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Our goal is to create a common place where anyone can come to learn, get help, share ideas, or just about anything that will help foster knowledge regarding cloud computing. Considering this very blog is the announcement of our forum you could image there isn’t a whole lot happening yet so what are you waiting for, be the first. Go ask a question, post an issue, share a thought and let’s get things rolling.

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ESX vs ESXi which is better(Revisited vSphere 4.0)

Back in April I wrote a blog aimed and the differences between ESX and ESXi. The original post was written for ESX 3.5 and with the introduction of vSphere I think it’s about time i have revisited this topic and looked at the pros and cons of ESX4 and ESX4i. Now before we dig into the technical details there is one big thing you should all be aware of. The FAQ page published by VMware states “VMware ESXi is the recommended platform for both new and existing customers. Future hypervisor releases will solely be based on this architecture.

For most that should be enough said. After reading that I would seriously start rolling out ESXi in a lab and start figuring out how I could maintain my needs without the service console most of us have become to know and love. I would also start brushing up on the RCLI as well as the PowerCLI if you are currently dependent on scripts that run in the service console. The good news is almost everything you do today in the service console can be achieved one way or another with ESXi as well. OK with that said lets talk about some of the other limitations.

Continue reading “ESX vs ESXi which is better(Revisited vSphere 4.0)”

VMware SDK and Visual Studio 2008

I went to install the VMware SDK for vSphere 4.0 on to my desktop running Windows 7 64-bit, Visual Studio 2008, and .Net 3.5 SP1 and discovered the SDK setup is not friendly with these versions.  According to VMware you need Visual Studio 2005 and .Net 2.0 if you want to run the SDK.

So like most of you reading this I turned to my trusted adviser…google to find the answer I was looking for.  Much to my disappointment after 5 minutes of searching around I didn’t find any instant gratification for my problem so I decided to just go ahead and figure it out on my own.

It turned out to be a relatively easy task once I discovered what was causing my issues.  There are two windows cmd scripts that need to be edited to point to the proper locations of your installations.  I have included the modified cmd files in our downloads section for those of you that would like them.  These files are built to support my specific configuration but they are very easily edited to support your configuration.

Continue reading “VMware SDK and Visual Studio 2008”

Citrix Xen Desktop (DDC) / Provisioning Server (PVS) & vSphere SDK

I’m sure many of you have run into an issue with setting up Citrix Xen Desktop (DDC). As i was setting up a new “Desktop Group” I ran into a problem when trying to configure the vCenter SDK address. The configuration wizard show you an example that looks say ‘For example, https://VirtualCetner.example.com/sdk” which is what you would expect to use and you would also expect it to work. Think again. When you try to setup your vCenter SDK address you will be presented with and error “The hosting infrastructure could not be reached at the specified address.” Citrix takes security serious so unless you plan on replacing the default SSL certificate on your vCenter server you will need to hack out a work around. Now I would agree that in production you should replace the default SSL but if your just trying to spin up a demo or test environment it can be a hassle.

So I searched the web over and over and found a number of threads with many of ways to resolve the issue only none of them seemed to work for me. However a combination of a number of things that I found did. So I’m here to save you the trouble of finding all of various pages with partial solutions. Below you will find exactly what you need to do to make this work.

Continue reading “Citrix Xen Desktop (DDC) / Provisioning Server (PVS) & vSphere SDK”

ESX vs. ESXi Which is Better? Revisited.

For over a year now, I have started off telling customers in Plan and Design engagements that they would be using ESXi unless we uncovered a compelling reason to NOT use it. The “which do I use” argument is still going strong. Our blog post “ESX vs. ESXi which is better?“  was posted in April and is still the most popular. It seems to be a struggle for many people to let go of the service console. VMware is trying to go in the direction of the thinner ESXi hypervisor. They are working to provide alternatives to using the service console.

VMware has provided a comparison of ESX vs. ESXi for version 3.5 for a while. Well, VMware posted a comparison for ESX vs. ESXi for version 4 last night. It’s a great reference.

Keep it simple stupid – registering unregistered vm’s

Last week my boss came to me and asked if I could write a script for a customer to register VM’s after being replicated from once VI environment to another.  I agreed to take on the project and go for it.

Like everything I do these days I decided to use powershell to write the script.  I have taken a liking to it and the fact that I can run the scripts on both ESX and ESXi hosts saves me from having to re-create scripts all the time.  So I plugged away to 3am wrote the script, tested it inside out and sideways in my lab.  I was confident in the scripts ability to register all vm’s form all datastores I went ahead and sent it off to the customer.

A few days later I was on a conference call with the customer.  They were having problems with the script.  It wasn’t registering all the vm’s.  After a few hours of troubleshooting I realized that I needed to go back and try to recreate the problem’s in my lab to fix the script, but the customer didn’t have that kind of time.

A short while after getting off the meeting with the customer I received an email from them stating not to worry they had gotten a shell script that worked.  Then I started to think…….  I went in to my lab and created a shell script that would do the job.  The shell script was 5 lines long as oppose to powershell script that is about 40 lines.

The shell script if anyone needs it looks like this:

for v in ‘find /vmfs/volumes/ -name “*.vmx” `
do
echo “Registering $v” >> /log/registeredvms.log
vmware-cmd -s register $v
done

So the short of the story is sometimes it is best to keep it simple stupid.  Utilizing powershell for this problem was just too much overkill and in the end there were issues that were overlooked that I still can’t reproduce in my lab.  A simple shell script is all that was required and what I should have originally decided on.

So in the end this is a lesson learned and hopefully it will prevent someone else from making the same mistake.

Changes to the ESX Service Console and ESX vs. ESXi…again

A whitpaper was posted in the VMTN communities Thursday outlining the differences between the ESX 3.x and ESX 4.x service console. It further offers resources for transitioning COS based apps and scripts to ESXi via the vSphere Management Assistant and the vSphere CLI. Also mentioned briefly was the vSphere PowerCLI. If you are a developer or write scripts for VMware environments, also check out the Communities Developer section.

I hear it time and time again…The full ESX console is going away. ESXi is the way to go. I know there are valid arguments for keeping ESX around, but they are few. Failing USB keys may be a valid argument, but I have not heard of this happening. If that is the case, use boot from SAN. You need SAN anyway. As for hung VM processes, there are a few ways to address this in ESXi.

If the techie wonks at VMware are publishing articles about how to transition to ESXi, then resistance is futile…you WILL be assimilated…

vSphere Service Console and Disk Partitioning

Everyone at this point should be aware that the Service Console is now located in a vmdk on a VMFS partition.  The Service Console vmdk must be stored on a vmfs datastore and the datastore must either be local stoage or SAN storage that is only presented to the one host.  So I guess no shared vmfs datastores to house all the Service Consoles…….  The next question I had about the new service console was the /boot partition.  Where is it and how is the server bootstrapping?  Well I can’t say I have totally gotten to the bottom of this yet but I have discovered a few things.  When digging into scripting installations of vSphere I first looked at the disk partitioning which sheds a little light on the boot process.  Here is what the disk partitioning portion of the script looks like:

part /boot –fstype=ext3 –size= –onfirstdisk
part storage1 –fstype=vmfs3 –size=30000 –grow –onfirstdisk
part None –fstype=vmkcore –size=100 –onfirstdisk
# Create the vmdk on the cos vmfs partition.
virtualdisk cos –size=8000 –onvmfs=storage1
# Partition the virtual disk.
part / –fstype=ext3 –size=0 –grow –onvirtualdisk=cos
part swap –fstype=swap –size=1600 –onvirtualdisk=cos

Notice the “onfirstdisk” switch at the end of the first three partitions.  The /boot, a vmfs partition, and a vmkcore partition are all on the physical disk.  Notice the swap for the service console is located inside the vmdk.  Notice the creation of the service console vmdk disk.  “virtualdisk cos –size=5000 –onvmfs=storage1”.  To account for this change VMware has added some new configuration option for scripting the installation of the COS.  Next you’ll notice the  the creation of the / and swap partitions fort the COS utilizing the “onvirtualdisk=cos” switch.

I’m still working on and discovering some of the new ways to do scripted installation with vSphere 4.0.  I though this little tid bit would be helpful to those of you wondering how the COS ties in to the whole mix.  A few interesting things about this new method.

No need to specify the actual device, however I would be very cautious about the –onfirstdisk switch if SAN LUNs are present on the server.  I would take extra precautions to ensure that no SAN LUNs are connected.  There really are not any best practices around this configuration yet so there are a few things that I think need to be determined.  If you were planning on running VM’s from the local VMFS should you create multiple VMFS partitions and have one solely for the COS.  I almost think it would be beneficial just for the logical separation.  Well I will be digging a bit deeper into this but would love to hear others views on the COS and how they plan to deploy and why.  So please comment and let me know what you think.

VMware ESX Configuration Maximums Comparison Matrix

Have you ever needed an easy to reference way to see what the configuration maximums are for different versions of VMware ESX.  I know I seem to need this all the time.  I find it a huge pain to keep referring to each of the individual VMware documents to get the answers.  Sometimes I also want to see what the changes are between versions and I can’t seem to memorize this information in my tiny little brain.  So I went ahead and created a “Configuration Maximums Comparison Matrix” based on the VMware Configuration Maximums for each version.

You’ll notice some settings don’t have values for each version.  This is because they were not published in the VMware documents.  As I go through some additional documents and extract these values I will update the document to reflect.  For no the document does include everything from the VMware Configuration maximums published for each of these Versions:

VMware ESX 3
VMware ESX 3.5 & ESX 3.5 Update 1
VMware ESX 3.5 Update 2, Update3, & Update 4
VMware vSphere 4.0 (ESX 4)

You can find the document in our downloads section or you can click here. Hope you find this useful I know I will.

vSphere Install and Upgrade Best Practices KB Articles and Links

So, I use NewsGator to aggregate a BAZILLION feeds from several sources, blogs, like this one, actual news feeds and a bunch of VMware feeds. The VMware feeds are from the VI:OPS and VMTN forums. The VMTN forums allow you to create a custom feed by selecting the RSS link at the bottom right of each page or you can get a feed from a specific section of the forum by clicking the link on the bottom left of a list. On of the custom feed options is to get a feed of the new KB articles.

VMware has released quite a lot of new KB articles surrounding vSphere. They just released nice best practice guidelines for installing or upgrading to ESX 4 and vCenter 4. They are short and to the point. There is also a nice article covering best practices for upgrading an ESX 3.x virtual machine to ESX 4.0. One thing I noticed, but never thought about is this :

“Note: If you are using dynamic DNS, some Windows versions require ipconfig/reregister to be run.”

Eric Seibert over at vSphere-Land posted a nice set of “missing links” for everything vSphere. This is a nice, comprehensive set of links to evetrything you need for vSphere upgrades or installs.So, go check that out as well.