Last week I ran into another discussion about the hypervisor under a XenApp deployment it had to be free or very cheap. So the customer was thinking about loading Hyper-V below it. Ok can be a viable option but the admins hoped it would be VMware ESX because they know that hypervisor and it has never let them down in the past six years. So I got the question what is possible, can we use the Free vSphere Hypervisor? I than remembered from VMworld San Francisco 2013 the limitations of the Free vSphere Hypervisor have been lifted.
So now you can use the vSphere Hypervisor 5.5 with:
Unlimited number of cores per physical CPU
Unlimited number of physical CPUs per host
Maximum eight vCPUs per virtual machine
But most important the limitation of 32GB RAM per server/host has been removed from the free Hypervisor.
So now you can use it below a XenApp deployment or in a stack where you do not need DRS, HA and vMotion. If you do need a central management solution you can use the Essentials Kit and if you need DRS, HA, vMotion etc. you can use the vSphere 5.5 essentials kit it is for max. 3 servers with 2 physical CPUs per Server.
In Europe the Essentials Kit will cost 690 Euro for 3 years and the Essentials Plus Kit will cost 5.554 euro for 3 years. If you want to have support on your VMware vSphere Hypervisor you can now purchase Per Incident Support for it.
Recently 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.
Just when you think it cannot get any better VMware comes up with an interesting new fling, Proactive DRS.
Proactive DRS was the winning entry in last year’s 2012 Open Innovation Contest. VMware promised to create a Fling of the winning entry, and here it is!
What is ProactiveDRS? It is a way for DRS to react to changes in the virtual cluster, and to act on predicted changes in resource demands before hosts become stressed. For example, if you have a VM that historically uses 100% CPU at 8am every morning, ProactiveDRS makes sure that the CPU resources will be available for that VM before 8am. These actions ensure that your cluster runs smoother and reduces the amount of reactive VM rebalances that occur.
Back by popular demand, the Enterprise Hypervisor feature comparison.
After the release of our latest comparison I’ve received a lot of requests to include RedHat’s RHEV to the comparison. Although I’ve never encountered it in enterprise environments, I decided to add it as a service to our readers.
I based the RedHat features on their 3.1 version which is in beta right now. This is because I’ve limited knowledge of the product and I received an updated comparison from one of our readers based on this version.
Two weeks ago VMware released the new version of their vSphere hypervisor, so it’s time to update our Enterprise Hypervisor comparison. It very impressive to see how quick VMware has reacted to the Hyper-V 3 announcements and has taken most of the wind out of the Microsoft sails.
I hope you find the new Enterprise Hypervisor comparison useful and feel free to contact us when you have feedback for us to improve the list.
The information on Microsoft Server 2012 Hyper-V features is very inconsistent, many different values out there.
In this version I added 10 new criteria. Many of these criteria should, in my opinion, be available in hypervisors suitable for enterprise environments.
One of the most useful new features in VMware vSphere 5.1 is Enhanced vMotion. This new features enables customers to vMotion virtual machines to other hosts without the use of a shared storage solution. Check out the VMworld TV video below and watch a demo at the VMware Storage/vMotion booth.
StarWind Offers Free NFR Licenses for Lab Testing, Demonstration, and Training Purposes
Starwind is an innovative company and one of the first to offer an iSCSI initiator on the Microsoft Windows platform without a lot of hassle. The company offers Not For Resale (NFR) licenses to some specific groups of IT professionals.
If you hold or are one of the following:
VMware Certified Instructor (VCI)
Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP)
Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT)
Citrix Technology Professional (CTP)
Citrix Certified Instructor (CCI).
you can get a free NFR license for its best-of-breed High Availability SAN solutions software to fuel your Lab. What do you need to do?
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.
Set Timeout on Windows Guest OS to avoid Blue Screens/Errors
Today I got another question about several Windows VMs breaking down and generating lots of errors after a SAN switch failed. The active paths switched through a path failover. I have seen this behavior before with several customers who use SAN storage and Windows for guest operating system in the VM. I sure had to dig around in my memory which setting to switch to 60 seconds. So I thought I would make this blog post for future references.
Path failover refers to situations when the active path to a LUN is changed from one path to another, usually because of some SAN component failure along the current path. A server usually has one or two HBAs and each HBA is connected to one or two storage processors on a given SAN array. You can determine the active path, the path currently used by the server, by looking at the LUN properties.
One of the things that has been on my to do list for a very long time was to check out the vCenter Appliance. I finally found the time to install the vCenter appliance in my own lab and fool around with it.
This post is a mix between my findings and some kind of installation instruction.
But first of all, what’s the VMware vCenter virtual appliance and what are the pro’s, cons and limitations.
The VMware vCenter virtual appliance is a SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 running VMware vCenter on a internal embedded DB2 database or an external Oracle database. The appliance is available for download on the VMware website and is configured with 2 vCPUs, 8GB RAM, LSI Logic SCSI controller, VMXNET 3 network interface and the VMware Tools.
The advantages over a traditional vCenter implementations are:
Lower TCO by eliminating Windows licenses;
Simple and rapid deployment;
Reduce operational costs – vCSA is easy to upgrade – deploy a new appliance, connect it to the external Oracle database or import configuration data from the previous installation.
The disadvantages are the same as the limitations.The vCenter Server virtual appliance has the same features as the Windows vCenter Server but does not support the following:
During the last few years we published several Enterprise Hypervisor comparisons and we got very positive comments and feedback on it. With the release of vSphere 5, XenServer 6 and a service pack for Hyper-V it was time for an update.
It very interesting to see how some of the products have improved over the years and how the three major manufacturers look at each other and copy features. But you can’t trust all manufacturers by just a simple green checkbox. Some claimed features need third party add-ons, aren’t suitable for production workloads or are only supported on a limited set of operating systems. You have to investigate further and I hope I’ve done most of that work for you with this new enterprise hypervisor comparison.
Ever since I’ve been working on a Apple Classic II, many many years ago, I was caught by the way of thinking at Cupertino. Design combined with functionality was actually possible! Well, back then we thought it was beautiful, anyway
Now, many years have gone by, a lot of people in the world seem to have recently discovered Apple. With the consumerization of the IT business, more and more Macs appear in the landscape. And why not? Sleek design combined with a stable OS where you don’t waste performance and money on staying free from virii and other malware (at least, for now), who doesn’t want that? So, it’s logical that wishes and demands for a virtual server or desktop in the Windows world, also be true for OS X. With vSphere 5, this might be possible!
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.;
Since the announcement of VMware vSphere 5, the attention for the great new features has been swapped by the discussion on the new VMware vSphere 5 licensing model.
Because of the processor association it looks complicated and expensive but if you do the math, most of the time pricing remains the same. Gabrie van Zanten wrote an excellent article on that.
In short, with traditional virtual infrastructures used for server virtualization, the host servers seldom exceed the 96GB per host. This matches with a dual socket server licensed with VMware vSphere Enterprise Plus. In that scenario the number of vSphere 5 ‘processor’ licenses will equal the number of physical sockets, so the total cost for this environment will be equal with the new vSphere 5 licensing model.
But how about the new licensing model with memory dense servers/blades like we use in VDI solutions. When housing 100-200 VDI desktops on a single server you need immense amounts of memory and with the new vSphere 5 licensing model this would cost much much more that with the old licensing model.
With the introduction of VMware vSphere 5, VMware introduces a new licensing model. VMware will retain a per processor model but they removed some restrictions which were in the vSphere 4 licensing model. This is mainly regarding the number of cores per processor and the amount of physical memory in a host on which vSphere 4 could be deployed. With vSphere 5 it does no longer matter how many cores or amount of memory a ESXi hosts has.
Instead of the physical restrictions, VMware introduces a single virtualization based entitlement of pooled virtual memory (vRAM). According to VMware, this will simplify the process of purchasing deploying and managing vSphere while facilitating the move to shared infrastructure as a service.
vSphere 5.0 will be licensed on a per-processor basis with a vRAM entitlement. Each vSphere 5.0 CPU license will entitle the customer to a specific amount of vRAM, or memory configured to virtual machines. The vRAM entitlement can be pooled across a vSphere environment to enable a true cloud or utility based IT consumption model.
The vSphere 5.0 licensing model is per processor with pooled vRAM entitlements. According to VMware, this should offer customers the following benefits relative to the previous vSphere 4 model:
Simplicity – Removes two physical constraints (core and physical RAM), replacing them with a single virtual entitlement (vRAM). Customers now have a clear path to license vSphere on next-generation hardware configurations.
Flexibility – Extends the concept of resource pooling from technology to the business of IT by allowing aggregation and sharing of vRAM entitlement across a large pool of servers.
Fairness – Better aligns cost with actual use and value derived,rather than with hardware configurations and capacity.
Evolution – Allows customers to evolve to a cloud-like “pay for consumption” model without disrupting established purchasing, deployment and license-management practices and processes.
In all fairness, with this VMware introduced the much criticized virtual machine based licensing ‘with a twist’. Because they now license based on the amount of allocated vRAM, you’re much more limited in the total number of deployed virtual machines than you where when you were limited by physical memory and processor cores.
I’m afraid this may backfire on VMware, especially when in competition with Microsoft or Citrix.