VMworld 2013: How to Build Public and Private Cloud Services with VMware Technologies #PHC6064

Ok, I’m going to be honest because I feel I have to.

I expected a lot about this session and learn some new things or get some new ideas to implement in my deployed vCloud Director environment. Actually I didn’t learn anything because the speakers from OVH.com were not to be understood, at all. Only seeing their slides didn’t make up for this bad presentation. This is my opinion, maybe other people liked the session, but seen the fact that about 30-40 people walked away, I don’t think that’s the case.

The presentation was mostly about their cloud solution and that they have used vCloud Director to serve their customers. They automated a lot and deliver vSphere as a Service.

Because I didn’t want to be all negative, I stayed untill the session was over and went to them to ask something about my vCloud Director environment. They did tell me how they configured their environment to help me and that is something positive. I will fill in the survey for this session and hopefully these guys will be back next year with a better English tongue =)

VMworld 2013: Successfully Virtualize Microsoft Exchange Server #VAPP5613

Alex Fontana, creator of the VMware documentation about virtualizing Microsoft Exchange products told all listeners about the best practices and pitfalls you can experience.

Some information was presented last year in Barcelona, but still provided useful information which I will pass on to my Exchange friends. My highlights of this session:

  • Use EagerZeroThick virtual disks instead of thin provisioned virtual disks. I believe this is only for the disks hosting mailbox databases. This due to the fact that there is a small performance penalty when writing new blocks to a thin provisioned disk.
  • When having multiple virtual disks in your virtual Exchange server, configure multiple vSCSI adapters (4 is the max, so when having 4 or more virtual disks, use them all and split the virtual disks among the vSCSI adapters). During testing, this has brought the Exchange latency from 60 to around 10ms.
  • Exchange latency should be under 10ms and should be no more then 20ms.
  • When using vMotion, make sure you use Jumbo Frames on the vMotion network. When this is not possible, configure the ‘SameSubnetDelay’ parameter to 2000ms instead of the default 1000ms on the DAG cluster.
  • Load balancing using the vCloud Networking & Security Edge is supported and works fine. No need to use a hardware or third-party load balancer.

A nice session and experienced speaker, thanks Alex!

VMworld 2013: VMware Virtual SAN #STO5391

Before going into detail about this session, I must say that the speakers were hard to understand due to bad English pronouncement. It would be good if the speakers would train this so that everybody can understand what they are saying.

This session, primarily presented by Christos Karamanolis was all about VSAN, or Virtual SAN, the new feature available from vSphere 5.5.

In my opinion, VSAN is a replacement for the Virtual Storage Appliance (VSA) released during vSphere 5.0. And, VSAN could compete with the solution offered by Nutanix, except the intelligent software that Nutanix has developed will be more enhanced compared to VSAN.

For people not familiar with VSA; this solution will transform the local storage in your ESXi host to a VSA datastore. With a minimum of 2, maximum of 3 ESXi hosts, you can create a VSA cluster. Hosts in this cluster will replicate their VSA datastore with adjacent ESXi hosts and provide high availability (and stable performance, since it’s local storage!). You can run the VSA datastore next to your other datastore and will be able to storage vMotion between datastore types.

VSAN is enabled on ESXi cluster-level and will by default initialize all unused space on the hosts in this cluster. Advanced configuration enables an administrator to only use a specific amount or type of storage capacity. You don’t need to deploy extra VMs or vApps to use VSAN. It’s all inside vSphere 5.5.

Hardware-based (or software) RAID will not be used, but replication will be used instead. For each VM it’s possible to define how many replicas will be available using storage profiles in vSphere. This way you can protect important VMs using more replicas and provide a simple protection for the less important VMs.

Replication will keep copies of the VMDK blocks among all ESXi hosts in the VSAN-enabled cluster and removes the need for a RAID configuration. The local initialized storage (SATA, SAS or SSD drives) will be added to one big datastore presented by VSAN. This datastore will grow in size as you add extra drives. You don’t need to keep all your hosts the same, you can add extra SSD or HDD drives to specific hosts to add extra capacity of a certain drive type. The same goes for compute, but you need to have a minimum of 1 HDD and 1 SSD drive in a host to enable VSAN. A minimum of 3 vSphere ESXi 5.5 hosts are required to enable VSAN at cluster level.

The ESXi hosts need to have a 1GB or 10GB NIC and need to have VSAN virtual networks configured in order for VSAN to be enabled and be operational. When you have a RAID controller in your host, configure it as JBOD. As stated earlier, you should not configure RAID protection in combination with VSAN.

The vSphere hosts need to be on the VMware HCL to be supported for VSAN use. Of course all of your hardware is listed on the HCL.. Right? 🙂

When using replicas, write I/O will go to all replicas for that specific VM. Read I/O will go to any replica. This way of I/O pathing will provide high performance and high availability.

One last thing I would like to mention is that VSAN provides a detailed performance view which can be used for capacity management and troubleshooting.

When vSphere 5.5 is available for download I will most certainly test out the VSAN functionality and see if it can indeed replace the VSA functionality.

VMworld 2013: PowerCLI Best Practices – A Deep Dive #VSVC4944

My first scheduled session was with Alan Renouf and Luc Dekens, the PowerCLI gurus of VMware and always busy writing scripts and code to make the life of a VMware professional easier.

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Alan Renouf and Luc Dekens slicing the PowerCLI cake.

During this session, Alan and Luc were sharing their best practices when using PowerCLI 5.5 Release 1 and PowerShell v3. I basically wrote down a list of these best practices and specifically the ones that come in handy during my activities. Hopefully it will come to good use for others.

  • Use tags (introduced in vSphere 5.1). Tags can be read and written, which was not possible in earlier releases of PowerCLI
  • vDS support. Now you can configure distributed switches
  • Open your VM console using PowerCLI and share the URL with administrators to enable them to directly login to the VM console without logging into vSphere Web Client.
  • vCloud Director 5.5 support
  • Configure ESXi host licenses
  • Make sure when processing data, that you filter the search before filtering the results to speed up the processing of your command or script.
  • Don’t use Write-Host, instead use Write-Verbose or Write-Warning
  • Use venter Alert Actions to automate in a very easy way. Let’s say after deploying a VM, you want to automatically run a script in the VM that installs AntiVirus software, or your CMDB gets updated automatically. There are numerous amount of alerts available in vCenter which you can use out-of-the-box
  • WebCommander, a VMware fling which presents PowerCLI scripts, for any kind of product (View, vCloud Director, vSphere etcetera) in a web-based view available to you, the scripter/programmer and also your users. It’s even possible to give users a direct link to your scripts. Looks like an App store for PowerCLI scripts 🙂
  • Check out PS-Remoting to re-use PowerCLI sessions open to your vCenter Server. This decreases load on your vCenter server and increases the speed of your scripts, since the initial load only happens once, when you open up the session.
WebCommander, a fling by VMware

WebCommander, a fling by VMware

Thanks to Alan and Luc for their session and dose of humour 🙂

VMworld 2013: General Session #GS-MON

This morning Robin Mattlock opened the General Session at the Moscone Centre-North with an awesome intro movie and prepared everyone for the Software Defined Data Center topics coming up the rest of the event.

She welcomed some ‘Alumni Elites’ on stage, persons who participated all VMworld events, for 10 years.

Robin mentioned that the number of VMs managed by an admin has been tripled when looking at the following ‘virtualization phases’:

  • Compute virtualization (120 VMs managed per admin)
  • Virtualizing Business Critical Applications (BCA) (170 VMs managed per admin)
  • IT-as-a-Service (350+ VMs managed per admin)

Soon after Pat Gelsinger took stage and announced that everything has to be virtualized and VMware will never stop chasing the vision of virtualizing all apps, including the Business Critical Apps mentioned earlier.

Next, Pat announced the release of vSphere and vCloud Suite 5.5 introducing support for large datastores and bigger virtual disks (64TB!), overall capabilities and application-aware High Availability.

VMware Virtual SAN is finally coming to GA as is VMware NSX which was announced by Martin Casado. I really have to show the features and capabilities provided by NSX to my networking colleagues, they will be flabbergasted! Most features you know of usual Virtual Machines like snapshotting and cloning will be made available to the networking aspects.

Ebay, Citi and GE Appliances came on stage telling their experiences with NSX and how they have (completely or partly). That proves that the technology is production capable.
They told us that no physical changes were needed in the infrastructure which sounds promising to me but I think more is needed to completely transform your networking infrastructure to a full virtualized infrastructure.

The last announcement I want to write about is VMware vCloud Hybrid Service, the public cloud solution provided by VMware and providing customers with an extension or even a replacement of their own datacenter. Solutions like Disaster Recovery as a Service can be provided easily and saves customers the need and costs for building their own failover site.

Pat states that VMware is the number one VMware Cloud Management provider and the fastest growing provider as well.

From what I can tell now, last year, VMworld 2012 was all about providing SDDC (Software Defined Data Center) services for Virtual Machines and now the next step has arrived for storage, networking and automation.

Thanks for reading!