My ramblings about all things technical

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All Things Virtual 18


There has been an unbelievable amount of news in the past week and a half since my last All Things Virtual. Also i came across one or two blogs in the past few days that were a bit older but have so much great information in them I’ve added them to this list also.

First is the announcement of the next London VMUG meeting. It is happening on Thursday the 28th of October with some really awesome sessions by Xsigo and Gabrie van Zanten of fame. If you are near the London area I would encourage you to mail the address and book your spot and come join all the attendees for vBeers afterwards and hear how we can all talk about not just VMware stuff but all things geek 🙂

I’m very fortunate to have become a part of a very current and global company like EMC due to the company I worked for being bought by EMC. If you are like i was and always wanted to join a big international IT company at the forefront of the industry then Chad Sakacc’s posting about the more than 200 open positions at EMC,EMC partners and VCE will be of interest to you. There are some amazing roles open especially in my opinion the latest vSpecialist roles to be filled as the vSpecialists are definitely one of the “elite” teams of Virtualisation professionals which I hope one day soon I can become a part of.

Chris Dearden has done an in depth blog posting all about Kaviza VDI in a box V3. If you haven’t heard about Kaviza they won the best of VMworld 2010 Desktop Virtualisation award and has been rated very highly by a lot of top people in the virtualisation industry. Chris has done a great posting all about the features and also just posted about the latest release of it version 3.1.

If you didn’t read my last All Things Virtual then you wouldn’t know that the registration for the VCAP-DCA exams were due to be opened on September the 13th as mentioned by Scott Vessey on his blog. You can register here for the exam. A few of the guys I follow on twitter have already registered. I’m personally waiting quite a while until i feel confident enough in my knowledge and having got through and confidently ticket off all the things on the VCAP blueprint with links as created by by Kendrick Coleman. Eric Sloof posted all about test questions for the VCAP-DCA exam on his site, which will be a nice way of doing some practice before the exam even though a large part of the exam is doing labs. Cody Bunch has started registrations for the VCAP-DCA brown bags consisting of 18 sessions run on a bi-weekly basis starting next week Wednesday (30th of September). I have been through quite few of Cody’s VCP and VCDX brown bags (recorded due to the times they have been running) and they are going to be a brilliant resource in my preparations for the exam.

David M Davis of the Trainsignal vsphere training materials fame has done a very interesting video all about VMware ESXi 4.1 Lockdown and New Total Lockdown Mode. this video is great for someone like me who is having to build and strengthen their knowledge all about ESXi seeing as I’m an ESX only user so far and with the next release not having ESX included.Eric Siebert has posted a great posting all about Upgrading hosts from ESX to ESXi in seven steps. This is brilliant for the exact same reasons of learning ESXi die to ESX being discontinued.

Eric along with David M Davis and  Simon Seagrave have also covered his blog posting along with HP microserver and cool vSphere iPad apps on their latest vchat episode. If you haven’t watched any of theses vChat’s before I would highly recommend them as the guys cover all the latest and greatest things coming out and a personal bit of enjoyment is seeing how remarkably happy David is in every single vChat episode 🙂

The talk and blogging about VMware vCloud Director is still going strong since VMworld and there have been some top class blogs all about features,fixes,lab builds and hardening guides. William Lam has done a posting all about automating the installation of vCloud director and the oracle database. Duncan Epping has posted about the vCloud Director security hardening guide. From what a number of people have been saying on twitter this is a must read before using vCloud Director. I am yet to get round to it as I’m still trying to finish building my test lab of the product but as usual the guide looks like a brilliant resource.Duncan has also posted about creating a vCD lab on your Mac laptop. I’m not an Apple Mac person myself but I’m sure a substantial amount of people will find this posting very interesting.

Mark Vaughn has posted all about a challenge he has made for someone to try make a mini version of the VMware Express truck. If you haven’t heard about the VMware Express tuck then read about it here. Mark is challenging someone to create a smaller version and try put it into a Mini Club-S. I along with a large number of people judging from the talk of it on twitter would love to see this achieved so if you feel up to the challenge then check out his blog and please tell me when it being started and keep me up to date on it’s progress as this is a brilliant idea and highly interesting concept.

Frank Denneman has done another brilliant posting all about Resource pools and simultaneous vMotions. I’ve posted a few of franks previous postings on the topic and i would highly recommend reading through his latest posting on the topic as i know a large number of people and see a very large number on the VMware communities still believing setting values and limits for resource pools as well as using resource pools for organisation.

Duncan Epping has also done a posting all about the misconceptions of the amount of memory allocated to the service console and how it is actually calculated. a nice little bit of information possible for someone writing their vcp or VCAP soon as they love these arbitrary kinds of questions in the exams.

Due to vCentre 4.1 now requiring the base Os to be x64 a number of people are now needing to upgrade their vCentre to a 64bit server.Barry Coombs has blogged all about the VMware document detailing how to achieve it and some of the points of interest he feels you need to pay special attention to.Thankfully due to my vCentre needing a rebuild  a while back my vCentre is already 64bit. If you like a large number people seeing as how much traffic I get to the posting you may get an  “Active Directory Web Services encountered an error while reading the settings for the specified Active Directory Lightweight Directory Services instance. Active Directory Web Services will retry this operation periodically. In the mean time, this instance will be ignored.” error and will need to make a few registry changes to fix the error as defined in my blog posting.

Alan Renouf has posted all about the latest PowerCLI 4.1 Poster and Quick Reference Guide. This guide is very useful to me due to my trying to teach myself Powershell/PowerCLI and the learning of these commands for my usage due to the removal of the COS soon. Alan is obviously one of the top guys for PowerCLI and as I’ve mentioned loads of times before if you aren’t using his vCheck program then you need to start using it ASAP.

The next one is an amusing one for anyone working in the virtualisation field who is asked by someone what they actually do for a living and having to try explain it to someone who doesn’t work in IT. Gabrie van Zanten wrote the posting and it’s a great article especially the comments of what other people say 🙂

Next is all about the latest release of the vReference card by Forbes Guthrie. The reference card is an amazing amount of information you could even need to look up on one very easy sheet. I always have the pdf saved to my desktop so i can access it whenever i need to do a quick lookup of any information or values

Next is the availability of the schedule builder for VMworld Copenhagen for all the attendees. I’ve already started playing around with my schedule trying to get in the sessions and hands on labs I want to attend and do ,as well as leave some time for social networking as one of the big things about the conference for me is meeting all the people who I follow and chat to on twitter and whose blogs I have and still learn so much from.If you are a blogger or social media contributor and are attending or will be blogging about VMworld Copenhagen  then remember to add your information for the VMworld Europe 2010 Social Media Contributors.

  Duncan Epping of yellow-bricks fame has a contest to win yourself a free VMworld  Copenhagen ticket so if you aren’t attending and wish to attend but for whatever reason couldn’t afford it then go check out his posting on the contest here and hopefully I’ll meet you there at one of the events.

Talking of events at VMworld the Danish VMUG have taken on a crazy task and have opened up a VMUGParty for all VMworld Copenhagen attendees with free beer and cold drinks sponsored by EMC, Trend Micro, Magirus, IBM and Veeam. I have a feeling this pay get out of hand with the amount of people invited but I’m planning to make it myself and hopefully i can meet you.

Chris Dearden has come up with a very clever idea of instead of exchanging information and business cards at VMworld to exchange self created t-shirts and maybe by the end of the week you’ll have yourself a couple of very cool shirts with your fellow VMware bloggers websites on them.


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All things virtual XI

I’m fairly pleased that these summaries of the things that have caught my interest in virtualisation have been getting so much traffic and even more pleased is that even though I didn’t post anything massive in particular I got my highest number of viewers last month to this blog with a week still to go which is always encouraging as hopefully some of the stuff I write about helps someone like so many of the websites I read have helped me.

First is the imminent announcement of the vExperts for 2010. I would obviously be extremely honoured if I became one but I think I’d be in shock a lot more though as there are some really top people in the field.

Next is a posting by Gabrie van Zanten (@gabvirtualworld) all about the default installation settings he does when setting up a vSphere 4 host. Some of the tips he mentions are ones I never thought about or knew so I’ll definitely be referencing his posting as well as Duncan Epping’s response to Gabrie’s posting all about his best practices/recommendations. I always enjoy finding these kinds of postings as sometimes these kinds of things you only learn having done many high level environment deployments etc and are also great tips for thoughts for my builds for my future VCDX attempt.

Duncan has also done a two part blog posting with Frank Denneman all about swapping in your VMware environment and what metrics actually show performance degradation and how they are worked out. Franks posting gives more of a description on how the memory is calculated and describes the reasons for swapping happening in your environment and how to try avoid it happening and thereby impacting your servers performance.

A few people have blogged about this but the first i saw it was on Virtualization spotlight a blog by Patrick Redknap. VMware have published a video KB on how to power off an unresponsive VMware ESX virtual machine. This video is a really useful one as quite a number of times I’ve battled to get a vm to shutdown correctly even after having tried rebooting services it stayed hung.

Frank Denneman has also posted a really good posting all about setting up memory reservations in your resource pools and how they work. This posting ties in really well on the little known (at least to me and a number of people I have spoken to /asked about memory reservations) about how a vm’s reservations will hoard memory if it has been used by the virtual machine once. Frank describes it well in the part “Even if the virtual machine becomes idle, the VMkernel will not reclaim this memory and return it to the free memory set. This means that ESX can start swapping and ballooning if no free memory is available for other virtual machines while the owning VM’s aren’t using their claimed reserved memory.” Recently while doing some testing for the HA setup in my environment I noticed from a vCheck report I ran that HA stated there were no spare slots in my HA cluster, so I did some research and came across Duncan Epping’s Slot sizes posting and onto his HA deepdive posting in which he describes how the slots are worked out :

“To calculate available resources and needed resources for a fail-over HA uses a concept called “slots”. Slots dictate how many VMs can be started up before vCenter starts yelling “Out Of Resources”!! Normally each slot represents one VM.

A slot is a logical representation of the memory and CPU resources that satisfy the requirements for any powered-on virtual machine in the cluster.

In other words a slot size is the worst case CPU and Memory reservation scenario in a cluster. This directly leads to the first “gotcha”:

HA uses the highest CPU reservation of any given VM and the highest memory reservation of any given VM. If no reservations of higher than 256Mhz are set HA will use a default of 256Mhz for CPU and a default of 0MB+memory overhead for memory.

If VM1 has 2GHZ and 1024GB reserved and VM2 has 1GHZ and 2048GB reserved the slot size for memory will be 2048MB+memory overhead and the slot size for CPU will be 2GHZ. “

So I went through all of my vm’s and found a few stragglers that had memory reservations that had been switched off for a while. Once i cleared these our empty slots went from zero to 85 due to two of the switched off machines having six gb’s of ram reservations. Eric Sloof has also recently posted a great posting all about adding resource pools and how these can impact the performance of your vm’s even if you think they aren’t.

Speaking of VMware clustering options Cody Bunch has done a brilliant posting in the math behind the DRS stars. The math is a bit over my hear personally but math always has been so nothing new there. It’s very interesting how they work all these things out and a great bit of information for your setting up your DRS cluster.

Whilst i was doing my HA testing i had a few questions of how HA works and due to our environment being a test lab it’s also an integral part of our work as a consultancy so I couldn’t test what happened for the differing options you can select for HA. So I asked on twitter and Kendrick Coleman (@kendrickcoleman) not only replied to me among other people but went and tested it out for me in his test lab and posted a very nice blog posting all about it. Glad I gave him an idea and thanks for the results Kendrick!! It’s much appreciated and is one of the reasons being on twitter is priceless if you work in IT.

If you want to  comment about my blog either leave me a comment and I’ll make sure I respond to you or add my on twitter via @greggrobertson5. Also congrats to the imminently crowned vExpert’s for 2010.

Gregg Robertson

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All things virtual VI

It’s definitely been a very hectic past few weeks for me and due to this it’s taken me quite a while  to get this posting to a post able standard. There has been some brilliant articles and news in the virtualisation arena and some resources that are currently and will in the future help me to make my daily job a lot easier.

First is one that i think is a common mistake among many people when they plan/build their VMware virtual environments.Craig Risinger has posted a guest posting on Duncan Epping’s yellow bricks website all about resource pools and how people need to keep an eye on the amount of resources allocated to a resource pool compared to the amount of machines that are in the resource pool. It does seem a very obvious thing to monitor but I even had to run an eye over the ones in my environment as with the amount of migrations and builds that happen it’s something you forget to check or amend.

Next is a great article I found when trying to explain blocks sizes to a fellow IT friend and about alignments and what both are and what you need to think about in your decision of aligning your data or not. Steve Chambers (@stevie_chambers) wrote the article and is one that I learnt some more from as well as helped me to refresh some of the knowledge i knew but due to not having used it for ages had forgotten some of.

Another posting is stumbled across these past few weeks that caught my interest was a posting by Ian Koenig all about IO DRS. This is a fairly new idea to me as I’ve obviously always done cpu and memory DRS as it’s standard to monitor and make changes dependent on vSphere’s DRS clusters settings but Ian has done a very intriguing and exciting posting all about IO DRS and how it could come very soon to allow you to monitor and make changes dependent on IOPS and details how it would all work. I then did a bit more research on the topic and it seems I’m not alone in my interest and excitement about this feature. Rich Brambley (@rbrambley) wrote a blog posting all about it and detailed some of the things that were mentioned about it at this years VMware Partner Exchange.

Fellow Saffa , Rynardt Spies’(@rynardtspies) has written up a very detailed and thought provoking posting all about VMware vCentre 4 Design Considerations and has given all the pro’s and cons he took when deciding  32bit or 64 bit, physical or Virtual and placement of the vCentre database as well as the Update Manager Server and database.

Simon Seagrave (@kiwi_si) has done a very clever and interesting 5 minute video reviewing vkernel capacity view and how it works and looks.  An application I haven’t tried myself but a it’s nice to be able to get a quick run through of what it is and does.

The infamous Eric Sloof (@esloof) posted up his vmClient last week. the tool looks amazing is something everyone needs to have a try out of as it has helped me tremendously by allowing me to quickly jump between virtual machines while trying to do loads of things at once. He’s also done a great video run through of how it looks and works

While listening to the VMware Communities podcast about ESXi last week I was reminded of the latest release by trainsignal the VMware Pro Series Training Vol1. As i mentioned in my posting about the resources i used for my vcp4 exam, the trainsignal videos are priceless in your studying and preparing for the exam as well as a very helpful tool if you need to refresh your knowledge on things you may have become rusty on. I’m planning on getting my hands on this latest instalment but if Kendrick Coleman’s(@kendrickcoleman) twitter and blog posting about it are anything to go by it should be brilliant.

Vladan Seget has posted a great little posting on how to add a second service console via cli. This caught my attention firstly because I’m personally trying to do more and more via vma and cli to prepare myself for ESXi as well as very good troubleshooting step by step.

David Convery has done a very interesting posting all about the problems he encountered with his vshield zones and the ways he got around them. I’ve been planning to implement vshield zones into my home lab for a while but haven’t got around to doing it yet, so David’s posting is now one of the pointers and steps I’ve added in my implementation of it.

Over the past week there has been a major buzz all about the release of simdk. Andrew Kutz(@sakutz) is the man behind this creation and what a little creation it is. Andrew has managed to create a VMware vSphere4 simulator which provides vSphere4 API-compatibility. I’m seriously excited to get it implemented and deployed in my lab environment as it should allow me to get so much more of my testing done and hopefully will save me some money in my VCDX lab deployment. I’m also keeping my eye on the official site of the product for any news and update.

Lastly one from my daily troubleshooting. While migrating machines to new hosts we noticed that certain machines network cards were unticking the connected radio box in the vm’s settings


Even if we ticked connected and applied the changes it kept on reverting back to being unticked. My colleague Simon Phillips noticed the solution, that we had created the vSwitches with the standard 24 ports and therefore once we had reached that number of ports used there were obviously no more spare ports and so the machines couldn’t be connected. There were no errors telling us this was the problem but it’s a very good example that early simple planning and configuration would have fixed.

Gregg Robertson



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