Updated Articles page

I’ve added a little 50-pager to the articles page on vCenter Server 5.1 installation and configuration. I was rebuilding my lab recently and thought it might be useful to document the steps required.

New Article – Joining an ESXi Host to an Active Directory Domain

I’ve added a very basic article to the Articles page on Joining an ESXi Host to an Active Directory Domain. I’ll probably update it in the next few weeks with more information on why you would do this.

VMware – SRM advanced setting for snap prefix

We haven’t been doing this in our production configurations, but if you want to change the behaviour of SRM with regards to the “snap-xxx” prefix on replica datastores, you need to modify an advanced setting in SRM. So, go to the vSphere client – SRM, and right-click on Site Recovery and select Advanced Settings. Under SanProvider, there’s an option called “SanProvider.fixRecoveredDatastoreNames” with a little checkbox that needs to be ticked to prevent the recovered datastores being renamed with the unsightly prefix.

You can also do this when manually mounting snapshots or mirrors with the help of the esxcfg-volume command – but that’s a story for another time.

Didn’t know you could do that

We had this pop up yesterday

And then a KB article turned up in my VMware feed, as if by magic. Check it  here. I didn’t know you could do that with a VM’s video RAM.

Enabling EVC on a cluster when vCenter is running in a virtual machine

VMware recently updated one of its KB articles (the catchily titled “Enabling EVC on a cluster when vCenter is running in a virtual machine“), so I thought I’d include the link here for reference. This is a useful process to understand when you already have a virtualised vCenter server and want to enable EVC. It’s a little bit unwieldy, but sometimes, particularly in legacy environments, you find yourself in these sorts of situations.

EMC PowerPath 5.4 SPx, ESXi 4.1 and HP CIM offline bundle

If you find yourself having problems registering EMC PowerPath 5.4.1 (unsupported) or 5.4.2 (supported) on your HP blades running ESXi 4.1, consider uninstalling the HP offline bundle hpq-esxi4.luX-bundle-1.0. We did, and PowerPath was magically able to talk to the ELM server and retrieve served licenses. I have no idea why CIM-based tools would have this effect, but there you go. Apparently a fix is on the way from HP, but I haven’t verified that yet. I’ll update as soon as I know more.

VMware Lab Manager, ssmove.exe and why I don’t care

Sounds like a depressing topic, but really it’s not all bad. As I’d mentioned previously, I’ve spent a good chunk of the previous 4 months commissioning a CLARiiON CX4-960 array and migrating data from our production CX3-40f and CX700. All told, there’s about 112TB in use, and I’ve moved about 90TB so far. I’ve had to use a number of different methods, including Incremental SAN Copy, sVMotion, vmkfstools, and, finally, ssmove. For those of you who pay attention to more knowledgeable people’s blogs, Scott Lowe had a succinct but useful summary of how to use the ssmove utility here. So I had to move what amounted to about 3TB of SATA-II configs in a Lab Manager 3.0.1 environment. You can read the VMware KB article for the instructions, but ultimately it’s a very simple process. Except when it doesn’t work. By doesn’t work I mean wait for 25 hours and see no progress doesn’t work. So I got to spend about 6 hours on the phone with the Live queue, and the SR took a long time to resolve. The utility really doesn’t provide a lot in terms of logging, nor does it provide a lot of information if it’s not working but has ultimately timed out. It’s always the last 400GB that we get stuck on with data migrations, isn’t it?

The solution involved manually migrating the vmdk files and then updating the database. There’s an internal-only KB article that refers to the process, but VMware don’t really want to tell you about it, because it’s a bit hairy. Hairier stil was the fact that we only had a block replica of the environment, and rolling back would have meant losing all the changes that I’d done over the weekend. The fortunate thing is that this particular version of ssmove does a copy, not a move, so we were able to cancel the failed ssmove process and still use the original, problematic configuration. If you find yourself needing to migrate LM datastores and ssmove isn’t working for you, let me know and I can send you the KB reference for the process to do it manually.

So to celebrate the end of my involvement in the project, I thought I’d draw a graph. Preston is a lot better at graphs than I am, but I thought this one summed up quite nicely my feelings about this project.

vCenter 2.5 and RDMs and multiple guests

While most of you were doing whatever it is you do to relax over the Easter long weekend, I was lucky enough to be cutting over a chunk of our environment with the help of SAN Copy. For the most part, things went well. The only major problem was the Solaris LDOM environment, but our very patient consultant sorted that out for us.

One issue I did have, however, was when I was cutting over RDM LUNs on a number of virtualised clusters. The problem was, basically, that after remapping the RDM on the first guest, I was unable to see the RDM files on the second guest. While some people in our environment believe it’s acceptable to run single-node clusters, I don’t.

It turns out that, and I can’t remember when exactly, the behaviour of vCenter changed to mask RDMs that are already presented to a guest. For those of you playing at home, we’re running the latest vCenter 2.5 (build 227637). So, I needed to add the following setting to the Advanced Settings in vCenter’s configuration. The setting is vpxd.filter.rdmFilter and it should be set to false. Also worthy of note is that this doesn’t seem to survive restarts of the vCenter service. But that’s probably because I’ve done something boneheaded.

Here’s what you need to do.

Then click on Add Row to add the desired settings and you’ll be able to add the RDMs to multiple guests.

Locked vmdk files

Somehow, a colleague of mine put an ESX host in a cluster into maintenance mode while VMs were still running. Or maybe it just happened to crash when she was about to do this. I don’t know how, and I’m not sure I still believe it, but I saw some really weird stuff last week. the end result was that VMs powered off ungracefully, and the host became unresponsive, and things were generally bad. We started adding VMs back to other hosts, but one VM had locked files. Check out this entry at Gabe’s Virtual World on how to address this, but basically you want to ps, grep and kill -9 some stuff.

ps -elf | grep vmname

kill -9 PID

And you’ll find that it’s probably the vmdk files that are locked, not necessarily the vmx file.

2009 and penguinpunk.net

It was a busy year, and I don’t normally do these type of posts, but I thought I’d try to do a year in review type thing so I can look back at the end of 2010 and see what kind of promises I’ve broken. Also, the Exchange Guy will no doubt enjoy the size comparison. You can see what I mean by that here.

In any case, here’re some broad stats on the site. In 2008 the site had 14966 unique visitors according to Advanced Web Statistics 6.5 (build 1.857). But in 2009, it had 15856 unique visitors – according to Advanced Web Statistics 6.5 (build 1.857). That’s an increase of some 890 unique visitors, also known as year-on-year growth of approximately 16.82%. I think. My maths are pretty bad at the best of times, but I normally work with storage arrays, not web statistics. In any case, most of the traffic is no doubt down to me spending time editing posts and uploading articles, but it’s nice to think that it’s been relatively consistent, if not a little lower than I’d hoped. This year (2010 for those of you playing at home), will be the site’s first full year using Google analytics, so assuming I don’t stuff things up too badly, I’ll have some prettier graphs to present this time next year. That said, MYOB / smartyhost are updating the web backend shortly so I can’t make any promises that I’ll have solid stats for this year, or even a website :)

What were the top posts? Couldn’t tell you. I do, however, have some blogging-type goals for the year:

1. Blog with more focus and frequency – although this doesn’t mean I won’t throw in random youtube clips at times.

2. Work more on the promotion of the site. Not that there’s a lot of point promoting something if it lacks content.

3. Revisit the articles section and revise where necessary. Add more articles to the articles page.

On the work front, I’m architecting the move of my current employer from a single data centre to a 2+1 active / active architecture (from a storage and virtualisation perspective). There’s more blades, more CLARiiON, more MV/S, some vSphere and SRM stuff, and that blasted Cisco MDS fabric stuff is involved too. Plus a bunch of stuff I’ve probably forgotten. So I think it will be a lot of fun, and a great achievement if we actually get anything done by June this year. I expect there’ll be some moments of sheer boredom as I work my way through 100s of incremental SAN Copies and sVMotions. But I also expect there will be moments of great excitement when we flick the switch on various things and watch a bunch of visio illustrations turn into something meaningful.

Or I might just pursue my dream of blogging about the various media streaming devices on the market. Not sure yet. In any case, thanks for reading, keep on reading, tell your friends, and click on the damn Google ads.