Posts Tagged ‘VMware vSphere’

Quest acquires VKernel

In Quest, Virtualization, Vmware on November 17, 2011 at 21:43

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Vkernel the virtualization capacity management company is now a part of Quest – now I really should rewrite my posts on cloud management… (Statement on Vkernel’s Blog) Whether this will really “accelerate growth” for Vkernel remains to be seen however as a firm believer in larger frameworks/ecosystems I applaud this addition to Quest’s already impressive, tho scattered, line-up of management tools.

The Virtualization Practice seems to share my opinion – and I agree with them on the fact that the structure of the acquisition (Vkernel will be remain a separate entity) might hinder the integration of Vkernel in a Quest management framework. However Microsoft and Opalis did something similar – and that seems to have turned out alright. I’m not sure yet where I stand in regards to the absolute necessity to, as the Virtualization Practice puts it, “..bubble all of the vSphere metrics up to three simple scores (Health, Efficiency and Risk)..” and I will get back to that some other time.

I did a mini-review of vScope Explorer not to long ago and am going to do one on vOperations as well. Maybe I’ll test drive some of the Quest stuff as well in order to form a well grounded opinion on the acquisition and Quest’s position in the cloud management landscape.


Battle for Cloud City: Microsoft strikes back? Part II.

In Opalis, Operations Manager, SCOM 2012, SCVMM 2012, Service Manager, System Center, Virtualization, Vmware on November 16, 2011 at 22:28

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Part I.

One of biggest advantages of posting on a blog when compared with writing an official proposal or something similar is that I get to ramble on about the things I feel are important. Or peculiar, alienating or just entertaining. Looking at private cloud management solutions in a more trivial way give me the opportunity to talk about factors that might or might not matter for most but do say something about how a product is perceived – a degree of brand value if you wish.

You might wonder where this will lead considering that fact that the more serious part of this series started of with some dubious analogies – but don’t worry I actually intend to make a point here. This is my comparison:

I’ve conjured five topics:

  • Names – If have to explain stuff to my boss and I’ve taken the “cloud” and “virtual” hurdles, I want to have a nice set of abbreviations or a awe inspiring product name to work with
  • Powershell – Very important. Maybe a bit overrated by some – a general sense of logic, a search engine and Powergui are all that are needed to keep you from flipping burgers.
  • “Open” Standards – In what sense can each offering be accessed, extended and customized by both vendors and end-users?
  • Citrix, Emc – Alliances – The cloud and virtualization market seems rather peaceful with what I perceive as a mutually beneficial status-quo between Microsoft and Vmware on the hypervisor front, between Microsoft and Citrix on the SBC/VDI front and Cisco and EMC working with both Microsoft and Vmware to tie everything together. However if we are talking about clouds, unification and abstraction a cloud management solution that provides more integration then the cliche “single-pane-of-glass” everyone seems to be selling might dictate the choice for a hypervisor the next time licenses expire…
  • Monitoring Sprawl? – We consolidated 200 servers into 4 pieces of hardware but need 15 servers to monitor our environment…and we might feel unsure about hosting a monitoring solution on a platform that’s monitored by that solution…or which damn web interface do I need to do this…and of course – how can be VM status be green, my server object in maintenance mode and my email stuck in my outbox?

My conclusion? If you are going “Vendor A unless” Microsoft scores the best on the “trivial” side of things. If you go “best-of-breed” vSphere, vCenter (and PowerCLI/CapacityIQ) are very strong at what they do.

Note Bene:

The success of Powershell, pre-alpha stuff from EMC like project Orion and SMI-S show that there is a need for a universal API and framework for managing infrastructure. The sad part is that those initiatives are not new and many technologies have fallen and entered the eternal cloud – or are still there and are still used by deemed unworthy by some (such as SNMP).

The question that remains is – who will bring balance to the force – the chosen but fallen Anakin or the Light’s side counteraction, Luke ?

Mini-Review: Monitoring vSphere with SCVMM and SCOM 2012

In Powershell, SCOM 2012, SCVMM 2012, System Center, Virtualization, Vmware on November 7, 2011 at 23:03

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Sometime ago I posted my Vsphere monitoring shoot-out. I recently had the time to install the RC of the SCVMM 2012 and the beta of SCOM 2012. There are plenty of guides out there that describe how to get you started with both products ( SCOM 2012 beta in ten minutes , SCOM 2012 Beta step by step, SCVMM 2012 Survival Guide ) so I won’t get into that to much. Some general remarks:


  • You need the Windows 7 AIK which is only downloadable as an ISO or IMG. That annoyed me.
  • I used SQL 2008 R2 Express as a database – in hindsight it would have been better to use a full SQL trial and host both SCVMM and SCOM’s databases.
  • Besides that the install was quick and painless


  • Collation, Collation, Collation! Choose SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CI_AS as your SQL collation otherwise SCOM won’t find your SQL instance and it will not tell you you picked the wrong collation.
  • You need .NET 4
  • I had some issues installing the SCOM agent on the SCVMM server. I got this error:

Log Name:      Application

Source:        MsiInstaller

Date:          4-11-2011 17:53:33

Event ID:      1013

Task Category: None

Level:         Error

Keywords:      Classic

User:          ****\****

Computer:      FQ.DN


Product: System Center Operations Manager 2012 Agent — Microsoft ESENT Keys are required to install this application.  Please see the release notes for more information.

Apparantly this is not a SCOM 2012 specific error but more a general SCOM error on Windows 2008 R2 boxes. Running msiexec from an elevated command prompt solved the problem.

Adding vSphere to SCVMM

This part is pretty straightforward as well. Open the Virtual Machine Manager Console, Fabric pane and choose Add ResourceVmware vCenter Server. Create a Run As account which has enough the required privileges (local admin on the vCenter server according to Technet). After you’ve added the vCenter server you need to each Resource Cluster (or individual host) as well in much the same way as you added the vCenter server. But since you’re already connected to vCenter you don’t have to enter RC or host names – you can just select them in a browsing dialog.

Strangely enough I wasn’t able to retrieve and accept the certificate for any of my hosts using a domain account – which does have root equivalent privileges on the hosts – but either the AD integration is flawed or I made a mistake configuring it. But I used a second Run As account using the default vSphere root account and I was able to retrieve and accept the certificates.

After that I was able to view all my hosts and vm’s in SCVMM. Same goes for templates and host networking. SCVMM even sees my dvSwitches and sees them as one entity – but same goes for my vSwitches…which is not really what I would like to see. Portgroups aren’t shown in the networking pane – but I was able to find them in the vm guest properties. I did a quick test to see if I could actually manage stuff – and I could but for now I’m more interested in monitoring vSphere I’ll get down to managing vSphere some other time.

Connecting SCVMM to SCOM

I followed this great post on the SCVMM blog to connect SCVMM to SCOM. Most notable improvement over the previous versions: no need to install the VMM console on the SCOM server. However you still need to install the SCOMsole on the VMM Server. Oh and creating the connection is now a simple wizard in the VMM console :). I had some issues with not being able to search the online SCOM catalog I needed to download the prequisite MP’s by hand.

Once I got that sorted out I completed the wizard and the connection was made.

And? Has it gotten any better?

Yes. Because vSphere and vCenter are represented just as vSphere and vCenter in both SCVMM and SCOM instead of weird vm’s on a mutated Hyper-V server the visibility and navigation is much better. But my SCOMsole immediatly got filled up with alerts telling me my vm’s didn’t have VSG installed – and because everything is discovered through your VMM server (which is does still seem to see as a Hyper-V server) it started complaining about the fact that I had more then 384 vm’s on a host.

Alerts are also a lot quicker. Views are a bit poor – especially when you consider that the way my vSphere datacenter hierarchy is displayed in SCVMM is pretty good. The fact that SCOM and SCVMM will allow me to view a diagram of a service as defined in SCVMM look really promising but I haven’t tested that yet. If you put a host into maintenance mode in SCVMM its status is automatically propagated to SCOM. There is still no link between the vm as an instance running on vSphere and the Windows computer object in SCOM – that’s a real shame.

There isn’t a lot of Vmware specific stuff there as well. I guess that remains as MS likes to call it a partner opportunity – or something you could develop yourself using vCenter and System Center’s common denominator Powershell. But I believe even that might be less of a challenge then before because of the improved SNMP support in SCOM 2012 (so you can just that in addition to the information exposed by vCenter). Still the biggest improvement seems to be on the managing side rather then on the monitoring side – which makes taking the monitoring shortcomings for granted much more plausible then before.

Mini review: VKernel vScope Explorer

In Virtualization on October 27, 2011 at 20:51

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This is my first post in what might become a series 🙂 In these post I  want to give a short review of an interesting piece of software or hardware. Today’s victim is VKernel vScope Explorer.

I found out about this tool through a post on Eric Sloof’s blog and because I got a promotional email from VKernel (apparently I left my email address there for some reason 😉 ).

What does it do?

vScope Explorer is a tool that will visualize and analyze data about your vSphere or Hyper-V environment.

So what I expect it to do is to check for configuration Best Practices and analyze both host, vCenter\SCVMM and guest metrics in order to determine possible bottlenecks and inefficiencies. And of course – pretty pictures with lots of green (or red depending on how hard they want to sell the paid complement – vOperations).

How does it do whatever it does?

vScope Explorer is a virtual appliance with a web interface. You download an OVF and deploy the appliance. It has relatively high system requirements:

  • 4 vCPUs
  • 8 GB of memory
  • 64 GB of storage space

The website says they have a instruction video – but I couldn’t find it. So I just fired it up, went through a small text based setup to configure ip,dns,ntp and http proxy settings and was presented with a login screen. (For those interested the appliance runs SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 SP1). Seeing this is a web based tool I decided to stop peeking around in the VM itself and opened the web interface. One note on the ip address – since the tool will connect to vCenter you should ensure the vm can connect to vCenter. And there is a user’s guide included in the download.

On the web interface (which runs on port 80) after accepting the agreement I added our vCenter server and immediately ran into an error:

This gives us a hint that the product is indeed looking into performance metrics in great detail. Since this just a test I changed the logging level and it discovered my vCenter server and I finished the setup. I logged in using the default username and password and was then presented with a nice dialog telling me it would take approximately an hour(5 minutes for 10 vm’s) for the data to be collected. I decided not to add any alarms to vCenter or to install the client plugin at this time btw.

In all honesty – it didn’t even take an hour until the collection was finished. Once it was finished the tool will showed a status screen that defaulted to the VM performance “vScope”. You can then switch to the Host performance vScope, the Capacity,the VM Efficiency or the Datastore Efficiency vScope.

Each Object (a host,a VM or a Datastore grouped together by resource cluster) will have a colour indicating its status (red, yellow or green). On mouse over or when you click the object it will give you some details on why it has a certain status. A red or yellow status can be caused by an inefficient storage allocation, high memory or cpu utilization or on a host level even a projected performance bottleneck or capacity problem with a estimated amount of time until this bottleneck or problem will be reached or occur.

I had a quick look at the status of our environment and all the statuses of the objects seemed plausible. However sometimes issues aren’t really issues – we know we have a lot of wasted space on our datastores – that’s because we need a certain amount of IOPS. There is no way to “override” these checks from the vScope interface. And as I said before – in order to properly solve the actual issues something more elaborate such as the vOperations product will be necessary.

And what do I think about it?

I think this a very nice piece of software – but its only a part of what should be a full virtualization management and monitoring solution. And I think VKernel would agree 😉

It was easy to install, easy to use and easy to interpret. And since you can connect to several vCenter servers (and SCVMM servers) you could provide an high level “single pane glass” overview that’s understandable for just about everyone.But the lack of customization features (and the abundance of red blocks caused by that limition – no one wants to many red blocks…) makes me doubt if vScope can be used as a “Manager Dashboard”

One big plus – its very portable. You download the OVF, deploy it and you have a very nice overview of the general health of your environment or your customer’s.

TEC 2011 Europe Frankfurt: Project Virtual Reality Check

In Citrix, The Experts Conference Europe, Virtualization on October 24, 2011 at 20:37

I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Experts Conference Europe 2011 in Frankfurt last week. In due time all the slide decks and transcripts will hit the web so I refrain from delayed live blogging about all of the sessions. However there was one session (or actually two, the session was split into two parts – but considering the content it could have easily spanned three sessions!) of which both the topic and the presentation really interested me.

The session in question was Project Virtual Reality Check and it’s speaker was Jeroen van der Kamp, CTO for Login Consultants. Project Virtual Reality Check is a joint venture between two Dutch companies, PQR and Login Consultants. Its objective is to find the answers to several questions concerning the performance of virtualized Presentation Virtualization and Desktop Virtualization environments using different hypervisors, hardware and PV/DV technologies.

In order to find those answers they have developed a standard set of benchmarks which they use to find out what the limits are in terms of session (in DV) or guest (in DV) density. All major players in both the PV or Terminal Services and the DV/VDI are being tested – so its Hyper-V v. vSpere v. Xen and XenDesktop v. Vmware View v. vWorkspace etc.

Now the first reason why I attended this session was that I’m currently looking into several technologies that deal with remote offices and remoting. Traditionally Presentation virtualization or VPN have been the two obvious choices to offer users a way to work from home or from a small office. With the advent of VDI, or the rising demands of power users – I’m not getting into the discussion which came first – and the introduction of platforms such as Citrix XenApp/Desktop and vWorkspace where you can have the best of both worlds those choices aren’t that obvious anymore.

In a world of desktop or client connectivity in general you aren’t working with IOPS, CPU ready times or consolidation ratio’s. You are working with people (or as “us” IT people tend to call them “users”). People with subjective preferences, perception and presuppositions.  The first you don’t want to fix, the second you can’t fix and the last will take time and effort and results. So if you are designing such an infrastructure you want to know exactly if, how and why certain design decisions will influence performance – because you will always be juggling directly with client demands (Media content, Choice and Personalization) and limiting factors (Bandwidth, Latency, Cost).

And that is why I think that having independent, falsifiable and full system benchmarks are so important. And that’s exactly what VRC provides – all the specs and “payloads” are known variables and so are the benchmarking tools. Of course, as their own disclaimer states: “All Project VRC test are preformed in a pre-configured lab environment” – so these are not necessarily real life results. But the results will tell you which hypervisor will do what when pushed to the extreme limit. And its just that limit, even though when all prefer to call it optimal utilization, that was one of the main reason to start virtualizing workloads in the first place.

Of course all vendors also supply us with loads of performance information, comparisons and analysis. And some even do a good job. But most of the time the technical sales talk is even worse then the “normal” sales talk because they try to claim legitimacy through statistics. As Brian Madden pointed out during the Virtualization keynote – nothing is easier then lying with numbers.

A side effect of pushing a system to the limit is that you are able to directly identify, test and adjust Best Practices for each platform. So instead of compiling best practices based on problems and solutions in the field you get a great overview of the various best practices and their actual effect on the ability to host more guests or sessions on a piece of hardware.

Jeroen van der Kamp did a terrific job talking us through the results of each of the project phases and their results – one of things that interested me was the fact that in some cases Hyper-V had the upper hand when compared with vSphere and Xen and also the preliminary results of the Antivirus tests which showed that in a VDI environment offloading actually hurt the performance instead of improving it. Quite the contrary of what was claimed in a Tolly report sponsored by Trend Micro…