Cisco UCS: What’s the maximum bandwidth per blade?

Cisco UCS chassisAs I already mentioned in this article, Cisco UCS is a complex combination of components. With the release of the M3 type Cisco UCS blades the number of components have increased and so did the complexity. The result is that I receive calls from colleagues/customers on a regular basis, complaining about the amount of bandwidth per Cisco UCS blade.

I already described that, the maximum number of VIF’s depends on the number of uplinks to the chassis.

With the introduction of the M3 Cisco UCS blades we got a VIC1240 Modular Lan On Motherboard (mLOM) mezzanine adapter which gives 2 x 10Gbps to each Fabric Extender.

There’s also an additional mezzanine slot which can be used for a variety of additional hardware like a FusionIO- or LSI Nytro WarpDrive adapter. In this case we can also use this slot to expand the capacity of the VIC1240 by adding a port expander or a VIC1280. This mezzanine slot also provides 2 x 10Gbps to each Fabric Extender.

Now I learned that the amount of bandwidth for each fabric depends on the combination of the network interface(s) in the blade server and the type of Fabric Extender in the chassis.



How to: Shutdown ESXi host in case of a power failure

Power OutageWhen running a virtual infrastructure based on VMware vSphere, you have multiple techniques to create a high available environment. You can create a cluster, use VMware HA or FT but when the power fails you’re done. To buy us a little bit of time, you can add a UPS with enough capacity to power your servers, switches and storage for a limited period of time. Just enough to start a standby generator or just wait until the power returns.

But what when this takes too long and you must power down your virtual environment including all virtual machines?

When you’re on-site and aware of the power failure you can shut everything down manually of course but what when you’re not there, in the evening, during weekends, etc.? You return in the morning finding that all your virtual machines are down and corrupted?

You will have to automate the shutdown of the virtual machines and ESXi hosts and I found two ways to do this.


Horizon View in a stretched cluster environment: Can I have that? No!

vmware_horizon_suite logoEver since VMware started selling View as a desktop solution, we’ve had these discussions with colleagues and customers. You probably are familiar with the topic:

Many companies have more than one location, but they all want to manage their IT infrastructure as if it was one. So, if we can throw in a big data-line between those locations with low latency, highly resilient, including rapid fail-over and so on.. can we create one big View desktop pool for all our users spanning all our locations?

The answer is: No you cannot!

“But the bandwidth is 10 Gbps and the latency is very low!”

It doesn’t matter, you still cannot.



VMware Horizon View 5.2 Performance and Best Practices and 3D graphics

compassAt we’ve done a lot of articles on VDI performance and best practices. Recently I’ve done an article on ‘How to improve VMware View video performance‘ and Edwin did an article on ‘Boosting Google maps and video with VMware View‘.

Researching the possibilities and changes with Horizon View 5.2, Eric Sloof pointed me to two new technical white papers.

VMware recently released two white papers, one on the performance and best practices for the new VMware Horizon View 5.2 and the second on the use of hardware accelerated 3D graphics with VMware Horizon View 5.2.

This is must read material for everyone who’s designing, planning and installing a VMware Horizon View 5.2 VDI environment.


Upgrading your vCenter Server Appliance from version 5.0 to 5.1 – A Howto

VMGuru used to run on an “ESXi only” install with no extra management. It’s a single server in a data center in Amsterdam, so there never was a need for a vCenter Server. When the VMware Octopus Beta started in which we participated, the deployment of the Octopus appliance required a vCenter server. So, instead of installing a full blown SQL server, a Windows server  etc., we decided to use the vCenter appliance.

With the introduction of ESX 5.1, a new vCenter also was introduced. The functions in the new vCenter Server Appliance have improved much so an upgrade is the way to go. Now when I tried this in my home lab, it went south big time and I ended up throwing everything away and starting over with a brand new vCenter install. For our server in Amsterdam I decided to do the upgrade again to show that it can be done properly. Now, VMware has a how to procedure in their knowledge base, but it’s very compressed and skips a few small steps, so we decided to write it out including screenshots to make it more accessible to all the folks out there who like to upgrade their vCenter Appliance but don’t know how.


Yet another VMware View book.. But wait, this one is different!

As a vExpert, we have a special place with VMware. Not just socially, but really, in the community pages. Usually this place is filled with news about new stuff coming out, reviews about software, technical questions, opinions and so on. A few months ago Mike Laverick, one of the valued members and a vExpert, posted a request to help him with the review of a book he and Barry Coombs were writing. There were no financial benefits, just a helping hand for charity.

So, I jumped on the bandwagon and a few weeks later I received my chapter to review in the mail. It was a very fine piece of work. And now the good news is, you can read it too! Not just one chapter, mind you. The whole book is finished and ready to download!

It’s all about building a desktop on VDI with VMware View. It’s all new and up to date and gets you up and running quickly as it is written by people who do this for a living all day, not just another theoretical dude. It’s a must-read if you plan to go the VDI way.

Now, why is this different, you say? Well, the digital version of the book is for sale for only 12,72 Euros at LuLu but that isn’t the best part. The best part is, you’ll be supporting Unicef when you buy it! The printed version will follow soon after, but as this is hot from the (virtual) press today, we didn’t want you to miss out on this brand new book.

VMware vCloud Director design guidelines

After VMware vSphere and View, VMware vCloud Director is the next big thing to setup and customers start asking for it. But the problem is that the knowledge and available resources are limited. So for real life implementations of vCloud Director we have to rely on VMware employees to show us the ropes.
First of all, what is VMware vCloud Director. In short, VMware vCloud Director gives enterprise organizations the ability to build secure private clouds as a base for a infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) solution. Coupled with VMware vSphere, vCloud Director delivers cloud computing for existing datacenters by pooling virtual infrastructure resources and delivering them to users as catalog-based services.

The vCloud Director architecture is shown below.


How to calculate electrical costs for cooling and power consumption

For putting together a business case costs and revenues are an important part of it. If you want to calculate the direct resource costs associate with hosting a server in  your data center, you want to know the direct power consumption by the server in electrical costs and the costs associated with cooling the environment where the server is situated. To do so you will need a few parameters from the device(s) used. You will need the Watts, BTU/h and the electricity costs per kWh.

Where British thermal unit (BTU)  is used as a unit for air-cooling power of an air conditioning system and refers to the amount of thermal energy removed from an area. A BTU is approximately a third of a watt-hour. 1000 BTU/h is approximately 293W.  Kilowatt hour (kWh) is most commonly known as a billing unit for energy delivered to consumers by electric utilities.

Let’s take for example a HP DL-380 Generation 6 with two Quad core CPUs, 24 GB memory, eight  network ports, two  72GB 15K SAS hard disks with two 460 Watt power supplies. This server uses about 307 Watt and generates 1047 BTU.


Scaling up/out? Or genuine performance troubleshooting?

I was reading another article about cloud computing today. Almost all articles and posts seem to focus on how easy it is to add resources to your environment when you need more power.

Before you start to explain to me why this is true, yes, I do agree. It is very easy to add resources to an existing environment. When you use vSphere, Hyper-V or XenServer just add another host to your cluster or datacenter and you have more power that can be used by your machines. You can give virtual machines more CPU power and/or memory, etc. In the end your applications (that’s in the end what’s most important) have more chance for time to run on a shared environment.

My problem with this approach is simple: Aren’t we doing things the wrong way around?


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.


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.


Best practices XenApp on vSphere

Based on the real life results when virtualizing XenApp I thought it was about time to summarize some of the best practices for virtualizing XenApp servers.

Why we DO want to virtualize XenApp?

  1. For server consolidation:  vSphere enables scale up XenApp deployments;
  2. For mixing server editions: 32-bit and 64-bit XenApp VMs can coexist;
  3. For management: Better management through flexibility & isolation think about Change Management and VMware DRS;
  4. For high availability and disaster recovery: VMware HA and vCenter Site Recovery Manager;
  5. For less costs for server hardware, maintenance contracts, power, cooling, floor and rackspace.

Virtualizing XenApp servers is very complex. There are a lot more layers involved, like the type of hardware, the capabilities of the processor, the performance of the shared storage, the hypervisor used, the specific settings per hypervisor, operating system settings in a virtual environment, the XenApp settings in a virtual environment, the Workspace management settings in a virtual environment etc, etc.

In the following sections I tried to summarize some of the best practices we use in our projects:


VMware View sizing & best practices

November 4th we published an article on Virtual Infrastructure best practices and the response was overwhelming. During the last month we received a lot of questions regarding best practices on VDI/VMware View. When I then read a comment from VMware’s evangelist, Richard Garsthagen, that the attention on blogs for VMware View was minimal I thought well let’s extend our View articles/knowledge base.

So, VMware View best practices. First of all check the article on Virtual Infrastructure best practices to create a good understanding for the underlying virtual infrastructure challenges.

So hereby my list of best practices which I gather from VMware KB articles, instructor led VMware View design training and the VMware community:

  • CPU sizing;
  • Memory sizing;
  • Storage sizing;
  • Network sizing.

If you have additions or new insights please reply.


Virtual Infrastructure best practices

[Updated: 8-11-2009 10:00]

Lately I keep receiving questions from colleagues regarding virtual infrastructure design using VMware products. So I decided to sum up the best practices I use when designing a new virtual infrastructure. Some of the best practices are based on numbers and calculations but others are pretty obvious. Nevertheless you would be surprised how many environments I’ve encounter were the most basic best practices have NOT been met.

So hereby my list of best practices on:

  • ESX(i);
  • vCenter;
  • Licensing;
  • Storage;
  • Networking;
  • Virtual machines.

If you have additions or new insights please reply.


VMware data security best practices

Securing your IT infrastructure is always an ongoing process. One of the best practices that VMware encourages is to renew the SSL keys used for communication between VMware products. The renewal of SSL keys periodically, helps to improve data security of your systems.

While reading this I was wondering what is the extended value of having SSL communication inside your own network? The answer is pretty simple, most theft of data comes from people who already have access to your network (Alex just gave me a perfect example this day about a Exchange administrator with rights he should not have).


Upgrading VMware vCenter server

While building the virtual enviroment for a client we are getting a lot of questions about how they should handle certain aspects in their new enviroment.

One of those questions is how they should handle upgrades, best practices etc.