Virtualization Pro

November 4, 2009  8:43 PM

Freakonomics: How H1N1 boosts desktop virtualization adoption

Bridget Botelho Profile: Bridget Botelho

Desktop virtualization vendors are spinning their wheels trying to get enterprises to adopt the technology, but it turns out, all they really needed was a good pandemic.

I met with some of VMware Inc.’s desktop virtualization reps yesterday to discuss the next version of VMware View (4.0), which is due out next week, and learned there is a correlation between desktop virtualization adoption raCartoon by Charles Pugsley Finchertes and the 2009 H1N1 flu (formerly known as Swine Flu).   

Though he couldn’t share specific numbers, Raj Mallempati, the desktop virtualization marketing manager, said VMware’s VDI adoption rates increased in direct correlation with H1N1 flu. In fact, he said VMware sold a VDI license in Australia for the first time when H1N1 started alarming people there this summer.

“It makes you think, did VMware invent swine flu?” Mallempati joked.

They saw the same spike in desktop virtualization adoption when the SARS virus hit a few years ago, he said.

VMware claims to have around 1.5 million VMware View license holders so far, which is between 6-7% of the company’s revenue, according to a VMware rep.

While these correlations could be coincidental, deploying desktop virtualization certainly makes sense for corporations that don’t want to lose productivity every time a deadly virus pops up (gotta love capitalism). With VDI, employees who don’t want to come into work because they are afraid of the sneezer in the next cubuicle can access their desktops from home. Or if they are sick, they can still work from their quarantine and not infect everyone else in the office.

So, although I haven’t seen any marketing campaigns fear-mongering customers into buying desktop virtualization as a way to avoid H1N1, it wouldn’t surprise me.

October 28, 2009  6:32 PM

Restoring individual files from image-level backups of virtual machines

Eric Siebert Eric Siebert Profile: Eric Siebert

Virtual environments can change the way you back up your servers by providing an additional backup method where you back up the single large virtual disk file instead of the individual files inside the VM operating system. There is sometimes confusion, however, when using this method as if individual file restores are possible and how difficult it might be to restore them back to a VM.

There are two methods for backing up a VM, traditional backup methods that install an agent inside the OS and back it up file-by-file and image-level backups that back up the single virtual disk VMDK file. Image-level backups are usually done by backup applications that are designed to specifically back up virtual machines, like Veeam Backup and Replication. These applications use the snapshot feature that is built in to VMware to stop disk writes to the virtual disk so it can be safely backed up. Backup applications read the original virtual disk file which is now read-only as new disk writes get written to a newly created delta virtual disk file. Once the backup application has read all the blocks from the original virtual disk file the snapshot is committed, which takes the data from the delta virtual disk and writes it to the original virtual disk. Once this is complete the delta virtual disk is deleted.

Continued »

October 28, 2009  6:21 PM

What are IP Pools and vApps?

Eric Siebert Eric Siebert Profile: Eric Siebert

While navigating in the vSphere client the other day I noticed a new tab. When selecting a Datacenter object, a tab called IP Pools appeared. When clicking on this tab you had the option to view and add IP Pools. Having never seen this before my first thought was, what are IP Pools?

After doing some research I found out they were part of the new vApps feature in vSphere. I’ve heard a little about vApps but never looked at them in depth, so I thought I would take the time to research them and write about them.

We’ll come back to IP Pools in a bit. First we’ll cover what a vApp is and how they work in vSphere. VMware’s definition of a vApp is below: Continued »

October 27, 2009  12:00 AM

Checking out PowerWF

Halr9000 Hal Rottenberg Profile: Halr9000
Screenshot of PowerWF

Screenshot of PowerWF

In case you haven’t heard, a little company called Devfarm Software has been working on a product called PowerWF (pictured, right). They had a great demo at VMworld 2009, and I was so impressed that I gave them five minutes at the end of my own breakout session to do a demo for my audience.

I’m a big PowerShell and PowerCLI nut, so why do I care about some graphical user interface (GUI) application? Well, there are two answers to that. One, PowerShell is an automation engine, not just the command-line shell. There are plenty of tools out there which use PowerShell behind the scenes to enable the user to automate tasks. Exchange 2007’s admin console and VESI (which I need to spend some time talking about soon) are just two examples. Just because I like to write scripts doesn’t mean I don’t respect the GUI. Continued »

October 16, 2009  3:31 PM

I/O bottlenecks in virtual environments

Eric Siebert Eric Siebert Profile: Eric Siebert

I saw in a poll taken for a recent article that input/output, or I/O bottlenecks are the number one challenge for VMware users. This didn’t really surprise me because I/O bottlenecks are sometimes not that obvious and can be difficult to find and troubleshoot. Why is that? Because most users don’t understand how to look for them or how to interpret the data that is presented to them from monitoring utilities that would indicate a bottleneck. Some of the most common causes of I/O bottlenecks are improperly architected/configured hosts and network/storage devices, too many high disk I/O VM’s on a single host or LUN and excessive use of vSMP. Continued »

October 13, 2009  3:48 PM

What is virtualization?

Eric Siebert Eric Siebert Profile: Eric Siebert

If you work with virtualization for a living, inevitably you’ll be asked what virtualization is. Trying to explain it to someone who doesn’t work with computers can often be challenging, and after you explain it they still may not know what it’s about.

So how do you explain it to someone for the first time? I find that using analogies that anyone can relate to is a good way to explain things to people. Before I attempt a virtualization analogy I’ll try explaining it in basic computer terms. Continued »

October 12, 2009  3:11 PM

Using the command line doesn’t make you a purist

Makking Mak King Profile: Makking

Lately I’ve been watching David Davis’s Train Signal video on vSphere while exercising at the gym, which has been beneficial on multiple levels. One of the points he makes in the vSphere Management Options video is that the vSphere graphical user interface (GUI) client is used 99% of the time for managing the environment.  I couldn’t agree more — I have multiple shortcuts to different versions of the client on my desktop — it truly is a great tool.  Yet, we still have that 1% of tasks that the GUI just cannot accommodate, for which we must use command-line tools at the Service Console.

In my experience with desktop support many people become so used to GUIs that they don’t want to consider any command line work, even for basic things like running ipconfig at the MS DOS prompt. Others feel that only purists use command line tools, bringing to mind a Hollywood image of some genius hacker hunched over a keyboard, surrounded by empty pizza boxes, writing code in a bunch of terminal windows in his own compiled operating system. Alas, that is not always the case (sometimes it’s take out Chinese boxes).

Continued »

October 5, 2009  2:22 PM

Removing old hardware after a P2V conversion

Eric Siebert Eric Siebert Profile: Eric Siebert

A recent VMware KB article reminded me of a best practice I have been preaching for years that involves cleaning up old server hardware on a virtual machine (VM) after doing physical-to-virtual (P2V) conversions. When you perform a P2V conversion you are taking the operating system and encapsulating it inside a virtual machine. When you power it up on a virtual host afterwards the operating system wakes up and finds out it’s in a different home that has different server hardware and consequently proceeds to automatically load the correct drivers for all the new server hardware. Once that process is completed you typically need to reboot so all the new drivers can be loaded properly. If you go in to the device manager you will see all the new hardware devices, but you won’t see the old hardware devices. The reason for this is not because Windows deletes them — it simply hides them so you can’t see them. Continued »

October 5, 2009  1:48 PM

Are you taking advantage of VMware knowledge on the Web?

Eric Siebert Eric Siebert Profile: Eric Siebert

Not too long ago I saw a tweet from fellow virtualization blogger Gabe Van Zanten that said the following:

“Today 10ppl on vSphere course all very knowledgeable & working @ VMware partners though none of them knew about any of our blogs Reality check :-)”

It really surprised me that people who are really into VMware virtualization wouldn’t look to the Internet for information on technology that they use everyday. After all, what you know and learn is generally limited to what you read about and what you experience, both of which can be constrained based on the amount of time that you have to do them. Imagine multiplying that with very little effort simply by reading and benefiting from other peoples knowledge and experiences. Instead of spending hours or days trying to learn the intricacies behind VMware’s High Availability feature why not instead spend minutes learning from someone else who took the time to do so. It’s almost impossible to be an expert at every little thing when it comes to virtualization, some guys focus on storage, others on networking and so on. Learning from others is a great and easy way to expand your knowledge. It’s all about working smarter instead of harder.

Which brings me to the point of this post — VMware has an incredibly rich ecosystem of bloggers, authors and evangelists that write about their experiences with VMware technology everyday. To ignore this vast stream of valuable information is like walking through a gold mine and not picking up gold nuggets that lay on the ground. You’ll find information and tips on blogs that you will never find in any class or documentation. There are so many blogs I have a hard time keeping up with them myself, so I made it easy for anyone to find them all by creating my vLaunchpad where I maintain them all, including the top 20 blogs.

So here’s my challenge to you. If you’re reading this post you most likely know about VMware blogs and websites, why not help get the word out to others who may not know by taking the time and spreading the word? I see the same lack of awareness at local VMUG events; people are ignorant to all the great information available on the internet. I made a presentation at two of them that was all about resources for learning VMware where I highlighted all the great blogs and websites that are available.

Why not take your game to the next level and learn from masters like Chad Sakac, Duncan Epping and Scott Lowe. There is a lot of great information available out there and it can be yours with very little effort and no cost. If you’re serious about virtualization there’s simply no excuse for ignoring some of the best information available. If you want to make it even easier, check out Planet V12n.

September 27, 2009  7:00 PM

The vSphere API is not just for programmers

Halr9000 Hal Rottenberg Profile: Halr9000

The topic of the VMworld 2009 session which Luc Dekens and I gave recently was how to take PowerCLI to the next level. I’ll explain that premise for a bit in this post for those who may not have been able to make it to the session (or the show, for that matter).

PowerCLI has a lot of functionality built in. As of this writing, there are 165 cmdlets that let you do a wide range of tasks such as starting virtual machines or creating virtual switches. Cmdlets are great because they are high-level, task-based, and their usage is mostly consistent across all domains, whether you are talking about virtualization or managing your mail servers.

Here’s a PowerShell command which will display all of the various types of objects which you can manipulate with PowerCLI. Continued »

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