A few suggestions for VMware to make vCloud Director better

I’ve been building a list over time of things that have frustrated me about vCloud Director (vCD) or items that I thought would make it better. I’ve been writing this post for awhile and a couple of recent projects brought up some new items and made me realize its time to publish this. I am in no way bashing VMware or vCD by creating this post. I think vCD is a great product and for customers that can take advantage of its features should be looking at deploying it. I am simply trying to suggest improvements and communicate feedback from customers. My goal is to see vCD grow into the best product possible and dominate the cloud market. I also realize that most cloud platforms are pretty immature and that vCD is just a revision 1.5 product so it will improve over time.

But I see VMware pouring a ton of resources and pushing development of VMware View pretty fast over the last 18 months and would also like to see that same type of aggressive development on vCloud Director.

1. Support for Multi-site vCD deployments – What I am hearing is customers want to manage their private cloud from one portal. So for example an Organization within vCD could have several Org vDCs that represent geographically dispersed data centers. No need to vMotion or move workloads around just be able to provision from one portal and manage vApps from a single portal. What might be a good step here is separate vCD deployments that can work in Linked mode much like vCenter can today.

2. Further integrate vCenter Orchestrator with vCD – This one is a big one for me and heavily requested by customers. What this means is when deploying a vApp there should be an easy way to kick off an orchestrator workflow as part of the provisioning process. This is needed to achieve a lot of the orchestration that customers are looking for. I know there are things you can do today with AMPQ, but I’m talking about real integration that much like other products offer today.

3. Edit OS disk size – this is not a huge one but the ability to edit the size of the OS disk would be good. If using Linked Clones I know your going to be limited but if customers are not using fast provision then this would be helpful.

4. Better looking customer portal – This is something that I hear often from clients. Sure the portals are functional but they are still very infrastructure looking and not all that friendly to end users. Clients are looking for something more Web page looking and easy to understand. I as a techie person can find my way around with ease but I’m used to working with this kind of stuff. The Amazon AWS portal is nothing sexy but its link based and pretty easy to understand for new users.

5. Ability to allow disks of a vApp on different datastores and storage Tiers – This is also a big one for me and customers. A good example for this would be an SQL server, the common config would place the OS, temp DB, logs and DB on different disks. These disks could be on different datastores and also be on different Tiers of storage. Currently VMware recommends not mixing tiers of storage within a provider vDC. This is because you cannot control which datastore a vApp will get deployed on and performance could vary based on where the vApp landed. So I have a couple of ideas that might help with this. First one is when deploying the vApp have an option to automatically place the disks for you much like today, but if you unchecked the auto option the user would have the ability to manually select the datastores for each disk in the vApp. The second option would be to use Profile Driven storage options new to vSphere 5 for each datastore within the provider vDC, and when importing the vApp you could assign a storage profile for each disk of the vApp and this would be followed when deploying new vApps from this template. Typically when people want to offer self service deployment they are trying to make the process easy with few decisions, but they still want to offer the ability to do advanced configs.

6. Integrate vShield App with vCloud – This is of medium importance but growing fast. What I mean here is from the organization portals the users should have the ability to config vShield app security groups and firewall rules for the groups. This way after deploying a vApp they could secure it and open the proper ports. This is something that is possible in Amazon today and customer are looking for this. I would say that companies deploying private clouds are not that interested in this but service providers and customers that have servers that are internet connected want this ability. Today there is similar function like this possible for the limited version of vShield Edge that’s bundled with vCD so I don’t think this is out of line.

 

I will be adding to this list as I think of more items or as things come up during discussions with customers. I would also like to encourage others to leave suggestions in the comments or reach out to me with them and I will add them to the list. Hopefully VMware is hard at work on some or all of these items and we will see them soon in future releases.

I tossed in a couple of funny pictures for motivation, now get coding.

 

 

 

 

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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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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VMware vSphere 4.0 U2 and vCenter Server 4.0 Update 2 now available for download

Hot off the presses! The latest update for VMware vSphere is now available for download. Both Update 2 for ESX 4.0, ESXi 4.0 and vCenter 4.0 are all available now. Run don’t walk to your nearest PC with a fast connection and start downloading. Ok don’t run you might crash into something. Have fun playing with the latest update in your labs. You can download the latest version here.

Here are some of the release notes for ESX 4.0 U2, see full list here.

  • Enablement of Fault Tolerance Functionality for Intel Xeon 56xx Series processors— vSphere 4.0 Update 1 supports the Intel Xeon 56xx Series processors without Fault Tolerance. vSphere 4.0 Update 2 enables Fault Tolerance functionality for the Intel Xeon 56xx Series processors.
  • Enablement of Fault Tolerance Functionality for Intel i3/i5 Clarkdale Series and Intel Xeon 34xx Clarkdale Series processors— vSphere 4.0 Update 1 supports the Intel i3/i5 Clarkdale Series and Intel Xeon 34xx Clarkdale Series processors without Fault Tolerance. vSphere 4.0 Update 2 enables Fault Tolerance functionality for the Intel i3/i5 Clarkdale Series and Intel Xeon 34xx Clarkdale Series processors.
  • Enablement of IOMMU Functionality for AMD Opteron 61xx and 41xx Series processors— vSphere 4.0 Update 1 supports the AMD Opteron 61xx and 41xx Series processors without input/output memory management unit (IOMMU). vSphere 4.0 Update 2 enables IOMMU functionality for the AMD Opteron 61xx and 41xx Series processors.
  • Enhancement of the esxtop/resxtop utility vSphere 4.0 Update 2 includes an enhancement of the performance monitoring utilities, esxtop and resxtop. The esxtop/resxtop utilities now provide visibility into the performance of NFS datastores in that they display the following statistics for NFS datastores: Reads/s, writes/s, MBreads/s, MBwrtn/s, cmds/s, GAVG/s(guest latency).
  • Additional Guest Operating System Support— ESX/ESXi 4.0 Update 2 adds support for Ubuntu 10.04.

Here are some of the release notes for ESX 4.0 U2, see full list here.

  • Enablement of Fault Tolerance Functionality for Intel Xeon 56xx Series processors— vSphere 4.0 Update 1 supports the Intel Xeon 56xx Series processors without Fault Tolerance. vSphere 4.0 Update 2 enables Fault Tolerance functionality for the Intel Xeon 56xx Series processors.
  • Enablement of Fault Tolerance Functionality for Intel i3/i5 Clarkdale Series and Intel Xeon 34xx Clarkdale Series processors— vSphere 4.0 Update 1 supports the Intel i3/i5 Clarkdale Series and Intel Xeon 34xx Clarkdale Series processors without Fault Tolerance. vSphere 4.0 Update 2 enables Fault Tolerance functionality for the Intel i3/i5 Clarkdale Series and Intel Xeon 34xx Clarkdale Series processors.
  • Enablement of IOMMU Functionality for AMD Opteron 61xx and 41xx Series processors— vSphere 4.0 Update 1 supports the AMD Opteron 61xx and 41xx Series processors without input/output memory management unit (IOMMU). vSphere 4.0 Update 2 enables IOMMU functionality for the AMD Opteron 61xx and 41xx Series processors.
  • Enhancement of the resxtop utility— vSphere 4.0 U2 includes an enhancement of the performance monitoring utility, resxtop. The resxtop utility now provides visibility into the performance of NFS datastores in that it displays the following statistics for NFS datastores: Reads/s, writes/s, MBreads/s, MBwrtn/s, cmds/s, GAVG/s (guest latency).
  • Additional Guest Operating System Support— ESX/ESXi 4.0 Update 2 adds support for Ubuntu 10.04.

Here are some of the release notes for vCenter 4.0 U2, see full list here.

  • Guest Operating System Customization Improvements: vCenter Server now supports customization of the following guest operating systems:
    • Windows XP Professional SP2 (x64) serviced by Windows Server 2003 SP2
    • SLES 11 (x32 and x64)
    • SLES 10 SP3 (x32 and x64)
    • RHEL 5.5 Server Platform (x32 and x64)
    • RHEL 5.4 Server Platform (x32 and x64)
    • RHEL 4.8 Server Platform (x32 and 64)
    • Debian 5.0 (x32 and x64)
    • Debian 5.0 R1 (x32 and x64)
    • Debian 5.0 R2 (x32 and x64)

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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Location of VMware log files for ESX, ESXi, SRM and vCenter

Whether your tracking down an issue on your own or collection data to submit a support request to VMware your gonna need to round up the necessary log files.  I have collected and listed some of the main log locations from VMware and also linked to KB articles covering a full list of log file locations.

VMware ESX log files

You can see ESX logs:  (KB Link)
  • From the Service Console
  • From the vSphere Client connected directly to the ESX host (click Home > Administration > System Logs)
  • From the VMware Infrastructure Client connected directly to the ESX host (click Administration > System Logs)
The vmkernel logs (which log everything related to the kernel/core of the ESX) are located at /var/log/vmkernel.
The vmkwarning logs (which log warnings from the vmkernel) are located at /var/log/vmkwarning.
The vmksummary logs (which provide a summary of system activities such as uptime, downtime, reasons for downtime) are located at /var/log/vmksummary.
The hostd log (which is the log of the ESX management service of the ESX) are located at /var/log/vmware/hostd.log.
The messages log (which log activity on the Service Console operating system) is located at /var/log/messages.
The VirtualCenter Agent log is located at /var/log/vmware/vmware/vpx/vpxa.log.
The Automatic Availability Manager (AAM) logs are located at /var/log/vmware/aam/vmware_<hostname>-xxx.log.
The SW iSCSI logs are located at /var/log/vmkiscsid.log.
The System boot log is located at /var/log/boot-logs/sysboot.log.
VMware ESXi log files – (KB Article)
The vmkernel, vmkwarning, and hostd logs are located at /var/log/messages.
The Host Management service (hostd = Host daemon) log is located at /var/log/vmware/hostd.log.
The VirtualCenter Agent log is located at /var/log/vmware/vmware/vpx/vpxa.log.
The System boot log is located at /var/log/sysboot.log.
The Automatic Availability Manager (AAM) logs are located at /var/log/vmware/aam/vmware_<hostname>-xxx.log.
vCenter log files – (KB Article)
SRM log files – (KB Article)
The SRM configuration files are located at:
  • C:Program FilesVMwareVMware Site Recovery Managerconfigextension.xml
  • C:Program FilesVMwareVMware Site Recovery Managerconfigvmware-dr.xmlOr
  • C:Program FilesVMwareVMware vCenter Site Recovery Managerconfigextension.xml
  • C:Program FilesVMwareVMware vCenter Site Recovery Managerconfigvmware-dr.xml

The SRM Logs (on vCenter Server for connection with SRM and on SRM for SRM workflow) are located at:

  • %ALLUSERSPROFILE%VMwareVMware Site Recovery ManagerLogs, which translates by default to C:Documents and SettingsAll UsersApplication DataVMwareVMware Site Recovery ManagerLogsOr
  • %ALLUSERSPROFILE%VMwareVMware vCenter Site Recovery ManagerLogs, which translates by default to C:Documents and SettingsAll UsersApplication DataVMwareVMware vCenter Site Recovery ManagerLogs
The SRM Installation Logs (on the SRM Server, which may not be the vCenter Server) are located at C:Documents and SettingsAdministratorLocal SettingsTemp1.
The location of the SRA Logs (on the SRM server) depends on the SRA type and vendor. They may be located in:
  • C:Program FilesVMwareVMware vCenter Site Recovery ManagerscriptsSAN*logOr
  • C:Program Files<SRA Vendor or Name>

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 clear alarms in vSphere vCenter 4

I know this would seem like an easy thing and you might not give it a second thought. But if you’ve ever had an alarm that just wont clear and the virtual machine is no longer suffering from the event that caused it. Then you might benefit from the following suggestions that I came across. As always I recommend that you investigate each alarm and make sure that your are not ignoring any serious issues before clearing any alarms.

Sure alarms can alert you to some pretty serious events, but many are triggered by short term or non-reoccurring events. You might get an event for excessive CPU utilization due to something crazy happening on a Windows server. It passes or was dealt with by the SA and does not return. But that nagging alarm keeps staring you down each time you visit vCenter. Sure you have acknowledged the alarm and plenty of time has passed without a re-occurrence. But that little red diamond alarm still remains.

Option #1 is the simplest way and will not cause any interruptions to any tasks. This method will clear the alarms but it will clear them for all hosts, VMs, datastores or whatever you are clearing the alarm for. Also you must do this at the level that the alarm was created on, for example if the alarm was created at the Datacenter level then it will clear the alarm for every object in that Datacenter for the specific alarm that you are modifying. Once you located the correct alarm at the proper level you need to edit the alarm and uncheck the Enable this Alarm setting. Give it a few seconds for the command to complete then you can re-edit the alarm and enable it again. This will clear all occurrences of this alarm at this level and below.

Option #2 is a more manual way but will also only clear alarms on a specific host. With this method you need to be able to restart services on the host. I will usually just use Putty and SSH to the host and run from the command line. You the command that I have listed just below to restart the VPXA service and this should clear All alarms on this ESX host. Just be sure that you have looked at the cause of all alarms for this host before clearing them.

# service vmware-vpxa restart

If there are any other good options for clearing these alarms feel free to drop a note in the comments and I will update the post.

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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