Hardware replacement for VMGuru.nl

Good news! Our brand new server is finally ready for production! Next Friday we will replace the old workhorse with a brand new one, with many thanks to our friends @ Dell (a big hurray and thank you to you all over there!) Our new infra will, of course, be fully virtual. Since we have more processing power AND more RAM, our site should benefit a lot in terms of speed and stability.

We hope that service will hardly be interrupted but as with all migrations, you never really know until it’s over :)

Work starts Friday at 10:00AM CET and ends when it’s ready ;)

Update 15:41 CET+1 (AJ): Basic functionality of the site is up again. We’re still doing some tweaking during the next couple of days. If you get an 404 error, just try again.

Yet another experience posting: Citrix XenDesktop 4 Express – part 1

Two months ago, I heard Citrix was giving away a free VDI version called XenDesktop Express for a maximum of 10 users. The general idea is that you can experience the Citrix product advantages without investing anything but time and hardware. I downloaded it but didn’t have time to actually get some hands-on experience until last Wednesday.


Hot adding or removing a Cisco 3750 from a stack

When using a Cisco 3750 stack connected through stackwise technology you can add or remove a Cisco switch while the stack stays on. If you are adding or removing a switch from the stack, it is very important that the switch is turned OFF. The rest of the stack can keep doing its business.

For adding a switch to the stack follow these steps:

Step 1) On the new switch give the global command: switch stack-member-number provision type

Type is the type of switch you are adding to the stack.

When adding for example a third Cisco switch to the Cisco stack, use the following command:

switch 3 provision ws3750g-24t

Step 2) Power off the new stack member

Step 3) Connect the new member to the Cisco stack using the stacking cables, 1 loop at a time.

Step 4) Power on the new stack member. The switch will come alive and will receive the Cisco IOS version from the master, when that is completed it will be ready to service network requests.


How to virtualize an application using VMware ThinApp 4.5

A lot of people are interested in using VMware ThinApp to virtualize their applications to get ready for a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure. We also use VMware ThinApp in Proof of Concepts at customer sites. ThinApp is not hard to learn but you will have to get familiar with some features.

VMware released a video today with an easy how too virtualize an application using VMware ThinApp 4.5 setup capture wizard.


VMware ThinApp 4.5 released

Yesterday VMware has released the new version of their application virtualization product, ThinApp 4.5

ThinApp 4.5 includes the following new features to improve usability, performance, and updates:

  • Support for Windows Server 2008 R2, 32-bit Windows 7, and 64-bit Windows 7 operating systems.
  • ThinApp version updates to incorporate the latest features or support enhancements without rebuilding packages. The relink.exe utility updates existing packages.
  • Compression of MSI packages that uses the MSICompressionType parameter to improve the ThinApp SDK performance.
  • Reduced memory consumption and page file usage to improve startup performance. The OptimizeFor parameter works with the CompressionType parameter to customize memory performance and startup time.
  • Anonymous collection of statistics to expand the support for applications. You can use the Setup Capture wizard or the QualityReportingEnabled parameter to help VMware build support for applications and help you migrate more native applications to a virtual environment.
  • Loading of DLL files as virtual DLL files without using API functions. The ForcedVirtualLoadPaths parameter loads external system DLL files that depend on DLL files inside the package.
  • Product interface updates to improve usability and link to video and documentation information. German and Japanese versions of the ThinApp User’s Guide are available.

You can find more information here, here or in the release notes. You can download ThinApp 4.5 here.

Updated: Determining VMware Build Numbers for several VMware Products

While I was updating the Determining VMware vCenter and ESX Build Numbers post I thought I would semi-automate the updating of the post with new build numbers for new releases, while working on it I started too fill an excel sheet and ended up with an excel sheet with the following products and build numbers for easy reference:

VMware vSphere 4 Suite (combines several products)
VMware Infrastructure 3 Suite (combines several products)
Cisco Nexus v1000 (1.0)
VMware ESXi (4.0, 3.5, 3.0)BuildNumbersExcelSheet
VMware ESX  (4.0, 3.5, 3.0, 2.5, 2.0, 1.5, 1.0)
VMware Server (2.0, 1.0)
VMware vCenter Server (4.0, 2.5, 2.0)
VMware vCenter Converter Standalone (4.0, 3.0)
VMware vCenter Lab Manager (4.0, 3.0, 2.5, 2.4)
VMware vCenter Site Recovery Manager (4.0, 1.0)
VMware vCenter Server Heartbeat (5.5)
VMware vCenter Lifecycle Manager (1.0)
VMware vCenter CapacityIQ (1.0)
VMware vCenter AppSpeed (1.0)
VMware vCenter Chargeback (1.0)

Add additional drivers to ESXi

Last week I have been struggling with  the installation of a vSphere 4 infrastructure on Dell hardware at a Belgium client site.

I have done many many many VMware installations and encountered my fair share of issues but apart from the HP USB sticks the hardware never gave me this much trouble.

It all started with a very difficult BIOS/firmware upgrade which, after various downloads and trials, ended with an old-school DOS boot USB and a DOS based BIOS update. Real 1980′s stuff.

With this fixed I installed all ESX hosts and left for the hotel, ready to start the configuration the next day. However, when I started with the first ESX host and wanted to configure the network, I noticed that I only had eight NICs when I should have had twelve. We use Dell PowerEdge R805 servers with two Intel quad port 82576 Gigabit Ethernet Adapters, the first card was already in the server, the second card we added just before the installation.


Scense 7 User Workspace Management adds extra value to VDI

Today Scense launched version 7 of their User Workspace management. If you are going to do a full blown VDI install. A product like Scense will give the VDI implementation extra value to your users and easy management of the complete environment.

Scense 7 simplifies management and distribution of the end-user workspace within virtual and physical Windows desktop environments.

The main focus of this release is on the support of Windows 7 and 64 bits Microsoft Windows desktop environments. This release also introduces a new rich, modern and extremely intuitive user interface helping to further simplify user workspace management within MS Windows desktop environments.


Reset the password on a Dell EqualLogic SAN

The last few months we where asked several times to reset a password set on the main account for Dell EqualLogic storage, also known as the grpadmin account.

If you really don’t know the password set on the grpadmin but still have physical access to it you can start a recovery procedure to reset the grpadmin account back to the default password: grpadmin.

Important: Because you must power-cycle one group member as part of the password reset procedure, volumes with data stored on that member will be unavailable and active iSCSI connections to those volumes will be lost until the member is restarted. You may want to warn users of any impending offline volumes and iSCSI disconnections before resetting the password.

To temporarily reset the grpadmin account password to the default factory-set password, follow these steps:

1.) On one group member, connect the appropriate serial cable to serial port 0 (the correct cable will be different on different models of the PS Array) on the active control module. The active control module is indicated by the green control module status LED labeled ACT. The status LEDs are located on the controllers sometimes on the left side or next to the serial port on other controllers.

2.) Turn off power to the member (if you have dual power supplies, turn off both power supplies). Volumes with data located on the member will be offline and iSCSI connections to those volumes will be lost until the member is restarted.


VKernel Capacity View

Last Wednesday VKernel released a new free tool which delivers capacity alerts to the desktop.

Capacity View provides quick visibility and alerting to the storage and server capacity issues in your VMware virtualized infrastructure. I downloaded the toolto give it a testdrive and it is very easy to setup, the download and install took only a few minutes and in no time I had it up and running and connected to vCenter.

Capacity View identifies capacity based performance issues such as virtual machine I/O latency or under-allocated CPU, memory or storage. Additionally, it monitors your available capacity for new VM deployments and shows you which over-provisioned VMs can be rightsized to free up wasted capacity.

Capacity View also provides you with key virtualization deployment statistics such as:

  • Numbers of VMs, hosts, data stores, clusters and resource pools
  • Total available physical resources (CPU, memory and storage)
  • Total allocated virtual resources as a % of physical

More information can be found on the VKernel website and VKernel Capacity View can be downloaded here.

Life made easy – Dell EqualLogic storage swap

When it comes to storage, the EqualLogic PS-series amazes me every time.

Last Tuesday I was at a client site investigating performance issues but when I opened SANHQ and the web interface on the PS 6000E one thing stood out. The performance issues were not caused by the storage device. The PS 6000E is hosting 12 virtualized Citrix XenApp servers en 8 supporting VMs and during heavy load the average latency is 1,2ms with a read/write ratio of 28%/72% and a max of 1100 IOPS.

But yesterday we had to swap SANs, a PS 5000XV for a PS 6000E and the ease with which this can be done amazes me every time. The hardest part was the process of endless firmware updates on the PS 5000XV to get it to a respectable level to get it to join the PS 6000 in the same storage group.

We had to upgrade from firmware version 3.3.0 to 4.3.4 but this is no simple task because you cannot directly apply 4.3.4. First we had to upgrade to 4.0.7, then to 4.1.7, to 4.3.4. Every time uploading the firmware using FTP, updating both controllers, restarting. This took us almost 2 hours to complete.

When this was done, all that was left was to join the PS 6000 in the existing storage group and evict the PS 5000 and this is the process that amazes me every time.