Tag Archive: Top 10

Sep 15 2016

Top 10 reasons to start using VVols right now

VMware’s new storage architecture, Virtual Volumes (VVols), has been out for a year and a half now as part of the vSphere 6.0 release and adoption continues to be very light for a variety of reasons. This kind of adoption can be typical of any 1.0 release as users wait for it to mature a bit and better understand the differences of it compared to what they are used to using. VVols brings a lot of great benefits that many are unaware of so in this post I though I would highlight those to try and make a compelling use case to start using VVols right now.

top10list-crop10 -You don’t have to go all in

It’s not all or nothing with VVols, you can easily run it right alongside VMFS or NFS on the same storage array. Because VVols requires no up-front space allocation for it’s Storage Container, you will only be consuming space on your existing array for any VMs that are put on VVol storage. Since VVols is a dynamic storage architecture, whatever free space you have remaining on the array is available to your VVols Storage Container which is purely a logical entity unlike a VMFS volume which requires up-front space allocation.

You can easily move running VMs from VMFS to VVols using Storage vMotion and back again if needed or create new VMs on VVols. This allows you to go at your own pace and as you move VMs over you can remove VMFS datastores as they are emptied out which provides more available space to your Storage Container. Note that Storage vMotion is the only method to move existing VM’s to VVols and you cannot upgrade VMFS datastores to VVol Storage Containers.

9 – Gain early experience with VVols

VMware never keeps 2 of anything around that do the same thing, they always eventually retire the old way of doing it as it is double the development work for them. At some point VVols will be the only storage architecture for external storage and VMFS will be retired. How long did you wait to switch from ESX to ESXi or to switch from the vSphere C# client to the web client? Did you wait until the last minute and then scramble to learn it and struggle with it the first few months. Why wait, the sooner you start using it the sooner you will understand it and you can plan on your migration over time instead of waiting until you are forced to do it right away. By gaining early experience you will be ahead of the pack and can focus on gaining deeper knowledge of it over time instead of being a newbie who is just learning the basics. There are no shortage of resources available today to help you on your journey to VVols.

8 – Get your disk space back and stop wasting it

With VVols both space allocation and space reclamation is completely automatic and real-time. No storage is pre-allocated to the Storage Container or Protocol Endpoint, when VM’s are created on VVols storage they are provisioned thin by default. When VMs are deleted or moved space is automatically reclaimed as the array can see VMs as objects and knows which disk blocks they reside on. No more manually running time and resource intensive cli tools,  vmkfstools/esxcli to blindly try and reclaim space on the array from deleted or moved VMs. VVols is designed to allow the array to maintain a very thin footprint without pre-allocating space and carving up your array into silos like you do with VMFS and at the same time being able to reclaim space in real time.

7 – It’s available in all vSphere editions

VVols isn’t a vSphere feature that is licensed only in certain editions such as Enterprise Plus, it’s part of the vSphere core architecture and available in all vSphere editions. If you have vSphere 6.0 or higher you already have VVols capabilities and are ready to start using it. VVols is mostly under the covers in vSphere so it won’t be completely obvious that the capability is there. It is part of the same Storage Policy Based Management (SPBM) system in vSphere that VSAN uses and also presents itself as a new datastore type when you are configuring storage in vSphere.

6 – Let the array do the heavy lifting

Storage operations are very resource intensive and a heavy burden on the host. While server’s are commonly being deployed as SAN’s these days, a server really wasn’t built specifically to handle storage I/O like a storage array is. VMware recognized this early on which is why they created vSphere APIs for storage such as VAAI to offload resource intensive storage operations from the host to the storage array. VVols takes this approach to the next level, it shifts the management of storage tasks to vSphere and utilizing policy based automation storage operations are shifted to the storage array.

So things like thin provisioning and snapshots which can be done either on the vSphere side or the storage array side with VMFS are only done on the storage array side with VVols. How you do these things remains the same in vSphere but when you take a snapshot in the vSphere client you are now taking an array based snapshot. The VASA specification which defines VVols is basically just a framework and allows the array vendors to implement certain storage functionality, however they want to handle things within the array is up to each vendor. The storage array is a purpose built I/O engine designed specifically for storage I/O, it can do things faster and more efficiently, why not let it do what it does best and take the burden off the host.

5 – Start using SPBM right now

VSAN users have been enjoying Storage Policy Based Management for quite a while now and with VVols anyone with an external storage array can now use it as well. While Storage Policies have been around for even longer when first introduced in VASA 1.0, they were very basic and not all that useful. The introduction of VASA 2.0 in vSphere 6.0 was a big overhaul for SPBM and made it much more rich and powerful. The benefit of using SPBM is that makes it easier for vSphere and storage admins by automating storage provisioning and mapping storage array capabilities including features and hardware attributes directly to individual VMs. SPBM ensures compliance of defined policies so you can create SLA’s and align storage performance, capacity, availability and security features to meet application requirements.

4 – Snapshots don’t suck anymore

vSphere native VM snapshots have always been useful but they also have a dark side. One of the big disadvantages of vSphere snapshots is the commit process (deleting a snapshot) which can be very time and resource consuming, the more so the longer a snapshot is active. The reason for this is that when you create a vSphere snapshot, the base disk becomes read only and any new writes are deflected to delta vmdk files that are created for each VM snapshot. The longer a snapshot is active and the more writes that are made the larger the delta files grow, if you take multiple snapshots you create more delta files. When you delete a snapshot all those delta files have to be merged back into the base disk which can take a very long time and is resource intensive. As backup agents routinely take snapshots before doing a backup of a VM, snapshots are a pretty common occurrence.

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 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.

The advantage of VVol array based snapshots are many, they run more efficiently on the storage array and you are not using up any host resources. In addition you are not waiting hours for them to commit, your backups will completed quicker and there is no chance of lost data from long snapshot chains trying to be written back into the base disk.

3 – Easier for IT generalists

Because storage array management shifts to vSphere through SPBM, IT generalists don’t really have to be storage admins as well. Once the initial array setup is complete and the necessary VVols components created, all the common provisioning tasks that you would normally do on the array to support vSphere are done through automation. No more creating LUNs, expanding LUNs, configuring thin provisioning, taking array based snapshots, etc., it’s all done automatically. When you create a VM, storage is automatically provisioned on the storage array and there is no more worrying about creating more LUNs, determining LUN sizes and increasing LUN sizes when needed.

With VVols you are only managing VMs and storage in vSphere, not in 2 places. As a result if you don’t have a dedicated storage admin to manage your storage array, an IT generalist or vSphere admin can do it pretty easily. Everything with SPBM is designed to be dynamic and autonomic and it really unifies and simplifies management in a good and efficient manner to reduce the overall burden of storage management in vSphere. Instead of having the added complexity of using vendor specific storage management tools, with VVols management becomes more simplified through the native vSphere interfaces.

2 – It unifies the storage protocols

VMFS and NFS storage are implemented pretty differently in vSphere and what VVols does is dictate a standardized storage architecture and framework across any storage protocol. There were several big differences with file and block implementations in vSphere, with block you presented storage to ESXi hosts as LUNs and with file as a mount point. You still do this to connect your array’s Protocol Endpoint to a host but the standard storage container that is presented to a host to store VMs is just that, a Storage Container, not a LUN or mount point anymore.

When it came to file systems with block an ESXI host would manage the file system (VMFS) and with file it was managed by the NAS array. With VVols there is no file system anymore, VVols are written natively to the array without a file system regardless of it’s a file or block array. And the biggest change is that VMs are written as files (VVols) to block storage in the same manner that file storage has been doing it all along. This creates a  unified and standardized storage architecture for vSphere and eliminates the many differences that existed before between file and block. VVols creates one architecture to bring them all and in the darkness bind them (LOTR reference).

1 – The VM is now a unit of storage

This is what it’s all about, the LUN is dead, because it’s all about the VM, ’bout the VM, no LUN. With VVols the VM is now a first class citizen and the storage array has VM-level visibility. Applications and VMs can be directly and more granularly aligned with storage resources. Where VMFS was very LUN-centric and static creating silos within an array, aligning data services to LUNs and utilizing pre-allocated and over provisioned resources. VVols is VM-centric and dynamic where nothing is pre-allocated, no silos are created and array data services are aligned at the more granular VM-level. This new operational model transforms storage in vSphere to simplify management, deliver better SLAs and provide much improved efficiency. VVols enables application specific requirements to drive provisioning decisions while leveraging the rich set of capabilities provided by storage arrays.

Oct 06 2012

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.

May 01 2009

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

Mar 26 2009

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.

Mar 18 2009

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.

Feb 11 2009

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.

Jan 11 2009

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.

Jan 08 2009

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.

Dec 08 2008

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.

Dec 08 2008

Top 10 things you should read about VMware’s VMotion technology

  1. VMware VMotion and CPU Compatibility – A white paper from VMware that explains how VMotion works, the differences between CPU types and features, what CPU masks are and how to use them and what Enhanced VMotion is.
  2. Understanding CPU Compatibility Constraints for VMotion (VMworld 2007 – free registration required) – A VMworld 2007 presentation that explains the complexities behind CPU constraints with VMotion, problematic CPU features, compatibility groups of CPUs, relaxation of restraints and hardware support for enhanced VMotion compatibility.
  3. VMotion CPU Compatibility for Intel & AMD processors and how to override CPU masks due to CPU mismatch – KB Article 1991, KB Article 1992 & KB Article 1993 –  Three VMware knowledgebase articles that cover specific CPU compatibility information for Intel and AMD processors and how to override CPU masks due to CPU mismatch within CPU brands.
  4. How to obtain, configure and use VMotion and how VMotion works – An article from Andrew Kutz that covers how to license VMotion, how to configure and use it and the technical details behind how it works.
  5. VMotion Compatibility – An article from Scott Lowe that covers CPU masks and how to understand them and set them properly to override CPU compatibility constraints.
  6. How to setup and use VMotion: A Screencast – A screencast from Andrew Kutz that shows how to setup and use VMotion. It covers how to configure it, potential gotchas and how to perform a VMotion migration.
  7. What is Enhanced VMotion Compatibility anyway? – An article from Dave Lawrence that explains the technical details about CPUID instructions and how Enhanced VMotion Compatibility helps to solve the problem of using incompatible CPUs with VMotion.
  8. Overview of VMotion migration compatibility error messages – A VMware knowledgebase article that covers the many possible error messages that may be experienced with VMotion and how to resolve them.
  9. Enhanced VMotion Compatibility (EVC) processor support – A VMware knowledgebase article that covers the Intel and AMD processors that are supported by Enhanced VMotion Compatibility.
  10. Live Migration with AMD-V Extended Migration Technology – A white paper from AMD that covers the challenges and technical details of using VMotion across incompatible CPUs and how CPUID instructions are used.

Dec 08 2008

Top 10 things you should read about Virtualization and Compliance

  1. How Server Virtualization Impacts Data Security and PCI Compliance – A great webinar that handles the topic of how server virtualization impacts PCI compliance. This is often a misunderstood area as virtualization is not specifically covered in the PCI specification.
  2. How to Achieve Security and Satisfy Compliance – A VMworld 2007 presentation (free registration required) that covers ESX security practices and recommendations. Additionally it covers compliance requirements and how to asses your compliance readiness.
  3. Achieving Compliance in a Virtualized Environment –  A white paper from VMware that discusses how to achieve compliance in a virtualized environment and how virtualization impacts compliance.
  4. Best Practices for Surviving Regulatory Compliance (VMworld 2007) – A VMworld 2007 presentation (free registration required) that covers PCI compliance and how it impacts VMware Virtual Infrastructure.
  5. Reducing the Scope of Your PCI Audit: Innovative Network Segmentation Using Host Intrusion Defense – A presentation (free registration required) from Third Brigade that covers how to segment your network to reduce the scope of your PCI audits.
  6. Staying PCI Compliant in Virtual and Physical Environments – A webcast from Tripwire that covers the challenges of virtualization for security and PCI compliance and best practices for proving control in a virtualized environment.
  7. Insights from an Auditor: Ensuring a Successful PCI Audit – A webcast from Tripwire that talks about common pitfalls of meeting PCI requirements and how to develop a strategy for assessing your payment card environment.
  8. Surviving Regulatory Compliance in the Virtual Infrastructure – A VMworld 2006 presentation on compliance rules for SOX, implications for VMware implementations and how to overcome security and audit issues.
  9. PCI Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) – The official documentation of the PCI standard. Contains the documentation of the latest PCI specification and a summary of changes between versions of the specifications.
  10. VMware Compliance Center – VMware’s compliance portal that contains links to documents that are compliance related.

Nov 06 2008

Top 10 Blogs that VMware administrators must read

  1. Yellow Bricks – Duncan Epping’s relatively new blog on VMware topics is another great source for technical tips and information. Duncan recently accepted a job working for VMware and we look forward to more great posts from him.
  2. Scott Lowe’s blog – Scott Lowe blogs on many technical areas that administrators will find extremely useful. Scott has a wealth of knowledge and experience and his posts are always worth reading.
  3. Mike D’s blog – A relative newcomer to the VMware blog-o-sphere (well less then a year anyway) Mike DiPetrillo is a systems engineer that works for VMware and has been posting some fabulous stuff lately. Mike’s knowledge and experience is evident in his very detailed posts that he writes and he is not afraid to tackle any sensitive issues and set the record straight.
  4. NTPro – Eric Sloof is a VCI located in the Netherlands that has been blogging on Vmware for many years. His posts are always informative and are another great source for tips and news on VMware related topics.
  5. Tech Target’s SearchServerVirtualization – One of Tech Target’s blogs that encompasses all virtualization platforms. In addition to Tech Target’s staff there are several regular contributors including: Rick Vanover, Eric Siebert and Andrew Kutz.
  6. Tech Target’s Virtualization Pro – Another Tech Target blog that focuses solely on VMware related topics. In addition to Tech Target’s staff there are several regular contributors including: Rick Vanover, Eric Siebert and Andrew Kutz.
  7. VM Etc – Richard Brambley’s blog has many good tips and news items for all virtualization products but with more focus on VMware. Many of his posts also detail his experiences working with VMware and are quite helpful.
  8. RTFM Education -Mike Laverick’s RTFM Education blog is a great source for learning more about VMware. His free guides that he writes on a variety of material are a great source for learning more about VMware and going beyond the manual.
  9. Rational Survivability – You gotta love the Hoff, Christofer Hoff’s blog focuses on virtualization security. Hoff doesn’t pull any punches and is not afraid to say what’s on his mind when tackling sensitive security topics. His often witty and shrewd blog posts reflect his intimate knowledge and experience with security related topics.
  10. Virtual Geek – Chad Sakac who is a systems engineer that works for EMC, VMware’s parent company knows alot about storage as evidenced by his great posts. Chad’s blog has some very detailed and informative posts and is a must read for all virtual geeks out there.

Oct 12 2008

Top 10 things you must read about ESXi

  1. Installing and Configuring ESXi (Pt. 1) – A basic guide to installing and configuring the installable version of ESXi.
  2. Two ways to patch ESXi installable (Pt. 2) – A basic guide on using two different methods for patching ESXi.
  3. VMware ESX Server 3i – A presentation from VMware on ESXi, this executive summary provides an overview of ESXi and its features and benefits.
  4. The Architecture of VMware ESXi – A white paper from VMware that provides technical detail on the archictecture and management model of ESXi.
  5. Managing VMware ESXi – A white paper from VMware that provides technical detail on managing ESXi including interactive and scripted management, patching, backup and using 3rd party management applications.
  6. Getting Started with ESX Server 3i Installable – The official documentation from VMware on installing and configuring ESXi.
  7. Webcast: VMware ESXi: The Easiest Way to Get Started with Virtualization – A webcast from VMware that covers the key capabilities of ESXi, steps needed for a typical deployment and the tools used for building and managing virtual machines.
  8. How does VMware ESXi Server compare to ESX Server? and VMware KB Article – Some comparisons of the key technical differences between ESX and ESXi.
  9. Boot ESXi from USB Storage – A tutorial on how to create a bootable USB flash drive that can be used to boot ESXi from.
  10. Get full control over your ESXi server – Describes methods for connecting to the command line interface that exists in ESXi that can be useful for support and troubleshooting purposes.

Oct 12 2008

Top 10 things you must read about VMworld 2008

  1. Day 1 (Tuesday) Paul Maritz Keynote also here and here – Several links from the Day 1 keynote including the official webcast and live blogging with commentary. This keynote introduced some of the new concepts and products that Vmware has planned for the future.
  2. Day 2 (Wednesday) Stephen Herrod Keynote also here and here – Several links from the Day 2 keynote including the official webcast and live blogging with commentary. This keynote was much more technical then the previous days keynote and contained many details on upcoming features in VMware products.
  3. Virtual Data Center OS also here and here – Several links on the new VDC-OS concept that VMware introduced at VMworld including the official VMware page that describes the many new components included in it.
  4. Cisco Nexus 1000V vSwitch also here – The long awaited Cisco vSwitch was announced at VMworld, these links describe its features and technical specifications.
  5. Virtualization.info wrap-up also Part 2 and Part 3 – Great conference wrap-up coverage from Alessandro at Virtualization.info providing information and commentary on the events, products and announcements at the show.
  6. Tech Target coverage – Tech Target provided many good blog posts, news reports, videos and more at VMworld, this link is to the page that contains all the links to their coverage.
  7. Best of VMworld 2008 awards announced – The Best of VMworld awards showcased many great products at VMworld, this link details all the winners and finalists in a multitude of categories.
  8. Brian Madden’s roundup of the desktop/application vendors at VMworld 2008 also Part 2 and Part 3 – Brian Madden’s great coverage of some of the many vendors that displayed their products in the Solutions Exchange at VMworld.
  9. New feature demonstration videos: VMware DVS (Distributed vSwitch) demo video, VMware FT (Fault Tolerance) demo video,   VMware VirtualCenter Host Profiles demo video and VMware Storage vMotion demo video – Demonstration videos for some of the exciting new features that are planned for the next major release of ESX.
  10. VMworld 2008 – EMC Wrap-up – Part I – Chad Sakac’s wrap-up summary of VMworld including summaries and links to the many session presentations provided by EMC.

Jul 14 2008

Top 10 News and Information websites that VMware administrators must visit

  1. Virtualization.info – This popular website covers the entire virtualization industry and is a great source for all the latest news. Alessandro often reports major news scoops before anyone else and is the place to go to find out all the news, speculation and rumors in the industry.
  2. Tech Target’s SearchVMware.com – Tech Target’s website that was launched to focus solely on VMware related topics. This website has many great feature articles, tips, white papers, news, webcasts and other information.
  3. Tech Target’s SearchServerVirtualization.com – Another Tech Target website that covers all virtualization products. This website has many great feature articles, tips, white papers, news, webcasts and other information.
  4. Virtualization Sys-con – A great source for news, blogs, interviews, webcasts and white papers for the entire virtualization industry.
  5. Virtual Strategy Magazine – This online magazine has many great feature articles, podcasts, columns, news and many other resources that provide some great information on all virtualization products.
  6. Dabcc – Another great source for virtualization news, articles, columns, podcasts and blogs. This website is updated quite frequently each day with many new articles and posts.
  7. Virtualization.com – This website is a good resource for all the latest news in the virtualization industry. It also features many good interviews and articles on virtualization.
  8. Virtualization Admin – A new website that was recently launched that is geared towards virtualization administrators. This website features many great tips, articles and blog posts from many contributor’s including David Davis and has a lot of great technical information.
  9. Virtualization Review – This website has a lot of great content on virtualization including columns, tips, news, feature articles and blogs from Keith Ward and Tom Valovic.
  10. VM Blog – David Marshall’s website that covers all the latest virtualization news in the industry. Another website that is updated quite frequently each day with many new items.

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