Best of 2010

We’re less than twelve hours away from 2011 and we’re bombarded with Top 2010 rankings.

And with a great 2010 behind us I can’t resist to do a VMGuru – Best of 2010.

My personal highlights for 2010 are my new job at Imtech, the trip to VMworld Europe in Copenhagen and of course the interview with John Troyer on VMworld TV.

For VMGuru the articles which were best appreciated and visited are (in random order):

Besides the articles two other highlight are of course the awesome 13th place in Eric Siebert’s blog contest and the vExpert 2010 for Edwin, Anne Jan and myself.

We at VMGuru hope you enjoyed our website in 2010 and hope to see you again in 2011.

On behalf of the complete I would like to wish you all

a happy, healthy and virtually insane 2011!

Merry X-mas

This is one of the last articles for 2010 and what a beautiful year it has been.

  • A lot of new products like vSphere 4.1, Zimbra, View 4.5, ThinApp 4.5.
  • The vExpert 2010 achievement for three of the bloggers.
  • A great VMworld 2010 in Copenhagen and a packed VMUG event.
  • A new job for Edwin, Anne Jan and myself.

But 2011 also promises to be a great year with the expected release of vSphere 5, many improvements in View and maybe more job opportunities for members.

On behalf of the complete I would like to wish you all

a very Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and virtually great 2011!

Another blogger switching sides

After 12 years it was time for something new, something
exciting, something fresh.

From the 1st of January 2011 I will also be working for
Imtech ICT Infrastructure  Services & Solutions.

I will join Edwin and Erik at Imtech ICT, building the virtualization
solutions they sell.

Of course I will continue blogging at, now with real life experiences from Imtech ICT. The main story will still be ‘virtualization’ but the ingredients will differ, NetApp/IBM N-series instead of Dell EqualLogic, IBM servers instead of Dell.

Dutch VMUG: PowerCLI is for administrators!

Luc Dekens and Alan Renouf did a great presentation on PowerCLI.

PowerCLI is based on PowerShell. PowerShell is designed by Microsoft with the SysAdmin in mind. It’s the universal language for Windows data centers.

Most of the time GUI interfaces are single purpose and rigid. PowerShell is the glue between your infrastructure. Microsoft makes it as a requirement for new application releases that it will work with PowerShell like SQL Server, Exchange, IIS7, SCOM and more. Commands (called cmdlets) are pretty easy to remember because they are in the verb-noun format (for example get-host)


Dutch VMUG: VMware HA and DRS – Q&A

Duncan Epping, Consulting Architect, Cloud Practice

Frank Denneman, Consulting Architect, PSO

Duncan and Frank are the authors of the VMware vSphere 4.1 HA and DRS technical deep dive. It is available from Amazon, and from Monday it will also be available at Computer Collectief. You can order it from today from Computer Collectief. The book is definately worth reading. In the session they answered questions from the audience.


In vSphere 4.1 the algorithms for DRS are changed? Can you give some more information on how VMs are distributed over hosts in case of an HA event?

The changes are more in HA, not in DRS itself. in vSphere 4.0 HA checked all host on where to start the VM. This took a lot of time before a VM actually was started. in vSphere 4.1. It also was a big load on the hostd process on the ESX host. in vSphere 4.1 the process is totally different. The VMs are placed across the ESX hosts in the cluster according to a round-robin principal. On the first host HA will check if the portgroup and datastores exist that the VM needs and then it starts the VM. The next VM is getting started on the next ESX host. VMs are started faster and the load on hostd is almost non-existent.

The most common misconception is that HA and DRS are working together. DRS doesn’t do anything after an HA event. Only when the load on an ESX host is getting above the threshold DRS kicks in

Will there be an integration between HA and DRS? What will happen with the next version considering HA?


Dutch VMUG: vSphere Advanced Troubleshooting

Eric Sloof, instructor and blogger for, gave a great presentation on advanced troubleshooting on vSphere.

Eric shows that you can use esxtop for troubleshooting on almost every level. He said a lot about troubleshooting. Below you’ll find the things I could write down during his talk.

CPU Ready Time. interval in the graphic is important. The measured time has to be divided by the sample time. He talked about %RDY times and that it isn’t always a problem. Also the different scheduling mechanisms were covered.

Too much vCPUs on a virtual machine. One of the most important things I think was the tantrum: “Only add CPU’s when it necessary. First troubleshoot, then add”

Transparent page sharing reclaims memory by consolidating redundant pages with identical content. When you boot a Windows VM it will zero out all memory blocks. ESX doesn’t know what memory is free within the virtual machine.


Dutch VMUG: vCloud Director presentation and demo

Willem van Engeland (VMware) and Duncan Epping (VMware, Yellow Bricks) did a presentation on vCloud Director.

Paul Maritz said earlier: Cloud-based infrastructure will become the new hardware”, shifting from running your applications on HP, IBM or Dell hardware to Terremark. With vCloud Director you can create your own cloud: public, private or hybrid. VMware published a vCloud API which contains:

  • vApp upload & download
  • inventory listing
  • vApp operations
  • catalog management
  • task management

vCloud Director is built for scalability. It is tested on 10.000 VMs in a vCloud Director cell, which can contain 25 vCenter servers.


Dutch VMUG: Keynote

Today the 6th edition of the Dutch VMUG has started.

Viktor van den Berg, Dutch VMUG leader, opened the VMUG around the 9.30 with a couple of facts and figures around the Dutch VMUG:

  • There are more than 50.000 VMUG members in the world
  • The Dutch VMUG has 5.131 members
  • There are 181 participants for the workshops
  • During the keynote 3.000 hands were shaken
  • The agenda was opened 6.158 times

Willem van Enter, Regional Directory Benelux, VMware, welcomes all participants and gives a short speech about pride, growth and future about VMware. He hints shortly to the mobile hypervisor, for which they entered a partnership with LG. Their goal is to bring virtualization toe mobile devices so you will be able to use a personal and a business profile/entity/virtual machine on your mobile phone. About one third of the audience heard about this.

Richard Garsthagen, senior Evangelist EMEA, VMware, takes us on the trip to the cloud.


Live from the VMUG.

Today is V-day, the day of the annual dutch VMUG and the complete will be there to report live from Nieuwegein (NL).

So check out regularly today to see and hear what happens at the VMUG event.

You can also follow us on twitter and/or check the #vmugevent and #DutchVMUG tags on twitter.

Virtualize your remote offices using VMware Essentials RoBo

Some of you might already have been there. I know I have:

You have a large organization with more than 10 remote or branch offices. You have virtualized your entire back-end but those nasty site servers still remain a physical nuisance. Some regional offices have a complete data center with more than 20 servers just to make sure everyone can work locally. You want to virtualize it but you can’t convince your management to purchase 10 or more sets of Advanced of Enterprise (plus) licenses for those sites as that is far to expensive.

Now, what do you do? What I’ve done in the past is use a ‘free’ ESXi license and manage it as a standalone server. It is a possibility, but you lack a lot of enterprise features you really want to have. And what if the site is too big for just one host. And what about fail-over? One is None, we always say. So what’s the solution? (more…)

Comparing RemoteFX to RDP, ICA/HDX, EOP and PCoIP

One of my coworkers pointed me to a video from this years Tech-Ed Europe about VDI protocols. Bernhard Tritsch did an interesting comparison between the different remote protocols used in today’s VDI solutions. In a 60 minute session Bernhard explains the differences between location (host vs client), type (hardware vs software) rendering and compression types (lossless vs lossy).

Although the results aren’t that good for PCoIP (software version) it still is a very interesting video.

Get Microsoft Silverlight

Choosing VMFS block size with vSphere 4.1

Last month I regularly received requests from colleagues concerning VMFS block sizes. Although it’s a simple setting, it still raises a lot of questions and the introduction of vSphere 4.1 has somewhat changed the game.

The block size on a VMFS datastore defines two things:

  • The maximum file size;
  • The amount of space a file occupies.

First of all, the block size determines the maximum file size on the datastore. If you select a block size of 1MB on your datastore the maximum file size is limited to 256GB. So you cannot create a virtual disk beyond 256GB.

Also, the block size determines the amount of disk space a file will take up on the datastore. This is theoretical because VMFS3 uses sub-block allocation (see below).

It is not possible to change the block size after you set it without deleting the datastore and re-creating it. Therefore you should create a good design and determine the block size before creating the datastores.


Only two weeks until an impressive dutch VMUG

It’s only two weeks until the annual dutch VMUG with a very impressive speaker line-up. Many international speakers are going to deliver great sessions, workshops and Q/A-sessions at the Nieuwegein Business Center (NBC) on December 10th.

If you’re interest and work involves virtualization and you haven’t registered yet, you should!. This is an event you should NOT miss. Make sure you register and come to Nieuwegein on December 10th 2010. More information can be found here.

Here’s the impressive line-up:


Challenge: vCenter, EVC and Distributed Virtual switches.

Yesterday a colleague asked me to add four blades from our old test environment to our new VMware vSphere 4.1 test environment. Of course this was no problem (yet), I had an hour or two to spare, so I started immediately.

Download the ESXi 4.1 installable ISO, connecting this to the four blades, installing and preconfiguring ESXi and adding them to them VMware HA/DRS test cluster. Adjust the zoning for the SAN and configure the correct VLANs and where done. WRONG!

The two running ESX hosts are equipped with Intel Xenon X5660 CPUs, the four extra ESX hosts have Intel Xenon X5430 CPUs. When I tried to do a vMotion the following error message appeared.

Surprise, the CPUs are not compatible. So I needed to setup EVC in this cluster to mask the advanced features from the Intel Xenon X5660 and bring it to the same feature level as the Intel Xenon 5430′s.

But this creates the first ‘chicken or egg dilemma’ of the day.


Support Alert: Issue with IBM hardware running ESX/ESXi 4.1 (update)

A few minutes ago On November 12th VMware issued a Support Alert regarding an issue that affects users with IBM hardware, running ESX/ESXi 4.1.

The symptoms are mentioned below.

When using IBM x3650 M3 or BladeCenter HS22V servers, you may experience these symptoms:

  • HBAs stop responding
  • Other PCIs devices may also stop responding
  • You see an an illegal vector shortly before an HBA stops responding to the driver. For example:
    vmkernel: 6:01:34:46.970 cpu0:4120)ALERT: APIC: 1823: APICID 0×00000000 – ESR = 0×40
  • The HBA stops responding to commands. For example:
    vmkernel: 6:01:42:36.189 cpu15:4274)<6>qla2xxx 0000:1a:00.0: qla2x00_abort_isp: **** FAILED ****
    vmkernel: 6:01:47:36.383 cpu14:4274)<4>qla2xxx 0000:1a:00.0: Failed mailbox send register test
  • The HBA card gets marked offline. For example:
    vmkernel: 6:01:47:36.383 cpu14:4274)<4>qla2xxx 0000:1a:00.0: ISP error recovery failed – board disabled

The issue is currently under investigation by VMware engineering. At this time, downgrading to ESX/ESXi 4.0 by performing a fresh install is the only resolution.

VMware has created a Knowledgebase article 1030265 – HBAs and other PCI devices may stop responding in ESX 4.1 when using IBM servers. This KB article may be updated with new information if it becomes available. Bookmark the KB, or subscribe to its rss feed here to receive updates.


Keeping your infrastructure up to date

Update cycleAs with most products you want to keep them up to date for several reasons, which can include security, availability, reliability or even new features in the product. Keeping products up to date is a process that keeps repeating itself and needs a good plan to keep up with the most recent updates.

A lot of times though you will see that an organization isn’t on top of the update process, either because they aren’t aware of it or just forget to execute the tasks for updating their products.

The following BBC News article shows what might happen when you’re not keeping your system up to date. Several companies have become victims of the the Sasser virus which interrupted their normal operations.

Recently I have been doing a quick look at an VMware ESX infrastructure in which I noticed they did install the VMware update manager. They also had a baseline configured and attached to several ESX hosts and every evening there was a scheduled task to check for new updates available.


And the winners are …

A week ago, Arjan, initiated a VMworld Great Prize Draw giving away some of the items he collected at VMworld 2010 in Copenhagen. Because we had some extra items we introduced an additional fourth prize.

I got the honors of naming the winners, so I pulled the numbers 15, 7, 3 and  5.

Matching this with Arjan’s list of registrations resulted in the following four prize winners.

  • First prize, the original VMware World Lab Staff Shirt, goes to Giuseppe Guglielmetti.
  • Second prize, the original VMworld Backpack, goes to Jason Robinson.
  • Third prize, a original VMworld Surprise, goes to Richard van der Sligte.
  • And the fourth prize, the original VMworld Virtual roads, Actual clouds t-shirt, goes to Darrin Jones.

The four winners will receive an e-mail shortly from Arjan for their address data. Thanks for participating!

vCenter server performance charts fail

In order to reach everyone possible, VMware put out an alert via the VMware toolbar yesterday, repeating the message with regards to the issue users of VMware vCenter Server may experience with performance charts after the time change over the past weekend.

So, again:

Users of VMware vCenter Server may notice the following since the time change:

  • Performance charts do not display data
  • Past week, month, and year performance overview charts are not displayed
  • Datastore performance/space data charts are not displayed
  • You receive the error: The chart could not be loaded
  • The Knowledge Management Team has published KB article: Performance charts fail after Daylight Savings changes are applied (1030305) with further details about the issue and this KB article will be the official reference for this issue as it evolves.