Category: Top 10 List

Top 10 things you must read about vSphere 5.1

There has been so many documents, white papers, videos and blog posts posted about the vSphere 5.1 release that it’s hard to keep up with them all. I have at least 250 links gathered in my vSphere 5.1 Link-o-rama and it is still growing. With so many links it’s easy to miss some of the really good ones so I thought I would put together a top 10 list that highlights the ones that you don’t want to miss.


1 – VMware’s What’s new in vSphere 5.1 white paper series

VMware released a series of technical white papers that cover the new features and enhancements in vSphere 5.1 in a lot more detail than their standard one page overview document that covers them at a high level. These white papers focus on different areas to highlight in-depth what the key changes are in vSphere 5.1 in specific areas that you should know about. This series is a good read so make a pot of coffee or crack open a beer and learn all about the goodness that exists in vSphere 5.1.

2 – Cormac Hogan’s 10-part What’s New in Storage with vSphere 5.1 series

If you don’t know Cormac Hogan, you should, he’s a senior technical marketing architect at VMware and his focus is on storage which he knows a lot about. He produces a lot of great content for VMware on the vSphere Blog and recently started his own personal blog as well which you should definitely bookmark. With each new release of vSphere Cormac does a What’s New series focused on storage and he’s back at it again with vSphere 5.1 which has a number of new storage features and enhancements. By the time you’ve finished reading through his 10 blog posts on storage you’ll probably know as much about storage in vSphere 5.1 as Cormac, well probably not but you’ll still learn a lot.

3 – Derek Seaman’s 13-part series on installing vCenter Server 5.1

Remember back in the good ole days of VirtualCenter 2.5 when everything was all simple, easy and straightforward? Well over time vCenter Server has gotten more and more complicated and installing and configuring it has become no simple task anymore. With so many pieces and parts to vCenter Server now like the Web interface, Update Manager, Single Sign-On, databases, certificates, etc, installing vCenter Server in 5.1 has become complex and occasionally frustrating. Well Derek Seaman has made it easy for you with his epic 13-part mini-series (and counting?) on installing vCenter Server 5.1. This series will guide you through all the different steps of installing vCenter Server and it’s various components and help you avoid any gotchas that you might encounter. vCenter Server should be the first thing you install or upgrade in your environment so be sure and give these a read.

4 – Kendrick Coleman’s video tutorial series on the vCenter Server appliance and the new vSphere Web Client interface

Kendrick Coleman has been a busy boy recording a nice video tutorial series of 11 videos that will get you familiar with deploying the vCenter Server appliance and also familiar with how to perform various tasks using the new vSphere web client interface. Seeing rather than reading can make it easier to learn which is one reason that TrainSignal has become so popular and Kendrick delivers the good with over 2 hours of videos to help make that transition to the new web client interface an easier one. So make yourself a big bowl of popcorn and enjoy these videos on vSphere 5.1 as Kendrick makes a play to win himself a vEmmy award.

5 – Stephen Foskett’s Storage Changes in vSphere 5.1 post

You can never get too much information on storage and Stephen Foskett, the man behind Tech Field Day, puts his own unique spin on the storage changes that are in vSphere 5.1. This has become a tradition for Stephen as he does this with each vSphere release and he provides a lot of great information and insight from his years of experience working with storage. Stephen often seems to come up with those little nuggets of information about storage and vSphere that you won’t find anywhere else so be sure and check him out and I guarantee you’ll walk away learning something new.

6 – VMware’s VMware vSphere Web Client Video Support Series

The days of our beloved (at least for Windows users) vSphere Client are numbered and the future is with the new vSphere Web Client. Making the jump to this new interface can be challenging so luckily VMware has put together a whole video series to show you how to perform various tasks using the new web UI. While us Windows users may put this off and cling to our vSphere Client as long as possible, Linux and Mac fans will rejoice as they can finally natively manage vSphere without having to install Windows. The sooner you get started with the new web UI the better so don’t put it off as you’ll likely not see the vSphere Client in the next major vSphere release.

7 – Vladan Seget’s posts on vSphere Data Protection

vSphere Data Protection (vDP) is a new product introduced with vSphere 5.1 that is based on Avamar from VMware that replaces vSphere Data Recovery (vDR) that was part of the prior vSphere releases. Being a new product it can be a challenge to learn it and understand how it works. Well Vladan who blogs from the tropical beaches of Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean has made it easier for you with a series of posts and videos that will help you get started and comfortable with it. Once you’ve  kicked the tires with vDP and seen how it works you might find yourself desiring a better backup product like Veeam Backup & Replication instead, but hey at least you gave vDP a shot and Vladan is your man to guide you through it.

8 – Chris Wahl’s New 5.1 Distributed Switch Features

A lot of focus is given to storage in each vSphere release but networking sees it’s fair share of new features and enhancements as well. Chris Wahl has done a series of nice posts that cover a lot of the networking stuff that is new in vSphere 5.1. Networking in vSphere can quickly get overwhelming with all those complicated features, layers, packets, ports, switches and acronyms so reading through these posts might make it easier to digest. Even if you’re not a networking person it’s still good to know something about it so be sure and give them a read. For some  information on VXLAN be sure and read Duncan’s posts as well, but heck you probably already have since everyone reads Duncan’s blog.

9 – vSphere 5 Licensing, Pricing & Packaging

Another year, another licensing change. VMware’s infamous vTax went over as well as a fart in a spacesuit so VMware has had yet enough licensing change with vSphere 5.1. In addition they have changed feature availability in editions, introduced new cloud suites, eliminated per VM pricing and much more. So what you know about VMware’s licensing has probably all changed so it’s time to study up on it again and figure it all out. Be sure and hurry up and learn it before it all changes again.

10 – RTFM

I shouldn’t have to tell you this but I will, reading the fricking manuals can really be helpful. I know most of us don’t like to read manuals and just want to dive into playing with the products but VMware actually makes some really good documentation that is more than just your typical step-by-step instructions. I highly encourage you to checkout the separate documentation on Networking, Storage, SecurityAvailability, Resource Management and Performance. These are great guides for learning about the technology and getting some deep dive information on it. VMware even makes it easier for you by putting it in multiple formats such as html, pdf, epub and mobi so you can download it to your device of choice and carry it around with you. Maybe some day they’ll even put it in audio book format so you can listen to James Earl Jones tell you how to configure Storage I/O Control while driving to work, how cool would that be.


So there you have it, the top 10 things you should read about vSphere 5.1, I’m sure I missed some other great ones as well so feel free to shout out in the comments some additional links that you feel people must read. Also be sure and bookmark my vSphere 5.1 Link-o-rama, new links are added daily and you will find almost everything you need there to get you going with vSphere 5.1.

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Top 10 things you must read about VMware vSphere

  1. VMware vSphere 4 Cheat Sheet – A cheat sheet document from VMware on vSphere that outlines new features, editions, entitlements and comparison tables to other virtualization products.
  2. vSphere 4 Pricing, Packaging and Licensing Overview – A white paper from VMware that outlines the various vSphere and VMware vCenter Server editions and the latest changes to pricing, licensing, upgrade paths and Support and Subscription (SnS) entitlements.
  3. vSphere Key Features & Benefits Summary – A table that outlines all the different features in vSphere and which ones are included in the different vSphere editions.
  4. vSphere Editions Comparison – A simple comparison checklist that shows all seven editions of vSphere and which of the larger features are included in each one.
  5. vSphere Pre-requisites Checklist – A checklist from VMware that describes the requirements and pre-requisites necessary to begin planning for the upgrade of an existing VMware Infrastructure to VMware vSphere.
  6. VMware vSphere: Got 64-bit hardware? – Unlike VI3 which supports both 32-bit and 64-bit server hardware, vSphere will only support 64-bit server hardware. This article explains what 64-bit hardware is and how to tell if your servers are 64-bit capable or not.
  7. What’s New in VMware vSphere 4: Virtual Networking – A white paper from VMware that provides an overview of the new features and capabilities to virtual networking under VMware vNetwork which is the new name to describe the collection of networking technologies for optimally integrating networking and I/O functionality into vSphere.
  8. What’s New in VMware vSphere 4: Performance Enhancements – A white paper from VMware that outlines the key performance enhancements of vSphere, organized into following categories: Scalability Enhancements, CPU/Memory/Storage/Networking, Resource Management and Performance Management.
  9. What Is New in VMware vSphere 4: Storage – A white paper from VMware that provides information about the storage enhancements in vSphere including the following: Virtual Disk Thin Provisioning, Improved iSCSI Software Initiator Efficiency, New vCenter Storage Capabilities, Dynamic Expansion of VMFS Volumes, Enhanced Storage VMotion, Pluggable Storage Architecture and PV SCSI and Direct Path I/O
  10. The Path to vSphere Unleashed – A four part video series that details the transition to VMware vSphere from VMware Infrastructure 3 (VI3), covering the VMware VirtualCenter management components, the VMware ESX host migration methods, the virtual machine upgrades (VMware Tools and virtual hardware) and implementing the VMware vSphere licensing.
    1. The Path to vSphere Unleashed Pt 1 – VMware VirtualCenter Management Components
    2. The Path to vSphere Unleashed Pt 2 – VMware ESX Host Migration Methods
    3. The Path to vSphere Unleashed Pt 3 – Virtual Machine Upgrades (VMware Tools and Virtual Hardware)
    4. The Path to vSphere Unleashed Pt 4 – Implementing VMware vSphere Licensing
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Top 10 things you must read about VMFS & Virtual Disks

  1. VMware Virtual Machine File System: Technical Overview and Best Practices – A white paper from VMware that gives a technology overview of VMFS, including a discussion of features and their benefits. It also provides best practices and architectural considerations for deployment of VMFS.
  2. Recommendations for Aligning VMFS Partitions – A white paper from VMware that lists a summary of performance testing results, recommendations for VMware VMFS partition alignment, and the steps needed to create aligned VMware VMFS partitions.
  3. Advanced VMFS Configuration and Troubleshooting – A VMworld 2007 presentation (free registration required) that covers technical information on VMFS volumes, backing up metadata, SCSI reservations, partition alignment and more.
  4. ESX Server Raw Device Mapping – A white paper from VMware that covers what RDMs are, when to use them and when not to, how to manage RDMs and technical information on RDMs.
  5. Performance Characteristics of VMFS and RDM using a SAN – A white paper from VMware that covers the performance differences between using VMFS datasources for virtual disks and Raw Device Mappings. It describes an overview of the technologies, the test environment used, performance results and conclusions.
  6. VMware Virtual Disks – Virtual Disk Format 1.1 – A white paper from VMware that provides a high-level introduction to the layout of the files that make up a VMware virtual disk and drills down into the details of the data structures inside the virtual disk files.
  7. A Few Technical Threads – Part 1: RDMs – A good technical blog post from Chad Sakac of EMC that covers what features work when using RDMs and what don’t and when to use RDMs.
  8. A Few Technical Threads – Part 2: VMFS Resignaturing – A good technical blog post from Chad Sakac of EMC that covers why VMFS volumes get resignatured and tips to avoid resignaturing.
  9. Using VMware Converter to resize virtual disk files (Pt. 1) – A blog post from Tech Target that covers methods for resizing virtual disk files including use Converter, the VI Client and vmkfstools.
  10. Increasing virtual disk partition size using DISKPART or GpartEd (Pt. 2) – A blog post from Tech Target that covers methods for increasing the size of existing disk partitions once a virtual disk has been increased in size using Windows tools and Gnome Partition Editor.
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Top 10 things you must read about Virtual Machines

  1. Anatomy of a virtual machine (Pt. 1) – An article from Tech Target that covers what a virtual machine is and the differences between the physical hardware of a host server and the virtual hardware that a virtual machine sees.
  2. Anatomy of a virtual machine (Pt. 2) – An article from Tech Target that covers what all the files that make up a virtual machine are and detailed information on each file type.
  3. The Reincarnation of Virtual Machines – An article from Mendel Rosenblum on what a virtual machine is, the history of virtual machines, the different types of virtualization and detailed information on hardware virtual machines.
  4. Timekeeping in VMware Virtual Machines and Timekeeping in VMware Virtual Machines – A VMworld 2007 presentation (free registration required) and white paper from VMware that describes how timekeeping hardware works in physical machines, how VMware products virtualize this hardware, and the various ways that guest operating systems use the hardware to keep time. They also cover a few known timekeeping issues and how to correct or work around them.
  5. CIS Virtual Machine Security Benchmark – A security benchmark for virtual machines from the Center for Internet Security. This document describes potential threats to virtual machines and has guidelines for securing and protecting them.
  6. Improving Guest Operating System Accounting for Descheduled Virtual Machines in ESX Server 3.x Systems – A white paper from VMware that covers the descheduled time accounting component of VMware Tools that provides improved accuracy for guest CPU time accounting and improved guest OS timekeeping. It explains how to install and monitor VMDesched on Linux and Windows guest operating systems. It also describes timer interrupt virtualization issues resolved by VMDesched and how VMDesched works.
  7. Virtual Machine Backup Guide – Documentation from VMware that provides information on different methods you can use to backup and restore virtual machines. It also describes how to setup and use VMware Consolidated Backup in your environment.
  8. Virtual Machine Mobility Planning Guide – Documentation from VMware that covers how to plan a virtual computing environment that allows maximum mobility for your virtual machines. It covers key issues you must address when moving virtual machines that must be modified to run in the new environment. Topics include how to move virtual machines between different VMware products and versions, platform differences and cross-generation mobility.
  9. Choosing a Network Adapter for Your Virtual Machine – A knowledgebase article from VMware that describes all the different virtual network adapter types that you can use in your virtual machines. It describes what each type is and under what circumstances it can be used.
  10. Understanding Full Virtualization, Paravirtualization and Hardware Assist – A white paper from VMware that provides an overview of x86 virtualization, different techniques for CPU virtualization, memory and device I/O virtualization and the benefits of paravirtualization.
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Top 10 things you must read about Patching and Monitoring ESX & ESXi hosts

  1. Best Practices for Patching VMware ESX/ESXi – This best practices document from VMware gives a brief explanation of patching and the different mechanisms for applying patches for the VMware ESX 3.5 product line. It focuses on the ESX patching model, patch packaging, and deliverables- key topics you need to understand to maintain your ESX systems.
  2. Performance Monitoring and Capacity Planning – A VMworld 2006 presentation that covers the different aspects of performance monitoring in detail and what statistics that you should be aware of.
  3. Update Manager Administration Guide – Documentation from VMware that provides information on how to configure Update Manager including how to install the product and configure it for use in your environment.
  4. Patch Management for ESX Server 3.5 -Documentation from VMware that provides background information on processing patches for ESX Server 3.0.3 and ESX Server 3.5 hosts and describes how to use the esxupdate utility to apply software updates and to track software installed on ESX Server 3.0.3 and ESX Server 3.5 hosts.
  5. Interpreting esxtop Statistics – A great document that describes how to use the esxtop utility and how to interpret the various resource statistics that it reports.
  6. Getting VMware Hardware Alerts into HP/Msft Ops Manager – A VMworld 2007 session (free registration required) that describes the options available to ensure these physical server hardware-based alerts are communicated into MOM. This session also discusses options specific to Dell, HP and IBM hardware.
  7. Use SNMP with VMware ESX to monitor server statistics – A tip written that covers how to setup and configure SNMP to monitor ESX & ESXi hosts so you can send alerts and traps to applications that have SNMP receivers.
  8. VMware Update Manager Performance and Best Practices – A white paper from VMware on the Update Manager patching application that covers configuration and deployment tips, resource consumption, guest operating system tuning and network latencies.
  9. The Art of Patching your Virtual Infrastructure – An article that describes patching techniques to use with ESX and how to use the new Update Manager application to patch your hosts.
  10. VMware ESX Server 3 Patch Management -A VMworld 2007 session (free registration required) that covers the esxupdate utility, patch information, using patch repositories, scripting patch installation and troubleshooting and cleanup.
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Top 10 PowerShell scripts that VMware administrators must use

  1. Quick Migration – A script from Mike DiPetrillo that duplicates the Quick Migration of HyperV in a VMware environment by suspending a running VM and moving it to another ESX host server.
  2. Report into MS Word – A script from Alan Renouf that provides a report in Microsoft Word of the virtual machines in your environment with graphs and pie charts.
  3. Dynamic Resource Pool Calculator – A script from Eric Sloof that recalculates all of your resource pools and can automatically increase memory and CPU reservations. It can be run interactively using a GUI or through a command line with arguments.
  4. VMware Infrastructure Power Documenter – A script from Antonio Zamora that produces many different detailed reports about your VMware environment in Open XML format.
  5. ESX Automated Configuration Midwife – A script from Lance Berc that adds a new ESX host to VirtualCenter and configures networking, storage, VMotion and a few other things.
  6. VMware Health Check script – A script that produces a report of your VMware environment including information on snapshots, datastores, VMware tools versions, mapped CD-ROM drives and more.
  7. Track Datastore Free Space – A script from Hugo Peeters that produce reports that track free space on your datastores so you can see how it changes over time.
  8. List Disk RDMs – A script that lists any Raw Device Mappings (RDMs) that exist in your environment which is helpful as RDM’s are not listed in the datastore list of ESX servers.
  9. Find snapshots and send email to user/users with – A script from Chris Uys that emails a report of snapshots that are running in your VMware environment.
  10. Setting Video Hardware Acceleration Level – A script from Hugo Peeters that sets the video hardware acceleration level inside Windows VMs to Full so they perform properly in a VMware environment.
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Top 10 things you must read about VMware High Availability (HA)

  1. VMware High Availability – Concepts, Implementation and Best Practices – A white paper from VMware that provides a high level overview of HA, technical details on how it works, how to implement it and best practices for using it.
  2. HA Technical Best Practices – A technical presentation from VMware on HA technical details, best practices and troubleshooting.
  3. Resource Management Guide – VMware’s official documentation on resource management which information on how to configure and manage HA.
  4. VMware HA Guidelines and Best Practices – A presentation from VMworld 2007 by VMware engineers that covers a technical overview of HA, configuration best practices, troubleshooting tips and technology directions.
  5. VMware HA and DRS Capacity Planning – A white paper from Kingston that covers HA specifically as how memory plays a role towards it and how to understand memory statistics and configure memory settings to work best with HA.
  6. VMware HA Implementation Notes – A document put together by a VMware Technical Account Manager to help answer frequently asked questions about using, configuring and understanding HA.
  7. So how exactly does HA’s admittance algorithm work? – A post from Chad Sakac that discusses in detail how the frequently misunderstood HA admittance algorithm works.
  8. VM HA – service console networking, isolation behavior – A post from Chad Sakac that discusses how HA isolation behavior works as well as the best way to configure the service console networking to work with HA.
  9. Virtual Machine Failure Monitoring – A white paper from VMware that describes the new VM Failure Monitoring feature that is part of HA starting with ESX 3.5 and how to configure it.
  10. HA Advanced Option settings – A post from Duncan Epping that lists all the many Advanced Option settings that can be used to configure HA with.
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Top 10 things you must read about Processors (CPUs) and Virtualization

  1. ESX Server CPU Scheduling – A VMworld 2007 presentation (free registration required) on CPU scheduling that covers how it works, performance tips, how to use ESXTOP for analysis and using resource controls.
  2. ESX Server 2 Best Practices Using VMware Virtual SMP – A white paper from VMware that provides information on when and when not to use vSMP with virtual machines and also covers best practices for using vSMP.
  3. AMD-V Nested Paging – A white paper from AMD that discusses the existing software-based paging virtualization solutions and their associated performance overheads. It also introduces AMD-V™ Rapid Virtualization Indexing technology (nested paging) and highlights its advantages and demonstrates the performance uplift that may be seen with nested paging.
  4. Intel Virtualization Technology (VT) in Converged Application Platforms – A white paper from Intel that describes the architecture behind Intel’s VT technology and how it can benefit virtualized applications.
  5. Intel, AMD, VMware and Aircrafts – A great article from Massimo Re Ferre that covers the important things that you should now when choosing between Intel and AMD processors for your servers.
  6. ESX scheduler support for SMP VMs: co-scheduling and more – A good blog post from VMware’s VROOM performance team on using multi-processor VMs and how CPU co-scheduling works in ESX.
  7. Co-scheduling SMP VMs in VMware ESX Server – A document from VMware that explains what CPU co-scheduling is, how it works and the differences between strict and relaxed co-scheduling.
  8. VMkernel Scheduler – A document from VMware that provides details on how the VMkernel CPU scheduler works.
  9. How to be a Good Guest – A VMworld 2007 presentation (free registration required) given by AMD that covers CPU features and the challenges of using VMotion across different CPU types and how badly written software can cause problems.
  10. ESX Server 3 Ready Time Observations – A white paper from VMware that covers what ready time is, how it affects CPU scheduling, how to measure it and interpret the measurements.
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