Monthly Archive: March 2015

Mar 24 2015

Upcoming round-table panel discussion on Virtual Volumes (VVols) hosted by Taneja Group

I’ll be participating as one of the panelists in an upcoming round-table discussion on Virtual Volumes (VVols) that is being hosted by Tom Fenton of the Taneja Group. Click the image below to sign-up and hope to see you there.

VMware Virtual Volumes – What impact will they have on the datacenter?

Thursday, April 2nd at 9:00 am PST

Join us for a fast-paced and informative 60-minute roundtable as we discuss one of the hottest topics in the datacenter: VMware vSphere Virtual Volumes (VVOLs). VVOLs is the industry’s first solution to enable native virtual machine-awareness across a broad range of SAN/NAS arrays. VVOLs will be packaged as a feature in VMware vSphere Standard Edition and above as well as in VMware vSphere ROBO editions, and is seeing a groundswell of interest from IT professionals, especially those involved in datacenter operations. The panel includes VVOL experts from four major vendors that have announced they will be implementing VVOLs into their storage. Some of the questions we will be asking them include: What immediate impact will VVOLs have on the datacenter? What should the early adopters look for in a VVOL-based storage solution? Should datacenters start to implement VVOLs right away or wait for VVOL.next?

VVOL-webinar

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Mar 23 2015

When it comes to implementing Virtual Volumes (VVols) you better be on time

I was conversing with one of our VVol engineers today after he mentioned that we have seen customers experiencing problems with using VVols due to time sync issues in their vSphere environment. These problems could of easily been avoided with some simple RTFMing.

VMware’s New Virtual Volumes (VVols) architecture has a lot of moving parts and one big requirement for those parts to all work together is to have time synced between them. The below diagram depicts the vSphere components that are part of the VASA 2.0 specification which defines vendor VVol implementations.

VVOLs-arch

The vSphere 6 storage documentation states the following before implementing VVols:

  • Synchronize all components in the storage array with vCenter Server and all ESXi hosts. Use Network
    Time Protocol (NTP) to do this synchronization.

That means you must synchronize time across the same NTP source with every ESXi host that will use VVols, your vCenter Server, your storage array and your VASA Provider if its external and not built into the array. You might think that this is no big deal if you don’t do this but that’s not the case, here’s some scenarios where it will cause problems:

  • During the initial setup of VVols if the time between your vCenter Server and storage array are out of sync when you try and register your VASA Provider it will fail with a cryptic error message which won’t indicate that the failure was caused by time not being in sync..
  • Once you register your VASA Provider and try and use VVols if your ESXi hosts are out of sync as well you may not be able to create a VM on VVol storage. What could occur in this scenario is that the VVol datastore reports zero space available so you are unable to select it as storage device when creating a new VM. Again not something that you would attribute to time being out of sync.

There may very well be more issues with using VVols that occur due to time not being in sync between all components. There are also time stamps that are used with VVols that could potentially cause problems if the time is off. These issues may all not be obviously related to time so to save yourself from potential problems and troubleshooting just make sure you have all your clocks in sync.

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Mar 19 2015

vBlogger Spotlight: Mike Laverick

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While we wait for the Top vBlog results I thought I would shine the spotlight on several prominent bloggers in the community to give you some insight into their experiences with blogging. Today’s spotlight is on Mike Laverick, one of the OG bloggers who started his RTFM (Read The Frigging Manual) Education website way back in the early days of blogging. Mike was also one of the early book authors as a member of the Advanced Technical Design Guide rat pack that authored some of the first books on virtualization. Mike is the host of the Chinwag podcasts where he uses his laidback, informal interview style to chat with guests about virtualization. A former Certified VMware Instructor, Mike’s great passion for teaching and helping others is evidenced by his blog posts, articles, books, podcasts and his unselfish eagerness to share and give back to the community. So without further ado enjoy a Q&A session with Mike Laverick:

What year did you start your blog?

[Mike] RTFM Education started in 2003, but I flogged that to TechTarget, so I’m not sure if that really counts anymore! As for mikelaverick.com (such a pithy name dontcha think?) started in Feb, 2013…

What inspired you to start a blog?

[Mike] Back 2003 it was just an honest willingness to share what I learned, and help others. The plans for Dr Evil style world-domination came later…

Describe your early blogging experiences and how you have evolved over the years?

[Mike] I’m going to be a bit vain here. But I would like to my style has influenced others. I read other bloggers and think, “god, that’s just how I would do it”. I don’t feel ripped off, but slightly proud. I told you I was going to be vain! But I like to think my style is one that blends just right of theory with a big dollop of “getting it done”. My most popular posts have been ones that fix a commonly experience problem, that everyone runs up against in their time.

What has kept you blogging over the years and not quitting at it?

[Mike] Aside from a passion to share what I learn, I do generally love writing. I guess that comes from my liberal-arts background. You see I’m a bit of interloper who’s technical knowledge wasn’t gained through academic qualifications but via combo of experience, and training courses. One day someone is going to work out that this particular Emperor has no clothes. But to mix my metaphors I will keep on pulling the levers like the Wizard of Oz, until someone pulls back the curtain. It’s been a while since I undertook a big book project and do I kind of miss that. I tip my hat to colleagues of mine who have held down full-time jobs at VMware, and writing books. I don’t know how they find the time or motivation. As for myself I do a project that’s been cooking away since last year (or if I’m honest the year before) it looks ripe for launch. I hope to do the big reveal in the next couple of weeks.

What was your best experience or fondest memory related to blogging?

[Mike] I guess my fondest memory, is when people come up to me at VMUGs and say they laughed out loud – at something I wrote in a book or blog. Humour is rather under-rated virtue in IT, I don’t know how many of us get through the working day without being able to laugh at the end of it….

Any advice for others who are new to blogging?

[Mike] Blog about you – your experiences and what you learn. Most of start blogging as way of documenting what we learn. Its a bit odd how you end up searching your own blog for stuff you worked out 12 months ago, because your memory synapses have made room for some other data. As for ‘making a name for yourself’ – I would recommend finding a topic that is unloved, and becoming the GOTO guy/gal for that. Get a reputation for being a really nice person who helps other people. If you lucky, you’ll hit upon a technology that just explodes in popularity – and will put a rocket under your career. If it happens 99% of that will be pure luck, the other 99% will be sheer goddamn hardwork. Then, rest on your laurels and dine out on your veteran status until retirement. Well, that’s what I plan to do anyway… 😉

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Mar 18 2015

Top vBlog voting has ended

VotesIn-crop

The polls have closed after being open for just over 2 weeks and over 2,200 people have voted which is a new record high compared to the 1,400 last year. So what’s next? I have to run all the votes through my vote processing contraption to determine the results, hopefully we don’t run into any issues with hanging chads. It’s not a terribly efficient machine so this process will take about a week to complete. After that stay tuned for the live Top vBlog Results Show featuring myself, John Troyer, David Davis, Simon Seagrave and Infinio coming to a Google Hangout near you.

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Mar 18 2015

vBlogger Spotlight: Scott Lowe

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While we wait for the Top vBlog results I thought I would shine the spotlight on several prominent bloggers in the community to give you some insight into their experiences with blogging. Today’s spotlight is on Scott Lowe, not to be confused with the Other Scott Lowe or the gamer Scott Lowe (lots of Scott Lowe’s in tech). The original Scott Lowe is one of the earliest bloggers to write about virtualization having started his web log in 2005 and has been consistently ranked in the top 5 in my Top vBlog polls over the years. Scott was also one of the earliest book authors to write about virtualization with the release of his Mastering vSphere 4 book in 2009 and many other books after that. So without further ado enjoy a Q&A session with Scott Lowe:

What year did you start your blog?

[Scott] My first article was published in early May of 2005. At first I ran it on an internal-only installation of WordPress, but moved it to a public hosting provider within just a couple of months.

What inspired you to start a blog?

[Scott] Like others, my blog started out as a sort of “knowledge base” for myself. I would find solutions to these problems, but 6 months later when I ran into the same problem again I couldn’t remember how I’d solved it. The blog was an attempt to help with that problem.

Describe your early blogging experiences and how you have evolved over the years?

[Scott] If you go back and look at the early blog entries, they were more like journal entries. I talked about a technical project I’d started or a fix I’d found, but the posts were really more for myself. After about six months to a year, I “found my voice” and started speaking more to an external audience (even though the blog had hardly any followers at the time, it somehow felt natural to write that way—hence “finding my voice”). From there, my writing voice has evolved as I’ve grown and changed. I would even go so far as to say that my writing voice has, in some cases, been a contributing or driving factor in how I’ve grown and changed.

What has kept you blogging over the years and not quitting at it?

[Scott] I think it’s because I’ve always enjoyed being able to help others learn and understand new things. I enjoyed working as an instructor and trainer early in my career, and I think I’ve carried a fondness for “teaching” ever since. Writing about technologies, projects, products, and trends has been like an outlet for me to share both my passion for technology as well as my passion for helping others understand technology.

What was your best experience or fondest memory related to blogging?

[Scott] That’s a tough question! There have been some good experiences as well as some not-so-good experiences. I suppose if I had to pick only one experience it would be a story I heard from a co-worker when I was working for a reseller on the US East Coast (this was before I moved to Denver). A sales person and an SE went into an account to talk about winning the opportunity to do a virtualization project for this company. The technical guys at this company talked about this article they’d read online and how they wanted to use the architecture proposed by this article for this project. When the sales rep and the SE asked about the article, the customer responded with “It was written by this guy, Scott Lowe.” The sales rep and the SE just laughed and said, “You know he works for us, right?” Needless to say, we got the opportunity to do the project (and yes, I worked on the project). I think it was a bit of an eye-opener for me personally—I knew that others knew of me, but didn’t understand the potential impact my work might have.

Any advice for others who are new to blogging?

[Scott] I’m assuming since you used the phrase “new to blogging” that we’re talking about someone who has already started blogging. In that case, I’d have to say to keep this phrase in mind: “The perfect is the enemy of the good.” Your articles don’t have to be perfect. Your site’s layout doesn’t have to be perfect. Certainly strive for excellence, but don’t obsess over perfection to the point you don’t actually write. In the end, it’s OK to publish an article that may not be as complete as you’d originally planned, or may not be as in-depth as you’d first envisioned (this latter point is something with which I personally wrestle from time to time). It’s likely that someone will still find value in it, and over time you’ll learn how best to structure your content and writing.

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Mar 18 2015

The evolution of bloggers as seen through the vLaunchpad over the years

I recently dug into some of my website design archives and came across many version of how the vLaunchpad has grown and evolved over the last 8 years. Because is contains links to all the blogs out there this time capsule serves to illustrate how bloggers have evolved and gorwn over the years. The earliest version of the vLaunchpad had very few blogs listed as ther ejust wasn’t many people bloggin back then. Over the years that has steadily grown as the current version of the vLaunchpad has over 400 active blogs listed on it.

My very first design developed in 2007 using Dreamweaver:

vlp-old3

 A newer layout with more content dubbed the vLaunchpad 2.0 in 2008:

vlp-oldest2

Next revision, started ranking blogs, still 2008:

vlp-oldest3

A new design layout in 2009, blog rankings expanded to the top 20:

vlp-oldest4

Finally switched to WordPress in 2010 which made updating easier instead of doing everything in html, initially I showed the top 25 blogs, then the top 50 blogs and now the top 100 blogs, here’s the latest design:

vlp-newest

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Mar 17 2015

VMTN wayback machine – spotlight on Jason Boche

Years and years ago on my old vmware-land.com website I had a page devoted to shining the spotlight on very active and influential members of the VMTN community so we could find out more about them. I thought I’d resurrect some of those spotlights and give you a glimpse back into the early days of the VMTN community. Today’s wayback machine spotlight is on Jason Boche:

vmtn-boche

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Mar 17 2015

NFS 4.1 support in vSphere limitations and caveats

vSphere 6 finally bumped the version of NFS that was supported as a datastore from v3 to v4.1. NFS v4.1 is certainly not new having been introduced in 2010 but VMware has never seen to support v4.1 until vSphere 6. As expected NFS v4.1 brings a number of enhancements over v3 including support for multi-pathing and Kerberos authentication (AD) but there are a number of caveats and limitations with using it in vSphere 6 that you should be aware of:

  • You cannot use Virtual Volumes (VVOLs) with NFS v4.1
  • NFS 4.1 does not support hardware acceleration (VAAI) as a result you cannot create thick virtual disks on NFS v4.1 datastores (thin only) or use any of the VAAI-NAS primitives (i.e. Fast File Clone)
  • According to the vSphere 6 Storage documentation on page 151, NFS 4.1 does not support the Fault Tolerance (FT) availability feature in vSphere, however on page 153 of that same documentation (see chart below) it is listed as supported. VMware needs to clarify this contradiction in their documentation.

FT-NFS

Important!

Update from Cormac on this:

VMs on NFS v4.1 support FT, as long as it is the new FT mechanism introduced in 6.0.

VMs running on NFS v4.1 do not support the old, legacy FT mechanism.

In vSphere 6.0, the newer Fault Tolerance mechanism can accommodate symmetric multiprocessor (SMP) virtual machines with up to four vCPUs. Earlier versions of vSphere used a different technology for Fault Tolerance (now known as legacy FT), with different requirements and characteristics (including a limitation of single vCPUs for legacy FT VMs). ​

  • You cannot use v3 and v4.1 NFS versions to mount the same datastore as they do not use the same locking protocol and doing this cause data corruption
  • NFS v3 and NFS v4.1 datastores can coexist on the same host
  • Just like you can’t upgrade from VMFS3 to VMFS 5, you cannot upgrade an existing NFS v3 datastore to v4.1
  • Be aware that vSphere 6 supports both NFS v3 and v4.1 but to do this ESXi has to use different NFS clients
  • NFS v4.1 provides multipathing (pNFS) and you can use multiple IP addresses to access a single NFS volume

Below is a feature comparison chart that shows what vSphere features are not supported with NFS v4.1:

NFSv41-edit

For more information on implementing NFS v4.1 read through the vSphere 6 Storage Documentation.

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