Archive for June, 2009
As I am in the final week before my holiday and all projects are finished, I thought it might be a good idea to check out the competition. So I downloaded the free version of Citrix’s XenServer 5.5 to see what the fuss is all about.
First I tried to install it on a spare desktop at home (P4 2,4GHz CPU, 2GB RAM) but this failed, probably because the CPU doesn’t supply Intel VT.
Yesterday at work I grabbed two desktops with a Core2Duo E6400 with Intel VT and 4GB of RAM and installed Citrix XenServer 5.5 on it.
The installation is pretty straightforward, much like ESXi, and in about 5-10 minutes you will have a XenServer up and running. The first thing I noticed is that the console is very feature rich. We all know the yellow/gray console of an ESXi server and all you can do is basic configuration tasks like set an IP address, DNS server and default gateway, give the server its name, do a few tests and that’s about it. The console of a XenServer has a lot more features. Next to all ESXi-like features you can start and stop virtual machines, configure storage, resource pools and licensing, configure back-up, restore and updates.
This morning I was bored a bit so I upgraded the website to the new version and updated some plugins too. If all went well, you should not have noticed anything and services should be up as usual.
After receiving notice the founder of VMGuru.nl got the keys to his new home, we urged to apply a street name change to the local government. Unfortunately the request to change the street name sign to reflect VMgurulane was declined.
We wish Erik and his family a pleasant and healthy life in their new home and hope the soil is fertile in numerous ways but ofcourse one of them being a basis for some new great blog posts after he gets tired decorating and finishing the house.
I have had several customers asking me for advice on what to do with new ESX hosts who should be joined into the VMware cluster, but after adding to the cluster problems with vMotion arose. It just didn’t work anymore because of some minor CPU differences.
One of the customers had bought the exact same HP DL380 model with same product number and revision with the same type of Intel CPUs inside. But unfortunately the stepping on the old CPUs is 6 and on the new ones its 10. The HP machines contain Xeon CPUs from Intel type 5450 3 Ghz stepping 6 (existing) and stepping 10 (new).
I asked them the following questions so I could give them advice on what to do next:
Question: How many new ESX hosts are you adding to the cluster?
Impact: If you are just adding 1 or 2 ESX hosts as extra capacity it is good to look into reforming the VMware cluster to an EVC cluster., because the more ESX hosts (up to 32) in a DRS cluster the better DRS can do its job. If you have more than 2 hosts to add to the cluster it can be a solution to build a dedicated cluster with the new ESX hosts.
Question: Do you need the new features added to the CPUs or do you just need more power in the VMware cluster?
Impact: If you look at the latest range of CPUs it can make a total difference of up to 25% speed, because of new added features.
Question: What are the plans for the future with the clusters and do you suspect significant growth?
Impact: If you suspect significant growth it can be useful to build up a new ESX cluster with new functionality but always weigh carefully the pros and the cons.
Question: Are the used servers and CPU’s capable of switching on the VT or AMD-V option and can the XD or NX bit be enabled in the BIOS? (Intel markets the feature as the XD bit, for eXecute Disable. AMD uses the name Enhanced Virus Protection.)
Impact: If the machine and the CPUs are capable, you can start using an VMware EVC cluster.
After answering the above questions I recommended some clients to build up an EVC cluster in vCenter Server, most answers I get after suggesting such a move are:
“uhhh build an EVC cluster, what’s that?”
We all know Eric Siebert from his vLaunchPad were he publishes his VMware Top 20 blogs. Yesterday Eric started an election to determine the Top 5 in VMware blogs.
VMGuru.nl is not on the list yet and I doubt if we could enter the Top 5 but if you like our blog, vote (Other) VMGuru.nl.
It would be nice and a great honor to get us in the Top 20.
Here’s Eric’s original post.
I have a hard time picking the top blogs from the many great ones that are out there. I initially started with a top 10 and recently expanded it to the top 20 as more and more blogs have started. In this post I outline my blog selection criteria for the top 20 and it’s no easy task for me to pick them and rate them in order. Well here’s the chance for you to pick the top 5 of my top 20 blog list using this new survey form that I created. You can pick from the current top 20 which you can see on my vLaunchpad,or choose other and add one that is not on the list. The survey will be open for 2 weeks, afterwords I’ll announce the results and update my vLaunchpad accordingly. Duncan Epping from http://yellow-bricks.com has been the reigning number #1 for a while now and is a tough one to beat. So head on over to my survey and cast your vote, each position will have a weight assigned with it and they will be added up accordingly for the final results.
Last night, after my son’s first birthday, I checked my missed twitter messages and a retweet from Duncap Epping caught my eye. It was a link to an article from Eric Gray on vCritical about HA for Linux guests on Hyper-V. Now you will probably think, nice an HA for Linux on Hyper-V whitepaper/how-to, but this is not the case.
As you probably know, very little Linux distributions are supported on Hyper-V and therefore no integration tools are available. Because the lack of integration tools Microsoft Clustering Services, the service which provides HA services for Hyper-V, you can not gracefully shutdown an unsupported Linux host and when shutdown MSCS will desperately try to keep the guest up and running. Because of this shortcoming you will have to choose, run HA OR Linux because you can not run both.
Yesterday I attended the ‘TechNet – Get Ready for all Microsoft virtualization products’ session in Utrecht (NL). This was a new style paid (€99,-) Technet session, max of 20-30 professionals in a classroom. The program consisted of Hyper-V, App-V, Med-V, Terminal services and System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008.
We started with an introduction to Hyper-V, luckily the trainer had updated his lab to Hyper-V 2, so we could check out the new features which should compete with VMware. After explaining the architecture, networking and storage it was very obvious that this was the standard Microsoft propaganda. They were comparing Hyper-V 2 to VI 3.5, which were practically the same, but of course Microsoft’s hyper-V solution was much cheaper. Grrrrr! Again, when you do a comparison, do a fair comparison and compare Hyper-V to vSphere 4 (because the release is not far away I will allow Microsoft to use Hyper-V 2 in this comparison). Then the numbers are very different and maybe the VMware solution costs more but obviously you will get a lot more.
I also disliked the insinuation that when they compare a microkernel hypervisor to a monolithic hypervisor Microsoft makes it look like VMware’s hypervisor is one out of the stone ages. Play fair, win the fight based on your own strong points.
When he explained the Hyper-V I/O architecture with the parent partition, VM Bus, synthetic drivers, etc, I asked him if this didn’t introduce a singe point of failure and a possible I/O bottleneck. In true MS fashion he denied both, claiming that I/O was tested and you shouldn’t install Exchange in the parent partition. Duh!
Yesterday Tripwire Announced their new VI monitoring and automation tool, vWire, which gives you full control over virtual infrastructure. With vWire you monitor the health of your virtual infrastructure, correlate this information to provide context and insight into potential issues, and act to prevent and resolve problems which reduces downtime and operating costs while inspiring confidence in virtualization across your organization.
Tripwire is giving away fully functional evaluation copies of vWire at www.vwire.com You can download it, take it for a test drive and take the mystery and complexity from virtual environments while further automating your environment.
The world of licenses and subscription models is a complex whole, by adding a virtual component it even got more complex. Virtual machines aren’t bound to one physical server and can move freely across several physical servers or even in and out of a cloud. Fortunately more and more software vendors are changing their license and/or subscription models in favour of virtualization. Giving companies back their freedom of choice how they would like to arrange their infrastructure to support their business.
Also Red Hat changed their subscription plans in favour of virtualization. Red Hat Enterprise Linux often abbreviated to RHEL doesn’t have a license model because it’s based on open source Linux and has a GPL license. What you will not get if you do not pay a subscription fee to Red Hat is any updates and support. As a professional business you would like some insurance so I would advise to get a valid subscription on Red Hat products.
To save money on RHEL subscriptions on a VMware infrastructure there are three options to subscribe a virtual machine running RHEL. You can:
- Subscribe 1 virtual machine running RHEL, also called 1 on 1 subscription;
- Use Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server with 2 Socket – 4 Guest for VMware subscription to subscribe 4 virtual machines with 1 special subscription.
- Use Red Hat Enterprise Linux Advanced Platform with Unlimited Socket – 10 Guest for VMware subscription to subscribe 10 virtual machines running RHEL.
In June our employer, Centric, is organizing a virtualization seminar for current and future clients.
Wilt u weten wat server- en desktopvirtualisatie voor uw organisatie kunnen betekenen? Bent u benieuwd hoe u
virtualisatie toepast binnen uw organisatie om de voordelen hiervan optimaal te benutten?
Dan bent u van harte welkom op het seminar ‘Virtualisatie: van hype naar fundament’ dat plaatsvindt op:
16 juni – Van der Valk Hotel, Cuijk
23 juni – Centric Hoofdkantoor, Gouda
Virtualisatie is al niet meer weg te denken uit het IT-landschap. Het aantal organisaties dat servervirtualisatie inzet
voor storage-omgevingen, serverconsolidatie en de isolatie van testomgevingen neemt snel toe. Ook de voordelen
van desktopvirtualisatie worden steeds vaker in de praktijk benut. Ontdek zelf welke ontwikkelingen de techniek op
dit gebied heeft doorgemaakt en wat de verwachtingen zijn voor de toekomst.
U krijgt inzicht in de verschillende doelen die u met virtualisatie kunt bereiken en aan de hand van een praktijksituatie
ziet u het effect van virtualisatie op kostenbesparing op hardware, energieverbruik en benodigde serverruimte.
Bovendien maakt u kennis met de projectaanpak die Centric voor virtualisatie hanteert en gaan we in op de wijze
waarop u virtualisatie strategisch kunt inzetten bij het ontwerp van een moderne IT-infrastructuur.
Namens onze partner VMware gaat de heer Willem van Engeland, System engineer, in op de werking van de onlangs
op de markt verschenen oplossingen VMware vSphere 4 en VMware View. Hij vertelt u alles over de noviteiten
van deze nieuwe en innoverende virtualisatie-oplossingen.
Als gastspreker is tevens de heer Peter Goossens, IT-manager van Saxion Hogeschool aanwezig. Hij vertelt u over
zijn praktijkervaring met virtualisatie en geeft aan wat dit voor zijn organisatie betekent.
Graag tot ziens op 16 of 23 juni!
For about three weeks ago I was asked by my colleague Erik Scholten to help him out with his VMware View project for our Service Center. I thought this is my change to explore the ins and –outs of VMware View. The infrastructure for VMware View was already build by Erik on four Dell servers and a Dell Equallogic SAN. After one week of figuring out the architecture and everything up and on it, Erik told me he had to leave for another project right away. A lot of trust in my hands with a dead line in sight over a couple days.
Let me sum things up that Erik couldn’t finish;
- Windows Vista client customization failed.
- Windows XP client poor performance.
I started with the Windows Vista customization problem, but first let met tell you something about the client. Vista was deployed with Windows BDD 2007 in a virtual machine and customized using the build-in Sysprep by my colleagues of the IT team for the customer. After my colleagues had installed all the software it was time to convert the VM into a template waiting to be deployed. But unfortunately it is not that easy as just reading the administrator guide and do what it says. This is how I tackled these problems:
It may be clear to you that we at VMGuru.nl are huge VMware fans but when we claim to inform you about all the virtualization related news, we owe it to you to bring positive as well as negative news about VMware, Microsoft, Citrix (2) or any other vendor for that matter.
Lately VMware has been in the news in a not so positive manner. First there was a change in the VMworld policy which according to VMware was to prevent competitors from trashing VMware like Microsoft did at VMworld 2008. Second there was the news that Veeam had to discontinue the support for ESXi Free in Veeam Backup and Replication in order to comply with VMware’s updated licensing policy.
Gabrie van Zanten from Gabes Virtual World wrote a great article on the subject which you should definitely check out.
He is awaiting official response from VMware so check out the article here and come back to check the VMware response.
Personally i hope he is wrong and Paul Maritz left his ‘bully-my-competitor-box-of-tricks‘ at Microsoft. But maybe this is the way the game needs to be played in the current economic situation with the upcoming competition.
As you may have read we are busy implementing a VMware View environment and have encountered numerous chalenges already.
Most of them have been solved by hard and innovative work or the upgrade from VMware View 3.0.1 to 3.1. Especially the upgrade to VMware View 3.1 resulted in a very good user- and administrator experience.
Unfortunately we kept having performance problems using various desktops (Windows XP or Vista). Scrolling through the Helpdesk tool and browsing web pages with moving graphics like Flash was very shaky even to the extend that desktop sessions froze when to much graphical information had to be processed. This was very strange because at another customer site VMware View worked like a charm with identical sizing but different clients (Wise vs Desktop PC).
A colleague, Anthony Winters, spend a lot of time analyzing these problems. The first thing he found out that performance was poor on the desktop but great on his laptop. He quickly eliminated all variables (network, switches, cabling) until he knew for sure the client was the problem.