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Running VMworld

August 13th, 2014 No comments

VMworld is one of the largest IT conferences around. Sure there’s plenty of official stuff going on but the community aspect truly drives the spirit of VMworld making it one of the best people + social meets technology events there is.

I have nothing to do with actually running the VMworld conference (a rather big job I presume!) so the running aspect isn’t about conference logistics but about some VMworld social kickstarting to your day.

Last year at VMworld, London VMUG leader, Alaric Davies managed to convince myself, Eric Wright, Adam Eckerle, Cody Bunch and others into doing a short, easy and scenic jog every morning before VMworld which was an awesome idea to kick-start the day. Alaric unfortunately can’t make VMworld US this year so we’re determined to continue the tradition.

imageWe’ll be meeting at 7am every morning Sunday to Thursday outside Moscone South for a jog (+- 5km/3mi) down 4th, passed AT&T Park, along the water, under the Bay Bridge and back up to Moscone along Mission. If there are other route suggestions that don’t involve San Francisco’s hills, suggest one! You can run as fast or as slow as you’d like but if you go too fast you won’t be running with anyone else!

There is an official fun run/walk on the Sunday morning but if you don’t feel like joining something so official, join us, if you do join the official one, great, join us for the rest of the week.

You may be thinking, what the hell, I’m not doing that but let me help convince you why it may be a good idea.

  • It’s fun and social, you get to meet other community people and chat about what’s going on, Last year with only a few people we had a great time, we even bumped into Chad Sakac en-route so this year will be bigger, better & even more fun (VMworld is all about the hyperbole!)
  • No-one I know plans on running any faster than you can actually talk
  • You don’t need to bring any t-shirts, vendors will give them to you for free and you’ll be doing your part to show them off.
  • One of the best ways of getting over jetlag according to medical experts is starting off the day with some exercise followed by breakfast
  • If you’ve had a few beers the night before, this is a great way to clear the head regardless of how little sleep you’ve had before the day starts.
  • It’s early enough not to clash with other things and gives you time to shower and enjoy a well deserved breakfast before the conference starts.
  • Conference and hotel food isn’t going to be that great so you can run and convince yourself you’ve done your bit to try to be healthy and then tuck in guilt free

Looking forward to seeing you at VMworld!

Categories: VMworld Tags: ,

What’s in PernixData FVP’s secret sauce

July 31st, 2014 No comments

Anyone who manages or architects a virtualisation environment battles against storage performance at some stage or another. If you run into compute resource constraints, it is very easy and fairly cheap to add more memory or perhaps another host to your cluster.

Being able to add to compute incrementally makes it very simple and cost effective to scale. Networking is similar, it is very easy to patch in another 1GB port and with 10GB becoming far more common, network bandwidth constraints seem to be the least of your worries. It’s not the same with storage. This is mainly down to a cost issue and the fact that spinning hard drives haven’t got any faster. You can’t just swap out a slow drive for a faster one in a drive array and a new array shelf is a large incremental cost.

imageSure, flash is revolutionising array storage but its going to take time to replace spinning rust with flash and again it often comes down to cost. Purchasing an all flash array or even just a shelf of flash for your existing array is expensive and a large incremental jump when perhaps you just need some more oomph during your month end job runs.

VDI environments have often borne the brunt of storage performance issues simply due to the number of VMs involved, poor client software that was never written to be careful with storage IO and latency along with operational update procedures used to mass updates of AV/patching etc. that simply kill any storage. VDI was often incorrectly justified with cost reduction as part of the benefit which meant you never had any money to spend on storage for what ultimately grew into a massive environment with annoyed users battling poor performance.

Large performance critical VMs are also affected by storage. Any IO that has to travel along a remote path to a storage array is going to be that little bit slower. Your big databases would benefit enormously by reducing this round trip time.

FVP

Home

Along came PernixData at just the right time with what was such a simple solution called FVP. Install some flash SSD or PCIe into your ESXi host, cluster them as a pooled resource and then use software to offload IO from the storage array to the ESXi host. Even better, be able to cache writes as well and also protect them in the flash cluster. The best IO in the world is the IO you don’t have to do and you could give your storage array a little more breathing room. The benefit was you could use your existing array with its long update cycles and squeeze a little bit more life out of it without an expensive upgrade or even moving VM storage. FVP the name doesn’t stand for anything by the way, it doesn’t stand for Flash Virtualisation Platform if you were wondering which would be incorrect anyway as FVP accelerates more than flash.

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How Policy will drive the Software Defined Data Center

July 25th, 2014 3 comments

SDDC

Many companies trying to take advantage of cloud computing are embracing the moniker of the “Software Defined Data Center” as one way to understand and communicate the benefits of moving towards an infrastructure resource utility model. VMware has taken on the term SDDC to mean doing everything in your data center with software and not requiring any custom hardware. Other companies sell “software-defined” products which do require particular hardware for various reasons but the functionality can be programmatically controlled and requested all in software. Whether your definition of “software-defined” mandates hardware or not the general premise (nothing to do with premises!) is being able to deliver and scale IT resources programmatically.

This is great but I think SDDC is just a stepping stone to what we are really trying to achieve which is the “Policy Defined Data Center”.

Once you can deliver IT resources in software, the next step is ensuring those IT resources are following your business rules and processes, what you would probably call business intelligence policy enforcement. These are the things that your business asks of IT partly for regulatory reasons like data retention and storing credit cards securely but also encompasses a huge amount of what you do in IT.

Here are a few examples of what kinds of policies may you have:

  • Users need to change their passwords every 30 days.
  • Local admin access to servers is strictly controlled by AD groups.
  • Developers cannot have access to production systems.
  • You can only RDP to servers over a management connection.
  • Critical services need to be replicated to a DR site, some synchronously, others not.
  • Production servers need to get priority over test and development servers.
  • Web server connections need to be secured with SSL.
  • SQL Server storage needs to have higher priority over say print servers.
  • Oracle VMs need to run on particular hosts for licensing considerations.
  • Load balanced web servers need to sit in different blade chassis in different racks.
  • Your trading application needs to have maximum x latency and minimum y IOPS
  • Your widget application needs to be recoverable within an hour and no be more than 2 hours out of date.
  • Your credit card database storage needs to be encrypted
  • All production servers need to be backed up, some need to be kept for 7 years.

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HP Smart Array Controller can cause an ESXi PSOD – patch now available

July 7th, 2014 No comments

Time to check your HP Smart Array Controller driver versions.

HP has issued an advisory for ESXi 5.x with a number of Smart Array Controllers that can cause an out of memory condition which could lead to a PSOD if you are running the hpsa driver version 5.x.0.58-1. VMware also has a KB explaining the issue.

You can now avoid this without having to downgrade the driver but upgrade to the 5.x.0.60-1 version so that’s HP Smart Array Controller Driver (hpsa) Version 5.0.0.60-1 (ESXi 5.0 and ESXi 5.1) or Version 5.5.0.60-1 (ESXi 5.5).

You can download the new driver in various formats and update your hosts using a VIB file, the HP software depot or grab the latest offline bundle.

The latest HP supplied ESXi images for June 2014 do contain this latest patch so probably easiest to upgrade using these if you are happy to update the whole bundle.

Categories: ESX, HP, VMware Tags: , ,

What VMware’s EOL of vCenter Server Heartbeat means for availability?

June 6th, 2014 1 comment

image VMware has very surprisingly and suddenly stopped selling vCenter Server Heartbeat from 2nd June 2014. If you have already purchased vCenter Server Heartbeat you will still get support until 2018 so no panic that the whole carpet has been pulled from under your feet but it does beg the question, what to do going forward to make your vCenter installation more highlight available if you need it?

In the EOL announcement, VMware suggests first of all making your vCenter a VM to be able to take advantage of HA to provide high availability. If you cannot for some reason (and you really need to ask yourself why) run vCenter as a VM and it is/needs to be physical then the only solution is to use a backup solution to be able to restore vCenter if it fails.

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VMware announces Horizon View 6 taking on Citrix XenApp with RDS Hosted Apps

April 9th, 2014 No comments

VMware has announced the latest version of their End User Computing product Horizon View.

There have been 5 major changes to Horizon View:

  • RDS Hosted Apps
  • Application Catalog Enhancements
  • Cloud Pod Architecture
  • Virtual SAN Support
  • vCOPS for View 6

RDS Hosted Apps

RDS Hosted apps will allow Horizon View clients to access applications and full desktops running on Windows Remote Desktop Services Hosts. This is big news as it gives VMware a competing product to Citrix XenApp.

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For people who know about VDI, what is the difference? Well, VDI delivers an entire desktop to a particular user. This desktop is a whole virtual machine with an OS and applications. RDS (Remote Desktop Services) means using the capabilities of Microsoft RDS (previously Terminal Services) to allow multiple users to connect to a single OS but have separate private desktop instances and applications (the server doesn’t even have to be virtual but you’d be daft not to). With RDS you can display a full desktop but can also display just an application seamlessly without all the desktop stuff around it. You don’t need as many OS instances which means better resource utilisation as well as fewer Microsoft licenses.

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Categories: Citrix, View, VMware, XenDesktop Tags: , , ,

HP updates its customised images for VMware ESXi 5.5/5.1

October 25th, 2013 No comments

HP has updated its ESXi customised images to reflect the recent release of ESXi 5.5 as well as its September 2013 Service Pack for Proliant.

HP’s customised images are fully integrated sets of specific drivers and software that are tested to work together. You can see the list of Driver Versions in HP supplied VMware ESX/ESXi images.

I have done an extensive update of my HP Virtual Connect Flex-10 & VMware ESX(i) pre-requisites post which includes these new customised images.

HP Custom Image for VMware ESXi 5.5.0 GA – September 2013:

HP Custom Image for VMware ESXi 5.1 Update 1 – September 2013:

The new and updated features for the HP vSphere 5.5 /5.1 customised Images for September 2013 include:

  • Provider Features
    • Report Smart array driver name and version.
    • Report SAS driver name and version.
    • Report SCSI driver name and version
    • Report Firmware version of ‘System Programmable Logic Device’.
    • Report SPS/ME firmware.
    • Added SCSI HBA Provider.
    • Report IdentityInfoType and IdentityInfoValue for PowerControllerFirmware class.
    • IPv6 support for OA and iLO.
    • Report Memory DIMM part number for HP Smart Memory.
    • Added new ‘Test SNMP Trap’.
    • Updated reporting of memory configuration to align with iLO and health Driver.
  • AMS features
    • Report running SW processes to HP Insight Remote Support.
    • Report vSphere 5.5 SNMP agent management IP and enable VMware vSphere 5.5 SNMP
    • agent to report iLO4 management IP.
    • IML logging for NIC, and SAS traps.
    • Limit AMS log file size and support log redirection as defined by the ESXi host parameter:
    • ScratchConfig.ConfiguredScratchLocation
  • Utilities features
    • HPTESTEVENT – New utility to generate test WBEM indication and test SNMP trap.
    • HPSSACLI – New utility to replace hpacucli
    • HPONCFG – HPONCFG utility, displays the Server Serial Number along with the Server Name when using hponcfg –g switch, to extract the Host System Information.
Categories: ESX, Flex-10, HP, VMware Tags: , ,

Join me in a Google Hangout with VMware’s Joe Baguley and futurologist Paul Saffo discussing technology past, present and future

September 25th, 2013 No comments

hangoutI’ll be taking part in a Google Hangout with VMware EMEA CTO Joe Baguley and futurologist Paul Saffo tomorrow for a special VMware Google Hangout Q&A.

Joe is VMware’s EMEA CTO and a great speaker who took part in the VMworld US Day 2 keynote.

Paul is a Silicon Valley based futurologist (isn’t that a great title!) who forecasts long term change in IT. Paul moderated a panel discussion at VMworld US talking about the future of IT.

Joe and Paul will be fielding questions from a number of bloggers including myself:

With VMware recently turning 15 and with their US and EU VMworld 2013 conferences titled Defy Convention we will be discussing technology past, present and future.

We will all be live on the Hangout and would love you to join us tomorrow, Thursday 26th September at 14:30 BST / 15:30 CEST, on VMware EMEA’s Google+ page.

To join in, visit the Google+ page at this time and click on the video to start watching. You don’t need a Google account. If you’re not able to join live, the video will be available on VMware EMEA’s YouTube channel and on the VMware EMEA blog once the Hangout is over.

If you have any questions you want me to ask around IT innovation and the future of technology, leave a comment or get in touch via Twitter and I’ll try and include them.

Categories: VMware Tags:

VMworld US 2013: The Day 4 Buzz

August 29th, 2013 No comments

VMworld’s final day started a little later than the previous days to give everyone a little lie in after last night’s VMworld party at AT&T Park which was brilliant.

Today’s General Session isn’t the usual VMware announcement session but named Makers and Shakers featuring three innovators unlocking new ways to create and build.

Jay Silver was up first. Jay is a crazy innovator who is founder and director of JoyLabz and Maker Research Scientist at Intel Labs. His idea is the whole world can be made meaningfully interactive. He adds electricity to everyday objects to make fun stuff.  There is absolutely no way this can be explained in text so here is Jay doing a similar talk at TED.

 

Next up was Keller Rinaudo who is CEO of Romotive, these are the guys that make Tomo, a cheap $150 personal robot which uses a smart phone for its processing. Romo showed some new software. Again, he’s done a TED talk so you can see what he does.

 

IMG_2306 Last up was Bre Pettis, CEO of MakerBot who is a inventor, builder and open source guru. He was the guy who built MakerBot’s 3D printers and is keen on what he calls personal manufacturing. He shoed all number of home 3D printed things that can be made including amazing prosthetic robotic hands, architectural models

The Solutions Exchange wasn’t open today. I appreciate vendors and attendees are by now suffering from conference fatigue but this is also the time when people have been to their preferred sessions and labs and have some time to reflect on everything they’ve learned and can then look through the Solutions Exchange a little wiser than at the beginning of the week. I think it would be useful to still keep it open, maybe that’s something that will be looked at for future years.

VMworldTV has been out and about:

VMworld TV Exclusive Interview with VMware R&Ds Susan Gudenkauf

VMworld TV Meets VMware CTO Global Field Paul Strong

VMworldTV Checks out the Software-Defined Data Center at VMworld 2013

That’s all Folks!

Wow, what an amazing week! To attend a gathering of such interesting, passionate and engaged people is really inspiring. Sure, there are cynical people, jaded and bored by what they do. What I can see however is how IT can really be a force of change and good in the world. Sure, I appreciate that sounds wishy-washy and could easily be a quote from a politicians campaign speech but IT really is one of life’s great enablers, being able to bring real, tangible solutions to pressing problems all over the world. I’m super excited by NSX and VSAN.

Yes, we may get fed up of vendor FUD, cloud-washing, overzealous marketing people, know-it-all architects, internal company politics and rubbish procedures holding back progress but stepping back and seeing what is possible when we all get together and share is truly inspiring.

Even though we work with technology, remember, this is still very much a people business, putting together IT solutions to help people with things.

I’ve met and reconnected with an incredible bunch of people this week, too many people to mention but a whole bunch of engaging, caring, interesting and interested people so willing so share their expertise for us all to learn. Thanks to those who worked out who I was and came over to say hi. The community is truly alive!

Well, that’s the end of VMworld for me in San Francisco. Way too much to see, do and experience in way too little time but what a week!

I’m off on two weeks holiday so hopefully time to reflect and rest! See you all soon!

Categories: VMware, VMworld Tags: ,

VMworld US 2013: The Day 3 Buzz

August 29th, 2013 No comments

VMworld continues into day 3 with a noticeable slowing down of the average attendee walking pace after the festivities of the nights before! There was no keynote today with sessions starting at 8am.

I attended VMware Horizon Suite, Innovations for Storage Scalability, Performance and Data Protection by Christopher Wells and Chris Gebhardt from NetApp.

Christopher started by saying he doesn’t like load generation tools as they don’t represent reality. Vendors talk about IOPS with massive, seemingly impressive 1,000,000 IOPS figures but that doesn’t represent workloads in the real world.

All VDI decisions have implications for storage, using automated or manual pools, floating or  dedicated user assignments, linked clones, full clones, NetApp VSC clones along with all the user profile and workloads data. All these ways to create VMs and handle user data have an impact on storage and these need to factored into sizing and performance decisions. Cloning can hurt you if you don’t understand what is happening. hypervisor clones (snapshots) are the least efficient as it is 2 reads for every request as you need to read from two files and for writes, it is three writes including the metadata. All this lands up being a lot of writes and reads, 10 guest IOPS = 28 IOPS to storage. This must be considered for linked clones, its not a 1 to 1 relationship between guest IO and storage. More efficient to not copy any data and provision with storage VAAI.

Most IOPS generated are often actually user workloads and user profiles rather than the VDI image itself.

View Storage Accelerator from VMware is a host based memory cache for all types of desktops and is works transparently to the users and applications.

Christopher then went on to talk about the NetApp Virtual Storage Tier which alleviates boot and login storms. This uses a hardware Flash Cache or Flash Pools for platforms that don’t support Flash Cache.

NetApp suggest using separate volumes or Storage Virtual Machines (SVM) to separate the storage for VMs, corporate apps and user data. Use different storage capabilities and possibly disk types for each, such as not de-duping temporary data. All these SVMs for separate IOPS, capacity and availability can be managed under Cluster ONTAP.

Assessments and sizing are important for Horizon View, PoCs may not scale linearly. An example is the unexpected “lunch storm” which is when users start doing personal things during lunch and watching YouTube videos which isn’t likely captured during a PoC or with standard load testing tools. NetApp does partner with Liquidware Labs for a sizing tool.

Chris Wells then talked about User Data in Horizon Workspace. He said NetApp is a good fit for user data as it allows more users than competitors storage due to de-dupe, non disruptive operations and backup and recovery which all fits very well with Horizon Data.

NetApp will shortly have a beta coming out for SnapCreator for Horizon Workspace. I was hoping for more information about how Horizon Data integrated with NetApp for backups, recoveries & DR so will need to do some reading to work this out. Horizon Data runs as a virtual appliance which stores its data on local VM disks so it is going to be interesting to work out how this VM disk file can be managed but in a way to recover file level data.

Here’s a view of the outside chill out area.

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Categories: VMware, VMworld Tags: ,