Tag Archives: VMware

Released: vSAN 6.7 – HTML5 Goodness, Enhanced Health Checks and More!

VMware has announced the general availability of vSAN 6.7. As vSAN continues to grow, VMware are very buoyant about how it’s performing in the market. With some 10,000 customers at a run rate of over 600 million they claim to lead the HyperConverged market with a 32% market share. From my point of view it’s great to see vSAN being deployed across 250 cloud providers and have it as the cornerstone storage of the VMware Cloud on AWS solution. vSAN 6.7 is focusing on intuitive operational experience, consistent application experience and holistic support experience.

New Features and Enhancements:

  • HTML5 User Interface
  • Embedded vROPs plugin for HTML5 User Interface
  • Support for Windows Failover Cluster using iSCSI
  • Adaptive Resync Performance Improvements
  • Destaging Performance Improvements
  • More Efficient data placement during Host Decommissioning
  • Improved Space Efficiency
  • Faster Failover with Redundant vSAN Networks
  • Optimized Witness Traffic Seperation
  • Stretched Cluster Improvements
  • Host Affinity for Next-Gen Applications
  • Health Check Enhancements
  • Enhanced Diagnostics
  • vSAN Support Insight
  • 4Kn Device Support
  • Improved FIPS 140-2 Validation Security

There are a lot of enhancements in this release and while not as ground breaking at the 6.6 release last year, there is still a lot to like about how VMware is improving the platform. From the list above, i’ve taken the key ones from my point of view and expanded on them a little.

HTML5 User Interface:

As has been the trend with all VMware products of late, vSAN is getting the Clarity Framework overhaul and is being included in the HTML5 vSphere Web Client with new vSAN tasks and workflows developed from the ground up to simplify the experience. There is also new vSAN functionality that can only be accessed via the HTML5 client.

The legacy Flex client will still be available for use and it’s also worth noting that this is not a direct port of the Flex interface but started from the ground up. This has resulted in a more efficient experience for the user with less clicks and less time to action items. Any new features or enhancements will only be seen in the new HTML5 UI.

Support for Windows Failover Cluster using iSCSI:

A few weeks back I posted around how you could use vSAN as Veeam repository using the iSCSI feature. With vSAN 6.7 there is offical support for Windows Failover Clustering using the vSAN iSCSI service. Lots of people still run MSCS and a lot still use traditional clustering. This supports physical and virtual Guest iSCSI initiators that includes transparent failover of clusters with vSAN iSCSI volumes.

I’m not sure if this now means that iSCSI volumes are supported as Veeam Cloud Repositories…but I will confirm either way.

Adaptive Resync Performance Improvements:

vSAN 6.7 introduces a new Adaptive ReSync feature that will make sure resources are available for VM IO and resync IO. This ensures that under IO stress certain traffic types are not starved of resources and allows more bandwidth to be used when there are periods of less contention. Under contention, resync IO will be guaranteed at least 20% of the bandwidth and if no resync traffic exists, VM IO may consume 100%. This is effectively regulating reads and writes to ensure optimal balance for VM and reync IO.

Destaging Performance Improvements:

vSAN 6.7 looks to be more consistent when talking about data optimizations in the data path. With the faster destaging, data drains more quickly from the write buffer to the capacity tier. This allows the buffer tier to be available for newer IO quicker. This is done via improved in-memory handling of IO during destaging that delivers higher throughput and more consistency which in turn improves the overall performance of VM and resync IO.

More Efficient data placement during Host Decommissioning:

When putting a host in maintenance mode or decommissioning a host you need to select the evacuation type for the objects on that host. This can take time depending on the amount of data. vSAN 6.7 builds on improvements introduced in 6.6 that consolidates replicas living across multiple hosts while maintaining FTT compliance. Is looks for the smallest component to move while results in less data being rebuilt and less temporary space usage. vSAN will provide more intelligence behind the data movement to reduce the time and effort it takes to put a host into maintenance mode.

Improved Space Efficiency:

In previous vSAN versions the VM swap object was always thick provisioned even if the VM it’s self was thin. in vSAN 6.7 this will now be thin by default and also inherit the policy from the VM so that the FTT is the swap object is consistent with the VM which results in more efficient storage. Previous to this, large environments would suffer with a large number of swap files taking up a higher proportionate amount of space.

 

Conclusion:

vSan continues to be improved by VMware and they have addressed some core usability and efficiency features in this 6.7 release. The move to the HTML5 web client was expected, but still good to see while the enhancements in resync and destaging all contributes to platform stability. The enhanced health checks add a new dimension to vSAN troubleshooting and the support insight allows users to get a better view of what’s happening on their instances.

References:

Pre release information and images sourced via VMware EABP

https://blogs.vmware.com/virtualblocks/2018/04/17/whats-new-vmware-vsan-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.

VMware Cloud Briefing Roundup – VMware Cloud on AWS and other Updates

VMware has held it’s first ever VMware Cloud Briefing today. This is an online, global event with an agenda featuring a keynote from Pat Gelsinger, new announcements and demos relating to VMware Cloud as well as discussions on cloud trends and market momentum. Key to the messaging is the fact that applications are driving cloud initiatives weather that be via delivering new SaaS or cloud applications as well as extending networks beyond traditional barriers while modernizing the datacenter.

The VMware Cloud is looking like a complete vision at this point and the graphic below highlights that fact. There are multiple partners offering VMware based Cloud Infrastructure along with the Public Cloud and SaaS providers. On top of that, VMware now talks about a complete cloud management layer underpinned by vSphere and NSX technologies.

VMware Cloud on AWS Updates:

The big news on the VMware Cloud on AWS front is that there is a new UK based service offering and continued expansion into Germany. This will extend into the APAC region later in the year.

VMware Cloud on AWS will also have support for stretch clusters using the same vSAN and NSX technologies used on-premises on top of the underlying AWS compute and networking platform. This looks to extend application uptime across AWS Availability Zones within AWS regions.

This will feature

  • Zero RPO high Availability across AZs
  • Built into the infrastructure layer with synchronous replication
  • Stretched Cluster with common logical networks with vSphere HA/DRS
  • If an AZ goes down it’s treated as a HA event and impacted VMs brought back in other AZ

They are also adding vSAN Compression and Deduplication for VMware Cloud on AWS services which in theory will save 40% in storage.

VMware Cloud Services Updates:

Hybrid Cloud Extension HCX (first announced at VMworld last year) has a new on-premises offering and is expanding availability through VMware Cloud Provider Partners. This included VMware Cloud on AWS, IBM Cloud and OVH. The promise here is an any-to-any vSphere migration that cross version while being still secure. We are talking about Hybridity here!

Log Intelligence is an interesting one…it looks like Log Insight delivered as a SaaS application. It is a real-time big data log management platform for VMware Cloud on AWS adding real-time visibility into infrastructure and application logs for faster troubleshooting. It support any SYSLOG source and will ingest over the internet in theory.

Cost Insight is an assessment tool for private cloud to VMware Cloud on AWS Migration. It calculates VMware Cloud on AWS capacity required to migrate from on-premises to VMC. It has integration with Network insight to calculate networking costs during migration as well.

Finally there is an update to Wavefront that expands inputs and integrations to enhance visibility and monitoring. There are 45 new integrations, monitoring of native AWS services and integration into vRealize Operations.

You can watch the whole event here.

Released: Runecast Analyzer 1.7 with vSAN Support

Runecast has released version 1.7 of their Analyzer today and it has added support for VMware vSAN. By using a number of resources within VMware’s knowledge base Runecast offers a platform that looks at best practices, log information and security hardening guides to monitor your vSphere infrastructure which in turn brings to your attention issues through a simple yet intuitive interface. This now extends to vSAN as well. Also in this release is an improved dashboard called the VMware Stack view and improved vSphere Web Plugin.

Version 1.7 focuses on VMware vSAN support and proactive issue detection with remediation. vSAN, having gained market lead in the HCI space is deployed in vSphere environments more commonly these days as the storage component. It is critical to not only monitor performance but also keep the vSAN configuration in the best condition and prevent from any future failures or outages.

Runecast Analyzer v1.7 scans vSAN clusters and looks at cluster configurations against a large database of VMware Knowledge Base and Best Practices rules. This results in the ability to list issues and then offer suggestions on how to fix those issues which may affect vSAN availability or functionality. This acts as a good way to stop issues before they become more serious problems that impact environments.

As mentioned version 1.7 also offers an upgrade to the vSphere Web Client and as you can see below the integration is tight with the HTML5 client.

Finally, I wanted to highlight the new VMware Stack dashboard. This new visual component aims to very quickly prioritize what problem to solve and where it exists. The VMware stack contains 5 layers, Management, VM, Compute, Network and Storage. Runecast prioritizes and sorts all detected problems into those five categories so an admin can easily see where the critical issues are and what is the risk they pose.

Overall for those that have vSAN in their environments I would recommend a look at this release. The guys at Runecast are taking a unique approach to monitoring and I’m looking forward to future releases as they expand even more beyond vSphere and vSAN.

The latest version is available for a free 14-day trial.

VMware Cloud on AWS Availability with Veeam

It’s been exactly a year since VMware announced their partnership with AWS and it’s no surprise that at this year’s VMworld the solution is front and center and will feature heavily at Monday’s keynote. Earlier today Veeam was announced as an officially supported backup, recovery and replication platform for VMware Cloud on AWS. This is an exciting announcement for existing customers of Veeam who currently use vSphere and are interesting in consuming VMware Cloud on AWS.

In terms of what Veeam has been able to achieve, there is little noticeable difference in the process to configure and run backup or replication jobs from within Veeam Backup & Replication. The VMware Cloud on AWS resources are treated as just another cluster so most actions and features of the core platform work as if the cloud based cluster was local or otherwise.

Below you can see a screen shot of an VMC vCenter from the AWS based HTML5 Web Client. What you can see if the minimum spec for a VMC customer which includes four hosts with 36 cores and 512GB of RAM, plus vSAN and NSX.

In terms of Veeam making this work, there were a few limitations that VMware have placed on the solution which means that our NFS based features such as Instant VM Recovery, Virtual Labs or Surebackups won’t work at this stage. HotAdd mode is the only supported backup transport mode (which isn’t a bad thing as it’s my preferred transport mode) which talks to a new VDDK library that is part of the VMC platform.

With that the following features work out of the box:

  • Backup with In Guest Processing
  • Restores to original or new locations
  • Backup Copy Jobs
  • Replication
  • Cloud Connect Backup
  • Windows File Level Recovery
  • Veeam Explorers

With the above there are a lot of options for VMC customers to stick to the 3-2-1 rule of backups…remembering that just because the compute resources are in AWS, doesn’t mean that they are highly valuable from a workload and application availability standpoint. Customers can also take advantage of the fact that VMC is just another cluster from their on-premises deployments and use Veeam Backup & Replication to replicate VMs into the VMC vCenter to which end it could be used as a DR site.

For more information and the offical blog post from Veeam co-CEO Peter McKay click here.

Runecast: Overview and Service Provider Use Case

A few months ago I was lucky enough to spend time with a couple of the founders of Runecast, Stanimir Markov and Ched Smokovic and got to know a little more about their real time analytics platform for VMware based infrastructure. Soon after that I downloaded and deployed it in my lab and have been running it for a few months. In that time I’ve come to understand and appreciate the value that it adds to the operations and management of any vSphere platform.

Having been part of, and led teams that operated and managed large vSphere based cloud platforms one of the challenges of managing any platform of size is how to stay on top of issues operationally…not only when and as they happen, but also before then happen. Proactive monitoring and alerting that pinpoints issues before they happen is invaluable and up to this point I haven’t found a product that focuses in as specifically as Runecast does to help solve that challenge.

In the past I have researched and used more than a few tools on the market and probably the closest comparison that I can make with Runecast is what CloudPhysics tried to do with their Knowledge Base Adviser feature. For those that have used CloudPhysics in the past Runecast will feel somewhat similar in theory, however Runecast have taken what CloudPhsyics had done and taken it to the next level.

By using a number of resources within VMware’s knowledgebase Runecast is been able to deliver a platform that looks at best practices, log information and security hardening guides to monitor your vSphere infrastructure which in turn brings to your attention through a simple yet intuitive interface to issues that may exist.

Runecast for Service Providers:

Proactive analysis is the name of the game and it’s one of the holy grail’s for any operations team. Prevention of an issue before it occurs is what Runecast sets out to achieve and for service providers that are running critical line of business applications for their clients (which is all service providers) the ability to prevent service disruption is huge.

Apart from the obvious benefits around proactive analytics, one of the best features for service providers is the security hardening feature. Lots of service providers these days are being governed by specific regulations and compliance and security has become front and center of any platform owner. With the security hardening feature it points out specifically what passes and what fails as per the official VMware hardening guide.

I can also see how the specific inventory feature for vCenter objects can be developed in the future to allow service providers to expose certain information via the Runecast APIs to their tenants. I’d love to see some integration with vCloud Director, NSX and vSAN among other VMware platforms…there is serious potential here.

The API endpoints that are being exposed version to version means that service providers can take the information presented and manipulate it their hearts content. It providers a powerful way for service providers to take full advantage of the data that’s being collect and analyised.

Final Thoughts:

This is, for the most a targeted analytics system that focuses on getting you the relevant information quickly and without fuss and allows you to ascertain issues and work towards their resolution. I’m looking forward to seeing what the guys come up with over the next twelve to eighteen months as they further enhance the capabilities.

For your free 14 day Trial register here and if you are heading to VMworld this year make sure to visit them at Booth #832

Disclaimer: Runecast are sponsors of Virtualization is Life!

VMworld 2017 – Session Breakdown and Analysis

Everything to do with VMworld this year feels like it’s earlier than in previous years. The call for papers opened in Feburary with session voting happening around the end of March. A couple of weeks ago presenters where notified if their session was accepted…or if it was rejected and the content catalog for the US event went live last week! At the moment there is 736 sessions listed which will grow when the #vBrownBag Tech Talks hosted by the VMTN Community get added.

As I do every year I like to filter through the content catalog and work out what technologies are getting the airplay at the event. What first struck me as being interesting was the track names:

Do you see a common thread? They obviously centre around the “digital transformation” theme that we have been fed at every major conference for the last four to five years. I don’t mind it so much, but I know it’s becoming a bit of an industry joke when we hear the same messaging around transformation, digital workspace and modernization.

Shown above are all the products and topics listed in the content catalog and previously when the public voting took place I did some analysis around the number of sessions relating to the filters shown below.

  • vCD 32
  • vCloud 305
  • vCloud Director 64
  • NSX 426
  • NSX-T 116
  • vSAN 223
  • AWS 51
  • Containers 85
  • Devops 69
  • Automation 223

Using those same filters, below are the numbers from what made the cut and are in the content catalog for 2017.

What’s interesting in looking at the submitted sessions vs what was picked up…to be included in the content catalog for the event if you want a better than even chance of having your session accepted, submit around NSX, NSX-T, vSAN, AWS and Containers. In the case of vSAN and Containers, working with these numbers about 60% of the submitted sessions got approved and in the case of AWS the number of sessions approved was more than what was submitted!

Even though the number of vCD related sessions didn’t make it through the numbers are still well up from the dark days of vCD around the 2013 and 2014 VMworlds. For anyone working on cloud technologies this year promises to be a bumper year for content so if you haven’t registered for VMworld 2017 yet…what are you waiting for!

Register here:

VMware vSphere 6.5 Host Resources Deep Dive – A Must Have!

Just after I joined Zettagrid in June of 2013 I decided to load up vSphere 5.1 Clustering Deepdive by Duncan Epping and Frank Denneman on my iPad to read on my train journey to and from work. Reading that book allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of vSphere through the in depth content that Duncan and Frank had produced. Any VMware administrator worth their salt would be familiar with the book (or the ones that proceeded it) and it’s still a brilliant read.

Fast forward a few versions of vSphere and we finally have follow up:

VMware vSphere 6.5 Host Resources Deep Dive

This time around Frank has been joined by Niels Hagoort and together they have produced another must have virtualization book…though it goes far beyond VMware virtualization. I was lucky enough to review a couple of chapters of the book and I can say without question that this book will make your brain hurt…but in a good way. It’s the deepest of deep dives and it goes beyond the previous books best practice and dives into a lot of the low level compute, storage and networking fundamentals that a lot of us have either forgotten about, never learnt or never bothered to learn about.

This book explains the concepts and mechanisms behind the physical resource components and the VMkernel resource schedulers, which enables you to:

  • Optimize your workload for current and future Non-Uniform Memory Access (NUMA) systems.
  • Discover how vSphere Balanced Power Management takes advantage of the CPU Turbo Boost functionality, and why High Performance does not.
  • How the 3-DIMMs per Channel configuration results in a 10-20% performance drop.
  • How TLB works and why it is bad to disable large pages in virtualized environments.
  • Why 3D XPoint is perfect for the vSAN caching tier.
  • What queues are and where they live inside the end-to-end storage data paths.
  • Tune VMkernel components to optimize performance for VXLAN network traffic and NFV environments.
  • Why Intel’s Data Plane Development Kit significantly boosts packet processing performance.

If any of you have read Frank’s NUMA Deep Dive blog series you will start to get an appreciation of the level of technical detail this book covers, however it is written in a way that allows you absorb the information in a way that is digestible, though some parts may need to be read twice over. Well done to Frank and Niels on getting this book out and again, if you are working in and around anything to do with computers this is a must read so do yourself a favour and grab a copy.

The current Amazon locals that have access to purchase the book can be found below:

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1540873064
Amazon France: https://www.amazon.fr/dp/1540873064
Amazon Germany: https://www.amazon.de/dp/1540873064
Amazon India: http://www.amazon.in/dp/1540873064
Amazon Japan: https://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/1540873064
Amazon Mexico: https://www.amazon.com.mx/dp/1540873064
Amazon Spain: https://www.amazon.es/dp/1540873064
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1540873064

Quick Fix: VCSA 503 Service Unavailable Error

I’ve just had to fix one of my VCSA’s again from the infamous 503 Service Unavailable error that seems to be fairly common with the VCSA even though it’s was claimed to be fixed in vCenter version 6.5d. I’ve had this error pop up fairly regularly since deploying my homelab’s vCenter Server Appliance as a version 6.5 GA instance and for the most part I’ve refrained from rebooting the VCSA just in case the error pops up upon reboot and have even kept a snapshot against the VM just in case I needed to revert to it on the high change that it would error out.

503 Service Unavailable (Failed to connect to endpoint: [N7Vmacore4Http20NamedPipeServiceSpecE:0x0000559b1531ef80] _serverNamespace = / action = Allow _pipeName =/var/run/vmware/vpxd-webserver-pipe)

After doing a Google search for any permanent solutions to the issue, I came across a couple of posts referencing USB passthrough devices that could trigger the error which was plausible given I was using an external USB Hard Drive. IP changes seem to also be a trigger for the error though in my case, it wasn’t the cause. There is a good Reddit thread here that talks about duplicate keys…again related to USB passthrough. It also links externally to some other solutions that where not relevant to my VCSA.

Solution:

As referenced in this VMware communities forum post, to fix the issue I had to first find out if I did have a duplicate key error in the VCSA logs. To do that I dropped into the VCSA shell and went into /var/logs and did a search for any file containing device_key + already exists. As shown in the image above this returned a number of entries confirming that I had duplicate keys and that it was causing the issue.

The VMware vCenter Server Appliance vpxd 6.5 logs are located in the /var/log/vmware/vmware-vpx folder

What was required next was to delete the duplicate embedded PostGres database table entries. To connect to the embedded postgres database you need to run the following command from the VCSA shell:

To remove the duplicate key I ran the following command and rebooted the appliance, noting that the id and device_key will vary.

Once everything rebooted all the services started up and I had a functional vCenter again which was a relief given I was about five minutes away from a restore or a complete rebuild…and ain’t nobody got time for that!

vCenter (VCSA) 6.5 broken after restart from vmware

Reference:

https://communities.vmware.com/thread/556490

 

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!

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