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How startup and shutdown a vSphere based infrastructure

As written in a previous post, starting from vSphere 5.0U1 in a HA cluster the VM Startup & Shutdown ESXi host properties is disabled.

Anyway wasn’t supported, because according with the vSphere Avalability Guide and also the KB 850 (Automating the process of starting and stopping virtual machines on VMware ESX):

The Virtual Machine Startup and Shutdown (automatic startup) feature is disabled for all virtual machines residing on hosts that are in (or moved into) a vSphere HA cluster. Automatic startup is not supported when used with vSphere HA.

So, how it’s possible handle a correct poweron and shutdown sequence of your infrastructure?

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SRM issue: how clean a pending reprotecting task

Around a month ago I’ve got an issue with VMware SRM 5.0.1 during a test of the Recovery Plan.

In my case the storage was well configured for the replication, but not to permit the reverse reverse replication. So the reprotect task was locked and there was no way to remove this state because also the Delete Protection group was greyed out. If you fix the storage part usually the issue could be fixed in a clean way, but in my case the original LUN was removed and was not possible resume or fix the operation (also if you build a new LUN the ID could not be same). Also a SRM reboot was unsuccessful because the state was in the database.

I’ve looked around but I’ve not found a clean solution, so I’ve simple build a new Protection Group to look in the SRM DB and compare the wrong state with the clean one. With a little of patiance you can find the tables (note that are more than one and both on the production and the disaster recovery site) and fix the values. After that you can finally delete the Protection Group to really clean the database.

Now I’ve notice that there is a recent KB 2032621 (Protection group in vCenter Site Recovery Manager 5.x hangs in reprotecting state during the reprotect task), available from Aug 9 2012, that describe exactly this situation and the same solution.

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Top virtualization blog 2014 results

Finally the results of the contest Voting for the 2014 top VMware & virtualization blogs are out on vSphere-land web site, after the live show where the top 25 were announced. My guess about the first of each category has almost been matched (where my first options in most cases).

But according with this “spoiler” post there are several surprise in the top lists (maybe is becoming too much a popolarity contest, must is still one of the most followed).

With a big surprise also this year I’ve received some votes and vInfrastructure site is number 29 (last year was 40 and two years ago was 54) in the entire rank.

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Fix vCenter Plugins list: Remove Enterprise Converter

One possible issue after a vSphere 5 upgrade using an in-place upgrade of vCenter Server could appear when you forget to remove the Converter Enterprise plugin (and/or the Guided Consolidation plugin). As you know some products has been removed from vSphere 5, and their plugins may remain in a “orphan” state.

The result of this issue is that you will have a “broken” plugins list (with some plugins that are no more available) and also a wrong vCenter health status, due to some services that are no more existing:

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Manage an “isolated” Windows Server

There could some cases where you may have some Windows (Server) completely isolated from the Internet, for example in some appliances or storage solution.

One interesting aspect that learn on Windows products during a DataCore training was that in this case you can have some delay in the user interface, both on the DataCore GUI, but also on the Windows one.

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Manage a Dell PowerVault array with System Center VMM 2012

In the previous post I’ve described how System Center VMM 2012 can handle and manage some storage compatible with the SMI-S interface.

Now I’ll explain how connect an old Dell PowerVault MD3000i (but of course works also with recent models) using the SMIA (SMI Application) package that actually is not available as a standalone package, but it’s only included in the VMware vCenter Center integration (MD Storage Array vCenter Plug-in). You can simple adapt it to work also for SCVMM.

First you have to download the binary (there are a 32 bit and 64 bit versions) and installed on a supported OS (Windows Server 2003, 2008 or 2008 R2). Of course it can run inside a VM.

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IaaS vs. PaaS vs. SaaS

One of the several interesting topics discussed in the recent event Cloud Communities Day, held on Monday 22 in Milan and with the presence of various communities, as well as analysts and academics, was which could be the most interesting type of cloud.
If we limiting to the three basic types: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) or Software as a service (SaaS)… Which one could be the more interesting? As often “it depends” could be the answer, but paradoxically, many have very clear opinions about it (though it is not said that all fit together …).

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Virtualization ecosystem is becoming multi-hypervisor

One trend in the last year(s) is that the virtualization ecosystem is growing outside the boundary where was born: historical partner vendor of VMware now are extending their solution to other hypervisors, and also also new products are designed to managed a more complex virtual environment. This was also called “Hypervisor Agnosticism” in a VKernel post.

We do not talk about interoperability across different hypervisors, but simple use same tools, especially for management, monitoring and data protection, for more type of products.

Does it make sense? For a single customer maybe not… have multiple environment could be an extra cost (also if some tools may be the same, VM format, knowledge, admin tasks will be different for each product) that could be a non sense for small and medium company. But for system integrator  this could really be useful because you can push on few products and re-use part of your knowledge and practices. And of course it make sense for the vendor of this multi-platform solutions because they can extend their business to new market.

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Why Dynamic Disks are a bad choice

Microsoft Windows Dynamic Disks (or Dynamic Volumes) are an abstraction layer (introduced in Windows 2000) over the partitions (similar to the LVM layer on Linux environment) to decoupled the volumes (with their NTFS data) from the disk partitions and have a greater flexibility, like hot-extend a volume by simple add new partitions (but also several other advantages).

But in a virtual environment there are other way to handle disk flexibility, like hot-extend a virtual disk at hypervisor level (for VMware this feature was introduced in VI 3.5U2)… so there is no need to use dynamic disks at guest level. The only requirement is that the guest file system also support a hot-extent operation: this is available from the GUI in recent versions of Windows (from Vista, aka NT 6.0), and in a limited way (not, without use 3rd part tools, for OS disks) from the command line (with the diskpart command) also in some previous versions.

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Storage for VDI: local or shared?

In my interview with Sakthi Chandra (NexentaVSA for View Director), during the last Open Storage Summit EMEA, we have talk about the Nexenta approach of the storage for a VDI environment. Their product has been developed from a collaboration with VMware and some aspects sound familiar: for example the overview of the VSA deployment and design seems similar to the VMware VSA, except the scalability limit (that is limited to max 3 host for the VMware solution). But I don’t want talk about the product, yet (I prefer dedicate it a post, when I will be able to make some test), but about the approach: using local storage instead of shared storage.

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Heartbleed is a software bug in the open-source cryptography library OpenSSL, which allows an attacker to read the memory of a server or a client, allowing (with special forget packets) reading (small) portition of the victim client. This could expose to lost of some data and potentially also confidendial data.

Heartbleed.com has a detailed explanation of the issue, which is related to the “heartbeat” section of OpenSSL’s transport layer security (TSL) protocols and has been in the wild since March 2012 and affect all version from OpenSSL 1.0.1 through 1.0.1f.

You need to upgrade the OpenSSL binaries if you are implementing services with SSL but also you have to change your password (or you certificates) if you are using (of have used) affected services (see also The Heartbleed Hit List: The Passwords You Need to Change Right Now).

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Heartbleed is a software bug in the open-source cryptography library OpenSSL, which allows an attacker to read the memory of a server or a client, allowing (with special forget packets) reading (small) portition of the victim client. This could expose to lost of some data and potentially also confidendial data.

Heartbleed.com has a detailed explanation of the issue, which is related to the “heartbeat” section of OpenSSL’s transport layer security (TSL) protocols and has been in the wild since March 2012 and affect all version from OpenSSL 1.0.1 through 1.0.1f.

You need to upgrade the OpenSSL binaries if you are implementing services with SSL but also you have to change your password (or you certificates) if you are using (of have used) affected services (see also The Heartbleed Hit List: The Passwords You Need to Change Right Now).

continue reading…

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Also this time I’ll be attending the Dell Enterprise Forum EMEA (this third edition, after London and Paris,  will be in Frankfurt) and will be a good opportunity to spend some time with the technical Dell people, see latest products, hear about the new strategy and new products.

This is the first European Dell event, after the name rebrand and one year miss due to some changes in the period (previously was in Winter/Autumn, now in Spring).

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Heartbleed is a software bug in the open-source cryptography library OpenSSL, which allows an attacker to read the memory of a server or a client, allowing (with special forget packets) reading (small) portition of the victim client. This could expose to lost of some data and potentially also confidendial data.

Heartbleed.com has a detailed explanation of the issue, which is related to the “heartbeat” section of OpenSSL’s transport layer security (TSL) protocols and has been in the wild since March 2012 and affect all version from OpenSSL 1.0.1 through 1.0.1f.

You need to upgrade the OpenSSL binaries if you are implementing services with SSL but also you have to change your password (or you certificates) if you are using (of have used) affected services (see also The Heartbleed Hit List: The Passwords You Need to Change Right Now).

continue reading…

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vExpert

The primary reason for becoming vExpert certainly should not be related to any possible benefits of the program. And once confirmed (for me is the fifth year in a row) you have to think more about what you can give rather to what is to be expected. But I’d be a hypocrite to deny that there are also practical advantages in being a vExpert!

Officially, VMware, according with the vExpert FAQ, say that the biggest benefit of the award is the public recognition as a VMware vExpert Award winner.

But benefits also include:

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After the great success of the first Italian VMUG User Conference, there will be the second edition on May 7 2014 still in Milan but in a new location: the MiCo (MilanoFiera City).

A VMUG User Conference is not your regular VMUG meeting, it’s a full blown conference, with separate tracks and prominent guest speakers. A good opportunity to learn more, share experiences, and make networking.

And note that some sessions (we are trying to build an entire track) will also be in English, so this is not only for Italian people, but for all VMUG members!

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VCAP-DCA

One year ago I’ve written about the VMware exams and related products version but in the past months something has changes in VMware exams and the described criteria is not (completely) valid.

Some month ago VMware has release a new VCP5-DCV exam based on vSphere 5.5 and I’ve (later) associated this with the new recertification policy for VCP.

But on April 7, VMware released a new exam to qualify candidates for the VMware Certified Advanced Professional 5 – Data Center Administration (VCAP5-DCA) Certification. This new exam (exam code VDCA550) is based on vSphere v5.5, where the existing exam (exam code VDCA510) is based on vSphere v5.0.

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After five months the GA of VMware Horizon View 5.3, now VMware announce officially the new VMware Horizon 6.0 with much emphasis on the features of Horizon View. In the VMware End-User Computing Blog there are several post about it, but of course there are also several other blog post.

Will be an impressive innovation? Will be the year of VDI? Can simple change some rules and equilibrium in the EUC world?

There are of course several new features, but I think that it’s mostly and evolution than a revolution. The main core architecture remain exactly the same, with it’s pro and cons.

About if this could be the year of VDI, I think that after more than five years, nobody will never say this sentence again: the really is that the EUC is a fragmented world and will remain a fragmented world just because there are different needs. But some of the new features of Horizon View can change something.

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The rumors about a new storage supported for Veeam Explorer for SAN were true and Veeam has recently announce the support (with the next version) of NetApp snapshot.

Actually the supported storage (for the storage snapshot integration feature) are only HP: first was StoreVirtual (when was still called LeftHand) and later the StoreServ (3PAR) products.

This announce is the second related the new features of the upcoming Veeam Backup & Replication v8 release (the first was indirectly the beta of Veeam Explorer for AD).

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VCDX-DCV

The Italian VCAP and VCDX Bootcamps have finished and I can confirm (another time) how they can really valuable. During the past VMworld EU, I’ve attend at the VCDX Bootcamp, and this time was the opportunity to attend also at the VCAP Bootcamp (but first to all the opportunity to bring them in Italy).

Those bootcamps are a great opportunity to increase you skills, knowledge but also your confidence with VMware high level certification programs. But also a special opportunity to know other people involved in VCAP or VCDX preparation or people that have already those certifications. In this way could also become a way to start other opportunity like study groups or review groups and so on.

Collaboration, experience sharing, support and talk with the right people is a right way to affront some high level certifications.

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The HP World Tour 2014 has (unusually) start from Italy, with the Milan show, the first of an European series of international events with the goal of bringing in different countries the format of HP Discover, the main HP event for customers and partners. This event was an important opportunity to celebrate the history of innovation by HP, which this year reaches its 50 years of presence in Italy, which is strongly linked to local businesses, institutions and the ecosystem of partners and channel .

Many participants took part in the day’s World Tour, in which the protagonists were the issues related to innovation and HP solutions for the “New Style of IT”, to help enterprises to meet the challenges of the market and contribute to the definition of new business models and business, supported by an IT most flexible, accessible and efficient.

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