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In the previous post I’ve described the NexentaVSA for View architecture and the files included in the download packages. The deployment, installation and configuration is not a simple and immediate step, but is well described in the Installation Guide and also on this video.

There are several requirements for the vSphere datacenter (the NexentaVSA for View environment requires a separate datacenter for each ESXi cluster), the VMware cluster (the NexentaVSA for View environment requires at least one ESXi cluster that contains one or more ESXi hosts, but must also be an empty cluster or are least without any virtual desktop already deployed), virtual networking (basically you need a NFS network, better if dedicated), for the NexentaStor VSA and virtual desktop templates (for virtual desktop remember to install VMware Tools, View Agent and NexentaVSA for View Agent), and so on. All requirements are well described in the Installation Guide (that include also a pre-installation checklist) but some part are betted described in the video. What is really important is that you build a dedicated VMware cluster for virtual desktop hosts (cluster configuration is adjusted automatically by the management part). Also virtual networking configuration is mandatory (unless you have only a single ESXi host).

The installation of the NexentaVSA for View Management Appliance (based on an Linux Ubuntu distribution with credential root/nexenta) is quite simple (just an OVF deployment), but again there are several requirements.

The NexentaVSA for View Management Appliance should be located on the management ESXi host (or a management cluster). NexentaVSA for View Management Appliance requires full network access to all components and must have administrative privileges to vCenter and View Connection Server.

When the VM has been deployed (it will use 1 vCPU, 2 GB of vRAM and 20GB of storage) you can enter in the console to fix networking (by default is in DHCP) and timezone (if needed) and then run the Configuration Wizard.

To enter the Configuration Wizard you simple need a browser (also Chrome 12 and later is supported) to connect to the http://IP:3000 URL (as also prometed on the console).

The main tasks are the product registration, the configuration of the connection to View Connection Server and the configuration to vCenter Server.

Note that on the View Connection Server you must:

  • Activate the View Power CLI (by open the View Power CLI as Administrator and type the command “Set-ExecutionPolicy RemoteSigned”).
  • Install the NexentaVSA for View Server Agent.

Only in this way you will able to connect your View Connection Server (otherwise you will get a generic connection refused error).

In order to register the product you need a valid Product key, also for the trial version.

To receive the product key you must use the “Virtual Appliance Signature” (prompted in the registration page of the VA) to fill the “Machine Signature” field in the online registration.

The registration procedure maybe could be improved in future version to become more simplest, as also the overhall setup of the infrastructure. But again, the Installation Guide is quite detailed and well done and could really help in a good and successful deployment.

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In the previous post I’ve introduced the main characteristic of NexentaVSA for View. Now let’s give more detail on the architecture of this solution. The overhall architecture is well described on the NexentaVSA VMware View HW Reference Guide (that include also some interesting sizing scenarios).

In a local storage storage approach we will have the following components:

  • NexentaVSA for View Management Appliance: provides the NexentaVSA for View management functions. The Management Appliance is installed from an included template and can be located on any ESXi host in the network.
  • NexentaStor VSA: is a virtual storage appliance (VSA) that provides storage management for the NexentaVSA for View DVMs through a NexentaVSA for View vSphere plug-in, which communicates with VMware View and VMware vCenter to perform the actual virtual desktop provisioning and management. Administrators interact with NexentaStor VSA using wizards. NexentaStor VSA is installed from an included template on each dedicated NexentaVSA for View ESXi host.
  • NexentaVSA for View Server Agent: that handles all communication between NexentaVSA for View and the VMware components. The Server Agent is installed on the View Connection Server and is mandatory (curios that the common API has not been used instead of this component).
  • NexentaVSA for View Desktop Agent: that provides communication between NexentaVSA for View and the virtual desktops. The Desktop Agent is installed on the desktop template, which is installed on each NexentaVSA for View ESXi host. This is not a replacement of the View Agent and/or the VMware Tools. It is need to provide some function not available on both tools (like a deep performance monitoring).

Of course the View and vSphere part are also required in this architecture.

The NexentaVSA for View Management Appliance includes diffents components to “dialogate” with View, vCenter Server and the storage VSA, and also has a web interface with management wizards that allow administrators to simplify virtual desktop deployments and optimize VDI workloads.

For the storage part the NexentaStor VSA is used, in the local storage approach, to for several reasons. Some related to the interesting features of the ZFS filesystem, other of course to push also this part (both for technical but also marketing reasons).

In the shared storage a complete NexentaStor Server, on dedicated systems, is needed (usually in a cluster configuration to guarantee a good high availability).

For the storage, a Hybrid Storage Pool configuration is recommended, in order to optimize the storage performance. The key components are:

  • Adaptive Replacement Cache (ARC): the main ZFS cache stored in RAM.
  • Level Two Adaptive Replacement Cache (L2ARC): provides a larger, second-level cache to accelerate read operations. SSDs can be deployed here to cache read operations. Sizing RAM is important in calculating the size of the L2ARC (For example, it would make sense to store database pointers in RAM to enable quick access to records in the L2ARC, and to size RAM and theL2ARC accordingly).
  • ZFS Intent Log (ZIL): a separate intent log allows synchronous writes to be written quickly and acknowledged in the transactional model that ZFS uses. For VDI workloads, adding SSDs as a ZIL to cache writes significantly enhances performance.

All the software parts are included in a single big file (in tar.gz format) that you can obtain from the download page.

It includes four folders:

  • Agents: the server and desktop agents.
  • Docs: the installation and user guides.
  • NexentaStor_Template: the storage VSA in OVF format.
  • NexentaVSAforView: the mamagement part in OVF format.

In the next post we will see how use those files.

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NexentaVSA for View (NV4V) is a solution developed by Nexenta, with the collaboration also of VMware, that implement an integrated virtual storage solution for VMware View deployments and provides a interesting approach to VDI implementation.

It tried to solve most of the possible issues or disadvantages of a VDI approach:

  • Performance: in common VDI environment the storage could become the bottleneck of the infrastructure, with this solution you can simple scale by adding new hosts (in the same way on how you can scale to add more computational power).
  • Cost: it remove the need of a centralized storage (that usually must also have some high level functions to be useful in a VDI environment).
  • Complexity: simplifies the complexities of storage and desktop deployment for VDI into one console, greatly streamlining the process.
  • Monitoring: while allowing for in-depth analytics, performance testing, and VDI environment calibration.

Basically it integrates a management part (the NexentaVSA for View) with a storage part that could be:

  • Local and one for each hosts: by using the NexentaStor VSA
  • Shared (as a common shared storage): by using an solution based on NexentaStor Server

About the trade-off between a local or a shared storage approach, see this previous post. The local approach could be the prefered for this kind of product. Also with the power of the new server’s generations (were you can have in only 2U more than 16 cores, more than 1 TB of RAM, more that 20 slots for a 2.5″ HD) each single node could become a complete “building block” in a View design.

With a good VDI design, especially in pool design and user status management, you can move to a local storage approach that could become an interesting way to build a scale-out solution where the gap between VMs and storage is smaller (for more info about those concept see this post). Of course is also a multi-tiering solution to guarantee better performance.

But note that local and scale-out, does not imply that this solution build a single logical, transparent and redundant storage layer (for example as Nutanix does): each local storage is just “local” and if you loose a host you loose the VMs and the data. For this reason you must design well your View pools and also how the user profile is handles. Of course, some data, like the golden image, the user profiles, the View Connections Servers, must reside on a storage with high availability or with a good level of data protection. For user profiles could be not a big problem: a good fileserver is a common solution (and a low cost approach could be implement it with Microsoft DFS+FRS). For the View Connection Server a replica configuration could be an alternative way to provide high availability and also load balancing.

The other solution is use the shared storage approach, but (from my of view) you may loose most of the advantages of NexentaVSA for View.

Also note that the storage part is only one of feature of this product (probably the most important and the most relevant, but not the only one!). The management and monitor part are also interesting, considering that we are talking about a 1.0 version.

For more information see:

Next posts:

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Powering the cloud will be an important event organized by SNW Europe (co-owned by SNIA and Computerworld) that, this year, will include 3 different event in a single bigger:

  • SNW Europe (ninth year) is the largest fully-independent conference where IT managers and professionals can attend SNIA-endorsed education tracks, get hands-on access to a wide range of technologies, and mix with industry peers.
  • Datacenter Technologies (forth year) that brings a focused conference program and exhibition to the heart of the European market that addresses the technology standards and solutions that are vital to the development and deployment of an effective 21st century data center strategy.
  • Virtualization World (forth year) that takes a focused look at the continuing development of IT virtualization standards and solutions and the key role they play in delivering Cloud computing services.

This european event will follow the SNW Fall 2012 (Santa Clara, Oct 16-19, 2012) and will be in Frankfurt Am Main (as usual for the SNW Europe) on Oct, 30-31 2012.

For more information visit the official web site.

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To add more information to the previous post (One month to the VMworld US, VMworld US 2012 – Why attend and VMworld 2012 news) , there are several useful pointers.

VMworld event:

For Social & Events:

For traing and certifications:

  • Exam discount (50%): for more info see the official VMware and VUE pages. Note that discounts are for VCP5, VCP5-DT, VCP5-IaaS, VCAP5-DCA and VCAP5-DCD exams! Seems that also v4 exams are available (in fact is also indicated the VCA-DT exam, that actually exist only for v4).
  • VMworld Pre-Conference Training Open to the Public: interesting opportunity to attend at the VMware vSphere: Fast Track 5 or VMware vSphere: Optimize and Scale 5 courses with 25% off the regular price, on-site OR also on-line. The period is just before the event.

For San Francisco:

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In the previous post I’ve introduced some concept of the Nutanix approach to the storage (and not only, because it include also the compute and the networking part).

Basically we can use the slogan “No SAN”, but as written is more than a simple local storage approach.

To have more information and some example also of the user interface see this documents:

continue reading…

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Nutanix is a start-up company founded in in September 2009 with the scope to realize a new SAN-less virtualized datacenter platform, converging two tiers of infrastructure down to one. On May, 14th 2012, Nutanix has officially started its EMEA division.

The introduction video explains most the the basis concept of Nutanix storage approach. Also there are other blog that have a more exhaustive introduction (see in the final reference).

continue reading…

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DataCore Software is an independent software vendor, founded on February 4, 1998 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, specializing in storage virtualization, storage management, and storage networking.

Its main product, SANsymphony-V (now at the V9.0) forms a transparent, scalable virtualization layer across your storage infrastructure in order to enhance its capabilities and centralize its management. The many nuances that distinguish one model or brand of storage from another and render them mutually incompatible no longer stand in the way of using them together.

continue reading…

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Storage is an important part of a virtual infrastructure, but compared with the server part (that provide computational “power”) the different storage vendor’s solutions are not so homogeneous and easy to compare or understand. Of course because there are different positioning but also a lot of different aspects, but in most cases, the most important aspects are also the “hidden” or the less described.

What is probably clear is the difference between local storage (DAS) and shared storage (SAN or NAS, but sometimes also some kind of DAS) and why shared storage is so important: not necessary for the performance aspect, but mainly because it is required by design! In a virtual infrastructure for system virtualization (VMware vSphere, Microsoft Hyper-V, Citrix XenServer, KVM, …) a shared storage is required to provide some core features (like HA and VM hot-migration)… This could change in the future (for example let’s consider Marathon everRun VM without a shared storage), but actually is just a requirement. And of course also a plus, because it can provide different other improvements.

continue reading…

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In a previous post I’ve described how ignore the warning in a View 5.x environment. But the right way so solve this “issue” remain replace the self generated and signed certificates with new one signed from a trusted CA (a public on, but also an internal one could be fine, if you can push its certificate on all the clients). This may become a mandatory requirement for future version of View (although it is not yet confirmed).

For how generate and replace the certificates see:

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Some weeks after the announce of the DynamicOps acquisition intent, VMware has announced it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Nicira, a pioneer in software-defined networking (SDN) and a leader in network virtualization for Open Source initiatives.

VMware will acquire Nicira for approximately $1.05 billion in cash plus approximately $210 million of assumed unvested equity awards. The acquisition is subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions. The parties expect the acquisition to close during the second half of 2012. The acquisition has been approved by the boards of directors of both VMware and Nicira and the stockholders of Nicira.

But what is the Software-Defined Datacenter? Basically could be the foundation of Cloud Computing. Cloud computing is about agile, elastic, efficient, and reliable services, and it is achieved through sophisticated software that abstracts hardware resources, pools it into aggregate capacity, enabling automation to safely and efficiently dole it out as needed for applications. Tenants or customers utilizing the software-defined datacenter can have their own virtual datacenter with an isolated collection of all the compute, storage, networking, and security resources that they are used to. Furthermore, this virtual datacenter can grow and shrink to efficiently utilize physical resources. This is what the software-defined datacenter is all about, and it is the architecture for the cloud. Managing networks and network services to support cloud architectures is complex, time consuming and limits the achievement of full application mobility across clouds. Nicira is at the forefront of software-defined networking, which enables the dynamic creation of virtual network infrastructure and services that are completely decoupled and independent from the physical network hardware. Many industry leaders, including AT&T, DreamHost, eBay, Fidelity Investments, NTT and Rackspace are using the Nicira Network Virtualization Platform (NVP) to accelerate service delivery from weeks to minutes and dramatically reduce complexity and cost.

For more information see also:

VMware has also announced financial results for the second quarter of 2012:

  • Revenues for the second quarter were $1.12 billion, an increase of 22% from the second quarter of 2011, and 23% measured in constant currency.
  • Operating income for the second quarter was $212 million, an increase of 13% from the second quarter of 2011. Non-GAAP operating income for the second quarter was $358 million, an increase of 23% from the second quarter of 2011.
  • Net income for the second quarter was $192 million, or $0.44 per diluted share,compared to $220 million, or $0.51 per diluted share, for the second quarter of 2011. Non-GAAP net income for the quarter was $296 million, or $0.68 per diluted share, compared to $235 million, or $0.55 per diluted share, for the second quarter of 2011.
  • Trailing twelve months operating cash flows were $2.05 billion, an increase of 33%. Trailing twelve months free cash flows were $2.01 billion, an increase of 29%.
  • Cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments were $5.3 billion and unearned revenue was $2.9 billion as of June 30, 2012.
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Just one year ago this blog has started its life (see the first official post: Blog goes live).

Was a really intense year and a big challenge (more than 300 posts, with different length, but in most cases both in English and Italian), with several satisfactions. For example, I’ve tried to participate at the top virtualization blogs contents and the results where really interesting: I’ve received some votes and vInfrastructure site is 54 in the entire rank and 3rd in the Favorite New Blog list (and some mentions, included one from the Number 1)!

Also the first sponsors has arrived: I’ve choose to accept (to cover some expensive), but I still tried to keep more independence and objectivity as possible.

For the stats side, here some interesting data:

Period Access Number of visits Monthly visitors Download PDF VCP5 IT Download PDF VCP5 EN
2011 (dal 24 lug) 1.353.314 47.262 circa 6000 271 2212
2012 (fino al 24 lug) 3.459.369 163.655 > 10.000 815 5462

I have to be really grateful with all the people that follow my blog and hope to make better for the next year.

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