June 2011 archive

VCenter CapacityIQ by the numbers

Host resources are a precious commodity in virtual infrastructures. To maximize your return on investment and the benefits of virtualization, you must make the most of them.

VMware vCenter CapacityIQ reports on CPU, memory and disk I/O usage, which enables you to right-size vSphere infrastructure and prevent common virtualization challenges, such as virtual machine (VM) sprawl.

CapacityIQ is available as a standalone product and is also bundled with vCenter Operations, VMware’s new operations management software. At some point, CapacityIQ and Operations may merge into a single product. Until then, here’s what VMware’s resource-reporting and planning tool can do.

The capabilities of vCenter CapacityIQ
VCenter CapacityIQ is a pre-built virtual appliance, deployed from an Open Virtualization File format, so it can be exported directly into vCenter Server. VCenter CapacityIQ focuses on three areas in vSphere:

Read the full article at searchvmware.com…

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My updated series on VMware Snapshots

I did a 3-part series on VMware snapshots years ago for Tech Target that was based on VI3, I recently updated the series to include changes that have occurred with the technology since the release of vSphere.

Part 1 – How VMware snapshots work

A disk “snapshot” is a copy of the virtual machine disk file (VMDK) at a certain point in time. It preserves the disk file system and system memory of your VM by enabling you to revert to the snapshot in case something goes wrong. Snapshots can be real lifesavers when upgrading or patching applications and servers. This article will go over everything you need to know about using snapshots with VMware, including what they are, how they work and advanced techniques.

Snapshot disk space used and rate of growth
If you create more than one snapshot of your virtual machine (VM), then you’ll have multiple restore points available to revert to. When you create a snapshot, what was currently writable becomes read-only from that point on. Using in-file delta technology, new files are created that contain all changes (delta) to the original disk files.

The size of a snapshot file can never exceed the size of the original disk file. Any time a disk block is changed, the snapshot is created in the delta file and simply updated as changes are made. If you changed every single disk block on your server after taking a snapshot, your snapshot would still be the same size as your original disk file. But there’s some additional overhead disk space that contains information used to manage the snapshots. The maximum overhead disk space varies and it’s based on the Virtual Machine Files System block size.

Read the full article at searchvmware.com…

Part 2 – Deleting virtual machine snapshots without wasting disk space

Taking snapshots of your virtual machines (VMs) is a useful way to preserve and restore VM configurations. But proper management is needed to avoid performance problems. In this tip, we’ll explore advanced snapshot management topics. (For a review of snapshot basics or review how VMware snapshots work, see my previous tip.)

Disk space and deleting multiple snapshots
It’s important to plan ahead and allow for ample disk space on your VMware virtual machine file system (VMFS) volumes for snapshot files. A good rule of thumb is to allow for disk space of at least 20% of the virtual machine’s total disk size. But this amount can vary depending upon the type of server, how long you keep the snapshots, and if you plan on using multiple snapshots. If you plan on including the memory state with your snapshots, you’ll also need to allow for extra disk space equal to amount of RAM assigned to the VM.

A VM with only one snapshot requires no extra disk space when deleting, or committing, it. (The term committing is used because the changes saved in the snapshot’s delta files are now committed to the original virtual machine disk file, or VMDK.) There is also an extra helper delta file that is created when you delete snapshots. It contains any changes that are made to the VM’s disk while the snapshot is deleted. The size of the helper delta file varies and it’s based on how long the snapshot takes to delete. But it’s generally small, because most snapshots are deleted in less than an hour.

Read the full article at searchvmware.com…

Part 3 – Troubleshooting VMware snapshots

Virtualization administrators can use snapshots in vSphere to travel back in time and figure out what went wrong with their virtual machines (VMs). In part one of this series, I discussed how to use VMware snapshots. In part two, I explained how to delete snapshots without wasting disk space. But what do you do when your snapshots start acting funny? In this tip, we’ll troubleshoot potential problems that may come up when using snapshots in vSphere.

Locating VMs that have snapshots
Finding out which VMs have snapshots can be challenging. In VMware Infrastructure 3, there wasn’t a centralized, built-in way to accomplish this task in the vSphere Client or vCenter Server. You had to use methods, such as scripts and command-line utilities, that made locating snapshots difficult. But there were some enhancements in vSphere that made locating snapshots much easier. Here are a few of the methods that you can use.

Method 1: Find command
Use the find command in the ESX service console or ESXi Tech Support Mode

1. Log in to the console.
2. Change to your /vmfs/volumes/ directory.
3. Type find -iname “*-delta.vmdk” -mtime +7 -ls to find snapshot files that have not been modified in seven days or simply find -iname “*-delta.vmdk” to find all snapshot files.

Read the full article at searchvmware.com…

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Thoughts and observations from HP Discover

I’m back from spending a great week at the HP Discover conference in Las Vegas and I though I would provide my thoughts and observations from it. Before I begin let me disclose that HP paid for all expenses of my trip as part of their program to bring a group of bloggers on site so they could soak up everything at the show and publish their thoughts and opinions on it. So in no particular order here my thoughts and observations from HP Discover:

  • HP reported about 10,000 attendees but that seemed a bit high to me, I’ve been to many VMworlds were attendance has ranged from 11,000 – 17,000 and it didn’t seem close to those numbers. In fact I’ve been to VMworld at the exact same hotel (The Venetian) and it seemed much more crowded.
  • HP has one of the best social media programs that I’ve ever seen, I’ve been to a few HP blogger events and they cover are super organized, well-planned and executed. HP realizes what a valuable resource bloggers are and it shows, they take care of all expenses, even in miscellaneous ones. When I checked in they had a welcome package with information, swag & a HP t-shirt embroidered with twitter handles on the back. They had a fully equipped blogger lounge with lockers, tables, chairs, snacks, drinks and even provided USB cellular dongles for connectivity. They had schedules all printed up with notable events that would be of interest to the bloggers and arranged special coffee-table sessions in the blogger lounge with key HP personnel. In short HP went all out to provide the bloggers everything they need to get the most out of the conference and have an environment to work in. Ivy Worldwide that handles all the logistics for HP does an incredible job.
  • HP had an official conference app for every smartphone including iPhone, Android, WebOS (duh) and Blackberry, this allowed access to your schedule and provided all sorts of information about the show including maps, session and general information. In today’s world this is almost a no-brainer as probably 9 out of 10 attendees has a smartphone. I wish other companies (VMware) would do this as well at their conferences. It served as an invaluable companion during the conference.
  • The # of sessions that were given was off the chart, almost 900 sessions, how can you possibly choose from that many. It made trying to schedule sessions very difficult as their was just way too many to sort through. To make matters worse most of the sessions were not recorded it all, so you either saw it at the conference or not at all. Maybe of the better ones booked up fast that excluded people from attending them. I would much rather see quality over quantity, VMware limits the number of sessions to around 200 and has an extensive process to ensure only the best sessions make the conference.
  • Oracle was playing childish games at the conference, they had signage on many taxes that said Sun was 7x faster than HP, they also had an elaborate see-through van circling the hotel with old HP servers inside and a Cash for Clunkers sign on it. As most of the attendees probably never left the hotel at all during the event most of their efforts were probably wasted any. Why don’t you grow the hell up Oracle, do you really think people make buying decisions based off immature marketing pranks? All you ended up doing is showing your desperation in your efforts to try and win HP customers to switch to your crappy products.
  • I’m primarily a virtualization guy, but I’ve been a very long time user of HP servers and storage devices. It was great to see all the many products first hand and ask questions of the product engineers. HP dominated their vendor exhibition area and probably had almost half the floor space devoted to their products. As you would expect there were only strategic partners and vendors that did not directly compete with HP present which is OK with me. However I found that their was a profound lack of focus on virtualization technologies both in the sessions and in exhibition area. VMware had a pretty small booth with not much on display and few people staffing it and their were very few vendors on hand that focused on virtualization products, Veeam & Vkernel were the only two that I saw there. Given how important virtualization is to the data center and converged infrastructures I would of expected to see a lot more of it at the conference. Even HP didn’t have much focus in that area and I was a bit dis-appointed in what I saw.
  • Web-OS was all the rage at the show given it’s impending release on tablet devices. While I haven’t been a big fan of their web-OS phones mainly due to the lack of apps for it, I think they are going to hit it out of the ballpark with tablets and we will finally have a worthy competitor to the iPad. I currently own an Android tablet (Galaxy Tab) and an iPad and I have not been impressed with the Android tablet at all. From what I’ve seen and heard about the Blackberry playbook I don’t think anyone but RIM is impressed with it as well. The forthcoming HP TouchPad tablet is just plain slick and the price point is right were it needs to be starting at $499 to compete with the iPad. Don’t believe me, check out this video, I know I’ll be getting one. The app ecosystem may not be there today like the iPad but I think we’ll see rapid growth once it is released.
  • The large vendor exhibition area was very dark, when I first walked in I assumed it was closed because of that and almost turned around and walked out. HP turn some lights on in there next time, the dark movie theater lighting didn’t give me a good vibe. There was also a surprisingly lack of booth babes that you typically see at tech conferences which was a nice change, while I enjoy looking they are a bit distracting. I did see at least a few Elvis’s wandering the floor though.
  • HP was showing off their newly announced VirtualSystem which is their converged infrastructure solution built for virtualization and is designed to compete with EMC’s vBlocks and NetApps FlexPods. I was really interested in this but their was a distinct lack of detail into what exactly this solution is. From what little I was able to see and read I see this this is essentially a marketing wrapper placed around a specific configuration of servers and hardware that is designed to be a turnkey, certified virtualization solution. Supposedly it only supports vSphere & Hyper-V right now and support for other hypervisors may be added later on. I read through the fact sheet and solution brief on HP’s site and it was so general it really didn’t tell me what components that the system was comprised of. I hope HP releases more details on this solution so I can find out what makes it tick and how it compares to its competitors.
  • In the storage space, HP seems to be making a big shift to 3Par storage to replace many of their existing storage lines. From what I’ve seen of the 3Par storage units they are top-notch and HP made a wise decision in purchasing them. The 3Par arrays include some unique features and blazing performance that make them very attractive. Besides that yellow & black color scheme can really brighten up a data center and make it pop.
  • If you haven’t seen this cool video yet on HP’s converged infrastructure narrated by Marc Farley, check it out, it’s very nicely done. Speaking of Marc Farley, if you haven’t seen this video yet of him getting down in the restroom it’s definitely worth a view.
  • One thing I wanted to find out more about but didn’t was HP’s StoreOnce deduplication technology, HP has some good white papers published on it here that you can check out.
  • I did get a chance to walk-through HP’s data center in a box solution, the HP Performance Optimized Datacenter (POD), anybody can stick racks in a shipping container but what impressed me most about their POD was the environment controls with adaptive cooling, fire suppression systems, security card readers, energy efficiency and large power capacity. Check out the Quickspecs on the POD, you can also see a video overview of it here.
  • One of the HP coffee table sessions was with the team responsible for re-designing HP’s website who was gathering our feedback to assist them in making design decisions. I’ve almost pulled my hair out a few times trying to find information on HP’s massive website so I can really appreciate what they are trying to do and hope they implement a design that makes finding information much easier.

Well that’s all I have for the moment, I may add more things to this post as they come to me, all in all it was a great event and I was glad that I was able to attend it.

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Upcoming Denver Regional VMUG – I pity the fool that misses this one


On Tuesday 6/28 we will be having our first regional VMUG in Denver. A regional VMUG is much bigger than a traditional VMUG and is a full day event. VMware’s MyVMUG group puts a lot of time and effort into organizing regional VMUGs and the end result is a great event that is full of awesome information. Regional VMUGs are like mini-VMworld’s, we have multi-track sessions, labs, vendor areas and much more. Here’s what you can expect at out upcoming regional VMUG:

  • Hands-on, self-paced labs – EMC & Wyse are sponsoring the labs where you can sit down and get actual hands-on training in a variety of different areas. There will be staff on-hand as well to help with any areas that you may need assistance with while completing the lab. Their is no better way to get training then with labs, this alone makes the event worth attending.
  • Scott Lowe from EMC – One of the top VMware bloggers in the world, Scott has written several books and has a wealth of knowledge and experience to share. Scott will be giving a vendor independent session on virtual networking design that will help you properly understand and configure your virtual networks. Got a question about how to architect something in your environment, Scott is the person to ask and can help you with just about anything.
  • John Troyer from VMware – VMware’s head cheerleader and social media strategist, John’s knowledge and experience combines VMware technology, humor, social media and a passion for virtualization that you must experience first hand. John organizes all of VMware’s blogs and helps maintain the VMTN forums as well as the Planet V12N and Planet VMware feed aggregates.
  • Sessions from VMware – Four awesome sessions presented by VMware personnel on a variety of topics:
    • Cloud in the Real World – Tom Ralph
    • VMware View Reference Architecture – Cale Fogel
    • Performance Best Practices for vSphere – Leah Schoeb
    • Transitioning to ESXi – Kyle Gleed
  • VMware Global Support Services – We are lucky to have one of the few HQ for VMware’s Global Support Services (GSS) in Broomfield, CO. These are the smart guys who answer your phone calls when you call in for help. They will have people onsite to answer any questions that you may have about VMware products. So if you have problems, need advice or just want to chat, come on by the VMware Genius Bar and talk to them.
  • Vendor expo – Looking for a solution or product to use it your virtual environment to help you overcome a challenge or fill a need? Over 20 vendors will be on-hand that will have tables in the vendor expo where you can get information about their products. Vendors include HP, EMC, Virtensys, Veeam, Juniper Networks, Appsense, Bluesocket, Xangati, Commvault, FalconStor, Quest, Wyse, Symantec, Solarflare, RES Software, Vkernel, Embotics, Xiotech, Vision Solutions and 10zig Technology.
  • Vendor sessions – All those great vendors won’t just be exhibiting their products, they’ll also be presenting sessions as well. Come learn about products, services and virtualization technology from these great sessions. Not into vendor product pitches? Don’t worry, many vendors will be presenting on non-product specific topics that will educate you and help you overcome challenges that you may experience.
  • Networking – This is an awesome opportunity to mingle and network with vendors, VMware employees, bloggers and customers. Ask anything you want, share your experiences or just listen to what others have to say, either way you are sure to gain from talking to anyone attending the event.
  • Giveaways – Hey who doesn’t like free stuff. Besides vendors giveaways we will also be giving away an iPad2, a Kindle and more at the end of the event.

So head on over to the MyVMUG site and sign up for this can’t miss event. You will get more from this FREE all-day event than you will get doing anything else that day.

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Off to HP Discover

I leave bright and early to attend HP Discover this week in Las Vegas. I’ve been to VMworld many times but this is my first trip to HP Discover. I look forward to seeing all the HP new technology and learn more about how there storage line is shaping up after the 3PAR acquisition. I’ve always felt HP has been weak in the virtualization space compared to other companies like EMC & NetApp that seem very well integrated with VMware. It may be that HP is just as integrated but they sure don’t market it like the other companies do. So I’m interested to find out as much as I can about HP, virtualization and in particular their server and storage products. So stay tuned for my reports over the next week, I’ll be a guest in The Cube with Stuart Miniman on Wednesday at 2:45pm PST.

One thing I found about out HP Discover already is they have a native app for all smartphones, more information is available here. You can find it in the Apple app store by searching on HP Discover.

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Using SSD technology to support memory overcommitment in vSphere

With applications becoming increasingly memory-hungry, memory always seems to be the resource in the shortest supply on a host. In a virtualized server environment, the lack of sufficient physical memory can have a real impact on project ROI, since it will limit the density that you could otherwise achieve.

That’s because, while CPU sockets can support an ever-increasing number of cores, for maximum efficiency, a host has to have a balance of resources available to virtual machines (VMs). If a resource shortage occurs in any one area on a host — such as RAM — the number of VMs that the host can run will be restricted despite plentiful resources in other areas.

The technique of memory overcommitment in a virtualized environment can help mitigate the problem, and using SSD to handle memory overcommitment can produce better results at a lower cost than memory overcommitment on mechanical disk.

Let’s examine the memory limitations of server hardware, how memory overcommitment works, and how solid-state drive (SSD) technology can address the problem.

Read the full article at searchvirtualstorage.com…

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Hyper-V dynamic memory allocation vs. VMware memory overcommit

Hyper-V Dynamic Memory is Microsoft’s answer to VMware memory overcommit.

Dynamic memory allocation and memory overcommit both aim to improve memory management in virtual server infrastructures, and they even use common technologies. But they take different approaches and offer very different user experiences.

These differences — plus the fact that Hyper-V lacked dynamic memory allocation until this year — have spurred much debate among VMware and Microsoft users about the merits of each feature. In this face-off, two virtualization experts debate the pros and cons of Hyper-V Dynamic Memory and VMware memory overcommit.

Hyper-V dynamic memory allocation: A superior approach
VMware memory overcommit: Do it right to begin with

Read the full article at searchservervirtualization.com…

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