vCenter Single Sign On 5.1 best practices

Since vCenter Single Sign On was introduced in vSphere 5.1, many questions have been rising around it. There seems to be a very limited amount of resources out there that document best practices related to vCenter Single Sign On, which is the reason for me to develop this post where I will try to combine as many best practices and answers related to vCenter 5.1 Single Sign On as possible.

I have been one of the lucky consultants who has already got to design/implement vSphere 5.1 for quite few enterprise customers where I have got to debate and drive best practices that I used across those implementations. I am sharing them here where others can benefit from them as well to allow a room for others to debate them and contribute their feedback.

Where to install vCenter Single Sign On (Physical vs Virtual)?

Just as the recommendations have always been for vCenter using virtual machine(s) is the best practice to save on cost and benefit of the availability features built in vSphere, that is no difference in vSphere 5.1. You can host all vCenter 5.1 components including SSO on virtual or physical machine, where virtual machine is the recommended practice due to the same reason mentioned earlier.… Read More

vCenter 5.1 Installation(Part 2) – Single Sign On Installation

During the installation of vCenter 5.1, you will need to install 3 components in the following order: Single Sign On => Inventory Service => vCenter Service. In a new installation I would normally install the Web Service after installing the vCenter Service, though during an upgrade I would install the web service right after the Single Sign On service to be able to use it just in case I wanted to check on my Single Sign On configuration or want to troubleshoot. As this guide assuming a new installation we will leave the Web Client Service to the end. In this post, I will demonstrate the installation of the Single Sign On Service.

Preparing Databases for vCenter Components

Three vCenter components require a database. Single Sign On, vCenter Service, & Update Manager each of those components require its own database, where the creation of those databases have been documented at the first post in this series found at: vCenter 5.1 Installation(Part 1) – Preparing the Databases.

Alright now you have your databases ready let’s start the process of installing vCenter Components. The first component to install as mentioned earlier is the Single Sign On Service, which is documented in a step by step fashion below.… Read More

vCenter 5.1 Installation(Part 1) – Preparing the Databases

After the introduction of vSphere 5.1, there seemed to be a lot of fuzz about the installation of the new vCenter components. I believe most of the hype was caused about how the initial vSphere 5.1 release behaved differently against expired certificates from how vSphere version prior to 5.1 behaved. In earlier releases, vCenter has only checked the expiry date of the certificate used during the initial install and fall to a backup mechanism if the certificate fail though the service would went up and the user would use vCenter as nothing has happened. To increase the security of vCenter and prevent man in the middle attacks, this behavior was changed in vCenter 5.1. vCenter 5.1 is always checking the validity of its certificates every time the service is being started & it would report an error if it does not find a valid certificate. As many customers had an expired vCenter certificates and did not know about it before upgrading to vSphere 5.1 they were caught off guard by this small behavior change where VMware has quickly released a quick workaround for it and a new patch were released to improve how vCenter response to this behavior.

The installation of vCenter 5.1… Read More

vCenter Orchestrator has no vCenter Server 5.0 plug-in tab

After coming back to a VMware vCenter Orchestrator 4.2 in my home lab that i have installed a while back, I have noticed that the vCenter Orchestrator Configuration interface was not showing the vCenter Server 5.0 plug-in tab. Actually it was showing the vCenter 4.1 plugin tab. As soon I saw that I remembered that the Plug-in for VMware vCenter Server 5 is not included in the VMware vCenter Orchestrator 4.2 included in the vSphere 5 vCenter installer CD. Then I thought what if I did not know that and I got to this stage. How odd & how long would I waste to figure out what is wrong with my setup.

To make it more interesting going to the vSphere vCenter 4.1 plugin tab in VMware vCO  and configure it with vCenter 5 information pass the validation without any error or complain. The only time you will start noticing the result of using the wrong plugin is when you start trying to execute any VMware vCenter Orchestrator workflow that require information to be populated from VMware vCenter. At that time you will notice that nothing show up in your vCenter inventory & you start scratching your head. Below is a screen shot to demonstrate how the vCenter 4.1… Read More

VMware vCenter Chargeback VM instance model is overcharging

VM instance model in VMware vCenter ChargeBack up to version 2.0.1 still has no prorating on charges. For those of you who is not sure what I am describing by VM Instance below how its described in the “VMware-Technote-Using-vCenter-Chargeback-vCloud-Director” document as well a screenshot of where you configure VM instance in vCenter ChargeBack:

“VM Instance enables the creation of a matrix of fixed costs that apply to hard a hard bundle of vCPU (count) and memory (MB). VM Instance matrices are linked with a cost model and consist of the hierarchy selection criteria, a fixed-cost table and a default fixed cost. Selection criteria can be based on name-pattern matching or custom- attribute matching. VM Instance uses a stepping function, where the virtual machine charge steps up to the next instance size. Costs are applied only for the duration when a virtual machine is powered on and is not prorated.

All this seems great beside the one last sentence “Costs are applied only for the duration when a virtual machine is powered on and is not prorated.” This means if you setup your fixed cost charges into there for monthly and you only powered the VM for an hour then turned it off you are being charged the full month rate.… Read More

VMware vCenter ChargeBack Cost Models & vCloud Director Allocation models & Overage

Since the introduction of vCenter ChargeBack integration with VMware vCloud Director & I hear repeatedly questions about how its Cost Models charge in a VMware vCD environment. To be honest, the question usually come in the form that vCenter ChargeBack is not calculating the cost as I expected & something wrong with it. Most of the time it turn out nothing but a misunderstanding of vCenter ChargeBack Cost Models in a vCloud Director environment.  As vCenter ChargeBack Cost Models highly integrate with VMware vCloud Director allocation models, its very important to have a solid understanding of VMware vCD Allocation Models. As Duncan Epping & Chris Colotti both has explained vCloud Director Allocation Models extensively in two great blogs posts, I am going to only reference these and not cover it in this post & rather focus on the vCenter ChargeBack part of the story. Below are the two posts for VMware vCD Allocation Models:

vCD – Allocation Models (By Duncan Epping)

vCloud Allocation Models  (By  Chris Colotti)

Please make sure you go over one of the above posts if you still don’t have a clear understanding of the vCloud Director Allocation models before going over this post, as I am not going to cover that.… Read More

VMware vCenter ChargeBack Report does not display Disk Read and Disk Write & Network Transmitted and Network Received information

It seems the problem of vCenter ChargeBack report not displaying certain info is becoming a popular question lately. Actually this was pointed out to me earlier today by a colleague who was reviewing my vCD design. The most common info not displayed in a vCenter ChargeBack Report are below:

  • vCenter ChargeBack Report Does Not Display the Network Transmitted and Network Received Information
  • vCenter ChargeBack Report Does Not Display the Disk Read and Disk Write Information
  • vCenter ChargeBack Report Does Not Display the Memory Usage Value and the Corresponding Cost

It seems many admins are getting to the point where one of the above list is not being displayed in the vCenter ChargeBack Reports although they select them while generating the report.

It turned out that the main cause of such a problem is that the statistics collection level is not properly set on the vCenter Server. This case seems to happen often as the required statistics collection level in vCenter in order for these to work is higher than the default in vCenter where statistics collection level is set to 1 by default, where in order for these to work you will need to change the vCenter Statistics collection level as shown below:

Desired Data                                                     Required Statistics Collection Level

Network Transmitted and Network Received                                         3 or above

Disk Read and Disk Write Information                                                    3 or above

Memory Usage Value and the Corresponding Cost                                 2 or above

Please note for the Memory Usage Value and Corresponding Cost, you will have to change it to 2 or above only if using a vCenter older than vCenter 4.… Read More

PHD Virtual Monitor for VMware Step by Step Installation & Configuration

As I have spent sometime evaluating PHD Virtual Monitor to post the review on my Backup & Disaster Recovery/Management blog TSMGuru Blog, I have went through the installation/configuration process and thought I may as well share them on here for people trying to install or just test PHD Virtual Monitor for VMware. On here, I will be showing how to quickly get up and running with PHD Virtual Monitor, though if you want to read my review of it before testing it your self you can find it at: PHD Virtual Monitor for VMware Review

Before you start you will need to make sure the below prerequisite are met by the machine you will use for PHD Virtual Monitor for VMware:

– First of all make sure you are using a supported operating system. PHD Virtual Monitor for VMware is supported by the following Operating Systems.

  • Windows XP
  • Windows Server 2003
  • Windows 7
  • Windows Server 2008 32-bit or 64-bit.

– The machine where you are setting up PHD Virtual Monitor for VMware should have at least 2GB of RAM and a 4GB page file.

– Static IP is highly recommended

– For the testing environment or an environment with less than 50 devices to monitor, the default Microsoft SQL Express will be sufficient.… Read More

VMware vCenter Server Appliance Error: VPXD must be stopped to perform this operation.

While playing with VMware vCenter Server Appliance in my home lab, I have been surprised with the following error:

Error: VPXD must be stopped to perform this operation.

This error has came up while trying to change authentication to active directory authentication and kinda seen the same error when trying to change the database to an external database. For some reason the Server service stop button is shadowed as well which mean I could not stop it by the GUI interface. Although my lab setup is not ideal and it might just due to the way I set it up, though I will still document how I resolved this where the same mechanism can be used to stop and restart any other service used by the vCenter Server Appliance. Below are the steps I have followed:

1- SSH to your VMware vCenter Server Appliance using the root account.

2- Execute the following command to see the status of all the service running in the vCenter Appliance:   chkconfig

The output of all services will look something like below:

localhost:~ # chkconfig
after.local               off
apache2                  off
arpd                         off
atftpd                       off
auditd                       on
autoyast                    off
chargen                      off
chargen-udp              off
cron                       on
daytime                    off
daytime-udp              off
dbus                     on
dcerpcd                  on
dhcp6r                   off
dhcp6s                   off
dhcpd                    off
discard                  off
discard-udp              off
earlysyslog              on
echo                     off
echo-udp                 off
eventlogd                on
fbset                     on
gpm                      off
haldaemon                on
haveged                  on
irq_balancer             on
kbd                      on
ldap                     on
lsassd                   off
lwiod                    on
mdadmd                   off
multipathd               off
netlogond                on
netstat                  off
network                  on
network-remotefs         on
nfs                      on
ntp                      off
pcscd                  off
powerd               off
random               on
raw                      off
rpasswdd            off
rpcbind                on
rpmconfigcheck           off
sendmail                       on
servers                           off
services                         off
setserial                        off
skeleton.compat         … Read More

Cavemen want efficiency too! Move beyond traditional IT management solutions with VMware.

I was about to head to bed till I saw this really funny VMware video on my facebook. I thought it was too funny to pass by it and not share it with my readers. Check out how the Cavemen want efficiency too! Move beyond traditional IT management solutions with VMware. Don’t miss this video and watch it and have a great laugh.

Read More

VMware vCenter Chargeback Manager 2.0 released

VMware vCenter ChargeBack was released on Nov 30, 2011. It has quite few awaited enhancement and a bit of interface polishing. For those of you who did not hear of VMware vCenter Chargeback Manager or does not know why its required, I will brief you a bit before going into the details of the new releases. If you have been in the virtualization field for a while, then for sure you have heard of the VMs Sprawl(A large amount of virtual machines on your network without the proper IT management or control)  or Zombie VMs(VMs that are using resources but their role is no longer required).  For more info about Zombie VMs, you might want to check out my earlier post at: Zombie VMs.

Zombie VMs & Sprawl VMs have something in common, both of them waste your Virtual  Infrastructure resources extensively that could waste the saving you have done by moving from physical to virtual or even impact the performance you get from your Virtual Infrastructure. The larger the environment and the more VMs you spawn, Zombie VMs & Sprawl VMs get to be harder to control & increasingly important to address. Further when moving to Cloud Computing Sprawl & Zombie VMs seems to be easily getting out of control as the users get to spawn their VMs with easy and more agile fashion.… Read More

SolarWinds release more free tools as Christmas gifts

At the current economy, it seems good free tools are just getting to be more and more popular. SolarWinds have released quite few useful ones lately & I thought I will list them below for the benefits of my readers who is hunting for such free tools:

SolarWinds Free VM Console

The SolarWinds Free VM Console enables you to bounce your virtual machines without ever logging into VMware Plus, you can track up/down status, take snapshots, and restart VMs even if you are not a VMware administrator. Be a VM superhero with the ability to:

  • Shutdown & restart VMs without logging into vCenter or vSphere
  • Take snapshots of your VMs before bouncing them
  • Get end-to-end visibility into your VMware environment from vCenter through ESX hosts to VM guests
  • Track the up/down status of your VMs without logging into VMware apps

SolarWinds Free Storage Response Time Monitor

SolarWinds Storage Response Time Monitor makes keeping track of your storage response times and latency issues easier than ever!

  • Get at-a-glance insight into the host to datastore connections with the worst response times and the busiest VMs using those connections
  • See a breakdown of the datastore including type and device versus kernel latency

SolarWinds FREE Real-Time Bandwidth Monitor

SolarWinds Real-Time Bandwidth Monitor makes it easy to keep a close eye on a troublesome interface and monitors the bandwidth usage in real-time!… Read More

VKernel was acquired by Quest

It seems the acquisition heat that has been spread like anything into the Virtualization space has got to VKernel this time. VKernel has announced acquisition by Quest Software (NASDQ: QSFT) last week on Wednesday, November 16, 2011. If you all remember Quest has acquired another one of my favorite Virtualization software company (VizionCore) on December 2008. It seems Quest has discovered the importance of their presence in the Virtualization Market, & I can admit they seems are doing the right acquisitions to extend their solutions to customers & areas that were out of reach before the Acquisition of such companies.

The good part of the Acquisition, that VKernel will still be allowed to operate independently, & their customers will not have to miss their great products as they will continue working on the same product lines. Though VKernel will now have a larger marketing and financial ability behind them, which should improve their chances of growth and success. The good part for VKernel existing customers nothing will change and they will still get their support the same way they always did. One thing I hope VKernel keep doing & they were really good at is to continue providing great free management tools for the SMB who can not afford such a product or who need a product to survive with till their next buying cycle.… Read More

Zombie VM interview just before Hallowe’en

First of all I would like to say Happy Hallowe’en to everyone. I thought you might want to check how bad Zombie VMs can be to your Virtual Infrastructure. The below interview of a Zombie VM is quite interesting & funny specially just in time for Hallowe’en. Enjoy the video below:

Another Zombie VMs Video, & in fact my favorite in this theme:

Well do you want to kill some of these Zombie VMs and start your battle, then you might want to check out VKernel vScope Explorer which can easily spot Zombie VMs & the beauty of it its totally free. Check out the below video of VKernel vScope Explorer:

What are you waiting for get your guns and start shooting some Zombie VMs before they take over your datacenter on Hallowe’en night.… Read More

Grant User Access to vCenter CapacityIQ

As lately I have been testing several of our Enterprise Management Solutions, & I have been sharing them more often with our customers. After the announcement of vRAM, vCenter CapacityIQ is one of the products that seems to grab attention quickly. After delivering several POCs to customers, most of them have came back to me and asked me on the procedure to Grant a User Access to vCenter CapacityIQ. Most of them want to ensure that they can create a user name & password for their monitoring team that does not have access to anything else in vCenter. As the steps are not too clear in our documentation, I have decided to share it on here with few snapshots:

1- When you configure vCenter CapacityIQ, the virtual appliance generates a vCenter CapacityIQ privilege under Global privileges in the vSphere Client, actually this is done as a part of the vCenter CapacityIQ virtual appliance installation. Therefore if you are done with the CapacityIQ virtual appliance installation you are done with this step.

2- Restart your vSphere Client after completing the installation of vCenter CapacityIQ.

3- From the vSphere Client Home page, click Roles. See the screenshot below.

4- Add the CapacityIQ privilege under Global privileges to a new or existing role.… Read More