a strong community in Chicago. The reason that I got involved with the VMUG community was to network with my fellow VMware people and to share our experiences. I think building a strong community benefits everyone that attends the VMUG meetings. Sure you get to listen to briefings from VMware and other virtualization related companies but being able to talk openly with others that are fighting the same battles as you everyday is priceless. You get to ask questions of people who have done what you are seeking to do or are also planning the same projects. These are opportunities that would not come around often if it were not for the VMUG meetings. You can see the slide decks from most of the presentations on the Chicago VMUG blog.

Face it most of us have our internal teams and maybe a few friends in the industry. But do you really get the opportunity to speak openly about these technologies with industry experts and 100 other community members very often. Well if you attend the VMUG meetings then you can answer yes. Today I met several new people and I can say that at each meeting I’m sure to meet other interesting members.

In the first session of the day we had Chris Fox in from VMware. Chris gave us a briefing of new products and announcements that have taken place since our last meeting which included both VMware San Francisco and VMworld Copenhagen. In this session Chris laid out what VMware’s current Cloud and VDI offerings are. Chris also was nice enough to hang around and participate on our VDI panel in the last session that I describe below.

The second session of the day was a general VDI related presentation from Elias Khnaser from Artemis Technologies. In this talk Elias covered the business and technology reasons that are causing most companies to consider Virtual Desktops. He also provided some sample numbers on sizing and costs related to VDI deployments. Elias also spoke about the many options available within the VDI space.

Next up was Wyse technology. During this session we got a recap of the thin client offerings that Wyse has today. I was really surprised to see the Wyse mobile thin clients, these are kind of a Netbook style thin client. They also covered software clients that Wyse offers for PC’s and the popular Pocket Cloud app for iPad and iPhone.

After the 2nd session we took a short lunch break and enjoyed some delicious Fajitas that the staff at Dave & Busters in Addison cooked up for us. The food was fresh and ready right when we needed it to be. I was pleased with the meeting room and the service we got from the staff.

The next session was from RES Software and Brian talked about how RES can help with your VDI planning and deployments. It was good to hear from RES as I was already familiar with some competing products in this space. We got to hear about their profile management and workspace extender products. Brian from RES Software was also kind enough to sit on your discussion panel later in the day also.

Before I wrap up the last portion of the VMUG meeting I’ll cover what is likely a favorite of many. The prizes that we gave out today to many that attended the VMUG meeting. During the experts discussion panel we handed out vNerd shirts from TrainSignal and vArmy T-shirts to people that asked questions to the panel. Then we drew names for several people that won VMware related training videos from TrainSignal and Elias Khanser. Also the great folks at Wyse gave away an Apple iPad and the team at RES Software gave away a Flip video camera and several Starbucks gift cards. I would like to talk our sponsors and other companies that supplied these great gifts that we were able to provide to our lucky winners. Oh I almost forgot that one of our great members donated 4 tickets to an upcoming Chicago Bulls game that were given away to a lucky member at the meeting.

We finished off the meeting today with a panel of VMware heavy hitters that bravely took all questions from the audience related to VDI. I was really impressed by this session it was our first real panel type discussion and picking Virtual Desktops as the topic seemed to be a great choice. The questions came fast and there was a bunch of them. The conversation was honest and open. We had questions that ranged from security, SAN storage planning to building a small VDI of 50 clients. Each question was great because they came from a community member with a real issue or someone just seeking some insight to help with their planning. I posted a couple of pictures of the panel below taken with different cell phone cameras so excuse the poor quality. The panel consisted of the following people, I will fill in the names that are missing once I go over my notes.

Matt Lieb a vSpecialist from EMC   ( @MBLeib )
Chris Fox from VMware
Elias Khnaser from Artemis Technologies   ( @ekhnaser )
SE from Wyse
Brian from RES Software   ( @ressoftware )

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VMware Labs announces VIX Plugin for vCenter Orchestrator

Looks like the engineers at VMware are not slowing down with the cool toys they keep releasing via VMware Labs. These are usually side projects for them that are very helpful to the community. This one I can see a lot of possibilities for. The ability to copy files to and from a VM guest could save time. Also being able to run scripts and affected processes from outside the VM.

vCenter Orchestrator(vCO) supports extended functionality using plug-ins. This VIX plug-in allows users to automate virtual machine operations within guest operating systems as vCO Javascript objects and methods to create workflows to run operations within a Windows/Linux Guest. Some of the sample workflow provide the following functionality:

  • Check for a file or a directory in guest
  • Copy file from guest to vCO and from vCO to guest
  • Create, delete a file or a directory in guest
  • List directory content
  • List, stop processes in guest
  • Run a program or script in guest

You can download it from the following link – http://labs.vmware.com/flings/vix-vco .

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