Migrating Nexus 1000v to vDS in vRA environment

As VMware Distributed Switch has come a long way since it was first introduced in VMware vSphere 4.0. In vSphere 6.0, the Distributed Switch has became as rich on features and functionality as the Nexus 1000v at much lower complexity. While Nexus 1000v requires you to install/maintain an extra appliance(s) and VIB to use it’s features, vSphere Distributed Switch comes out of the box loaded with functionalities and ready to use. Not to mention the delay in upgrade to newer versions of vSphere you can encounter till Nexus 1000v is testing is completed.

The latest vSphere Distributed Switch has not left much to be desired from the Nexus 1000v to justify the extra complexity involved with the Nexus 1000v. All this has driven many customers to start migrating from Nexus 1000v to vDS lately, especially customers who is considering VMware SDDC/Cloud Solutions.  I have been involved with few of these migrations lately, and here will  share the migration process at a high level for the benefit of others going through the same process.

Below are the Nexus 1000v to vDS Migration steps at a high level:

1. Backup the Environment

a. Backup up vRA, vCD and any other management/Cloud platform that is consuming the environment.  … Read More

Free VMTurbo Datacenter Stencils for Microsoft Visio and OmniGraffle

If you often create Architecture Diagrams using Microsoft Visio or OmniGraffle, then you are always in the look for new stencils and shapes that you can reuse into your design. VMturbo has just released a good Datacenter Stencils that work for both Microsoft Visio and OmniGraffle. The free VMturbo  Topology Stencils covers all of the following:

  • Host
  • Cluster
  • Virtual & Physical SAN
  • Thin & Thick Provisioned Datastores
  • Public, Private, Hybrid, & Virtual Datacenter Clouds
  • And More!

Below is a teaser of what these stencils look like. If you want to download these stencils, then you can get it at: http://info.vmturbo.com/NI00yZpg0003ydH0MZ6011g

 VMTurbo free Visio StencilsRead More

How to Downgrade VM Hardware Version

I have often got the question if you can downgrade your Virtual Machine Hardware version from the latest version to a previous version. There is many reasons why you might want to downgrade your VM Hardware Version, but below is few common ones I have heard:

  • VM hardware version you upgraded to is not supported in the vSphere thick client version you are using, this used to be the most common one in vSphere 5.5. Luckily this has dramatically improved in vSphere 6.0.
  • VM hardware version you upgraded to is not supported on older versions hosts that you still keeping or waiting to upgrade.
  • VM hardware version you upgraded to is not supported by your cloud vendor, so you can’t sync your internal VMs/templates to your cloud.

I guess if you had hit this post, you already have a reason of why you want to downgrade your VM Hardware version, so I will not spend too much time on that. Let’s look on how to downgrade VM Hardware Version.

I have to first admit that there is no straight out of the box button that allow you to downgrade your VM Hardware version, unlike when you upgrade it. This might be the reason why when you ask many people about it out there, they will tell you there is no supported way of doing it, but that’s not exactly true.… Read More

My Home Lab Converged Infrastructure Challenge

As I had some challenges with my Home Lab due to some hardware failure, I had to revert from using a dedicated storage box (White box + Windows + bunch of disk + StarWind Virtual SAN) as I no longer have the luxury of having that extra machine to use. I have ended up with two ESXi hosts (Specs: White box with i5 + 16GB RAM + 1x SSD + 2x Sata Drivers + 2 NICs). I have though to investigate if I could still come up with a way that would provide me with a reliable storage without having to acquire any extra hardware.

While I have considered to buy another dedicated box to use as storage, converged infrastructure seemed as a great viable alternative. I decided to investigate, which option I had within the popular converged infrastructure offering that I knew of would fit my needs best. I can see quite few small businesses that might fall in the same boat where they have been limited to two lower specs servers to run their small environment. Here are the different options I have considered, and why I could not use them.

Simplivity: I wanted to check them out as they have a very interesting offering especially when it comes to deduplication which could save me a good amount of disk space.… Read More

Unable to establish an SSL connection with vCenter Server

While trying to export one of my VMs into OVF from my virtual infrastructure using the vSphere Web Client, I kept getting the following error:  “Could not connect to the remote resource: SSL connect error”. I have as well tested to import OVF templates into my VMware vSphere environment, and I was getting the same error, but this time I was getting one more additional error which states: “Unable to validate that the OVF can be imported on the vCenter Server”. The below screenshot demonstrate what the error look like in my environment.

Could not connect to the remote resource ssl connect error

I have tried to connect to the vSphere Web Client from a jump box within my lab environment and that seemed to work perfectly without a glitch, while my laptop machine kept to suffer from the same error. This lead me to compare my jump box with my own laptop config and the two obvious difference that I were able to identify is my laptop is not in the same domain as my jump box(which is joined to my lab domain), as well I am using a different DNS on my own laptop.

Changing the dns configuration on my laptop to match the machine in my lap seemed to get things working on my laptop as well (I did not need to join the domain).… Read More

VMware vSphere Mobile Watchlist features

Did you ever want to manage or monitor your vSphere infrastructure from your mobile device? You are in luck, VMware has a mobile application available for Android and iOS which helps you to manage virtual machines and hosts on your vSphere infrastructure . While this application is optimized for smartphones, it will work on tablets too.

VMware vSphere Mobile Watchlist brings the following key capabilities to vSphere administrators on the go:

  • Easily create VM or Host watchlists: Search for and select a subset of VMs and hosts from your VMware vCenter or standalone ESXi server to monitor in one or more watchlists.

 

  • Awareness: Review the status of selected vSphere Mobile Watchlist VMs and hosts from your device:

• View VM or Host state
• View health alerts, resource usage, and related objects
• View configuration details
• View tasks and events for a VM or host

vSphere Mobile Watchlist interface

  • VMs and Hosts at a glance: Review the status of selected Watchlist VMs and hosts from your device including state, configuration details, resource usage, health alerts, view of the VM console, and related objects.

VMware vSphere Mobile Watchlist Monitoring

  • Understanding: When an alert occurs on a VM or host, vSphere Mobile Watchlist allows you to view a number of different information sources to determine the root cause:

• View KB articles that are automatically retrieved based on a
given alert
• Continue the search for web articles related to the alert
• View performance charts of CPU, memory, disk, and network usage

VMware vSphere Mobile Watchlist Alert and KBs

Remediate Remotely: Remediate problems directly from the phone:

 

• Initiate VM power operations: powering on or off, resuming/suspending, connecting/disconnecting, or restarting VMs and or hosts
• Initiate basic host operations, set maintenance mode, or connect and reconnect hosts
• Configure the VM’s CPU and memory
• Manage snapshots: taking a new snapshot, deleting an old snapshot, or reverting to a previous snapshot
• Interact with the VM console

  • Delegate to your team: For those situations where you are not able to fix an issue from the device, VMware vSphere Mobile Watchlist will enable you to share the VM and alert information along with any suggested KB articles and other web pages relevant to the current problem.
Read More

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 & vCenter Customization Specifications

While on a vRealize Automation 6.2 engagement, the customer wanted to be able to deploy Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 VMs from a blueprint. The customer has prepared a RHEL 7 Template for me to use for deployment. I have created as well a vCenter Customization Specification to customize the VM and apply the desired IP Address & Host Name to VMs as they get deployed. While VMs deployment worked smoothly,  I have noticed no customization was carried out. I have tried to deploy VMs from the template directly using vCenter to test my vCenter Customization Specification and that did not work either, which eliminated vRA of being the source of the issue.

Red Hat Logo

As many others can still face the same issue with or without vRA, as its a vCenter Customization Specification related issue rather than vCloud Automation Center, I have decided to document what we had to do to fix it:

1- Make sure you are running vSphere Components (vCenter/ESXi/VMware Tools) versions that support your version of Red Hat Enterprise. For RHEL 7 the guest customization started being supported at vCenter 5.5U2 as per VMware Guest OS Customization support in vCenter Document.

2- Make sure to install VMware version of VMware tools.Read More

Is it time to upgrade your homelab? VMTurbo is giving you the chance to win it!

If you are like me, you are always looking for a new hardware to upgrade your home lab. Unfortunately, maintaining your home lab up to date has proven to be not cheap. For that reason, it seems VMturbo is giving away home labs for three lucky winners who register for their upcoming  VMTurbo 5.1 Release Webinar. The lab they are offering can be a great test bench for many of the Virtualization/SDDC/Cloud product that you love to test/play with. Below is the specs of the Home Lab they are offering you a chance to win!

  • Intel NUC with Intel Core i5-4250U
  • G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 16GB (2x8G) 204-Pin DDR3 Memory
  • SAMSUNG 840 EVO 250GB SATA III TLC Internal Solid State Drive
  • Synology DS415+ Diskless System DiskStation 4-Bay NAS
  • 2x Dell 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5″ Hard Drive
  • Cisco SG300-10 10-port Gigabit Managed Switch
  • Rosewill 7ft. Cat 6 Network Cable

VMTurbo has valued this Lab configuration at $1600 USD, and would be really nice to put your hands on it for free. Below is what VMTurbo ad look like:

VMTurbo Home Lab Offer

 

I have registered for my chance to win, what about you? Remember its like the Lottery, you can not win unless if you Sign Up, beside this one is free!… Read More

Myth busted: vCenter Site Recovery Manager using vSphere Replication for Datacenter migration causes data loss

It seems there is a lot of confusion out there on how vCenter Site Recovery manager work with vSphere Replication when used for a data center migration, thanks in big part to competing products FUDs. Many admins still believe that using vSphere Replication with vCenter Site Recovery Manager for data center migration you will still lose up to 15 minutes of Data. This confusion has evolved due to the following two limitations of vSphere Replication:

  • Lowest RPO possible using vSphere replication  is 15 minutes
  • You cannot replicate powered-off virtual machines. Replication begins when the virtual machine is powered on. You cannot use vSphere Replication to replicate virtual machines templates. <== This statement right of the vSphere documentation.

Here is how the confusion came to life. If you have experienced or read about vCenter Site Recover Manager with storage replication and looked at the sequence of events when doing a data center migration, you will notice it will do a final sync of the data between the two sites right before it cut the replication between the the two sites. If you try to compare the same method with what is happening in vSphere replication and knowing the above two limitations, you will think that when the Data Center Migration is initiated in SRM, it will shutdown the VM and at that time the VM replication was lagging with up to 15 minutes behind based on the provided RPO and as vSphere replication can not replicate after the VM is turned off, the VM will be losing up to 15 minutes of data when coming on the other site, but that is not true as its missing a very minor but important detail that many people seems to over look.… Read More

vCenter Server Appliance (vCSA) 6 limitations removed.

If you have been using the vCenter Appliance (vCSA) in vSphere 5.5 or been considering it, then you are more likely aware of its limitations. You might have in the past as well looked at my blog post that highlighted the vCSA 5.5 limitations found at: vCenter Server Appliance 5.5 limitations. The good news in vCSA 6.0 seems to over come the biggest one of these as follow:

– vCenter Linked mode is now supported with vCSA 6.0. This one by far was the biggest limitation of the vCSA 5.5 and the one that had been most mentioned by my customers who were considering vCSA 5.5 at that time. Now this has been resolved for you and you can use vCenter Linked mode with vCSA 6.0. Wohooooo!

– You were limited to 100 hosts and 3000 VMs when using the embeded DB with vCSA 5.5, where you had to use an external Oracle Database to expand beyond these limits, which did not make larger customers happy. The good news these limits were waived in vCSA 6.0 and you will be able to use up to 1000 hosts and 10,000 VMs using the embedded database. I am sure between this one and the availability of vCenter Linked mode, many customers who were considering to move to the vCSA appliance, they will be eager to put their hands on the vCSA 6.0 to make the shift.… Read More

VMware vCenter 6 Installation Steps

I wanted to demonstrate how VMware vCenter 6 installation is a bit different than vCenter 5.x, and the below post show the installation steps of VMware vCenter 6 basic install.

1. Make sure you have minimum requirements and the OS you are using is on the compatibility list of vCenter 6.0. The below table demonstrate the minimum hardware requirements for vCenter 6.0.

2. Make sure the user to run vCenter Server service under has the log on as a service rights

3. Run the vCenter installer executable

4. Hit Install

5. Hit next

6. Accept license agreement and hit next

7. Choose your deployment type and hit Next.

8. Choose System Network Name and hit next

9. Provide the Single Sign-On Configuration & make sure your password meet the password complexity requirements ad demonstrated in the below screenshots

10. Choose the service account to run the vCenter Service under

11. Choose your vCenter DB Configuration

12. Confirm the network ports to use

13. Confirm the installation destination folder

 

14. Hit install

 

 

15. Hit launch the vsphere web client to start using it and hit finish the installation

 

16. Check out your new vCenter in the vSphere web client

 

You are now ready to enjoy your vCenter 6!… Read More

VMware vSphere 6.0 is here!

Today VMware has made a big announcement of the long waited VMware vSphere 6.0, while the bits are not available for download yet, it will follow shortly. The all new vSphere 6.0 is loaded with new features, that many of you were waiting for it for years. In this post, I will cover what’s new with VMware vSphere 6.0 and to get you excited it to try it as soon the bits come out. Please note the bits out there today is only the beta, and the GA bits will follow shortly. Let’s start going through what’s excite me about the new release.

  • VMotion Enhancements seams to break new ground in vSphere 6 with the availability of:
    • Cross vSwitch vMotion
    • Cross vCenter vMotion
    • vMotion L2 adjacency restrictions are lifted
    • vMotion of MSCS VMs using pRDMs
    • Long Distance vMotion – Enable vMotion to operate across distance of greater than 100ms RTTs.
    • Sound to me we are building the ground for vMotion to the Cloud!
  • vSMP Fault Tolerance is finally here where vSphere 6 will allow up to 4 vCPU VMs to be protected by VMware Fault Tolerance.
  • NFS v4.1 with Kerberos support. If you are an NFS shop, then I am sure you have been waiting this for a while!
Read More

Host Virtualization Candidate Checklist

While I am a Virtualization advocate, & I believe you can virtualize almost every application out there. Yeah note the bold almost in there, as there still some applications or hosts you might want to take further consideration before virtualizing them. Why this topic now? I am currently working with a customer on a P2V engagement plan, where the customer wanted to identify their top virtualization candidates, where I have pulled this list to help them eliminate bad candidates to start with.

Below is a good check list that I frequently use when I want to check if a an application/host is a good candidate for moving to a virtual environment as a fresh install or even P2V conversion. I thought I will share in case others are curious if their particular app or host is a good candidate or what they should be checking for:

– Does the physical machine use serial ports? (Work around available)

– Does the physical machine use parallel ports? (Work around available)

– Does the physical machine use USB devices? (Work around available)

– Does your system require any physical hardware dongle?

– Does your host use any special hardware devices like a special telecommunication pci card that cannot be virtualized?Read More

Learn VMware vSphere resource management

As a part of my learn vSphere from Scratch video training, I have just released my latest lesson “Learn VMware vSphere resource management”, unlike other lessons in the series which were focused solely on someone learning vSphere from scratch, this lesson can be useful to more versed vSphere admins as well any one starting from scratch. This lesson cover the following topics in a great details:

– Learn about virtual machine autonomy.
– How does VMware vSphere Manage its resources?
– How is resource scheduling in vSphere work?
– How does Virtual Machines resource allocation, limit, & reservation work?
– How does ESXi host manage CPU & Memory over commitment?
– Learn more about ESXi extensive memory management techniques such as TPS (Transparent page sharing, ballooning, & swaping)
– What is memory compression?
– Find out what a VM is made of, & learn more about the files that make  up a VM.
– What the type of Virtual Machines disks VMware ESXi support, & when to use each format?
– What is a snapshot,  what to use it for, & how to use it?
– Learn how to manage virtual machines in the vSphere interface.
– Learn what each of the virtual machines setting mean & what is it used for.… Read More

Windows could not parse or process the unattend answer file for pass [specialize]

I was at a customer which I have deployed vCloud Automation Center 6.1 for, and they tried to create a new blueprint. They have copied the old blueprint and only changed the VM template used in that blueprint from Windows 2012 to Windows 2008 R2. They saved and published the new blueprint without any problem, then they tried to deploy the new blueprint. The blueprint deployment kept failing with the following error:

“Request failed: Machine VTTestVM001: Timeout customizing machine”

From the error, I was able to tell it was getting stuck at the guest customization stage, so I deployed one more VM and waited till it get to the guest customization stage, then opened a console to the VM to be greeted  with the following Sysprep error:

Windows could not parse or process the unattend answer file for pass [specialize]. The settings specified in the answer file cannot be applied. The error was detected while processing settings for component [Microsoft-Windows-Shell-Setup]”

Below is a screenshot showing the actual error on screen:

Windows could not parse or process the unattend answer file or pass [specialize]

After I hit OK, the machine restarted again and gave the following error and kept repetitively restarting and giving the same error afterword:

“The computer restarted unexpectedly or encountered an unexpected error.Read More

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