The first deals with the problem of too much data in the vCenter Server database. The majority of the data in the vCenter Server database is from both guest OS and host historical performance statistics and also Task and Event data. The statistic data is archived per your interval settings so there are limits to its growth, but Task and Event data is retained in the database forever, even for guest OSes and hosts that have been removed from vCenter Server’s inventory.
There has never been in easy way to purge this old data from the database. VMware has provided SQL scripts for VI3 that you can modify and run to accomplish this task, but that method can be tricky and complicated. VMware has now added the ability to purge old Task and Event data directly from the vSphere Client, eliminating the need to use scripts.
This option can be accessed by navigating to Administration, vCenter Server Settings, and then Database Retention Policy link. Here you can define retention periods for both Tasks and Events data so older data is automatically purged from the database.
The next feature has to do with snapshot management. While VMware did not add a centralized management component for snapshots, they did add an indirect way to view all snapshots in your environment. In VI3 the only way to see all running snapshots was to use third-party scripts and utilities. Now, in vSphere, there is a new Storage view that shows snapshot and other VM file information.
This new view is accessible on any object (i.e. VM, host, cluster) and can show a variety of information about data stores, VM files, SCSI paths, NAS mounts and more. When selecting the virtual machine file option, you can customize the column display to show various information, including total space used by all files, snapshot space used, virtual disk space (shows true thin-disk size), swap-file space and other VM space, which includes things like log files. By appropriately sorting the columnns, you can easily see which VMs have running snapshots as VMs without snapshots will display as 0 bytes. This provides a very easy way to find out about any snapshots that are running in your environment so you can be aware of them and delete them.
The last feature has to do with vSwitches. In VI3 there were no available permissions that could prevent someone from moving a VM from one vSwitch to another. There were indirect permissions that could prevent this, but using those meant restricting other activities as well.
The ability to prevent someone from moving a VM from one vSwith to another is very important for hosts that are connected to both an internal and external demilitarized zone (DMZ) network. Having a VM bridge the internal and external networks or having an improperly secured VM moved to a DMZ is a big security concern.
In vSphere there are now more granular permissions for network control, including Assign Network, Configure and Move Network. Previously, Remove was the only available permission under Network. Additionally there are many new permissions under Distributed Virtual Port Group and Distributed vSwitch. These new permissions will greatly enhance the network security and provide much better control of the network component of your virtual environment.
While there are many more new features in the vSphere release, these are just a few of the smaller ones that I am excited about as an administrator.]]>
While there were few surprises to the beta vSphere users as to functionality, new information was released about editions, licensing and pricing.
To summarize the licensing changes:
VMware has definitely made licensing more complicated and many customers may struggle to figure everything out. Luckily VMware has provided a lot of documentation on its website to help with this. The below links should help you better understand all the new changes.
Many existing Enterprise edition users were disappointed to find out that they would not be entitled to the new Host Profiles and Distributed vSwitch features without paying to upgrade their licenses to Enterprise Plus ($295 per processor). Previously Enterprise was the top edition with all the features but VMware chose to add a higher edition instead with the two features that will be very useful to manage larger environments. It’s understandable that VMware is trying to re-coup some of their huge investment costs in this new release by charging existing Enterprise customers for these new features. Beginning May 21st is when you can begin upgrading and purchasing the new vSphere licenses. Existing customers will be notified that they can log into the new Licensing Portal and download the new licenses that they are entitled to use with this new release.]]>
Granted, you have probably already upgraded to quad-core technologies which means you are probably safe, but those using dual-core technologies may not be. Case in point: HP DLxx0 G4 platforms. These are somewhere between 32- and 64-bit with EMT64 support, but unfortunately this is not enough to run VMware vSphere 4. You will need actual 64-bit hardware. Hopefully you can attain this with just a CPU change.
AMD processors have been 64-bit for some time so those with an investment in AMD processors and systems may not have to worry about such an upgrade.
For me, this requirement meant purchasing brand new hardware months ago to run the vSphere 4 beta.
The rest of you will have to make a choice, move to vSphere 4 and possibly upgrade your hardware all at once, or take a staged approach and do your hardware upgrade while still using VMware Infrastructure 3 until all your systems are on the hardware compatibility list for vSphere 4. At that time you can consider upgrading to vSphere 4 — or not.
Editor’s Note: See Eric Siebert’s article VMware vSphere: Got 64-bit hardware? for additional information on the 64-bit hardware requirement.]]>
Here is a list of plug-ins I use but don’t consider must-haves.
Here are ones I know about but do not use.
My wish list
Many of the current batch of plug-ins were written by Andrew Kutz of Hyper9. Hopefully, others will add more soon!]]>
Here’s a summary of some of the new features that we can look forward to in this new version:
There is a lot more to vSphere than what is listed here including many smaller improvements and this promises to be an exciting new release. I look forward to next’s week announcement and the release of vSphere as VMware takes a big step towards their Virtual Datacenter Operating System (VDC-OS) concept.]]>
Just last week, Columbus, OH.-based Veeam Software announced a program that will allow customers that currently pay for or have purchased competing software used to back up or replicate VMware ESX or ESXi to buy Veeam’s Backup and Replication products for 50% off. This promotion is going on through June 15th, 2009, and is available through Veeam’s reseller partners. Futher, any extended support plans can also be “rolled over” to Veeam at a 50% discount off of Veeam’s normal support price.
A week later, Iselin, N.J.-based eG Innovations followed suit with a slightly different plan. Its plan, named ExpertAssist, adds a buying option to its pricing lineup. The option is a Software as a Service (SaaS) license program that grants a renewable 90-day license for the eG Enterprise Suite with full tech support.
VMware has also put out its own buying incentive. If a shop wants to add VMware to its computing architecture and uses VMware Professional Services to do so, the business will not have to pay for the design and implementation components of the implementation until the business has saved at least 50% on server hardware, or a consolidation ratio of 2:1.
Of course, each of these programs has stipulations. VMware requires that the project must be for 200 – 1,000 servers, and not more or less than that. Veeam requires proof of purchase. And eG Innovations’ program is billed monthly with a minimum of a three-month purchase; the monthly license fee depends on the number of servers monitored.
Software vendors may be taking cue from hardware vendors such as Dell and Hewlett-Packard, which dropped U.S. server prices in December of 2008. Dell exceeded earning expectations in Q1 due to the price drop.
But while purchasing new hardware and virtualization platform software is a no-brainer as reported in recent SeachCIO-Midmarket.com story Economy forces CIOs to cut software spending, additional management software may be a tougher sell.
Futher, a recent SearchDataCenter.com story IT spending lull continues post-stimulus reported that IT shops aren’t spending right now unless it’s absolutely necessary.
Perhaps lowered and creative pricing plans are a silver lining to the down economy for IT shops. How much wiggle room a business has to make “nice to have but don’t need it immediately” purchases remains the bottom-line question.]]>
A few FAQs:
Do I have to install VMware Tools?
Not at all, your VMs will run fine without VMware Tools, but they will not be notified when memory ballooning occurs. The balloon driver aids the OS in handling these cases.
What do I do if the network is flakey?
Switch to the PCNET32 default device driver that comes with the OS instead of using vmxnet. Or even switch to the e1000 driver that comes with the OS, but this also requires a VM configuration file change.
What if VMware Tools fails to load?
In general this is not an issue unless it is the network driver you are currently using. In that case, you need to modify the system to use the PCNET32 device driver instead. In general, there is often no need to use VMware Tools.
Do I lose out on any other functionality if I don’t install VMware Tools?
When using the VMware Infrastructure Client without VMware Tools some of the information such as IP address will not be available.
The security document says to add X isolation setting. Why?
These isolation settings the security documentation says to disable are good things to do and are really unrelated to VMware Tools. What they do is modify VMware Backdoor functionality to be more secure.
I have a Linux system and the tools do not exist.
For Linux systems you often have to rebuild your VMware Tools to match your system. To do so you will need the GNU compiler collection (GCC) and kernel development packages installed. If your kernel is relatively new then you will need to use the VMware Tools from http://open-vm-tools.sourceforge.net/ as they are more up-to-date than the official ones from VMware.
How can I tell if VMware Tools is causing a problem in my system?
One way to tell if VMware Tools is involved in your problems is to uninstall it. If your problem goes away then VMware Tools is the culprit. However, once you install it you can select to only install certain items within VMware Tools. Do this until the combination causes a problem.
What do I do if I’m getting a message that VMware Tools is out of date?
Upgrade your VMware tools, this implies that there are newer official VMware tools available with a patch to the host. This is not really a guest OS issue.
VMware Tools are becoming a fact of life with VMware virtualization but they are not necessary and knowing when to install them is just as important as knowing how to debug your guest OS when they are in use. There are many posts on VMware Tools within the VMware VMTN Communities forums, so navigate to the VMTN forums for more information.]]>
But today there is much more competition in the virtualization space, and good marketing is a must for obtaining new customers and keeping existing ones. I don’t claim to be a marketing expert but I do know that if someone doesn’t know about your product, he probably won’t be buying it.
The other day I heard an ad on satellite radio for Parallels’ desktop virtualization product for Macs. That was the first virtualization ad I’ve ever heard on the radio and it surprised me. VMware needs to fire up its marketing machine to both promote more awareness of its products and to fight all the misinformation coming from other virtualization vendors. VMware should take notes from IBM and Apple who do a dang good job of marketing themselves. You see IBM advertising almost everywhere; print, TV, radio, online, etc. Apple generates huge excitement with its announcement events for all of its products. These types of events are great for getting the buzz out on the street and letting customers know what a company is working on.
It seems VMware has finally taken a cue from Apple with VMware’s upcoming April 21st event to discuss the launch of their next release of VMware Infrastructure 3, which is vSphere. This is a great marketing move but it would be nice if VMware did more. Some suggestions:
In addition, more general advertising couldn’t hurt; I’d love to see an ESX vs. Hyper-V commercial on TV similar in tone to the PC vs. Mac commercials. The more people that know about VMware’s product and its capabilities, the more people there are that can potentially become customers. Perhaps a Superbowl commercial touting vSphere. (I know plenty of VMware evangelists who would be happy to star in it.) Or a vSphere blimp would be cool; perhaps VMware could buy an old one from Goodyear, repaint it and fly it over the Microsoft campus in Redmond. Whichever way VMware chooses, the bottom line is that I believe VMware has great products and the marketing efforts should recognize that also.]]>
1. First, create an account on the ESX host. This can be done in two ways, either by using the service console command line or by using the VMware Infrastructure Client (VI Client). To create an account using the command line, log into the ESX host as the root account and then type the following commands:
useradd – creates the user account
passwd – sets the password for the user account
To create an account using the VI Client, you need to connect directly to the ESX host with the VI Client (not vCenter Server) and log in is the root user. Next click on the Users & Groups tab, right-click inside the users pane and select Add. Enter a log-in name and password and check the Grant Shell Access To This User box. If you want to enter a descriptive name you can enter one in the username field; this name is not used for logging in. The UID field will automatically populate when you save the account. Once you are done, click the OK button and that’s it.
2. Now that we have our new account set up, we are ready to start using it. Let’s connect to the ESX host with a client like Veeam’s FastSCP, which allows you to elevate your privilege’s using su after you connect to a host. Run FastSCP and select Add a Server, enter the IP address of the server and select the ESX host option. At the Connection Settings screen enter the username/password for the new user that you created in the previous step. In the bottom section select the Elevate Account to Root option and enter the root user account password. At the Web Service credentials screen you can use the root user and password, as this is not used for connecting to SSH.
3. Once you connect to the host, you are using the user account you created earlier instead of the root account.
Please resist the urge to enable root SSH logins on your ESX hosts set up separate accounts for this purpose instead. It’s a security best practice to not use the root account for anything. Instead, use the su command or set up sudo; I’ll cover both methods in an upcoming tip on SearchVMware.com.]]>
The first is the VMware vCenter Mobile Access Technology Preview. Thought not quite available yet, it bodes fairly well as it works from an iPhone. My only concern about this tool is about the security. Does it use pre-shared keys/certificates? Or should I only use it over a VPN that uses pre-shared keys/certificates? Very cool technology preview, but still a few questions about it. (Click the link above to get the preview.)
The second is also something for the iPhone. There was a recent release of all the current VMware Infrastructure 3 documentation and I like to keep all that with me when I am consulting. The device I keep with me is my iPhone. So what better way to have these PDFs at my finger tips then by putting them on my iPhone? I used Files Lite which gives 200 MB of space on your iPhone to store PDFs, Office docs, and other items. It comes with a WebDAV server that will be available only if you are connected via Wifi. This is the only way to upload the PDFs which you can download from VMware’s Documentation website for VI 3.5. If opt for the for-fee version of Files, you can have unlimited space. For Kindle owners, there is also a Kindle application for your iPhone.
The last new tool is the VMware Infrastructure Client (VI Client) which can talk to VMware Server. To connect the VMware Infrastructure Client to VMware Server you would specify the port number of 8333 as well as the host name, instead of just the host name for logging in a la hostname:8333. Now if only VI Client could manage VMware Workstation, we could have one VI Client to rule them. Perhaps the VMware Mobile Access Technology could be used with VMware Server as well?
There you have it, three new tools for the toolbox and some relative questions about security that you should be awere of.]]>