Home > February 2009

February 2009

09 Awards announced for vExpert

Thursday, February 26, 2009 Category : 3

The awards were announcend for vExpert yesterday. Many people received a nice email from John Troyer with these words.

Congratulations! On behalf of VMware, we would like to thank you for all the work you’ve done giving back to the virtualization community and sharing your expertise with others. We are pleased to present you with the VMware vExpert Award for 2009. VMware is giving this award to individuals who have contributed significantly to the community of VMware users over the past year.
More details are available on the vExpert landing page.

Pleased as punch to say that I was one of the recipients, hence you see the nice logo on the left hand side of the page now. What pleases me even more is that this award is for activities in 2008, before anyone had any idea that the award would exist. You know that all those people who received an award this first year earned it based on their efforts being purely for the good of the community and not for any recognition.

What do you do to get a reward, or what did I do in particular? Well I don't think it was this little blog. The main reason? That will continue to remain a quietly kept secret. VMware don't tell you anyway, so its a guess, unless of course you are only active in one area.

Congratulations to all of who are vExperts, especially all of those I have got to know over the last year through the various VMware community activities.


First Keynote now online

Wednesday, February 25, 2009 Category : 0

The first keynote, by Paul Maritz, from VMworld Europe in Cannes is now online. Its 99 minutes long.

Paul Maritz, President and CEO of VMware
Dr. Wolfgang Krips, Sr. VP, SAP Managed Services

The second will appear in another 24 hours. 

Free T-Shirt

Category : 0

If you are lucky enough to be at VMworld at the moment you have a chance to get yet another free T-Shirt.

As Duncan Epping writes over on his blog.

Now I want to see a full packed booth tomorrow at 13:00 - the Community Booth(next to the Dell Booth). So as a incentive we will give a free t-shirt to everyone that comes and drops a question to the Experts or even starts a discussion!

If you’re scared to asks question just head over and vote for the best of the VMworld show poll, we will also be giving away shirts for that during the day. Just come and visit the booth during the day or during the VMTN Experts Session / Meet and Greet… who doesn’t want to have a cool looking VMworld Community shirt? I know I want one so I might just ask the famous Tom Howarth a question!

To all you bloggers out there, please re-post. And just so you know these guys are on the panel:

gabrie Gabrie van Zanten, - Owner of gabesvirtualworld
jason Jason Boche, - VMTN Moderator, Minneapolis Area VMUG president, and owner of Boche.net
alan Alan Renouf, - Owner of Virtu-Al, Powershell Enthusiast 
 Steve Beaver, - Tripwire, VMTN Moderator, and contributor to Virtual Black Hole
scott Scott Herold, - Quest, owner of VMGuru.com and accomplished Author
thomas Thomas Bryant, - VizionCore and VMTN Moderator
vitoolkit Wil van Antwerpen, - Owner of vi-toolkit.com
eric Eric Sloof, - VMware trainer and owner of ntpro.nl
tom Tom Howarth, - VMTN Moderator and owner of PlanetVM
duncan Duncan Epping, - VMware Senior Consultant and owner of Yellow-Bricks

I know most of these guys and they are the type of people I would love to have a natter with on all things Virtualisation. In fact the only person I don't know is Wil, so I would talk to him first! So do yourself a favor and get a long, you may even get a free T-Shirt.


VMworld - View

Tuesday, February 24, 2009 Category : 0

VMware Europe is in full swing. Twitter is getting some good traffic and you can pick most things up from Planet V12N

I am keeping my eye out for any new developments in vCloud and View, two particular areas I am interested in. Today there was some a little bit of View info.

It was interesting to see Brian Madden comments on Twitter. 

VMware's Paul Maritz: "We will complete the VMware View roll-out in 2009." So Teradici, client hypervisor, offline VDI, etc.

How important are desktops to VMware? In the VMworld keynote, the desktop conversation is after 3 boring cloud demos. People are walking out
Jason Boche posted a summary of the first keynote and made the first comments.
VMware View: Complete Roll-Out in 2009:

  • Centralized template-based management
  • App virtualization
  • Thin provisioning
  • Hi latency
  • Low bandwidth
  • Productive Desktop
  • HD video
  • Flash
  • 3D graphics
  • Use local resources
  • Optimal media experience
  • Rich portable desktop
Interesting that it mentions hi latency on the WAN, are VMware partnering with some of the WAN acceleration companies or putting elements into a new protocol? One would not think that the Teradici works are not going to play in the WAN, that would be something new.

On the LAN the Flash, HS video and 3D graphics may all be handled by Teradici but we saw VMware and Wyse demo flash multi-media support back in Sept '08. Is VMware going to have a multiple attacks?

Nothing amazing yet, lets see what comes tomorrow. 


Migration Methodology

Thursday, February 19, 2009 Category : 0

Many people have been talking about VI:OPS lately and I have just posted my first Proven Practice on "Migration Methodology".

The document details the migration strategy and plan to undertake moving the existing workloads from their current physical and virtual environments to the new virtual environment.

The steps required within this migration are identified as:

  • Initial server scan for exclusions and candidates
  • Detailed Server Audit
  • Planning phase
  • Preparation of the VMware Environment
  • Migration process development
  • Specific case testing and POC
  • Migrations
  • Decommissioning
  • Documentation and review
During the required steps the following documentation is to be created and controlled by the project teams.
  • Server population matrix
  • Detailed server audit and plan
  • Networking requirements summary
  • Storage schedule
  • Resource pool and shares schedule
  • Master migration schedule and status register
  • Migration process and checklist
  • Issues and resolution register
Check it out and post in the document comments or just edit it with your own updates. Think Wikipedia for VMware practices.

As a community of practitioners for VMware implementations and process it is going to be a challenge as to how we share our IP in a manageable way. After all VI:OPS is very different to VMTN. Yet my heart tells me it's an important initiative which we need to get behind. So dig into your closet, what can you contribute, it may be 15 minutes to review my document or someone else's to improve/tweak it. Maybe you want to contribute your own . We look forward to whatever you can contribute.


P.S. It was great to see that Maish contributed the Visio icons into VI:OPS as well.

Also thanks to all the great people and customers of Oriel Technologies where the seeds of this migration process developed.

Berkeley speaks cloud whilst VMware whispers

Wednesday, February 18, 2009 Category : , 3

Over the last week or so there has been traffic in the cloud space regarding a paper released by memebers of the UC Berkeley RAD Lab.

I had not seen anything come up in the VMware related blog sphere for this so thought I would post some details and links for all the VMware followers who are into cloud too and may have missed it.

There is the actual paper itself "Above the Clouds: A Berkeley View of Cloud Computing."

The website which hosts the executive summary and the following Youtube video introduction by the authors is at http://berkeleyclouds.blogspot.com/.

The commentary on the paper has been mixed. Artur @ O'Reilly recommends it, Nicholas Carr thinks is worth weekend reading, James Urquhart from Cisco writing at CNet thinks they have missed the mark, citing fellow Cisco staff member Krishna Sankar who thinks "As an undergrad work on cloud computing, the paper gets an A+. But as a position paper from eminent academics, I can only give a C-. Granted it correctly identifies many of the trends and obstacles. But that material is widely available!". The most critical (not surprising) is Reuven Cohen.

Lastly Paul Miller has a podcast with an interview of two of the authors.

What got me interested in this originally is its stance on "Private Cloud". I am very keen to understand the definition and space of Private Cloud as it relates to the Enterprise customer market, as I have posted on many times. The issue of Private Clouds being excluded is one of the things that irked Krishna from Cisco as well, he writes :

I think the major disconnect in the paper is the basic definition of a cloud as public. The artificial separation of public/private clouds and the focus on payment were the two areas where their definition has gone awry. Cloud is an architectural artifact and a business model of computing. But clouds are clouds – internal or external, public or private. The internal vs. external is only a spatial artifact – which side of the firewall. Not worth a demarcation when we talk about the domain of cloud computing. Which side of the internet (firewall) does the cloud infrastructure lie, should not be the criteria. By their definition, they have disenfranchised the whole set of clouds inside organizations. The internal-external cloud integration across data, management, policy and compute planes is an important topic which this model conveniently skips. Also as I mentioned earlier, utility is the consumption not a payment model. A big organization can have a cloud computing infrastructure and it’s business units can leverage the elasticity – no need for a credit card, a charge back model will do.

I too see great opportunity for internal clouds inside organisations where companies deliver remote elastic services to their organisation. These internal clouds are then likely to be federated with one or more external cloud providers for even greater level of elasticity or additional services.

VMware are really missing from the discussion here (except the occasional thought by Mike DiPetrillo). VMware announced vCloud in September 2008, its now late Feb 2009 and they have done very little to direct the market on this space, and they probably have one of the largest contributions to make. If Cisco can be getting the word out how come VMware can't. Yes its VMworld next week and they may be saving some things for that, yes the vCloud API is to be released sometimes this year, but the absence of noise is great.

If VMware want to play in this space they need to contribute more voice to the space, even if its only their understanding around the market and its definitions. They don't need to release product details. If VMware are not part of defining this space they may find the industry ends up defining it for them.

Lets see what is released at VMworld Europe next week and then how the discussion pans out. I hope to be pleasantly surprised.


Update: Paul Miller just posted an note on the paper regarding the interview in the podcast.

Backup for Exchange

Category : 0

Ken Cline who is a VMTN Moderator and no slouch when it come to VMware has started an interesting thread on VMTN.

I'm interested in learning how people are backing up their E2K7 environments that are running within VMware. Could you please let me know how you're backing up your's?

1. How large is your environment (# mailboxes, average mailbox size)
2. What backup application are you using?
3. Are you using VCB?
4. How do you do your restores?
5. Anything else you think that might be helpful.

This is a great topic that I am sure a lot of people would be interested in. If you run Exchange in VMware, and a lot do, why don't you drop by the thread and post some details on your experience.

You never know, you may pick up some good ideas to improve your backup. If you are a vendor with some good information, jump in too, just be sure to be upfront as to whom you represent.

If you are interest in Exchange on VMware in general then http://www.vmware.com/solutions/business-critical-apps/exchange/ is a good place to start.


vCenter Server Database thinking

Tuesday, February 17, 2009 Category : 4

I am often asked about some strategies for the vCenter Server database. What to use and where to put it. Here are some of the things I discuss.


The database needs to be sized. You can use the Excel spreadsheet at http://www.vmware.com/support/vi3/doc/vc_db_calculator.xls or if you already have VC running and are changing the statistics settings the dialog will estimate the new size for you.

Knowing your size is going to assist in picking a platform. Are you going to use SQL Express or do you need to go with full blown SQL or Oracle. SQL Express is support and VMware are happy for you to use it for small implementations, to quote “Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Express is intended to be used for small deployments of up to 5 hosts and 50 virtual machines.” The limitations of express are up to 1 CPU, 1 GB Addressable RAM and 4 GB Maximum Database Size. If that’s suitable for the growth of the implementation then fine, otherwise put in a full licensed version. Using Express is one area I see people being too polarised and selecting with their heart and not their head.


The next question is where to run the database? You choices are locally on the same machine as vCenter Server or on a separate machine. Your choice is going to depend on scale and licenses. Typically most implementations I see run the database on the same server as vCenter Server (and the license server) as for most implementations the load can easily be handled by a single physical or virtual machine. At some point a separate server may be required, but this is going to only be on the larger implementations. Sometimes a customer will have a main database server which they want to run the vCenter Server database off, which is fine, usually these are a cluster and built for performance, scale and uptime.

The only one thing you DO NOT want to do is run your vCenter Server database from a separate virtual machine (whether the vCenter Server is physical or virtual). Yes one CAN make it work but I have yet to see an example of where the benefits outweigh the startup difficulties this creates. Maybe you can convince me. Doing this just sets you up for a world of pain. If your environment is small you can use Express, if its not that small you can affort to do it right.


The database needs to be up and running before the vCenter Services start. If they are on the same machine you want to set the service dependencies just in case, see http://kb.vmware.com/kb/1007669 for details on how to do this.


Remember this database is going to need some maintenance, many people forget this. As a minimum its going to have to be backed up so include a backup agent or configure a script to dump a database backup to some other location that is being backed up.

A great reference on the vCenter Server database maintenance is http://www.vmware.com/files/pdf/vc_microsoft_sql_server.pdf which covers the following handy topics.
  • Installation
  • Backup and Recovery
  • Reducing Database Privileges after Installation for Higher Security
  • Performance
  • Purging Old Data
  • Enabling Automatic Statistics
  • Upgrading to a New Version of SQL Server
  • Appendix A: Purging Old Database Records
  • Appendix B: Automating Connections to ESX Server Hosts
Further reading

Here is a reading list that VMware Architects should have at least scanned.
  • http://www.vmware.com/pdf/vi3_vc_in_vm.pdf 
  • http://www.vmware.com/files/pdf/vc_database_performance.pdf
  • http://www.vmware.com/pdf/vi3_35/esx_3/r35u2/vi3_35_25_u2_installation_guide.pdf
Post any feedback into the comments.


VMware and crash consistency

Friday, February 13, 2009 Category : 5

People often ask a question about VMware (ESX) and its consistency of data. Many think that if a host crashes the virtual machine data may be corrupted or worse than crash consistent.

The KB article "Storage IO crash consistency with VMware products" @ http://kb.vmware.com/kb/1008542 gives a great summary.

VMware ESX acknowledges a write or read to a guest operating system only after that write or read is acknowledged by the hardware controller to ESX. Applications running inside virtual machines on ESX are afforded the same crash consistency guarantees as applications running on physical machines or physical disk controllers.
Now you know and you have something to cite.


VMware diagrams (PPT not Visio)

Thursday, February 12, 2009 Category : 3

You know I keep saying VI:OPS has some great stuff, but today it hit gold. Announced here first.

Steve loaded a PowerPoint file with an amazing amount of pictures for VMware software. There are small elements up to whole product sets.

Here is the list

  • 3D icons
  • Flat icons
  • Virtualized Server
  • Build your own
  • Traditional vs Virtual Architecture
  • Consolidation
  • VDC-OS
  • VMware Infrastructure 3
  • VMware Fault Tolerance
  • VMware vNetwork Distributed Switch
  • VMware vCenter Server
  • VMware ESXi
  • VMware Server
  • VMware vCenter Site Recovery Manager
  • VMware vCenter Lab Manager
  • VMware vCenter Lifecycle Manager
  • VMware vCenter Stage Manager
  • VMware vCenter AppSpeed
  • ThinApp Elements
  • VMware ThinApp
  • VMware ACE
  • VMware View
  • VMware vCenter Converter
  • VMware Studio
  • VMware vCloud
You can download the file at http://viops.vmware.com/home/docs/DOC-1338, just scroll to the bottom of that page for the link. Thank you VMware Corporate Branding for releasing this. I suspect it may be buried in Partner Central too.

Now if we just had a Visio version with all the anchors set.


VMware Crossing the Chasm

Wednesday, February 11, 2009 Category : 0

Has VMware crossed the chasm, what about the partner community?

I never go anywhere without a handkerchief or a book, long running habit. If its during the week I also never go anywhere without my own whiteboard pens.

At the moment I am reading "Crossing the Chasm" by Geoffrey Moore. I suspect everyone in IT has already read it, its been around a long time. Great book. My focus on reading it is "Where is VMware at in the market lifecycle?" but just as importantly "What does that mean for a VMware partner? How does a VMware Partner need to adapt?".

Lets just take this paragraph which contrasts the second wave of customers from the first wave who are early adopters.

[...], the early majority want to buy a productivity improvement for existing operations. They are looking to minimize the discontinuity with the old ways. They want evolution, not revolution. They want technology to enhance, not overthrow, the established ways of doing business. And above all, they do not want to debug somebody else's product. By the time they adopt it, they want it to work properly and to integrate appropriately with their existing technology base.
This and the rest of the book really hit a note with me on a number of fronts.
  • Where do VMware think they are at in the technology adoption life cycle and how are they adapting to the different market? I saw a Tweet the other day pleading with VMware to not release vSphere early. All us early adopters want it now, but who cares really. What matters is that its rock solid for the next group of customers who will not be as forgiving as the current customer base.
  • How is VMware doing at minimizing the  discontinutity? We can see good efforts here with function, such as the N1K removing much of the network disruption and in the area of process VI:OPS is helping to address operation gaps. But is this enough? What else needs to be done?
  • What are VMware partners doing to adapt to the changes in the market? This is the important one to me. VMware partners are accustomed and now skilled at selling to the early adopter customers, how do we need to change to sell to this new market?

    How is VMware helping its partners change? The conversations I have with prospective organisations are now much different to a year ago. The messaging, the proposals, the services we offer will need to change to address this new market.

    This month I am attending quite a few meetings with our front line sales people to help them tackle the challenges they now face, because they are selling to a new group. Take what I keep hearing cited as a door closer. "We already have a partner for VMware." They don't know how to answer, because they are only used to selling to green fields, they move to a different subject. What I find this answer means is that the customer purchased some licenses off another partner more than a year ago, but there is little relationship. Our opportunity is to journey them on the maturity model, introduce the broader technologies from VMware and 3rd parties, prepare them for cloud computing. Today's customers are more concerned about operational practices, procedures, integration and interactions between departments. The early adopters did not concern themselves with such road block issues, they were a lot more concerned about the latest experimental feature which they wanted to roll out to every virtual machine from day one. There are dozens of examples of how the selling challenges are changing. VMware you may be changing your products for the new market? Are you training your partners for the new market as well?
This is why I think the work being done by people like Steve Chambers at VI:OPS with the 60-point blueprint is so critical for the next wave. VMware and its ecosystem of vendors and partners need to pull together here meet the needs of the next user base. These initiatives will benefit us all. 

VMware have the Partner Exchange event coming up in April which has been split from VMworld. I really hope they focus on enabling Partners for the new market and not the old one. Being so far away I can't make it to this event and VMworld, but it would be so great to talk to other partners (who are not competitors in my own region ) about these things and encourage them on how to change their sales and technical practice management. 

Would love to hear the views of others on this? How have you seen the market change? Post in the comments.


Cloud is "Remote Elastic Service"

Thursday, February 05, 2009 Category : , 6

My elevator pitch for cloud computing is “remote elastic service”. I have been thinking about cloud for 6 months and it’s taken me this long to get it down to an elevator pitch that works.

Cloud computing is:


Cloud computing is accessed remotely. This may occur over the Internet or via a private service. It may be purely internally to your company or with an external third party. But cloud is remote.
Cloud computing is elastic. This expands into areas of capacity and potentially payment. Consider scaling, right sizing, overflow, its all elastic. Pricing may be elastic to, pay as you go.
Cloud computing give you remote access to an elastic service. The service may be a whole variety of things. A single application, such a blogging site, that’s Software as a Service. A framework for building your own things like some storage or a mapping system, that’s Platform as a Service. Maybe it’s a whole compute unit like a virtualised computer, that’s Infrastructure as a Service. Getting someone else to deliver that service for you means you don’t need to worry about maintaining it.
There you have it, next time someone asks you, “So what’s this cloud stuff” you can reply “Oh, its just remote elastic service. Let me expand …”. Then you can expand each word out for whatever the circumstance requires, Remote …. Elastic …. Service.

I am not saying it’s a complete definition, but we all need an elevator pitch, something simple. Sometimes you don’t have 5 minutes to get the distillation of what you need say across. Anyone you speak to can walk away remembering it, remote:elastic:service.


P.S. I searched all the search engines, “remote elastic service” hits nothing, so spread the word!

Security of VDI over WAN

Category : 0

People are starting to think about the security issues in regards to VDI.

One I have been looking at is in regards to optimising VDI for the WAN, with acceleration via Cisco WAAS.

When you look at the excellent Cisco Application Networking Services for VMware Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Deployment Guide, which I highly recommend, you start to see a few security issues opening up.

In summary to get good acceleration over the WAN you need to remove the compression and disable the encryption of the RDP traffic. This allows the WAN accelerator visibility of the contents in order to perform its own acceleration. By following this best practice you open up a new security risk.

People type a lot of information into their desktops and they may not be happy that its not as secure as they they think it is. When your user is using their Internet banking at the office they expect that what they are typing into that VDI desktop is 100% secure from everyone in the organisation.

Of course encryption can be put back in place, between the WAN acceleration devices. However one is going to need to consider the load and scaling issues associated with this. Its nice when this encryption load is distributed across the VDI guest machines and the thin clients rather than consolidated down to a few boxes. What about the traffic between the ESX hosts and the accelerators, will a separate vLAN suffice?

Another consideration is what to do when you have a mixed environment. What if only a portion of your users in your pool are going over the WAN, how do you control and manage which guests get it turned off.

I am sure that there are some good solutions that can be designed into an implementation to mitigate these risks. We just need to raise awareness so people know that it needs to be addressed.

If anyone has done any work on this join the discussion. Maybe this is something for the VMware Communities Roundtable or the Virtualization Security Roundtable?


VMware Operations

Category : 8

What are your operational procedures for your VMware environment. I often get asked, "Rod, now that I have my new VMware environment, what do I need to do to run it on an ongoing basis?" To me this comes down to two things.


Your monitoring system provides the following functions for you.

  • Ensures that you are alerted to any pending problems
  • Allows you to investigate the current and historical state of your environment to assist in trouble shooting
  • Provides uptime and usage information for management reporting
  • Provides capacity management projections
Here is an example list of elements for monitoring.
  • Free space of Datastores
  • Free space of Service Consoles
  • List of orphaned snapshots
  • List of long running snapshots
  • Failed (automatic) VMotions
  • VMware tools running in hosts
  • Size of VC database
  • Monitor CPU READY (ms) or CPU %READY per VM per host
  • Monitor %CPU BUSY percentages per VM per host
  • Monitor network and disk I/O usage per VM per Host
  • Monitor service console memory swap usage
  • Monitor VM balloon memory and swap usage
  • Host downtime reporting
  • Server hardware faults (power supplies, fans, IO cards, disks, CPUs, RAM)
  • SAN hardware faults (disks and vendor specific)
Your monitoring will certainly consist of VMware vCenter Server and also your hardware monitoring platform.  Often these are supplemented by a VMware specific product like Vizioncore vFoglight, Veeam Monitor or Nimsoft.


Your management processes and procedures provide the following functions for you.
  • A list of maintenance activities to perform on a periodic basis
    • formal heath check
    • update templates with patches and updates
  • A list of operational procedures on how to perform standard maintenance and trouble shooting tasks.
  • A change management impact matrix to detail the potential impact and risk of a particular type of change.
Here is an example list of operational procedures.
  • The procedure to create a new virtual machine
  • The procedure to place a new virtual machine within the virtual infrastructure into a Production state. This may be identical to the physical server commissioning procedure.
  • The procedure to place an ESX server into and then out of maintenance mode, migrating the guests onto other ESX Server hosts.
  • The procedure used to contact VMware for support. It should include contact information and specify contact methods as well as means of collecting information.
  • The procedure to add a LUN to an existing ESX server cluster.
  • The procedure to patch a template used for creating virtual machines.
  • The procedure to create a snapshot of a virtual machine.
  • The procedure to restore the virtual machine state to its previous state at the start of the snapshot.
  • The procedure for investigating user reported virtual machine performance issues. What to check and how to respond.
  • The procedure to add a disk to an existing virtual machine.
  • The procedure to expand the size of an existing disk for a virtual machine.
  • The procedure to shrink a disk used by a virtual machine.
  • The procedure to remove a disk from a virtual machine.
  • The procedure to decommission a virtual machine.
  • The procedure to migrate (VMotion) a virtual machine between ESX Server hosts in the same ESX cluster.
  • The procedure to build an ESX server.
  • The procedure to add an ESX server into an existing ESX cluster.
  • The procedure to migrate a virtual machine between ESX Server hosts in the different ESX clusters (i.e. between datacenters).
  • The procedure to confirm that a SAN link is active, to be used after a SAN link has failed and been restored.
  • The procedure to confirm that a network link is active, to be used after a network link has failed and been restored.
  • The procedure to enable the network group to troubleshoot user reported network / performance issues.
  • The procedure for backing up/restoring VMs (VM-level and file-level).
  • The procedure for backing up/restoring VirtualCenter database.
  • The procedure for backing up/restoring license server files (or keys).
  • The procedure for restoring VirtualCenter Server.
  • The procedure for restoring ESX hosts.
Do you have any elements you also find important for Operations? Post in the comments.


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