Be Smart & Save huge on Microsoft Licensing with Virtualization

As a start don’t let the title fool you this is not related only to Microsoft virtualization, but to every virtualization platform out there. Don’t let vendors mislead you as the saving can be higher on Microsoft Licenses with non Microsoft Hyper-visor like VMware where you can put more virtual machines on the same hardware box. Ok, so clearing the confusion out of the way read below to find out what I am talking about.

Being on the consulting role, I get to meet customers everyday on all levels (Administrators, Managers, CEOs,  Directors, Business). When they ask our advice on consolidating their enviornment & I bring the idea of virtualization one question I get hammared with every time ” How would paying for virtualization licensing is going to save us money?”.  Below are some of our & yours traditional answers & how a stubrn customer will reply to it:

– You will Save Space (I have a large DataCenter & Space does not matter to me at the moment)

– You will save on Hardware ( I can buy non branded cheaper 1u servers for the price of the licenses)

– You will Save on Power (My department is not billed for Power, or power is so cheap in here … ah remember I am working in the gulf region at the moment where electricity is very cheap.)… Read More

Tolly Common Test Plan for Virtual Server Performance

I have been contacted by Kevin Tolly the founder of http://CommonTestPlan.org to evaluate their Virtual Server Performance Test Plan & provide suggestions in that regard about two weeks ago. Kevin & his team were kind enough to provide me with a one year license to their Virtual Server Performance Test Plan Document for my own personal use without any string attached. I believe they are offering the same to many other Virtualization Experts around the globe in order to improve their document & get some honest feed backs from professionals who hit the virtualization field on daily basis. Below is my honest review & thoughts of the document.

As no product is ever perfect and Tolly Common Test Plan for Virtual Server Performance is no exception for that I will cover the points I like & the points I believe are missing of the report in here.

I will start with what I like about the Tolly Common Test Plan for Virtual Server Performance. The document is focused on helping IT Professionals in identifying the key concepts for virtual servers benchmarking as well helping in avoiding common mistakes in virtual servers benchmarking. Its one of these topics that has barely any standards & many misleading concepts are all over the place, that make a similar document essential for enterprise environment that is evaluating multiple virtualization solutions.… Read More

VMworld 2009 announce vSphere, vCenter Server Heartbeat, VMware vShield Zones

VMworld Europe 2009. VMware has used the VMworld Europe 2009 to announce two new products that will be available this year:

1- vCenter Server Heartbeat:

Comes to solve the problem arising from a possible collapse of the server that manages the VMware virtualized platforum, specifically vCenter Server earlier known by Virtual Center. The vCenter Server Heartbeat comes to provide High availability for the vCenter. Prior to vCenter Server Heartbeat you were only able to have one vCenter to manage your infrastructure if that vCenter fail VMware’s Live migration with VMotion, load balancing with Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS), license management, and performance monitoring all cease to function.

Architecturally, Server Heartbeat is implemented as an active/passive vCenter servers, running on physical or virtual machines. In addition to server and network hardware, Server Heartbeat monitors the actual vCenter instance, its back-end database, and the underlying operating system. In the case of failure, the passive node takes over, and Heartbeat restarts the vCenter service. Failover can occur over both LANs and WANs.

I can sense some people already arguing that you could achieved the same result of vCenter heartbeat Server by running vCenter inside a virtual machine & VMware HA. If you had implemented that then you will notice three big limitations with that:

a- As HA is only supported in a single site then that redundancy for vCenter was only valid for a single site & you were not able to use it for DR.… Read More

VMworld Get Your Free SvSAN at Booth 59

Haha finally at VMworld Europe. What an event!!!

I will keep posting new discoveries on here. The first thing that got my attention as many of you who is attending is the nice free gadgets are available at the different booths. Free is always good is not it.

Though the Free SvSAN offered at booth 59 is really worth your visit to that booth. If you are attending & have not visited Booth 59 then try to hurry before they run out which I belive will not be too long before then with the crowd at the booth.

the SvSAN they offering is yours to keep for life. I believe it will be great for testing to be able to simulate SAN using a local Harddrive & test all the advanced features of VMware. This is can be great for proof of concepts from your TP or just for your own testing. Below is another 11 reason posted on the VMworld site for visiting Booth 59 by Abhik Mitra:

1.) IT’S FREE AS LONG AS YOU PICK UP YOUR KEY, OTHERWISE IT’S $995

2.) THIS IS NOT A 30 DAY FREE TRIAL – THE SOFTWARE IS YOURS FOR LIFE!

3.) TURN INTERNAL DISK DRIVES INTO A VIRTUAL SAN

4.)… Read More

Best Practices for VMware Consolidated Backup

 


VMware has updated and made significant improvement to its VMware Consolidated Backup (VCB) best practices. One of the most important changes is the possibility of backing up virtual machines using the API Microsoft VSS (Volume Shadow Services), which ensures the consistency of the file system as well as the transaction applications within the virtual machine.

 

During VMWorld ‘08 in Las Vegas, it was also said that VCB will evolve in the not too distant future and will be integrated as a plug-in within VirtualCenter. This would make installation, configuration and deployment of this framework backup much easier.

You can download the document here.

 

Thank you Jose Maria Gonzalez for your great insight into the latest news in the virtualization world.Read More

New technical documents about VMware View – Now Available

VMware has recently published several very informative technical documents about its new virtualization workstation, VMware View.

If you want to have an architecture reference as well as a better idea how to measure the storage backend in these solutions, these documents will definitely get you on the right track.

Storage Design Options for VMware Virtual Desktop Infrastructure

Manager 3 VMware admin guide

VMware View Reference Architecture Kit (registration required)

After you read these three documents, you will be one of the few people that are familiar with the new VMware virtualization workstation.

Happy reading!

This post is based on an article in Spanish by Jose Maria Gonzalez. Read More

Adding VMware ESX hosts in Virtual Machine Manager (Part 1)

As we have previously described, SCVMM integrates a centralized administration system of various virtualizors, including VMware ESX.

In this post, we’ll see just how to manage VMware ESX from SCVMM.

To do this, we need to have VMware Virtual Center in addition to VMware ESX.

The first step is to add Virtual Center to SCVMM.

To do this, we will use the Add VMware VirtualCenter Server option.

Once this step is complete, we will see the Virtual Center datacenter in our SCVMM as if it were a Host Group.

In this case, it is called Lab and it appears as Lab Datacenter.

Now we will add VMware ESX.

To do this, we will use the Add Host option.

In this wizard, we will use the Add VMware ESX Server Host (Any Location) option.

Put the appropriate credentials.

Next to the IP of the ESX Server, it is important to import the certificate with Retrieve.

Then, Add Host.

Click Next to get the summary.

And finally, Add Host.

Done!

Thanks to ponicke for providing the inspiration for this article.Read More

New update for VMware ESX Server

The developers of VMware have released a new update for the ESX Server that eliminates three vulnerabilities from the past versions.

Among the vulnerabilities corrected is an error in the SNMPv3 application, an error that we have known about since the middle of the year. It blocks the authentication function, allowing attackers to access the server.

The update also eliminates a vulnerability related to buffer overflow in the libtiff graphics library, which allows attackers to insert arbitrary code and run it through TIFF files.

The update also removes a bug in the libxml2 library that kills the application.

You can find more detailed information about the changes to the new version on the official VMware website. You can also find links to updates for the different versions.

Thanks to edtape for providing the inspiration for this article.Read More

VMware ESX 3.5 Update 3 – Now available

The ISO of ESX 3.5 Update 3 is already available to download. I am sure that with this version, VMware made sure not to make the same mistakes again.

Among the new features are:

An increased limit from 8 to 20 vCPUs per core. While it may be of interest for some VDI environments with very low consumption, I think it’s very risky to have that many virtual machines per server.
VMDK Recovery Tool: Allows us to recover vmdks or VMFS volumes that were accidentally deleted;

Support for IBM SVC in both MRU and FIXED modes;

Support for new hardware, and

Support for Solaris 10U5, Ubuntu 8.04.1 and RHEL 4.7.

Release Notes:
http://www.vmware.com/support/vi3/doc/vi3_esx35u3_rel_notes.html

Thank you Alberto Gonzalez Martos for inspiring this article.Read More

VMware ESX 4.0 FT – Fault Tolerant – Sneak Peek

VMware innovations in operation continuity will be glowing in VMware ESX 4.0.In addition to the current high availability of VMware ESX Server, the software will inherit a function of fault tolerance.Today, VMware High Availability (HA) provides rapid restart of virtual machines in their last known state on a different ESX server, in case the physical server hosting them face a failure.

With VMware FT (Fault Tolerance), the system provides synchronous replication of protected VMs on two different servers.The application continues to function without interruption on the secondary server if the primary server comes to fail.For additional security measure, this cloned VM is automatically replicated to a third server, as the first server is not repaired, to maintain the availability of the VM if the second server also came to the same problem.

Meanwhile, the launch of VMware FT, the only real solution for fault tolerance available in virtualized environment remains hidden and not announced. Thought it was of a great deal that I thought I will share it with everyone, even before it hit the market. To get you more exited about VMware FT check out the below VMware FT Video:

To find out more about the other features of the upcoming VMware ESX release 4.0… Read More

VMware News: Features of the new VMware ESX 4.0

VMware is already testing the beta version of the new ESX 4.0. Among the features offered are:

– 64-bit Kernel and COS: Although Virtual Machine Monitor already does, VMware carries its products completely in 64 bits;
– Virtual Center clusters: We are not referring to MSCS support for Virtual Center, but about the distributed management of the virtualized infrastructure across multiple ESXs;
– Profile management of ESX servers;
– Cross-platform virtual networking: Virtual switches may be defined in the entire infrastructure rather than in each switch, as was the case until now. Networking settings can be applied to the ENTIRE virtual infrastructure.
– SMP support for as much as 8 vCPU;
– VM fault tolerance for multiple hosts—last year’s famous Continuous Availability solution; Check out more details of FT & A video of it at VMbloggie article at: VMware ESX 4.0 FT – Fault Tolerant – Sneak Peek

– VM and media library (ISOs and more): Provides library support for templates and virtual machines. Versioning capacity of virtual machines is also expected;
– Control of access to storage: Until now, due to license administration, access to VMFS could not be controlled. The new version supports this new feature;
– Management and monitoring of configuration changes;
– Full support for SATA, and
– Support for the new Six Core processors.… Read More

VMware makes a big mistake

It often happens that the top of the class makes a big mistake. Invariably, the ones at the bottom of the class giggle and make fun of the misfortunes of others. The problem with the recent blunder by VMware is that no one is laughing. The world’s virtualization leader, whose hypervisor represents nearly 95% of the market, has effectively “forgotten” to take out a part of the code from VMware ESX Server 3.5 Update 2, which disables the product that was passed August 12. This time bomb, apparently inserted during the beta phase of the product, was not removed. As a result, thousands of servers that upgraded to the latest version of the software began to malfunction at midnight. The main problem: an inability to start new VMs on the affected servers. In the physical world, this equates to a huge amount of servers persistently refusing to start. Nothing really serious, just a catastrophic problem on the level of a datacenter… The only consolation is that VMs that have already been started will continue to operate normally until they are restarted.

Even with all of this damage, we must recognize that VMware has responded quickly and seriously. The publisher officially acknowledged its blunder on August 12 and issued the first urgent message to its clients at 11:30 p.m.… Read More

Microsoft validates the VMware ESX Hypervisor

Now Microsoft offers technical support to customers who run the virtualization tool with Windows Server.

VMware, the clear leader of server virtualization, has announced that its VMware ESX hypervisor meets the requirements of Microsoft’s Server Virtualization Validation Program (SVVP). VMware ESX 3.5 update 2 (ESX 3.5u2) is the first hypervisor to join the program, which provides support from both Microsoft and VMware to customers who work with Windows Server and Microsoft applications. “Virtualization is already established within a stream of IT and our relationship with Microsoft shows just how far it has come, providing users of VMware ESX access to valuable support for their virtualized Microsoft applications,” says Bogomil Balkansky, Senior Director of product marketing at VMware. “VMware and Microsoft are working together to make sure that our joint customers enjoy the benefits of virtualization with the reassurance that professional support provides,” he adds.

Microsoft’s Server Virtualization Validation Program enables VMware and other software vendors to test and validate that their virtualization tools run well with Windows Server 2008 and previous versions. Through this program, Microsoft provides technical support to joint customers who run Windows Server on validated virtualization software that is not Microsoft’s, such as VMware ESX 3.5… Read More

How to configure the network on VMware ESX from the Ubuntu command line

Recently, I needed help with Unix to solve a problem with a network card that was identified as “undetectable” by ESX 3.5 of an Ubuntu virtual machine. Actually, the problem was that I could not configure the network because it was not detected by the system.

First, I thought that I needed to install the VMware tools on this system but I had no clue how to do this. I assumed that it was the same method as any other virtual machine (in the toolbar, Inventory -> Virtual Machine -> Install / Upgrade VMware Tools). But, after connecting to the VMware console, I saw that VMware was started but never finished.

In the virtual machine options, I realized that an ISO was configured as part of the CD.

I connected to the console of the Ubuntu virtual machine:

As a logged-in user, I executed the order sudo su to enter as a root user.

I set up the CD-rom drive: mount /media/cdrom0.

I found a compressed file, VmWaretools-3.5.0-82663.tar.gz, that I copied and decompressed into a temporary folder:

cd /media/cdrom0

cp VmWaretools-3.5.0-82663.tar.gz /tmp/

tar -xvf VmWaretools-3.5.0-82663.tar.gz

cd vmware-tools-distrib

Then, I launched the installation: ./vmware-install.pl

For all the questions that popped up, I clicked Enter to leave all the defaults.… Read More

Starting VMware from the Ubuntu login

If you don’t have a computer with many resources and you want to use VMware or VMplayer with a Windows XP image (or any other operating system) for a longer period of time (e.g. you must use Word, Excel, Access, etc.), a good solution is to start VMware directly, without downloading GNOME.

To achieve this, you need to create a new account that you can log into from the login screen (GDM). For it, you create the file “/usr/share/xsessions/windows-xp.desktop”:

[Desktop Entry]
Encoding = UTF-8
Name = Windows-XP
Exec = /usr/local/bin/startwindowsxp.sh
Icon =
Type = Application

This will execute the file “/usr/local/bin/startwindows.sh”, which you will also have to create with the following content:

#!/bin/bash
cd /mnt/extra/Windows_XP_Professional/
vmplayer –fullscreen /mnt/extra/Windows_XP_Professional/ Windows_XP_Professional.vmx

In this file, you must change the path where you have saved your Windows image. Then, execute:

sudo chmod 755 /usr/local/bin/startwindowsxp.sh
sudo chmod 755 /usr/share/xsessions/windows-xp.desktop

Now, you can log out of the user account and log in to the “Windows-XP” account from GDM. If you are asked if you want to make it your default account, reply no, since you will only be using it occasionally. Once the machine has started, you can bring it into full-screen mode by clicking on the VMware menu and pressing F11.Read More