Rynardt Spies

Rynardt Spies

SP_2SP_1 SP_SEPTEMBER SP_2SP_0SP_1SP_9

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Image: Veeam
Veeam Software has released Veeam Monitor 4.0 and Veeam Monitor Free Edition 4.0. The new version of Veeam Monitor Includes:

  • Support for VMware vSphere 4;
  • Storage monitoring;
  • Hardware monitoring;
  • More new features requested by customers.

 

I've not had time to install and play with Veeam Monitor 4.0, but if Veeam Monitor 3.0 is anything to go by, I'm sure Veeam Monitor 4.0 will be good. I'll install it and do a review sometime this week.

 

You can download Veeam Monitor 4.0 from: http://www.veeam.com/vmware-esx-monitoring.html 

You can download Veeam Monitor Free Edition 4.0 from: http://www.veeam.com/esxi-monitoring-free.html

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This may not be the most technical post, but it should hopefully give VM administrators some ideas on managing their VMs.

Despite having tools like VirtualCenter, keeping track of your VMs can still be a mission. Today I look after thousands of virtual machines running on hundreds of ESX hosts in several data centres. Most of these VMs are production systems, some are clones of production systems, some are test and some are dev. Creating and managing machines for new services is not always an issue. We have processes in place to control VM sprawl. We know which VMs belongs to which customers. We also know who to contact in regards to which VM. This is all documented in change records and CMDBs. However, having to go back to CMDBs and change records every time you need to know who owns a VM is a bit of a slog. Sure we’ve tried adding relevant information into the “Notes” Attribute, but it gets messy and some administrators “forget” to add all the information we need into the notes.

To try and keep track of who owns what, I use a simple but very effective tool inside vCenter to manage VMs. It’s the “Custom Attribute” function of vCenter that allows administrators to specify custom attributes for all the VMs and hosts in vCenter. Custom Attributes are by no means a new feature in Virtual Infrastructure or vSphere, yet a lot of administrators don’t use them as they simply don’t realise that custom attributes functions exists or what custom attributes are for. I’ve seen many virtual Infrastructures built on VMware VI 3 (small environments to large enterprise environments) and I simply can’t recall ever seeing custom attributes being used.

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VMware has released a security advisory to address multiple vulnerabilities in VMware Workstation, Player, ACE, Server, Fusion, ESX, and ESXi. The first of these vulnerabilities is due to a error in the VMware Descheduled Time Accounting driver. Exploitation of this vulnerability may result in denial of service in Windows-based virtual machines. The second vulnerability is due to a known error in the libpng package used by some VMware products. Exploitation of this vulnerability may allow an attacker to execute arbitrary code.

It's recommended to visit VMware security advisories page and download the necessary updates to resolve the issues.
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As the post's title states, this has nothing to do with virtualization, but I thought it was funny and good enough to deserve a mention. In April, we went on holiday to South Africa. As I'm originally from South Africa, I should be used to seeing things similar to this, but I guess I just can’t get used to it!

Anyway, this is how NOT to advertise!!! (I had to remove the phone number. I didn’t want to get a lawsuit against me!)

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So the long wait is over. You can now download vSphere 4 from http://www.vmware.com/download/vsphere/.

 I've been patiently waiting for this release as I should now be able to fully and openly discuss the bells and whistles of the product without breaching the private beta confidentiality agreement.

I've used vSphere4 for quite a while now and I can tell you that it's a very good product. Well done VMware. Now that VMware's build work is over (for now), our work starts. Most of us will now be planning the upgrade of our environments to vSphere from VI3. Sounds like fun! Bring it on!

 

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Mike Laverick from http://www.rtfm-ed.co.uk/ gave some comments on Eric Siebert's interesting article named "Will VMware give away VMotion and HA for Free". The article can be found at http://itknowledgeexchange.techtarget.com/virtualization-pro/will-vmware-give-away-vmotion-and-ha-for-free/

At first I though that I didn't see the need to comment on this, but when I read Mike's comments on his blog, something caught my attention that cheesed me right off! Mike says that many people dismiss VMotion as some kind of nice-to-have toy. Now, Mike obviously disagree with that statement, and so do I.

Here's my comments on that simple one-liner:

As for VMotion being a critical part of the package, I simply can't see how it can be dismissed as just a nice to have tool. I guess those who dismiss VMotion as "Nice to Have" simply don't work in enterprise environments where a single change request can take days to be reviewed let alone approved. The ability to move VMs from one physical box to another certainly makes life in enterprise IT bearable.

 Just to get a simple change through to fix or enhance something on a physical host can be tough enough. Imagine doing the same change request but having to include "The following 15 systems will be unavailable..." in the impact clause of a change request? That kite is not going to fly mate!

My view, charge for VMotion. It saves a lot of time in the long run, and in this world time=$$money$$. Why complain about forking out some $$$ in the first instance if it’s going to save you money in the long term? Or, of course you can opt to go with MS and save the cash on licensing only to lose more cash on techie salaries and SLA breaches. It’s up to you.

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Kodiak Private Beta Logo
 

I’ve been playing a little with the beta version of Kodiak, “the world’s only platform-in dependent virtualization management application!”

For those who aren’t familiar with Kodiak, here’s an intro as from their website:

Kodiak, from BlueBear, enables unprecedented visibility into and control over virtualized infrastructures, regardless of size or composition. As the industry's only application that's both hypervisor-agnostic and cross-platform, Kodiak sets a new standard in versatility, pushing virtualization out of the datacenter and catalyzing its widespread adoption throughout the information technology landscape. BlueBear believes useful software should be available to anybody who needs it, and at no cost; hence Kodiak's price, totally free! 

 

Anyway, I’ve got a few invitations to the private beta program. If you would like me to send you an invite, please drop me an email via the contact page! I only have a few, so first come first serve!

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If you’ve ever had trouble installing VMware tools on certain distributions of Linux, it may be worth a shot looking at VMware Tools Operating Specific Packages, or VMware Tools OSP.

VMware Tools OSPs are VMware Tools software packaged in the native package format and standards for selected supported Operating Systems (Guest Operating Systems). These packages are distributed for example in packages such as rpm and dep.

Currently VMware Tools OSPs are supported for the following Guest Operating Systems:

·         Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 and 5 (RHEL)

·         SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 9 and 10 (SLES)

·         Ubuntu 8

You can download a user manual for OSP at http://www.vmware.com/pdf/osp_install_guide.pdf
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VIRTUALVCP.COM was down between 25-04-2009 and 02-05-2009 due to a firewall failure in my hosting environment whilst I was away on vacation with my family in South Africa. On the 25th of April, I noticed that my mobile phone stopped communicating with my active sync email server. I soon realised that the problem affected the entire hosting environment, including www.virtualvcp.com and www.vi-pedia.com.

As I was almost 10,000km away from home, I was left with no other choice than to wait until I could get back to the UK to resolve the issue.If you are reading this article from www.virtualvcp.com, it's obvious that the problem has now been resolved. I will now have to go back to the drawing board to work on a redundant connection to my hosting environment. At this moment in time, my websites do not generate enough unique hits per day to justify me moving the sites to a dedicated hosting environment. Once I get 3000+ visits per day, then I may look into moving out.

I do apologise for the down time of this website. It is against my personal  beliefs to have an unreachable website, even for an hour, but my hands were tied in this case. Thank you again for visiting www.virtualvcp.com. Keep checking back for some content on vSphere. I am now well rested and ready for some good blog'n! 

 

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Those of us who use VCB (VMware Consolidated Backup) to perform backups of their SAN based virtual machines may know how time consuming and frustrating it can be to find and clean up stale snapshots on virtual machines that were left behind by failed VCB backups. This is even more time consuming if you have a large scale virtual environment with hundreds or even thousands of virtual machines than needs to be backup up on a daily basis.

Let me first give a brief explanation on how VCB goes about backing up virtual machines and why having stale snapshots on virtual machines prior to a VCB backup job will spell problems.

Every time a VCB backup job kicks off, a snapshot is created on the VM that is going to be backed up. Whilst this snapshot is in place, all changes that takes place in VM’s guest OS will be written to delta VMDK files, that is one delta file for every virtual disk on the VM. These files increment in 16MB chunks and on a busy VM, say for instance a VM that hosts a large database, these 16MB increments may result in several gigabytes per delta file. Whilst any changes are being written to these delta files, VCB can go ahead and mount the main VMDK files to the VCB proxy server in order to make the VMDK files or their contents available to your backup software, i.e. Netbackup. When the backup job completes, VCB will then remove the snapshot by merging the changes recorded in the delta files with the main VMDK files and delete the delta files from the SAN.

Now, in theory this sounds very neat, and in reality it is. That is, until it goes wrong. Sometimes when a VCB backup job fails (and they do fail from time to time), the snapshot on the VM doesn’t get removed. In this case, all changes to the guest OS will still continue to write to delta files. And to make things even worse, I’ve seen cases where the snapshot failed to be removed even though the VCB backup job completed successfully. In this case, Netbackup will show a successful backup, yet the snapshot still exists on the VM. You simply can’t assume that all virtual machine snapshots are cleared off just because Netbackup or whatever you use as your backup application reports successful backups.

So why are stale snapshots a problem you might ask? Well, not only do they grow to huge sizes which may actually cause the datastore to fill up and crash all other VMs on that datastore, but VCB will probably not be able to perform backup operations on a VM that already has snapshots. So yes, a stale snapshot on a VM will cause your next VCB job to fail. You also run the risk of your snapshot delta files to go out of sync with each other and that could cause a loss of data in the worst case. All of which I have first hand experience.

My advice is simple. Make sure you don’t have any snapshots on any virtual machines in scope of being backed up prior to the backup window opening. This is simple, but if you have hundreds of virtual machines, going though each VM to check for snapshots is insane! So, myself and colleague came up with a Perl script that will go and check for any delta files in all datastores seen by the ESX host and return a list of delta files via email.

You can download the script here.

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@adaptiveoptics I think I'll be ok next week, but I'll be back in the UK for only a week after Denver, then off to… https://t.co/mJXmbRf9R5
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