VMware announces VMware Horizon 6

VMware to the power of 6” That’s how, a few minutes ago, VMware announced VMware Horizon 6, the next step in VMware VDI solutions. It is an integrated solution that delivers published applications and desktops on a single platform. Horizon 6 is a complete desktop solution with centralized management of any type of enterprise application and desktop, including physical desktops and laptops, virtual desktops and applications and employee-owned PCs.

A complete solution with capabilities in application delivery, datacenter-to-device management, storage optimization and flexible hybrid delivery in VMware Horizon 6 make enterprise desktops and applications easier and more cost-effective to deliver, protect and manage. Multiple access points such as laptops, tablets, smartphones and an array of other employee-owned devices are putting pressure on IT departments to deliver a high level of service and access without compromise.

VMware Horizon 6 introduces new capabilities that are integrated into a single solution that empower IT with a streamlined approach for managing Windows applications and desktops. With Horizon 6, enterprise applications and Windows operating systems are centrally managed so updates can be made in an agile and predictable manner. In addition, Horizon 6 enables entire desktops or just applications to be delivered in a flexible manner to end-users.horizon6a.pngNew capabilities in VMware Horizon 6 include:

  • Published applications and virtual desktops delivered through a single platform
    VMware Horizon 6 offers streamlined management, end-user entitlement, and quick delivery of published Windows applications, RDS-based desktops and virtual desktops across devices and locations. The new capabilities are built on a single platform that is an extension of VMware Horizon View.
  • A unified workspace for simplified access
    With VMware Horizon 6, end-users can access all applications and desktops from a single unified workspace. The unified workspace supports the delivery of virtualized applications hosted in the datacenter or local on the device, web and SaaS applications, RDS hosted applications, and published applications from third party platforms, such as Citrix XenApp, with a single sign-on experience.
  • Storage Optimization with VMware Virtual SAN and delivery from the Software-Defined Data Center
    VMware Horizon 6 is optimized for the Software-Defined Data Center. The solution provides integrated management of VMware Virtual SAN that can significantly reduce the cost of storage for virtual desktops by using local storage. With this innovation, the capital cost of virtual desktops with Horizon 6 can be similar to physical desktops.

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  • Closed-Loop Management and Automation
    VMware Horizon 6 offers new capabilities for end-to-end visibility and automation from datacenter-to-device. The new VMware vCenter Operations for View provides health and risk monitoring, proactive end-user experience monitoring and deep diagnostics from datacenter-to-device all within a single console. Horizon 6 also supports automation and self-service, allowing IT to provide line-of-business users with the ability to request desktops and applications by using built-in workflows and automated infrastructure provisioning. This closed-loop management and automation is integrated with the vCloud Automation Center management console, making it easier for customers with vCloud Suite to get started with Horizon 6.
  • Central image management of virtual, physical and employee-owned PCs
    VMware offers centralized image management for virtual, physical and employee-owned PCs from a single, integrated solution. Using the updated VMware Mirage, IT administrators can design a single desktop with the required operating system and applications, and deliver it to end-users in a department or entire organization based on end-user needs.
  • Hybrid Cloud Delivery
    VMware Horizon 6 introduces a new client that seamlessly connects to virtual desktops and applications running in an on-premise cloud, a service provider partner cloud, or through VMware vCloud Hybrid Service with the same, high performance end-user experience. This flexibility gives customers the ability to deploy Horizon 6 via the hybrid cloud — balancing between business-owned and public cloud-based infrastructure to best satisfy their needs.

Three new editions of VMware Horizon will be available to customers:

  • Horizon Standard Edition: Delivers simple, high-performance, VDI-based virtual desktops with a great user experience.
  • Horizon Advanced Edition: Offers the lowest cost solution for published and virtual applications and desktops using optimized storage from VMware Virtual SAN, central image management and a unified workspace for managing and delivering all applications and desktops.
  • Horizon Enterprise Edition: Delivers a cloud-ready solution for desktops and applications with advanced cloud-like automation and management capabilities for hybrid cloud flexibility.

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VMware Horizon 6 is expected to be available in Q2 2014 and is licensed per named user or per concurrent user with prices starting at $250. For more information, visit the VMware Horizon product page.

VMware vExpert 2014 !

VMGuru is very proud to announce that for the sixth year in a row, we can proudly put the VMware vExpert logo on our site.

Alex, Edwin and myself have been awarded the vExpert award 2014 for our contributions to the VMware virtualization community. This is an acknowledgement of our work and we will continue to share our knowledge and expertise with others.

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The vExpert program is a way for VMware to acknowledge and help those who ‘go the extra mile’ and give back to the VMware user community by sharing their expertise and time. vExperts are bloggers, book authors, VMUG leaders, event organizers, speakers, tool builders, forum leaders, and others who share their virtualization expertise.

This year there are 754 vExperts worldwide. I’m proud, humbled and honored to be included and I’m looking forward to another great year!

Congratulations to all fellow vExperts!

Special thanks go out to John Troyer, who had to endure our abuse but in spite of that spent very much time in the vExpert program. Thanks John!

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.

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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.

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.

(more…)

Building a new ESXi whitebox

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Unfortunately the whitebox ESXi server I build in June 2011 died on me when testing a Nvidia Quadro K5000 graphics card. So I needed a new ESXi server for my home lab.

I looked at some HP and Dell mini servers but  I decided to build a new VMware ESXi whitebox. Power supply, hard disks and SSD were still fine so I only needed a new motherboard, processor and memory.

In the past I’ve used websites like, ‘Ultimate VMware ESX Whitebox‘ and ‘VM-help.com‘ to find compatible parts but because one no longer exists and the other is pretty outdated I picked the components myself.

Because the Intel i5 processor does not support hyper-threading and comes with less cache I chose a 4 core, 8 threaded, 3,4GHz Intel i7-4770 processor with a LGA1150 socket. It’s not the cheapest processor but this one was available right away, the other Intel i7 processors were out of stock and this could take up to two weeks.

As the basis I needed a LGA1150 socket motherboard and my selection criteria where very simple, 32GB memory, onboard video and as much expansion slots as possible with a mix of PCI and PCIe (x16, x4, x1). As an ASUS fan I chose the ASUS H87-PLUS. It has four DDR3 DIMM-slots which can support up to  32GB of memory, it has onboard video VGA or HMDI and one PCIe 3.0 x16 slot, one PCIe 2.0 x16 slot (x4 mode), two PCIe 2.0 x1 slots and three PCI slots.

I topped it of with 32GB DDR3 1600MHz Corsair VengeanceLP memory in four 8GB modules (CML32GX3M4A1600C10).

whitebox2.jpeg

The total kit list is as follows:

  • Intel i7-4770 processor (8 x 3.4GHz with HT);
  • ASUS H87-PLUS motherboard;
  • Corsair 32GB DDR3-1600 memory (4 x 32GB);
  • Western Digital Caviar Black WD1002FAEX 1TB, SATA-600 hard disk;
  • 256 GB SanDisk Ultra Plus SSD;
  • Intel 82572EI Gigabit Ethernet adapter;
  • Broadcom NetXtreme BCM5705 Gigabit Ethernet adapter;
  • Nvidia Quadro K5000 graphics card;
  • HP midi tower with 750W power supply.

After bolting, screwing and plugging everything together, it was time to install ESXi 5.5, this finished with no issues, so within 1 hour my VMware ESXi whitebox was up and running and I could import my existing lab infrastructure.

But the most important of all, is it any good? It’s great to build an ESXi whitebox but when the performance of all those ‘desktop components’ suck, it’s maybe better to spend a bit more $$. In short, it’s great, performance is comparable to that of enterprise servers with the exception of disk related tasks. The disk performance is good but it’s not great. You just cant compare disk I/O of simple desktop despite the fact it’s a fast, 6Gbps SATA disk.

At the moment I’m running VMware ESXi 5.5 with:

  • vCenter Server Appliance 5.5;
  • vCenter Update Manager 5.5;
  • vCenter Mobile Access appliance;
  • VMware vCenter Operations Manager 5.7
  • Horizon View 5.3 Connection Server;
  • Horizon View 5.3 Composer;
  • Windows Server 2012 R2 Domain Controller;
  • SQL Server;
  • Veeam Backup & Replication Server 7;
  • Windows 7 desktop.

CPU load is as expected very low, 4968MHz on average. The total memory load when running all those virtual machine is 23.8GB.

All things considered I’m very pleased with my ESXi whitebox, performance is good, 32GB of memory gives me enough space to deploy lab VM’s and the money I spend on it is well within my budget (€650,-).

Hint and tips for those of you who want to build their own ESXi whitebox:

  • Research, research, research.
    I still hear people buy incompatible hardware despite the available online resources. Check if your desired configuration has already been build. If not Google is your friend;
  • Do not save on your harddisk.
    If you save on your harddisk you will be sorry very soon so find a fast disk or even add a SSD if your budget allows it.
    If your budget is a problem, save on the processor. As you can see, the load on my processor for instance is very low. Buy a cheaper processor and spend that on a good harddisk.
  • Go for a motherboard which can hold 32GB of memory or more.
    Even if you do not need 32GB right now, shortage of memory probably the first bottleneck you will encounter.

BLAST Windows Apps to your Chromebook

In September 2011 VMware gave us a sneak peek at Project AppBlast and with VMware Horizon View we can use AppBlast technology to access desktops using a HTML5 compatible browse. But as of today we can experience the true power of AppBlast.

Today VMware and Google announced a new service to deliver Windows applications to Google Chromebooks.

Google and VMware today announced that they are working together to make it easier for Chromebook users in the enterprise to access Windows applications and the Windows desktops on their Google ChromeBooks by using VMware’s Horizon desktop as a service (DaaS), which uses VMware‘s HTML5 Blast protocol, it will now be easier for Chromebook users to connect to a traditional Windows experience.

It is possible to remotely access a Windows machine on ChromeOS by using Google’s ownRemote Desktop application or other 3rd party applications but they do not offer the kind of security features that enterprises look for. Another important shortcoming of Chromebooks preventing business use is the ability to run Windows or Windows-based apps. Microsoft Office is still, by far, the leader in office productivity applications, and of course, there are many critical business applications that will only run on Windows systems. So, for Chromebooks to have any hope of becoming a true business device, they must somehow support running these applications that businesses need. Chromebooks were intended to work with web-enabled applications, making Chromebook-type devices more viable, but that day is still far away.

Users will be able to use the new service to access their Windows applications, data and desktops from a web-based application catalog on their Chromebooks. Soon, Chromebook users will also be able to install the service from the Chrome Web Store.

VMware acquires AirWatch

Airwatch.jpgVMware and AirWatch just announced that they have signed a definitive agreement under which VMware will acquire AirWatch. Airwatch is a leading provider of enterprise mobile management and security solutions.

VMware will acquire AirWatch for approximately $1.175B in cash and approximately $365M of installment payments and assumed unvested equity.

AirWatch is a leading provider of enterprise solutions for Mobile Device Management, Mobile Application Management and Mobile Content Management with 1.600 employees,currently has more than 10,000 customers globally. AirWatch products offer enterprises a platform to securely manage a rapidly growing set of mobile devices and an increasingly mobile workforce. The vision of AirWatch is to provide a secure virtual workspace that allows end users to work at the speed of life.

This acquisition will expand VMware’s End-User Computing group, in which AirWatch’s offerings will form an expanded portfolio of mobile solutions that are complementary to VMware’s portfolio. VMware will probably integrate the AirWatch portfolio into its End User Computing (EUC) platform, VMware Horizon Suite, to further enable mobile users without compromising security.

Check out AirWatch and their wide range of solutions here.

VMware Fling – Real-time audio/video test

VMware Labs has released a great new fling, an application with which you can verify and test the real-time audio/video performance. The application includes a player that displays the ‘virtual webcam’ feed, and also loops back the audio if required.

This allows for testing without a third party app (which often requires user accounts such as Skype, WebEx, etc.). The application can also perform load testing by forcing the video and audio stream to continuously run again, without a third party app dropping the call after a period of time.

Features:

  • Displays webcam images at 1:1 resolution
  • Automatically starts streaming images when launched (and audio will be looped back if selected)
  • Ability to loop the audio-in back to audio-out
  • No need to create user accounts to see RTAV
  • Supports the VMware Virtual Webcam and Physical Webcams

Here you can download the real-time audio/video test application.

VMware Horizon View 5.3 is available

At VMworld 2013 in Barcelona VMware announced the new version of their EUC product Horizon View 5.3.

Now it is finally available for download!

VMware Horizon View 5.3 includes a significant number of new or improved features.

  • Direct Pass-through Graphics
    Virtual Dedicated Graphics Acceleration (vDGA) is a graphics acceleration capability that is offered by VMware with NVIDIA GPUs and this is now supported by Horizon View 5.3. This enables customers to deliver high-end 3D-grade graphics for use cases where a discrete GPU is needed. vDGA graphics adapters can be installed in the underlying vSphere host and are then assigned to virtual desktops. Assigning a discrete NVIDIA GPU to the virtual Machine dedicates the entire GPU to that desktop and includes support for CUDA and OpenGL.
  • Windows 8.1 Support
    My experience with Windows 8.1 is not that positive but VMware already included full support in Horizon View 5.3. This comes aligned with the Windows 8.1 client support in vSphere 5.5. Important: Local Mode and View Persona Management features are not supported with Windows 8.1 desktops yet.
  • Multi Media Redirection (MMR) for H264 encoded media files to Windows 7 clients
    VMware added support for multimedia redirection of H264 encoded Windows Media files to Windows 7 client end-points. H.264/MPEG-4 is currently one of the most commonly used formats for the recording, compression, and distribution of high-definition video. When using this Windows 7 endpoints will receive the original compressed multimedia stream from the server and decode it locally for display. This can decrease bandwidth usage since the data over the wire will be compressed video instead of a uncompressed screen information and it also decreases used server resources, because the server no longer use server CPU resources decoding the video content.
  • HTML5 access improvements
    With Horizon View 5.2 it was possible to use a VDI desktop without installing client software by using delivered through HTML5 capable web-browsers. With Horizon View 5.3 VMware has further improved this feature so users can now enjoy sound, clipboard access and a improved graphics performance.
  • Real-time audio-video (webcam/audio redirection) for Linux clients
    With Horizon View 5.3 VMware introduces real-time audio and video support for Linux clients (support for Windows client was already in 5.2). Real-time audio and video does not forward audio and webcam devices using USB. Instead the devices are controlled by the local client, and audio- and video-streams are transferred from the local devices and encoded, delivered back to the guest virtual machine, and decoded.
    Audio delivery is performed from the standard View agent audio-out functionality, which provides better audio quality than with USB redirection.
  • iOS 7 look & feel for iPhone/iPad client
    The iOS client now matches the look and feel of iOS 7, released at the beginning of October.
  • USB 3.0 port support
    Horizon View 5.3 offers USB port redirection support for USB 3.0 client ports.
  • Support for Windows Server 2008 VM based desktops
    Strange but true, Windows Server 2008 R2 is now supported as desktop operating system. Why? Well Microsoft does not offer SPLA licensing for Windows desktop operating systems to allow service providers to create Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) offerings using VMware Horizon View.
    Microsoft does offer SPLA licensing for Windows Server 2008, so this allows service providers to be fully compatible with the Microsoft licensing terms.
    Important to know is that some features are currently not supported with Windows Server 2008 R2, check the release notes.
  • Support for VMware Horizon Mirage
    This is the first step in creating a single desktop image delivery system. Administrators can now utilize VMware Horizon Mirage 4.3 to manage Horizon View virtual desktops. Mirage keeps a centralized and de-duplicated copy of virtual desktops, including user’s applications and data, and is able to re-instantiate them should you have a host or site failure. Mirage can also distribute individual and departmental application layers. With Horizon Mirage IT is effectively able to eliminate the need for complex namespace or application virtualization solutions.
  • VCAI production ready
    View Composer Array Integration is now a fully supported feature. VCAI allows administrators to take advantage of native storage snapshot features. VCAI integrate with NAS storage partner’s native cloning capabilities using vSphere vStorage APIs for Array Integration (VAAI). VCAI speeds up provisioning of virtual desktops while offloads CPU consumption and network bandwidth.
  • Linked-Clone Desktop Pool Storage Overcommit enhancements
    The linked-clone desktop pool storage overcommit feature includes a new storage overcommit level called Unbounded. When selected, View Manager does not limit the number of linked-clone desktops that it creates based on the physical capacity of the datastore.
    Important: note that the unbound policy should only be selected if you are certain that the datastore in use has enough storage capacity to accommodate future growth.
  • Supportability improvements for View Persona Management
    With Horizon View 5.3 View Persona Management feature includes several supportability improvements, including additional log messages, profile size and file and folder count tracking, and a new group policy setting called Add the Administrators group to redirected folders. View Manager uses the file and folder counts to suggest folders for folder redirection.
  • Oracle 11.2.0.3 database support
    In addition to the supported databases listed in the installation documentation, VMware Horizon View 5.3 supports Oracle 11.2.0.3 databases.
  • vSAN for VMware Horizon View
    As of version 5.3 VMware includes vSAN for Horizon View desktops in the Horizon Suite. vSAN reduces storage cost for VDI deployments by using inexpensive server disks for shared storage. It also can improve performance because vSAN uses SSD caching for read and write  and provides intelligent data placement within a vSphere cluster. vSAN is a scale-out converged platform and a hybrid storage solution combining SSD and traditional disks. Because it fully integrates with the vSphere kernel it has very low latency.
    Because VSAN is in beta release, this feature is being released as a Tech Preview, which means that it is available for you to try, but it is not recommended for production use and no technical support is provided.

 

You can download VMware Horizon view 5.3 here!

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

VMware NSX Distributed Services

This article is number two of a series about the upcoming network virtualization spree, specifically the one coming from VMware. Check out the first article in this series, ‘Introduction to VMware NSX.

Traditional network services have evolved over the last years. Introducing more advanced firewalling, loadbalancing and remote access services. Typically, datacenter networks architecture these days look somewhat look this:

VMware-Traditional-Services-300x300.png

The routers can be virtualized inside a physical box, using either VRFs or vendor proprietary router virtual routers, such as Cisco VDC. However, the external and internal firewalls are usually separate monolithic hardware firewalls, which puts a large dent into the network budget.

As we move to a virtual-everything world, desktops and applications are hosted inside the datacenter more and more. The data traffic going east-west inside the datacenter is continuing to grow and is causing scalability issues on the central network services devices. Firewalls and load balancers need to be upgraded (in-place) to keep up and are bleeding the network budget.

With VMware NSX, the physical load balancers and internal firewalls will turn virtual. This will increase the scalability of your internal services enormously; every VM will have it’s own firewall instance (embedded in the ESXi kernel) and you’ll have a load balancer service per application. Here’s how the next step in virtualization will look like:

VMware-Distributed-Services.png

The possibilities are limitless. There will be a world where you can build a datacenter network with a single pair of proper core switches, standard switches and the rest will be purely x86 servers. Here’s how I think the datacenter network will look in a few years when virtualization has really kicked in:

VMware-Virtual-Networking-Endstage.png

Check out these great vendors making some awesome announcements about NSX integration:

 

paloalto-150x105.png juniper.gif f5-logo.png
catbird_logo.png Fortinet_Logo_PMS485-300x34.png logo-mcafee.png

 

There’s still a lot of ground to cover on NSX and you will find a lot of information here as I love this technology and love the possibilities it gives when designing datacenter architectures.

One thing that has set me off a little bit, is the fact that VMware is keeping NSX closely to their chest. Evaluations are currently not on the table and integration partners are excluded from implementation tracks and there is no way to get a hold of NSX but through VMware’s Professional Services. Maybe it’s the difficulty implementing NSX, maybe it’s VMware not being ready with NSX but feeling compelled to put it out at an early stage, who knows. All I know it’s very disappoint for those of us who want to turn NSX inside and out.

They say partners will start getting in the loop around Q3 2014, but I wish they’d move that timetable up a few quarters.

 


This article was written by Martijn Smit, Datacenter engineer at Imtech ICT. This article was republished from his blog with his permission

Also check out Martijn’s website Lostdomain.org.

 

Introduction to VMware NSX

This article is number one of a series about the upcoming network virtualization spree, specifically the one coming from VMware.

I spent 14 to 17 October at VMworld 2013 in Barcelona, basically getting my mind blown by the futuristic possibilities of network flexibility. Things are changing for the network, flattening the entire stack, distributing network services throughout the virtual network (instead of the monolithic central hardware), lowering network costs and making it more flexible and simple to manage.

In this post, I will go over the basics of the components that are used to form the VMware NSX virtual network.

  • NSX Manager (management-plane);
  • NSX Controller (control-plane);
  • NSX Hypervisor Switches (data-plane);
  • NSX Gateways;
  • Distributed Network Services.

VMware NSX.PNG

NSX Manager

Configuring the NSX virtual network mostly goes through APIs. The idea is that cloud automation platforms (i.e. vCenter Automation Center) or self-developed platforms will leverage NSX to automate deployment of virtual networks.

The NSX Manager produces a web-based GUI for user-friendly management of the NSX virtual network. This GUI can be used next to your cloud automation platform for manual configuration and troubleshooting. You can view the status of the entire virtual network, take snapshots of the virtual network for backup, restores and archival.

Everything the NSX Manager does to manage the virtual network, goes through API calls towards the NSX Controllers.

NSX Controller

The NSX Controller is a very scalable control layer that takes on the functionality of the network control-plane. It is responsible for programming the Hypervisor vSwitches and Gateways with the configurations and real-time forwarding state. Whenever there’s a change in the virtual network (a VM boots, change of portgroup), the controller programs the virtual network to understand these changes.

The NSX Controller cluster typically consists of three NSX Controllers, but when those three are not enough (and can’t keep up with the workloads), up scaling is as easy as deploying a new NSX Controller virtual appliance and adding it to the NSX Cluster.

The Hypervisor vSwitches are divided between the NSX Controllers. The responsibility for a vSwitch is done through an election process, where 1 NSX Controller wins the master role and another NSX Controller wins the slave role. The other NSX Controllers within the cluster can be called upon the master for assistance in the workloads. The slave monitors the master and takes over if the master fails.

Hypervisor vSwitches

Virtualization today already has had vSwitches from the beginning. How else would virtual machines connect (in a scalable fashion) to the network to provide services?

Each hypervisor has a built-in, high performance and programmable virtual switch inside. In the NSX virtual network, the NSX Controllers programs these vSwitches with the current state of the network (configuration and forwarding state). If a NSX network is distributed (VMs in the same network spanned over different hosts), the controllers program the vSwitches to set up IP encapsulation tunnels (STT or VXLAN) between these hosts to extend the virtual network.

NSX Gateways / Edge devices

An NSX Gateway is basically the border or edge of the virtual network. It is where the virtual network communicates with the physical network that we see today. A NSX Gateway can be a virtual appliance linking traffic to VLANs, but it can also be a physical device by some vendors.

Here’s a small list of the top vendors:

  • Arista (7150S);
  • Brocade (VCS Fabric: VDX 6740 and 6740T);
  • Juniper (EX9200 & MX-series);
  • Dell (S6000-series);
  • HP (announced something, no details).

To my (and many others with me) disappointment, Cisco is absent from this list. They have a ‘different view’ and going for their own thing (Cisco ONE), which is discussed here. I hope they come to their senses and allow certain types of network switches to be part of a NSX network. (Perhaps the Nexus 5ks!?)

Distributed Network Services

The best part about the distributed network services functionality is the services registry. This service registry makes plugins possible. So far, I’ve heard great stories from Palo Alto and TrendMicro. Those of you not familiar with any of these products (be it that Palo Alto mostly does insanely great physical firewalls), should gather some info. More on distributed network services at a later date!

Introductory video

Check out this awesome introductory video on NSX.

 

Next article in this series, VMware NSX Distributed Services.

 


This article was written by Martijn Smit, Datacenter engineer at Imtech ICT. This article was republished from his blog with his permission

Also check out Martijn’s website Lostdomain.org.

 

VMware vCloud Suite 5.5, vSAN and NSX walk-through

VMware has launched three new websites which will help you to get up to speed with VMware vCloud Suite 5.5, vSAN and NSX.

An extensive website gives you a detailed overview of the entire vCloud Suite with all the new features VMware released at VMworld. VMware vSphere DataProtection, VMware App HA, vSphere Flash Read Cache and all the other ingredients of the vCloud Suite.

The total walk-through includes:vCloud Suite.png

- vSphere DataProtection
- vSphere App HA
- vCloud Director
- vSphere Replication
- vSphere Flash Read Cache

 

The NSX website provides a step-by-step overview of VMware NSX, the Security and compliance issues and NSX partner integration.

Here’s the table of content for the NSX walk-through:VMware NSX.PNG

- Introduction to VMware NSX
- VMware NSX
- NSX for vSphere
- Security and Compliance
- NSX Partner Integration

 

 

Besides NSX there’s also a website on VMware vSAN. This website provides a step-by-step overview of VMware vSAN, configuring, storage policies and high availability.

Here’s the table of content for the vSAN walk-through:VMware vSAN.PNG

- Configuring vSAN
- Deploying VMs using VM Storage policies
- Changing VM Storage policies
- Failure Resilience & Availability
- Interoperability – vSAN and vSphere HA

 

You can check out the walk-throughs here:

- VMware vCloud Suite 5.5
- VMware vSAN
- VMware NSX

VMware vSAN & vCOPS included in Horizon Suite

VMworld 2013.png

Today at VMworld Europe 2013 VMware announced that VMware Virtual SAN (vSAN) and VMware vCenter Operations Manager for View will be included in the Horizon Suite.

VMware Virtual SAN for Horizon View beta will deliver significantly lower CAPEX and TCO for VDI environments. The bundling of VMware vCenter Operations Manager for View in Horizon Suite, available at no additional cost, offers advanced VDI performance and operations management for large-scale virtual desktop production monitoring, advanced problem warning, faster time to resolution and complete infrastructure coverage.

This is a great step forward and the next step in combining VMware’s server- and desktop virtualization techniques. Important to mention is that vSAN is still beta.

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.

 

How to upgrade to vSphere 5.5

A few weeks ago during VMworld 2013 VMware announced vSphere 5.5. We already did a ‘What’s new in vSphere 5.5‘ post but now it is actually available, so it’s time to find out how to upgrade to vSphere 5.5.

But before we start, there are a few caveats:

  • ESXi 5.0 and 5.1 included drivers for network adapters that are not officially supported by VMware, but were very useful for installing ESXi on whitebox hardware. Some of these drivers have been removed, e.g. net-r8168 and net-r8169 for certain Realtek adapters and net-sky2 for Marvell adapters;
  • Once you upgrade a virtual machine’s hardware to VM hardware version 10, it is no longer possible to edit the virtual machine using the traditional vSphere client. Modification to this virtual machine must be executed using the vSphere Web Client. This can be a problem when you are using a free version of ESXi or if you’re unable to manage it through a vCenter server for whatever reason.Hardware version 10.PNG

Because I run a VMware vSphere 5.1 environment, this is a upgrade from vSphere 5.1 to 5.5.
The upgrade is a straight forward four step process.

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Page 1 – vCenter Server Appliance upgrade
Page 2 – vSphere client upgrade
Page 3 – ESXi host upgrade
Page 4 – Virtual Machine upgrade

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Pages: 1 2 3 4 5

VMworld TV: A wrap up of VMworld 2013

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VMworld TV gives you a wrap up of all of VMworld 2013 in San Francisco.
If you want to know what happened in San Francisco and on the VMworld Party, check out the video below.

VMworld TV: The highlights of VMworld 2013 day 3

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VMworld TV gives you a wrap up of day three of VMworld 2013 in San Francisco.
If you want to know what happened today and see Eric & Jeremy battle it out on the Solution Exchange floor, check out the video below.