Thursday, December 8, 2011

VMware extends Oracle support to own the database issue as well as virtualization issues

For those deal makers and decision-maker persuaders out there who have come up against the “Oracle doesn’t support their products on VMware” argument, take heart! Now, no matter what Oracle does, VMware will take your database tech support calls and own them until resolved, as long as:

  1. your using Oracle as the database for vCenter or other VMware product


    2. your are running Oracle database inside a VM.

From the newest VMware post ( ):

VMware Oracle Support provides customers the following new advantages as part of the existing Support and Subscription contract at no additional charge:
  • Total ownership of Oracle Database technical issues reported to VMware Support
  • Access to a team of Oracle DBA resources within VMware Support to troubleshoot related to Oracle Databases used as a data store or run within a VM
  • Performance tuning and best practices related to Oracle Database used as a data store or run within a VM
  • Faster resolution of technical issues in VMware environments via a TSANet <>  collaborative support arrangement between VMware Support and Oracle Support

Monday, October 24, 2011

VMDirectPath not supported on Cisco Palo CNA, except when it is.

Yes, it's confusing, I know. It seems that when you try to enable VMDirectPath for a PCI nic you've created in UCS using Palo (M81kr), it doesn't work. You can select the PCI device for VMDirectPath, and vSphere will tell you to reboot the server to enable the change ...

BUT, you can reboot over and over again, but the PCI device never gets enabled. Looking through the log file on the ESXi server will yield an entry stating "not a ACS capable device".  Thinking that perhaps my M81KR was too old, or too new, I thought that the maybe newer Cisco CNA's like the VIC 1280 would support VMDirectPath. But no. 

UPDATE: CISCO PRODUCT MANAGEMENT INFORMS US THAT NEXUS 1000V OR 1010 IS NOT WHAT YOU NEED. YOU NEED VM-FEX. VM-FEX uses the same VEM as 1000v, but has a different manager. The link below with instruction will get you going. 
But you do need a DVS. That part is correct. 
As it turns out, you need Cisco's Nexus 1000v (or 1010v, if you're into that) in order to make VMDirectPath work. Yes, you read correctly. You need a Distributed Virtual Switch in order to enable VMDirectPath, a technology which completely bypasses Virtual Switches. 

Here's why:

When VMware first came up with vMotion technology back in '03, I.T. people who understood it and it's implications got goosebumps. No more waiting 'till 3 am to do server upgrades, hoping no one was still using the system, taking the system offline, apologizing to whoever was still using the system, upgrading, hoping it worked, and rolling it back when it didn't. Now just evacuate the server, fix it, bring it back on line, and no one was the wiser.

But of course, they also wanted more. In order to make vMotion work, the VM needed consistency within. Continuous connection from the Guest OS to the outside world was mandatory. Changing the nic type inside the VM wasn't an option, since it would take too long for the Guest OS to adapt to the new adapter, if it even could.

But this meant a virtual adapter in the Guest OS. Which meant emulation, not virtualization. Which meant slower networking. Customers wanted speed, so VMware delivered. In conjunction with Intel, they created VMDirectPath, a method of connecting a PCI device directly into the VM. Speed was restored, but at the cost of transportability, a key feature of virtualization. So customers could have one or the other, but not both. Until now. 

Cisco SAVBU (Nuova) and VMware have finally delivered the capability to have VMDirectPath AND vMotion for the same VM!  They're calling it DirectPath IO with vMotion. This is quite an impressive achievement, and people who know me know that I don't impress easily. They've been working on it for over 3 years, that I know of, and the collaboration has been tumultuous. But it yielded I.T. gold. 

So naturally, I had to test it out. I had waited so long. And I found what I documented above. You can't turn it on. At least not the way you would turn on VMDirectPath for any other device.

< to do, put in more accurate instructions, and pictures>

*In order to enable DirectPath IO for a Cisco CNA, you have to:
1) Configure pass through switching for your service profiles.
2) Set up a port profile for DirectPath, and specify "High Performance"

3) Add your servers to the vDS
4) add a VMXNET 3 virtual nic to the VM.
5) connect the VMXNET 3 vnic to the port profile.
6) watch the fun!

*The steps above are not exhaustive, there are a few things left out, but that's the gist of it. For a more complete set of steps to get this going, see this blog entry.

Once the Nexus detects that a VMXNET3 vnic is connected, and "High Performance" is selected as part of the port profile, it begins allowing DirectPath IO. This is a new, special VMDirectPath that only works with Cisco CNA's and VM-FEX. While the VM is sitting on one ESXi server, VMDirectPath is in effect, giving that 30% speed boost that only VMDirectPath can deliver.

When it's time to vMotion the VM to another server, the Nexus 1000v will shift that vnic back into old fashioned Virtual Switch mode, complete the vMotion, then shift back to DirectPath IO once the vMotion is complete. It's awesome! And it's "set and forget", nothing special to be done afterward.

Cisco is the only vendor that can do it, and it's only available with vSphere 5.  It has something to do with Ed Bugnion having been a founder at VMware, then CTO at Nuova, the company that created UCS and Nexus 1000v, and the similarities between the VMXNET 3 design and the Cisco "Palo" virtual nic. Anyway, this feature is the kind of innovation that just can't be done by VMware or Cisco alone. and it brings huge benefits in performance and virtualization. Try it out for yourself!

Here's a good description of the two different modes of operation.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Nexus 1000v now supports Long Distance vMotion

 Just so we are all aware, the N1k now supports spanning Data Centers, with latency maximum of 5 ms. By the description, the latency limit refers to the latency between the VSM and VEM. So that would be 5 ms one way, if I am reading it correctly. We’ll check up on that, and get back to you.

There’s a chart of configuration data that is applicable to “Workload mobility support” found here

Friday, May 13, 2011

Cisco naysayers ignore the obvious...

The nature of this blog is going to divert for a while. I've recently found some topics that I feel I need to write my $0.02 about, and this is as good a place as any to do it.
Recently Cisco CEO John Chambers found himself admitting that next quarter's profit might not be as good as the analysts first thought. This prompted some talking (well, writing) heads to criticize the man who took Cisco from single digit billions to double digit billions.  I felt a need to point out to this <snark>financial genius</snark> the obvious issues he overlooked. Comments follow below.

 "Before reading your article, I had some concerns about Cisco's future. Now I realize things are about to go very well for Cisco. It's my feeling that what the market "knows" is inevitably wrong. Also, I notice the points you didn't mention as well as the ones you did. Your article fails to mention Unified Computing, Cisco's entry into the virtualized server market, which grew 700% in revenue year over year. You can't claim that to be through acquisition. You failed to mention the VCE coalition with VMware and EMC, which is changing the industry from the days of piecing the datacenter together from parts you have and parts you buy, and hoping the architectures works the way you planned it, to buying unifies systems that have been tested together to minimize risk. You only point out risks Chambers took that didn't work out, not the risks that succeeded. And now John Chambers has motivation to clear off those that didn't work, and focus those that did. 
As for beating the market, the market is a manic depressive, not a fountain of wisdom and truth. Cisco will be back in fashion among the analysts someday. Which of the stocks that _did_ outpace the NASDAQ paid a dividend? Which are within 50% of Cisco's valuation? "

Monday, April 25, 2011

Erasing the swapfile at shutdown in Windows

This article describes the registry modifications required to implement removal of the swapfile in a Windows OS at shutdown.

It's just one registry key. Here's the relevant section from the kb article.
Change the data value of the ClearPageFileAtShutdown value in the following registry key to a value of 1:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Memory Management
If the value does not exist, add the following value:
Value Name: ClearPageFileAtShutdown
Value Type: REG_DWORD
Value: 1

This is handy for when you can't be worried about moving it from place to place, like in a migration. Also can help when doing a Storage Migration; lots less data to move.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

How to control server power state via powershell

Here's a great link to some powershell commands to power off your server remotely. The regular powershell command stop-computer didn't really do it for me, but these do.

Here's the command I use to shutdown bare metal UCS blads running Windows 2008 R2
 (gwmi win32_operatingsystem -ComputerName -Credential (Get-Credential Administrator)).win32shutdown(8)

The (8) at the end means power off, as opposed to just shutdown. When I try to just shutdown, it reboots and I'm back where I started.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Renaming SQL server's Windows server name

Many of us have been confronted with the problem of having to rename a Windows server that has a SQL server installed on it. We feared arcane procedures that would take time and not completely provide the desired effect, which is a Windows server with a new name and the SQL server still running.

It would seem Microsoft has heard our curses, um, prayers.

This article provides instructions on how to change the name of in SQL server after you change the name on Windows. It's for SQL 2008 R2, which mandates Windows Server 2008 R2, but it's definitely an advancement. Below is a clip of the relevant instructions.

Also, I just renamed a vCenter Server that runs SQL Server Express, and it had no problem at all! When did they fix that?

To rename a computer that hosts a stand-alone instance of SQL Server

  • For a renamed computer that hosts a default instance of SQL Server, run the following procedures:

    sp_dropserver <old_name>
    sp_addserver <new_name>, local
    Restart the instance of SQL Server.
  • For a renamed computer that hosts a named instance of SQL Server, run the following procedures:

    sp_dropserver <'old_name\instancename'>
    sp_addserver <'new_name\instancename'>, local
    Restart the instance of SQL Server.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Cloud Director users priviledges - vApp author can't see published catalogs?

I've noticed that the default rights of a vApp Author in VMware Cloud Director don't allow the vApp Author to see published catalogs. What, then, is the point of publishing a catalog? So only the Admins can see it? What will they do with it?
I've changed my VCD to grant the right to the vApp Author to see published catalogs. Catalog Author too.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

vAPP IP address pools in vCenter - The feature that wasn't

The IP Pools feature of vCenter is not really fully implemented, at least not in a way that an end user can easily work with them. Documentation is non-existent, other than blog articles and books. Mike Laverick gives us some insight in his book, VMware vSphere™ 4 Implementation (reference below)

Mike Laverick's book (ch. 11) explains that even once you set up the IP pools, configure the vApp to use them, configure the VM to obtain them, it's still up to the end user to implement them. The IP pool info is delivered to the VM via ISO or VMware Tools (as an environment variable). It's up to the end user to create a script that actually changes the IP address.

Thanks to VMware for almost giving us what we needed...

Mike excellent book...Also on Safari Bookshelf.

* VMware vSphere™ 4 Implementation 
* * By: Mike Laverick
* Publisher: McGraw-Hill
* Pub. Date: January 20, 2010
* Print ISBN-10: 0-07-166452-1
* Print ISBN-13: 978-0-07-166452-3
* Web ISBN-10: 0-07-166453-X
* Web ISBN-13: 978-0-07-166453-0

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Configure OracleXE ODBC

This picture shows how the odbc connection to oraclexe is set up

ODBC - Oracle Wiki

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Jumpy mouse and video in windows 2008 R2 VM

Finally fixed the issues I've had with vmrc and vi client video in a windows 2008 R2 VM. You need to change the video driver ANd the mouse driver.
1) install the latest tools
2) change the display device driver to the one in c:\prorgram files\common files\vmware\drivers\video (use wddm_video, that's the best).
3) change the mouse driver by clicking  "let me choose..." and selecting VMware pointing device.
4) change the video ram to more than 8 mb (optional)
It's amazing that vSphere doesn't just install those for you.

Relevent links:

Monday, March 14, 2011

Friday, March 4, 2011

vCenter in a VM - VMware encourages it

For those still wondering whether or not to install vCenter in a VM instead of physical hardware, here's the advice from VMware. This comes from the installation documentation, which is the canonical source in my mind.

Install vCenter Server in a Virtual Machine

You can install vCenter Server in a Microsoft Windows virtual machine, which runs on an ESX host.

Deploying the vCenter Server system in the virtual machine has the following advantages:

  •  Rather than dedicating a separate server to the vCenter Server system, you can place it in a virtual machine running on the same ESX host where your other virtual machines run.
  • You can provide high availability for the vCenter Server system by using VMware HA.
  • You can migrate the virtual machine containing the vCenter Server system from one host to another, enabling maintenance and other activities.
  • You can create snapshots of the vCenter Server virtual machine and use them for backups, archiving, and so on

Saturday, February 26, 2011

PXE booting a UCS blade to install ESXi - I finally got something to work right!

I finally figured out how to install ESXi on a UCS blade using PXE! I used tftpd, an opensource tftp, dhcp, and syslog package, but it should work on a Linux system as well, if you have the patience to configure one. for PXE I'm using pxelinux, and the real trick is adding the "vlanid=<vlan>" line to the APPEND line in the pxe config file.
I also used some of the kickstart commands for esxi to automate the process. You can find more info about those here, and a terrific article by my blogging hero, Scott Lowe.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Cool new "Fling" from vmware labs - XVP Manager for non-vSphere hypervisors

Interesting new “fling” from VMware labs...a manager for non-vSphere hypervisors. I’ll be testing this in the lab.
Note that this comes from the “lab” at VMware, which means it may never become a product, it does not indicate VMware corporate strategic directions, it’s just something the engineers came up with. Don’t read too much into it. 

The part they glossed over in the email they sent to me (text below) is the "Converter" part. XVP helps not only manage Hyper-V server, _it also provides an easy way to convert Hyper-V VMs to VMware VMs_.  This reminds me of the way Microsoft made it easy to convert from Novell Netware to Windows; make a management server, take control of the competitor data, then make it easy to convert it over. 
I haven't tested it in the lab yet, but I shall...

Dear vmjfk,
VMware Labs  presents its latest fling XVP Manager and Converter  <(here)>  - that helps manage  non-vSphere hypervisor.
VMware vCenter XVP Manager and Converter provides basic virtualization management capabilities for non-vSphere hypervisor platforms towards enabling centralized visibility and control across heterogeneous virtual infrastructures. It also simplifies and enables easy migrations of virtual machines from non-vSphere virtualization platforms to VMware vSphere.
Key Features:

  • Management of the following Microsoft Hyper-V platforms:
      Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008
    • Microsoft Windows Server 2008 (64-bit) with Hyper-V role enabled
    • Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 R2
    • Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 with Hyper-V role enabled
    • Familiar vCenter Server graphical user interface for navigating through and managing non-vSphere inventory
    • Ease of virtual machine migrations from non-vSphere hosts to vSphere inventory
    • Compatible with VMware vCenter Server 4.0 & 4.1
    • Scalable up to management of 50 non-vSphere hosts

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

LDAPManager - great for trawling through the LDAP server on your MAC

I use a MAC at work, and sometime run across interesting utilities. One of those is LDAPManager, a FOSS LDAP directory discovery package that is simple to use, and gets the job done. Works with Microsoft Active Directory, too!

Good Book - Mastering VMware vSphere 4 - Scott Lowe

One of my favorite titles for understanding vSphere and actually getting it to do something for you is Mastering VMware vSphere 4 by Scott Lowe. I highly recommend it to anyone who is stuck trying to manage a vSphere environment, or trying to pass their VCP test, since some of the questions on the VCP 4.0 test came from this book!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Cloud director still using Oracle - I use XE

For those who wish to get VMware Cloud Director™ up and running, but get stymied when it asks for an Oracle database (I know I was, I don’t use Oracle DB for much), there is a free version called OracleXE™. This version installs on Windows or Linux, is free (as I said) and comes up easily on Windows 200x. Remember that when configuring VCD, don’t accept the default Oracle instance name (orcl), use XE. The rest is the same.
Also, VCD won’t let you use the sysdba operator. You can easily create a new one by using SQLPlus, or through the web based GUI. VMware won’t support using XE, but for demos, it’s quick, easy, and will get you onto the real issues you want to explore.

VMware Cloud Director - lack of a sub Org

In working with VCD, I've discovered that there is a flat tiered Org structure - we can't seem to make a sub org. This is an issue for large customers wanting to deploy VCD, since they can't organize it into smaller orgs run by the upper org. I add this to my list of things I wish VMware would fix.