Category Archives: vExpert

vSphere 6.7 – What’s in it for Service Providers Part 1

A few weeks ago after much anticipation VMware released vSphere 6.7. Like 6.5 before it, this is a lot more than a point release and represents a major upgrade from vSphere 6.5. There is so much packed into this new release that there is an official page with separate blog posts talking about the features and enhancements. As usual, I will go through some of the key features and enhancements that are included in the latest versions of vCenter and ESXi and as they relate back to the Service Providers that use vSphere as the foundation of their Infrastructure as a Service offerings.

There is a lot go get through though and like the vSphere 6.5 release the “whats new” will not fit into one post so i’ll split the highlights between a couple posts and I’ll cover ESXi specifically in a follow-up. I still feel like it’s important to highlight the base hypervisor as well as the management platform. I’ll also talk about current interoperability with vCloud Director and NSX as well as Veeam supportability for vSphere 6.7.

The major features and enhancements as listed in the What’s New PDF are:

  • Scalability Enhancements
  • VMware vCenter Server Appliance Linked Mode
  • VMware vCenter Server Appliance Back Up Scheduler
  • Single Reboot
  • Quick Boot
  • Support for 4K Native Storage
  • Improved HTML 5 based vSphere Client
  • Security-at-Scale
  • Support for Trusted Platform Module (TPM) 2.0 and virtual TPM
  • Cross-vCenter Encrypted vMotion
  • Support for Microsoft’s Virtualization Based Security (VBS)
  • NVIDIA GRID vGPU Enhancements
  • vSphere Persistent Memory
  • Hybrid Linked Mode
  • Per-VM Enhanced vMotion Compatibility (EVC)
  • Cross-vCenter Mixed Version Provisioning – Simplify provisioning across hybrid cloud environments that have diferent vCenter versions

Below are the ones in red fleshed out in the context of Service Providers.

Enhanced vCenter Server Appliance:

The VCSA has been enhanced significantly in this release. Having used the VCSA exclusively for the past year in all my environments I have a love hate relationship with it. I still feel it’s nowhere as stable as vCenter running ontop of Windows and is prone to more issues than a Windows based vCenter…however this 6.7 release will be the last one supporting or offering a Windows based vCenter. With that VMware have had to work hard on making the VCSA more resilient.

Compared to the 6.5 VCSA, 6.7 offers twice the performance in vCenter operations per second with a three times reduction in memory usage and three times faster DRS operations meaning that power on and other VM operations are performed quicker. This is great on a service provider platform with potentially lots of those operations happening during the course of a day. Hopefully this improves the responsiveness overall of the VCSA which I have felt at times to be poor under load or after an extended period of appliance uptime.

There has also been a number of updates to the APIs offered in vSphere, the VCSA and ESXi. William Lam has a great post on what’s new for APIs here, but all Service Providers should have teams looking at the API Explorer as it’s a great way to explore and learn what’s available.

Single Reboot and Quick Reboot:

For Service Providers who need upgrade their platforms to maintain optimal compatibility, upgrading hosts can be time consuming at scale. vSphere 6.7 reduces ESXi host upgrades, by eliminating one of the two reboots normally required for major version upgrades. This is the single reboot feature. There is also vSphere Quick Boot that restarts the ESXi hypervisor without rebooting the physical host. This skips time-consuming server hardware initialization and post boot operation wait times. Both of these significantly reduce maintenance times.

This blog post covers both features in more detail.

Improved HTML 5 based vSphere Client:

While minor in terms of actual under the hood improvements, the efficiencies that are gained when it comes to a decent user interface are significant. When managing Service Provider platforms at scale, having a reliable client is important and with the decommissioning of the VI client and the often frustrating performance of the Flex client a near complete and workable HTML vSphere Client is a big plus for those who work day to day on vCenter.

The vSphere 6.7 vSphere Client has support for vSAN as well as having Update Manager fully built in. As per the last NSX 6.4 update there is also limited management of that. There is also a new vROps plugin…this plugin is available out-of-the-box once vROps has been linked with vCenter and offers dashboards directly in the vSphere client that can view, cluster view, and alerts for both vCenter and vSAN views. This is extremely handy for Service Providers who use vROps dashboard not needing to go to two different locations to get the info.

vCD and NSX Supportability:

Shifting from new features and enhancements to an important subject to talk about when talking service provider platform…VMware product compatibility. For those VCPP Service Providers running a Hybrid Cloud you should be running a combination of vCloud Director SP or/and NSX-v of which, at the moment there is no support for either in vSphere 6.7.

Looking at vCloud Director, it looks like 9.1 is supported however given the fact you need to be running NSX-v with vCD these days and NSX is not yet supported, it doesn’t make too much sense to suggest that there is total compatability.

I suspect we will see NSX-v come out with a supported build shortly…though I’m only expecting vCloud Director SP to support 6.7 form version 9.1 which will mean upgrades.

Veeam Backup & Replication Supportability: 

Veeam commits to supporting major version releases within 90 days or sooner of GA. So with that, those Service Provider that are also VCSPs using Veeam to backup their infrastructure should not upgrade to vSphere 6.7 until Backup & Replication Update 3a is released. For those that are bleeding edge and have updated your only option at that point is our Agents for Windows and Linux until Update 3a is released.

Wrapping up Part 1:

Rounding off this post, in the Known Issues section there is a fair bit to be aware of for 6.7. it’s worth reading through all the known issues just in case there are any specific issues that might impact you. In upcoming posts around vSphere 6.7 for Service Providers series I will cover more vCenter features as well as ESXi enhancements and what’s new in Core Storage.

Happy upgrading!

References:

https://docs.vmware.com/en/VMware-vSphere/6.7/rn/vsphere-esxi-vcenter-server-67-release-notes.html

Introducing Faster Lifecycle Management Operations in VMware vSphere 6.7

vExpert 2018 – The Value Remains!

After a longer than expected deliberation period the vExpert class of 2018 was announced late last Friday (US Time).  I’ve been a vExpert since 2012 with 2018 marking my seventh year in the program. I’ve written a lot about the program over the past three or four years since it’s “perceived” value started to go downhill. I’ve criticised parts of the program around the relative ease at which some people where accepted and also on the apparent inability for numbers to be better managed.

However, make no mistake I am still a believer in the value of the vExpert and more importantly I have come to realise over the past few years (solidified over the past couple of months) that apart from the advocacy component that’s critical to the programs existence…people continue to hold the program in extremely high regard.

There are a large number of vExpert’s who expect entry year after year, and rightly so. In truth there are a large number that legitimately demand membership. But there are others who have struggled to be accepted year after year and for who, acceptance into the program represents a significant achievement.

That is to say that while many established vExpert’s assume entry there are a number of people that desire entry. This is an important indicator on the strength of the program and the continued high regard the vExpert program should still be held in.  It’s easy to criticise from the inside, however that can’t be allowed to tarnish the reputation of program externally.

This is a great program and one that is valued by the majority of those who actively participate. VMware still commands a loyal community base and the vExpert’s lead from the front in this regard. Remembering that it’s all about the advocacy!

Well done again to the team behind the scenes…The new website is testament to the program moving forward. The vExpert team are critical the success of the program and having been part of the much smaller Veeam Vanguard program, I have a lot of respect for the effort that goes into sorting through two thousand odd applications and renewals.

And finally, well done to those first time vExpert’s! Welcome aboard!

——-

For those wondering, here are the official benefits of the program:

  • Invite to our private #Slack channel
  • vExpert certificate signed by our CEO Pat Gelsinger.
  • Private forums on communities.vmware.com.
  • Permission to use the vExpert logo on cards, website, etc for one year
  • Access to a private directory for networking, etc.
  • Exclusive gifts from various VMware partners.
  • Private webinars with VMware partners as well as NFRs.
  • Access to private betas (subject to admission by beta teams).
  • 365-day eval licenses for most products for home lab / cloud providers.
  • Private pre-launch briefings via our blogger briefing pre-VMworld (subject to admission by product teams)
  • Blogger early access program for vSphere and some other products.
  • Featured in a public vExpert online directory.
  • Access to vetted VMware & Virtualization content for your social channels.
  • Yearly vExpert parties at both VMworld US and VMworld Europe events.
  • Identification as a vExpert at both VMworld US and VMworld EU.

Awarded vExpert Cloud – A New vExpert Sub Program

Last week Corey Romero announced the inaugural members of the vExpert Cloud sub-program. This is the third vExpert sub-program following the vSAN and NSX programs announced last year. There are 135 initial vExpert Cloud members who have been awarded the title. As it so happens I am now a member of all three which reflects on the focus I’ve had and still have around VMware’s cloud, storage and networking products leading up to and after my move to Veeam last year.

Even with my move, that hasn’t stopped me working around these VMware vertices as Veeam works closely with VMware to offer supportability and integration with vCloud Director as well as being certified with vSAN for data protection. And more recently as it pertains specifically to the vExpert Cloud program, we are going to be supporting vCloud
Director in v10 of Backup & Replication for Cloud Connect Replication and also at VMworld 2017 we where announced as a launch partner for data protection for VMware Cloud on AWS.

For those wondering what does it take to be a part of the vExpert Cloud program:

We are looking for vExperts who are evangelizing VMware Cloud and delivering on the principles of the multi-cloud world being the new normal. Specificity we are looking for community activities which follow the same format as the vExpert program (blogs, books, videos, public speaking, VMUG Leadership, conference sessions speaking and so on).

And in terms of the focus of the vExpert Cloud program:

The program is focused on VMware Cloud influencer activities, VMware, AWS and other cloud environments and use of the products and services in way that delivers the VMware Cloud reality of consistency across multi-cloud environments.

Again, thank you to Corey and team for the award and I look forward to continuing to spread the community messaging around Cloud, NSX and vSAN.

NestedESXi – Network Performance Improvements with Learnswitch

I’ve been running my NestedESXi homelab for about eight months now but in all that time I had not installed or enabled the ESXi MAC Learning dvFilter. As a quick refresher the VMware Fling addresses the issues with nested ESXi hosts and the impact that promiscuous mode has when enabled on virtual switches. In a nutshell, network traffic will hit all the network interfaces attached to the portgroup which reduces network throughput and also increases latency and impacts CPU.

The ESXi MAC Learn dvFilter Fling was released about two years ago and its a must have for those running homelabs or work labs running nested ESXi. However earlier this year a new fling was released that improves on the dvFilter and addresses some of it’s limitations. The new native MAC Learning VMkernel module is called Learnswitch.

ESXi Learnswitch is a complete implementation of MAC Learning and Filtering and is designed as a wrapper around the host virtual switch. It supports learning multiple source MAC addresses on virtual network interface cards (vNIC) and filters packets from egressing the wrong port based on destination MAC lookup. This substantially improves overall network throughput and system performance for nested ESX and container use cases.

For a more in depth look at it’s functionality head over to William Lams blog post here.

dvFilter vs Learnswitch:

I was interested to see if the new Learnswitch offered any significant performance improvements over the dvFilter in addition to its main benefits. I went about installing and enabling the dvFilter in my lab and ran some basic performance tests using Crystal Disk Mark. Before that, I ran the performance test without either installed as a base.

Firstly to see what the network traffic looks like hitting the nested hosts you can see from the ESXTOP output below that each host is dealing with about the same amount of received packets. Overall throughput is reduced when this happens.

In terms of performance the Crystal Disk Mark test run on a nested VM (right) showed reduced performance across all tests when compared to one run on the parent host (left) directly.

There was also elevated datastore latency and significant CPU usage due to the overheads with the increased traffic hitting all interfaces.

The CPU usage alone shows the value in having the dvFilter or Learnswitch installed when running nested ESXi hosts.

With the baseline testing done I installed and enabled the dvFilter and then ran the same tests. For a detailed look at how to install the dvFilter (just in case you don’t fit the requirements for using the Learnswitch module) check out my initial post on the dvFilter here. Having gone through that I went about uninstalling the dvFilter and installing and configuring the Learnswitch.

Like the dvFilter you need to download and install am ESXi software bundle but unlike the dvFilter, you need to reboot the host to enable the Learnswitch module.

As per the instructions on William Lam’s post or the Fling page you then need to configure and run a Python script to enable the Learnswitch against the NestedESXi portgroups that have promiscuous mode enabled.

From there the impact of the module is immediate and you can see a normalization of network traffic hitting the interfaces of each NestedESXi host. When running the performance test the ESXTOP output is significantly different to what you see if the module is not loaded as shown below.

You also have access to a new command that lists out stat’s of the Learnswitch showing packet and port statistics as well as the current MAC address table.

In terms of what it looks like from a performance point of view, below are the results of all Crystal Disk Mark tests. The bottom two represent the dvFilter (left) and the Learnswitch (right).

And finally to have a look at the improvement in CPU performance with the modules installed you can see below a timeline showing the performance tests run at different times across the last 24 hours…again a significant improvement looking at the graphs on the left hand side which was during the testing without any module and then moving across to the dvFilter test with the Learnswitch test on the right hand side. It does seem like the Learnswitch is a little better on CPU, but can’t be 100% with my limited testing.

Conclusion:

As expected there isn’t a huge different in performance between both modules but certainly the features of the Learnswitch make it the new preferred choice out of the two if the requirements are met. Again, the main advantages of the Learnswitch over the dvFilter make it a must have addition to any NestedESXi environment. If you haven’t installed either yet…get onto it!

Quick Thought: VMUG is now part of DTUC

I awoke this morning to the news that an announcement was made at DELL|EMC World that VMUG had been rolled into a the recently formed Dell Technologies User Community (DTUC – doesn’t quiet roll off the tongue now does it?) …I also awoke to a lot of VMware community backlash on Twitter not only in response to the news but also in the way in which it was not communicated to the existing local VMUG leadership and steering committee members.

From the reaction i’ve seen, most people are fairly ticked off with the fact that almost everybody found out about this through public channels…mainly Twitter. It’s worth watching the video below to get an overview of the changes from the VMUG President and CEO as it does go some way to clarifying the what’s what of the announcement.

Just to clarify, VMUG is not changing it’s name to DTUC.

https://dtusercommunity.com

My Take:

I think everybody knew that VMUG was in trouble from an organisational standpoint with a lot of changes during the first few months of 2017 and some interesting moves around the removing of Nutanix staff from leadership role. So this news isn’t a total surprise however for me, the one key ingredient that VMUG offered is now well and truly in danger of being wiped away…and that is it’s relative independence.

The VMUG community was born out of the technology ecosystem that grew around VMware’s success in the virtualization market and it meant that all of VMware’s technology and alliance partners where given a seat at the table in terms of event sponsorship and presentations. It was a place equally where smaller startup’s could come and talk about their new technology solutions and where the more established vendors could talk around why there where still cool and relevant.

Now, with DELL|EMC plus VMware product portfolio my fear is that finding sponsors will become even more of a challenge as it has been worldwide for the last 12 to 18 months. This is an interesting move but again, but not a surprising one given what I’ve seen with my involvement in VMUG over the past two years. It’s not all doom and gloom though as I feel the VMUG UserCons are still brilliant events as was the case with the recent ones held in Sydney and Melbourne.

Time will tell how this plays out, but there is one thing I believe the wider VMware community doesn’t want to see drop off or disappear…and that is the community it’s self!

It’s ok to steal… VMUG UserCon Key Take Aways

Last week I attended the Sydney and Melbourne VMUG UserCons and apart from sitting in on some great sessions I came away from both events with a renewed sense of community spirit and enjoyed catching up with industry peers and good friends that I don’t see often enough. While the VMUG is generally struggling a little around the world at this point in time, kudos goes to both Sydney and Melbourne chapter leaders and steering committee in being able to bring out a superstar bunch of presenters (see panel below)…there might not be a better VMUG lineup anywhere in the world this year!

There was a heavy automation focus this year…which in truth was the same as last years events however last years messaging was more around the theory of _change or die_ this year there was more around the practical. This was a welcome change because, while it’s all well and good to beat the change messaging into people…actually taking them through real world examples and demo’s tends to get people more excited and keen to dive into automation as they get a sense of how to apply it to their every day jobs.

In the VMware community, there are not better examples of automation excellence than Alan Renouf and William Lam and their closing keynote sessions where they went through and deployed a fully functional SDDC vSphere environment on a single ESXi host from a USB Key was brilliant and hopefully will be repeated at other VMUGs and VMworld. This project was born out of last years VMworld Hackerthon’s and ended up being a really fun and informative presentation that showed off the power of automation along with the benefits of what undertaking an automation project can deliver.

“Its not stealing, its sharing” 

During the presentation Alan Renouf shared this slide which got many laughs and resonated well with myself in that apart from my very early failed uni days, I don’t think I have ever created a bit of code or written a script from scratch. There is somewhat of a stigma attached with “borrowing” or “stealing” code used to modify or create scripts within the IT community. There might also be some shame associated in admitting that a bit of code wasn’t 100% created by someone from scratch…I’ve seen this before and I’ve personally been taken to task when presenting some of the scripts that I’ve modified for purpose during my last few roles.

What Alan is pointing out there is that it’s totally ok to stand on the shoulders of giants and borrow from what’s out there in the public domain…if code is published online via someones personal blog or put up on GitHub then it’s fair game. There is no shame in being efficient…no shame in not having to start from scratch and certainly no shame in claiming success after any mods have been done… Own it!

Conclusion and Event Wrap Up:

Overall the 2017 Sydney and Melbourne UserCons where an excellent event and on a personal note I enjoyed being able to attend with Veeam as the Platinum Sponsor and present session on our vSAN/VVOL/SPBM support and introduce our Windows and Linux Agents to the crowd. The Melbourne crowd was especially engaged and asked lots of great questions around our agent story and where looking forward to the release of Veeam Agent for Windows.

Again the networking with industry peers and customers is invaluable and there was a great sense of community once again. The UserCon events are of a high quality and my thanks goes out to the leaders of both Sydney and Melbourne for working hard to organise these events. And which one was better? …I won’t go there but those that listened to my comment during our Sponsor giveaways at the end of the event knows how I really feel.

Until next year UserCon!

vExpert’s of 2017 – Listen Up! It’s about the Advocacy

Overnight Cory Romero announced the intake of the 2017 VMware vExperts. As a now six time returning vExpert it would be easy for me to sit back enjoy a perceived sense of entitlement that comes with being a vExpert…but times have changed. The award has changed and the way people feel about the program has changed…when I first become a vExpert back in 2012 there was approximately 300 world wide…fast forward to 2017 and there are now 1463 give or take which is an increase of about 100 from 2016.

Over the past few years there are always comments and questions around the swelling of the numbers and how there should be a more stringent approval and acceptance structure. I myself shared those thoughts in previous posts…however my opinions around this have changed mainly because I have come to understand what the vExpert program (and other vendor programs) are all about and where myself, and VMware can achieve maximum value.

The vExpert program is designed to aid in your success and help amplify your internal and or external personal brands and channels. So whether you are a external evangelist or a internal champion we want to be sure you have the resources needed for the program so you can be more successful. Make no mistake that this program exists to help VMware push it’s products and services through the advocacy of the people in the group. The reward is given to those who in previous 12 months have shown themselves to be active in that advocacy. That doesn’t always mean that you need to be an active blogger or present at events, but it does mean that in your day to day role within the IT Industry you should be championing VMware as a company and break that down to champion VMware products that you use or sell.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t be involved in looking at and advocating other vendor technologies (many others hold multiple program memberships) but as Corey mentioned, the criteria used to have achieved the award implies that those activities need to be VMware focused.

Once you have the title it’s important to understand that there is a responsibility associated with it…it’s not just about the free gear though as I have stated before you should accept that as a perk of being part of the program and you shouldn’t feel like a “vendor whore” for accepting that shirt or coffee mug. Going back to responsibility, what I mean by that is that you should wear the badge proudly…understand that you have taken the time to apply/reapply for the award because you believed yourself worth of filling the selection criteria and use the award as a stepping stone to improve on the activities that got you there the year before.

Don’t rest on your laurels and expect the award to come to you every year…the vExpert team put a lot load of effort into keeping the program running and as a group we get significant exposure and opportunity from VMware and their partners…make it count and don’t waste it! Make sure you engage with others in the community through Twitter, LinkedIn or the Slack vExpert Channel or get down to your local VMUG or VMware event and engage directly.

NOTE: Content First Posted in 2016

Upgrading Windows vCenter 5.5 to 6.0 In-Place: Issues and Fixes

Yes that’s not a typo…this post is focusing on upgrading Windows vCenter 5.5 to 6.0 via an in-place upgrade. There is the option to use the vSphere 6.0 Update2M build with the included Migrate to VCSA tool to achieve this and move away from Windows, but I thought it was worth documenting my experiences with a mature vCenter that’s at version 5.5 Update 2 and upgrade that to 6.0 Update 2. Eventually this vCenter will need to move off the current Windows 2008 RTM server which will bring into play the VCSA migration however for the moment it’s going to be upgraded to 6.0 on the same server.

With VMware releasing vSphere 6.5 in November there should be an increased desire for IT shops to start seriously thinking about moving on from there existing vSphere versions and upgrading to the latest 6.5 release however many people I know where still running vSphere 5.5, so the jump to 6.5 directly might not be possible due to internal policies or other business reasons. Interestingly in the rough numbers, I’ve got an active Twitter Poll out at the moment which after 100 votes shows that vSphere 5.5 makes up 53% of the most common vCenter version, followed by 6.0 with 44% and 6.5 with only 3%.

Upgrade Options:

You basically have two options to upgrade a Windows based 5.5 vCenter:

My approach for this particular environment (which is a NestedESXi lab environment) was to ensure a smooth upgrade to vSphere 6.0 Update 2 and then look to upgrade again to 6.5 once is thaws outs in the market. That said, I haven’t read too many issues with vSphere 6.5 and VMware have been excellent in ensuring that the 6.5 release was the most stable for years. The cautious approach will still be undertaken by many and a stepped upgrade to 6.5 and migration to the VCSA will be common place. For those that wish to move away from their Windows vCenter, there is nothing stopping you from going down the Migrate2VCSA path, and it is possible to migrate directly from 5.5 to 6.5.

Existing Component Versions:

  • vCenter 5.5 (2001466)
  • ESXi 5.5 (3116895)

SQL Version Requirements:

vCenter 6.0 Update 2 requires at least SQL Server 2008 R2 SP1 or higher, so if you are running anything lower than that you will need to upgrade to a later service pack or upgrade to later versions of SQL Server. For a list of all compatible databases click here.

vCenter Upgrade Pre-Upgrade Checks:

First step is to make sure you have a backup of the vCenter environment meaning VM state (Snapshot) and vCenter database backup. Once that’s done there are a few pre-requisites that need to be met and that will be checked by the upgrade process before the actual upgrade occurs. The first thing the installer will do after asking for the SSO and VC service account password is run the Pre-Upgrade Checker.

vCenter SSL and SSO SSL System Name Mismatch Error:

A common issue that may pop up from the pre-upgrade checker is the warning below talking about an issue with the system name of the vCenter Server certificate and the SSO certificate. As shown below it’s a hard stop and tells you to replace one or the other certificate so that the same system name is used.

If you have a publicly signed SSL Certificate you will need to generate a new cert request and submit that through the public authority of choice. The quickest way to achieve this for me was to generate a new self signed certificate by following the VMwareKB article here. Once that’s been generated you can replace the existing certificate by following a previous post I did using the VMware SSL Certificate Updater Tool.

After all that, in any case I got the warning below saying that the 5.5 SSL Certificates do not meet security requirements, and so new SSL certificates will need to be generated for vCenter Server 6.0.0.

With that, my suggestion would be to generate a temporary self signed certificate for the upgrade and then apply a public certificate after that’s completed.

Ephemeral TCP Port Error:

Once the SSL mismatch error has been sorted you can run the pre-upgrade checker again. Once that completes successfully you move onto the Configure Ports window. I ran into the error shown below that states that the range of port is too large and the system must be reconfigured to use a smaller ephemeral port range before the install can continue.

The fix is presented in the error message so after running netsh.exe int ipv4 set dynamicportrange tcp 49152 16384 you should be ok to hit Next again and continue the upgrade.

Export of 5.x Data:

During the upgrade the 5.5 data is stored in a directory and then migrated to 6.0. You need to ensure that you have enough room on the drive location to cater for your vCenter instance. While I haven’t seen any offical rules around the storage required, I would suggest having enough storage free and the size of your vCenter SQL database data file.

vCenter Upgrade:

Once you have worked through all the upgrade screens you are ready for upgrade. Confirm the settings, take note of the fact that once updated the vCenter will be in evaluation mode, meaning you need to apply a new vCenter 6.x license once completed, check the checkbox that states you have a backup of the vCenter machine and database and you should be good to go.

Depending on the size of you vCenter instance and the speed of your disks the upgrade can take anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes or longer. If at any time the upgrade process fails during the initial export of the 5.5 data a roll back via the installer is possible…however if there is an issue while 6.0 is being installed the likelihood is that you will need to recover from backups.

Post Upgrade Checks:

Apart from making sure that the upgrade has gone through smoothly by ensuring all core vCenter services are up and running, it’s important to check any VMware or third party services that where registered against the vCenter especially given that the SSL Certificate has been replaced a couple of times. Server applications like NSX-v, vCloud Director and vCO explicitly trust SSL certificates so the registration needs to be actioned again. Also if you are running Veeam Backup & Replication you will need to go through the setup process again to accept the new SSL Certificate otherwise your backup jobs will fail.

If everything has gone as expected you will have a functional vCenter 6.0 Update 2 instance and planning can now take place for the 6.5 upgrade and in my case…the migration from Windows to the VCSA.

References:

http://www.vmware.com/resources/compatibility/sim/interop_matrix.php#db&2=998

https://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?language=en_US&cmd=displayKC&externalId=1029944

 

Top Posts 2016

2016 is pretty much done and dusted and it’s been an good year for Virtualization is Life! There was a more modest 70% increase in site visits this year compared to 2015 and a 2600% increase in visits since I began blogging in 2012. In 2016 I managed to produce 124 posts (including this one) which was slightly up on the 110 I produced in 2015 and in doing so passed 300 total blogs since I started here. I was fairly consistent in getting out at least eight blogs per month with June being my most prolific month with sixteen blog posts published.

Looking back through the statistics generate via JetPack, I’ve listed the Top 10 Blog Posts from the last 12 months. This year the opinion pieces seemed to be of interest to my readers and there is still vCloud Director and NSX representation in the top ten with my Veeam articles doing well. Again it was interesting to see that two of the most generic (older posts) and certainly basic posts took out two of the top three spots. It shows that bloggers should not be afraid of blogging around simple topics as there is an audience that will appreciate the content and get value out of the post.

  1. NSX Edge vs vShield Edge: Part 1 – Feature and Performance Matrix
  2. Quick Post: E1000 vs VMXNET3
  3. vSphere 6.0 vCenter Server Appliance: Upgrading from 5.x
  4. ESXi Bugs – VMware Can’t Keep Letting This Happen!
  5. Nutanix Buying PernixData: My Critical Analysis
  6. New NSX License Tier Thoughts and Transformers
  7. CBT Bugs – VMware Can’t Keep Letting This Happen!
  8. Veeam 9 Released: Top New Features
  9. Veeam’s Next Big Thing – Veeam has Arrived!
  10. vCloud Director 8: New Features And A New UI Addition…

I was honoured to have this blog voted #44 in the TopvBlog2016 and even with all the controversy around the voting I still hold that as a significant outcome of which I am very proud and I’d like to thank the readers and supporters of this blog for voting for me! And thanks must also go to my site sponsors who are all listed on the right hand side of this page.

With me moving across to vendor land it’s going to be interesting to see if I can keep up the variety of posts as I “narrow” down my core focus…however I fully intend to keep on pushing this blog by keeping it strong to it’s roots of vCloud Director and core VMware technologies like NSX and vSAN. I have the Home lab and the drive to continue to produce content around the things I am passionate about…and that includes all things hosting and cloud now with a touch of availability 🙂

Stay tuned for an even bigger 2017!

#LongLivevCD

HomeLab – SuperMicro 5028D-TNT4 Unboxing and First Thoughts

While I was at Zettagrid I was lucky enough to have access to a couple of lab environments that where sourced from retired production components and I was able to build up a lab that could satisfy the requirements of R&D, Operations and the Development team. By the time I left Zettagrid we had a lab that most people envied and I took advantage of it in terms of having a number of NestedESXi instances to use as my own lab instances but also, we had an environment that ensured new products could be developed without impacting production while having multiple layers of NestedESXi instances to test new builds and betas.

With me leaving Zettagrid for Veeam, I lost access to the lab and even though I would have access to a nice shiny new lab within Veeam I thought it was time to bite the bullet and go about sourcing a homelab of my own. The main reasons for this was to have something local that I could tinker with which would allow me to continue playing with the VMware vCloud suite as well as continue to look out for new products allowing me to engage and continue to create content.

What I Wanted:

For me, my requirements where simple; I needed a server that was powerful enough to run at least two NestedESXi lab stacks, which meant 128GB of RAM and enough CPU cores to handle approx. twenty to thirty VMs. At the same time I needed to not not blow the budget and spend thousands upon thousands, lastly I needed to make sure that the power bill was not going to spiral out of control…as a supplementary requirement, I didn’t want a noisy beast in my home office. I also wasn’t concerned with any external networking gear as everything would be self contained in the NestedESXi virtual switching layer.

What I Got:

To be honest, the search didn’t take that long mainly thanks to a couple of Homelab Channels that I am a member of in the vExpert and Homelabs-AU Slack Groups. Given my requirements it quickly came down to the SYS-5028D-TN4T Xeon D-1541 Mini-tower or the SYS-5028D-TN4T-12C Xeon D-1567 Mini-tower. Paul Braren at TinkerTry goes through in depth why the Xeon D processors in these SuperMicro Super Servers are so well suited to homelabs so I won’t repeat what’s been written already but for me the combination of a low power CPU (45w) that still has either 8 or 12 cores that’s packaged up in such a small form factor meant that my only issue was trying to find a supplier that would ship the unit to Australia for a reasonable price.

Digicor came to the party and I was able to source a great deal with Krishnan from their Perth office. There are not too many SuperMicro dealers in Australia, and there was a lot of risk in getting the gear shipped from the USA or Europe and the cost of shipping plus import duties meant that going local was the only option. For those that are in Australia, looking for SuperMicro Homelab gear, please email/DM me and I can get you in touch with the guys at Digicor.

What’s Inside:

I decided to go for the 8 core CPU mainly because I knew that my physical to virtual CPU ratio wasn’t going to exceed the processing power that it had to offer and as mentioned I went straight to 128GB of RAM to ensure I could squeeze a couple of NestedESXi instances on the host.

https://www.supermicro.com/products/system/midtower/5028/sys-5028d-tn4t.cfm

  • Intel® Xeon® processor D-1540, Single socket FCBGA 1667; 8-Core, 45W
  • 128GB ECC RDIMM DDR4 2400MHz Samsung UDIMM in 4 sockets
  • 4x 3.5 Hot-swap drive bays; 2x 2.5 fixed drive bays
  • Dual 10GbE LAN and Intel® i350-AM2 dual port GbE LAN
  • 1x PCI-E 3.0 x16 (LP), 1x M.2 PCI-E 3.0 x4, M Key 2242/2280
  • 250W Flex ATX Multi-output Bronze Power Supply

In addition to what comes with the Super Server bundle I purchased 2x Samsung EVO 850 512GB SSDs for initial primary storage and also got the SanDisk Ultra Fit CZ43 16GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive to install ESXi onto as well as a 128GB Flash Drive for extra storage.

Unboxing Pics:

Small package, that hardly weighs anything…not surprising given the size of the case.

Nicely packaged on the inside.

Came with a US and AU kettle cord which was great.

The RAM came separately boxed and well wrapped in anti-static bags.

You can see a size comparison with my 13″ MBP in the background.

The back is all fan, but that doesn’t mean this is a loud system. In fact I can barely hear it purring in the background as I sit and type less than a meter away from it.

One great feature is the IPMI Remote Management which is a brilliant and convenient edition for a HomeLab server…the network port is seen top left. On the right are the 2x10Gig and 2x1Gig network ports.

The X10SDV-TLN4F motherboard is well suited to this case and you can see how low profile the CPU fan is.

Installing the RAM wasn’t too difficult even through there isn’t a lot of room to work with inside the case.

Finally, taking a look at the HotSwap drive bays…I had to buy a 3.5 to 2.5 inch adapter to fit in the SSDs, however I did find that the lock in ports could hold the weight of the EVO’s with ease.

BIOS and Initialization’s boot screens

Overall First Thoughts:

This is a brilliant bit of kit and it’s perfect for anyone wanting to do NestedESXi at home without worrying about the RAM limits of NUCs or the noise and power draw of more traditional servers like the R710’s that seem to make their way out of datacenters and into homelabs. The 128GB of RAM means that unless you really want to go fully physical you should be able to nest most products and keep everything nicely contained within the ESXi Host compute, storage and networking.

Thanks again to Krishnan at Digicor for supplying the equipment and to Paul Braren for all the hard work he does up at TinkerTry. Special mention also to my work colleague, Michael White who was able to give me first hand experience of the Super Servers and help make it a no brainer to get the 5028D-TNT4.

I’ll follow this post up with a more detailed a look at how I went about installing ESXi and how the NestedESXi labs look like and what sort of performance I’m getting out the the system.

More 5028D Goodness:

 

« Older Entries