VMworld 2010 registration open

Every year VMware is organizing VMworld. It offers attendees informative sessions and hands-on labs, plus access to a wealth of technology partners. The U.S. edition of VMworld takes place in the Moscone Center, San Fransisco from August 30 till September 2nd. The European edition will take place a little over month later from October 12 till October 14 at the Bella Center in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Register now for VMworld 2010 at http://www.vmworld.com/ and save $250 if you register before June 25th for the U.S. edition or before July 23rd for the European edition.


vSphere network troubleshooting

During the last month I have been very busy building a new infrastructure at a client site. I’m responsible for the overall technical solution and the basis, a VMware vSphere infrastructure build on five Dell PowerEdge R805′s, Dell EqualLogic PS5000 and 6000 storage and Cisco switches for LAN, DMZ and IP storage networking.

Just before the customer initiated their functional test period we discovered that the overall Windows network  performance was slow. We did several test like copying an 8 GB file from local vmdk to local vmdk and VM to VM and found that the storage performance was no issue but the network performance was very slow.

In the last few years that I have been working with virtualization I have always been a fan of a static network configuration. Meaning, when I configure ESX networking I like my network interfaces and physical switch ports to be configured at 1000MB full duplex if the switch/network interface combination allows it. The idea is that if you purchase gigabit network interfaces and switches you know the maximum speeds. So you configure it to run at it’s maximum capacity, eliminating overhead and using as much bandwidth as possible purely for data transfer.

So when we experienced slow network performance I had a colleague check the Cisco LAN switches for errors, drops, packet loss or any other flaw which might indicate a speed or duplex mismatch. None were found so I assumed that the network configuration was not the issue. But as we know by now, ‘Assumption is the mother of all fuck-ups!‘.


Updating ESX hosts with FT enabled VM’s

Up until a week ago, I hadn’t had the pleasure to work a lot with vSphere. Now with a test environment at the customer site I was able to freely play a bit with vSphere. One of the features I was curious on trying was Fault Tolerance (FT). I just created a random VM and enabled FT on it which all went fine.

After FT was enabled on the VM we wanted to see how we could upgrade the ESX hosts in that cluster as the documentation states that FT only works on hosts with the same build number.


How to: License Microsoft Windows Server in a VMware environment – Part 1

Last week I had another nice discussion around the 90 day assignment rule for Windows Server licensing on a VMware environment.  To answer this shortly: You may move running instances between licensed servers without acquiring additional licenses. However you cannot exceed the maximum number of instances each server is licensed to run.

Microsoft Operating System Environments (OSE)

Microsoft defines Operating System Environments for allocating licenses. This is a nice and flexible way to accommodate customer demand.  To understand how licensing works under virtualization, it is important to understand how Microsoft defines an OSE.

An “operating system environment” is:

1 all or part of an operating system instance, or all or part of a virtual (or otherwise emulated) operating system instance which enables separate machine identity (primary computer name or similar unique identifier) or separate administrative rights, and

2 instances of applications, if any, configured to run on the operating system instance or parts identified above.


A ‘real life’ View, XenDesktop, Microsoft VDI comparison

After attending the dutch Citrix Partner Exchange 2010 I realized that there is a lot of FUD out there:

  • in the Citrix community with regards to VMware View and PCoIP;
  • with me personally with regards to XenDesktop (no F, but a lot of UD)

This is also what we saw when Alex shared his experience with Citrix XenDesktop, which was not so positive, and we got a lot of comments comparing XenDesktop to VMware View.

But the Citrix Partner Exchange got me interested in XenDesktop and XenClient and I decided to do a little research. Then I came across Brian Maddens site to find that he had just finished his ‘Geek week VDI‘ in which he did a ‘real life’ lab-test with VMware, Citrix and Microsoft VDI. They tested all three vendor in their lab environment but added a WAN ‘simulator’ to create real life and worst case scenarios by introducing packet loss and latency.

And honestly I was surprised by some of their their conclusions. Not because I have no faith in Brian Madden but because I know Brian Madden to be a real Citrix enthusiast and a PCoIP critic. At the end he was very honest by admitting that Citrix XenDesktop looks like a mash-up of a bunch of different things, he was surprised by the simple, straightforward installation and configuration of VMware View and the good performance of PC-o-IP.

So bottom line?

  • VMware View shines because of simplicity and has good user experience even with PC-o-IP over a WAN connection.
  • XenDesktop is, at the moment, certainly the more mature and complete product but it’s complexity is a drawback.
  • And Microsoft ‘in box’ VDI? Well as expected, it’s complex, not enterprise ready and it’s no match for Citrix or VMware.

So as always, there is no clear winner, it all depends on the customer’s wishes.

Special thanks to Brian Madden and his team for creating this great VDI test!

I won’t summarize the total VDI test, you can read it yourself here but I will quote some of the conclusions which I found to be very interesting.


New server up and running (pics included)

Well, it’s done, as far as we’re concerned. The migration to new hardware is a fact. You might see a significant speedup in the site (we do). We’re very happy with the results, allthough we had some issues, but then again, which migration hasn’t? :)

We made some pics during the swap. The quality is pretty poor but you can’t expect much from a mobile phone. Here they come! (more…)