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Oct 29 2015

Access all the VMworld 2015 session recordings for just $200

VMware has released approximately 50 VMworld 2015 sessions for free but you’re still missing out on tons of other great sessions that are only available to paid attendees. Well now you can get access to all those great recordings for the relatively low price of $200 by purchasing a VMUG Advantage membership. The price of $200 is way cheaper than attending VMworld plus you get a lot of other great benefits that come with VMUG Advantage which include:

  • VMware EVALExperience – 365-day evaluation licenses for personal use in a non-production environment
  • vCloud Air OnDemand Service Credit – $600 in service credit per year which provides access to a cloud-based VMware environment
  • VMware Lab Connect – a self-paced, technical training lab designed to enhance your learning experience
  • $100 USD Discount on VMworld Admission
  • 50% off VMware Fusion Pro and VMware Workstation Software Licenses
  • 20% off VMware Certification Exams
  • 20% off VMware On-Demand, a robust, self-paced learning solution delivering modular training combined with hands-on practice labs, giving you a powerful alternative to traditional classroom training
  • 20% off VMware-Delivered Classes
  • 35% off VMware Lab Connect, a self-paced, technical training lab designed to enhance your learning experience

and of course: access to VMworld 2015 Online Content – a $699 value

All for $200 which is a damn good deal considering the cost of going to VMworld which is thousands of dollars, combined with all the other great stuff you getting it would probably total over $5000.

So head on over and sign-up so you can get started listening to all the great VMworld 2015 session content that is available,

Oct 25 2015

Survey highlights interest in VMware Virtual Volumes (VVols) but also challenges

Primary Data conducted a survey of VMworld attendees to find out the level of interest in VMware Virtual Volumes (VVols) as well as what are the challenges and concerns that are keeping people from adopting it. The survey had 355 responses which is a good sampling that  probably represents the viewpoints of the majority of VMware customers. The overall results of the survey show strong interest in VVols but also the key challenges that are holding people back from using it.

When asked about the level of involvement of VVols, 41% of respondents were discussing it but 28% had never heard of it. In addition, 12% were not pursuing VVols and had no plans to but 7% have already implemented it and 4% are in the process of implementing it. The remaining 4% were testing VVols.

So lets look at these numbers and what they could mean:

  • 41% discussing VVols – this is a good amount which shows definite interest in VVols, but I believe this group is largely comprised of people that are trying to better understand VVols which includes what are the differences, benefits, use cases, requirements and limitations of VVols.
  • 28% have never heard of it – not surprising as VMware has not really gone out of their way to promote VVols that much. If you look at VMworld you constantly hear about VSAN but VVols receives little recognition in keynotes and other activities, the same is true outside of VMworld, you mainly hear about VSAN from VMware.
  • 12% are not pursuing VVols – this group may include SMB customers and those with smaller environments that feel that they don’t need VVols and what they are already using works just fine for them. It may also include people that use DAS or software defined storage such as VSAN or VSA as well as customers who arrays do not support VVols.
  • 7% have implemented it already – I’m a little surprised that this is that high given the limited support from array vendors for VVols and with EMC still not supporting it and 57% of the survey respondents were using EMC storage. I’d bet that these people are mainly testing it out with some non-critical VMs, I’d be more interested in knowing how much this group has implemented it in their environment.
  • 4% are in the process of implementing it – Given that VVols is fairly easy to implement I’m guessing that this group is either waiting for their array vendor to support VVols, waiting to upgrade to vSphere 6 or to upgrade their array to the firmware that supports VVols.
  • 4% are testing VVols – I thought this number would be higher as you can run VVols alongside VMFS, I can see the people that have implemented VVols already or that are in the process as also being the ones that are testing VVols.

These numbers are pretty much in line with what I’ve seen and heard. When I’ve presented at VMUGs and VMworld this year I always ask how many people have heard of VVols and I see more than half the hands go up, when I ask who understands VVols I see much less hands and when I ask who has implemented I see very few hands.

I previously did a long detailed post on my thoughts around VVols adoption and reasons why people should adopt now and why they should wait. I think the biggest barriers right now are VVols being a 1.0 release, lack of replication support, lack of understanding what it is, the vSphere 6 requirement and lack of array support. If you look at the 1.0 release of VSAN it was the same way, because of limitations, lack of understanding and what not there was not large scale adoption, this is pretty much true of any 1.0 product. I don’t expect to see the implementing percentage for VVols go a lot higher for at least a year until it matures and the SAN vendors catch up.

Now lets look at the challenges around VVols adoption that were highlighted in the survey and what they could mean:

  • 63% said lack of VVols expertise – this is understandable, it takes time to get experience and knowledge and VVols is fundamentally a lot different than VMFS. This is a fairly easy challenge to overcome though, I’ve seen a lot of documentation from vendors and VMware to help people with this, check out my huge link collection on VVols for more info and resources.
  • 56% said performance issues – say what, I’m not sure what people are thinking here, VVols will not cause performance issues and performs on par with VMFS, however VVols will also not fix existing performance issues either. It sounds like a great number of people have storage performance issues already and want to focus on fixing that before looking at VVols.
  • 54% said migration issues – OK, migrating existing VMs to VVols is a slow and painful process using Storage vMotion but you can run VVols alongside VMFS and do it over time. I don’t see this being an issue just a slow process, this might be focused on underlying implementation issues such as migrating to vSphere 6 and migrating to array firmware that supports VVols.
  • 52% said organization roadblocks – I can see several things here, push back from SAN admins that don’t like VVols because they lose some control, change control processes, data center politics, refresh cycles that are pushing it out, lack of selling it to upper management, etc. Again this shouldn’t be too difficult to overcome but it will probably take time to do so.
  • 51% said reliability issues – again, huh? VVols aren’t really any less or more reliable than VMFS and there really haven’t been any major issues that I’ve seen related to implementing them. Once again I think this one points back to underlying existing reliability issues with storage which VVols isn’t going to solve and customers unwilling to deploy VVols until they fix reliability issues.
  • 46% said cost – I sure hope these people know that VVols isn’t a product or feature that you have to license, it’s a new storage architecture that is built into vSphere and is included in all editions. Other than that the only reasons I can think of that someone would say cost is if they have to pay to upgrade to vSphere 6 or buy storage that supports VVols.
  • 43% said lack of vendor support – given that 57% of the survey respondents had EMC storage which does not yet support VVols this percentage perfectly aligns with that. Today there are only 10 storage vendors that do support VVols with the biggest ones being HP, IBM, Dell, NetApp and HDS. This will simply take time for vendors to catch up and deliver mature VVol implementations.

You can see most of the challenges seem to focus more on existing storage issues in customer environments not related to VVols. The survey does a good job of highlighting the many issues that customers have with storage in their environments, particularly around performance and availability. Lack of expertise and lack of array support seem to be the biggest VVol challenges related to adoption which will simply take time to overcome. You can see the full survey results and raw data at this link.

Oct 18 2015

Win a Home Lab that you can fit in your pocket

Well you might not be able to fit it all in your pocket but at least the server will fit. VMTurbo is giving away a TurboStack Home Lab and all you have to do for a chance to win is watch a video.

turbostackWhat is the TurboStack?

The TurboStack was created to enable you to experiment with OpenStack safely in your own home lab. Leveraging the OpenStack Juno build, the TurboStack also includes a full NFR License to VMTurbo 5.2. Every TurboStack Home Lab is individually assembled by a VMTurbo engineer and includes:

  • 1x Intel NUC NUC5i5RYK
  • 2x Corsair 8GB DDR3 RAM
  • 1x 256GB Samsung 850 Evo mSATA Drives
  • 1x Synology DS415 4-Bay NAS
  • 2x Western Digital 1TB 3.5″ SATA Drives
  • 1x Cisco SG300 10-Port Gigabit Managed Switch
  • 5x Ethernet Cables

Now a NUC isn’t some sort of an Eskimo computer, it stands for Next Unit of Computing and is a little powerhouse of hardware packed into a very small footprint. The Intel NUC measures about 4.5 inches in height and width and just 1.25 inches in height, you literally could slip it into your pocket.

NUC1-panoDespite it’s very small form factor the Intel NUC5i5RYK comes with an Intel I5-5250U processor with dual-cores running up to 2.7Ghz in Turbo mode. It supports up to 16GB of RAM using DDR3L SODIMMs and supports a M.2 Key Type M SSD card for storage. It comes with a wired 1Gb network port and also supports wireless 802.11AC. For connectivity it has the following ports: Mini-HDMI, Mini-DisplayPort, headphone/microphone and 4 – USB 3.0 ports.

Along with the NUC you get some great shared storage with the Synology DS-415 that supports iSCSI, NFS and a lot of other connectivity options, you also get a nice Cisco SG300 10-port Gigabit Managed Switch to tie it all together. So how do you win this awesome combo, it’s easy as 1-2-3:

  1. Go to VMTurbo’s website and watch a short video
  2. Submit the entry form on the page
  3. Wait until their next drawing on Oct 31st, 2015 to see if you are the lucky winner

Not only do you get to learn about a great management product for your vSphere environment but you could also walk away with a great home lab to learn more about OpenStack.

Oct 17 2015

VMworld 2016 at Mandalay Bay – does it have enough room and you can pre-register now

vmworld-2016At VMworld this year VMware announced that next year VMworld will be going back to Vegas next year but not at it’s usual location of The Venetian/Palazzo & the Sands Expo Center, but instead at Mandalay Bay. This change was made because the Moscone Center is under-going renovations next year, so for whatever reasons (i.e. costs, availability) it will be held at Mandalay Bay instead of the Venetian.

This won’t be the first time VMworld was held at Mandalay Bay, in 2008 & 2011 it was held at the Venetian but in 2005 (2nd VMworld) it was held at the Mandalay Bay. Now back then VMworld was much smaller with only 3,500 people attending in 2005, so with attendance today around the 24,000 mark how well will it fit at Mandalay Bay compared to the Venetian and Moscone Center?

The Moscone Center is fairly small despite being in 3 buildings (North, South & West) and totals around 700,000 square feet of exhibition space. In contrast the Sands Expo Center (Venetian) has over 2.25 million square feet of show floor and meeting space and between the Venetian and Palazzo hotels offers more than 7,000 suites all under one roof with an additional 40,000 hotel rooms within a 10-minute walk away. Just the exhibition hall alone at the Sands Expo Center is 380,000 square feet. So as you can see the Moscone Center is pretty cramped when compared to the much roomier Sands Expo Center.

While not as large as the Sands Expo Center, the Mandalay Bay Convention Center dwarfs Moscone as well with over 1.7 million square feet of space available and a 577,000 square foot exhibition hall. Mandalay Bay also contains around 4,700 hotel rooms with the adjacent Mandalay Bay, Four Seasons and THEhotel hotels. There are also enclosed walkways and trams that connect it to the Luxor (4,400 rooms) and Excalibur (4,000 rooms) hotels along with many other nearby hotels.

mandalay-baySo VMworld next year will definitely have plenty of space to stretch out in, I was at the Mandalay Bay in 2013 when VMware Partner Exchange was held there and it’s a nice facility. The rooms might not be as nice as the Venetian/Palazzo suites but it’s not bad and you can get more upscale rooms at attached THEhotel.

I think a nice side effect of VMworld going back to Vegas is that more people will likely attend as it’s much more affordable and accessible than San Francisco is especially without the insane hotel prices. There will also be much less walking all over the place and more available space should allow for more exhibitors and more sessions.

VMware has a VMworld 2016 pre-registration page up now where you can put in your info to be notified as soon as registration opens next year. So go sign up and see you in Vegas baby!

Oct 03 2015

VMworld 2015 US sessions now available for download

I previously wrote on how you could access the VMworld sessions via the Mobile App on a smartphone or tablet or via a PC through Schedule Builder. However those methods only allowed you to stream the content, not save it for offline viewing. Some people prefer the download method so they can copy it to a device for offline playback or just save their favorite sessions on their PC. Well that’s all changed as VMware has updated their VMworld page so you can now access the sessions through their main session playback page and either watch them or download them.

Don’t go to this page from the main VMworld page, it looks like an old page and doesn’t have the 2015 sessions yet. You have to click on US conference and then click the session playback link all the way at the bottom of the page which brings you to the page with the 2015 sessions added to it. Click the link and it asks you to verify that you were a paid attendee by putting in your name and email address, that seems odd as you would expect to login with your vmworld.com credentials instead. I tested this out and all it is really looking for is that your email address matches what you registered for VMworld with, I put in a different name and it still took it.

Once you are verified it will bring up the sessions list which you can select by track or search for sessions. You will have the option to watch a session or download it. If you select the option to download it a packaged download is created in .zip file format which contains the .mp4 video file of the session along with other files to support standalone playback of the sessions in a browser.

vmworld-sessions-edit2The size of these .zip files varies from around 250MB – 500MB depending on if it has video or not (just slides). Once downloaded you can extract the zip file which creates a bunch of files and folders, to start watching the session you can click the default.html file which will launch the playback in a browser using Silverlight or an alternate method (i.e. flash, java). Alternately you can go into the content sub-directory and launch the .mp4 video using your video player of choice.

vmworld-sessions2-editEnjoy!

Sep 29 2015

Want to learn more about VMware Virtual Volumes (VVols), here’s 3 great sessions to help you

VMware recently released about 50 VMworld 2015 sessions to the general public and within those there are 3 great sessions on VVols that will help you better understand the architecture and what VVols is all about. The sessions are all pretty technical which is good, one is from VMware and two of them are from storage partners (one of them is mine!).

The first session features Ken Werneburg and Patrick Dirks from VMware, Ken is a storage technical marketing guy and Patrick is on the engineering side so their is a lot of great technical deep dive content on VVols in this session.

STO4649 – Virtual Volumes Technical Deep Dive (Ken Werneburg, VMware – Patrick Dirks, VMware)

The second session features Andy Banta from SolidFire along with Ken Werneburg from VMware, it has a lot of cool real world analogies that explain how the components in VVols work.

STO5074 – Explaining Advanced Virtual Volumes Configurations (Ken Werneburg, VMware – Andy Banta, SolidFire)

The final session is mine and covers a wide range of topics on VVols including the architecture, benefits, migration, VAAI, implementation, thin provisioning and snapshots, backups and much more.

STO5888 – Top 10 Thing You MUST Know Before Implementing Virtual Volumes (Eric Siebert, HP)

And if after watching these you want to learn even more about VVols check out my huge Virtual Volumes link collection which also features links specific to each vendor.

 

Sep 25 2015

Another new vChat episode recorded live from VMworld!

While at VMworld 2015, David, Simon and I managed to get together and record a new vChat episode where we talked about what was happening at the event. We recorded it in a secret recording studio deep under the Mosser hotel, it might look like we were in a data center but we recorded in front of a green screen and Simon added the backdrop in afterwards. So give it a watch and look for more episodes coming soon! You can also read my thoughts and observations on VMworld here.

Sep 24 2015

VMware releases another batch of Free VMworld 2015 session recordings

I posted last week about the VMworld 2015 session recordings that VMware released for free to the general public (non-attendees) via their YouTube channel. VMware has just published another batch bringing the total sessions released up to 54 so I have updated my previous post to add the new sessions in. The sessions span many different tracks but if you look at the topics and speakers you will see that the free sessions are mainly composed of the following:

  • Mostly VMware speakers, however there are a small amount of vendor sessions (I’m one of them!)
  • Lots of VDI sessions, VMware wants more people doing VDI so they historically release many VDI sessions
  • Sessions that target specific technologies that VMware wants to promote like VSAN, VVols and NSX
  • Some of the most popular and well attended sessions

Traditionally VMware releases around this number of free sessions each year with the rest only accessible by paid attendees or through other avenues. As a result this is probably the last batch of free sessions that we will see until next VMworld when VMware releases all the prior year sessions for free. I’ve highlighted below a few of the free sessions that look good (of course a shameless plug for my VVols session) and may interest you:

Click here to view the full list of all free VMworld 2015 sessions sorted by track

Sep 16 2015

vSphere 5.5 Update 3 now available

Hot on the heels of the vSphere 6.0 Update 1 release last week, VMware today released vSphere 5.5 Update 3 that has some new stuff in it and the usual fixes and enhancements. With vSphere 6.0 being out for over a year now I’m willing to bet this will be the last big update that you’ll see to vSphere 5.5.

This release of VMware ESXi contains the following enhancements:

  • Log Rotation Enablement – Log rotation for vmx files allows you to reduce the log file sizes by specifying the size of each log and the number of previous logs to keep.
  • Certification of PVSCSI Adapter – PVSCSI adapter is certified for use with MSCS, core clustering and applications including SQL and Exchange. This creates performance gains when moving from LSI Logic SAS to PVSCSI.
  • Support for Next Generation Processors – In this release we will continue our support for next generation processors from Intel and AMD. Please see the VMware Compatibility Guide for more info.
  • ESXi Authentication for Active Directory – ESXi is modified to only support AES256-CTS/AES128-CTS/RC4-HMAC encryption for Kerberos communication between ESXi and Active Directory.

What’s New in vCenter Server:

  • vCenter Server database support: vCenter Server now supports the following external databases: Oracle 12c R1 P2 (12.1.0.2), Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Service Pack 2, Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 3
  • Increased guest operating system support: vCenter Server has added support for the following guest operating systems: CentOS 7.0,
    Oracle Linux 7.0, Ubuntu 14.10, Windows 10, RHEL 6.6, RHEL 7 .1, CentOS 7.1, Oracle Linux 7.1
  • Features Added: Log information of files uploaded and downloaded from a host using vSphere Web Client or vSphere Client are stored. For more details see KB 2117341

Sep 16 2015

New Virtual Volumes (VVols) technical papers from VMware

VMware has recently published 3 new technical papers that focus on their new Virtual Volumes (VVols) storage architecture that are definitely worth a read.

The first is a FAQ which does a good job summarizing important information around VVols and provides you a lot of quick facts around the architecture and implementation of VVols.

The next is a What’s New paper for Virtual Volumes, this one is about 6 months late as their is nothing new with VVols since the initial release in vSphere 6.0 in March but better late than never. This one is more a general tech paper on VVols and does an introduction to VVols and also covers the architecture and benefits of VVols.

The last one is a Getting Started Guide and is a walkthrough of how to use VVols from a vSphere perspective which covers things like how to make sure time is synced, creating a Storage Container, working with Storage Policies and assigning them to VMs. It’s designed to be used together with your array documentation that should cover the array side setup for VVols. The guide also covers some vSphere CLI commands for managing VVols components using escli.

Sep 11 2015

How VMware Virtual Volumes (VVols) will impact your backups

As I’ve been learning more and more about VMware Virtual Volumes and the impact that it will have on everyday storage operations in vSphere one thing that I’ve been trying to find out is the impact that VVols will have on backups. In this post I’ll focus on 2 areas related to backups in a VVol environment: backup transport mechanisms and backup snapshots.

How VVols impacts backup transport methods

There are several methods that you can use to backup your virtual machine using software from vendors like Veeam, Unitrends and Symantec. The first is the traditional method, backing up using an agent inside the guest OS, this one is generally not recommended as it is not very efficient in a virtual environment. The next is the Hot Add method, this essentially allows a VM running backup software to hot add another VM’s virtual disk to it so it can be backed up without impacting the VM. This allows the backup VM to have direct access to the virtual disk to back it up. Then there is the LAN (NBD) method where a ESXi host reads VM data from storage and sends it across a network to the backup server, this method uses the network stack instead of the storage stack so it not as efficient.

Finally there is the Direct to SAN method, this method requires a backup application or proxy running on a physical server that has direct access to your SAN where your VMFS datastores reside as shown below.

san-mode-1This is the fastest and most efficient method as it does not consume host resources and is the shortest path for the backup server to access VM virtual disks to back them up. How VVols impacts this is that the Direct to SAN method is not supported with VVol-based VM’s. Where VMFS-based VM’s could be accessed directly by a physical backup server using the vSphere APIs and VMware’s Virtual Disk Development Kit (VDDK), VVols-based VM cannot be accessed this way.

The reason for this is that with VVols, VM’s do not reside on LUNs with a file system over-layed (VMFS), instead VM’s are packaged into VVols and stored directly on a storage array inside Storage Containers (logical entity). VM’s are then accessed by ESXi hosts via a Protocol Endpoint that resides within the array, the PE is essentially a special LUN that has conglomerate status (admin LUN). The PE then binds VVols to a host using secondary LUN IDs (sub-LUNs) that are assigned to each VVol and reported back to a ESXi host via the VASA Provider as shown below.

VVol-PEAs a result of this new architecture it is no longer possible for a physical server to directly connect to a VVol Storage Container to access VMs which is why the Direct to SAN architecture is not supported with VVols. VMware may create some additional APIs to allow this direct access in the future, the physical backup server would essentially need a way to communicate directly with the Protocol Endpoint and the VASA Provider to interact with the VVols in the Storage Container directly. So why you can’t use this backup method with VVols, the other backup methods are still supported, you can read more about the backup methods in the Virtual Disk Programming Guide (pages 23-26).

How VVols impacts backup snapshots

Before a virtual machine can be backed up using the methods described a snapshot must be taken of a VM in vSphere. Doing this allows the VM to be frozen at a point of time so it can be backed up without any changes (writes) occurring while the backup process completes. Once a backup is finished the snapshot is discarded, this process (creation/deletion of snapshot) is controlled by the backup application at the beginning and at the end of the VM backup.

What happens when you take a VM snapshot in vSphere is the VM is briefly stunned and a separate delta virtual disk is created that contain any disk writes that might occur within the VM while the snapshot is active. The original virtual disk remains Read Only and all new writes that occur while the snapshot is running are deflected to the delta virtual which is Read-Write. If an additional snapshot is taken then the previous snapshot becomes Read Only and a new delta virtual disk is created that becomes Read-Write. Once you no longer need a snapshot and it is deleted all of the changes that occurred while the snapshot was active need to be merged back (committed) into the original virtual disk from the delta virtual disk. Once all that operation completes the delta virtual disk files that were created are then deleted and the original disk becomes Read-Write again.

This commit process can be time consuming based on how long a snapshot is active and the amount of writes that occur while it is active. If you have a very write intensive application running inside the VM and the snapshot is active for a long time (days/weeks) the commit process can take hours to complete.

With VVols the whole VM snapshot process changes dramatically, a snapshot taken in vSphere is not performed by vSphere but instead created and managed on the storage array. The process is similar in the fact that separate delta files are still created but the files are VVol snapshots that are array-based and more importantly what happens while they are active is reversed. When a snapshot of a VM on VVol-based storage is initiated in vSphere a delta VVol is created for each virtual disk that a VM has but the original disk remains Read-Write and instead the delta VVols contain any disk blocks that were changed while the snapshot is running. The delta VVols are all Read-Only as they are simply storing changed disk blocks while the original disk remains Read-Write as illustrated in the short video below.

Now the big change occurs when we delete a snapshot, with VVols because the original disk is Read-Write, we can simply discard the delta VVols and there is no data to commit back into the original disk. This process can take milliseconds compared to minutes or hours that is needed to commit a snapshot on VMFS datastores. How does this impact your backups? Because we have to take a VM snapshot of a VM, the backup application no longer has to sit around waiting at the end of the backup for any changes to commit while the snapshot is deleted. Depending on the size of your VM and how much change that occurs within the VM while the backup is running with VVols this can reduce your backup times from seconds to minutes or more per VM, multiply this times dozens or hundreds of VMs and you can really reduce your backup window by a good amount of time.

To validate this Symantec has done some testing by doing some benchmarking that compares a group of VMs being backed up on a VMFS datastore versus the same VMs being backed up on a VVol Storage Container. The following information is a summary of their results from the VMworld session that they presented on this topic (STO5844 – Benchmark Testing: Making Backups Better Than Ever Using Virtual Volumes).

Their environment consisted of NetBackup 7.7 with a 3PAR 7200c storage array that had 24 1.2TB 10K disks. They did a comparison using 60 VMs with 100GB virtual disks and 40 of them powered on. They did simulate a 10% data change rate inside the VM while the backup is running and they first tested with VMFS and then wiped out the array and configured it for VVols. Their testing focused on the amount of time it took to create VM snapshots when the backups are started and the time it took to delete and consolidate them when the backup is finished.

From their testing they found that overall backup times were reduced by around 30% as seen below on the slides from their VMworld session. They found out that snapshot creation time took a few seconds longer with a VVol-based snapshot, but the snapshot deletion time was dramatically reduced. They tested this using different numbers of simultaneously running backups with consistent results. They also found that snapshot errors that sometimes occur during the delete process were virtually eliminated. The net effect of this much improved snapshot mechanism with VVols can amount to a much more efficient and shorter backup operation.

VVol-Backup-1VVol-Backup-2VVol-Backup-3

Source: Symantec, VMworld 2015 session ID STO5844

Looking beyond backups the new VVol-based snapshot mechanism will be a great time and resource saver in any vSphere environment. Of all the VM snapshots that we take for whatever reason, how many do we actually use to revert back to a point in time, very few I would say. Typically we are creating VM snapshots for insurance purposes and never really end up using them.  Not having that long resource intensive commit process running on your ESXi host as well as the extra resource consumption required to maintain snapshots on VMFS means less burden on the host and more resources for your VM workloads. The storage array is much better equipped to do snapshots and the shift to move them off the host and to the storage array with VVols is a great benefit not just for backups but also for any use case that you might use snapshots for in your vSphere environment.

Sep 10 2015

vSphere 6.0 Update 1 now available

VMware has just released an incremental update to vSphere (vCenter Server and ESXi) which is 6.0 Update 1 as well as updates to vSphere Replication (6.1), Data Protection (6.1), Site Recovery Manager (6.1) and  vRealize Orchestrator Appliance (6.0.3). I don’t know why they are versioning everything else as 6.1 and vCenter Server and ESXi as 6.0 U1. They have been referring to the new VSAN version as 6.1 so it would be logical if ESXi and vCenter Server were 6.1 as well, now it looks like they are calling it VSAN 6.0.1

This may look like a minor and incremental upgrade which it mostly is but their are some big new features in VSAN 6.1 which they don’t do it justice in the release notes, read all about what’s new in VSAN 6.1 here. Almost all the product updates in this release center around the new VSAN 6.1 version which is included in it. There are some big updates in SRM with support for Storage Policy Based Management (SPBM) and stretched clusters and vSphere Replication also has a new and improved 5 minute RPO replication with VSAN. The other big thing is support for VAIO in ESXi, I don’t see a lot of vendors integrating with this new APIs yet but I know there are some that are working on it such as Infinio and SanDisk (design partner).

This release of VMware ESXi contains the following enhancements:

  • I/O Filter: vSphere APIs for I/O Filtering (VAIO) provide a framework that allows third parties to create software components called I/O filters. The filters can be installed on ESXi hosts and can offer additional data services to virtual machines by processing I/O requests that move between the guest operating system of a virtual machine and virtual disks.
  • Exclusive affinity to additional system contexts associated with a low-latency VM: This release introduces a new VMX option sched.cpu.latencySensitivity.sysContexts to address issues on vSphere 6.0 where most system contexts are still worldlets. The Scheduler utilizes the sched.cpu.latencySensitivity.sysContexts option for each virtual machine to automatically identify a set of system contexts that might be involved in the latency-sensitive workloads. For each of these system contexts, exclusive affinity to one dedicated physical core is provided. The VMX option sched.cpu.latencySensitivity.sysContexts denotes how many exclusive cores a low-latency VM can get for the system contexts.
  • ESXi Authentication for Active Directory:ESXi is modified to only support AES256-CTS/AES128-CTS/RC4-HMAC encryption for Kerberos communication between ESXi and Active Directory.
  • Support for SSLv3: Support for SSLv3 has been disabled by default. For further details, see Knowledge Base article 2121021.
  • Stretched Clusters: Virtual SAN 6.0 Update 1 supports stretched clusters that span geographic locations to protect data from site failures or loss of network connection.

This release of VMware vCenter Server contains the following enhancements:

  • Customer Experience Improvement Program: The Customer Experience Improvement Program (CEIP) provides VMware with information that enables VMware to improve the VMware products and services and to fix problems. When you choose to participate in CEIP, VMware will collect technical information listed below about your use of the VMware products and services in CEIP reports on a regular basis. This information does not personally identify you. For more details, see the vSphere Documentation Center.
  • Feature Enhancement: Suite UI is now enabled by default for the vSphere Web Client.
  • Support for SSLv3: Support for SSLv3 has been disabled by default.
  • vCSA Authentication for Active Directory: VMware vCenter Server Virtual Appliance (vCSA) has been modified to only support AES256-CTS/AES128-CTS/RC4-HMAC encryption for Kerberos authentication between vCSA and Active Directory.
  • Installation and Upgrade using HTML 5 installer: The following installation and upgrade scenarios are supported for vCenter Server using HTML 5 installer:
    • Installation using HTML 5 installer and target as vCenter Server is supported
    • Upgrade using HTML 5 installer and target as vCenter Server is not supported
    • Upgrade using command line and target as vCenter Server is supported
  • Resolved Issues: This release of vCenter Server 6.0 Update 1 addresses issues that have been documented in the Resolved Issues section.

VMware Site Recovery Manager 6.1 provides the following new features:

  • Support for VMware vSphere 6.0 update 1.
  • Storage policy based protection of virtual machines.
  • Support for stretched storage when using storage policy protection groups in enhanced linked mode.
  • Support for auto-mapping of stretched NSX networks.
  • Enhancements to mappings for test networks.

VMware vSphere Replication 6.1 provides the following new features:

  • 5 minute Recovery Point Objective (RPO) for replication between Virtual SAN data stores – This version of vSphere Replication allows customers to replicate virtual machine workloads with an RPO setting as low as 5 minutes between Virtual SAN data stores.
  • Support for NFS v 4.1 – This release introduces support for NFS v 4.1 data stores. It allows customers to protect and recover virtual machines that are provisioned onto NFS v 4.1 environments using vSphere Replication.
  • UI Enhancements – the RPO settings in the Configure Replication wizard are simplified and provide more granular options of predefined RPO settings.

Sep 09 2015

Watch any VMworld US 2015 session right now via the mobile app

VMware has not released the session recordings yet on their website so registered attendees can watch them from a PC, if you go the page for session playback on the VMworld.com website they only have up to 2014 listed there. I tried changing the 2014 URL to 2015 but the page is not found so I suspect they are still working on getting that page created or are waiting until after VMworld in Barcelona to end to post them. However if you have the VMworld 2015 mobile app on your tablet or phone you can access all of the session recordings right now.

Just load the app and login to it (must be a registered attendee) and then click the Videos link in the menu sidebar. You’ll then see all the sessions listed alphabetically for you to choose from. One thing to note is that the VMworld app only supports portrait viewing of the videos so if you rotate your device to landscape it won’t switch to it and you are stuck watching it in portrait which can be fairly small on a phone. However if you hit the upper arrow button when the app is playing it will open in a browser which will rotate to landscape mode (lower arrow button expands it in the app which is still portrait).

vmw-pano2Now once in the browser you will see the direct URL for the video which is hosted on mediasite.com, you might be tempted to try opening that URL on a PC so you can watch it there.

Screenshot_2015-09-09-20-09-01-small-4However you will be prompted for credentials from mediasite.com if you do that and your VMworld login won’t work so you can’t watch it that way. I’m guessing they hard-coded some credentials in the app that has access to the videos on mediasite.com so you’ll just have to wait until they post them on the VMworld.com page to watch them from a PC (or download BlueStacks).

Enjoy!

[UPDATE]

It looks like you can also do this if you go to the VMworld Content Catalog and click on a session, there will be a Media link on the right sidebar to playback the session.

vmws-1-arrow

Sep 08 2015

My thoughts and observations on VMworld 2015

Well that’s a wrap, another VMworld in the books, this is number 8 for me and how fast the event flies by never changes for me. It always seems like you wish you could of done and seen more there and that there was so much you missed out on but as there is so much going on it’s impossible to take in everything. For me I know there were some friends and acquaintances that I missed out on seeing which is always a priority for me as you usually only get to see them once a year. All in all though it was a good event for me but I will always regret not having been able to done more.

vmworld_blogimageLocation, location, location…

Let’s start off with the event location, while San Francisco is a nice enough town to visit, it’s not an ideal conference destination. VMworld has gotten so big it’s spread out across several blocks and I frequently had to walk from Moscone North to South to West to the Marriott. All that walking wears you down and wastes time that you could of been doing more with. The crazy expensive hotel room gouging situation is ridiculous, paying double or triple for a room that is half as nice as a Venetian room. I paid about $550/night for a room at the Marriott that is now going for $279/night this week. Then there’s the whole street people thing that you have to constantly walk through that can wear on you as well.

Well thankfully we get a change of venue as VMworld goes to Las Vegas in 2016 as the Moscone Center is under renovation next year. VMworld has been in San Fran in 2007, 2009-2010 and 2012-2015, it was in Vegas in 2005, 2008 and 2011 (2004 was San Diego and 2006 was Los Angeles). VMware was under contract to hold VMworld at Moscone until next year but now it looks like they are free to go anywhere and as a result you might see it in Vegas for a few years (heard that from someone at VMware). VMworld 2016 will be held at the Mandalay Bay resort from Aug. 28th-Sept 1st 2016, I’m guessing the Venetian where it usually was might have been unavailable that week. The pre-registration page is up already fro VMworld 2016 so you can be notified when it goes live. VMworld Europe 2016 is still being held in Barcelona, Spain. It might be a refreshing change to see VMworld somewhere else in the US other than Vegas or San Fran one of these years such as Chicago or Orlando.

How many people attended VMworld?

VMware claims record attendance of over 23,000 people this year which would top the previous high attendance of 22,500 in 2013. That was announced at the keynote, I haven’t seen VMware publish any attendance numbers anywhere. VMworld 2014 was “over 22,000” which probably puts it between 22,000-22,499. Since they didn’t say over 23,500 I’m guessing the attendance number for this year is under that. That’s good for VMware that the number is higher and I expect the number to stay right around there in coming years. Of that 23,000+ VMware doesn’t publish the mix of VMware employees, partners, sponsors and actual attendees. A week before the event the attendance report I saw had about 12,000 people in it so I’m curious as to what the mix is, I’m guessing that there are at least 5,000 VMware employee and sponsors in that number if not more.

What was announced?

The announcements made at VMworld were few and not all that exciting as the event did not align with a major new release of vSphere. VMware slapped a new name on EVO:Rack which was announced last VMworld and is now calling it EVO SDDC which is a bundle of compute (ESXi), storage (VSAN), networking (NSX) and management (vRealize Ops) at rack scale. But it still isn’t a shipping product and won’t be a for a while (1st half 2016). The new release of VSAN was announced, it’s an incremental update to VSAN 6.1 and will be available later this month, you can read all about what’s new in VSAN 6.1 here. VMware hasn’t announced a new vSphere version to support VSAN 6.1 but as it’s built into the hypervisor I’m betting you will see vSphere 6.1 released later this month.

VMware also made announcements around hybrid cloud with new vCloud Air Disaster Recovery Services which is basically just SRM running in a public cloud (of course they called it SRM Air). They also announced new vCloud Air Object Storage and vCloud Air SQL. It’s no secret that VMware has a big focus on containers and they announced as a technology preview both vSphere Integrated Containers and the Photon Platform. You’ve probably heard about Photon already but vSphere Integrated Containers is a new announcement that brings together several cloud-native technologies including Project Bonneville (container security and isolation), Project Photon OS (formerly Project Photon), and VMware’s Instant Clone technology (a feature of VMware vSphere 6) that will bring together the best of VMware vSphere with containers.

Finally on the EUC side they announced some new stuff for universal application delivery and device management which is based on their new tech preview called Project A2 that integrates application delivery into Windows 10 through AirWatch and App Volumes. Read all about it here.

How were the Sessions?

I didn’t attend many as there are so many other things to see and do at VMworld and the sessions are all recorded anyway to watch later. I went to one on VAIO but the VMware speaker was obviously reading from a script which kind of killed the session for me so I left. The other was the Graybeard’s on Storage panel but it turned into a VVol bashing session so I didn’t stay long. I was a speaker at 4 sessions, 2 of them were our HP sponsor sessions, 1 was VMware’s VVol technical panel and the last was my Top 10 Things You MUST Know Before Implementing VVols session. The technical panel went pretty well, it was narrated by Ken Werneberg from VMware, we had about 175 people in the room. My VVols session was on Thursday morning, I had to extend my stay a day but it was worth it. I had 560 people registered for it and 279 people in the room.

If you didn’t make VMworld you can still view some of the sessions that VMware recorded and released to the general public. Also check out these other resources as well.

How was the food?

I’m 100% confident that number is going to VMworld for the food, the lunches that are served throughout the conference continue to be bland and terrible. They improved the packaging of the box lunches this year which is like putting a fancy wrapper on a turd. I decided to be brave and try one as I was in a hurry and took a bite or two and tossed it as it just wasn’t tasty. Let’s face it the Moscone Center isn’t a hotel or a restaurant and the food they serve is no comparison to other VMworld’s that were at Vegas hotels that are equipped for cooking good food.

How were the General Sessions?

I really didn’t find them all that interesting, they had some good moments but overall weren’t all that exciting. As there were not alot of really big announcements it seemed like they had to really work to fill the time. They did show off a vMotion to a public cloud that was pretty slick but all an all I was a bit bored watching them. VMware did a great job live streaming them so you could watch them anywhere. If you remember back to the old days of Paul Maritz and Steve Herrod the keynotes were just a lot more exciting and you really wanted to not miss them. Here’s a flash back to the Steve Herrod day 2 keynote in 2012 and also the day 1 keynote with the CEO swap from Paul to Pat. Remember this:

paul-pat2What about the Solutions Exchange?

The Solutions Exchange is were many attendees spend a lot of time taking in the entire VMware partner ecosystem which continues to grow and grow. It seemed more dense this year as if there were more vendors in there and felt a bit more crowded. A lot of small vendors were going big there in an attempt to get the attention of attendees and I’d say at least a third of the partners were storage related. I spent a good amount of time there and there seemed to be good and steady traffic through the floor which is good for the partners that put a big investment into the event.

Thanks to the vendors that support the vExpert program

There were probably a dozen vendors there that had special gifts for those that are chosen as vExperts. It’s good to see these vendors recognize the value of the vExpert community and do something special to reward those who give back and evangelize about VMware and virtualization. As the vExpert population has grown quite large these days (1,200) I’m sure it’s more of a financial and logistic burden to do this so I wish to thank those vendors that did it which includes Cohesity, Coho Data, Simplivity, Datrium, Catalogic Software, SolidFire, Tegile and DataGravity.

How were the Parties?

After VMworld is over each day there are no shortage of parties to attend so you can relax and chat with other attendees after a busy day. I went to the VMunderground party on Sunday which was really good, they had a big venue at the Metreon again and you didn’t have to deal with tickets this year to get in, thank you to all the vendors that sponsor it. The always epic Veeam party was also at the Metreon this year and was a lot of fun as they had a band playing and people got very creative and playful with the glow rings that they were passing out which reminded me of the VMworld 2008 party at the Vegas Speedway.

I also attended the vExpert party which was in a fancy historic ballroom, they tried to do something different by assaulting us with PowerPoint for the first hour which wasn’t all that well received as much of it was around marketing strategies. I actually prefer the more informal gatherings that allowed you to socialize more with vExperts and special guests like Pat Gelsinger. I do appreciate the efforts that they put into having an event for vExperts at VMworld and hope they continue that tradition. Speaking of Pat, I did get my 3rd annual picture with him and he told a neat story about his days at Intel when he ran into Mendel at a conference the day they figured out how to get vMotion to work.

The official VMworld party I passed on as it was at AT&T Park and I didn’t want to go that far away and the bands were mediocre again this year. I still hold out hope that VMware will get a decent big name band to play at VMworld in the coming years.

A few pics from the event

Pat Gelsinger and I at the vExpert Party:

20150901_201004-smallSimon, David & I after recording a vChat episode at VMworld:

20150902_161636-smallMy VVol session starts to fill up:

20150903_102209-small

Sep 05 2015

Select VMworld 2015 session recordings released to the general public

Last week I wrote about how you could get value out of VMworld even if you did not attend it. One of the things I mentioned is that VMware typically releases some of the most popular sessions (as well other sessions that they want to promote) to the general public shortly after VMworld. Well VMware has done just that and released the sessions below onto YouTube. VMware usually releases these in batches so keep checking back as they may publish more of them later on which I will add to this page. For the rest of them that they don’t post you’ll have to get a VMUG Advantage membership or a VMworld session subscription to view them.

UPDATE: VMware released another batch of 28 sessions that I have added to the list below…

General Sessions

General Session – Monday, August 31, 2015 (Carl Eschenbach, VMware – Bill Fathers, VMware – Raghu Raghuram – VMware, Ray O’Farrell, VMware)
General Session – Tuesday, September 1, 2015 (Sanjay Poonen, VMware – Martin Casado, VMware – Pat Gelsinger, VMware)

Cloud Native Apps Track

CNA4590 Container Orchestration with the SDDC (Aaron Blasius, VMware)
CNA6649-S Build and run Cloud Native Apps in your Software Defined Data Center (Kit Colbert, VMware)
CNA5860 – Containers without Compromise – Persistent Storage for Docker Containers with VMware (Vivek Saraswat, VMware) New!

CTO Track

CTO6689-S – Closing the Loop: Towards a World of Software Defined Decision Making (Paul Strong, VMware)
CTO6453 – The Future of Software Defined Storage – What Does It Look Like in 3 Years Time (Richard McDougall, VMware) New!

End User Computing Track

EUC4630 – Managing Users A Deep Dive Into VMware User Environment Manager (Michael Bradley, VMware – Dale Carter, VMware)
EUC5404 – Deliver High Performance Desktops with VMware Horizon and NVIDIA GRID vGPU (Pat Lee, VMware – Luke Wignall, NVIDIA)
EUC5020 – The “Snappy” Virtual Desktop User Experience (Aivars Apsite, Metro Health)
EUC6807-S – The Future of End User Computing (Erik Frieberg, VMware – Shankar Iyar, VMware – Noah Wasmer, VMware – Harry Labana, VMware)
EUC4827 – VDI Sizing Deep Dive – The Horizon Sizing Tool (Ray Heffer, VMware – Shengbo Teng, VMware) New!
EUC4879 – Horizon View Storage – Let’s Dive Deep! (Tristan Todd, VMware – Michael Cooney, EMC – Jim Yanik, VMware) New!
EUC5052 – Beyond the Marketing – Horizon 6 Technical Deep Dive (Ray Heffer, VMware – Jim Yanik, VMware) New!
EUC4437 – Horizon View Troubleshooting – Looking Under the Hood (Jack McMichael, VMware – Matt Coppinger, VMware) New!

Hybrid Cloud

HBC4849 – vCloud Air 2015 – Getting Started with Hybrid Cloud (Greg Herzog, VMware)
HBC6629-S – No App is an Island (Ajay Patel, VMware)

Infrastructure Track

INF5211 – Automating Everything VMware with PowerCLI – Deep Dive (Alan Renouf, VMware – Luc Dekens, Eurocontrol)
INF4528 – vCenter Server Appliance VCSA Best Practices & Tips Tricks (William Lam, VMware)
INF4586 – Take Virtualization to the Next Level vSphere with Operations Management (Martin Yip, VMware – Himanshu Singh, VMware)
INF5975 – vCenter Server Appliance as First Choice VC (Madhup Gulati, VMware – Mikael Jenson, Herring Kommune)
INF4764 – Extreme Performance Series – vCenter Performance Best Practices (Ravi Soundararajan, VMware) New!
INF4793 – Day-to-Day Automation of VMware Products to Increase Productivity and Efficiency (Brian Graf, VMware) New!
INF5093 – vSphere Web Client – Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (Yavor Boychev, VMware – Dennis Lu, VMware) New!
INF5060 – What’s New in vSphere (Michael Adams, VMware) New!
INF4944 – Managing vSphere 6 Deployments and Upgrades, Part 1 (Dilpreet Bindra, VMware – Mohan Potheri, VMware) New!
INF5123 – Managing vSphere 6 Deployments and Upgrades, Part 2 (Brian Graf, VMware – Salil Suri, VMware) New!
INF4529 – VMware Certificate Management for Mere Mortals (Ryan Johnson, VMware – Adam Eckerle, VMware) New!
INF4712 – Just Because You COULD, Doesn’t Mean You SHOULD – vSphere 6 Architecture Considerations from Real World Experiences (Jonathan McDonald, VMware) New!
INF4945 – vCenter Server 6 High Availability (Madhup Gulati, VMware – Mohan Potheri, VMware) New!
INF5701 – Extreme Performance Series – vSphere Compute & Memory (Fei Guo, VMware – Seong Beom Kim, VMware) New!

Management Track

MGT5245 – vRealize Operations Insight Manage vSphere and Your Entire Data Center…All in One Place! (Himanshu Singh, VMware – Hicham Mourad, VMware)
MGT5360 – Introducing Application Self service with Networking and Security (Andrew Voltmer, VMware – Becky Smith, VMware)
MGT6623-S The VMware Cloud Management Platform Drill Down and Outlook (Ajay Singh, VMware – Dave Bartoletti, Forrester – Seth Frohlich, CIT – Tim Garza, CNRA – Jon Herlocker, VMware)
MGT4928 – How To Troubleshoot Using vRealize Operations Manager – Live Demo (Shyamal Patal, VMware – Samuel McBride – VMware)

Networking Track

NET6639-S – The Next Horizon for Cloud Networking and Security (Guido Appenzeller, VMware)
NET5560 VMware NSX Deep Dive (Jacob Rapp, VMware)
NET4976 – vSphere Distributed Switch 6 –Technical Deep Dive (Chris Wahl, Rubrik – Jason Nash, Sirius) New!
NET4989 – The Future of Network Virtualization with VMware NSX (Bruce Davie, VMware) New!

Operations Transformations Track

OPT6851-S A conversation with the VMware CIO Suggestions on being an IT Leader (Bask Iyer, VMware)

Security Track

SEC6640-S – The Software Defined Data Center: Security for the new battlefield (Tom Corn, VMware)

Software Defined Data Center (SDDC) Track

SDDC5273-S – VMware Hyper Converged Infrastructure From vSAN to EVO RAIL and EVO RACK (Raj Yavatkar, VMware)
SDDC6254-S The Best SDDC! (Dale Ferrario, VMware – Dharminder Debisarun, Novamedia – Simon Delord, Telstra – David Giambruno, Tribune Media – Tony Morshed, CA DOWR)

Storage Track

STO4572 Conducting a Successful Virtual SAN Proof of Concept (Cormac Hogan, VMware – Julienne Pham, VMware)
STO5887 Building a Business Case for Virtual SAN (Madelyn Grunewald, VMware – Jordan Glamann, Dominos Pizza – Rafael Kabesa, VMware)
STO5954 S Rethinking Enterprise Storage The Rise Of Hyper converged Infrastructure (Charles Fan, VMware – Mike Feld, BayState Health)
STO6085 Site Recovery Manager Technical Walk through (GS Khalsa, VMware – Jeff Hunter, VMware)
STO4649 – Virtual Volumes Technical Deep Dive (Ken Werneburg, VMware – Patrick Dirks, VMware) New!
STO4474 – Networking Virtual SAN’s Backbone (Bhumik Patel, VMware – John Kennedy, Cisco) New!
STO5888 – Top 10 Thing You MUST Know Before Implementing Virtual Volumes (Eric Siebert, HP) New!
STO5074 – Explaining Advanced Virtual Volumes Configurations (Ken Werneburg, VMware – Andy Banta, SolidFire) New!
STO6137 – Site Recovery Manager and Policy Based DR Deep Dive with Engineering (GS Khalsa, VMware – Aleksey Pershin, VMware) New!

Virtualizing Applications Track

VAPP6257 – Troubleshooting for vSphere 6 (Jamie Rawson, VMware) New!
VAPP5598 – Advanced SQL Server on vSphere (Scott Salyer, VMware – Wanda He, EMC) New!
VAPP5483 – Virtualize Active Directory, the Right Way! (Deji Akomolafe, VMware – Matt Liebowitz, EMC) New!
VAPP5719 – Monitoring and Managing Applications with vRealize Operations 6.1 and vSphere 6 (Jeff Godfrey, VMware – Ben Todd, VMware) New!

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