ESX3i, Enterprise Virtualization and should it be installed on an Atari

Well the Atari part is because of a post on PlanetVM, but seriously though the question is should ESX3i be installed on non-HCL machines? Here are my 2 cents (or agurot in local currency).. Yes and no.. Decisive don't you think? Yes
  • It gives people the chance to test out what ESX can do. The capabilities, the features, limitations and benefits.
  • It is free, so why not use it.
  • It can run off of a USB stick, so it will run on pretty much anything...
  • It does work when installing it on all sorts of hardware. I have personally installed it on all kinds of desktop computers HP and IBM.
  • It will increase exposure for VMware and in turn their market share when people learn that the product is the best thing since bread and butter.
  • Because by nature technical people like a challenge, so installing on non-supported hardware, is challenging, and seeing the amount of posts, sites and blogs that are busy with this means that people like the challenge.
  • It makes a wonderful platform for POC, testing or just playing around.
  • If I can install Hyper-V on any hardware I would like, then why not ESX?
  • IT IS NOT SUPPORTED BY VMWARE!!! - Let me elaborate on this one. ESX abides to a strict HCL. Sometime I personally think that it is too strict, and that is only because of lack sufficient testing on other hardware. But that means that VMware has employees that their job is to sit and install ESX on each platform and see that it works properly. There is a lot of hardware out there, and it changes constantly so the HCL is a game of keeping up with the never ending amount hardware that is released each year.
  • Even if you can install it on your old ZX Spectrum , does not mean that you should. I mean the software was meant to perform at a certain level. So installing it on something like this - it kind of defeats the purpose.
  • Most of the features available do not come with the free product. (write with RCLI [OK temporarily it does - oops!!], HA, DRS, VMotion and that kind of Jazz)
  • When someone fails to install it they come to the forum, bad-mouth, complain and waste most of our time with silly questions to which most them the answer will be..
    This hardware is not supported on the HCL so ........
  • The forums are becoming high traffic with all kinds of stupid questions (and for the life of me I cannot find the post in the forum that talks about it, when I do I will update the link)
So what is is the conclusion? I would say a Yes actually. Go for it, get it working. Get to know the product, and you will see that it is well worth your while. But.... remember you are working on unsupported hardware, so there is only a limit to how much support you will get from your peers, you will not receive any support from VMware at all.


Community Technology Preview-3 (CTP3) of Windows PowerShell V2

So the folks at Microsoft have been busy, just in time for Christmas and the Holidays. Well you know that is the advantage of living in Israel (and being Jewish...) - we don't celebrate Christmas - we celebrate Chanukah (which is not directly related to the Gregorian calendar) so business is as usual here... Selected New and Updated Features in Windows PowerShell V2 CTP3 (Please refer to Release Notes and Help topics for more details) # PowerShell Remoting # Windows PowerShell Integrated Scripting Environment (ISE) # 63 New Cmdlets # Modules # Script Debugging # Advanced Functions # PowerShell Class API You can get it here

A new free Ebook

Microsoft have published a new book - granted it is on Virtualization - the Microsoft way, but still should be something to go over. Understanding Microsoft Virtualization This is the book for IT professionals who want to learn more about the latest Microsoft virtualization technologies, including Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V, System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008, Microsoft Application Virtualization 4.5, Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization, and Microsoft Virtual Desktop Infrastructure. The book also examines other virtualization-enabling technologies from Microsoft including Windows Server 2008 Terminal Services, Roaming User Profiles, Folder Redirection, and Offline Files. Download here


Time to change the Passwords again...

Do you all know how one of the biggest headaches you have is changing all the service accounts and administrative passwords on a regular basis? Well I did that this week.

This entailed changing passwords on almost 10 different accounts, local administrator passwords on over 100 servers, Local services, and tasks running under these accounts.

It wasn't so bad though the only real headache is the changing of the local passwords on the servers, the services and the tasks.

Here is how I changed the service credentials (rename the file extensions to .ps1)


Change Admin Password on remote computers


Tasks - I have not found a decent script yet to perform this - when I do I will let you all know.

And of course dont forget to run Eventcombt to check that you have not missed anywhere (or naturally there are places that you never knew about in the first place :) ) to catch all those incorrect loin attempts.

Have a good one - it is about time I went to sleep..

A recap of what happened throughout the year

Rodney Haywood has compiled a post of what happened over the last year in the VMware / Virtualization world. It gives a pretty good picture of what has been going on - milestones mainly as to what has been introduced in the Virtual world. There is a lot to absorb. I sometimes wonder - if I only had another 4-6 hours in my day - then I would manage to maintain control of all the information that flies around the technological world - let alone absorb and use/try some of the stuff. Man .. That is one of the things for a new year resolution.


My Top Virtual appliances

EWeek posted their Top 5 Virtual appliances. They are all good applications, but all of them are products that cost moent and cost a lot. So I thought about how about compiling a list of my own most used Appliances (in no particular order) from the Virtual Appliance Marketplace

If I come up with some more, I will let you know.

Comparisons... Comparisons....

Ahh..... Come On!!!!!!!!! VMware vs Hyper-V comparison. Jason and Scott have said more than enough on the matter. People should get their facts straight!!!!


Dutch VMUG 2008

So some of my friends in NL had their annual event yesterday, the Dutch VMUG 2008. But this gets me thinking. What is the purpose of a VMUG? Well this was taken from the Vmware web site:
The VMware User Group (VMUG) program is designed to encourage and support communities of VMware users who want to hold regular meetings in their local area. The purpose of these gatherings is to provide a forum in which VMware users can share best practices and expertise, and VMware can in turn obtain feedback from the user community.
We actually only started a Local VMUG in Israel (led by Ben Hagai) and we just had our second meeting recently last week. The idea of having a small community of people who all use the same technology, and come across similar problems throughout their day and sharing that knowledge - that is what I would like to see in a VMUG. An intimate group of 30-50 people, meeting once every 3-4 months for a morning to discuss technology, best practices, maybe get a technology update, listen to a technical lecture and things like that. To me having an event like the one titled in this post, seems to defeat the purpose. Don't get me wrong, I am sure it is beneficial, interesting, and highly successful. I mean there were over 600 people who registered and participated in the event. But with amount of people I do not see how you can keep this an intimate group and therefore how this can be a VMUG??


The New online hardware Compatibility guide for Vmware

So yesterday VMware released a new application online that allows you to search for your hardware to see if it is supported with ESX systems

We got this one from John Troyer (and thanks to Duncan for letting us know).


The the small print at the bottom says:


So I guess I will still be downloading/accessing the HCL PDF every time I buy a new server.

It is a great move in the right direction though!!

Which books should every VI Admin read?

Well if you actually have time to read things which actually are printed on paper that is.. Edward L. Haletky - a VMware Communities User Moderator, has put a list together on the Virtualization Wiki. that everyone and anyone who is serious about virtualization should read. The list is here. Happy reading!!!


Active Directory Health Check

Well I have spent the past two days with a Microsoft PFE (Premier Field Engineer) who has been doing a quick health check for issues in our domain.

This does not replace an Active Directory Risk Assessment Process (ADRAP) - but was a highly informative and educating session.

ADRAP Objectives
  • Perform a detailed analysis of an organization‘s Active Directory environment.
  • Review Active Directory configuration.
  • Improve availability by eliminating single points of failure and by verifying that fault tolerant designs are in place.
  • Improve Active Directory performance.
  • Reduce service outages and subsequent downtime by identifying current or imminent issues.
  • Impart knowledge and skills to administer, manage, and troubleshoot Active Directory.
  • Provide tools and methodologies that will enable customers to identify existing problems.
So I have spent the past two days deep-diving into my forest.
It was a fun two days, tons of stuff I have learned, and points taken for fixing and improvement. It is always a pleasure to work with such knowledgeable people - and our PFE is highly qualified and skilled.


Now if only I would earn these numbers.....

I would have so much more time to blog here

This is not what a VCP earns in Israel..... :) And I actually have both certifications....

Report from Israel VMUG

So what did we have:

Client story from Siemens PLM software

Well I got there late (damn so much traffic that I am not used to..) but I have seen the presentation before, so there was nothing new to tell about it.

Virtual Desktop Technical Deep Dive (VMware View - it is now called)

VDI was a good product, but this.. this looks like ... wow.. I will have to get hold of an evaluation copy to try it out. The best feature in my opinion will (actually more than one) the linked clones and offline copies.

Linked clones - this has been available in Lab Manager for quite a while and now it has come View. What will this mean. For example - if you have 10 VM's all with a 10 GB Hard disk, till now that would have taken up 100GB space on you storage. Now true with de-dupe, this can be reduced up to savings of 80% in some cases, you will have one Master image that will be 10GB and each of the other 9 linked clones only take up 50-100MB for each VM so instead of going up 100GB - we are talking about 11GB!! Now that is a huge savings on precious and expensive storage space...

"Offline VDI" - Now the problem with VDI always has been - I do not have access to my VM if I am not connected to the network. So I cannot continue my work on the train/plane/bus. That was a real PITA. But - and yes I know this is experimental only .... - but to take my machine offline with me before I go home, continue the work on it while I am out of the office - as they say in Yiddish "A mechaye" which means a lifesaver!! I cannot wait for a chance to try this one out.

I am sure that View is going to be a huge topic for the upcoming weeks and months.

We will have to wait and see.


Israeli VMUG will take place on Wednesday Dec. 3rd

On the schedule:

- VMware
- Virtual Desktop Technical Deep Dive
- EMC Recover Point
- Product announcements and upcoming technologies (from VMworld 2008)

It should be a good morning ...

So what to do with 60 or so servers that are falling out their warranty period

I wanted share with you a bit of what is happening with a process on how we can save money with virtualization.

About 3 years ago or more, Virtualization was not the mainstream for most companies, personally, my current employer did not really get into it until about 18 months ago. So... we are doing our yearly review on what hardware warranty will end and at the moment it looks like that I will have over 60 physical servers that will need to be replaced or have a maintenance contract applied to them for the next year.

A bit of Math:

Average server (1QC/2GB RAM/2x73GB 15,000 SAS HD) - US$3,500
A maintenance contract (next business day [NBD]) for a year for the above mentioned 60 servers - $450 per server

So these are the options as I see them...

  1. Replace all Physical servers with new ones - US$210,000
  2. Renew Maintenance contracts for all servers - US$27,000 (per year)
  3. Migrate the machines to Virtual machines:
    2xESX Hosts - US$10,000
    2xESX Enterprise Licenses - US$17,000
    1 TB Central Storage - $3,000

So I guess you can see where I am going with this.. :)

No one in management is going to sign off on option 1.
I think you can see why option 3 is better than option 2. The cost of option 2 over 3 years - US$81,000. Option 2 - $US30,000 (including maintenance and support on VMware software for the period of 3 years).

Now the only thing I need to convince the brass about is that all these servers should not be migrated "as-is" to Virtual Machines, but re-installed to a new OS just as they would do if it would be migrated to new hardware. I really and truly do not want to drag over Windows NT 4.0 and Windows 2000 Server Operating Systems and continue to support them..

But that is a whole different ballgame, and for another post....


Clearing the connection list of your VI client

That small drop-down list on the IP Address/Name fiels can get a bit cluttered after you start working with a large amount of servers and start a lot of testing. So how do I clear the list you may ask?

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\VMware\VMware Infrastructure Client\Preferences

Remove the entries you want from the list and hey presto!!!

Thanks for the info Duncan


Changing Custom Notes on Virtual Machines

I wanted to do a bit of housekeeping for all the VM's floating around.

I got to the state that there are machines that I do not know who they belong to, when they were installed and who is the responsible party in case the **** hits the fan.

That is where the VI toolkit comes to the rescue !!

What I did was added to addiditonal fields for each machine.

1. Owner
2. Date installed

This was pretty each to do both

Create the field

Get-cluster <Clustername>| get-vm | New-CustomField -name Owner
Get-cluster <Clustername>| get-vm | New-CustomField -name "Date installed"

Now to populate the field you would use

get-vm <VM Name>| Set-CustomField -name Owner -value "Whatever you want"

Now say you don't know which property it is you would like to update, well that you can get from running this command:

PS C:\Program Files\VMware\Infrastructure\VIToolkitForWindows> get-vm <VM Name>| Get-View

Capability           : VMware.Vim.VirtualMachineCapability
Config               : VMware.Vim.VirtualMachineConfigInfo
Layout               : VMware.Vim.VirtualMachineFileLayout
EnvironmentBrowser   : VMware.Vim.ManagedObjectReference
ResourcePool         : VMware.Vim.ManagedObjectReference
ResourceConfig       : VMware.Vim.ResourceConfigSpec
Runtime              : VMware.Vim.VirtualMachineRuntimeInfo
Guest                : VMware.Vim.GuestInfo
Summary              : VMware.Vim.VirtualMachineSummary
Datastore            : {VMware.Vim.ManagedObjectReference}
Network              : {VMware.Vim.ManagedObjectReference}
Snapshot             :
GuestHeartbeatStatus : green
Parent               : VMware.Vim.ManagedObjectReference
CustomValue          : {10}
OverallStatus        : green
ConfigStatus         : green
ConfigIssue          : {}
EffectiveRole        : {-1}
Permission           : {}
Name                 : <VM Name>
DisabledMethod       : {Destroy_Task, UnregisterVM, RevertToCurrentSnapshot_Task, RemoveAllSnapshots_Task...}
RecentTask           : {}
DeclaredAlarmState   : {alarm-15.vm-3208, alarm-4.vm-3208, alarm-5.vm-3208}
TriggeredAlarmState  : {}
Value                : {10}
AvailableField       : {Date Installed, Owner}
MoRef                : VMware.Vim.ManagedObjectReference
Client               : VMware.Vim.VimClient

AvailableField       : {Date Installed, Owner} is what you are looking for. These are the fields that you are looking to update.

Thanks to LucD for pointing me in the right direction here and here.

My next step will be to create a script that will run daily, and update any VM that has not been populated with the date installed field - with the current date. Maybe even go as far as to send a reminder email to the Cluster Admin to update the owner in the correct field.

Will Let you know how it turns out.


ESX3i - Console Commands

Well we all know that OFFICIALLY VMware does not support any kind command that are running locally on the host of ESX3i. Of course there is a way to enable SSH to an ESX3i box But the question is how to run these commands?? Well you can do a lot.. vim-cmd is the command you are looking for: Few examples: vim-cmd hostsvc/datastore/listsummary - will give you a list of all the datastores on the host (local and remote)
(vim.Datastore.Summary) [ (vim.Datastore.Summary) { dynamicType = <unset>, datastore = 'vim.Datastore:490ebeb2-4c2bfcc6-0a2e-0011258e8214', name = "Local-esx3-lab", url = "/vmfs/volumes/490ebeb2-4c2bfcc6-0a2e-0011258e8214", capacity = 31138512896, freeSpace = 30683430912, accessible = true, multipleHostAccess = <unset>, type = "VMFS", }, (vim.Datastore.Summary) { dynamicType = <unset>, datastore = 'vim.Datastore:lab-of1:/mnt/storage/nfs/ESX', name = "lab-of1", url = "/vmfs/volumes/9fb378d1-bf803d06", capacity = 315019616256, freeSpace = 307618623488, accessible = true, multipleHostAccess = <unset>, type = "NFS", } ]
vim-cmd hostsvc/datastore/nascreate - Will add a new NFS share vim-cmd hostsvc/net/info - will give you a list of all the network settings on the host
(vim.host.PortGroup) { dynamicType = <unset>, key = "key-vim.host.PortGroup-LAB Only-Network", vswitch = <vim.host.VirtualSwitch:key-vim.host.VirtualSwitch-vSwitch1>, computedPolicy = (vim.host.NetworkPolicy) { dynamicType = <unset>, security = (vim.host.NetworkPolicy.SecurityPolicy) { dynamicType = <unset>, allowPromiscuous = false, macChanges = true, forgedTransmits = true, }, nicTeaming = (vim.host.NetworkPolicy.NicTeamingPolicy) { dynamicType = <unset>, policy = "loadbalance_srcid", reversePolicy = true, notifySwitches = true, rollingOrder = false, failureCriteria = (vim.host.NetworkPolicy.NicFailureCriteria) { dynamicType = <unset>, checkSpeed = "minimum", speed = 10, checkDuplex = false, fullDuplex = false, checkErrorPercent = false, percentage = 0, checkBeacon = false, }, nicOrder = (vim.host.NetworkPolicy.NicOrderPolicy) { dynamicType = <unset>, activeNic = (string) [ "vmnic1" ], }, }, offloadPolicy = (vim.host.NetOffloadCapabilities) { dynamicType = <unset>, csumOffload = true, tcpSegmentation = true, zeroCopyXmit = true, }, shapingPolicy = (vim.host.NetworkPolicy.TrafficShapingPolicy) { dynamicType = <unset>, enabled = false, averageBandwidth = <unset>, peakBandwidth = <unset>, burstSize = <unset>, }, }, spec = (vim.host.PortGroup.Specification) { dynamicType = <unset>, name = "LAB Only-Network", vlanId = 0, vswitchName = "vSwitch1", policy = (vim.host.NetworkPolicy) { dynamicType = <unset>, security = (vim.host.NetworkPolicy.SecurityPolicy) null, nicTeaming = (vim.host.NetworkPolicy.NicTeamingPolicy) null, offloadPolicy = (vim.host.NetOffloadCapabilities) null, shapingPolicy = (vim.host.NetworkPolicy.TrafficShapingPolicy) null, }, }, } ], pnic = (vim.host.PhysicalNic) [ (vim.host.PhysicalNic) { dynamicType = <unset>, key = "key-vim.host.PhysicalNic-vmnic1", device = "vmnic1", pci = "06:00.0", driver = "tg3", linkSpeed = (vim.host.PhysicalNic.LinkSpeedDuplex) null, validLinkSpecification = (vim.host.PhysicalNic.LinkSpeedDuplex) [ (vim.host.PhysicalNic.LinkSpeedDuplex) { dynamicType = <unset>, speedMb = 10, duplex = false, }, (vim.host.PhysicalNic.LinkSpeedDuplex) { dynamicType = <unset>, speedMb = 10, duplex = true, }, (vim.host.PhysicalNic.LinkSpeedDuplex) { dynamicType = <unset>, speedMb = 100, duplex = false, }, (vim.host.PhysicalNic.LinkSpeedDuplex) { dynamicType = <unset>, speedMb = 100, duplex = true, }, (vim.host.PhysicalNic.LinkSpeedDuplex) { dynamicType = <unset>, speedMb = 1000, duplex = false, }, (vim.host.PhysicalNic.LinkSpeedDuplex) { dynamicType = <unset>, speedMb = 1000, duplex = true, } ], spec = (vim.host.PhysicalNic.Specification) { dynamicType = <unset>, ip = (vim.host.IpConfig) { dynamicType = <unset>, dhcp = false, ipAddress = "", subnetMask = "", }, linkSpeed = (vim.host.PhysicalNic.LinkSpeedDuplex) null, }, wakeOnLanSupported = true, mac = "00:11:25:8e:82:15", }, (vim.host.PhysicalNic) { dynamicType = <unset>, key = "key-vim.host.PhysicalNic-vmnic0", device = "vmnic0", pci = "05:00.0", driver = "tg3", linkSpeed = (vim.host.PhysicalNic.LinkSpeedDuplex) { dynamicType = <unset>, speedMb = 100, duplex = true, }, validLinkSpecification = (vim.host.PhysicalNic.LinkSpeedDuplex) [ (vim.host.PhysicalNic.LinkSpeedDuplex) { dynamicType = <unset>, speedMb = 10, duplex = false, }, (vim.host.PhysicalNic.LinkSpeedDuplex) { dynamicType = <unset>, speedMb = 10, duplex = true, }, (vim.host.PhysicalNic.LinkSpeedDuplex) { dynamicType = <unset>, speedMb = 100, duplex = false, }, (vim.host.PhysicalNic.LinkSpeedDuplex) { dynamicType = <unset>, speedMb = 100, duplex = true, }, (vim.host.PhysicalNic.LinkSpeedDuplex) { dynamicType = <unset>, speedMb = 1000, duplex = false, }, (vim.host.PhysicalNic.LinkSpeedDuplex) { dynamicType = <unset>, speedMb = 1000, duplex = true, } ], spec = (vim.host.PhysicalNic.Specification) { dynamicType = <unset>, ip = (vim.host.IpConfig) { dynamicType = <unset>, dhcp = false, ipAddress = "", subnetMask = "", }, linkSpeed = (vim.host.PhysicalNic.LinkSpeedDuplex) null, }, wakeOnLanSupported = true, mac = "00:11:25:8e:82:14", } ], vnic = (vim.host.VirtualNic) [ (vim.host.VirtualNic) { dynamicType = <unset>, device = "vmk0", key = "key-vim.host.VirtualNic-vmk0", portgroup = "Management Network", spec = (vim.host.VirtualNic.Specification) { dynamicType = <unset>, ip = (vim.host.IpConfig) { dynamicType = <unset>, dhcp = true, ipAddress = "xx.xx.xx.xx", subnetMask = "", }, mac = "00:11:25:8e:82:14", }, port = <vim.host.PortGroup.Port:key-vim.host.PortGroup.Port-16777220>, } ], dnsConfig = (vim.host.DnsConfig) { dynamicType = <unset>, dhcp = false, virtualNicDevice = <unset>, hostName = "esx3-lab", domainName = "xxx.xxx.com", address = (string) [ "xx.xx.xx.xx", "xx.xx.xx.xx" ], searchDomain = (string) [ "xx.xx.com" ], }, ipRouteConfig = (vim.host.IpRouteConfig) { dynamicType = <unset>, defaultGateway = "xx.xx.xx.xx", gatewayDevice = <unset>, }, consoleIpRouteConfig = (vim.host.IpRouteConfig) { dynamicType = <unset>, defaultGateway = <unset>, gatewayDevice = <unset>, }, }
In Short there is a whole world out there on an ESX3i "console" - you just have to go and find it...


VIRTUALIZATION08 in Israel - Nov. 12 2008 - Part II

Personally I thjink it was mostly a waste of time. Nothing new was said - most of the talk was about VDI (not that I have anything against it) but there was no OOMPH!! in it.

Hope the next Israeli VMUG will be better


And now for something funny

So every now and again you come across something that makes you laugh - today was one of those days.

It seems that someone in VMware has a good sense of humor. I found this line in a log file of one of my VM's today.

11 16:07:40.032: vmx| VMX has left the building: 0.


Israeli VMUG

The Israeli VMUG group has been started. First meeting will be on 25/08/2008.


So what is going on in the Virtualization world

  1. ESX3i is going to be free (just one of the places that this was mentioned)
  2. Powershell VI toolkit - Man this is better than bread and butter!!! and of course if you think you know what you are doing you could would win an all expenses paid trip to VMWorld 2008 in Las Vegas


Vmware to the rescue again

Well a colleague of mine had an issue today. A physical server running VMware server with 2 vm's on it. One VM's disk "exploded" and we were left with 0% (yep that is right) free space on the HD of the physical server.

Now if this was a small VM then that would not be a problem but the vmdk was 120 GB in size (even though inside the VM it was only using 40GB). So to remove the file from the server would have taken too long.

Solving the problem was one of two options:
  1. Run Vmware converter and therefore resize the disk.
  2. Hook up to the the Physical server via a share from a machine running VMware workstation.
We chose the latter (which was a bit more difficult to accomplish because the physical server was running Linux). Installed Samba and configured a share on the physical server. Opened the VM from a workstation. Added an additional HD (vmdk) with 50gb of space, and ghosted Disk 0 to Disk 1.

Process took something like 30 minutes. Booted the machine off the new vmdk. Ran through the tests and deleted the old 120GB vmdk.

You gotta love VMware products!!!


Ok... Let's get going...

Ok. I was in Teched 2008 in Eilat, Israel 2 weeks ago. It was highly informational. The new technologies that were presented there (i.e. Server 2008, Hyper-V etc. etc. etc.) are something that is definitely worthwhile looking into.

At the moment, what I have "on my plate" in my day to day job is and upgrade from VI3 to 3.5. That includes all ESX hosts and the virtual center.

I have successfully installed VMware Server 2.0 Beta 2 on my my home desktop, (Windows XP - which from my knowledge is not really supported) but from what I can see the product will fit very nicely into all other VMware products if they drop the WebUI (which no-one really likes) and go for management through a client.