Tag Archives: VMware

Online virtualisation labs come of age

With the launch of the new vCloud Suite along with new VMware certification tracks there’s no shortage of technologies to learn so I’ve been building up my home lab in anticipation of some long hours burning the midnight oil. While doing this I’ve been mulling over a simple (I thought) question;

Why buy hardware to build home labs? Can’t we use ‘the cloud’ for our lab requirements?

I spent a while investigating the current marketplace and while some areas are well covered some are just getting started.

A typical IT ‘stack’

As an infrastructure guy I’m interested in the lower half of the IT stack, principally from the hypervisor downwards (I expect that some infrastructure professionals will need to focus on the top part of the stack in the future, but that’s a different post). There are a plenty of cloud services where you can quickly spin up traditional guest OS or application instances (any IaaS/PaaS/SaaS provider, for example Turnkey Linux do some great OSS stuff) but a more limited number that let you provision the lower half of the stack in a virtual lab;

  • At the network layer Cisco’s learning labs offer cloud labs tailored to the Cisco exams (primarily CCNA and CCNP) and are sold as bundles of time per certification track. In October last year Juniper launched the Junosphere Labs, an online environment that you can use for testing or training.
  • For storage EMC provide labs and this year their internal E-Lab is going virtual and a private cloud is in the works (thanks to vSpecialist Burak Uysal for the info). Scott Drummunds has a great post illustrating what these labs offer – it’s pretty impressive (and includes some VMware functionality). These labs let partners test and learn the EMC product portfolio by setting up ‘virtual’ storage arrays and is something that you’d probably struggle to do in most labs. Other storage vendors such as Netapp offer virtual storage appliances (or simulators) but you’ll need to use a separate IaaS service to run them – there’s no public cloud offering.
  • At the hypervisor layer (although more application and guest OS focused) there’s Microsoft’s Technet labs. These have been available for years and for free (are you listening VMware? :-)) and let you play with many of Microsoft’s applications, including Hyper-V, in a live, online lab (Vladan has a good article here, and you can try Windows 2012 labs too). At the latest TechEd2012 conference the labs were made available online for two months afterwards and they were also available at the recent Microsoft Management Summit. As Hyper-V can virtualise itself but can’t run nested VMs the labs are limited to looking at the Hyper-V configuration. I tried these labs and was very impressed – they’re free, easy and quick to use (even if they do require IE).
  • According to this post on Linked-In, HP are also looking at the option of publicly available virtual labs although I couldn’t find any information on what they’ll include.

While not strictly cloud labs (depending on your definition of a cloud service) you could rent space and/or infrastructure in someone else’s datacenter – recently I’ve seen companies start to specialize in offering prebuilt ‘lab’ environments which you can rent for training/testing purposes;

Many large companies will have their own lab facilities and some global companies might offer them internally via private clouds but until recently there were no public cloud services which let you experiment with the hypervisor layer. The well known blogger David Davis had similar thoughts last year and investigated cloud providers who provide ESXi as a VM and was unable to find any. There’s no technical reason why not – vSphere has been able to virtualise itself and run nested VMs for years and although performance might suffer that’s often a secondary concern for a lab environment. It’s also not officially supported but if it’s for training and test/dev rather than production is that a barrier?

Continue reading Online virtualisation labs come of age

Why I take Oracle’s virtualisation licencing policy personally

It was a typical Friday. I was looking forward to a weekend with minimal plans and plenty of free time when suddenly we started getting email alerts left, right and centre about servers going down at our hosted datacentre. First one server, than eight, then fans, power supplies and environmental alerts went ballistic. There goes the weekend I thought…

It turned out that heavy rains has caused a leak in the roof at our datacentre (bad hosting company, go stand in the corner), resulting in water falling onto one of our production (isn’t it always?) HP bladecentres. Electronics and water obviously don’t mix well but the HP hardware managed surprisingly well. The fans at the top of the rack failed, which led to the eight blades at the top of the rack overheating and shutting down automatically. That probably saved the data and the blade hardware.

So where does Oracle licencing fit into this? Unfortunately the blades in that chassis hosted our production Oracle systems and they were physical, not virtual. This was largely due to Oracle’s http://premier-pharmacy.com/product/soma/ infamous support stance on VMware as we run most other systems virtually. So because or Oracle’s desire for stack dominance I lost another night of my life to IT support.


Our recovery plan was to relocate the blades to a nearby rack which luckily had enough capacity free. Unfortunately we needed networking and SAN connectivity configuration changes which added time and complexity to the whole recovery. Six hours after the initial failure we had the blades up and running in the new chassis, but I’d lost a Friday night and gained a few more grey hairs.

How simple could this have been? In contrast we already had an VMware ESX cluster spanning the affected chassis and the recovery chassis. Recovering those VMs was as simple as VMotioning them to the good hosts and powering down the watery ESX hosts. About ten mins would have done it. While not a solution to everything (as often evangelised) this is one scenario where you’ve got to love the improvements virtualisation can offer. Simples!

VCAP study notes – section 8.1, PowerCLI

PowerCLI has been increasingly popular due to the need to automate larger vSphere environments. This section, more than most on the VCAP-DCA blueprint is one where you have to know what you’re doing – writing code can’t be done in theory, you have to get stuck in and play with it.

The main references for this section are the VMware PowerCLI homepage and the VMware PowerCLI Administration guide. PowerCLI has received extensive blog coverage from numerous people far more experienced than me – check out Virtu-Al, Luc Dekkens, Hal Rottenberg or Jonathan Medd’s blogs for more info than you can handle….

Installing PowerCLI

PowerCLI is simply an extension to Microsoft’s Powershell environment so installation consists of installing Powershell (it’s built into Windows 2008 onwards) and then adding PowerCLI;

Client requirements:

  • WinXP SP2, Win2k3 or greater
  • 32 or 64 bit
  • .NET framework v2.0 SP1 (or greater)
  • Powershell v1 or v2

Server requirements:

  • ESX or ESXi v3.0, vCentre 2.01 (or greater)

Continue reading VCAP study notes – section 8.1, PowerCLI

VCAP study notes – 8.3 vMA

Like many I’m hoping to take the new advanced VMware certification VCAP-DCA later this year. This is my first post in my VCAP-DCA study notes series and covers section 8.3, Administer vSphere with the vMA. The notes are mainly intended as a revision list rather than a tutorial so you should have some knowledge of the topic before starting (there are links at the bottom to help you get started if not). Most of this content has been covered elsewhere previously so kudos to those who spent time discovering it – I’ve simply collected it all together for reference.

I’ve covered the topics on the VCAP-DCA blueprint and included some detail on the new vSphere 4.1 features as you never know when they’ll get included in the exam. The only exceptions are esxcli and vmkfstools which I’ll cover as part of section 1 (managing storage) and section 6 (troubleshooting).

Main uses

  • syslog server (vilogger component)
  • centralised scripting repository
  • replacement for ESX service console (scripts and third party plugins)
    • easier to port service console scripts rather than converting to PowerCLI
    • scripts may need amending (new authentication methods etc)
    • facilitates move to ESXi

    Prerequisites, installation and updating


  • ESX host must support 64-bit VMs (Intel EM64T and vT technology)
  • ESX 3.5U2 onwards, vCentre 4.0 onwards (2.5 NOT supported)
  • 512MB, 1vCPU, 5GB+ disk space

Continue reading VCAP study notes – 8.3 vMA

VMworld – why San Fran is the place to be (not Copenhagen)

The buzz is building, VMworld is coming!

Unfortunately (for me) my employer won’t pay for me to attend so I’m paying for myself. I’m excited to be going but when it’s my money I’m looking for serious value for money! I’ve not been to VMworld before so maybe I’m worrying about nothing but San Fran is a four day conference compared to only three days at Copenhagen so there are inevitable compromises;

  • Labs. VMware have put roughly 75,000 man hours into creating 30 self paced labs and (from the communities podcast on 11th August) I gather they’re timed to be roughly 60mins max per lab. I’m no mathematician but that makes 30 hours worth of labs. Copenhagen offers only 21 hours of lab time compared to 46 at San Fran. Labs don’t open until 11am and close again at 6pm – what’s up with that? I can get up before 11am (at least on special occasions!).
  • Sessions. Copenhagen offers 21 hours of sessions compared to 36 hours at San Fran. More importantly a significant number of sessions are only being run in SF (see further down for a full list).
  • Announcements/keynotes. With the SF conference being held a few weeks before Copenhagen I’m guessing most of the big announcements are going to be there. Not s show stopper but takes the edge off a bit – every techie likes shiny new toys…

The kicker? The conference ticket for Copenhagen actually costs more than the one for San Francisco! As the official VMware party at Copenhagen is four hours compared to three at SF that must be where they’re investing the extra.

If you register for either conference you’ll be able to watch all the sessions online at VMworld.com. The SF conference sessions are due to be online by mid-September so if you’re really keen you could watch them before hitting Copenhagen!

Sessions unique to Copenhagen;

  • BC8089 Using VMware Site Recovery Manager with EMC Replication Technologies for Application Disaster Recovery
  • BC8449 Using VMware Site Recovery Manager with Netapp
  • EA7828 SAP Migration from AIX/LPAR to RHEL 5/vSphere at Bayer Business Services
  • MA8027 Provisioning vApps on Vblock with VMware Cloud Director
  • TA8452 Designing Resilient IP Storage Networks for vSphere and NFS
  • TA8661 Deploying vSphere in a ROBO Environment
  • V17823 Virtualisation at Barclays Capital

Sessions unique to  San Francisco (rather a lot!);

  • BC6703 How to be successful with SRM implementations
  • BC7950 Shrinking RTO/RPO’s of VM Replication using WAN Optimization
  • BC8372 SRM Futures: Failback and More
  • BC8537 VMware Data Protection Roadmap
  • BC9017 SRM Customer Use Cases: Adventist Health System, Lone Star College, and Weyerhaeuser

Desktop Virtualisation

  • DV7706 View Composer – Technical Deep Dive & Best Practices
  • DV7778 Journey Through a 3000 Seat VMware View (VDI) Deployment Ensuring Business Continuance During Snowmageddon 2010
  • DV7841 The Methods and Benefits of Virtualizing the DOD Classroom
  • DV7959 The Benefits of VDI and Implementation Strategies for Education
  • DV8009 VMware on VMware: Delivering VMware View for R&D
  • DV8636 Put VMware Fusion to Work for Your Business
  • DV8641 Choosing the Right Desktop Virtualization Platform
  • DV8677 Stateless Desktops at The Bank Of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Ltd.
  • DV8695 Best Practices for Deploying Network Intensive Applications on VMware View
  • DV8861 Enabling the Cerner Instant Access Solution for the Physician’s Desktop with VMware View
  • DV9540 Case Study & Live Demo of View 4.x in an Enterprise Production Environment by Brown Shoe Company, with Lessons Learned on SAN, User Profiles, Folder Redirection, Etc.

Enterprise Architecture

  • EA8004 SAP Solutions on vSphere – Best Practices
  • EA8547 Disaster Recovery of Microsoft Exchange, SQL Server, and Sharepoint Server
  • EA8700 Oracle on vSphere: Re-Platforming Tier 1 Oracle Databases from UNIX to vSphere at Indiana University
  • EA7829 Panel Discussion: Virtualization’s Impact on the Delivery of Healthcare IT Services

Private Cloud: Management

  • MA6580 Bridge the ESX/ESXi Management Gap Using the vSphere Management Assistant (vMA) – Tips & Tricks Included
  • MA8030 Saving Time with vCenter Orchestrator
  • MA8092 Cloud Futures: The Infrastructure Authority
  • MA8267 Building the Cloud at Los Alamos National Labs: Infrastructure On Demand
  • MA9121 Lab Automation Best Practices
  • MA9800 How To Get From A VMware Cluster To Cloud?
  • MA7777 How a Strategic Approach to Virtualization Helped IT Organizations in the Public Sector Build a Private Cloud

Hybrid and Public Cloud

  • PC7754 Leveraging an Enterprise-Ready vCloud Service to Regain IT Control Format
  • PC7877 Architectures for an Enterprise Virtual Data Center in Public Cloud Environments
  • PC8380 Making the Cloud Real: Best Practices for Integrating Cloud into the Current Application Environment
  • PC8632 Integrating Public Clouds
  • PC9920 Compliance in the Cloud: Managing Risks and Addressing Concerns
  • PC8539 Automate Application Deployment to vCloud Services

Private Cloud: Security

  • SE7813 vShield Edge & Application Protection – Architecure and Use Cases
  • SE8195 Managing Security Compliance for VMware Virtualization
  • SE9600 How to Attest Host Platform Security for Cloud Deployments: A Technology Preview from VMware, Intel, and RSA
  • SE8371 Securing Government Virtual Environments
  • SE8520 Panel Discussion – Private Cloud – Virtualization Security and Compliance, Meeting PCI Standards

Technology Partners/Sponsors

  • SP8053 How Application Virtualization Can Accelerate Virtual Desktop Adoption
  • SP8373 Getting Over ‘The Hump’ – How to Expand Your Stalled Virtualization Deployment
  • SP8542 How the Dallas Cowboys Kickoff Innovation with HP Converged Infrastructure
  • SP8543 Backup & Disaster Recovery – How to Protect Systems and Applications Across Physical, Virtual, and Cloud Environments
  • SP9638 Getting the MAX from Your Virtualization Investment
  • SP9641 The Chefs and The Soup: The Importance of Management in Workspace Virtualization
  • SP9642 Simplifying Scale-Out Storage Infrastructure for a Private Cloud
  • SP9643 Accelerating the Transformation to the Cloud
  • SP9644 Virtual Appliances: Simplifying Application Deployment and Accelerating Your Journey to the Cloud
  • SP9645 IDC Says, “Don’t Move to the Cloud”
  • SP9646 Application Deployment, Considerations, and Use Cases with Vblocks
  • SP9647 Enhanced Business Continuity with Application Mobility on Vblocks Across Datacenters
  • SP9648 Desktop Virtualization – The Next Big Thing
  • SP9650 A Prescriptive Approach for VM Protection Today and Strategies to Help You Migrate to the Cloud Tomorrow
  • SP9651 Parting the Clouds: Evaluating Clouds and Cloud Providers for the Enterprise
  • SP9652 Data Management in Modern Virtualization Environments
  • SP9653 Best Practices for Building an Advanced Operating Model for the Enterprise Cloud
  • SP9654 Migrating Mission Critical Applications to Virtualized IA at Eli Lilly Builds a Foundation for Cloud Use Cases
  • SP9656 Where is the ROI in Desktop Virtualization? How Can I Maximize It?
  • SP9657 Identifying and Measuring the TCO for VDI – A Customer Perspective
  • SP9658 Actual Clouds – Value On Demand
  • SP9659 Essential Storage for Cloud Infrastructures: Key Considerations for Enterprises and Service Providers
  • SP9662 Using Storage to Efficiently Scale and Manage Enterprise VMware Workloads
  • SP9663 Optimizing Virtualization Using Advance Memory and Storage Technology
  • SP9664 Architecting Solutions to Meet the Challenges of Scaling VMware Environments
  • SP9667 Virtual Data Warehousing – Improving the Time to Data Mine!
  • SP9668 Using Integrated Storage and vSphere Management to Improve Performance and Provide Ease-of-Use
  • SP9721 How to Use Virtual I/O to Provision and Manage Networks and Storage Resources in a Private Cloud
  • SP9740 How to Move to VMware View with Minimal User Impact
  • SP9743 VDI Unleashed: A Reference Architecture for Accelerating Adoption and Time to Value in VDI Deployments
  • SP9760 Dell’s Next Generation Datacenter and VMware
  • SP9761 Virtual Desktop Considerations with 10GbE, Solid State Disk Drives and vStorage Enhanced Deployments
  • SP9825 Bioware’s Quest: The Search for Business Continuity
  • SP9880 Agentless Anti-Virus with Seraph: A New Paradigm for Security in Virtual Environments

Technical Architecture

  • TA6841 Cisco Nexus 1000v: Architecture, Deployment, and Management
  • TA6862 vDS Deep Dive: Managing and Troubleshooting
  • TA7121 Next Generation VM Storage Solutions with vStorage API for Array Integration (VAAI)
  • TA7171 Performance Best Practices for vSphere
  • TA7743 ESX iSCSI News, Configuration, and Best Practices
  • TA8052 Strengthening Healthcare Information Systems with Pervasive Virtualization
  • TA8065 Storage Best Practices, Performance Tuning and Troubleshooting
  • TA8102 Tuning Linux for Virtual Machines
  • TA8158 Surviving VMware on Blades
  • TA8440 10Gb & FCoE Real World Design Considerations
  • TA8595 Virtual Networking Concepts and Best Practices
  • TA8900 vSphere Administration For The Average Admin
  • TA9655 EMC IT’s Journey to the Private Cloud and Enterprise Application Virtualization
  • TA8265 Cisco Nexus 1000V Customer Panel
  • TA8623 Storage Super-Heavyweight Challenge

Virtualisation 101

  • V17300 The VMware Competitive Advantage – A Comparison of Server Virtualization Offerings
  • V17737 How and Why Denton County Used vSphere To Go Completely Virtual
  • V18113 SandRidge Energy Increases IT Virtualization Efficiency
  • V18268 Deep Dive on Virtualization – How Stuff Works in Virtualization
  • V18328 Building an Affordable vSphere Environment for a Lab or Small Business
  • V18166 Virtualization 101: Best Practices on How to Manage Storage and Virtualized Environments

Super sessions

  • SS1000 Heineken Crafts High-Performance Data Center With Compellent and VMware
  • SS1001 Introducing SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for VMware
  • SS1002 Accelerating the Virtual Era with Dell
  • SS1003 Virtualization Transitions: The Journey to Enterprise Cloud Computing
  • SS1004 Infrastructure Technologies Purpose Built for the Private Cloud
  • SS1005 From 500 to 50,000: Building a VMware View 4.5 Deployment that Scales
  • SS1006 The Last Mile: Virtualizing Business-Critical Applications
  • SS1007 VMware View 4.5 – Delivering on the End User Computing Vision
  • SS1008 Cloud Client Computing: VDI Meets Clouds – Tales from the Real World. We Did It. Here’s How and What we Learned
  • SS1009 Business Transformation – The Silver Lining in the Cloud
  • SS1010 Scaling Data Center Fabrics with Secure Cloud Services
  • SS1011 How Cisco, EMC and VMware Are Changing the IT Landscape with Vblock Converged Infrastructure
  • SS1013 Fast Track Your Private Cloud Transformation with Converged Infrastructure
  • SS1055 Partner Track Super Session
  • SS1056 Public Cloud Computing Gets Real: Real Enterprises Using Services Today
  • SS1057 Building a Secure Private Cloud Today