We put together a short video on what you can expect. Enjoy!
There are four primary categories impacted by the use of Linked Mode vCenter Server systems. The first is that there is a maximum of 10 Linked vCenter Systems permitted. vCenter Server scales very well, so it would be an incredible infrastructure to roll in 10 different vCenter Server systems. This number can be met quicker if the vCenter environments are smaller due to separation by chargeback, development vs. production, or other business functions. There also can be a maximum of 1,000 hosts in Linked Mode, which is not 10 times the standalone vCenter Server limit. The singular vCenter Server has a maximum of 300 hosts running a 64-bit operating system. The other limits related to Linked Mode are powered-on virtual machines (10,000) and registered virtual machines (15,000). The primary situation where these limits can be reached for many environments is a VMware View VDI environment.
The configuration maximums document does not address a limit for roles and permission models that may be set across vCenter Server systems. With the vCenter Server permissions model, administrators can craft creative roles that are applied to vCenter Server systems. The one caution I would make, as in any permissions model, is to follow Active Directory best practices and not create too many nested levels of permission.
The vCenter Configuration Maximums document is one of the most useful documents, and is a critical tool for the VMware certification path. Be sure to check out the vCenter Server section of the configuration maximums document for all Linked Mode related changes.]]>
Thanks for the letter. Not.
P.S.: Did you hear the news? I think your customers will have fun trading in their View desktops.
P.P.S.: We’re still bigger than you and can put money behind whatever we want because of our other products. Sucks having server virtualization be your bread and butter, don’t it?
Apparently, yesterday’s love letter wasn’t well received, because today Microsoft moved from mud-slinging to tossing it with a rocket-launcher. Trade in your VMware View virtual desktops, pledge us your allegiance and we’ll give you up to 500 free Citrix XenDesktop virtual desktops!
Of course, TechTarget has it covered. Get the story over at SearchVirtualDesktop.com: Microsoft and Citrix lure VMware customers with cutthroat promo.
Interesting quote from Tony Wilburn of Betis Group in the story:
“Has Microsoft ever before had to partner with another company in order to take on a rival?” Wilburn said. “When the No. 2 and No. 3 companies in the industry have to team up to take on the No. 1 player, doesn’t that make the one player look even stronger?”
Thank you for supporting vSphere adoption in your roundabout way.
Much love, VMware
…not your typical mud-slinging blog, is it?
Actually, my quippy love letter was inspired by an article we just published over at SearchVMware.com by Steve Kaplan.
In it, Kaplan basically argues that while smaller companies will take the bait and try Hyper-V because of cost Windows Server 2008 prevalence, when they inevitably sit down and plan for a virtualization adoption beyond test and dev, they will likely consider the virtualization roadmap… a.k.a. IT as a service, which translates to setting up a virtual environment that can support an internal cloud…which means, spending the money to bring in VMware vSphere.
Take a read. Argue about it with your colleagues. Start a debate on this blog. Or, Tweet with your VMware buddies about how VMware will still reign supreme, after all. “Woot woot!”]]>
So recently he published a “live blog” that chronicles his attempt to find a frustrating — but highly amusing (at least to me) problem: a VM that had been hot-migrated, but failed, so it was powered-off. But vCenter and other parts of the virtual infrastructure were stubbornly sure that the VM was, in fact, still on. Of course, although the VM was listed as powered-on, the options to control it were grayed out, so the poor Mike couldn’t power it off a second time.
Not to be defeated by the rogue, defiant VM that decided to vacation somewhere in vSphere land without his permission, Mike researched, found some possibly suitable solutions (and many not suitable at all), and finally, a lightbulb hit. Mike didn’t want to sacrifice the other VMs relying on their Mama VM (host VM). So why not send the VMs off to grandma’s (read: hot migrate them to another host) for a little vacation while Mama VM gets a reboot? Problem solved, albeit Mike had to bend his own rule of not “pulling the plug” on the host VM to fix a problem.
The full post is worth a read, especially if you’ve experienced your own virtual frustrations. Just grab a cup of coffee, since it takes a bit of time to read in its entirety.
Readers: If you’ve got your own VM troubleshooting story, email it to me. If I get enough submissions, I’ll record it in a podcast that you can later listen to and giggle along with.]]>
So, would TrainSignal’s newest release meet the high bar that they set with their previous training videos? Granted, I am an incorrigible optimist, but have been around the training block enough times to know what is good and what isn’t. So, the short answer is: YES! Allow me to explain some of the pros of thevSphere Pro Series training:
1. TrainSignal has really stepped up to the plate to address what I consider some gaping holes in available training. Server virtualization and VMware ESX have an abundance of published resources to help you learn how to use and implement the technology. What about some of the other, perhaps less pervasive or established aspects of virtualization, such as virtual desktops, virtual applications and virtual networking? That is where training resources start to thin out considerably in comparison with server virtualization, yet the potential impact is even greater. The fact that Train Signal recognized this and addressed it is a major plus.
2. During the 90′s, training seemed to be more about “Click here to do this, fill in this field to do that,” etc. The focus was on getting the technology to work, not whether it made business sense or not. David Davis, the instructor for View, appears to realize that such implementation models no longer work. If it isn’t making us money, or at least saving money, we need to get rid of it.
In the beginning of his training about VMware View, Mr. Davis makes this statement: “Most likely the primary reason you are interested in VDI is to save your company money.” What a refreshing change – technology with a clearly stated business goal! I dare say the majority of us are concerned with budgets, return on investment (ROI) and quarterly earnings. Addressing these topics as a principal reason to evaluate and implement a particular technology, rather than an afterthought to get capital approval, is a very good premise for TrainSignal’s approach on implementing new technologies.
3. The series also recognizes that all the knowledge about a product doesn’t do you or your employer much good if it never gets implemented correctly. Again, from David Davis during the View training session on DVD: “The return on investment is going to be different from one company to another, and its going to be based on how well you implement that technology.” Hey, personal responsibility – what a novel concept! He goes on to show how to implement it to get the most bang for the buck.
4. Besides View, the other topics such as the Cisco Nexus 1000V by Rick Scherer and PowerCLI by Hal Rottenberg are taught by experts in their respective fields. All of the instructors speak to you in a way that is easy to understand at the conceptual level — a very good thing when trying to learn multiple subjects simultaneously. I also appreciated their use of comparisons to existing technologies to help me understand how the new tools can be used.
So, the pro side is full of good things. What are the cons?
It was pretty hard to come up with anything, but I would not consider a review beneficial if it didn’t list at least one possible improvement to be made.
I noticed that the MPEG files for transfer to the iPod all have the same names, regardless of what the training subject is. For example, I ended up with multiple Video01 files on my iPod, all for different training topics such as View, PowerCLI or Nexus 100v, which obviously leads to some confusion. To resolve this, I renamed all the videos to reflect the subject of the training, i.e. TrainViewThinApp(1…) and TrainNexus(1…). This improved the iPod sorting and ease of use when studying multiple topics in parallel. Overall, a very minor inconvenience, and one you will not encounter if you simply reload your iPod after completing each topic in the series.
Having used the TrainSignal videos for several months now, I can highly recommend them as a useful tool for learning about the latest in VMware products as well as how to implement them in your own environment. Do yourself a favor and go pick up a set — you’ll be glad you did.
VMware posted their quarterly earnings on January 25. After reading the official report from VMware, I picked out a couple highlights that I thought were interesting:
- Fourth quarter revenues were up 18% from the fourth quarter of 2008
- 2009 revenues were $2.0 billion, an increase of 8% from 2008
And a quote from Paul Maritz, president and CEO:
“The quarter’s strong performance, anchored by demand for vSphere, signals that virtualization is a key technology for customers who need to save money today, yet invest in a strategy that is central to the emerging cloud computing model,”
Think about what these numbers and quote mean in the context of what has happened in the financial system over the past 18 months. Banks from the time of the Civil War have collapsed. Credit markets nearly froze up. International currencies has seen large fluctuations. Yet, VMware has actually GROWN REVENUE. Not a small amount, but a full 8% from 2008. That is astounding to me. I don’t know of any individuals that have grown their income by 8%, let alone a company doing so.
So what does that growth tell us? It tells me that some companies are still willing to spend money, if they see a tangible benefit. This benefit has be measured in dollars, not just processing cycles or application performance. Companies exist to make money, pure and simple. That is true for VMware, as well as its customers. It is apparent to me that the financial benefits of virtualization and cloud computing are sufficiently attractive even “in this economy” (for some levity, I ask you to start counting how many times you hear the expression “in this economy” in a single day — you will be amazed) to prompt customers to move forward with their IT projects, at least as much as it involves VMware and eventual cost savings for them.
What does that mean to those of us that work with and support VMware products? First, it means we are in a better position than many others in our field. This feels like having a CNE or MCSE certification did in the mid 90′s. We have seen the benefits of virtualization, have learned how it works, and have helped our own customers (whether internal or external) to reap the rewards as well. As one individual I work with likes to say: “It’s better to win.” Yes, dear reader, count yourself among them when you see VMware post quarterly results like this. It means that you have chosen to work with a software vendor with a solid product line that is in demand. Good call.
The Law of Unintended Consequences explains that in any endeavor, actions will have unanticipated results. These results can fall into the categories of positive, neutral or negative (with the negative usually attracting the biggest spotlight, and the subsequent blame).
Today, for example, I encountered this law, but in the all-too-rare, positive consequence. As I was researching some processors for their Fault Tolerance compatibilities on the VMware website (riveting, I know), I happened across a new software tool that was released just hours previously, SiteSurvey 2.0. Hey, something new to try out — and it’s free!
Having the irresistible compulsion to try out new things, I immediately downloaded it and installed it on my XP machine. Starting up the application, it looks for your vCenter (or in this case, Virtual Center) to authenticate to, and a cluster to run against. Having completed the fields, it began cranking away (thus giving me time to contemplate the wisdom of running a new tool without spending sufficient time on the documentation; at least it isn’t a production environment).
The resulting report was far more useful than I could have imagined! Displayed in a browser, the page contained the following information:
The above results alone would have been more than sufficient to justify keeping the tool close at hand.
Alas, this is where The Law of Unintended Consquences comes in. It turns out that SiteSurvey 2.0 produces other very useful data. The tool reports the FT compatibility on the following categories for each virtual guest machine within the cluster, displayed in an easy to read matrix, with big red “X”s for items that require attention:
For FT to work properly, all snapshots must be removed. This tool provides the unintended happy benefit of providing a list of hitherto unknown snapshots that were still resident on the cluster. Using the VIC, I immediately removed the offending snapshots. Don’t get me wrong, I love snapshots; I just don’t like keeping track of them, particularly in ESX 3.5, as well as what they can do to your storage if they are forgotten.
So, if you haven’t tried out the new version of SiteSurvey, I encourage you to jump over to VMware and give it a whirl. Who knows what may happen?
Of course I’d love it if you got them my book but there are some other great books out there that they would appreciate also:
VMware admins play with bare-metal virtualization products all day but having a desktop virtualization product like Fusion or Workstation is nice also. Is that big data center in your living room or basement driving you crazy? Using Workstation, admins can run ESX on their desktops and laptops eliminating the need for a data center in your house. Got lots of money to spend? I’m sure they would appreciate an upgrade of their Enterprise licenses to Enterprise Plus or some Cisco Nexus 1000v licenses.
Every admin wants to learn as much as they can about the products they support. You might consider getting them a classroom training course or if you’re on a budget consider a lower-cost alternative such as this vSphere DVD training course from TrainSignal. This gift could benefit you also, because the smarter your admin is the better the chance that they could find a higher-paying job.
You can never have too much storage, flash drives are great but home network storage units are much better. Consider getting them one of the cool new low-cost network storage units from Iomega, Buffalo or Drobo. Or if you want to combine the two than check out this cool gadget that lets you turn flash drives into network storage.
Every VMware admin wants to show off his love for VMware so what better way to do that than with some VMware-branded apparel. From caps to shirts to backpacks to pens you can be sure to find something to please them at the VMware online store.
Almost every VMware admin is a geek at heart, so what better way to please their inner geek with some cool gadgets. Check out some of these gadgets that are sure to please any admin.
Well that’s just a few suggestions for some great gifts for the VMware admins in your life. If nothing else you might consider expressing your appreciation for their hard work and dedication which is something most administrators often do not hear enough.
Happy holidays too all!]]>
CBT is a new feature in vSphere that can keep track of the blocks of a virtual disk that have changed since a certain point in time. This is extremely useful for backup and replication applications that can use this information to greatly improve incremental backup and replication times. Without CBT these applications have to figure out changed blocks on their own so being able to get this information for free using the vStorage advanced programming interfaces is extremely valuable to them.
CBT is not really part of the vStorage APIs but is a new feature of the VMkernel that is built into the storage stack. The CBT feature can be accessed by third-party applications as part of the vStorage APIs for Data Protection. Applications can use the API to query the VMkernel to return the blocks of data that have changed on a virtual disk since the last backup operation. You can use CBT on any type of virtual disk, thick or thin and on any datastore type except for physical mode Raw Device Mappings. This includes both NFS and iSCSI datastores.
Besides requiring vSphere, a prerequisite for using CBT is that a virtual machine must be using version 7 virtual hardware. While this is the default in vSphere (you can still choose the old version 4 hardware that was used in VMware Infrastructure 3, if you upgraded a host from ESX 3 to ESX 4 you must also upgrade the virtual hardware of the VMs to version 7 to use this feature.
The CBT feature is disabled by default; the reason for this is there is a very small bit of overhead that occurs when using it. However this overhead is a small price to pay for the great efficiencies that happen by enabling it. This feature is not global and can be enabled on only select VMs that you want to take advantage of this functionality. It can be enabled either through the vSphere client or by using the SDK. To enable it in the vSphere client you need to add a configuration parameter to each VM using the below steps:
1. Power off the VM. This is necessary to add a configuration parameter, edit the settings of the VM. Select the Options tab, then under Advanced, General click the Configuration Parameters button.
2. Next, click the Add Row button. You first need to add a general parameter for the VM to enable the feature and then add additional ones for each virtual disk that you wish to enable it on. For the general parameter enter “ctkEnabled” for the name and “true” for the value.
3. For each virtual disk you need to add “scsi#:#.ctkEnabled” for the name where the # signs should be replaced by the controller/disk number for each disk. Usually this is 0:0 for the first disk, then 0:1 for the second disk, etc. Also use “true” for the value for this parameter.
4. Click OK when you are done to save it.
An alternate method to enable CBT is using the SDK. Many backup applications that support CBT will automatically do this for you. For details on using the SDK method see this VMware tech note which describes how to use VirtualMachineConfigSpec and ReconfigVM_Task methods to accomplish this programmatically. Typically you will not want to enable this unless you have a specific application that can utilize this feature such as VMware Data Recovery or Veeam Backup & Replication.
Once enabled a VM must go through what is called a stun/unstun cycle for it to take effect. This cycle happens during certain VM operations including power on/off, suspend/resume, create/delete snapshot. During this cycle a VM’s disk are reopened which allows a change tracking filter to be inserted into the storage stack for that VM. You might wonder where CBT stores the information about changed blocks for a virtual disk, it does this in a special “-ctk.vmdk” file that is created in each VM’s home directory for each virtual disk that it is enabled on.
This size of this file is fixed and does not grow beyond its initial size unless you increase the size of a virtual disk. The size of this file will vary based on the size of a virtual disk which is approximately .5MB for every 10 GB of virtual disk size. Inside this file the state of each block is stored for tracking purposes using sequence numbers that can tell applications if a block has changed or not. One of these files will exist for each virtual disk that CBT is enabled on.
CBT is a great feature that really improves the efficiency and speed of virtual machines’ backup, restore and replication operations in vSphere. Several backup applications have already taken advantage of this new feature and are reporting greatly improved incremental backup times and being able to achieve near continuous data protection because of it.
Special thanks to John Troyer and Jon Bock from VMware and Anton Gostev from Veeam for taking the time to help me better understand the vStorage APIs and CBT.]]>