Archive for June, 2010


On Monday , I blogged about the new freeware application from vKernel, StorageView –.I , like a number of other bloggers had got a chance to see the product pre release, and was able to download the application to evaluate before its public release.

I have to admit I was having a pretty full timetable , so don’t feel I gave the post my full attention , beyond an install and a brief glance to see what it was like, I had other fires to fight and my day job took precedence ( as it should ! )

Yesterday ,I was talking with some of the vkernel product team who wanted to verify that the product not only works in small scale environments but larger ones. As I have access to a reasonably large environment I was able to install a slightly updated version and test , I’m quite glad of this as it actually gave me some time to really study the figures and see what was happening to my environment , rather than a test lab. What I got was shown below.

storageview2

Even through the pixilation I’ve applied you might be able to see that 4 of the top 5 offenders are on the same host – I happen to know that host is in a prod 3.5 cluster that has recently been part of a fabric upgrade. ON closer investigation I discovered that one of the HBA’s was not seeing its full compliment of paths , most likely due to it not picking up the change in fabric.One HBA rescan later and paths have been restored and latency significantly reduced. There’s something still not quite right however but that’s for a trip to the datacenter armed with a pack of fibre interconnects and a frying pan to batter whoever might have caused some cable damage ;)

 

(please note no datacenter technicians have been harmed during the writing of this post…….yet )

I thought it was about time I moved to a grownup WordPress install rather than the standard one offered by my hosting provider ( www.1and1.co.uk )  – it gives me much more in the way of flexability to install plugins and different themes ( note to self , dont go overboard Chris! )

Hopefully it’ll provide a nicer experience all-round.

I the past few months on twitter , I’ve tried a number of clients – some on my Smartphone , some as browser extensions, some as standalone apps on my Desktop , Laptop or Webbook but on an 8 bit computer I last used when I wore short trousers …. you got to be kidding right ?

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As the pictures show , I’m not kidding – While at the Vintage Computer festival at the National Museum of Computing (http://www.tnmoc.org/vcf-gb.aspx) this weekend I came across the Spectranet project (http://spectrum.alioth.net/doc/index.php/Spectranet) based around giving the humble speccy an Ethernet interface.

 

They had a few machines set up , and one with a twitter client , its no Tweetdeck , but for something running on a system thats 26 years old , I was suitably impressed !

imageWhat’s next ? facebook on a Vic20 ? ;)

The latest Vkernel Advertapplet has finally been released – I was lucky enough not only to get a pre release briefing , but to view some very early alpha code several months ago. In response to a lot of user feedback (including myself) wanting a better handle on where the bottlenecks are in your environment from a storage point of view.

Vmware themselves have also recognised this need , and will be addressing this in the upcoming vSPhere 4.1 release with SIOC  , about which many of my fellow bloggers have commented on ( here..)

For those not able to put this to use now , VKernel offers an alternative , with a little bit of functionality from its flagship Capacity Analyser product.

Storageview gives you a little window into this functionality by showing you the top 5 VM/Datastore pairs in terms of Storage I/O latency within your VMware environment. One of its top features is that the Datastores can be on FC, iSCSI or NFS ( which has been notoriously difficult to get metrics from )

As with CapacityView and Appview , storage view is a pretty small ( less than 10 Mb ) download , with a dependency on JRE 1.5 or greater. Installation is simple as you’d expect , with the configuration requiring the location of your virtualcenter and some credentials to talk to it.

If you are running Storageview against a reasonably sized environment , install the product and go and make yourself a cup of tea. I had a few teething problems getting it to work , but that may have been related to my patience level !

Eventually I was rewarded with something like this.

This as it says on the box gives you a quick at a glance view of hosts / datastores with high Latency ( you can set the thresholds manually )  this would allow you to identify bottlenecks from an IO hungry VM or a problem at the datastore level ( wrong storage tier for example)

If you find the data on this useful and want to know more , then the app encourages you to look at the full blown capacity analyser appliance – which you may find well worth a trial anyways. I’m told that not all of the metrics in Storage view are in the current version of CA , but will be in the next version , due for release fairly shortly.

As a paying customer to Vkernel I’d like to be able to leverage this functionality a bit further as an alternate front end for the virtual appliances I already have deployed , it would also be nicer ( again for paying users ) to be able to slice and dice the data from the app a little more ( ie more than top5 , or to scope by datacenter / cluster )

If you’d like to give it a try, download Storageview from here

Now that the smoke has stopped coming out of my ears, I think I can finally put pen to paper about taking the new VCAP-DCA Exam, for which I sat the beta yesterday

Just in case you have been living in a darkened datacentre for the last few months, the VCAP is the new mid tier cert launched by VMware to bridge the gap between VCP and VCDX. In reality its giving a certification to some of the exams that you would need to take in order to achieve VCDX , which works quite well as I suspect there must be quite a few people who have worked very hard towards their VCDX but not had anything in the way of letters to show for it.

The blueprint for the exam was officially published last week , if you would like to read it , ensure you are sitting down with a stiff drink, and click here . Its quite an intimidating read – if like me you just look after the 1 infrastructure , while it might be quite sizable, the chance of you using every single product off the vSphere shelf is relatively unlikely. This is where people from a more consultancy / outsourcing background might well have a slight advantage as they may well have had a chance to deploy some of the more outlying add-ins in the field while the rest of us have to make do with a Lab setup, which brings me onto my next point….

without wanting to sound too Baz Luhrmann on you, if I could offer a single piece of advice on how to pass the VCAP-DCA ( and I don’t know at this point if I’ve passed or not )  it would be Get a Lab… Get a Lab and play with it lots , try every product you can get hold of an eval for. If there are two ways of setting something up , make sure you try them both , blow it away and start from scratch.

Due to NDA restrictions there isn’t much I can say about the content of the exam itself , especially as its possibly not quite finalised but it was my first experience of a pure live lab exam and can honestly say it was one of the toughest exams I’ve sat in 15 years ! I knew time was possibly going to be an issue , so skipped questions I knew would take a while with a view to coming back to them at the end , however due to the time constraints I didn’t get a chance to go back. This could have been because I was a bit slow on some issues , it could also have been affected by the operating speed of the lab environment , which left a little something to be desired.

Now begins the long wait ( including “VMware Time” ;) ) before I get the results back – I’d better not hold my breath but will be a nervous wreck until then…

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I’ve been playing with vEcoShell in its various incarnations for a while – its the prefect way for a powercli novice such as myself to harness the added functionality to perform tasks against a multiple VM’s in my environment.

The new version is not only an officially QA tested release , but adds a lot of extra functionality , such as the ability to be able to copy and paste code out of a vEcoShell script node to be run externally in a powershell window. This should make importing code not designed for the EcoShell a lot more straightforward.

 

If the Beta tag has put you off installing the EcoShell in the past ( although given my readership I’d be shocked if you were scared of a word like beta ! ) Then make sure you download a copy from here along with the VMware communities Powerpack ( formally Virtu-Al’s powerpack , generous donated to the community ) from here and put your Virtual Environment into overdrive !

Some vendors will offer you money back on a product if it doesn’t meet your expectations.. some vendors just offer you meat.

steak1With the new release of their Optimisation Pack 1.4 Vkernel are so confident that they can show you a 3 Month ROI on their product , that they will send you $100 worth of Omaha Steaks. As Vkernel are in the Capacity Optimisation rather than meat packing business , there is a small caveat of having 4 or more hosts in your environment. If that sounds like your environment then download a 30 day trial of the OP and get it installed. You then need to book an appointment with a Vkernel  Engineer for a product walkthrough. If he can’t show you that 3 month ROI , then the steak is yours.

 

As a current user of the product I’m interested to see the improvements in the 1.4 version but will also take the challenge up. I had to provide the original justifications for purchase , so at least if I’m wrong , I won’t go hungry for a while ! Watch this space to see how I got along.