DailyHypervisor Forums are online.

We have just launched our DailyHypervisor Forum located at http://www.dailyhypervisor.com/forum. Stop by, contribute and be a part of our community. The DH Forum is intended to be for all things cloud. Currently we have forums created for vCAC, vCD, vCO, Cloud General, and Openstack. More forum categories will be coming based on demand. If you have a category you would like to see shoot us a note and let us know.

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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DynamicOps Delivers Automated, Space-Efficient Virtual Desktop Solution

“The desktop deployment productivity tools that NetApp and DynamicOps offer significantly increase the value of virtual infrastructures by improving performance, providing essential data management resources, and reducing costs,” said Patrick Rogers, vice president of Solutions and Alliances, NetApp. “Enterprises and service providers can now offer multiple, cost-effective service level options for virtual desktop deployments by leveraging the unique orchestration of virtual storage capabilities that are part of the new DynamicOps solution.”

The full release can be found at http://www.dynmaicops.com/news/

Go Virtual, Get Green, Save Money, & Be a Hero!

In this tough economy many companies are scrambling to virtualize to cut costs and promote a green environment.  Others would like to but with budgetary constraints and freezes they just can’t get the funding to take on a VMware virtualization initiative.  Even with the promises of ROI on their horizon once they do so it just doesn’t seem enough for some organizations.  Well I’m here to say so what, don’t let a light budget get in your way.

Start with the low hanging fruit, development, and staging machines.  Take the initiative to take advantage of these free hypervisors and save your organization some money.  Once you do reap the reward.  Keep track of how much money you just saved your organization, let everyone know, and not only will you get recognized, but you will just have gained some job security.  I’m surprised more organizations are offering cost savings initiative to hep try and curb the expenses and cut back.  Think about it, if your company offered a bonus based on savings everyone would be looking for ways to cut costs and cash in on the savings.

I heard of a company that did just this.  Employees were offered bonus equal to a percentage of what they saved.  How great is that…..it is a win win for everyone.  The company saves money, the employee who drove the initiative makes more money, jobs are saved and everyone is a hero.  So what are you waiting for?  If your company doesn’t offer something like this why not drop a note in the suggestion box.  Then go get yourself some by getting virtual.

How you say, it’s very simple.  Develop a plan.  Identify the servers in your environment that would be easy candidate, nothing production or at least nothing in the lime light.  Determine how many you could virtualize on to how many hosts and calculate the savings that could be had with nothing but a little bit of elbow grease.  Submit your finding and  cash in.  I know I make it sound so easy, but the reality is that it’s not that hard.  I never could understand why it is not a much larger initiative.

Even if you don’t feel you could tackle the job yourself or with the IT staff in your organization, no problem.  Factor in consulting costs, yes I know spend money, but you can still save considerably with this approach.  Consulting fees are fixed term costs.  There are no licensing, support, etc….and once your project is complete you will immediately start saving and be able to start getting that outlay of capitol back in the bank.  Many consulting companies offer Resident Consultants that you can work out a fixed fee to perform the work, no need to buy licensing or a paid product for these guys, just pay for their time.

I know I know all these companies want to sell you hardware and licensing and they push you into quoting you extremely high prices for this end to end.  Forget those guys I can tell you that there are companies that are not like that and focus on the services and the customer.  I can tell you this because I work for one.

Citrix XEN Server a Free Hypervisors

So everyone knows that the big three all have freely available versions of their hypervisor.  The obvious reasons are to gain market share.  Get you hooked for free and then charge you for the all the extras.  Just because that is their plan, doesn’t mean it has to be yours.  You can go virtual now and later when everything levels off with the economy you can choose to get the more advanced features, or not if you feel you don’t need them.

Citrix is including XenMotion and the management console for free.  This alone gives them a huge advantage over VMware and Microsoft in the free hypervisor market.  I frequently hear people stating the XEN is not an enterprise solution yet, well get your head out of the sand because it most certainly is.  Not more than a year ago I was saying the same thing when I got certified on XEN 4, but now with the release of XEN 5 I totally believe that XEN is an enterprise solution and a damn good one at that.

If you haven’t kicked the tires around on yet, what are you waiting for?  It’s free!  You have nothing to loose except a little time, even then you will at least gane some knowledge that you didn’t have before.  So what are you waiting for go get virtual.

Just some more vSphere information

Here is some information about vSphere that I thought would be good to share with the world. As with everything else this is just a drop in the bucket. I’m currently working on putting together some upgrade videos and screenshots so take a look back and hopefully I will have them done by the end of the week.

Here is some interesting information about vSpehere and what it supports keep in mind these are just some notes I jotted down:

ESX 4 Hosts (vSphere Host)
256VM’s per host
64 Cores per host
512GB Ram per host

vSphere VMs (Hardware version 7)
8 vCPUs
256GB Ram
VMDirectPath I/O
Hot Plug Support (Supports CPU’s and Memory)
ESX 2.x and 3.x VM support
Paravirtual SCSI adapter
MSCS 2008
Persistent Reservations in vmkernel
LSI Logic SAS (Virtual SAS controller)

Networking Improvements
New iSCSI stack with 10-30% improved performance
TCPIP 2 Support (Based on FreeBSD 6.1 / IPv6 / locking and threading capabilties)
VMXNet3
MSI/MSI-X
Receive Side Scaling
VLAN offloading
VMware Directpath I/O

Storage Improvements
SCSI-3 Compliant
VMFS still SCSI-2
Target PortGroup Support (TPGS)
Asymmetric Logical Unit (ALUA)
Pluggable Storage Architecture (PSA)
Updated iSCSI stack
Native SATA

Service Console
64-bit, 2.6 based Linux kernel compatible with RHEL 5.2
Supports for both 32bit and 64bit applications
root file system stored in VMDK
vmkernel runs and owns device drivers only 64-bit
Address Space layout Randomization (ASLR)
No Linux dev packagers and libraries

CPU
Enhanced Intel step down
Enhanced AMD Power Now

Security
Trusted Platform Module (TPM)
Digitally signed and validated modules
Memory integrity techniques with microprocessor capabilities to protect against buffer-overflow

Guided Consolidation
500 Simultaneous Physical Machines
Modular Plug-in can be installed on different machine

Coverter

Physical / Virtual / 3rd party
Server 2008 Support
Covert Hyper-V Machines to VM’s

Update Manager

ESX / ESXi and Virtual Appliance Upgrades
Upgrade Virtual Hardware
VMware Tools
Base Line Groups

Upgrade vcenter steps

No SQL 2000 Support
2.x & 3.x Upgade Path
Upgrade vCenter
Upgrade Update Manager
Use Upgrade Manager to Upgrade Hosts
Upgrade VMware Tools, then the VMware Hardware.

vSphere Host Update Utility
3.x to 4.x
Dosn’t Upgrade VMFS Datastores or VMs
Installs with vSphere client
Support Rollback for ESX only
Can be used to install patch releases to standalone hosts
Copies Script and ISO to ESX hosts reboots and installs

VMware vSphere 4 under the covers – First Look

Tuesday April 21st VMware announced they will be releasing vSphere 4 by the end of 2nd quarter. This is exciting news for many looking to take advantage of some of the new features available with this release. In this post I’m going to walk through a handful of some of these new features. There are over 100 new features in vSphere 4 and this post doesn’t come close to covering them all but I will be touching on some really exciting ones with more to come in my next few posts.

Let’s start with the new home screen. It’s a handy way to navigate all the configuration areas of vSphere.

vsphere_home_screen1

Next let’s take a look at the new “Hardware Status” screen. In this screen shot there is limit hardware information which is due to my hardware. On actual server grade hardware you can view just about anything you want regarding your hardware. If you remember from my other vSphere post you can also trigger alarms based on most of these sensors as well.

vsphere_hardware_status1

Next lets take a look at the changes made to the Host Summary screen. Notice the arrow pointing to the Datastore with the alert. One of the alarms we can set is based on storage usage so we no longer have to manually verify that the free storage is within the acceptable levels.
vsphere_host_info

With ESX 3.5 we had to manually make sure we didn’t overuse resources to maintain and N+1 configuration for HA. I wrote an article on VMware HA and how to size your environment to maintain N+1. Well when you determine that you need to have 37.5% overhead available on each server you can now specify that in your HA configuration rather than manually making sure you don’t exceed.

vsphere_cluster_overview
Take a look at the arrow in the above screen shot it’s showing the reserved capacity of the hosts to ensure the proper failover capacity. The screen shot below show the HA setting to configure this functionality.

vsphere_ha_screen

There are some exciting and new interesting features surrounding networking. Once new feature is the distributed switch. The distributed switch is a really exciting improvement as it comes with support for private vlans, network vMotion, and of course support for 3rd party switches such as the Cisco Nexus v1000 switch.

vsphere_distributed_switch

There are many other enhancements to the networking such as the new VMXNET Generation 3 driver and other features like IP pools similar to whats available in Lab manager.

vsphere_ip_pools

vsphere_ip_pools_2

vsphere_vm_options

In my last post on vSphere I showed configuration items available as part of host profiles. Below is a screen shot showing the hosts compliance similar to that of Update manager.

vsphere_profile_compliance1

One exciting change to the virtual machines is the ability to hot add memory and vCPU’s to the virtual machines. This gives even more flexibility to make changes to servers without having to schedule downtime.

vsphere_mem_cpu_hotplug
The new resource view is very handy. Giving you a snapshot of what is really going on with your vm. It gives you insight into how much memory is private to the vm and how much is shared memory with other vm’s in the environment. This allows you to see how much memory is being “de-duplicated” It also allows you to see the host overhead, memory being swapped, and if ballooning is taking place.

vsphere_vm_resource_allocation

VMware finally moved aware form the annoying license server and now has integrated licensing into vCenter itself. This should make alot of users very happy to not have to deal with managing those license files any longer.

vsphere_license_server

Update manager now has built in support for a shared repository. So if you have a large deployment you can easily manage your update repositories across multiple Update Manager servers.

vsphere_update_manager

Have you had those annoying issues where some of your services would crash o stop running that vCenter is dependent on? Well it’s easy to kep track of your vCenter service status now with the new vCenter Service Status information.

vsphere_service_status

One thing that I think is still lacking is the scheduled tasks. That have added a few new options that can be scheduled, but i would have expected some additional improvements in this area.

vsphere_schedule_tasks

I hope you enjoyed this preview and be sure to check back as I will be covering some additional new features including “Fault Tolerance”. Over the next few weeks and month I will be putting together more overview posts, best practice articles as well as video tutorials.

VMware vSphere 4 (ESX 4.0, vCenter 4.0) Alarms and Host Profiles

Some are speculating that next Tuesday VMware is going to announce the release of VMware vSphere which is what essentially is Virtual Infrastructure 4.0 which would include ESX 4.0. I can’t say what VMware is going to do but over the next few weeks I will be publishing information on vSphere as well as some instructional videos. For now I have some teasers for you.

Here is a screen shot of the alarms available in vSphere. A you can see they have expanded the alarm feature from what was available in VI3.

vsphere_alarms

I’m sure most of you have heard of the new host profiles. If you haven’t had the fortune of checking out this cool new feature here are some screenshots to show you what options are available to you as part of a host profile. If you are not much for scripting and just can’t stand those pesky automated build scripts then you will love this feature. It gives you the ability to configure just about every aspect of the ESX host without having to deal with any scripting.

vsphere_host_profiles_1

vsphere_host_profiles_2

vsphere_host_profiles_3

vsphere_host_profiles_4

vsphere_host_profiles_5

vsphere_host_profiles_6

vsphere_host_profiles_7

As you can see in this screenshot all these settings are very easy to set via the GUI.

vsphere_host_profiles_8

So stay tuned as there is much more to come. I’m currently working on making videos covering installing, and configuring vSphere from the ground up and plan on getting into all of the new feature available in this release.

ESX vs. ESXi which is better?

So the question is which is better VMware ESX or VMware ESXi. A lot of die hard Linux fans will always say VMware ESX because of there attachment to the service console. The service is a great tool and once upon a time it served it’s purpose. Today there are many other options available to manage your VMware ESX servers without the service console. There is the Remote CLI, the VI ToolKit for Windows (powershell), and last but not least the VIMA.

With these tools you can effectively create scripts to help manage your VMware ESX environment without the service console. The service console opens up an additional security risks for each and every VMware ESX host you have deployed. Mitigating this risk increases the management overhead involved in the maintaining and deployment of these server in your environment. VMware ESX also consumes more server resources than VMware ESXi. The service console in VMware ESX uses CPU cycles and memory that you could be utilizing for virtual machines on VMware ESXi.

As far as feature and functionality VMware ESX and VMware ESXi are equals. They both support all of the Enterprise feature available as part of VI3. There are some add-on products that require the use of VMware ESX such as Lab manager and Stage Manager but hopefully they as well will be ported to VMware ESXi. You can find the VMware ESX and ESXi comparison here.

A growing number of servers are available from all major vendors that have support for embedded VMware ESXi. If you have one of these servers their are even greater benefits to running VMware ESXi. With these their is no need for internal or SAN storage for your boot partitions. Eliminating internal storage is a great way to go green. The average coast of a 73Gb 15K SAS drive is $400.00. Typically you would have (2) for redundancy adding an average of $800.00 to the cost of each server. The estimated annual cost to run a single SAS drive is $23.00 rounded making it $46.00 per server per year. This does no include the additional cooling capacity needed for the heat produce from the drives.

If you have 40 VMware ESX server running in your environment you can save $32,000 in the acquisition of hard disks and $1,840 per year in energy costs, not to mention the benefits to the environment from the reduction in your carbon footprint and well as the reduced maintenance costs. I don’t have any figures on this but there will most definitely a savings in the overall administration effort required to support VMware ESXi vs. VMware ESX. The sheer need to lock done the service console and keep it secured is pretty demanding task.

I regularly hear “We are waiting on VMware ESXi” and when I ask why I never hear a thought out valid answer. I would like to hear your opinion on this topic. Please leave comments as to your views on VMware ESX vs. VMware ESXi I would like to gain some greater insight into why more organizations are not making the switch.