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April 2009

vSphere FT disk format

Friday, April 24, 2009 Category : 0

Came across an interesting item on the vSphere training course earlier this week. In vSphere when you create a disk you are asked if you want to thin provision it or use it with Fault Tolerance (FT). If you select you want FT it will not let it be thin provisioned. But it makes you ask the question, what does it do different to the virtual disk if you do or do not check the FT option.

We dug until we got an answer. It eager zeros the disk, which you only used to be able to do through the command line. Eager zero means it pre-zeros out all of the blocks in the disk. This is rather than zeroing the block the first time its read, aka lazy zero which is the default.

One then wonders why FT wants this. The answer is that FT use multi-writer mode to access the disk. Formats other than eager zero have metadata which changes dynamically and this could create metadata consistency issues between the primary and secondary. Eager zeroed disks are static once the disk is initialized and hence there can be no consistency issues.

What if you don't tick the box when you create the disk? No problem. When you turn on FT for the VM it gives you a warning and converts the disk first.


VMware vSphere 4: Install, Configure, Manage

Wednesday, April 22, 2009 Category : 0

With the release of vSphere there are many supporting elements to come on board as well, such as education courses.

This week I have had the pleasure of sitting in on the first ever running of the re-written "VMware vSphere 4: Install, Configure, Manage". Its Revision A or really Beta as our goal in doing the course is to suggest changes and find errors, after all, the participants are experienced VMware admins and have participated in the vSphere Beta. Of course such a group of people leads to some robust architectural arguments and debates over new features. 

So if you ever do the new course and see a mistake, sorry I did not pick it up!
Here are the modules in this revision.
  • Course Introduction
  • Introduction to Virtualization
  • Configuring ESX/ESXi
  • VMware vCenter Server
  • Networking
  • Storage
  • Virtual Machines
  • Access Control
  • Resource Monitoring
  • Scalability
  • High Availability and Data Protection
  • Configuration Management
  • Installing VMware ESX and ESXi
Have not finished yet it yet, last day tomorrow. One thing worth noting is that Fault Tolerance is not covered but it is expected to be covered in a separate one day HA course.


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