How to delete an orphaned desktop pool

please_recycle_by_fast_eddie.jpgTime for a new problem in the VMware Horizon View series. After running into problems which forced me to ‘Manually delete protected Horizon View replicas‘ and ‘Link a VMware View desktop to its replica‘, now I encountered an orphaned desktop pool which could not be deleted.

First, What got me into this mess. As I told you last week I was testing a Nvidia Quadro K5000 graphics card when my ESXi whitebox died on me. This also corrupted the one hard drive which contained all my Horizon View desktops. Fortunately the golden images resided on my NFS storage so no harm done, just delete the pools, recreate them and we’re up and running again. Wrong! Because the VDI virtual machines were no longer present, I ended up with an orphaned desktop pool. Similar like you would get when deleting View virtual machines directly from the vCenter client.

When I tried to delete the desktop pools in the Horizon View Administrator I got an error stating internal problems with the Composer server or service.

Composer error.JPG

It’s not much to go on but I checked the View Composer service, Composer logs, Windows domain membership and I even reconfigured Composer in the Horizon View Administrator Server settings. No success. Then I remembered manually deleting the protected Horizon View replicas and I searched for orphaned desktops pools.

I found this VMware KB article: Manually deleting linked clones or stale virtual desktop entries from VMware View Manager and Horizon View (1008658)

This confirmed my suspicion that this had nothing to do with the Composer service but that it was caused by the disappearance of the View virtual machines due to the hard disk corruption. Much like you would get when deleting View virtual machines directly from the vCenter client instead of the proper way, in the Horizon View Administrator console.

To solve this problem and remove the bad entries to be able to delete the desktop pool I had to do the following:

  1. Open up vSphere and connect to vCenter.
  2. Open up the console for the Horizon View Connection Server.
  3. Connect to the Horizon View ADAM database:
    1. Click [Start > Administrative Tools > ADSI Edit].
    2. In the console window, right-click ADSI Edit and click [Connect to].
    3. In the Name field type: [View ADAM Database].
    4. Select [Select or type a Distinguished Name or Naming Context].
    5. In the field below, type [dc=vdi,dc=vmware,dc=int].
      (do not try to be smart and change these to match your own AD domain like I did. This is the distinguished name of the Horizon View ADAM database)
    6. Select [Select or type a domain or server].
    7. In the field below, type [localhost].
    8. Click [OK].
    9. Click [View ADAM Database] to expand.
    10. Click [DC=vdi,dc=vmware,dc=int] to expand.
  4. Locate the GUID of the virtual machine. To locate the GUID of the virtual machine:
    1. Right-click the Connection [View ADAM Database], and click [New > Query].
    2. Under Root of Search, click [Browse] and select the [Servers] organizational unit.
    3. Click [OK].
    4. In the Query String, paste this search string: (&(objectClass=pae-VM)(pae-displayname=VirtualMachineName))
      Where VirtualMachineName is the name of the virtual machine for which you are trying to locate the GUID. You may use * or ? as wildcards to match multiple desktops.
    5. Click [OK] to create the query.
    6. Click the query in the left pane. The virtual machines that match the search are displayed in the right pane.
    7. Record the [GUID] in cn=<GUID>.
  5. Delete the [pae-VM object] from the ADAM database:
    1. Locate the [OU=SERVERS] container.
    2. Locate the corresponding virtual machine’s GUID (from above) in the list which can be sorted in ascending or descending order, choose [Properties] and check the pae-DisplayName attribute to verify the corresponding linked clone virtual machine object.
    3. Delete the pae-VM object.
  6. Check if there are entries under OU=Desktops and OU=Applications in the ADAM database.
  7. Check for entries in both the [OU=Server Groups] and [OU=Applications] and remove both. Removing one entry and not the other from the ADAM database results in the java.lang.nullpointerexception error when attempting to view the pools or desktops inventory in View Manager.

ViewADAM.png

This did the trick. After deleting all references to the old VDI virtual machines and desktop pools, I’ve got a fresh and clean Horizon View Connection Server.

IBM Cognos licensing in a VMware environment

IBM makes it possible with their licensing to run IBM Cognos on a virtualisation hypervisor like VMware ESXi and make full use of vMotion, HA and DRS. Many IBM products can be licensed as User-Based or Capacity-based. If the product has a server component, it will commonly be licensed as Capacity-based. Within a virtual environment like VMware you may use sub-capacity licensing for certain IBM products like Cognos.

Common used abbreviations are: PVU – Processor Value Unit / ILMT – IBM License Metric Tool / VM – Virtual Machine, a VM represents a complete system with processors, memory, disk and network resources.

Summary

  1. Yes you can and may use IBM Cognos, licensed through PVU, in a VMware environment.
  2. Yes you may use vMotion, HA, DRS to move the VMs through the whole cluster.
  3. No you do not have to pay for the whole cluster. You may license for the cheapest, or virtual or the physical underlying infra. Counting all physical cores in a VMware server/cluster where the VM with IBM software resides versus the total amount of vCPUs for the specific IBM software in multiple VMs. Follow the Virtualization Capacity license counting rules to determine, by program, the number of processor cores required to license. Determine the PVU factor by checking the correct table.
  4. Yes you need to install the ILMT tool within 90 days of signing the contract (a few exceptions apply, but I recommend you use the tool to make your life easier).
  5. You are not required to report to IBM the PVU usage on a regular basis, but you are required to generate quarterly ILMT reports and keep them for a period of two years. These reports must be provided if IBM conducts an audit.

PVU licensing is based on the processing capacity (expressed in PVUs) available to the IBM middleware. In the case of VMware, IBM license based on the number of  virtual cores (vCPUs) available to a partition. Each vCPU is equal to one processor core for PVU licensing. IBM license to the lower of the sum of vCPUs or full (physical) capacity of the server or cluster. Copies of the revised IBM International Passport Advantage Agreement – effective 18 July 2011 are available for download here.

Difference between Sub-capacity licensing and full capacity licensing

  • Sub-capacity licensing lets you license a PVU-based software program for less than the full processor core capacity of the server, when the software program is deployed in an eligible virtualization environment.
  • With full capacity licensing, you are required to obtain PVU license entitlements for all activated processor cores in the server, regardless of how the software was deployed.

Full capacity licensing is based on every physical, activated processor core in the physical server. Back when servers were one processor core sitting on top of one chip plugged into one socket, software was licensed on full capacity basis by default. The concept of full capacity licensing has not changed, even with the proliferation of multi-core and multi-socket servers. Licensing was basically simple. But with partitioning and more sophisticated server virtualization technologies that create virtual CPUs, virtual servers/partitions (aka virtual machines, LPARs, etc.) that can be moved and/or resized on the fly, came the demand for more flexible licensing terms. Thus IBM announced its sub-capacity licensing offering back in 2005.

Why use sub-capacity licensing

IBM’s Passport Advantage Sub-Capacity Licensing offering enables you:

  • to leverage server virtualization to more effectively consolidate their infrastructure and reduce their overall total cost of ownership (TCO)
  • allows flexible software licensing using advanced virtualization capabilities such as shared processor pools, micro-partitioning, virtual machines and dynamic reallocation of resources
  • gives growing customers the flexibility to choose how to add workload environments without making trade-offs between hardware design and software licensing
  • enables you to license software for only the processor core capacity available to the partition hosting the IBM software
  • provides a tool (ILMT) which allows you to track and manage the processor core capacity available to IBM PVU-based middleware

How to count the correct PVU units

First you must understand your virtual environment and how it is setup. So how does the physical server look like, which processor brand and technology is used, than which virtualisation technology and version is running. Furthermore how the IBM software is deployed into Virtual Machines and how do those VMs look like with virtual hardware and specific virtual cores applied to it.

Scenario1.pngScenario2.png

If you know the environment than you can use the formula below to calculate the total amount you need to pay or have payed. In the scenarios we use a Physical server with 2 pCPU with each 4 cores. Scenario 1 has 4 pServers with a total of 32 Cores and Scenario 2 has 2 pServers with a total of 16 Cores.

  1. Get the correct PVU value for the used Processor Type, Brand and Model in this PVU table. How does the physical server look like? We use Intel E5- 2600 series CPU in both scenario’s, so we have to get the PVU value for the used Processor Type, Brand and Model in this PVU table. After checking the table we find that the PVU value is 70 for each core.
  2. Count the vCPU used in all VMs for the specific IBM product and call that total # of Cores where each virtual core is equal to one core for PVU licensing. For scenario 1 that will be 7 Cores and for scenario 2 it will be 18 Cores.
  3. Check your contract, offer or invoice for the cost per PVU.

# of Cores x # of PVUs  x Cost per PVU = Total Price to Pay

For scenario 1 the physical layer will be 32 cores x 70 PVU = 2240 PVU and the virtual cores will be 7 vCPU x 70 PVU = 490 PVU

For scenario 2 the physical layer will be 16 cores x 70 PVU = 1120 PVU and the virtual cores will be 18 vCPU x 70 PVU = 1260 PVU

Generally, for any Eligible Product installed in an Eligible Virtualization Environment, you may license to the lower of:

  • PVUs for the maximum number of virtual cores in the virtual machines (VMs) available to the Eligible Product at any given time or
  • PVUs for the maximum number of physical cores in the server/cluster available to the Eligible Product at any given time

So in scenario 1 we will pay for the virtual CPUs and with scenario 2 it is smarter to pay for the underlying infrastructure. But reality is that servers are getting bigger and CPU’s are getting more and more cores. So I think most organizations will use the virtual core count to lower their cost but still make full advantage of virtualisation with HA and DRS. IBM sees vMotion as a Mobility event, where a running VM is moved from one physical server to another, and you may do that without restrictions if correctly licensed ofcourse.

To determine the correct number of Processor Value Unit (PVU) licenses required for the Eligible Virtualization Environment (for VMware vSphere):

Compliance and Entitlements

Q: Do I need to use the ILMT tool?

A: Yes you do, the IBM License Metric Tool is required when you are using Sub-capacity licensing or in other words running the software in VMware. There are some exceptions tho, but I would advise you to always use the free ILMT tool to make your life easier. The ILMT helps you maintain an inventory of the PVU based software deployed for your Full Capacity or Virtualization (Sub-) Capacity environment, and measures the PVU licenses required by software Product. It is intended to help you manage your IBM software licensing requirements, and help you maintain an audit ready posture. Customers are responsible for supplying hardware and installation services required for installing the tool. The tool generates audit reports. These reports provide the Processor Value Unit (“PVU”) license requirements based on the Virtualization Capacity available to the Eligible Sub-Capacity Product.

Exceptions to this requirement are:

1. when ILMT does not yet provide support for the Eligible Virtualization Environment

(In order to be notified when ILMT support for eligible virtualization technologies become available, customers need to subscribe to “My Notifications”.

2. if your Enterprise has fewer than 1,000 employees and contractors worldwide, you are not a Service Provider, and you have not contracted with a Service Provider to manage your Eligible Virtualization Environment

3. if total physical capacity of your servers with an Eligible Virtualization Environment, measured on a Full Capacity basis, but licensed using sub-capacity terms is less than 1,000 PVUs.

For the above exceptions, customers must manually manage, track, and prepare a Manual Calculation of Virtual Capacity worksheet for each server. For more details about the requirements for this worksheet, you can go to Virtualization Capacity License Counting Rules or use the Manual Calculation of Virtual Capacity worksheet.

 

Q: Do I have to pay for the ILMT tool?

A: No. The IBM License Metric Tool is a free product that IBM makes available to IBM Passport Advantage clients to help them determine the consumption of processor value units (PVU) for the IBM full and sub-capacity software they acquired. The tool helps clients assess if they are compliant with licensing requirements and it provides reports that are required for IBM compliance audits.

 

Q: How can you obtain the IBM License Metric Tool?

A: Even though ILMT is a no-charge product offering, an order must still be placed to establish an IBM entitlement record for the license as well as software subscription and technical support (S&S) coverage. That’s because ILMT receives the same level of technical support offered for the rest of the Passport Advantage product portfolio, as opposed to other free tools and utilities that are offered “as-is” with limited to no technical support. For additional guidance and instructions on ordering ILMT, see IBM License Metric Tool PA Online Ordering.(PDF, 926KB)   The initial order for ILMT should use P/N D561HLL. In order to maintain an entitlement record, S&S should renewed annually using P/N E027NLL.

 

Q: Increase available capacity or buy licenses first?

A: Buy licenses first, because you would be out of compliance. The licensing terms require that customers must obtain license entitlements before increasing the processor core capacity to be in compliance. IBM will request payment for the licenses required for the additional processor core effective the date the additional processor core capacity was added (includes back coverage for Software Subscription and Support)

 

Q: Is VMware vSphere an eligible virtualisation platform?

A: Yes. It sure is check for sub-capacity.

EligibleVirtualisationTechnologyVMware

Q: Do I need to report the PVU usage per eligible product to IBM on a regular basis?

A: You are not required to report to IBM the PVU usage on a regular basis, but you are required to generate quarterly ILMT reports and keep them for a period of two years. These reports must be provided if IBM conducts an audit.

ILMT_Tool_EDIC

Q: Can I install the tool or must I hire someone?

A: You can Install it yourself or hire an IBM partner to help you.

For installing instructions you can educate yourself, download the tool, install the tool and configure it.

 

 

 

 

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.

How to: Install VMware NSX

Hany Michael from Hypervizor.com, has made series of videos showing the installation ease of VMware NSX. Unfortunately NSX is not GA yet, but in the videos you can see how the installation goes. Check these out:

Deploying the NSX vAppliance

Deploying the NSX Controllers

Preparing ESXi hosts

Configuring a Logical vSwitch

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.

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How to license Windows 8 in a VMware Horizon View deployment

MicrosoftAgreementsWaterfallIt is a common misunderstanding that, if you buy software licenses you can do anything with it. You will not become the owner of it, you only get the use right of the software under STRICT CONDITIONS. What you may or may not do with Microsoft software is recorded to the smallest details by Microsoft in several documents, like the End User License Agreement (e.g. Enterprise Agreement), Product Lists and Product Use Rights.

Only a few people read all those documents, but in general nobody reads them all. They just buy the licenses and think are correct or are offered by their IT supplier. Always check with a license expert that what you want to achieve complies with what is possible with the licenses you want to acquire. This prevents disappointment and high costs later on.

I wrote a post on licensing Windows 7 in a VMware Horizon View environment and most things mentioned in that post are still valid also for Windows 8. Below I will zoom into changes or summarize important facts for a complete understanding.

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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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Using Serial Ports in a VMware Environment

Serial Port

Serial Port

While pursuing the 100% virtual mark you once in a while run into trouble with legacy hardware where there is hardware directly attached to the physical server you are going to virtualize. If it is USB equipment you can use USB Anywhere devices to make it happen, but if it is serial port connected equipment it gets harder to tackle that issue.

For instance you want to virtualize a building management system server with reading equipment connected to the serial ports. Is that possible? Yes you can!

It is possible to use a Virtual Serial Port Concentrator, as for instance the Avocent ACS V6000, which is described in this KB article and as mentioned in the vSphere 5 documentation here.

By connecting physical serial ports over the network with a virtual machine you can break the dependency of the physical layer and the OS layer. By solving this puzzle you can protect the organization against legacy hardware failure  and/or from software that nobody knows how it is installed anymore.

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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.

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Review: VCP5 Study Guide by Brian Atkinson

A few months ago Erik and I passed our VCP-510 Exam, we used several different resources to get the job done. Several people asked us how to prepare for the VCP-510 exam. Fortunately Brian Atkinson a fellow vExpert, wrote a “small” book (almost 800 pages!!) as a study guide for everyone who wants to prepare for the exam and to get their VMware Certified Professional on vSphere 5 title. The book helps you prepare for this tough exam, it points out things you normally don’t touch in your daily work with vSphere.

While reading the book it felt like I was taken on a journey, from What is New in vSphere 5 to How to Plan, Install, Configure and Upgrade vCenter Server and VMware ESXi with this new version. But you aren’t finished after installing vSphere. Eye for details, like The way you secure vCenter Server and ESXi and how to Plan and Configuring vSphere Networking and Storage to get the most out of your installation, are unfolded. So you now have the basis and want to Create, Deploy and Manage VMs and vApps.

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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.

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How to: Upgrade to vSphere 5

On July 12th, VMware announced the release of vSphere 5.

With the release comes the challenge to upgrade your existing installation.

However, there are a few caveats:

  • vSphere 5 is the first version which comes in a ESXi version ONLY! ESXi 5 is available in an embedded or installable version. If you’re running ESX 3.x or 4.x you should do a clean installation. You can find more information here.;
  • VMware changed their licensing method. Familiarize yourself with this and check if you need to upgrade/extend your licenses. You can find more information here.

Because I run a VMware vSphere 4.1 environment, this is a upgrade from vSphere 4.1 to 5.

The upgrade is a straight forward five step process.

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How to license Microsoft Windows 7 for VMware View deployments

I often get questions about how to license Microsoft Windows 7 in a VMware View VDI deployment, I will try to elaborate what is needed in general and for specific scenarios. By understanding how they apply to common VMware View scenarios you can calculate and try to get the most out of existing and new licenses needed.

Every device you want to use to access the VMware View environment, with Windows 7 Desktops, needs to be licensed. It does not matter if it is a PC, a Thin or Zero client, an iPad or similar devices, every device accessing Windows 7 via VDI needs to be licensed.

You have two ways to license the environment, you can utilize the Software Assurance Windows Virtual Desktop Access Use Rights benefit at no additional cost; or you purchase Windows VDA subscription. Windows VDA is licensed per access device. There is currently no option to license Windows VDA per user.

VDA through SA or VDA subscription?

Certain devices, such as thin or zero clients, do not qualify for Software Assurance coverage for Windows. To license these devices for use with VDI you will need Windows VDA subscription. The rule of thumb is that if it isn’t a full blown Windows Desktop Operating System with Software Assurance (SA) you will need VDA subscription licenses to access the VMware View vDesktops.

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How to: build an ESXi whitebox

Last week I decided to buy a new lab server and I doubted between a HP or Dell mini server or an ESXi whitebox. Because most mini servers only have 8GB memory, I decided to collect specific parts to build my own VMware ESXi whitebox.

To find parts which are compatible with VMware ESXi 4.1, I used the following resources:

I chose a AMD Phenom II X6 processor, socket AM3 six core processor because it’s a lot cheaper than the Intel Core i-processors. As the basis I needed a AM3 socket motherboard and my selection criteria where simple, 16GB memory and onboard video.

As an ASUS fan I had to choose between the ASUS M4A88T and M4A88TD. Both can house 16GB of memory and have onboard video but the TD version has SATA 6Gbps. Because storage will most likely be the bottleneck, I decided to go for the M4A88TD-M but on the above sites there was no entry for this motherboard.

But Google is my friend so I searched for ‘M4A88TD’ in combination with ‘ESXi’. I found a few sites which mention an almost identical combination of motherboard, processor and ESXi 4.1. Eventually I took a gamble and ordered the ASUS M4A88TD-M/USB3.

The last two items where the simple ones, two sets of 8GB dual channel memory and a 6Gbps SATA disk.

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eLearing: Transition to ESXi Essentials

eLearningYesterday Anne Jan linked me to an article on the VMware website which contained information on a free online training course. The title is Transition to ESXi Essentials. The course is dedicated to ESXi and depending on your learning style it takes about 3 hours to complete. It’s broken up in several chapters so you don’t have to do all at once.

Since VMware is moving towards ESXi, abandoning ESX with its Service Console, it’s a great time to release a course all about ESXi and how to manage it.

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vSphere Licensing and Options Overview

Last week we got a question concerning the licensing options around vSphere and how to choose the correct edition and options from all the flavors and options offered by VMware. So while answering the questions concerning the licensing I thought back to a nice overview picture we had available a few years back from VMware. So that’s why I compiled two overview pictures where there is one for the SMB market and one for the Enterprise market. In the overview the current situation and options are summarized per edition.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

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