No internet connection results in slow vSphere client consoles

vSphere clientIn the last few weeks a customer that I am working for has been making a lot of changes within their infrastructure. Some big and some (on the surface) small. Somewhere during those weeks a change was made and the consequence of that change has gone by unnoticed at first. Then reports started to come in from colleague administrators that console sessions for virtual machines, when using the vSphere client, where really slooooowwwww. Opening a console took more than 10 seconds and trying to open more simultaneous would freeze the users screen entirely.

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How to link VMware View desktop to its replica

ChainA while back I was looking at a VMware View environment that had Storage DRS enabled and set to automatic. If I recall correctly, one of the first things the installation document from VMware mentions is not to use Storage DRS in a View enviroment. If you need to rebalance the desktops and replica data on your datastores you can do so with the “Rebalance” option within the View administrator console.

In this enviroment storage DRS had been running like that for some time resulting in desktops and replica’s beeing moved across the datastores and View losing control over the desktops. Creating new pools and migrate the users to newly created pools was done fairly quick and from the View admin console perspective the problem was solved. However the datastores still containedmore desktop and replica folders present than there should have been. So how do you determine if a folder is still in use or not?

The way we checked the folders was through the use of the tables within the vCenter and View Composer database. In this article I want to describe how you can match a desktop name to a replica within vCenter.

desktop to replica

1. First thing you should do is open up the table called “SVI_SIM_CLONE” in the View Composer database and look up the desktop name in the column “VM_NAME”.

2. In the same row as the “VM_NAME” find the column “REPLICA_ID” and remember that value.

3. Open up the table “SVI_REPLICA” also present in the View Composer database and look for the value in “ID” that matches the value you found in step 2.

4. On the same row of “ID” find the value in the column named “REPLICA_MOID”.

5. In the vCenter database open the table “VPX_ENTITY” and use the value of “REPLICA_MOID” minus the “vm-” part to find a match in the “ID” column.

6. Write down the value in the column “NAME” and you have the name that is shown in the vCenter client.

In case that you cannot find the “ID” / “REPLICA_MOID” in the “VPX_ENTITY” table it means that vCenter isn’t aware of that replica. It is likely that there are still some desktops running and are using this replica. Best thing to do is to shutdown those desktops manually and remove them from vCenter / View composer and then remove the replica manually.

Knowing how the tables and columns link to each other can also provide other uses. For example knowing the vCenter name of a replica can help you find all the desktops that are linked to it. The “REPLICA_ID” value in the “SVI_SIM_CLONE” table isn’t unique, if you order the table on the replica_id you can group up all the “VM_NAME” values and thus the desktops related to that replica.

Manually checking the relation between a desktop and it’s replica can be very time consuming, so it might be worth scripting something that can provide a good overview. With powershell you can open up connections to your database and use SQL queries to retreive the data you like and proces it to the information that you need.

Example of a SQL connection script with Powershell:

$connectionString = “Server=$Server;uid=$user;pwd=$pwd;Database=$databaseVcenter;Integrated Security=True;”

$connection = New-Object System.Data.SqlClient.SqlConnection
$connection.ConnectionString = $connectionString

$connection.Open()

$query = “Select ID,NAME From VPX_ENTITY WHERE NAME LIKE ‘replica%’”

$command = $connection.CreateCommand()
$command.CommandText = $query

$result = $command.ExecuteReader()

$table = new-object “System.Data.DataTable”
$table.Load($result)

$connection.Close()

This script connects to a vCenter database and will select all the ID’s and Names from the “VPX_ENTITY” table where the name starts with “replica”. The values found are then put into a table for Powershell that can be used for the rest of the script.

Hopefully the information in this article can help in future endeavours. If you know any other relations between the tables / databases then please let us know, we might be able to describe those to.

Site update – Build numbers

VMguru.nl

Along with the new look of the website it was also time to update the build number database. In the last few weeks we have been working on updating the database, resulting in a increase with 387 entries making a total of 592 build numbers.

But we didn’t stop there. On popular demand we changed the way the build numbers are presented, since there are devices that don’t support Flash. Therefore we abandoned Flash and created the site with HTML5.

Now that we are using HTML5 every device should be able to read the site and build number database, there is however a downside. Not every browser seems to fully support HTML5 including some of the html tags we are using. This may result in your browser showing the entire database as one big list instead of using bullets that can be extended.

If you are missing a build number or find a technical error on the site then please let us know.

 

Acronis vmProtect

Acronis LogoRecently we where approached by Acronis if we would be interested in having a look at their backup and replication product called vmProtect. vmProtect is suitable for environments that have up to 100 virtual clients in a vSphere virtual infrastructure.

The installation and reviewing is based on vmProtect version 8, in the mean time however Acronis released version 9.

In this article we will have a look at some of the features and the GUI for vmProtect version 8 and I will point out some new features for version 9.

First off let’s have a look at the installation of vmProtect. Starting the installation file offers you three options:

  • Install vmProtect as a Virtual Appliance (linux based) into your existing vSphere infrastructure. At this moment hypervisor support is limited to VMware vSphere 4.0 and later.
  • Install vmProtect on the system you are currently logged on to. Installation can be done on both windows desktops as windows servers.
  • Extract the installation files for usage on a later time or other location (you will get to choose which files (OVF / MSI) and to what location you want to extract the files)

For the review I selected the first option and installed vmProtect as an appliance.

During the installation of the appliance you will need to enter the vCenter or ESX(i) server IP address or DNS name and a user name & password. The next step of the installation will ask for the:

  • Appliance name: You can use a name convention that is used within your own server infrastructure.
  • ESX(i) host: If you choose to use vCenter in the previous step, you can now select the host on which the initial deployment will be executed.
  • Network: Select the portgroup that you want to use.
  • Storage: Select the datastore that you want to use.
  • Enable vCenter integration: This enables the plugin for vCenter and allows you to manage all vmProtect jobs.
  • Automatically start the VA after a host reboot: Allow the appliance to be started automatically after the host reboots

Next you can choose for the appliance to use DHCP or enter manual IP settings. After choosing the IP settings the deployment of the appliance will commence.

When the deployment is finished you can connect to the appliance in several ways:

  • Console of the VA: This will allow you to change settings like appliance name, time zone, IP settings. Also this is the place to add more storage for the appliance to use with the backup & replication jobs. Finally you have the option to power off or reboot the appliance.
  • Web browser: Using the format https://server_name you can access the management console for vmProtect. This allows you to manage and create new jobs for backup, restore and replication actions.
  • vCenter plugin: Offers the same functionality as the web version but then from the vSphere client

The first time that you open the management console you will need to enter the licenses. Licensing is done per CPU that is present within the ESX(i) host. Also on the page you will be offered to create the first backup job.

For the creation of a backup job you only have to select the vm’s that you want to backup, when you want the backup to occur (both one time runs or repeated) and where you want the backup to be located. With additional options you can choose whether to store all backups in one file or separate files, to automatically delete older backups and you can enter a second location for the backups to be stored.

Now I can write down every single process on how to create the jobs, but creating jobs is really easy and straight forward. This isn’t only true for the creation of backup jobs but also for settings up replication and restore jobs. The screenshots below will show some of the management pages that you can expect. The interface is nice and clean and shows exactly what you need to exceed in your current goal.

So let’s focus on some of the features that are offered by vmProtect:

  • Replication of vm’s.
  • Recovery of a single file for a vm.
  • Single-pass technology adds protection for Microsoft Exchange on granular level.
  • Multiple-destination and staging of backups.
  • Run vm’s directly from backup.
  • vmFlashback decreases recovery time by skipping unchanged blocks.
  • Migrate servers (P2V or V2V) with the use of imaging technology.
  • Backup to Cloud storage.

New features added in vmProtect version 9 are:

  • Centralized Dashboard enables you to manage multiple vmProtect instances from one management console
  • Protection for Microsoft SQL, SharePoint and Active Directory on agranular level.
  • Configuration Restore enables the option to create a backup of vmProtect settings so all you tasks and settings can be restored for vmProtect itself

To me vmProtect seems like a very good candidate to be using in smaller infrastructures. The installation, configuration and management of the appliance are simple, the interface is very clear and seems like a complete backup solution. Drawbacks might be that there is no support for backup to tape, like with Veeam Back-up & Recovery. Also you won’t be able to backup physical servers and servers that are hosted on other hypervisors, like MS Hyper-V. If these drawbacks are no issue for your infrastructure or you can work around them then I would suggest you try out Acronis vmProtect.

VDI optimization script (part 2)

unravelingIn my previous article I wrote about a VDI optimization script from Microsoft for Windows 8 and Windows 7. This article focuses on the features and services you could disable or adjust to increase the performance of your VDI desktops. There are a lot of changes that can be made and you might want to decide which change you do or do not use within your own infrastructure. Running the script in it’s default form could very well not be the way that you want it to be.

In this article I will try to explain the script in such a way that you should be able to read it and take out the parts that you want to use. Maybe after looking at the script you decide that you don’t want to use the script in itself, but it at least will show you where you can make the changes and choose your own way of applying it. So lets get started…

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VDI optimization script (part 1)

Car repairIn the summer of 2010 Erik wrote an article about “How to: Optimize guests for VMware View” in which he describes all sorts of changes he makes for a Windows XP or Windows 7 virtual desktop in a VDI environment. The changes that are suggested in the article are still valid, but after reading them I was wondering if there are new additions, specifically with Windows 8 now on the market. During my search I quickly came across a Visual Basic script that was released by Microsoft on their Technet site for optimization of a Windows 8 virtual desktop.

At the beginning of the script there is a disclaimer that you should have knowledge of the vb scripting language and that you should proceed with caution. Since the script is fairly long and a lot of changes are being made I decided to break the script down and put this in a table to give an overview of the services and settings being changed. As the title of the article indicates this is part 1 of the article, in part 2 I will try to explain the different pieces of the script in such a way that more people might understand what is happening inside the script.

While putting everything into a table I also looked if these changes could be made for a Windows 7 desktop too. The table is divided in several parts (and one bullet list) to provide some more overview to the whole.

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Multi-hypervisor management with VMware vCenter

SVMware_logohortly after the release of vCenter 5.1, VMware released “vCenter Multi-Hypervisor Manager 1.0″. With this product you as an administrator are able to manage third party hypervisors like Microsoft’s Hyper-V from within your vCenter installment.

This will give companies more flexibility over what hypervisors they are able to use and thus use the hypervisor they need for each specific situation.

Multi-Hypervisor manager can be installed on the server which also contains the vCenter installation or can be on a separate server. The installation process is pretty straightforward (depending on your installation and security profile, you may have to open up some extra ports). After the installation on the server you will only need to download and install the plugin for the vSphere client (installing the plugin). After the plugin is installed you can open a separate inventory from the vSphere client homepage that will show you all 3th party hosts and their virtual machines.

Multi_hypervisor_dashboard_logo

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Whiptail storage solutions

Whiptail logoLast week I was able to attend a presentation from Whiptail in which they talked about their flash-based storage array. With their product portfolio they offer storage solutions that deliver high levels of speed for applications which produce high loads on storage.

Whiptail positions itself in the marked as a storage solution for applications like VDI, server virtualization and databases that demand high performance. At this moment they are not trying to compete with storage vendors that deliver high amounts of storage space. high numbers on read and write actions, high bandwidth and low latency times are the current key values of the Whiptail storage solutions.

The Whiptail storage family consists of the:

The Accela which is smallest model in the family. This unit uses 2U of rack space and has a power usage below 200 watts. It can deliver a storage capacity from 1,5 TB up to 12 TB at a write speed of 250k IOPS (based on 4K cryptographically random writes) a bandwidth of 1.9 GB/s and a latency value of 100 µs (0,1 ms).

Accela

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Scense 8 released

Scense logoLast week Scense released their latest version of their workspace management product Scense 8. In their latest release they have been working towards giving ICT management more control over workspaces that aren’t connected to the corporate network on regular basis.

One of the biggest changes they have made is moving away from the DCOM-protocol and start using the HTTP-protocol. This is now possible because Scense is now supporting Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) which enables them to run on Internet Information Services (IIS). Running on IIS will give the product more scalability and use of other protocols (see image below). With the use of the HTTP-protocol, Scense is now able to offer its services over the internet including application distribution.

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New: Veeam Backup & Replication v6.5

Veeam

Last week Veeam made their newest version of Backup & Replication v6.5 available. Veeam published their latest version as having the “WOW-factor”. Let’s have a look at the new features and see if it really has the WOW-factor.

First: Veeam Backup & replication 6.5 now fully supports VMware vSphere 5.1 and Windows 2012 Hyper-V. With the support of those two platforms they are the first to be doing so.

Second: Even though Backup & replication uses no agents it is now able to restore e-mails, calendars or contacts from a user’s Exchange mailbox without restoring a entire mailbox first. With the explorer capabilities you can simply browse through your backups, select a user’s mailbox and select the item that you want to recover.

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Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V: overpromising and underdelivering

A few weeks ago Microsoft released Windows Server 2012 and with it also Hyper-V 3. Hyper-V logoThe newest release of Hyper-V has some great improvements and new features which will in some cases definitely challenge VMware. To make use of these features and to manage your entire environment you need a management tool, just like VMware vSphere uses vCenter Server.

However at the time of writing, Hyper-V has no management tooling available. Normally System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012 (which is part of the System Center 2012 suite) would be used to manage the Hyper-V infrastructure. But the current version of System Center can’t handle Windows Server 2012, meaning no management for Hyper-V 3 servers either. The support for Windows Server 2012 is coming with the release of SP1 for System Center 2012 which will probably be released somewhere at the end of Q4 2012 or Q1 2013.

“It’s like selling a car without a steering wheel, dangerous and unsuitable for every day use.”

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StarWind iSCSI SAN v6.0 – Beta

StarwindFor some time now StarWind software is working on a new release of their iSCSI SAN which will be version 6. Currently the software is in it’s beta phase, but StarWind released some release notes containing some new features and improvements.

First of is the change made to High Availability (HA) clusters. In the current release you can create a HA cluster containing two nodes. With the release of version 6 you will be able to create three node HA clusters.

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StarWind and Windows Server 2012 Scale-Out Servers

StarwindThursday 12th there was a press release by StarWind stating “StarWind completely eliminates the need for shared storage when implementing Windows Server 2012 Scale-out file servers”. At first, while reading the title, I was a bit confused. Starwind itself offers shared storage solutions with it’s software. But after reading the article, it´s clear that the intention is to eliminate the implementation of hardware-based storage solutions.

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RES HyperDrive released

RES HyperdriveIn January of this year RES announced that they where working on a secure way to deliver ‘follow me data‘ and file-sharing with a product they call RES HyperDrive. As of Yesterday (June 5th 2012) RES HyperDrive is available.

As was made clear in the announcement RES wanted to make it possible for end users to access their data at anytime, anywhere on any device. Yet they still want the IT department to be able and keep control over the data. What RES HyperDrive offers is:

  • Anywhere access – You will be able to access your data from any device (Android, iOS, Windows and Blackberry phones). Data will be available either trough a browser or a HyperDrive agent;
  • Secure data – The data can be secured with Active Directory integration, local data encryption and has remote theft protection;
  • Seamless integration – By using a virtual appliance you can offer the existing storage infrastructure of your company to the end user. And with Outlook it is possible to add larger documents as a link. With which the receiver can open the document from the HyperDrive storage.

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Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization Demo Day

Red HatRed Hat Benelux is organizing a demo day for their virtualisation solution “Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization”.

During this day they will present the latest news, present the road-map and future releases. Also on the program is a demo of RHEV and the presentation of a customer case. Their will be Red Hat experts present for any questions you might have.

The event takes place on June 26th 2012 in Den Haag – Netherlands at the Louwman Museum. The agenda for the day:

12.15 – Registration
12.45 – Welcome and introduction by Rajiv Sodhi, Country manager Benelux Red Hat
13.00 – RHEV Features and benefits: what’s  in it for me?
13.40 – Customer case
14.20 – Coffee break
15.10 – RHEV demo by Koen van Bakel, Senior Solution Architect Benelux Red Hat
15.50 – Interactive discussion and closure
16.30 – Closing drink

After the sessions you get the opportunity to view the worlds oldest private collection of automobiles which is present in the museum.

For those interested in the event can register by sending an e-mail to redhat@artdcom.com with the subject “Registratie RHEV Demo Day – 26 juni”. For questions you can also use the mail address previously mentioned.

MigrationWiz: E-mail migration to the cloud

MigrationWizFor a recent customers I have been working on migrating e-mail from several completely separated e- mail infrastructures to one Office 365 environment. To achieve this the customer has chosen to use a product called MigrationWiz.

This product is offered as a web based service/cloud solution.

With MigrationWiz you setup a connection to both a source and destination. After setting up the connection(s) you can start the migration. MigrationWiz will download the data from a mailbox at the source to it’s own infrastructure and then upload it to the designated target mailbox. The picture below illustrates the process.

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Review QNAP TS-459Pro II

Recently QNAP gave us the opportunity to review their QNAP TS-459Pro II NAS solution. We gladly accepted this opportunity and we got the NAS shipped to us a few weeks ago.

The TS-459Pro II is a NAS device that is aiming at the SMB market. QNAP also has bigger versions in the TS line that could be used in larger organizations. The TS-459Pro II is certified as VMware and Citrix Ready and is compatible with Windows 2008 Hyper-V and fail-over clustering.

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One week until the dutch VMUG

uncle vmugIt’s only one week until the annual dutch VMUG with a very impressive speaker line-up. Many international speakers are going to deliver great sessions and workshops at the Nieuwegein Business Center (NBC) on December 9th.

If you’re interest and work involves virtualization and you haven’t registered yet, you should!. This is an event you should NOT miss. Like last year the NBC in Nieuwegein will be packed with people and be host to great speakers in their field of expertise.

If you’re interest and work involves virtualization and you haven’t registered yet, you should! This is an event you should NOT miss. If you haven’t signed in yet you can do so here.

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