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
When 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.
How to license Windows 8 in a VMware Horizon View deployment
It 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.
VDI optimization script (part 2)
In 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…
VDI optimization script (part 1)
In 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.
Using Serial Ports in a VMware Environment
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.
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.
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.
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: 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.
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.
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.
eLearing: Transition to ESXi Essentials
Yesterday 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.
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.
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.
How to: License Microsoft Windows Server in a VMware environment – Part 2
[This is the 2nd part in the sequel. You can find part 1 here.]
We talked about licensing Windows Server on a VMware environment but that’s only one part of the licensing nightmare. You will also need client access licenses also called CALs.
Client Access Licensing
In addition of the Windows Server 2008 License you also need a Windows Server 2008 Client Access License also called CAL. This is required for each user or device (or combination of both) that accesses or uses the Windows 2008 software.
Every user or device accessing the Windows Server 2008 needs a CAL. You don’t need a CAL when:
- You access the instance of server software only through the internet without being authenticated or individually identified by the server software;
- You access Windows Web Server 2008;
- If external users are accessing the instances of server software and you have acquired a Windows Server 2008 External Connector License for each server being accessed;
- You only administer the server software with two devices or users;
- You use the Windows Server 2008 solely as a virtualization host.
The last point doesn’t impact us much because we use VMware ESXi solely as our virtualization platform.
How to: Optimize guests for VMware View
We’ ve been doing quite a few VMware View POC’s and the question that colleagues keep asking me is:
‘How do I optimize my Windows guest OS for use with VMware View?’.
First of all, I primarily use x86 versions of Windows XP and 7. The disk usage is much less, I seldom need more than 4 GB of RAM and application compatibility is still an issue on x64 systems.
After installation of the guest operating system in the template virtual machine I do the following to optimize the operating system for use with VMware View.
How to: Upgrade to vSphere 4.1
With yesterdays release of vSphere 4.1 comes the challenge to upgrade your existing installation to this new version. Because I have been testing the beta for a while now, I couldn´t wait to try it in our new testing environment.
However, there are a few caveats:
- VMware released a KB article with the supported upgrade methods for ESX(i) 3.0.x, 3.5 and 4 full, embedded or installable;
- Do NOT upgrade vCenter server to version 4.1 if you are using VMware View Composer 2.0.x. Check out this VMware KB article for more information.
Before you start the upgrade process, back-up the vCenter- and Update Manager databases.
After downloading the needed ISO´s, I started with the upgrade of the vCenter server.
But first of all, I had to uninstall all incompatible vCenter components, in this case Guided Consolidation 4.0.
When this is done, it´s time to update the vCenter server.