Blogger Reality Show - Starts on Tuesday

Last week I blogged about how I was going to get to VMworld, and all of this is due to the fact that I am participating in a Blogger Reality Contest.

Our first session will be this Tuesday  Session 1: Converged Storage

After this session I will post an article on my thoughts on the solution presented.

And this is where I will need your help. 60% of the points allocated to each contestant will be counted by reactions from my Twitter and blog followers. Since that I have a large number of people following me - hence the request for your assistance. The other 40% of the score will be given by the judges themselves.

The scoring mechanism is actually quite simple and is based on the reaction of those who read the article. On each article there will be a poll similar to this one below. Feel free to try out the test form

All you will have to do is put in your image vote
(and if you really think my post sucked the big one - then feel free to put your No vote.)

The more people that vote, the higher the score - up to a maximum of 60/100 so…

Keep your browsers tuned and come on and join the ride…


A Special Happy Birthday to John Troyer #vTHNX

Today is a special day.

Not for me, but for someone that not only I think has done such a great service to the VMware community - but so many other agree as well.

And that is you John Troyer!

Instead of a present we all decided to say thank you - in a way that we all do best, through our blogs.

I wish you many happy returns, lots of good times in the future and may the upcoming years be as great a ride as these past few years have turned out to be.

Mazel Tov and Happy Birthday!!

Happy Birthday John!


So I am coming to VMworld - On with the Show!

First let me say - Yes!!!!!!!!

After a back and forth - and some uncertainty - I can finally say that I am going to be at VMworld next month. Copenhagen was out of the question for me this year because it falls smack bang in the middle of the Jewish Holiday of Sukkot.

So how did this all come about? It all started with small item I saw on Twitter

[Blog] C'mon Down..A sweet Bloggers Reality Show contest I'm hosting for VMworld 2K11. Sign up today http://bit.ly/quVZMBMon Jul 11 16:15:34 via TweetDeck

Thomas Jones put together a small bloggers contest - a reality show of some sorts. Now I sure hope that I will not need to jump off any buildings - nor have a camera strapped to my head the whole time in Vegas - it is actually a lot more conservative and simple than that. Out of the number of bloggers that applied there were 8 chosen (in no particular order)

Matthew Norwood (http://www.insearchoftech.com/)
Michael Letschin (http://thesolutionsarchitect.com/)
Luigi Danakos (www.nerdblurt.com)
Matthew Brender (http://itechthereforeiam.com/)
Phillip Sellers (www.tech.philipsellers.com)
David Hurst (http://thesuperdave.com/)
and yours truly..

Over the course of the next few weeks we will all undergo some training sessions - on different topics related to Networking, Storage and Cloud. After each of these sessions we will all post a blog about what we have learned. This can be a written blog or a video blog - I think I will be sticking to text - due to the fact that I suck at video - and I don't think you want to see my ugly mug on your screen anyway.

About how this will work - I will describe in another post next week.

Besides the amazing fact that I will now be able to come to VMworld in Las Vegas, I see this as a great opportunity to get to know a whole new crowd of people. Not all of the above listed are virtualization bloggers - and most of them I had not even heard of before this contest. I have met and spent some time with Matthew at TechFieldDay #5 this last February. It will be great to meet up again!

It will be highly interesting to see the different points of view each of have on the topics above, and how each one addresses the information from these sessions.

This is a contest - and the winner will win a (not-yet-disclosed) prize. But for me the biggest prize is already in the bag, and that is the opportunity to go to VMworld, to network with my peers, sleep far too little - and to spend time with 15,000 other geeks like myself.

People who understand that VM stands for Virtual machine,
and not Vascular malformation or VM (nerve agent) or Variola major or Virgin Mobile or Veronica Mars.

Who knows maybe I might get to sit next to Paul Maritz again…

I would like to especially thank Thomas Jones who made this all happen,
and to thank HP and Ivy Worldwide for sponsoring this whole contest!!

On with the show!!!


Using VMware Zimbra Fling - with Gmail

A while ago VMware released their VMware Zimbra for Android (VZA).

The developers Chitong Chung and Ben Kolin described the fling as follows:

VMware Zimbra for Android (VZA) is a native Android collaboration application that allows you to access your email, calendar, contacts, tasks and files from any Android device, specifically smartphones and tablets. VZA supports any Microsoft ActiveSync compliant email server and also supports the VMware Zimbra Collaboration Suite (ZCS). With ZCS as the backend, VZA offers several additional ZCS-only features such as Briefcase, Saved Searches, etc. that are not available in any of the Android email applications in the market today. VZA was tested with Microsoft Exchange 2003, 2007 and 2010 and Zimbra Collaboration Suite 6.x and 7.x. It supports Android 2.x and 3.x. Check out the video to get an overview of some of the features but more than anything else, download and give it a spin. We welcome your feedback.

I decided to actually try and connect this to a Google account. A short while ago I configured my first iPhone to connect to Gmail. The configuration there was struck me at the time as quite strange at the time. Here is the official Google how-to. They suggest that you configure the Google account as an Exchange ActiveSync account.

The VZA connects ActiveSync Compliant email servers.. Hmmm..

It also connects to Gmail. Here's How.

  1. Choose Manual Setup

    Step 1
  2. In the Server Address field, enter m.google.com.

    Step 2
  3. Leave the Domain field blank.

    Step 3
  4. In the Email Address field, enter your full Google Account email address.

    Step 4
  5. Enter your full Google Account email address as the User Name.

    Step 5
  6. Enter your Google Account password as the Password.
  7. Check both boxes regarding the SSL certificates.

    Step 7

And here you go.


Of course there is no GAL - but both Calendar and Contacts Sync. Calendar is both ways, Contacts I am not sure.


vSphere 5 Licensing is (some kind of) per-VM licensing

After a rocky two days on the blogosphere, the forums, Twitter, and practically everywhere else, I would like to add in my 2 cents. My apologies if this turns out to be a long post.

Firstly let me say - the release announcements made on Tuesday - are amazing!!  The amount of new features, improvements, the scalability - are amazing. Congratulations on the great work and all the new additional features.

But all of this has been overshadowed by Licensing. Twitter, this thread, numerous amounts of articles on the blogosphere (more than 30% of the articles published on Planet V12N in the last two days) - with examples of how this is good or how this is bad, Power CLI scripts here and here which will help you check what your current status is and how this will effect you.

The official Whitepaper is available here.

There are two parts to this - and unfortunately almost everyone is only focusing on the first - but they are missing out on the second.

These are:

  1. License entitlement when I upgrade.
  2. Adapting to a new licensing scheme - which is more aligned to a per-vm model.

I would actually like to start with the second, and then get to the first.

Yesterday it dawned on me. VMware has (intentionally or not) moved to a per VM pricing model when licensing your ESX hypervisor. This started a while back with some vCloud, CapacityIQ and a number of other products as well.

Let me explain in more detail what I mean. vRAM Entitlements are defined per License Level. You get a license to power on X number of virtual machines with allocated memory as per the limits below:

  • Essentials - 24GB per socket (max 144GB)
  • Standard - 24GB per socket (no max)
  • Enterprise - 32GB per socket
  • Enterprise Plus - 48GB per socket

Let me explain with an theoretical example. I have a cluster with 3 dual 6-core servers with 96GB RAM in each server. License level is Enterprise Plus.

That comes out to 48GB * 2(sockets) * 4(hosts) = 288GB vRAM Entitlement

My environment is standardized. I have 2 types of VM's (disk is not really relevant to this discussion)

  • Type1 - 1vCPU, 2GB RAM
  • Type2 - 2vCPU, 4GB RAM

Let's assume that I would like to allocate 100% of my RAM. This will still leave me with additional spare Physical memory to to back the VM's in the case of failure, because some of the VM's will be sharing common memory.

I could in this case have:

  • 144 * Type1 = 288GB allocated RAM
  • 72 * Type2 = 288GB allocated RAM
  • 50 * Type1 + 47 * Type2 = 288GB allocated RAM
  • Any other number of options apply.

So how is this connected to per-vm licensing? Very simple. If I now know I can run a defined number of virtual machines according to my entitlement.

  • 144 Type1 / 6 licenses = 24 VM's per License
  • 72 Type2 / 6 Licenses = 12 VM's per License

Using this calculation - I can now assign a cost to every VM that is in-use. Granted this is not the only parameter to to be taken into account. Disk usage, CPU, ESX hardware and a large number of other factors. But I can definitely attest to the fact that a every 1GB of RAM that a powered-on VM has allocated to it is definitely 1/<entitlement>, either 1/24, 1/32, or 1/48 - and each license has a cost. 

Up until now, it was not so simple to estimate how much virtual memory costs. You have over allocation, page sharing, and other factors. Now it is a clear-cut calculation.


So if we take my previous cluster scenario (using list price) each GB of RAM allocated costs $3,495 / 48 = $72 / per GB.

So how does this help you as an a consultant, an architect, an admin? This actually makes your job a whole lot easier. Now have a definite number to grasp. This will provide you the option to present the cost (and if need be - charge for it) for every single VM that is created.

Is this the be-all and end all of the equation? Not by a long shot.This does not take into account how long the VM was active. This does not take into account CPU usage, Network usage, Hardware costs, SnS, Storage tier and consumed space. This does simplify and give a definitive number to start to work with.

Gone are the days where you can cram as many VM's as you want, overcommit like crazy and hope for the best. VMware have in fact enforced a best practice and a proper design element into your vSphere environment.

Get with it. Pricing is has moved to per-vm. But not just a simple per-vm price - this is smarter. VM's that have 512MB are not equal to those that have 16GB of ram allocated to them, at least not in this round. Some of VMware's other products, this is not so, a vm is a VM, not matter what the resources it has allocated to it.

Now back to the first point. The sizes of vRAM Entitlement blocks. This is what is causing the biggest uproar.

Customers are not happy. VMware has forever being pushing over-commitment of RAM on a host as a feature, that was a unique feature of VMware's until not so long ago. Microsoft were sweating blood with Hyper-V to get their version of this out the door as soon as they could.

The way I see it there are two main areas that are going to be hit by this and hit very, very hard.

  • Customers with Essentials Bundles
  • Customers with 2-way servers with more than 96GB RAM per server and those with 4-way servers with over 192GB of RAM.

Why Essentials customers? A year / two ago VMware released the Essentials Bundle. This included:

  • vCenter
  • 3 * 2 socket servers.

Never mind that the transition path from the this package to an full-blown vCenter with STD. and upwards licensing was a royal PITA, but many small organizations saw this as an investment

I will invest in the Essentials bundle, invest in a Central storage array of some sort, and buy 3 ESX hosts and pack them with as much RAM as I can - 64/128/256. That way I am sure that my needs will be more than covered for the next few years. My machines don't use that much CPU anyway, the thing that everyone is telling me is that I will hit a RAM constraint much quicker, so the investment in the extra RAM will be well worth my while.

In comes vSphere 5.0 with vRAM entitlements. and instead now you are telling me that in order to use all the RAM I will have to invest a whole lot of money to update or keep my environment relevant.

And why the high density servers? Well that is pretty obvious. Anything above the 2 * vRAM Entitlement will entail additional charge. This is something that large organizations have built themselves upon and have managed to build high very high consolidation ratios. This of course has been all in accordance with VMware's vision.

But even more so - all the hardware vendors have been going the same way. More RAM slots on each server, blade. IBM and Dell even went as far as to invent their own RAM expansion device - to cram even more RAM into the same rack space in your datacenter - now they have been left out to dry.

I think that VMware will come round on the limits, I think they will most probably double - at least for the higher-end licenses. The same thing happened the last time around with vSphere 4.0 and the retirement of Enterprise plus. VMware originally announced that they would remove the Enterprise edition - but negated on that move. Because of the bad publicity that produced.

The lack of official response from VMware regarding this licensing uproar has been too quiet. The attempt to move the focus of attention to the benefits of the new features and away from licensing - is not working. People are vocal - and even more vocal when it touches where it really hurts - their pockets. Many threats of moving away from VMware to other platforms are becoming more and more visible. But that move is not so simple.

The strategy is changing - VMware is coming out with the official tools to help you assess how this will affect you. More information about licensing changes (or lack of) in View licensing. more and more data. But I think this should have all been ready from day 1.

One last thought - and 3 pieces of advice to all of you out there.

  1. Take a deep breath….
  2. Take another one.
  3. Do the math - and then do it again. Review exactly what you have, what you need and most importantly how this will affect you in the future.

I am sorry that this raised the percentage of posts that are related to licensing and not to the great new features available.

More on that another time.

Your comments and feedback would be highly appreciated.


Strange vCenter Permissions Issue

Today I came across a strange issue with permissions and the lack of ability to change permissions on a VM.

Someone had by mistake given the explicit Role VirtualMachineUser to the Built-in Group Users. Don't ask how.

What did this cause?

  1. Every single user in the domain now had access to the machine - which was not a good thing.
  2. No-one could change the permissions for this VM!

Here is what a screenshot looked like when logging in as a Full Admin. I could not change the permissions.

Bad Permissions

It took me a while to understand why this addition caused these two issues.

What is the Users group? Microsoft's definition:

The Users group is the most secure, because the default permissions allotted to this group do not allow members to modify operating system settings or other users' data.

Who are the members of the Users group on the vCenter Server?  All the Domain Users and Authenticated Users


Which means - that no matter who logs on to the server from the domain or locally - they would not be able to change the permissions on the VM. Because they are always - no matter what, part of Authenticated Users.

The reason that this happens is explained very well with some good examples in the
vSphere Basic System Administration Guide


The last line is what is important:

If a permission is defined for the user on that object, the user's permission takes precedence over all group permissions.

So here we had a the Administrators who had full permission at the root (propagated), and another group (which all users are members of) that had a lesser permission defined at a specific level. So here the second permission was applied.

Now I was not planning on removing Authenticated Users from the default Users group - especially not from a production server.

So the only other way that was possible to solve this was to change the role add allow the additional rights to change permissions

Change role 

And after I had given the correct rights I could now remove the permissions that were erroneously assigned

Fixed Permissions

Have you had any other weird permissions issues with vCenter? If so would you like to share?

NetApp DFM Console on Ubuntu

I finally got to play around with the NetApp Operations Manager last week. The two options for the management I had, was to install on a package on a Windows/Linux machine that I use or to use the web console.

But the Linux package was only an RPM package.


But my I use Ubuntu Linux - and I am not going to change the Linux flavor just for the console.

The NetApp Communities - which said this was not possible (ahem perhaps better to say supported).

Google took me to another post which explained how to do How to Install NetApp DFM on Ubuntu. But this was for the product itself, not the management console.

So I I tried the procedure anyway.

sudo alien nmconsole-setup-3-0-2-linux.rpm
sudo dpkg -i nmconsole_3.0.2-4202_all.deb

And hey presto.


Supported? No! Works? YES! (still no crashes yet..)


vExpert 2011

I was extremely happy to receive a nice email from John Troyer on Friday morning with the following text:

Dear Maish Saidel-Keesing,

We're pleased to designate you as a vExpert 2011 as recognition of your contributions to the VMware, virtualization, and cloud computing communities. You’ve done work above and beyond, and we’re delighted to communicate more closely, to share resources, and to offer other opportunities for greater interaction throughout the year as we continue to grow knowledge and success in the community of IT professionals. Welcome to the vExpert 2011 Program!

<snip> ….. </snip>

As always I am humbled to be in the in the company of such an amazing group of people for the second year in a row. I can say that the program this past year has been amazing!!

I am looking forward to continuing with all the new ideas that John (and VMware) have in store for the next year.

Congratulations to all the new vExperts!

I would like to bring your attention to 3 of the lists of vExperts

My vExpert 2011 Twitter List (if you are not on it please feel free to contact me)

Arnim van Lieshout's List

Eric Sloof's LinkedIn vExpert group (by approval only)