VMworld 2012 – Call for voting and a jiffy?!

30 05 2012

vote! by smallcaps, on FlickrThe Twitter world has been slightly abuzz. The reason? Well, a couple of weeks ago people were allowed to submit session proposals on VMworld.com. Basically, the call for papers is a way for folks to say “Hey, this is a cool idea for a session I have. This is what I would like to talk about.”. You submitted that on the site, and a first selection was made of the submissions, before they were now put online.

What do you need to do now? Well, you need to vote! If you go to VMworld.com you can click on the “Call for Papers Public Voting” link, and then cast a vote for the sessions you would like to see at VMworld. The only thing you need is a registered account at VMworld.com, and if you don’t have an account, you can create one here.

Once your are on the site, just browse through the sessions, and click on the thumb symbol in front of the session to cast your vote. It’s as easy as that, and you can vote for all the sessions that seem interesting to you (and others).

And while you are browsing, why not also take a quick look at session number 1665? This was submitted by my colleague Jonas Rosland and myself, and is titled:

Automagically Set-up Your Private Cloud Lab Environment: From Empty Box to Infrastructure as a Service in a Jiffy!

After casting your vote, it should look like this:

In the session, we will cover setting up a fully automated vCloud Director deployment in your lab environment. Starting off with an empty server and teaching you how to automate the installation of a full Cloud Infrastructure with ESXi, vCenter, vCloud Director and vApps, combined with the power of vCenter Orchestrator. And with all of this combined, you’ll be done in a jiffy!

If you think it would be interesting, we are both thankful for your vote! 🙂





Enabling nested 64-bit virtual hosts on vCloud Director 1.5 using MSSQL

1 03 2012

After a crash of the database inside of my lab, I was forced to setup my vCloud Director environment once more. Before you ask, yes, I did have a backup of my database. But as Murphy would have it, it wasn’t usable for a restore.

Anyway, this allowed me to actually re-create my environment, which wasn’t a bad thing. My idea was to create an easy to use nested 64-bit vSphere environment, where I could actually quickly deploy a vSphere lab to work/test/play with.

First off, I had to enable my hosts to allow nested 64-bit vSphere guests to be installed. A way to set this up can be found here.

In summary, you can either manually add the following line:
vhv.allow = "TRUE"
to the file /etc/vmware/config on your ESXi host, or you can SSH to your ESXi host, and use the following esxcli command to set the flag (which only works if the vCloud agent has already been installed, as @lamw correctly pointed out on Twitter here):
esxcli vcloud esxvm enable64bitnested

So much for step one. 😉

But now comes the fun part, enabling this in vCloud Director. Basic instructions on how to do that can be found here, and I can only confirm the warning given there:


This is not a supported configuration by VMware and this can disappear at any time, use at your own risk!

Since the instructions found on virtuallyGhetto are a bit more targeted towards Oracle, I thought I’d might as well share the instructions for a Microsoft SQL server, since these are slightly different.

For starters, go to the SQL server that is running your vCloud Director database, open the Object Explorer, and run a query against the dbo.config table that will allow nested 64-bit systems to run inside of vCloud Director. That query should look like this:

USE ReplaceWithYourDatabaseName;
SELECT config_it, cat, name, value, sortorder
FROM dbo.config
WHERE (name = 'extension.esxvm.enabled');

From there you can simply edit the value from “false” to “true”

Next up, you need to create an additional guest operating system type. However, by default you don’t have any permissions to add values to the table, so on SQL2008, you need to first change the “IDENTITY_INSERT” setting for the table, add the new family type, and finally set the Identity Insert value back to it’s original value, which goes like this:

USE ReplaceWithYourDatabaseName;
SET IDENTITY_INSERT dbo.guest_osfamily ON;
INSERT
INTO dbo.guest_osfamily (family_id,family)
VALUES (6,'VMware ESX/ESXi');
SET IDENTITY_INSERT dbo.guest_osfamily OFF;

Next up, we need to insert the operating systems for the entry we just created. We do this once for ESXi 4.1:

USE ReplaceWithYourDatabaseName;
SET IDENTITY_INSERT dbo.guest_os_type ON;
INSERT INTO dbo.guest_os_type
(guestos_id, display_name, internal_name, family_id, is_supported, is_64bit, min_disk_gb, min_memory_mb, min_hw_version,
supports_cpu_hotadd, supports_mem_hotadd, diskadapter_id, max_cpu_supported, is_personalization_enabled, is_personalization_auto,
is_sysprep_supported, is_sysprep_os_packaged, cim_id, cim_version)
VALUES (81, 'ESXi 4.x', 'vmkernelGuest', 6, 1, 1, 8, 3072, 7, 1, 1, 4, 8, 0, 0, 0, 0, 107, 40);
SET IDENTITY_INSERT dbo.guest_os_type OFF;

And once more for ESXi 5:

USE vmvblvcd15;
SET IDENTITY_INSERT dbo.guest_os_type ON;
INSERT INTO dbo.guest_os_type
(guestos_id,display_name, internal_name, family_id, is_supported, is_64bit, min_disk_gb, min_memory_mb, min_hw_version, supports_cpu_hotadd, supports_mem_hotadd, diskadapter_id, max_cpu_supported, is_personalization_enabled, is_personalization_auto, is_sysprep_supported, is_sysprep_os_packaged, cim_id, cim_version)
VALUES (82, 'ESXi 5.x', 'vmkernel5Guest', 6, 1, 1, 8, 3072, 7,1, 1, 4, 8, 0, 0, 0, 0, 107, 50);
SET IDENTITY_INSERT dbo.guest_os_type OFF;

Should the query analyzer give an error on the 81 or 82 values, you can increase these, because that just means that these values were already in use in the table. Just increase the numbers until the query analyzer doesn’t give you an error anymore.

And that’s it. You should now be able to see the new options when you create a new virtual machine for your vApp.

There are some additional steps to follow if you actually want to use the newly created options though. You need to restart the vCloud Director daemon on your vCloud cells, and re-prepare your hosts. Also, make sure to set promiscuous mode for the portgroups backing your vCloud network infrastructure, and you can check the post virtuallyGhetto for the details on that.





vSphere 5, it’s here! What’s new?

12 07 2011

It’s here, it’s here. 😉

VMware just announced their new version of vSphere 5, and as you have probably found out, general availability is targeted toward August this year. There is a whole bunch, and I mean a whole bunch, of new stuff coming out, and everyone knows what we can expect at VMworld this year.

Let me be clear that this post is in no way trying to sum up all the new things that are introduced with vSphere 5, but this is mean to give you a quick and easy to consume overview of some of the major new features.

Key stuff that is new or has changed in vSphere 5:

  • Virtual hardware limits. We can now address 32 virtual CPUs and a maximum of 1TB of RAM (note that virtual machine hardware type 8 is required). We see people running larger and larger workloads, and are seeing more and more people moving their tier 1 applications to a virtualized environent. Anyone who has tried to virtualize a large database or business warehouse system will know what I mean.

    One word of caution though. Even though we can now create very large installations, be careful. This is not a sensible size for all applications, and you should check on an application specific basis if you really need something this big, and are able to leverage all of the resources it offers.

  • VMFS version 5. With the updated version of the VMFS there are some modifications being made. For one, you no longer need to use extents to create volumes over 2TB in size, and they have added support for physical RDMs that are over 2TB.
  • The service console is missing. Well, it's not really missing, but there is no more service console, due to the fact that you will now only find ESXi as the hypervisor. Although some people might be missing some things without the traditional ESX service console, this does offer some advantages like having only a single vSphere package, hardened security and less patches. But this should probably be one of the changes that almost everyone has seen coming, so I'm not going to go in to the depths on the pros and cons of this choice.
  • VAAI has again been enhanced. With vSphere 5, there are enhancements for both block and file based storage:
    • for block:
      • Thin provision stun has been added, which is basically an option to get feedback when a thinly provisioned LUN is full. You will now get a message back from the array, and the affected guests are “stunned”. This allows the admin to add some more free space to the LUN, after which the guests can resume normal operation.
      • Space reclaim is the second feature that has been added. Now, one caveat is that this hardware offload is dependent of VMFS version 5. Anything prior to that won’t do the job. If that prerequisite is in place, any blocks that are freed up by VMFS operations, things like VM deletion or snapshot deletion, will now return their blocks to the pool of free blocks.
    • For file:
      • You can now use NFS full copy. Somewhat similar to the block version, copying of files can now be offloaded to the array, which of course should speed up things like clone creation.
      • Extended stats adds the ability to get the extended information from files. Information about actual space allocation or the fact if the file is deduplicated can now be retrieved.
      • We can now use space reservation, to actually pre-initialize a disk and allocate all of the required space right off the bat.
  • VMware has redesigned HA. The new architecture should help people who want to work with streched clusters.

    Basically, VMware has moved away from underlying EMC Autostart based construct to an entirely new model. The HA agent is now called the FDM, and one of the nodes in the cluster will now take on the role of master. All of the remaining nodes in the cluster are slaves to this master, which means that we are no longer using the primary/secondary concept that was common with the previous version of HA. During normal operation, we should only see one master node per cluster.

    Benefits of the new construct are that we are no longer that susceptible to DNS issues. Also, VMware has added additional communication paths, -we can now also leverage so called “Heartbeat datastores”-, that will aid us in the detection of failures. And, as a bonus VMware has also added support for IPv6.

    Since the entire HA stack has been rewritten, there are a lot of changes coming, and I’m planning on getting down to the nitty gritty in a future post, and I’m sure that my friend Duncan will also be explaining this in great detail on his blog.

  • VASA, or “vSphere Storage API for Storage Awareness” is basically a way for the storage array to actually tell vSphere what it can do, or what it is currently doing. Imagine getting feedback if your storage is cable of VAAI. Or something more simple like telling vSphere what RAID level a datastore has. Sounds sensible right? Now combine that with the new Storage DRS in vSphere 5, and you get a pretty good picture of what VASA can help you with.
  • Storage DRS. The DRS feature in vSphere is already pretty well known, and it’s something that I see in use a lot at customer sites.

    Well, now you can also use DRS for your storage. To enable this feature, you create a so called “datastore cluster”, which is in essence nothing more than several datastores combined. Now, when you create a new VM, it is placed inside of a datastore cluster, and storage DRS balances everything out based on some key criteria like space utilization and I/O latencies. More to follow in a different post.

Now, this is by no means a complete overview, and I’ll be going in to these an other new features in upcoming posts. And I don’t want to flood you with information that can also be found on plenty of other blogs out there, but this should give you a good start. Look back for the things mentioned up here, but also for things like the added support for software based FCoE initiators, APD / PDL, the vSphere storage appliance, the new SRM 5 or vCloud Director 1.5.





Shorts: VMware vCloud Director not displaying the web portal

30 03 2011

A colleague of mine approached me today with a question on our vCloud Director environment. He tried to log in to the vCloud Director portal, and was unable to log in, because there was no page being displayed at all.

After checking if I was able to ping the interface, I logged on to the machine to see if there were any obvious errors. The vCloud Director daemon was still running and so was the database, but a netstat did not show any listeners on the vCloud Director IP. So, after going over the vCloud Director log files, there was a pretty obvious error in the vcloud-container-info.log:

ORA-28001: the password has expired

So, you now stop your vCloud Director daemon and switch to your Oracle user to see what was going on inside of the DB:
sqlplus "/ as sysdba"

Now, list all the users to see if they have an expired password:
select username,ACCOUNT_STATUS,EXPIRY_DATE from dba_users;

Or display just the specific user:
select username,ACCOUNT_STATUS,EXPIRY_DATE from dba_users where username='VCLOUD';

And guess what came up:
USERNAME ACCOUNT_STATUS EXPIRY_DA
-------- -------------- ---------
VCLOUD EXPIRED 17-MAR-11

Expired is something that you don’t want to see for a user that is being used actively. So, let’s set the password again and unlock the user:
alter user VCLOUD identified by replace_this_with_your_password;
alter user VCLOUD account unlock;

So, once that is done, let’s check one more time:
SQL> select username,ACCOUNT_STATUS,EXPIRY_DATE from dba_users where username='VCLOUD';
USERNAME ACCOUNT_STATUS EXPIRY_DA
-------- -------------- ---------
VCLOUD OPEN 26-SEP-11

Now, start your vCloud Director daemon again, and in the log file you should no longer see the error, and the web interface should be working normally again.

Update – April 11th 2011:

One of my other colleagues actually ran in to the same issue and found my blog post. He gave me some feedback asking if I would not be able to add how to find the sqlplus binaries since not everyone is a Linux master, so here goes:

Normally, if Oracle is installed on Linux, it is one of the prerequisites to set the environment variables. Basically this means that you tune your system to allow Oracle to run on it. You perform tasks like telling the system how much shared memory to use, you set semaphores and create a seperate user under which the Oracle installation runs.

Part of these tasks usually also means setting the path to the Oracle binaries for this user I just mentioned. Now, in some situations, your database is already installed, but you don’t know as what user or in what directory. This is not necessarily an issue. Just use the “ps” command to list all processes from all users. Use something like:

ps -efor
ps auxf

and look for the Oracle processes. At the start of the line you should see as which user these processes are running.

Once you have identified the user, switch to said user, using the following command:

su - user_name
Obviously, replace the user_name with the actual username. The “su” (or “switch user” if you will) is a command to actually switch to a different user. The dash or minus sign that is appended after the “su” command, makes “su” pass the environment along unchanged, as if you were actually logged in as the specified user.

The benefit of adding the dash, is that the user environment is set correspondingly, meaning that your path for the Oracle user is also set. This in turn means, that you normally don’t have to worry about the exact path to the Oracle installation. Normally you can just enter “sqlplus” in the way described above, and you should be set.

Should you still not be able to find sqlplus, you can try using the “find” command to search for sqlplus. Try using something like this:

find / -name sqlplus
This actually tells the find command to start searching in the “/” or root-directory for files with sqlplus in their names. Depending on your Linux release, you could also change the “-name” option to “-iname”, which changes the search to ignore the case in your search. This way, your search would also return a result if the binary would be called SQLplus (most Unices and Linux installations are case sensitive).

Once you have found your sqlplus binary, just enter the full path to the binary and you should be set.

If you have any other feedback, just let me know folks, and I’ll be more than happy to append it to my post.





Shorts: VMware vCloud Director installation tips

29 10 2010

So folks, I helped a colleague install the VMware vCloud Director. In case you are not aware of what the vCloud Director is I can give you a very rough description.

Think about how you deploy virtual machines. Usually you will deploy one machine at a time, which is a good thing if you only need one server. But usually in larger environments, you will find that applications or application systems are not based on a single server. You will find larger environments that consist of multiple servers that will segregate functions, so for example, your landscape could consist of a DB server, an application server, and one or more proxies that provide access to your application servers.

If you are lucky, the folks installing everything will only request one virtual machine at a time. Usually that isn’t the case though. Now, this is where vCloud Director comes in. This will allow you to roll out a set of virtual machines at a time as a landscape. But it doesn’t stop there, since you can do a lot more because you can pool things like storage, networks and you a tight integration with vShield to secure your environment. But this should give you a very rough idea of what you can do with the vCloud Director. For a more comprehensive overview, take a look at Duncan’s post here.

Anyway, let’s dig in to the technical part.

There are plenty of blog posts that cover how to set up the CentOS installation, so I won’t cover that at great length. If you are looking for that info, take a peek here. If you want to install the Oracle DB on CentOS, take a look here to see how it’s done.

Here are some tips that might come in useful during the install:

  • Use the full path to the keytool. There is a slight difference between /usr/bin/keytool, /usr/lib/jvm/java-1.4.2-gcj-1.4.2.0/jre/bin/keytool and /opt/vmware/cloud-director/jre/bin/keytool. Be sure to use one of those, and if the commands to create and import your self-signed certificates are not working for some reason be sure to try a different one.

If you just simply create a database and browsed through the installation guide, you might have a hard time once you install the binary. Basically you run the “dbca” tool to create an empty database. If you by any chance forget to create the database files and run the installation binary (or the vCD configuration tool for that matter), you will receive an error while running the .sql database initialization scripts under /opt/vmware/cloud-director/db/oracle. The error message will tell you that there was an error creating the database.

Well, if only you had read the installation guide properly. Bascially what you do is start up the database:

sqlplus "/ as sysdba"
startup

Make sure that the path you use in the “create tablespace” command actually exists. If they don’t you need to perform “mkdir $ORACLE_HOME/oradata” first. Then create the tablespaces and corresponding files:

Create Tablespace CLOUD_DATA datafile '$ORACLE_HOME/oradata/cloud_data01.dbf' size 1000M autoextend on;
Create Tablespace CLOUD_INDX datafile '$ORACLE_HOME/oradata/cloud_indx01.dbf' size 500M autoextend on;

Now create a seperate user that we will give right for the database. The password for the user is the thing you type after “identified by”:

create user vcloud identified by vcloud default tablespace CLOUD_DATA;

Make sure that you give the user the correct rights to perform all the DB operations:

grant CONNECT, RESOURCE, CREATE TRIGGER, CREATE TYPE, CREATE VIEW, CREATE MATERIALIZED VIEW, CREATE PROCEDURE, CREATE SEQUENCE, EXECUTE ANY PROCEDURE to vcloud;

Now run the setup script, or run the configure script and you should be set to go.








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