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Think IPM

Thursday, August 21, 2008

HA and DRS behavior in a 2 node Cluster.

An interesting new DRS behavior was introduced with the latest Update 2 patch that I recently became aware of at a client.  If you have a 2 node cluster (Only 2 ESX servers in a cluster) and you have both DRS and HA set up, the HA settings will default to a logical 1 allowed failure state. (Since there are only 2 servers, that is the most and least amount of failures the cluster can accept).image

This behavior has always been the case however, in the past, when you have entered a HOST into  Maintenance mode, DRS would automatically vMotion the running Virtual Machines to the secondary host provided you had set DRS to fully automated.  This is no longer the case.  The new DRS logic will no longer vMotion running Virtual Machines to a secondary host in a 2 node cluster since entering maintenance mode would cause the HA cluster to violate its '1 allowed failure state'. 

You can still manually vMotion the machines off and once clear of running machines, the host will enter maintenance mode but DRS will no longer do it for you.  Quite annoying when you CHOOSE to put a machine into maintenance mode.

You can read more about it @ http://communities.vmware.com/thread/122653?tstart=0&start=30

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Backing up Virtual Machines using Vizioncore's vRanger to a Data Domain

Here is a quick little comparison of the options available to implement Vizioncore’s vRanger product for backing up Virtual Machines to a Data Domain device.   I am sure there might be other ways to accomplish this but these are all the one's I thought of! :) This assumes you are running Fiber to your SAN based datastores.

NFS Export

Using Data Domain’s ability to create an NFS mount, you  can configure the ESX hosts to use the Data Domain as a DataStore. This will allow the VizionCore vRanger machine to direct the individual ESX hosts to backup the VMs over a vKernel port group to the Data Domain server.


  1. The NFS export will be available to ALL ESX hosts so multiple ESX hosts could transmit backup traffic simultaneously increasing throughput and shortening the backup window.
  2. Full backups would be taken each night which would make restores a little easier.
  3. Vizioncore server could be virtualized since it would only manage and NOT PASS traffic.
  1. Virtual Machine backup traffic from the vKernel to the Data Domain will be transmitted over TCP connections.
  2. NFS does not support incremental backups which mean that every night full backups would have to be transmitted over TCP to the Data Domain possibly increasing backup window times.

CIFS Share

Using Data Domain’s ability to create an CIFS mount, you can configure the Vizioncore vRanger Server to use the Data Domain as a Windows Share. This will allow the Vizioncore vRanger Server to directly backup the Virtual Machines over TCP to the Data Domain Server.


  1. Windows CIFS mounts are the only destination supported by vRanger for incremental backups. This will allow for much smaller backup windows.
  2. Vizioncore vRanger server could be virtualized.
  1. vRanger server could prove to be a bottleneck in throughput and lengthen backup windows.
  2. Backup traffic would be transmitted from the ESX server and to the Data Domain server over TCP connections.

VCB proxy with NFS Mount

A physical VCB proxy server with vRanger installed could be fiber connected into the SAN fabric allowing VCB/vRanger to perform LAN free backups from the SAN to a local NFS mount provided by the Data Domain device.


  1. The physical VCB server could perform incremental backups over the Fiber directly shortening backup times.
  2. The NFS export could be mounted through the VCB Windows server supporting incremental backups.
  3. The Backup Proxy would shoulder the processing load of the backups allowing the backup window to possibly extend into work hours.
  1. vRanger / VCB proxy would need to be a physical server connected via fiber into the fabric.

If you are running fiber in your environment, I think this last option would be the best.  What do you think?

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

ESX Console Tab in VirtualCenter

Have you seen the Console Tab in VirtualCenter?

This is a great little plug in by the folks who brought you Storage vMotion GUI.  You can find the plug in @ http://akutz.wordpress.com/software/.  Installation is done at the client side and no changes to the VMware environment are necessary making this a very low risk addition to environments.

Makes for a nice easy way to do console commands without ever leaving the comfort of the VI client.  Be aware that most plug ins are not officially supported by VMware and are written by 3rd party developers.  Due diligence and testing should be preformed before adding to production environments.

Interestingly, this functionality is already native in XenCenter.image

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Uploading and installing patches with the VI Client

Although most ESX patches are now done through VMware's Update Manager but occasionally we will need up manually patch an ESX host.  Here is a quick way to do it with just the VI Client and putty.

  1. Be sure to put your host into Maintenance mode.
  2. After downloading your patch to your workstation, launch the VI client and pick an ESX host.
    Right click on a datastore (local storage is great for this) and click 'Browse DataStore'.
  3. You can then click the upload icon image and then Upload File.
  4. Navigate and choose your patch file package.
  5. Wait for the upload to complete. :) 
  6. Launch Putty (or go to the server console) and log into your ESX host and switch to your DataStore directory.
  7. Move the package from the DataStore to the /tmp/ directory
    mv <package> /tmp/
  8. cd /tmp/ and unzip <package>
  9. change into the created directory and run esxupdate update
  10. Once complete, reboot and exit Maintenance mode.
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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

BIG BUG in Update 2

Great News flash post @ Virtualization.info
Basically, any ESX implementation that is running ESX Update 2 (Build 103908) will not be able to power on or vMotion Virtual Machines as of August 12th due to some error code in the latest version.
A portion of VMware customers could be affected and the knowledge base is now down.
A patch should be released shortly to address the issue.
Check here for the latest from Vmware.
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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Killing a hung, Frozen, Dead or otherwise unresponsive Virtual Machine

There are numerous ways to kill a Virtual Machine after it becomes unstable but my new favorite method is using the vm-support script.  This script will not only remove all active processes associated with the Virtual Machine but also compile a nice little tar file to send to support if you want to do some post analysis.

2 Easy Steps and about 5 - 10 minutes later :

    1. vm-support -x will give us a list of the World IDs for the running VMs on the particular ESX host we are running the command on.
    2. vm-support -X <vmID> will run the support script and kill the processes associated with the vmID after gathering some support and debug information.

After the script completes, there will be a nice little package to download and upload to support and the hung machine will be powered off.  If you need a quicker way to pull the plug, try some of the suggestions found at Virtrix. Read more here.

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VMware ESX 3.5 Update 2 Goodies

Here are some other little niceties I have found after upgrading to VMware's ESX 3.5 Update 2.

More little hardware facts : Service Tags are displayed in the VC for Dell Servers (No more crawling behind the racks when calling tech support)


Better identification of certain hardware within VC     image

New Update Manager Configuration screens:
Previously, you had to search around to find the screens to edit various settings for Update Manager.  Now it is all under the Update Manager button.


Detailed descriptions of patches for Update Manager


These were just some of the little things I have noticed after updating to Update 2.

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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Missing Health Status

Timely posting by Duncan over @ Yellow-Bricks.com saved me some time at a client today when after upgrading to Update 2, the Heath Status was MISSING!


Read about the fix here : http://www.yellow-bricks.com/2008/08/05/health-status-not-showing

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TechBlink.Com: Citrix Provisioning Server 5.0 (Project Charles) enters Release Candidate Status

TechBlink.Com: Citrix Provisioning Server 5.0 (Project Charles) enters Release Candidate Status

Good sneak peak on the newest Citrix Provisioning Server 5.0 from Jim Kenzig.
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