Category: Virtualisation


This is a blog post that I’ve had at the back of my mind for a good 6 months or so. The pieces of the puzzle have come together after the Gestalt IT Tech Field Day event in Boston. After spending the best part of a week with some very very clever virtualisation pro’s I think I’ve managed to marshal the ideas that have been trying to make the cerebral cortex to wordpress migration for some time !

Managing an environment , be it physical or virtual for capacity & performance requires tools that can provide you with a view along the timeline. Often the key difference between dedicated “capacity management” offerings and performance management tools is the very scale of that timeline.

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Short Term : Performance & Availability

There we are looking at timings within a few seconds / minutes ( or less ) this is where a toolset is going to be focused for current performance on any particular metric , be it the response time to load a web application , Utilisation of a processor core or command operations rate on a disk array. The tools that are best placed to give us that information need to be capable of processing a large volume of data very quickly due to the requirement to pull in a given metric on a very frequent interval. The more frequently you can sample the data , the better quality output the tool can give. This can present a problem in large scale deployments due to a requirement that many tools have to write this data out to a table in a database – this potentially tethers the performance of a monitoring tool to the underlying storage available for that tools , which of course can be increased but sometimes at quite a significant cost. As a result you many want to scope the use of such tools only to the workloads that require that short term , high resolution monitoring. In a production environment with a known baseline workload , tools that use a dynamic threshold / profile for alerting on a metric can be very useful here ( for example Xangati or vCenter Operations ) If you don’t have a workload that can be suitably base lined ( and note that the baseline can vary on your business cycle , so may well take 12 months to establish ! ) then the dynamic thresholds are not of as much use.

Availability tools have less of a reliance on a high performance data layer as they are essentially storing a single bit of data on a given metric. This means the toolset can scale pretty well. The key part of availability monitoring is the visualisation and reporting layer. There is no point only displaying that data to a beautiful and elegant dashboard if no-one is there to see that dashboard ( and according to the Zen theory of network operations , would it change if there was no one there to watch it ! ) The data needs to be fed into a system that best allow an action to be made – even if it’s an SMS / Page to someone who is asleep. In this kind of case , having suitable thresholds are important – you don’t want to be setting fire alarms off for a blip in a system that does not affect the end service. Know the dependencies on the service and try to ensure that the root cause alert is the first one sent out. You do need to know that the router that affects 10,000 websites is out long before you have alerts for those individual websites.

Medium Term : Trending & Optimisation

Where the timeline goes beyond “what’s wrong now” , you can start to look at what’s going to go wrong soon. This is edge of the crystal ball stuff , where predictions are looking to be made in the order of days / weeks. Based on collected utilisation data in a given period , we can assess if we have sufficient capacity to be able to provide an acceptable service level in the near future. At this stage , adjustments can be made to the infrastructure in the form of resource balancing ( by storage or traditional load ) – tweaks can also be made to virtual machine configuration to “rightsize” an environment. By using these techniques it is possible to reclaim over allocated space and delay potential hardware expansions. This is especially valid where there may be a long lead time on a hardware order. The types of recommendations generated by the capacity optimisation components of VKernel , NetApp ( Akorri ) and Solarwinds products are great examples of rightsizing calculations.  As the environment scales up , not only are we looking for optimisations , but potential automated remediation ( within the bounds of a change controlled environment ) would save time and therefore money.

Long Term capacity analysis : When do we need to migrate Data centers ?

Trying to predict what is going to happen to an IT infrastructure in the long term is a little like trying to predict the weather in 5 years time , you know roughly what might happen but you don’t really know when. Taking a tangent away from the technology side of things , this is where the IT strategy comes in – knowing what applications are likely to come into the pipeline. Without this knowledge you can only guess how much capacity you will need in the long term. The process can be bidirectional though , with the information from a capacity management function being fed back into the wider picture for architectural strategy for example should a lack of physical space be discovered , this may combine with a strategy to refresh existing servers with blades. Larger Enterprises will often deploy dedicated capacity management software to do this ( for example Metron’s Athene product which will model capacity for not only the virtual but the physical environment )  Long term trending is a key part of a capacity management strategy but this will need to be blended with a solution to allow environmental modeling and what if scenarios. Within the virtual environment the scheduled modeling feature of VKernel’s vOperations Suite is possibly the best example of this that I’ve come across so far – all that is missing is an API to link to any particular enterprise architecture applications. When planning for growth not only must the growth of the application set be considered but the expansion in the management framework around it , including but not limited to backup and the short-medium term monitoring solutions.  Unless you are consuming your it infrastructure as a service , you will not be able to get away with a suite that only looks at the Virtual Piece of the puzzle – Power / Cooling & Available space need to be considered – look far enough into the future and you may want to look at some new premises !

We’re going to need a bigger house to fit the one pane of glass into…

“one pane of glass” – is a phrase I hear very often but not something I’ve really seen so far. Given the many facets of a management solution I have touched on above , that single pane of glass is going to need to display a lot ! So many metrics and visualisations to put together , you’d have a very cluttered single pane. Consolidating data from many systems into a mash-up portal is about the best that can occur , but yet there isn’t a single framework to date that can really tick all the boxes. Given the lack of a “savior” product you may feel disheartened , but have faith!. As the ecosystem begins to realise that no single vendor can give you everything and that an integrated management platform that can not only display consolidated data , but act as a databus to facilitate sharing between those discrete facets is very high on the enterprise wishlist , we may see something yet.

I’d like to leave you with some of the inspiration for this post – as seen on a recent “Demotivational Poster” –a quick reminder of perfection being in the eye of the beholder.

“No matter how good she looks, some other guy is sick and tired of putting up with her s***”

The London VMUG just keeps on getting better doesn’t it ? What do you mean you don’t know ?  Well for a start its now a pretty much full day event – Complete with its own Genius bar staffed by VMware GSS guys & girls who will be happy to help out on any issues you have ( Though I thought that was usually some of the vExperts enjoying a swift half or two at the pub afterwards ) If you can’t make the genius bar , then you’d be amazed at how the VMUG Hive mind can put itself towards a bit of problem solving , especially if you are buying the round !

 

The afternoon features two tracks with a few great guys , Several of which have been guests on vSoup , clearly a sign of greatness Winking smile The morning features the Keynote & sponsor presentations, this time from Arista Networks , Vision Solutions & Embotics . If you can spare the time then the trip to London is well worth it , not only for the content but the chance to talk geeky with other like minded professionals !

 

I’ll leave you with the full timetable and the link for the signup , which can be found here 

Agenda
Plenary sessions in Capital
10:00 a.m.  – 10:15 a.m. – Welcome, Alaric Davies, Chairman
10:15 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. – Cloudvision for the Virtualised Environment, John Peach, Arista Networks, Sention System Architect
11:00 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. – Private Cloud Management Made Simple, Martin Sajkowski, Embotics, EMEA Operations & Colin Jacks Senior Solutions Specialist
11:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.  – Break in Sponsor Expo
12:15 p.m. – 13:00 p.m.– Double-Take by Vision Solutions – Christian Willis, Technical Director: Meeting the Availability Challenges of physical, Virtual and Geographically Dispersed Systems
13:00 p.m. – 14:00 p.m.– Lunch in Sponsor Expo

Track 1 

14:00 p.m. – 14:50 p.m. - vCOPS Advanced, Mark Stockham, VMware  
15:00 p.m. – 15:50 p.m. – SRM Futures, Mike Laverick                                               
16:00 p.m. – 16:50 p.m.- Cloud: Can You Compete? Mark Craddock

Track 2

14:00 p.m. – 14:50 p.m. - Thinking, Building & Scripting Globally, Julian Wood
15:00 p.m. – 15:50 p.m. – Managing IT as We Evolve to Cloud Computing, Colin Fernandez, VMware
16:00 p.m. – 16:50 p.m. -  How to Save your Time With PowerCLI, Jonathan Medd

17:00 p.m. – Close
17:00 p.m. – Onward Drinks at Pavilion End

 

Note: Agenda Subject to change – you will need to register with myvmug.org to register for the event.

 

Never being a company to stagnate when it comes to releases , VKernel are continuing to develop their product set around capacity management and infrastructure optimisation for virtualised environments. After a strong quarter that has seen record numbers , expanded support for alternate Hypervisors such as Hyper-V & a new product aimed at the real time monitoring end of the capacity management spectrum ( vOPS Performance Analyzer )

The 3.5 release of the main VKernel vOperations Suite , to give it its full name is now “with added cloud”. I’m so glad the product marketing guys did NOT say that – in fact quite the opposite. The product had taken on features as suggested by its service provider & customers who are already down the path towards a private cloud.

vOPS 3.5 adds features which may make the life of an admin in such an environment easier – more often then not they are becoming the caretaker of an environment as workloads are generated via self service portals and on demand by applications. Being able to model different scenarios based on a real life workload is key to ensure your platform can meet its availability & performance SLA’s. Metrics in an environment mean nothing if you are unable to report on then, and this has been address with the implementation of a much improved reporting module within the product , which allows a much more granular permissions structure & the ability to export reports into other portals.

The capacity modeller component now allows “VM’s as a reservation” – knowing that not all workloads are equal means that you need to model the addition of workloads of differing size into an environment. These model VM’s can be based on a real CPU/MEM/IO workload.

The last key improvement is yet more metrics – this time around Datastore & VM performance including IOPS. Having been through an exercise where I had to manually collect IOPS data for an environment , I can personally attest to the value of automating this! When I was an end user of the vOPS product it was a metric I was constantly bugging the product development guys for – looks like they listened !

 

For more information, head over to the VKernel website.

I’ve just spent a couple of hours this morning having a kick about with some of the more advanced features of Veeam backup & replication v5.  I’ve been able to run instant restores of my machines without any issues , but what I really wanted was some backup verifications. I had a Virtual Lab & Application group built , but could not get the VM’s to ping. I’ve been digging into the setup of the router and on the verge of hair pulling – how hard can it be ? all of the VM’s are on the same VLAN/Subnet.

I tried a slight change of tack and selected a different test machine , simple because the sizable server 2008 r2 VM I used was taking a little longer than I was hoping for each test. When I used a smaller Server 2003 VM for the test the ping test worked just fine.

 

This led me to go back to the base virtual machine & its own settings. I’m trying to keep my lab network as secure as possible , and make use of the security settings Microsoft has been kind enough to provide. As a result , the windows firewall is enabled and set up correctly for the production environment. However as I am restoring the VM in isolation (without a domain controller ) it would appear that the following happens.

 

Windows Firewall on the Source VM.

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Windows Firewall on the Recovered VM

 

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File and printer settings in Firewall exceptions.

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There’s ya problem ! I don’t have a Virtualised DC to test to see if a DC is in the same Surebackup application group that the windows firewall will not switch to Public settings , but in the interim I’ve had to open up the file and print sharing on the public domain. However it is possible to be a little bit more granular than just allowing all file and printer sharing. If you go to advanced settings, you can Enable the inbound rule “File and Printer Sharing ( Echo Request – ICMPv4-In)” for the Public domain.

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Regular tweetups amongst friends in the twitter community are not exactly new , but Simon Long and Simon Seagrave started to give the ones in the virtualisation community a name – vBeers ! This was initially only used for London events , but the trend has spread and come to the point where Simon^2 wanted to have a central point for all of the disparate events so have spawned http://vbeers.org !

 

I’ll leave it to the guys themselves to say what the event is about..

Fancy meeting up every month with other IT virtualization enthusiasts to socialise and chat over a cold beer, wine or soft-drink?  If so, then vBeers is for you!

This is a great opportunity to meet with other virtualization enthusiasts and professionals and enjoy discussing all things virtualization, and in fact anything else that comes up in conversation…

vBeers is open to everyone so whether you are a VMware vSphere, Microsoft Hyper-V, Citrix XenServer user/fan or none of the above it really doesn’t matter as “it’s all about the virtualization”.

So log on and find your local event – its the best way of keeping up with old friends and making one or two in a “geek friendly” environment where you are allowed to talk virtualisation without your fellow boozers yawning!

 

http://vbeers.org

I’ve been lucky enough to be selected again to attend one of Gestalt IT’s Tech Field Day events. These place a selection of IT community members with a selection of Vendors for a series of sessions that go beyond the usual sales pitch you might get a user group event. The are also a lot more interactive , with a roundtable discussion before , after & sometimes during a session. The events are recorded and streamed live , you can also keep with with what the kids at the back of the class are whispering to each other by following the #TechFieldDay hashtag on twitter.

 

This Event is to be held in Boston in just over 2 weeks time and has a particular focus on Virtualisation technology. Other events have been based around Networking & Wireless technology, or just general datacenter technologies. The delegates have been selected for their work within the Virtualisation community , featuring more than its fair share of VMware vExperts and of course the whole vSoup Podcast crew! We are aiming to be able to record & publish an episode of the show live from the event.

 

The Presenters

Solarwinds :

I have seen Solarwinds present before and I’m looking forward to their deep dive style – as veteran TFD Sponsors they know that talking geeky is going to get a good response from us. I would imagine there will be some good detail on the product that is the fruit of the Hyper9 acquisition.

Vkernel:

I’ve enjoyed a good relationship with Vkernel over the last couple of years , both as an end user and as a blogger. Its not their first appearance at a Tech Field Day event so I’m sure that we’ll see something new around their infrastructure optimisation product set.

VMware:

I’ve heard good things about this little start-up , they have something called a Hypervisor , which could go far Smile Is what I’d have said man years ago , but like an ageing relative I’m going to have to say “look how they’ve grown!” I shall be looking forward to meeting up with the Wookie of Virtualisation , John Troyer and seeing what VMware have to show us beyond the press release!

Symantec:

Tech Field Day usually attracts a mix of sponsors , from the very fresh start-up ( in fact there will be a start-up coming out of “stealth mode” at the event ) to the established company. Symantec will sit firmly in the latter of those two and In my opinion have a harder task at these events because they have a PR/Marketing/Community machine that is more used to higher level , PowerPoint rich communication ; which is something that Tech Field Day just isn’t about. I’d love to see a “big” sponsor present with the passion and in depth knowledge of a start-up.

Embotics:

I was lucky enough to meet up with a few of the Embotics guys in the last year and while I like their policy based Virtualisation management product its been something that’s been quite a hard sell back to management. I’ve heard they might have something in the pipeline that will really emphasise its value. Watch this space for more details….

 

There is one extra vendor to be announced in addition to the “stealth mode” start-up launching itself , which I’m particularly looking forward to.  I think its going to be the perfect mixture of catching up with friends within the community , meeting some new ones and submersing myself in some seriously good technology. For more details, check out www.techfieldday.com

I was asked last week to be a guest on the Veeam Communities Podcast , hosted by Rick Vanover. It was a nice change to be the interviewee rather than the interviewer. Rick , Doug Carson and I talked about Hyper V and its state of readyness for the real world ™

 

I also get put on the spot for the big three questions & you get to hear about the biggest IT “fail” of my career…

I’ve embedded the podcast below but head over to www.veeam.com/podcast for some of the other episodes !

 


Podcast Powered By Podbean

 

I’ve been lucky enough to review quite a few books on JFVI , mostly around virtualisation and cloud computing. Some of them have been pretty in-depth , such as Duncan Epping’s and Frank Denneman’s ubiquitous “HA & DRS Deepdive” a.k.a. the Orange Book. The “for Dummies” series places itself unashamedly at the other end of that scale and VMware vSphere for Dummies is no exception. It would be easy to side-line the book for being a beginners book – I think that’s far form the case. As a VMware specialist myself I would agree that there wasn’t anything in the book that came as a huge surprise , but I’m not really in the target market! I think I would still keep a copy handy as a “primer” for people I might be working with who are don’t spend every waking moment with VMware – something I’m finding myself doing more and more these days. Its also something to grab hold of during a brain fade moment to check something you Google or ask on twitter Smile

 

The format of the whole Dummies series is designed about making the technical information easy to consume and relatively jargon free. Its pretty hard to be completely Jargon free in IT but the book does make sure to explain said jargon first. Designing a vSphere based environment is a far from trivial exercise but the book will take you through that first stage of planning , deployment , maintaining and tuning your first environment.

 

The final part of the book is called “the Part of Tens” and consists of 3 chapters entitled  “ Ten Tools to Make vSphere Management Easier.” covering some of the great 3rd party eco system around vSphere (including a quick Dynamic Ops plug- no surprise as Dan works for them !) Its not my personal top 10 , but everyone is different !, “Ten Places to Improve Your vSphere Know-How.” contains a good list of online resources to expand your Virtualisation knowledge – I’ll try not to take any offence at not being directly linked on this one although I am linked from www.vsphere-land.com  ! It would have been good to mention twitter as a resource. The final chapter ”Ten Pro Tips for a Successful vSphere Deployment.” has a few good gems of wisdom to make your virtualisation journey a pleasant one.

 

In Summary , Dan Mitchell and Tom Keegan have produced something I’d recommend as a good starter to Virtualisation – given the good price point at which the Dummies books come in at , its not doing to break the bank either!

 

If you would like to win a copy of the book , then keep an eye out on the vSoup podcast where I’ll be giving away a copy very soon !

I’ve recently been trying to keep some of my knowledge sharp by lurking on the VMware Community Forums – I’m happy to help out other people and more often than not , pick up some fresh knowledge of my own. Generally people are not in as bad a state as they think they are and with a little advice and a gentle nudge in the right direction , they are able to resolve the situation themselves – this is much better than a spoonfed answer to a solution in my opinion.

 

One in a while , you come across something I can only desribe as a car crash post which you have to read twice before you belive it. This poor guy is one of those…

 

“Hello all, please help me with this.

I have a hp proliant 165 G7 server running with windows server 2008 R2. I decided to install ESXI 4.1 on it and it seems ok, i installed the vsphere client on another machine and the connection between client and ESXI host as succeed. But the problem is that the server do not boot from windows server 2008 anymore!! It boots from vmware Hypervisor and stops with the following screen:

"VMware ESXI 4.1.0 (VMKernel Release Build 348481)

HP Proliant DL165 G7

AMD Opteron ™ Processor 6128

12 GB Memory

Download tools to manage this host from:

http://xxxxx/

http://xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx./ (DHCP)

<F2> Customize System                                         <F12> Shut Down / Restart

Please help me!!!”

 

I’m not going to post the link as I suspect its not going to help him get his server back.  Let this poor guys experience be a warning to others. when you see the screen below that says existing partitions will be removed , it really does mean it.

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The only time you would do something like this is part of the VMware GO! process , which uses a sacificial windows install on the machine you are going to create a hypervisor on. See http://www.vmware.com/products/go/overview.html# for more details.

The Videos from the 3 Day Virtualisation Jumpstart for Vmware Pros have been finally released. In addition to the slides decks I linked in the previous posts , you can pick up all the Videos in HD From Technet Edge at the following URL. “Microsoft Virtualization for VMware Professionals”

 

The Videos are also available for mobile devices at the Zune Market Place and on iTunes. Android users will just have to view them natively Winking smile

 

If you’d like  to jump to a specific chapter of the Jumpstart , here are some direct links.

 

o Virtualization Jump Start (01): Virtualization Overview

o Virtualization Jump Start (02): Differentiating Microsoft & VMware

o Virtualization Jump Start (03a): Hyper-V Deployment Options & Architecture | Part 1

o Virtualization Jump Start (03b): Hyper-V Deployment Options & Architecture | Part 2

o Virtualization Jump Start (04): High-Availability & Clustering

o Virtualization Jump Start (05): System Center Suite Overview with focus on DPM

o Virtualization Jump Start (06): Automation with Opalis, Service Manager & PowerShell

o Virtualization Jump Start (07): System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012

o Virtualization Jump Start (08): Private Cloud Solutions, Architecture & VMM Self-Service Portal 2.0

o Virtualization Jump Start (09): Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) Architecture | Part 1

o Virtualization Jump Start (10): Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) Architecture | Part 2

o Virtualization Jump Start (11): v-Alliance Solution Overview

o Virtualization Jump Start (12): Application Delivery for VDI

 

The Jumpstart was well attended and on the whole very well run – while I didn’t quite agree with the periodic competitive marketing nuggets , I would say there is certainly some good information in them, especially around SCVMM 2012.