VMware – vSphere 5.5 U2 Workarounds and Random Things – Part 2

In a previous post, I mentioned I was doing a vSphere deployment sitting on some HP blades with SD cards installed. Because of this, I had to configure a few different parts of ESXi to point to network services rather than using local, persistent storage. This isn’t a bad thing in any case, as you really want your logs and core dumps to be off-host when you’re trying to troubleshoot host issues.

 

Network Dump Collector

It’s a good idea to have your core dumps going to a central location. you can do this with Network Dump Collector or via shared diagnostic storage. In this instance, I’ve provided an example on how to configure the host to use the Network Dump Collector, which can be installed from the vCenter installation media.

 

login as: root
 Using keyboard-interactive authentication.
 Password:
 The time and date of this login have been sent to the system logs.

VMware offers supported, powerful system administration tools.  Please
 see www.vmware.com/go/sysadmintools for details.

The ESXi Shell can be disabled by an administrative user. See the
 vSphere Security documentation for more information.
 ~ # esxcli system coredump network get
 Enabled: false
 Host VNic:
 Network Server IP:
 Network Server Port: 0
 ~ # esxcli system coredump network set --interface-name vmk0 --server-ipv4 192.168.0.100 --server-port 6500
 ~ # esxcli system coredump network set --enable true
 ~ # esxcli system coredump network get
 Enabled: true
 Host VNic: vmk0
 Network Server IP: 192.168.0.100
 Network Server Port: 6500
 ~ # esxcli system coredump network check
 Verified the configured netdump server is running
 ~ # /sbin/auto-backup.sh
 Files /etc/vmware/dvsdata.db and /tmp/auto-backup.1942245//etc/vmware/dvsdata.db differ
 Saving current state in /bootbank
 Clock updated.
 Time: 05:04:38   Date: 04/21/2015   UTC
 ~ #

 

It’s important to check that the Network Dump Collector service is running, too.

 

vSphere Syslog Server

You’ll also want to point your syslogs to a remote location. If you don’t have access to syslog in your environment, you can set it up from the vCenter installation media. Here’s an article on how to do that. Here’re the rough steps you need to take.

Check your current configuration first.

~ # esxcli system syslog config get
 Default Network Retry Timeout: 180
 Local Log Output: /scratch/log
 Local Log Output Is Configured: false
 Local Log Output Is Persistent: false
 Local Logging Default Rotation Size: 1024
 Local Logging Default Rotations: 8
 Log To Unique Subdirectory: false
 Remote Host: <none>

Now you can set the configuration.

~ # esxcli system syslog config set --loghost='tcp://192.168.0.100:514'

Load the configuration.

~ # esxcli system syslog reload

Check that the configuration worked.

~ # esxcli system syslog config get

Backup the configuration.

~ # /sbin/auto-backup.sh

 

Persistent Scratch

I recommend setting a persistent scratch location as well. You can read about that here. In my case I used shared storage with directories for each host. I then set that as an option to configure via Host Profiles.

 

Okay, so hopefully that was useful for someone. More to follow …

 

VMware – vSphere 5.5 U2 Workarounds and Random Things – Part 1

I’ve been in the field recently, deploying one of my designs for a customer as our normal resources were tied up elsewhere. I’m rusty, to be sure, and haven’t done a lot of VMware deployment work outside of a lab in the last few years. So I thought I’d do a series of posts about things that I didn’t think of when I did the design, and the various workarounds and random fixes that I came across to resolve the issues I encountered. I hope some of them are useful. I’ll break this up into a couple of parts, covering a few different things in each post.

 

Missing VMware Tools ISO

The first issue I came across was being unable to load the VMware Tools ISO when updating or installing VMware Tools on a VM. You’ll need the following VMware KB article – Unable to locate the ISO image for the VMware Tools installation (1036810) – to resolve the issue. I literally have no effing idea why this is happening. I can only assume that it has something to do with the fact we’ve used SD cards in these blades, and ESXi thinks, quite rightly, that the local storage on these blades is not so persistent.

 

Moving vCenter’s SQL Database

The Client also had made some SQL servers available as per my request prior to arriving on-site. However, The Client wanted me to build vCenter on a “temporary” SQL host and then migrate it elsewhere. I’ve found that life is not always as we planned it. If this happens to you, you’ll find the following article – Moving the VMware vCenter Server 4.x/5.x/6.0.x SQL database (7960893) – to be an invaluable. You should also get friendly with your local SQL DBA if you’re lucky to have one at hand. Again, I could talk about how planning and preparation are key to a successful engagement, but the reality is that sometimes The Client has outside pressures applied to them that I simply can’t appreciate.

 

ESXi NIC Teaming Options

Found yourself in a data centre? Touching a vSphere deployment? Teaming NICs in the dark of night? Not really knowing what’s going on? Wondering what all those options meant? Wonder no more. NIC teaming in ESXi and ESX (1004088) covers a lot of useful information, including the following summary of your options when it comes to uplinks:

  • Route based on the originating port ID: Choose an uplink based on the virtual port where the traffic entered the virtual switch.
  • Route based on an IP hash: Choose an uplink based on a hash of the source and destination IP addresses of each packet. For non-IP packets, whatever is at those offsets is used to compute the hash.
  • Route based on a source MAC hash: Choose an uplink based on a hash of the source Ethernet.
  • Use explicit failover order: Always use the highest order uplink from the list of Active adapters which passes failover detection criteria.
  • Route based on physical NIC load (Only available on Distributed Switch): Choose an uplink based on the current loads of physical NICs.

The impact of choosing the different options here is worthy of a future blog post, but in the meantime, have a look at this handy article at vLore Blog.

 

Okay, so hopefully that was useful for someone. More to follow …

OT – Top Virtualisation Blogs – Don’t Vote For Me

Eric Siebert has opened up voting for the 2015 top VMware & virtualization [sic] blogs. I’m listed on the vLaunchpad under storage blogs. Previously, I’ve been keen to get your vote. I even once made it in the top 10 (for storage bloggers). But this time around I think it would be a bit silly to vote for me when there’s all these other great bloggers you can vote for. People like Ray, Nigel and Chin-Fah are really, really, switched on people and you should be giving them some voting love. As are all those virtualisation types. So go and do that. And don’t vote for me. Unless you’re really into CX700 FLARE recovery and QNAP mdadm shenanigans.

EMC – RecoverPoint for Virtual Machines

EMC announced RecoverPoint for VMs last week, and I thought I’d do a quick summary post / highlights for those who missed it.

Firstly, an overview from EMC can be found here. You can get the datasheet here. And you can watch an overview video of the features here.

Audience

Secondly, it’s important to understand where EMC is pitching this product. Both the traditional RecoverPoint appliance and the RecoverPoint Virtual Edition have been aimed at storage admins. RecoverPoint

  • protects LUNs;
  • is managed through Unisphere;
  • is deployed on physical hardware appliances, using embedded storage array splitters in VMAX, VNX, and VPLEX; and
  • supports over 50 storage systems, including EMC and 3rd party arrays using the VPLEX splitter.

RecoverPoint Virtual Edition removes the need for dedicated EMC hardware appliances.  RP VE

  • protects storage LUNs;
  • is managed through Unisphere;
  • is deployed as virtual appliances on existing ESXi servers, and uses the embedded array splitter in VNX; and
  • it currently only supports EMC VNX.

RPVM1

So what about RP for VMs? RP for VMs

  • protects at the VM level;
  • is fully managed through vCenter;
  • is deployed as a virtual appliance on existing ESXi servers;
  • has an embedded I/O splitter within the vSphere kernel; and
  • is storage agnostic and supports any SAN, vSAN, NAS or DAS storage arrays on VMware’s HCL.

RPVM2

It’s critical to note that this is a completely separate product from RecoverPoint – there is no upgrade, no downgrade and no interoperability with the existing RP products.

It does support both VMDKs and RDMs (this is a good thing).

Architecture

It’s comprised of:

  • a VMware vCenter plug-in;
  • a RecoverPoint write-splitter embedded in vSphere; and
  • virtual appliances

Here’s a picture that shows the different elements.

RPVM3

Deployment

The splitters are deployed as VIBs, while the appliances come in OVF format. Management is performed using a plug-in via the vCenter Web UI.

Licensing

The RecoverPoint for Virtual Machines product uses a VM-based licensing model and is priced per VM (starting at a minimum of 15 VMs). Note that there is no transfer of licenses between the RecoverPoint and the RecoverPoint for Virtual Machines products.

Summary

This is going to be a handy product for people looking for a contained appliance, with flexible deployment options, that will provide synchronous replication performance (if required and subject to certain constraints). I’m looking forward to taking it for a spin.

VMware – EVO:RAIL – Link-o-rama

The past week is a bit of a blur. While I re-adjust to GMT +10, I thought I’d put out a quick post with links to various useful resources on VMware’s EVO:RAIL. Firstly, here’s some from VMware that provide a nice overview of the product.

Duncan has a typically comprehensive post on EVO:RAIL here, while Keith has a pretty decent write-up here. Tim also has a nice intro post here, as well as a good post on the installation. Roy Mikes has a good write-up here, and Chris does some nice analysis here.

Okay, so maybe it wasn’t quite the link-o-rama that I told you it would be, but these articles should serve as a reasonable starting point for further reading.

Login VSI 4.1 Released

Disclaimer: I received a free Login VSI 12-month license this year as part of my membership of the vExpert programme. There is no requirement for me to blog about their products and I am not compensated in any way for this post.  This disclaimer is also probably longer than I’d intended the original post to be, but there you go.

Login VSI recently released version 4.1 of their performance testing tool for virtualised desktop environments. I’m going to do a longer post on this in the future, but in short new functionality includes:

  • Four new workloads: Task, Office (1 vCPU), Knowledge (2 vCPU) and Power User;
  • Import, mix and correlate performance data from any source like ESXtop and Perfmon; and
  • Improved VSImax simplifies understanding of potential bottlenecks like CPU or Disk I/O.

Sounds pretty cool. If you want to see a video about the new features, check it out here.

VMware – VMware Health Analyzer

I was using VMware Health Analyzer the other day to perform a health check at a customer site and needed to change the web port on the Thinapp version I was using. If you’re a VMware person or partner engaged in delivering these kinds of services, vHA is an excellent starting point for delivering health check services. Samir has a great write-up on it here and here.

In any case, I found the instructions for changing the port on the Virtual Potholes blog. Here’s what you need to do.

1. Start the ThinApp and let it fail. This creates a folder structure for the Tomcat instance.

2. Go to C:\users\*the user you ran the ThinApp under*\AppData\Roaming\Thinstall\*random identification string*\%drive_c%\usr\share\vha\tomcat\conf

3. Edit server.xml

4. Find ConnectorPort=”80″

5. Change 80 to whatever port number you know is free.

6. Save the changes and start the ThinApp.

7. You should see Initializing Coyote HTTP/1.1 on http-(port number you chose)

8. Access the interface from http://localhost:port

And you’re good to go.

EMC announces new VNXe

EMC World is just around the corner and, as is their wont, EMC are kicking off early with a few cheeky product announcements. I don’t have a lot to say about the VNXe, as I don’t do much in that space, but a lot of people might find this recent announcement of interest. If press releases aren’t your thing, here is a marketing slide you might enjoy instead.

vnxe3200_1

The cool thing about this is that the baby is getting the features of the bigger model, namely the FAST Suite, thin provisioning, file dedupe and MCx. Additionally, a processor speed improvement will help with the overall performance of the device. There’s a demo simulator you can check out here.

EMC also announced a new feature for VNX called D@RE, or Data-At-Rest-Encryption. This should be available as an NDU in Q3 2014. I hope to have more info on that in the future.

Finally, Project Liberty was announced. This is basically EMC’s virtualised VNX, and I’ll have more on that in the near future.

And if half-arsed blog posts aren’t your thing, I urge you to check out Jason Gaudreau’s post covering the same announcement. It’s a lot more coherent and useful.

VMware – vExpert 2014

I’m very excited and humbled to have been listed as a vExpert 2014. This is the second year in a row that they’ve forgotten to delete my name. The announcement and list is here, and I expect more news about it soon. Thanks again to John Mark Troyer, Corey Romero and the rest of the VMware Social people for making this kind of thing happen. And thanks also to the vExpert community for being, well, such a neat community to be part of. Q2 applications are open at http://bit.ly/LMJqB5.

*Update*

The nice folks at Login VSI are offering a free 12 month license to vExperts, Microsoft MVPs and Citrix Technology Professionals. You can get more info about it here.

LoginVSI

 

I was also stoked to hear that Pluralsight are offering a year of free training to vExperts and Microsoft MVPs as well. Check out the post here.

pluralsight

 

*Update2*

The friendly people at Tintri are also once again stumping up for shirts too. You can get more info here.

Tintri2014

VMware – vSphere 5.x License Editions and Features

In the spirit of letting those around me do all the hard work to generate content for this blog, my colleague was asking about limitations on various editions of vSphere 5.1. I was vague with the answer, but to his credit, he kept looking. Turns out, someone’s asked this question before, and VMware have even written a KB about it (2001113). It’s worth looking at, particularly when you’re moving from 5.1 – 5.5.