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As I’ve written in a previous post, Dell has recently released the new versions of some Equallogic’s software, included the new Host Integration Tools (HIT) for VMware 3.1 that is now compatible with vSphere 5 (it support also the Storage Clusters and VASA). The appliance and the documentation are available from the Equallogic support site.

HIT/VE is distributed as a OVA file (the current version is HITVE-3.1.1.32.ova) and the deploy is the same as other virtual appliance. The VM it’s based on a CentOS 5.3 distro and it’s configured with virtual hardware 7 (so it can run also on 4.x hosts), 1 vCPU, 2 GB vRAM (but seems that also 1,5 GB could be enough) and two vNIC: one for reach the vCenter Server and one for reach the Equallogic management (or the iSCSI network).

When the appliance is deployed and powered on, with the vSphere Console or SSH it is possible to login with root/eql (password can be change) to run the setup program and start the configuration (that is quite simple):

Note that View and VASA configurations are optional. After the plugins are registered in vCenter Server the VM will be rebooted. To update a previous version of the HIT/VE appliance an ISO file is available… but of course it’s also possible delete the old VM and deploy the new one (to de-register the old one you can also use the setup menu of the new appliance).

When the appliance is configured and the plugins are registered, you can see some new icons in the home page of vSphere Client (see the next figure), but also some new menus and tabs.

The Datastore and Auto-Snapshot Managers are just the Equallogic volumes and snapshots (smart copies) manager, and are very similar as the same in the native storage manager interface. The Virtual Desktop Deployment plugin is just a way in integrate some function of the View Manager (like pool creation and management).

Also some new alarms (specif for the storage) are created in vCenter Server. In this way the vCenter Server become a unified interface to manage also the storage part (to be honest some function, like firmware upgrade, still require the storage management interface).

About VASA, in my case, it was quite strange: it doesn’t register correctly in vCenter Server. Of course a vCenter Server 5 was used, but the VASA provider was not added to it (note that the VASA API are not provided directly by Equallogic, but by the HIT, at his address https://HIT_IP/vasa/services/vasaService). The error was related to this issue: “cannot connect to profile-driven storage service”.

Some root causes and solutions were available in the release note (apply if there is a conflict with the Web Client Server or Orchestrator) or in the KB2001804 (apply if the profile-driver storage service was not registered due an early reboot of vCenter Server). But neither of them was a solution of my case: the true was really funny… simple the Inventory and the Service Profile-Driven Storage were not installed (probably an issue during the vCenter Server installation). For fix them was needed a new run of the vCenter installation.

When the VASA provider is registered (see the first picture for the status), is possible build new storage profiles based on some capabilities automatically collected from the storage. Note  that those information are available also with firmware 5.0.8. I’ve not test yet if the capability list is more reach and detailed with the new 5.1.x firmware.

 

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With ESX/ESXi is possible have several information from the physical hardware (with CIM) and this could be enough in most cases, especially for monitoring (with hardware health) and to gain some inventory info (like the Service Tag of a server).

But for some specific tasks (like a RAID rebuild o check of the local storage, or have a detailed inventory of the physical RAM banks) is necessary use the specific native tool from the hardware vendor. For Dell servers, the tool is called OpenManage Server Administrator (OMSA) and the current version is 6.5. It is available for several platforms of operating systems (in case of physical servers) or hypervisors (included VMware ESX/ESXi, XenServer and Hyper-V).

For vSphere 5 it’s already available a preliminar and working version (but is not yet included in the official repository):

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For a list of all objectives see the VCP5 page.

Objective 6.2 – Perform Basic vSphere Network Troubleshooting

Verify network configuration (same as vSphere 4.x)

See VMware Virtual Networking Concepts for basic concepts for standard virtual switches. See Objective 2.2 – Configure vNetwork Distributed Switches for distributed virtual switches.

Verify a given virtual machine is configured with the correct network resources (same as vSphere 4.x)

See VMware KB: Troubleshooting virtual machine network connection issues and http://damiankarlson.com/vcap-dca4-exam/objective-6-3-troubleshoot-network-performance-and-connectivity/

Troubleshoot virtual switch and port group configuration issues (same as vSphere 4.x)

Use previous links. For vmkernel porgroup vmkping can help in network tests (remember to use -d option to test large packets like, for example, Jumbo Frames).

Troubleshoot physical network adapter configuration issues (same as vSphere 4.x)

Remember that each pNIC act as an uplink, so the relative pSwitch port must be configured in the same of others in the same vSwitch. Mix of different NIC adapters is permitted. Mix of different speed could be possible, but can create performance issues. For IP hash team policy a specific configuration is required on the pSwitch. Beacon probing make sense only with at least 3 pNIC.

Identify the root cause of a network issue based on troubleshooting information (similar as vSphere 4.x)

A top-down or bottom-up approach though the network layer could be useful. Also a packet trace in the network could help (see Using a Network Packet Analyzer on a VMware vSphere Virtual Network and VMware KB: Capturing a network trace in ESXi using Tech Support).

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For a list of all objectives see the VCP5 page.

Objective 6.1 – Perform Basic Troubleshooting for ESXi Hosts

Identify general ESXi host troubleshooting guidelines (new in vSphere 5)

See the vSphere Troubleshooting guide.

Troubleshoot common installation issues (new in vSphere 5)

For Audodeply see the vSphere Troubleshooting guide (page 20). For other installation is most similar to old version and remember to check requiments and HCL.

Monitor ESXi system health (similar as vSphere 4.x)

See the vSphere Monitoring and Performance Guide (page 25).

Export diagnostic information (new in vSphere 5)

See the vCenter Server and Host Management Guide (page 95).

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For a list of all objectives see the VCP5 page.

Objective 5.6 – Patch and Update ESXi and Virtual Machines

See also: Objective 5.6 – Patch and Update ESXi and Virtual Machines.

Identify patching requirements for ESXi hosts and virtual machine hardware/tools (similar as vSphere 4.x)

Each piece of software need to be patched for different reasons… but the most important are usually the security reasons.

For ESXi a patch need that the host is put in maintenance mode and require a host reboot after the patch operation. All those operations can be orchestrated by VUM.

For VMware Tools a new version is usually related to a new major release or also of some update (in most cases related to vmkernel update). On most guest OS (like Windows) a VMware Tools patch need a VM reboot. All those operations can be orchestrated by VUM.

For VM virtual hardware this upgrade is related to new major relases (for example with vSphere 5 the new virtual hardware is v8 ) e richiede di fatto due riavvi della VM. It require first the VMware Tools upgrade, and usually two VM downtime. All those operations can be orchestrated by VUM.

Create/Edit/Remove a Host Profile from an ESXi host (same as vSphere 4.x)

See the vSphere Host Profiles Guide (page 8). Usually you can start from a base ESXi and use it as a template.

Attach/Apply a Host Profile to an ESXi host or cluster (same as vSphere 4.x)

See the vSphere Host Profiles Guide (page 12).

Perform compliance scanning and remediation of an ESXi host using Host Profiles (same as vSphere 4.x)

See the vSphere Host Profiles Guide (page 16).

Install and Configure vCenter Update Manager (similar as vSphere 4.x)

See the Installing and Administering VMware vSphere Update Manager guide (page 31). Note that you can install or upgrade the Update Manager server on 64-bit operating systems. Even though Update Manager runs on 64-bit operating systems, it is a 32-bit application and requires a 32-bit ODBC DSN.

Configure patch download options (same as vSphere 4.x)

See the Installing and Administering VMware vSphere Update Manager guide (page 66).

Create/Edit/Delete an Update Manager baseline (same as vSphere 4.x)

See the Installing and Administering VMware vSphere Update Manager guide (page 81).

Attach an Update Manager baseline to an ESXi host or cluster (same as vSphere 4.x)

See the Installing and Administering VMware vSphere Update Manager guide (page 95).

Scan and remediate ESXi hosts and virtual machine hardware/tools using Update Manager (same as vSphere 4.x)

See the Installing and Administering VMware vSphere Update Manager guide (page 99 and 115). Note that Update Manager 5.0 does not support virtual machine guest patch operations.

Stage ESXi host updates (same as vSphere 4.x)

See the Installing and Administering VMware vSphere Update Manager guide (page 119).

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At the BUILD developer conference during this week, Microsoft demonstrated the new version of Windows products (and some related products, like Hyper-V and PowerShell). It is not clear if both the client and the server OS will be released at the same time (rumors say during 2012) and if they have also the same name. But I suppose that the Server OS will use the same naming of previous (so maybe Windows Server 2012?).

Windows (client) 8

One curios thing is that Windows 7 and 8 are not related to their NT kernel versions: Windows 7 is just a NT 6.1 and Windows 8 is just a NT 6.2… so not new architectures but more similar to an evolution of the NT 6.0 (Vista) architecture. In fact, except the new Metro UI (and the MSIE 10), Windows 8 seems quite similar to Windows 7.

The Metro UI is the new controversial interface tile based, similar to the one used on Windows Phone 7. For a tablet could probably be good a solution, but for a traditional PC with keyboard and mouse is just a nice home screen with a limited usability. About the revolution (or evolution) of this GUI, this image synthesize is a funny way the difference between Windows 1.0 and Windows 8.

From: http://charlie.amigaspirit.hu/temp/windows-1-vs-8.jpeg

Windows 8 is available as a developer preview on MSDN both in 32 and 64 bit editions (so seems confirmed that the rumored 128 bit was a fake). A VM installation require VMware Workstation 8 or Fusion 4, or (maybe?) vSphere 5 (with this note, but http://kb.vmware.com/kb/2006859 say a different thing) or XenServer 5.6U2 (Running Windows 8 Developer Preview in a virtual environment). Honestly in a VM isn’t too much fast in the boot and shutdown procedure (but this a developer edition). But from the OS works good and seems quite ready. See also some screenshots (not mine). See also the new bluescreen screenshot (Even the Windows 8 Blue Screens have been re-imagined!), this happen if you try to install Windows 8 in a VM on a unsupported hypervisor.

Windows Server 8

Also Windows Server 8 is available as a developer preview on MSDN. With 300 new features that include significant improvements to system-level virtualization, along with a raft of virtualized networking, storage and management capabilities. Apart the Hyper-V 3 related features, one interesting aspect could be the deduplications in NTFS as also the ability to turn on and off the GUI, basically providing Server Core, with a GUI on demand when needed (but will replace the Server Core?).

Hyper-V 3

Probably this is the area with most new features. First to all seems that will available also for the Client OS (Bringing Hyper-V to “Windows 8”). This will open some interesting questions about the role of Windows Virtual PC (is suppose that it will dropped) and how XP-Mode and MED-V will be implemented now.

This is a list of some of the new features of Hyper-V 3:

  • Support for up to 160 logical processors and up to 2TB RAM on Hyper-V hosts
  • Support for 32 vCPUs with up to 512 GB RAM per VM
    note that the CPU count matches what’s available with vSphere 5 and XenServer 6.0, though both of those platforms also accommodate 1 TB of virtual memory
  • Support for NUMA in the guest, so that the VM has processor and memory affinity with the host
    similar at the same function of ESXi 5
  • Support for multiple concurrent Live Migrations
  • Support for Storage Live Migration,without a requirement for a shared storage backend
    with SCVMM there was already a Quick Storage Migration function, but this one is more similar to the Storage vMotion of VMware (included since 3.5)
  • New virtual disk format, called VHDX breaking the 2TB limit for the currently used VHD format, with a maximum of 16 TB
    note that also vSphere 5 has a limit (in the vmdk) of 2TB
  • Introduction of Offloaded Data Transfer (ODX), which enables Hyper-V to offload storage features to the storage subsystem
    comparable with the vStorage API for Array Integration (VAAI) functionality provided by VMware
  • Virtual Fibre Channel Support, where each VM can have up to 4 virtual Fibre Channel host adapters, and direct access to SAN LUNs using Multi-Path I/O (MPIO)
  • Updated virtual switch, providing multi-tenancy capabilities providing network isolation and network virtualization
    comparable to the VXLAN functionality introduced by VMware/Cisco and others
  • The virtual switch is also extensible providing capture, filter and forwarding extensions, using an API provided by Microsoft
  • SR-IOW for privileged access to PCI devices
  • Resource pools
  • Support for Data de-duplication, providing compression of data stored on a Volume, with no significant performance implications. This also will reduce backup windows dramatically
  • Hyper-V replica providing asynchronous/consistent replication functionality
    probably similar to the new VM replication feature introduced in vSphere 5

Interesting also the announce of Cisco, that will extent the functionally of the Hyper-V virtual networking:

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Veeam has start a free community educational resource site:  Backup Academy. This site provides training on basic principles of virtualization and data protection. These basic principles are presented in a product-neutral fashion, meaning that there are no specific backup products mentioned. The only time specific products are mentioned is when the hypervisors (VMware ESXi, Hyper-V) are mentioned, as well as specific guest operating systems and applications that we need to protect as IT professionals.

See the official announce: Backup Academy: Free data protection training & certification for virtualization.

I’ve not tried yet the course part (that seems to be good, at least for the people involved), but I’ve only try the exam part. To be honest the exam is actually too much simple (some questions are really good, but most are too easy or also repeated). Also the certificate is avalable only on a web page, and is qualified only by the exam date but without any ID. IMHO, the certification part need some improvement, or just change the name from certification to accreditation :)

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View 5 is now official available (included the new Workstation 8 in the Premier edition), al also other VMware products:

And also the documentation has been update:

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As you can see the blog name has changed from Virtual Infrastructure to vInfrastructure, and also the URL has changed from http://virtual-infrastructure.it to the short one http://vinfrastructure.it.

But don’t worry, the contents remain the same (and will grow again) and the previous links will still work.

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Dell Equallogic has recently released new versions of some software. Note that those release are Early Production Access (EPA) version. Early Production Access software is fully supported for production use, but customers should read the documentation and plan an upgrade in keeping with their organization’s business practices.

SAN HeadQuarters V2.2

Required firmware: V3.3.1 or later

This version of SANHQ adds the following functionality:

  • 95th Percentile Reporting
  • Support for Multiple Server Connections
  • Live View
  • Group Diagnostics Report
  • RAID Evaluator (provably the most interesting feature, because can be used as a good capacity estimator)
  • Support for PS Series V5.1 Firmware features, including Audit Logs and DCB Configuration Information
  • Usability enhancements

Host Integration Tools for VMware V3.1

Required firmware: VMware vSphere 5.0 or 4.1 (Note – some new features require 5.0)

Host Integration Tools for VMware version 3.1 supports the following new features:

  • Support for VMware Version 5
  • Support for VMFS 5
  • Support for VMware thin provision stun option
  • Support for vStorage API for Storage Awareness (VASA)
  • Support for Datastore Clusters and Storage DRS
  • EqualLogic Datastore Manager option to delete datastores
  • A new method for managing ACL policies is available from the Manage ACL Policy wizard.
    • This wizard can be selected from Auto-Snapshot Manager/VMware Edition (ASM/VE), EqualLogic Datastore Manager, and the Virtual Desktop Deployment Utility.
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For a list of all objectives see the VCP5 page.

Objective 5.5 – Backup and Restore Virtual Machines

See also: Objective 5.5 – Backup and Restore Virtual Machines and Objective 5.5 – Backup and Restore Virtual Machines.

Identify snapshot requirements (similar as vSphere 4.x)

See the vSphere Virtual Machine Administration Guide (page 208) and VMware KB: Understanding virtual machine snapshots in VMware.

Note that snapshots provide a point-in-time image of the disk that backup solutions can use, but Snapshots are not meant to be a robust method of backup and recovery. If the files containing a virtual machine are lost, its snapshot files are also lost. Also, large numbers of snapshots are difficult to manage, consume large amounts of disk space, and are not protected in the case of hardware failure.

Create/Delete/Consolidate virtual machine snapshots (similar as vSphere 4.x)

See the vSphere Virtual Machine Administration Guide (page 209 and 216). Can also be done from the vSphere Web Client.

The consolidate operarion, instead, is a new feature of vSphere 5. Snapshot consolidation is useful when snapshot disks fail to compact after a Delete or Delete all operation or if the disk did not consolidate. This might happen, for example, if you delete a snapshot but its associated disk does not commit back to the base disk. For more info see the vSphere Virtual Machine Administration Guide (page 218).

Install and Configure VMware Data Recovery (similar as VDR 1.x)

See the VMware Data Recovery Administration Guide (page 13). For more info about VDR see also: VMware Data Recovery (VDR) as a backup solution.

Create a backup job with VMware Date Recovery (similar as VDR 1.x)

See the VMware Data Recovery Administration Guide (page 26). Note that now is possible use email notification and have a different time window for “maintenance” activities (like integrity check).

Perform a test and live full/file-level restore with VMware Data Recovery (similar as VDR 1.x)

See the VMware Data Recovery Administration Guide (page 31 and 33).

Determine appropriate backup solution for a given vSphere implementation (similar as vSphere 4.x)

VMware provide only VDR (in all edition exept the Essential bundle), ad a backup product, and a set of vStorage API (the VADP subset) to integrate 3rd part backup programs. Note that in vSphere 5 VCB is no more available.

The commercial backup products can give more feature than VDR, like: more option for scheduling, more type of destination, application recovery, data replication, …

About the criteria of choosing a backup solution, the features list is just one, but there is also the price (that depends the type of licensing), if you need also backup of physical environment (in this case “traditional” backup solutions may be better), if you have already a skill on one solution, the performance and scalability, …

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For a list of all objectives see the VCP5 page.

Objective 5.4 – Migrate Virtual Machines

See also: Objective 5.4 – Migrate Virtual Machines and Objective 5.4 – Migrate Virtual Machines.

Identify ESXi host and virtual machine requirements for vMotion and Storage vMotion (same as vSphere 4.x)

See the vSphere Virtual Machine Administration guide (page 219) and vCenter Server and Host Management guide (page 119 and 122).

Some basic requiments: for vMotion a specific vmkernel interface (enabled for vMotion) is required, as the CPU compatibility (or EVC). For Storage vMotion the host must see both source and destination datastore.

Identify Enhanced vMotion Compatibility CPU requirements (similar as vSphere 4.x)

See the vCenter Server and Host Management guide (page 123) and VMware KB: Enhanced VMotion Compatibility (EVC) processor support. More baselines are available.

Identify snapshot requirements for vMotion/Storage vMotion migration (similar as vSphere 4.x)

See the vCenter Server and Host Management guide (page 121). Some restrictions apply when migrating virtual machines with snapshots:

  • Migrating a virtual machine with snapshots is now permitted, regardless of the virtual machine power state, as long as the virtual machine is being migrated toa new host without moving its configuration file or disks. (The virtual machine must reside on shared storageaccessible to both hosts.)
  • Reverting to a snapshot after migration with vMotion might cause the virtual machine to fail, because themigration wizard cannot verify the compatibility of the virtual machine state in the snapshot with the destination host. Failure occurs only if the configuration in the snapshot uses devices or virtual disks that are not accessible on the current host, or if the snapshot contains an active virtual machine state that was running on hardware that is incompatible with the current host CPU.
  • If the migration involves moving the configuration file or virtual disks, the following additional restrictions apply:
  • The starting and destination hosts must be running ESX 3.5 or ESXi 3.5 or later.
  • All of the virtual machine files and disks must reside in a single directory, and the migrate operation must move all the virtual machine files and disks to a single destination directory.

Migrate virtual machines using vMotion/Storage vMotion (similar as vSphere 4.x)

See the vSphere Virtual Machine Administration guide (page 223) and vCenter Server and Host Management guide (page 132). Can also be done from the vSphere Web Client.

About vMotion with high priority: On hosts running ESX/ESXi version 4.1 or later, vCenter Server attempts to reserve resources on both the source and destination hosts to be shared
among all concurrent migrations with vMotion. vCenter Server grants a larger share of host CPU resources to high priority migrations than to standard priority migrations. Migrations always proceed regardless of the resources that have been reserved. On hosts running ESX/ESXi version 4.0 or earlier, vCenter Server attempts to reserve a fixed amount of resources on both the source and destination hosts for each individual migration. High priority migrations do not proceed if resources are unavailable.

Remember that the Storage vMotion of virtual machines during VMware Tools installation is not supported.

Configure virtual machine swap file location (same as vSphere 4.x)

See the vCenter Server and Host Management guide (page 121).

You can configure ESX 3.5 or ESXi 3.5 or later hosts to store virtual machine swapfiles in one of two locations: with the virtual machine configuration file, or on a local swapfile datastore specified for that host. You can also set individual virtual machines to have a different swapfile location from the default set for their current host. If hosts are all 3.5 or later, during a migration with vMotion, if the swapfile location specified on the destination host differs from the swapfile location specified on the source host, the swapfile is copied to the new location. This can result in slower migrations with vMotion. If the destination host cannot access the specified swapfile location, it stores the swapfile with the virtual machine configuration file-

Migrate a powered-off or suspended virtual machine (similar as vSphere 4.x)

See the vSphere Virtual Machine Administration guide (page 220). Can also be done from the vSphere Web Client.

When you migrate a suspended virtual machine, the new host for the virtual machine must meet CPU compatibility requirements, because the virtual machine must be able to resume executing instructions on the new host.

Utilize Storage vMotion techniques (changing virtual disk type, renaming virtual machines, etc.) (same as vSphere 4.x)

See the vSphere Virtual Machine Administration guide (page 226).

During a Storage vMotion or also a cold storage migration all files are renamed with the current VM name. The vmdk can be change from thin to flat or viceversa.

For virtual compatibility mode RDMs, you can migrate the mapping file or convert to thick-provisioned or thinprovisioned disks during migration as long as the destination is not an NFS datastore. If you convert the mapping file, a new virtual disk is created and the contents of the mapped LUN are copied to this disk. For physical compatibility mode RDMs, you can migrate the mapping file only.

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