Tag: VMware

Performance Management in a Virtual Environment

Continuing from my post on Monday which covered the white paper that I did for SolarWinds on the top 5 management challenges with virtualized environments, I wanted to highlight another of the white papers that focuses on one of those specific management challenges. This white paper is titled “Performance Management in a Virtual Environment” and covers how performance management differs from traditional physical environments, how to get started with performance management and knowing where to look and how to interpret the many statistics that are unique to virtual environments. The white paper also includes a table that details 13 key statistics that you need to pay attention to in virtual environments. Below is an excerpt from the first paper, you can register and read the full paper over at SolarWinds website.

So you’ve implemented virtualization and don’t know where to start when it comes to monitoring the performance of your virtual environment. In a traditional non-virtual environment you monitor performance through the guest operating system which is installed directly on the server hardware. Typically a centralized monitoring system relies on an agent installed on the guest OS or built-in components like Windows WMI to read performance statistics from the server. With virtualization this type of performance monitoring is no longer effective; the reason is the guest operating system is no longer seeing the physical hardware of the host. Instead it is seeing virtual hardware that is emulated by the hypervisor so performance statistics that are measured inside the guest OS are not an accurate reflection of the physical hardware of the host. As a result you need a monitoring application that is aware of the virtualization layer and can also measure the statistics that are unique to virtual environments.

Virtualization built-in performance monitoring tools like VMware’s vCenter Server can provide raw performance statistics for the virtual environment but doesn’t help you interpret them. The information returned by vCenter Server can be overwhelming and knowing what to look for and what the numbers mean can be difficult. Additionally vCenter Server is designed to mainly monitor and report at the virtualization layer and doesn’t extend to far into the guest OS layer so it does not provide a complete monitoring solution. There are hundreds of performance statistics that are generated by ESX/ESXi and vCenter Server that cover many different areas. Not all of these statistics are useful in most cases and if you tried to monitor them all you would be quickly overwhelmed. Some statistics are only useful in certain situations such as troubleshooting a resource bottleneck but there are others that can provide key indicators to the overall health of your vSphere environment and should be constantly monitored. Some statistics are specific to hosts and others only apply to virtual machines, the below table lists some of the more important statistics that you should focus on when monitoring vSphere.

Full paper including the table detailing key performance metrics available here

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Top blog voting coming up soon!

The polls will open next week for the annual VMware/virtualization top blog voting, so if you want to make sure your site is included make sure I have your blog listed on my vLaunchPad. This year will be a bit different, instead of just a top 25 we’ll also have categories kind of like they do at many awards shows. Some of the categories will be Best New Blog, Best Storage Blog, Blogger You Most Want To Meet, etc. I’m still playing with the categories so sound off in the comments if you have any ideas.

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The top iPad applications for VMware admins

The iPad is becoming more and more popular in the enterprise, and not just for mobile workers. There is also a slew of iPad applications for VMware admins.

Many IT vendors see the iPad’s potential and are developing iPad apps that can manage their traditional hardware and software products. Xsigo Systems, for instance, has a very nice app called Xsigo XMS , which manages virtual I/O through the company’s XMS servers. There is also an iPad application called SiMU Pro that manages Cisco Systems Inc.’s Unified Computing System.

In addition, there are several iPad applications that can supplement the traditional VMware admin toolkit, including the vSphere Client and Secure Shell (SSH) applications. With the right iPad applications, VMware admins will reach a new level of management flexibility that’s not possible with traditional desktops and laptops.


I. Top iPad applications for VMware management

II. Applications for remotely connecting to hosts and workstations

III. Top iPad applications for VMware networking

IV. General purpose iPad apps for VMware admins

With the top iPad applications for infrastructure management, VMware admins can control basic functions, such as powering virtual machines (VMs) on and off and using vMotion.

These iPad apps mimic some of the functionality of the vSphere Client and service console, but they aren’t a full-fledge replacement. Even so, these iPad applications allow VMware admins to perform key virtualization tasks without a full-scale computer.

Read the full article at searchvmware.com…

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Happy Birthday to VMware’s Head Cheerleader!

It’s John Troyer’s birthday, for those that do not know John he’s VMware’s dynamic, social media and community person who will give you the shirt of his back if you ask. For those who do know him, well you probably already know this. I know John very well and he has graciously written the foreword on both my books. Two years ago I arranged a special surprise involving dozens of bloggers and community people for John in appreciation for everything he has done for the community, be sure and check out the videos to see his reaction to the surprise.


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Patching VMware ESXi Installable

ESXi 4.1 brought changes to the patching process. Previously, the Host Update utility — an application included with the vSphere Client — could patch ESXi 4.0 hosts. VMware removed Host Update from ESXi 4.1, presumably to encourage users to upgrade to paid versions that are managed and patched with vCenter Server’s Update Manager. As a result, the only method left to patch the free version of ESXi is with the vihostupdate command-line utility, which is included in the vSphere Command-Line Interface (CLI).

Before using this method, it’s important to understand how the patches work and where to find them.

Read the full article at searchvmware.com…

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Installing and configuring VMware ESXi

VMware announced that ESXi will be the exclusive hypervisor of vSphere 5. As such, we will likely see a greater adoption of VMware’s smaller hypervisor.

ESXi can be either embedded on a server (boot from flash) or installed on existing servers, using the Installable version. The free version of ESXi, the VMware vSphere Hypervisor, includes support for virtual symmetric multiprocessing (vSMP) and thin provisioning. No additional features are included, which means the free version of ESXi cannot be managed by vCenter Server, because it does not include a vCenter Server agent. To gain additional features and a vCenter Server agent, you need to upgrade your ESXi license.

The ESXi installation uses about 5 GB of space. Any remaining space on the drive is automatically formatted as a Virtual Machine File System (VMFS) partition. The hypervisor needs roughly 32 MB; the additional space is used for VMware Tools as well as swap and core dump partitions.

If you already have existing licenses for ESX, you can also choose to deploy ESXi in place of ESX on a server. Simply download ESXi installable. Install it and then license it with vCenter Server, as you would a traditional ESX server. Follow the steps below to install and configure ESXi.

Read the full article at searchvmware.com…

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VCenter CapacityIQ by the numbers

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

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

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

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

Read the full article at searchvmware.com…

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My updated series on VMware Snapshots

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

Part 1 – How VMware snapshots work

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

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

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

Read the full article at searchvmware.com…

Part 2 – Deleting virtual machine snapshots without wasting disk space

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

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

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

Read the full article at searchvmware.com…

Part 3 – Troubleshooting VMware snapshots

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

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

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

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

Read the full article at searchvmware.com…

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