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Think IPM

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Health Status for VMware 3.5.0 Update 2

If you haven't had the opportunity to check out some of the new features of ESX 3.5 Update 2, take a look at the new Health Status feature. It does not require any agents installed on the server either which is nice. It gives you a nice view into the hardware's health from within Virtual Infrastructure Client.  There are some basic alarms but I am sure more granular alarms will be right around the corner.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Creating a Microsoft Hyper-V Virtual Machine

Once you have your Hyper-V installed on your Windows 2008 Server, it's time to create your first Hyper-V Virtual Machine.

Launch the Server Manager and EXPAND roles to select the Hyper-V Manager. From the Actions Pane, Choose New and Virtual Machine.

Specify the Name and Location. For my example, I was creating a Microsoft System Center Server to manage everything.

Add memory – Similar to every other Hypervisor. I went with 1 GB but the default was 512.

Select a Virtual Network. During Installation of Hyper-V, we allocated 1 NIC to become a Virtual Network.

The Microsoft standard for Hard Drives is VHD (Virtual Hard Drive/Disk). I chose give it a 10 GB size. The Default was 127 GB oddly enough.

I left the Windows 2008 Server DVD in the Physical Servers Drive so I selected the appropriate option.

Click finish to carve up the virtual Hardware and begin the OS install.

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Monday, July 21, 2008

Basic Hyper-V installation Screenshots

Here are some quick and dirty notes on installing Hyper-V on your Windows 2008 Server. In case you want to see it and haven't had the time to do it. J    
Once you have installed your Windows 2008 Server.
From the initial Configuration tasks wizard, chose Add Roles.

Select the Hyper-V option and Click Next.

Select a NIC card for your Virtual Networking.

Click Install. J

When it is all done, Click Yes to Reboot.

For some reason, just installing Hyper-V doesn't add it to the Boot environment. In order to fix this, you need to enter the following command and reboot:
BCDEdit /set hypervisorlaunchtype auto

If for some reason, the hypervisor fails to start, check the server BIOS.
Reboot your server and go into the BIOS by pressing F9. Go to "Advanced options > Processor Options" and enable these two sub-options:
"No-Excecute Memory Protection" and
"Intel(R) Virtualization Technology"
Save with F10. 

Next up, Creating a Virtual Machine!
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LeftHand Network Training Notes

I just got back from a great LeftHand Networks training course. I've been a big fan of the VSA running on my Lab Network for a while. Here are my rough notes from the class.

Each LeftHand Storage Module has 2 NICs.

Snapshots are Read Write volumes. This is by default and different from most vendor snapshots which are Read Only.

Types of NIC Aggregation supported by LeftHand SANs:
  • Active-Passive or Active-Backup
  • Link Agregation – 802.11AD
  • Adaptive Load Balancing: 1 GB in and 2 GB outbound. (Most commonly used)

LeftHand Tools: Health Check Utility – Monitors system Logs and optional emails them to support and client on a scheduled basis. Helpful when you call for support, they have your logs already (or at least a version of them)

For High Availability: You should run 3 managers or 5 Managers (the Most Managers recommended). Interestingly enough, 2 VSAs are not enough for a COMPLETELY automated fail over. Your data will be safe but your LUN will be offline until you fire up the Virtual Manager on the surviving node and bring the LUN back online.

Virtual Manager is used to regain quorum for a replicated LUN.

DiskPar and DiskPart are used for aligning the partition table offset correctly.
create partition primary align =64
This tidbit was extremely useful. It was said that misaligned disks can suffer from a 2 – 20% performance hit depending on usage.
Disk alignment will be automatic with Windows 2008.

Some of the items from the Certification Test:

  • Soft shutdown is an aspect of the management group.
  • Delete management group when you are COMPLETELY redoing your storage.
  • LUNs and Volumes are the Same.
  • Initiator Node Name is always retrieved from the initiator.
  • Remote bandwidth is what the managers will dedicate to remote copy.
  • Replication is Snapshot to snapshot only
  • Oracle control files must be on Direct Attached…
  • Managers keep track of everything…
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Beta Citrix Utility: Farm Monitor

Not a bad beta release from the guys at Gourami.


When starting Farm Monitor finds out these key elements of your Citrix farm:
-License Server
-Data Collector(s)
After this, Farm Monitors scans every XenApp/Presentation server in the farm. When all elements of the farm are gathered, Farm Monitor pings these servers to see if they are online/reachable.  You can also choose to monitor to see if specified services are running on the XenApp/Presentation server.  By default Farm Monitor checks the 'imaservice','netlogon' and 'spooler' service. Finally Farm Monitor can send an email if an alert has been raised.
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Utility: Restore deleted AD items

Were you aware of the fact that when you delete something from AD, e.g. User or an OU that there is a way to get it back?! What actually happens when you delete an AD item is that the system removes all traces of the item from all consoles, and moves the item to a special area in AD and turns the object into a "tombstone" (see http://www.microsoft.com/technet/technetmag/issues/2007/09/Tombstones/default.aspx for more info on Tombstones). This tombstone is replicated to all DC's. There is a process that runs which performs a cleanup from time to time, but in the meantime how do you access the tombstone information? Glad you asked!

There is a SysInternals command line tool called ADRestore located here: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb963906.aspx

There is also a very nice gui tool now available written by Guy Teverovsky available for download from http://blogs.microsoft.co.il/blogs/guyt/archive/2007/12/15/adrestore-net-rewrite.aspx
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Speed up your Windows 2003 Servers (including Citrix)

Aaron sent this around to me:

Here is a very critical Registry entry for Windows 2003 Servers, an entry which affects performance and is so critical that in Vista and Windows 2008, Microsoft actually disables this "feature" by default. I just read this paragraph which is included in the "Performance Tuning Guidelines for Windows Server 2008"

Disabling File Last Access Time Check

Windows Server 2003 and earlier Windows operating systems update the last-accessed time of a file when applications open, read, or write to the file. This increases the number of disk I/Os, which further increases the CPU overhead of virtualization. If applications do not use the last-accessed time on a server, system administrators should consider setting this registry key to disable these updates.


HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\FileSystem\ (REG_DWORD)

By default, both Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 disable the last-access time updates.

By the way this whitepaper can be access from: http://www.microsoft.com/whdc/system/sysperf/Perf_tun_srv.mspx
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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

VMware File Extensions

Was sent a link to a good reference article by Greg Shields about VMware File Extensions :

.VMDK -- These files are the actual hard disk of the virtual machine itself, and tend to be the largest file within the folder. You can consider the size of this file to be roughly equivalent to the size of either the disk itself (if you've chosen to use preallocated disks) or the size of the data currently stored on that disk (if you use growable disks).

.NVRAM -- Consider this file the BIOS of the virtual machine.

.VMX -- With typically one VMX file per folder, this file holds the configuration information for the virtual machine in a text format.
Unlike almost all the other files you'll see, these files can be edited using any text editing program, a process that is actually required for some functionality that is not exposed in the GUI.

.VMXF -- This file, in XML format, includes additional information about the virtual machine if it has been added to a team. If a machine has been added to a team and then later removed, this file remains resident. This file can also be opened and read in a text editor.

.VMTM -- For virtual machines actively participating in a team, this file stores information about that team membership.

.VMEM -- These files, which contain a backup of the VMs paging file, are typically very small or non-existent when the virtual machine is powered off, but grow immediately to the size of configured RAM when the machine is powered on.

.VMSN and .VMSD -- When snapshots are created for a virtual machine, these files are created to host the state of the virtual machine.
The VMSN file stores the running state of the machine, what you could consider the "delta" between the VMDK at the point of the snapshot and what has been processed up until the present time. The VMSD stores information and metadata about the snapshot itself.

.VMSS -- If you've suspended the state of your machine, this file contains the suspended state of that machine. These files typically only appear when virtual machines have been suspended.

.HLOG -- If you have vMotioned the Virtual Machine, this file is created and can be safely deleted.
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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Upgrading ESX without Update Manager

Once in a while, you have to do a BIG update to ESX and Update Manager (as cool as it is) just won't help. You have to go to the command line to upgrade. 3.5 Update 1 made us do that and so would an upgrade from say 3.0 to 3.5. Here is a quick and easy way to do it.

To upgrade during production hours, you can preform a rolling upgrade on the ESX servers utilizing vMotion to move all the workloads from 1 server to the remaining servers and then upgrading the ESX hosts 1 at a time. Be sure to put them into Maintenance Mode before beginning each one.

After downloading the package to your workstation, you will need to upload it to the ESX servers.

Copy Upgrade package to your ESX servers.

I use Filezilla but any SFTP program will work fine. Copy package to /tmp/.

Putty into your ESX server. If you haven't enabled root access, check out this post.

Run unzip VMware-* to unzip the package and then Run esxupdate –r file:/tmp/3.5.0-64607/ update or if you are in the /tmp directory already you can just run esxupdate update.

Once the upgrade is complete, the server will restart and you can take it out of maintenance mode.
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Monday, July 14, 2008

Outlook running Slow?? TRY DELETING SOME EMAILS!

Some conversations that have been floating around the office related to Outlook performance:

1)      If you have a large number of items in any single folder, you may experience performance issues during certain operations in Outlook. The performance issue is especially noticeable when you switch into and out of that folder. Generally, when 10,000 items or more items are in a single folder, these issues can occur.
2)      We recommend that you maintain a maximum range of 3,000 to 5,000 items in any of the critical path folders.

But if your outlook is fast enough and you want to give it some more overhead, try Xobni.
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Friday, July 11, 2008

XenServer: Initial Deployment thoughts

I thought I would jot down some thoughts I have had on XenServer after really digging deep into it at a client site with the Citrix Engineers.
    The product is VERY command line based.  Many of the functions and features I take for granted in the VMware interface are buried in Xen's Linux command line interface.  Simple procedures in VMware translate to multiline commands in Xen.  Although intimidating at first, with practice, clients will be awe struck watching me configure the XenServer from the Command Line Interface. ?

      At this time, XenServer has some limitations when it comes to networking.  Currently XenServer only supports network bonding of 2 NICs at a time and only in an active passive mode.  This translates to forcing all of your Virtual Machine network traffic over 1 NIC card.  With VMware I routinely bond 4 – 6 NICs together to accommodate Virtual Machine traffic and they are all active at once.  To get around this issue, you can manually create different bonds and manually assign your VMs to them to distribute the load a bit.

        This same networking issue also exists on the storage side if using NFS or ISCSI.  All Storage traffic must be forced over 1 active NIC bond at a time.

            When I needed to bond 2 NICs for Management redundancy, I had to do this operation in the Linux operating system essentially 'hiding' the configuration from XenServer. You set the XenServer to 'Forget' the NICs and then bond them in Linux.

            Many of the initial issues with XenServer 4.1 are being addressed in the upcoming 4.2 release and will hopefully be ironed out.
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            Wednesday, July 9, 2008

            SysInternals Tool Suite

            The guys at Microsoft created a single download which contains the bulk of their tools, here is the page that describes it all:  http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/0e18b180-9b7a-4c49-8120-c47c5a693683.aspx and you can download the file (8MB) from: http://download.sysinternals.com/Files/SysinternalsSuite.zip
            Also, another good resource for the SysInternals tools, in an uncompressed format is http://live.sysinternals.com/ this can be a very helpful site when you just need to quickly grab a tool and don’t want to bother with downloading and unzipping etc.
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            Restart your Citrix Services with one Service.

            Ever want to restart the Citrix services to see if everything is ok or to refresh something, but wonder what the best order might be or hate to have to click each one manually? Here's a quick way to have the system do it for you, restart the service called "Windows Management Instrumentation Driver Extensions" and the system will restart almost all of the Citrix Services with it. They all seem to have a dependency on this service.
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            Power Defragmenter using Sysinternals Contig

            I just found this tool, seems to work pretty good, it automates using the Sysinternals Contig utility.

            Power Defragmenter is a GUI (Graphic User Interface) application for program Contig by Sysinternals.

            Contig is a very powerful defragmentation application designed for Windows NT/2000/XP operating systems.


            Download includes a copy of Contig.exe.
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            New Citrix Utility - TSUserLog


            Document ID: CTX114179   /   Created On: May 14, 2008   /   Updated On: May 15, 2008

            TSUserLog is a simple Win32 logging utility that allows an administrator to capture Terminal Services user information, such as their session ID's, states, and Winstation names. It also captures additional details regarding the Terminal Services session, and logs all this information to a CSV file at specified intervals (see the screen shot below).


            Windows XP Professional, Windows 2000 Server, or Windows Server 2003.

            Terminal Services enabled

            Installing TSUserLog

            Download and unzip the attached file. There is no additional installation process.

            How To Use TSUserLog

            1. To configure the log file name and location, click the File menu, then click Set Log Path.

            If you don't configure a log file name and path here, then the log file is placed in the current directory in which the application is running, named TSUserLog.csv.

            2. Enter a desired interval (in minutes) of when you want to query for the session information and have its results logged to the file. The default setting is 5 minutes.

            Note: The minimum interval allowed is 1 minute.

            3. Click Start to begin. (Notice that it becomes disabled and a progress control indicates that it is currently running.)

            To hide this application but still allow the application to capture the session information, click Hide.

            The following informational message appears:

            After clicking OK, the application disappear. As the message indicates, pressing the [SHIFT + UP ARROW] on the keyboard causes the application to appear again.

            To stop logging, click Stop on the application. Notice that the Start button becomes active again, ready for the next logging session.

            What Gets Logged:

            SESSION NAME



            Published Application

            Client Name

            User Name


            Initial Application

            Client Address

            Client Build Number

            Client Directory

            Working Directory

            Client Display

            Use Case:

            This application was inspired by troubleshooting a deadlocked server, where the normal cause of the deadlock was a session going into a Down state. Typically, analyzing the full memory dump of the server can indicate which session is responsible for this; however, in most cases the memory dumps were corrupted to the point that it did not allow for this in-depth analysis. Knowing the problematic session ID beforehand allows for a more direct approach when analyzing the memory dump because it allows you to delve directly into the problem session memory space for analysis.

            Download @ http://support.citrix.com/article/CTX114179
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            HyperTerminal for Vista

            For some reason Microsoft decided to remove HyperTerminal from Windows Vista. Hilgraeve, the company that wrote the HyperTerminal app included in previous versions of Windows, also has a downloadable HyperTerminal Private Edition.

            So if you are running Vista and need HyperTerminal to setup a CAG, router, switch, etc, you can get it below -

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            Tuesday, July 8, 2008

            VMware replaces Diane Greene as CEO

            Numerous sources have been posting that Diane Greene has been replaced as CEO of VMware by former Microsoft executive Paul Maritz.

            Virtualization.info also makes mention that it will be interesting what happens with her husband and Chief Scientist Mendel Rosenblum.

            Read more @ http://www.eweek.com/c/a/Infrastructure/Diane-Greene-Leaves-VMware/

            and http://www.virtualization.info/2008/07/vmware-loses-its-ceo.html
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            New Citrix XEN Visio Stencils

            Daniel Feller created a really nice set of Visio objects for the Citrix Delivery Center solution set. This is very useful for everyone who is involved in designing Citrix solutions.

            The following products are included:

            • XenApp

            • XenDesktop

            • XenServer

            • NetScaler (includes rack-mountable stencils and NetScaler MPX)

            • WANScaler (including the new Branch Repeater)

            • Access Gateway

            • Application Firewall

            • Provisioning Server

            • EdgeSight

            • Password Manager

            • Workflow Studio 

            Click Here to Continue Reading >>