Like any email server, Domino has very high disk input/output (I/O) activity because of the many activities that occur on the server, including full-text indexing, view updates, mail router activity, multiple agents, maintenance tasks such as fixup and compact, and much more. Additionally, Domino servers tend to have high CPU and memory usage as well as network I/O. So is a Domino server a good candidate for virtualization? In most cases yes, except for the busiest of workloads.
Lotus Domino has been using application virtualization for almost 10 years with its built-in partitioned server technology that allows multiple independent Domino servers to run on a single server and operating system. I’ve personally run up to six separate Domino servers on one server without any issues. So, moving to operating system virtualization is a natural and more efficient progression for running multiple Domino servers on a single server.
Because Domino is similar to Exchange as far as resource utilization and workloads, many of the same methods and best practices that are recommended for Exchange can be used with Domino. However, Domino is a bit different than Exchange and there are a few things you should be aware of when virtualizing Domino.
For more tips on using virtualizing Domino Server on ESX hosts check out the below links:
In a previous blog post with an admittedly lighthearted tone, I congratulated the recipients and asked for more information about the award and the process for receiving one. Reading the few available online resources on vExpert left some of my questions unanswered. (While I did reply in the comment section on the original post, we decided to remove the blog and post this entry instead, because the comment wasn’t visible enough.)
On SearchVMware.com and SearchServerVirtualization.com, we have run several rounds of product awards, and process is always important, so I was naturally curious to see whether there was further criterion available for what comprises a vExpert.
Several community members became upset, however, as the blog post was interpreted by some as a denigration of the vExpert Award or an indication that I didn’t think certain recipients deserved the award. I apologize for writing it in a way that left room for misinterpretation.
The vExpert Award selection process clarified
John Troyer, VMware Communities outreach and vExpert program manager, graciously answered my questions. Because of his answer, in addition to knowing how many awards were given and what the new vExperts receive, I also now know that the vExpert selection process wasn’t based solely on self-nominations. There were internal nominations provided by VMware, and many people nominated others whom they believed should be recognized.
Troyer also said that most of the nominations were indeed highly qualified but that VMware only had 300 spots. The actual recipients demonstrated that they gave their time and effort back to help others, either via blog, user group, or publication. He further commented that the vExpert is not a measure of raw technical expertise, as someone could be well versed in VMware technologies but not qualify as a vExpert, and that it may appear that many bloggers were recognized as vExperts, but that’s because the best virtualization bloggers have self-assembled.
Troyer also mentioned that vExperts would see additional benefits over those already announced (for more details, see the VMware vExpert page).
VMware is to Microsoft as vExpert is to MVP?
Is VMware developing an award that will one day act as the VMware equivalent to the Microsoft Most Valued Professional (MVP) Award?
Currently, the MVP Award program is conducted by eight people, and there are 3,500 MVPs around the world out of 100 million active community members. With 300 vExperts, the vExpert Award program has some room for growth if VMware wants it to become the equivalent of the MVP — but as the vExpert Award is in its first year, there’s plenty of time for development.
For comparison purposes, the MVP website outlines the selection process as such:
MVP nominees undergo a rigorous review process. Technical community members, current MVPs, and Microsoft personnel may nominate candidates. A panel that includes MVP team members and product group teams evaluate each nominee’s technical expertise and voluntary community contributions over the prior year. The panel considers the quality, quantity, and level of impact of the MVP nominee’s contributions. Active MVPs receive the same level of scrutiny as do other candidates each year.
MVPs receive a certificate and a thank-you gift, as do vExperts.
MVPs also receive complimentary subscriptions to the Microsoft Developer Network and TechNet, access to private MVP newsgroups, and an invitation to the MVP Global Summit at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center in Seattle and at Microsoft’s headquarters.
Will the vExpert Award program evolve to become the equivalent of the MVP Award program? Will there be a vExpert Global Summit near VMware’s headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif.? SearchVMware.com will be watching.
And once again, congratulations to the first round of vExperts.]]>
Twitter has been the best source of instantaneous information. I may have trouble walking and chewing gum but there are tweets galore from attendees of all types in a constant flow. Everyone at VMworld must have a PDA phone!
To get in on the virtual action, check out these resources:
Videos have also been a great source of information and are fun to check out:
The blogs have been fantastic, from the moment-by-moment blog posts written during keynotes, as well as the end-of-day blogs by presenters and attendees. Some to check out are:
If you want to turn on the floodgates, read the PlanetV12N which pulls from many virtualization blogs. (RSS – http://vmware.simplefeed.net/subscription).
Jason Boche, a fellow VMware vExpert 2009 and VMware Communities Round Table Panelist also called in from the VMworld VMware party to give us a brief scoop. Thank you Jason!
Being remote from VMworld I felt disconnected at times as I am waking up six hours after the show day has started, but it was very easy to keep up. I was able to sit back and really think about the announcements and presentations. So now you may wonder, should I forgo attending VMworld 2009 in San Francisco? Not at all. The press, and deluge of information is heady, but at the same time it is hectic at best.
Even so, after having time to think about the announcements, I’ve concluded that there was quite a bit of VI4 clarification, but there was also some new announcements. First, the clarifications and updates:
The new Items:
The really cool item, I asked if I could drive over (since the engineers are local) and get them to install this on my own Nokia N810….
I know I probably missed some announcements and improvements in all this, but I was only there virtually, and VMworld offers just as much if not more information than any other technical show. Perhaps the Cloud is already here!]]>
VSphere features a great new feature called vStorage, which enables you to thin-provision your disks in a few clicks. All sys admins are familiar with creating 10 GB disks designed just to hold Windows, because at some point Windows will probably need about 10 MB. But once you’ve provisioned a disk for that amount of space, even if it goes unused, it’s unavailable to the rest of your system. And how often do application admins claim a lot more disk space than they actually need, just to be on the safe side?
With thin-provisioned disks, you don’t lose all that unused space because the space is not seen as used by VMware until the guest actually uses the space by writing to it.
Now the first question that comes to mind is, what about fragmentation? According to the VMware technician I spoke with, it’s not that much of a problem. First, he said that thin-provisioning is not something you would want to use for just any type of workload, i.e. thin-provisioning a heavy SQL database would not be smart.
I have to agree with him there; one should always remember that no matter how brilliant a new technology is, common sense should never be put aside.
Anyway — back to fragmentation. For workloads that are suited for thin-provisioned disks, fragmentation is not that big of an isue since disks grow in 1 MB increments.
The second question on vStorage I asked was: I have a SAN that is already loaded with 90 TB of storage. How on earth am I going to convert the existing disks to thin-provisioned disks? And no, VMware Converter is not an option. We have about 750 running virtual machines and I cannot afford the downtime that I would need to convert all these disks.
Fortunately, he said this can be done in a simple way: simply perform a storage VMotion to a different data store. In the migration wizard there is now an option to migrate the disk to a different data store in order to convert it to a thin-provisioned disk. That’s all there is to it. So if you really need to convert your whole set of VMs you can do it without downtime.
Cisco Nexus vSwitch
Cisco is the first to deliver a vSwitch that integrates with VMware vSphere. This vSwitch will act just like a physical Cisco switch but with a number of features customized for a virtual infrastructure.
Now what I would like to know is how it integrates with vSphere. Is it a plug-in for vCenter? Should you install it in the service console?
A Cisco rep answered both of my questions at the VMworld Europe Cisco booth. The Nexus vSwitch is in every installation of ESX and ESXi, whether you buy the Nexus or not. You need a license key to unlock it and you need the Virtual Switch Management (VSM) module from Cisco. This management module can be retrieved from Cisco in a number of ways: You can download the VSM as a virtual appliance or buy it as a physical hardware appliance.
Once the VSM is set up, it can manage the Nexus Virtual Ethernet modules (VEM) on each ESX host. You can manage each VEM on a per host basis, but the Nexus VEM fully integrates with the distributed switch technique, which means that once configured, it can be automatically deployed to each ESX host in a cluster.]]>
Performance Overview Charts aggregate the normal VM and host performance charts into a single view of key performance metrics for CPU, memory, disk and network usage. This eliminates the need to have to look at each factor individually and helps to show trends or resource issues.
This new feature is a plug-in component to vCenter Server and uses Java, so to use it you’ll need to download the Java SE Development Kit 6u11 and install Java Development Kit 1.6. If you are using Oracle or SQL Express there are some additional steps that you need to complete. Below are the KB articles you should read if you want to use this new plug-in:
• KB Article on how to install the Performance Overview plug-in
• KB Article on using the plug-in with Oracle database
• KB Article on using the plug-in with SQL Express
One other interesting new feature is an update to the Virtual Machine Monitoring feature that is part of HA (High Availability) and will restart VMs on the same host if there is an guest operating system failure and the OS stops responding. This feature previously relied on a “heartbeat” provided by the VMware Tools application, which is installed on the guest OS. If that heartbeat were to stop, the guest OS would be considered defunct and automatically restarted.
The enhancement allows vCenter Server to not only monitor the heartbeat but also the disk and network activity on the VM. Together, these features add more failure triggers to better indicate a failed OS. One situation where heartbeats may stop for a short period of time is when the VMware Tools application is being upgraded. This would previously cause the VM to restart, as the short stop time would indicate a failure. The added requirement vCenter to report dead network and disk activity for a predetermined I/O stats interval ensures that the VM guest OS is truly in a failed state (i.e. Blue Screen of Death) before it’s restarted.
As usual, it’s a best practice to read the release notes before you install the upgrade to vCenter Server. This upgrade includes updated plug-ins for both Converter and Update Manager, so you should read the release notes for them also. Finally, once you install the upgrade you will have to manually update your plug-ins in the VMware Infrastructure Client on your workstations that use them.]]>
In my open letter to VMware last month, one of my points was that VMware should give away ESX. It is the exact same hypervisor as ESXi with a few minor differences. Architecturally the main difference between the two is that ESX comes with the full service console and ESXi comes with the limited Posix-based BusyBox management console. The full service console that comes with ESX is useful for running scripts and other management functions but is not essential for VM operations and administration.
You can see from the below graphic the different editions of VMware ESX and what features come with each of them.
All of the editions allow you to use ESXi instead of ESX if you choose to do so. Currently the Foundation edition of both ESX and ESXi (which is the base version) includes a vCenter Server agent and support for Update Manager and Consolidated Backup. So why not give a base edition of ESX away for free and not include those components? If someone wants the more advanced features then they can upgrade to the other editions. Or why not take it a step further and include the vCenter agent, Update Manager and Consolidated Backup with the free version?
If VMware gave away ESX and included High Availability, VMware’s free product would be one step ahead of Citrix’s.
So how will VMware make any money if it gives away more of its products for free? First, having the aforementioned add-on features available for free would require anyone that wants to use them to purchase vCenter Server, which is necessary for them to work.
VMware can charge for users that want the vMotion/Storage vMotion and Distrubuted Resource Scheduler and Distributed Power Management features which most enterprises are going to want. It can also charge for vCenter Server which is a must have in all large environments. Additionally, VMware has many more automation and management products that it can sell, not to mention support subscriptions for all of its products.
In the increasing competitive virtualization arena, VMware needs to do more then just have a better product to attract and retain customers. Most companies are concerned about cost, and with other vendors giving away their products VMware needs to do the same thing. Giving away ESX and some basic features will help them to compete and eliminate the cost arguments that other vendors are constantly making when comparing their product to VMware’s.]]>
Andy Hunt, Vice President for the EMEA Partner Organization from VMware kicked off partner day today, which traditionally is the opening day for VMworld. He welcomed us all and thanked us for coming to VMworld despite that poor economic climate. He was very happy to see about 1,500 visitors at partner day, and was happy to announce that there should be about 5,000 visitors at VMworld in total.
Next to take the stage was CEO of VMware Paul Maritz. Maritz explained that VMware has a budget of $515 billion dollars for research and development (R&D) and that the team of engineers in VMware’s R&D department is larger than any team he has ever worked with while working for Microsoft.
This may sound like a typical blanket statement, but keep in mind that Maritz has worked with Microsoft for 14 years where, amongst other functions, he has been Vice President of the Platform Strategy and Developer Group where he oversaw the development and marketing of System Software Products (including Windows 95, Windows NT and Windows 2000).
Maritz also showed us that in today’s world, IT departments use 70% of their budget to just keep the lights on – a mere 30% is used for research and competitive development. VMware sees potential to move that 70% around, and is focusing on ways to reduce typical running costs so that more money is available for R&D.
The three biggest VMware initiatives at the moment are:
Maritz also announced the new name for VDC-OS. It’s officially vSphere. The name didn’t really come as a surprise because rumors have been humming for a few weeks now, but finally all those people under a non-disclosure agreement can shout it out loud: VSphere is here! (But not entirely, the name may be official but the product isn’t here just yet.)
Three more announcements Maritz made:
As a consultant, these are all products that I expect to see at customer’s sites very soon, and I welcome the product announcements.
These releases should give VMware a new boost in the battle for the data center. Bring it on!]]>
The enforcement of these rings is done by the processor (CPU) which uses different operating modes that place restrictions on the operations that can be performed by the process currently running in the CPU. Ring 0 has the highest level privilege and is where the operating system kernel normally runs. Code executing in Ring 0 is referred to as running in kernel mode, which is also known as privileged or supervisor mode. All other code such as applications running on the operating system operate in less privileged rings, typically Ring 3. With non-virtualized systems, the operating system runs in privileged mode in Ring 0 and owns the server hardware, applications run in Ring 3 with less privileges as depicted below.
On virtualized systems the hypervisor or Virtual Machine Monitor (VMM) runs in privileged mode in Ring 0 and the VM’s guest operating system must instead operate in Ring 1 as depicted below.
This can cause problems however because most VM guest operating systems are designed to run in Ring 0. To overcome this, the VMM fools the VM’s guest operating systems into thinking they are running in Ring 0 by trapping privileged instructions and emulating them by the VMM. This emulation causes a slight bit of overhead and is the reason that VM performance can typically only achieve up to 98% of native performance compared to physical servers. To overcome this, newer CPUs like the AMD-V and Intel-VT have features that were specifically designed for virtualization and use a new privilege level called Ring -1 (minus one) for the VMM to reside in as depicted below.
This allows for better performance as the VMM no longer needs to fool the VM guest operating system into thinking that it is running in Ring 0 as it can run in there without conflicting with the VMM which has moved to a different level.
The bottom line: When looking for new hardware for your virtual hosts, be sure and choose servers that have one of these types of CPUs that are optimized for use with virtualization.]]>
Yes, because to me, PowerShell is just another scripting language.
No, because I want a scripting language that works well on all operating systems. (People will suggest Java, but that is another blog post.)
I wrote a Perl application that would log in to an ESX host, run an assessment of its configuration and from there aid me in judging the security of the host and some smaller parts of the virtual environment. Since it was written in Perl, it would be hard to get people to use excepting myself and other Perl users. This breed is found mostly within the Linux world; many VMware infrastructure administrators may not understand Perl well as it comes with a learning curve.
So I went looking at various other tools and discovered PowerGUI. PowerGUI is a great tool that has PowerPacks of prewritten PowerShell cmdlets that can run within the GUI.
There is a PowerPack for the VMware Infrastructure Toolkit, Hyper-V and Xen. The idea is to present a graphical interface for PowerShell cmdlets. This is just the interface I wanted for my tool, something I could plug into with ease to present the information in a way my users would easily understand with very little fuss. For them, it just has to work easily.
Unfortunately, PowerShell did not have the major facility I needed to make this work. It does not natively support secure shell and Expect functionality. Expect functionality allows a script to wait for predetermined output from a log-in session (or any other session) that often requires a password . Expect is a very valuable addition to any Linux programmers toolbox.
After posting my questions to the PowerShell channel on irc.freenode.net, I received some answers to my simple PowerShell programming questions. I also used Google searches to find how specific objects worked within PowerShell versus pre-existing cmdlets. Jaykul, a helpful participant on the irc channel, went even further to assist me by developing a set of SSH routines using the SharpSSH client written in .NET that actually has embedded Expect functionality. This type of assistance within a scripting community is outstanding. It shows that the backers really want PowerShell to be a success, and that Powershell can make use of any .NET library on a system.
This, combined with help from PowerGUI guru Scott Herold, will allow me to plug my tool into the PowerPack for VMware Virtualization as an action that can run on each ESX host or cluster as needed. This also implies I can worry about the guts of the code and leave the UI to someone else entirely.
After combining PowerGUI, the VMware Infrastructure Toolkit PowerPack and Jaykul’s Scritable SSH cmdlets I was off and running. My tool works for me and should be easy to understand for others, meaning it will work without tweaking and very few downloads, namely just As in it JUST WORKS with no twiddling and very few downloads, namely PowerShell and perhaps PowerGUI.
So as a long time Linux-centric developer, I have finally found a scripting language for Windows that works well. It is missing functionality that I am used to, but the community is extremely active and very helpful. For additional help, check out the Get Scripting Powershell podcast .
There are great scripts for the PowerShell version of the VMware Infrastructure Toolkit, and the list is growing daily. Be sure to bookmark Alan Renouf’s vDiagram script and his blog Virtu-AI. You’ll find many blog posts on PowerShell tools and links to useful scripts.
Now if they could make PowerShell run on Linux and Mac systems!]]>
I was doing some research for a virtualization 101 presentation that I am giving for a local VMware User’s Group meeting. I am going to include a few slides on the history of VMware. I focused mainly on the release dates for the virtualization products which I pieced together from a number of sources including the roadmap from virtualization.info, milestones and news releases from VMware’s website and a few tips from other users. You can see from the number of product releases and VMworld attendance that virtualization has really taken off in recent years, which really shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. I’ve only been using VMware ESX since 2005, having started with version 2.5.
I know there are a lot of veterans out there though that have been using it since the early days. If you’re one of those VMware old-timers who’ve used any of the 1.0 and 2.0 products let us know about it in the comments and tell your experiences from the early days.