Posts Tagged ‘VMware’

VMware Project Onyx – Turn vSphere Mouse Clicks into PowerCLI

August 31st, 2009

I stumbled across a tweet the other day by Carter Shanklin who I hope most of you know. For those that don’t, Carter Shanklin  is a product manager over at VMware specialising in the VMware PowerCLI and other automation tools.

His tweet was about a new project called Project Onyx, which on initial inspection is a tool that allows you to see and capture the powershell code behind actions in vSphere vCenter.  This project is at a very early stage as you will probably see in the video embedded below, however this is a very exciting development for those new to PowerCLI.

Some time back I sat my Hyper-V MCTS exam and one of the things I really liked about Microsoft’s SCVMM product was the ability to see the powershell behind the actions you were carrying out.  It was like a head start on powershell automation, giving you a chance to see what was happening, allowing you to dissect, copy it and re-use it however you wanted.

I’m hoping that VMware are planning something similar here,  perhaps a plug-in for vCenter! I personally struggle sometimes with the PowerCLI and the syntax, etc.  If I could see the code behind an action I was trying to automate a good part of the work would be done already.

This project is currently in the early stages of development.  In order to get this project up and running VMware are looking for people to help them Beta test project Onyx.  They have put the call out for a handful of “dedicated people with a burning need for automation”

Get yourself over to VMworld session VM2241 with your business card and put yourself forward to help this promising looking project gain some traction.

VI Toolkit / Powershell, VMware ,

VMware vApps – Where do they fit in the vCloud?

June 30th, 2009

Virtual Appliances have been around for quite some time now and it seems with the recent release of vSphere, VMware are looking to take vApps to the next level. The VMware Virtual Appliance Marketplace (VAM) is the one stop shop providing VMware users with a plethora of pre-configured, ready to download appliances.  There are over a 1000 appliances available in the VAM, all of them capable of being deployed in either the private cloud or in a cloud hosted by a 3rd party.  Now the VAM is also offering on-demand trails of certain vApps through selected vCloud partners.  The vCloud vision is slowly taking shape and and although it may be mostly conceptual now, small steps like this are the real building blocks.

With the release of vSphere 4.0 VMware introduced full support for the OVF 1.0 specification.  What does this mean?  well the Open Virtualisation Format is a platform independent, efficient, extensible, and open packaging and distribution format for virtual machines.  It’s virtual platform independent so if vSphere isn’t your platform of choice the vApp will work with Hyper-V and XenServer. OVF virtual machines are optimised for easy distribution are simple to deploy and support single and multi VM configurations.

Now I spend a lot of my time integrating and supporting applications from 3rd party vendors,  some of them mainstream and some of them more specialist. One of the constant issues I have is around how best to deploy them,  what are the best practices, minimum specifications and correct configurations to ensure successful deployment and reliable operation.  This is something I can see vApps helping all of us with, vApps created using the OVF format will allow vendors to build and maintain pre-packaged systems. Pre-configured to be highly compatible, built to the vendors own best practices and best of all built for rapid deployment to customers regardless of virtualised platform or cloud prefernce. The way I look at it,  it’s not to disimilar to Apple’s approach to controlling the hardware and the software they use. The way Apple operate allows them to guarantee better reliability and compatibility because they know what they’re deploying and what they’re deploying it on. A vendor built vApp has the potential to offer the same benefits and simplify the job of vendors, system integrators and application support teams alike.

So how are VMware assisting vendors in their pursuit of vApp bliss? With the creation of VMware Studio of course,  It was a product I’d never heard of until the beta release of VMware Studio 2.0 was announced earlier this month. The latest features are listed below.

Build vApps and virtual appliances (with in-guest OS and application components) compatible with VMware Infrastructure, VMware vSphere 4.0 and the cloud

- Support for OVF 1.0 and 0.9
- Available as an Eclipse plugin in addition to the standalone version
- Ability to accept existing, Studio-created VM builds as input
- Support for 32 bit and 64 bit versions of Windows 2003 and 2008 Server
- Support  for SLES 10.2, RHEL 5.2 and 5.3, CentOS 5.2 and 5.3 and Ubuntu
- Publish patches to update deployed virtual appliances
- Extensible in-guest management framework
- Automatic Dependency resolution
- VMware ESX, ESXi, Vmware Server 1.0.4 – 2.0, VMware Workstation enabled as         provisioning engines.
- Infrastructure enhancements in the GUI and builds

So what does a vApp deployment look like,  well here’s a video that was posted on the VMware vApp developer blog.  In this demo a user deploys a mulit VM, multi-tiered version of SugarCRM in just a few clicks with no need to even start up a VM Console. 

New Products, VMware , ,

How to run Citrix XenServer 5.5 on VMware vSphere

June 22nd, 2009

Well fresh from my return from the Citrix iForum I decided to fire head long into installing XenServer in my home lab so I could have a look at it.

I already run VMware vSphere 4i on my home lab which consists of an HP Proliant ML115 G5.  Instead of buying another machine to install Xenserver on or rebuilding my current vSphere server I thought I would try and install XenServer inside a virtual machine.  As Eric Gray over at vCritical proved you can install vSphere 4 inside a vSphere 4 virtual machine so surely the same would be possible XenServer 5.5, shouldn’t it?

Well the screenshot below should prove exactly that,  Xenserver 5.5 successfully running on vSphere 4i


So how did I conduct the install,  well first of all I downloaded the ISO from Citrix’s website and then did the following.

1 – Create a Virtual Machine with custom settings.
2 – Select the new Virtual Machine version 7 hardware.
3 – Select Red Hat Enterprise Linux v5 (64-bit).
4 – 1 vCPU and 1GB of RAM will suffice.
5 – I used the LSI Logic Parallel SCSI Controller.
6 – Create a disk based between 20 – 30GB (less has caused issues, see comments below)
7 – Make it thin provisioned if you want,  why wouldn’t you?
8 – Connect the ISO image to the VM and start it.
9 – Follow the prompts on screen to complete the install.

I only had one issue during install and that was when the following message appeared,  I carried on installing XenServer and it completed without issue.


However when It came to starting up windows based Virtual Machines,  like the message above indicated, I couldn’t.  XenCenter showed the following error.


Basically because Windows requires the hardware virtualised assist features (Intel VT or AMD-V),  hypervisor on top of hypervisor masks this underlying virtualisation assistance and hence Windows can’t operate.  What I did manage to get up and running was virtual machines running Debian Lenny 5.0,  so at least I had something to play about with and test out XenServer features such as live motion. Linux machines on XenServer start up in a para virtualised mode and are therefore supported where hardware virtualisation assist is not available.

check out the Debian Lenny based DreamLinux desktop edition,  this should give you some VM’s to play within your virtualised XenServer environment.

So although I didn’t get XenServer operating like I wanted to in Vmware vSphere, I did get  it working enough to play about with it and it’s features.  To be honest that’s all I was after in the first place!!

Citrix, VMware, vSphere, XenServer , , ,

vSphere VCP – Official certification paths

April 30th, 2009

Following the completion of my post last night about the potential paths that the VMware certification was going to take,  VMware have made an official announcement on the vSphere VCP.

To see the official VMware VCP certification path diagram click the link

For more information check out the following VMware education services page. This confirms that existing VCP’s can sit the exam without sitting the “what’s new in vSphere” course, which is great news !!

Certifications, VMware, vSphere , ,

vSphere VCP Certification Paths

April 29th, 2009

I’ve been trying to find out a bit more information on what is going to happen to the VCP qualification now that vSphere has been launched. Way back in January this year I blogged about the impending changes to the VCP exam and since then there have been a number of posts speculating as to what will be involved in retaining or obtaining vSphere VCP status.

The best post by far,  which I admit I only stumbled upon today, is by a gentleman by the name of Arnim van lieshout .  This was originally published back at the beginning of March and refers to vSphere as NGen4 (Next Generation 4). Now, it’s very detailed and official looking,  I’m not sure he did this himself and I have actually seen a few blog posts suggesting that this material is covered by the VMware NDA.  However the cat is out of the bag so I’m going to share it with you anyway,  luckily I’m not covered by any NDA agreement because I’m not a VMware beta tester (though I would like to be one).

What Arnim’s diagram tells us is that there will be a new vSphere Install, Configure and manage course exactly like there was for VI3.  There will also be a what’s new course,  this designed for existing VCP’s who want to upgrade to the new vSphere VCP.  It would also appear that VMWare is keen to maintain the quality of their certification and will continue enforcing the courses as part of the certification path. This is something I am happy to see as it protects my own personal investment in gaining VCP status and makes it mean something.

What’s most interesting is that Arnim’s then describe’s the differences between the coloured lines in the diagram.  Orange lines relate to shortcuts available in the first 9 months from the general release of vSphere and the black lines relate to the mandatory path you must take after 9 months when the shortcuts have been removed. Seeing as it’s been a long day I’ve included out takes from Arnim’s blog post which describe it better than I do.

The options (black arrows):

Everybody new to VMware MUST attend the NGen4 ICM training

Everybody who attended the VI3 training (I&C or DSA only), but didn’t passed the exam MUST  attend the NGen4 ICM training again

If you are a VCP on ESX 2.x you MUST attend the NGen4 training

If you are a VCP on VI3 you MUST attend the NGen4 What’s New training

The shortcut options (orange arrows):

From the date of general release VMware will offer the shortcut paths for 9 months

If you are VCP on VI3 than you are allowed to take the new NGen4 exam WITHOUT attending the NGen4 “What’s New” training

If you are VCP on ESX 2.x you are still allowed to take the VI3 exam in order to become VCP on VI3 and then take the NGen4 exam

If you attended the VI3 training (I&C or DSA only) but didn’t passed the VI3 exam, you are offered 2 options:

Take the VI3 exam, and become VCP on VI3 and then take the NGen4 exam

Attend the NGen4 “What’s New” training and take the NGen4 exam

I wonder how much of this will materialise into hard fact,  we obviously await the official VMware announcements regarding certification.

Another post that I found quite interesting and one that is quite recent was from VMware certified instructor Scott Vessey.  He kindly informs us that once the vSphere launch is done VMware will start beta testing the exam in preperation for wider distribution.  He estimates that Pearson Vue will be offering the exam within 6-8 weeks of the product release.  Personally I will be trying to sit the upgrade exam without the course as my work won’t pay for it this year and I can’t afford it myself. Better get studying hadn’t I !!!!

Certifications, VMware, vSphere , ,

vSphere – Fault Tolerance

April 27th, 2009

Been busy putting together a case on why its a good idea to take advantage of VMware’s current vSphere  upgrade deal. For those who are not aware, you can upgrade Standard to Advanced for $795 per CPU. This roughly a 50% discount over the normal upgrade price and is only available until the 15th December this year.

So, as I was putting the benefits case together I was busy drafting out the description of the new fault tolerance feature and selling it as one of the big bonuses. Now I’m very much into the technical aspects of what I do and sometimes get bogged down in the details when trying to make a benefits case. So I went looking for a video which would undoubtley explain it better at management level. So here it is, VMware CTO Steve Herrod explains VMware Fault Tolerance in relatively plain english.

Now for those like me, who do want to know the technical detail, the following link Fault Tolerance 800 x 600 Demo is to a high quality video demonstration of the new Fault Tolerance feature in vSphere.

A word of warning though,   I found a significant caveat on VMware’s Fault Tolerance web page!  It only supports VMs with a single virtual CPU.  This is bad news because I was looking at this as a potential solution to protect an  exchange server which I very much doubt will have a single vCPU.  You can find said Caveat at the bottom of the Fault Tolerance feature page. I’m busy trying to find out from the community at large if there are any timelines on increasing the limit on this.

New Products, VMware, vSphere ,

vSphere – Vmware Data Recovery Demo Video

April 26th, 2009

 Just having a little look through the videos on VMwareTV on YouTube and noticed that they’ve posted a new video on the new vSphere Data Recovery feature, I’ve included it below for your viewing pleasure.

New Products, VMware, vSphere ,

VSphere Launch – What to make of it all

April 25th, 2009

This morning I finally got the chance to sit down and review all the various announcements surrounding the new vSphere release.  There was a lot to take in and to be honest I’m still digesting a lot of it and what it means for the company I work for.

First thing I have to comment on was the impressive nature of the launch,  it was obvious that VMware worked hard on this launch to make it as slick as possible.  From the vSphere Simulcast live launch with CEO’s explaining the bigger vision, to the excellent resources such as the vSphere upgrade advisor and the great step by step upgrade videos within the upgrade centre.  This was a key announcement for VMware, they needed to continue to stay way ahead of the competition being that they’ve made up a little ground recently. From what I’ve seen so far VMware appear to have made another gigantic leap ahead of the rest.

New features aside (See here for more information) what were some of the major changes to note, looking through it the following jumped out immediately as they were relevant to my current employer.

  • Change of licensing from 2 CPU pricing to single CPU pricing in vSphere
  • Editions - Essentials, Essentials +, Standard, Advanced, Enterprise and Enterprise +
  • Higher maximums and increased performance for “virtualise everything” strategies


Licensing and New Editions


The change of licensing and the introduction of different versions introduces a complexity for existing VI3 customers.  The afore mentioned vSphere upgrade advisor should help with that but customers are going to have to re-evaluate their current licensing, determine what new edition they’ll get based on their current licensing and decide what features they actually want from vSphere in case they need to upgrade.  The vSphere edition comparison should help you distinguish what you do get with the different versions and Jason Boche’s vSphere licensing article  brilliantly explains some of the more notable licence changes. 

With the introduction of the new editions,  there are obviously changes in the pricing structure which on first glance would appear to make VMware that bit more expensive. You can bet your bottom dollar Microsoft and Citrix will jump all over this and use it to their advantage if they can.  The vSphere pricing guide PDF should help you determine what the differences are in the editions, what the costs are when buying from scratch and upgrading.

It’s worth noting that VMware have a special offer on until the end of the year.  Upgrade vSphere Standard to vSphere Advanced for $745 per CPU and upgrade vSphere Enterprise to Enterprise Plus for $295 per CPU.  There is also a special deal on upgrading to Enterprise Plus and the Cisco Nexus 100V for $795 per CPU. Contact your local VMware sales manager for localised pricing.

Configuration Maximums and Performance


Moving on lets talk about the increase in performance and configuration maximums,  the area that interests me greatly as this really does allow companies to say “lets virtualise everything”.   There have been some pretty major leaps in what is possible allowing even the biggest businesses to look at virtualising their tier 1 applications. Support for 8 VCPUs and 256 GB of memory per VM as well as improved networking and vastly improved I/O should technically cover any software application.  The example below shows the potential size of cluster you could have,  it’s obviously an unlikely scenario but just goes to show the sheer scalability of the vSphere software. 

VMware made some big claims as part of this launch.  They claimed to be able to drive up to 8900 db transactions per second per virtual machine,  to put that into context Visa conduct 5000 transactions per second worldwide.  With disk they say they can get more than 200,000 I/O operations per second per VMware ESX host, which is a 100% increase over VI 3.5.  On the network I/O front they claim to be able to get an 85% increase over the networking in VI 3.5.  These are some pretty meaty figures and when you hear them saying that they managed to server 3 billion web pages a day in testing,  3 times eBays daily traffic you have to think that this is a platform that offers some serious muscle.


Step-By-Step Migration Videos


Just to finish off,  I’d like to draw peoples attention to these great videos from the upgrade centre which detail how to go about upgrading from VI3 to the new vSphere software.  Top marks to VMware for this,  this will be a great help to people trying to figure out what they have to do to upgrade successfully.

Part 1 of 4
VMware VirtualCenter Management Components                     



Part 2 of 4
VMware ESX Host Migration Methods                     



Part 3 of 4
Virtual Machine Upgrades (VMware Tools and Virtual Hardware)                     



Part 4 of 4
Implementing VMware vSphere Licensing                     



VMware, vSphere ,

Where to start with your VMWare ESX Whitebox

January 17th, 2009

There have been a couple of postings recently by people who have spent some time custom building PC’s capable of running VMWare ESX. A great example is Eric Sloof who has built a monster white box capable of running the new VI4 Beta software.

That’s got me interested in building one,  perhaps to road test new features if I can ever get invited to participate in a VMWare beta program,  or perhaps just to run ESX 3.5i so I can play about with new Microsoft Windows 7 or Server 2008 R2 Beta.

One of the main issues with building a whitebox is ensuring compatibility with the VMWare HCL,  so where on earth do you start looking so you can ensure your whitebox works.  Well I’ve put togethere some links together to get you started,  I hope they’re of some help.

VMWare Hardware Compatibility List

The new fully searchable HCL just has to be on the list,  double check your planned components,  you may be suprised to find they are actually supported on the HCL. – The unnofficial VMWare ESX whitebox HCL

This site is stacked full of useful information on tried and tested hardware combinations

The Ultimate Whitebox web site

Though this is a relatively new site it has some really well laid out information on hardware combos

Tim Jacobs post on his Whitebox

This post is just under a year old but still contains some good information.

Now HP were doing some crazy deals on their HP ML tower server range last year.  I was having a look at servers direct in the UK today and the prices are pretty good,  I’m tempted to buy one of these  rather than build a solution from scratch.

So how have people got on with ESX on the HP ML Series server? Well here are a few more links that may help.

instaling ESX 3.5 on the HP ML110 G5

Kiwi Si who runs the TechHead has a great lab article about installing ESX 3.5 on the ML110 G5

ESX 3.5 operating on a ML115 G5

Virtual VCP has put this article together detailing the changes required to get ESX 3.5 working on the new ML115 G5 servers.

Thing to remember with all whiteboxes are they are not supported by VMWare and you will be relying on the VMWare community to help you out with any problems.  My advice is,  if someone has listed the exact components that worked for them,  copy it as it will most likely work for you.  I’ll let you know how I get on with my whitebox,  just need to wait for that much needed January pay cheque ;o)

ESX, VMware ,

VMware vExpert announcement

January 15th, 2009

VMware yesterday announced the creation of a new community based award called VMware vExpert. The following is a quote from John Troyer’s post on the VMTN Blog site

VMware is very proud to introduce the VMware vExpert Awards. The VMware vExpert Awards will be given to individuals who have significantly contributed to the overall community of VMware users over the past year, either online or offline. You might be contributing online to blogs, forums, wikis, or other online sites. You might be organizing VMUG meetings or otherwise getting the word out to local IT professionals. You’re helping spread the word about virtualization and making people successful in deploying this game-changing technology. We want to thank you.

Now simply for comparision purposes this is similar to Microsoft’s MVP,  rewarding people who specialise in the virtualisation/virtualization field.  People who actively participate in the community and spread the good word about this exciting technology sector.  VMware are keen that a direct comparison is not made between the MVP and VMware vExpert as you can see from John’s comments below.

The VMware vExpert program will likely get talked about as “VMware’s MVP,” and while we’d like to acknowledge inspiration from Microsoft’s very successful program, please don’t compare them directly. Microsoft MVP has been going on for over a decade and includes a 4-day conference — and the vExpert won’t even get you a free ticket to VMworld! :-) Our first goal simply is to publicly thank you and acknowledge all the hard work you’ve been doing on behalf of virtualization and VMware. That being said, when you get this award you’ll be visible to various teams inside VMware and may be tapped to participate in various activities.

Now I’m quite new to blogging about virtualisation and I am actively trying to get more involved in the community at large, whether that be through this site, twitter or the VMware communities website.  This new award is something that I would like to work towards through 2009, it’s a nice goal to have and will keep me motivated to continue blogging about virtualisation.  You would be amazed at the amount of time it actually takes to keep up to date with this fast moving sector and take time to write unique quality content.

There are at present a lot of very, very good people out there in the community,  I certainly have a few nominations I will be submitting myself.  If you have someone you would like to nominate follow the link to the nomination form