Archive for the ‘Short Take’ Category

h1

Short-Take: vSphere vCloud Suite – Cheat Sheet

August 27, 2012

VMworld 2012 Announcements

VMware announces a new product package based on vCloud Director and vSphere Enterprise Plus called vCloud Suite. Existing users of vSphere Enterprise Plus (with valid SnS as of 8/27/2012) – including Academic and Federal users – may qualify for a “free” upgrade (actually $1/CPU) to “Standard” edition of vCloud Suite. Likewise, users with valid SnS and vSphere Enterprise (not Plus) qualify for a reduced cost upgrade to vCloud Suite Standard at $682/CPU.

Qualifying users have until December 15, 2012 to complete the transaction. Upgrades to other editions of vCloud Suite from Enterprise and Enterprise Plus are available as well – at additional cost per CPU.

vCloud Suite Cheat Sheet

Summary of new vCloud Suite offering and tiers (including links):

vCloud Suite
Standard Advanced Enterprise
Virtualization VMware vSphere Enterprise Plus Edition * * *
Cloud Infrastructure vCloud Director and vCloud Connector * * *
Standard vCloud Networking and Security * * *
Advanced vCloud Networking and Security * *
vCenter Site Recovery Manager Enterprise *
Operations Management vCenter Operations Management Suite vCOps Advanced vCOps Enterprise
VMware vCenter Chargeback Manager™ *
VMware vCenter Configuration Manager™ *
VMware vCenter Infrastructure Navigator™ *
vFabric Application Director *
Licensing Per CPU, Enterprise Plus basis $4,995.00 $7,495.00 $11,495.00
Support Basic: Per CPU, Per Year $1,049.00 $1,574.00 $2,414.00
Production: Per CPU, Per Year $1,249.00 $1,874.00 $2,874.00

Per-VM Pricing All But Gone

The introduction of vCloud Suite side-steps the vCloud Director per-VM licensing model and allows private cloud to scale based on the more predictable per-CPU infrastructure metric. Public cloud service providers will still be interested in per-VM foot prints and billing structures, but at least private cloud can be unshackled from the confines of per-VM vCD and vRAM issues; which segways nicely into the next tidbit…

In Other News…

VMware effectively kills vRAM by including “unlimited” vRAM entitlements in all editions of vSphere.

SMB’s may be pleased to note that VMware also now includes the vSphere Storate Appliance with all acceleration kits except vSphere Essentials at no additional cost (versus vSphere 5.0 kits). This is especially good for ROBO operations using Essentials Plus. The standalone cost for vSphere Storage Appliance is now $3,495.

h1

Short Take: VMware View Client for Android, ICS Update

May 17, 2012

An updated VMware View Client for Android devices hit a the street today sporting a couple of enhancements for Google’s Android OS running the relatively new Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) version; other improvements are for View 5.1 deployments only.

Here’s a list of the new features in the update available now on Google Play:

– Support for ICS
– Mouse support with hover, right click and scroll wheel (ICS)
– Updated look and feel and improvements for smaller screens
– New Settings dialog includes security mode settings
– Up to 2x better video playback performance
– Optimized for View 5.1
– RADIUS two factor authentication with View 5.1
– Save password option (administrator approval required) with View 5.1
– French, German, Spanish keyboard support with View 5.1

The update is a 5.32MB download, and is available free of charge.

h1

Short-Take: Nexenta 3.1 Adds VAAI Support, Auto-Sync Resume

August 3, 2011

Nexneta Systems Inc released version 3.1 of its open storage software yesterday with a couple of VMware vSphere-specific feature enhancements. These enhancements are specifically targets at VMware’s vStorage API for Array Integration (VAAI) which promises to accelerate certain “costly” storage operations by pushing their implementation to the storage array instead of the ESX host.

From NexentaStor 3.1 Release Notes, the primitives implemented in 3.1 that contribute to VAAI support include:

  • SCSI Write Same: Supported in vSphere 4.1 and later
    Example. Accelerates zero block writes when creating new virtual disks.
  • SCSI ATS (Atomic Test & Set): Supported in vSphere 4.1 and later.
    Example. Enables specific LUN “region” to be locked instead of entire LUN when cloning a VM.
  • SCSI Block Copy: Supported in vSphere 4.1 and later.
    Example. Avoids reading and writing of block data “through” the ESX host during a block copy operation by allowing VMware to instruct the SAN to do so.
  • SCSI Unmap: Supported in vSphere 5 and later. Enables freed blocks to be returned to the zpool for new allocation when no longer used for VM storage.

Additional “optimizations” and improvements from Nexenta in 3.1 include:

  • In-flight deduplication
  • ARC performance enhancements
  • multiple connections per session for iSCSI
  • DMU fast path for iSCSI (i.e. no extra copy)
  • Auto-sync “resume” with progress bar in GUI/NMV and ability to change source/destination paths OTF
  • Parallel tasks in NMV (i.e. no more busy process “hangs”)
  • Improved CIFS performance
  • Support for multiple DC/DC fail-over for CIFS
  • Better cross-forrest trusts with CIFS
  • Configuration monitoring/reporting via “ConfGuard” plug-in
  • Multiple VIP per service for HA Cluster, fail-over of local users and elimination of separate heartbeat device
  • JBOD management for select devices from within the NMV

Given the addition of VAAI features, the upgrade offers some compelling reasons to make the move to NexentaStor 3.1 and at the same time removes obstacles from choosing NexentaStor as a VMware iSCSI platform for SMB/SME (versus low-end EMC VNXE, which at last look was still waiting on VAAI support.) However, for existing vSphere 4.1+ environments, a word of caution: you will want to “test, test, test” before upgrading to (or enabling) VAAI (fortunately, there’s a NexentaStor VSA available).

Auto-Sync Resume

In the past, NexentaStor’s auto-sync plug-in has been the only integrated means of block replication from one storage pool (or array) to another. In the past, the plug-in allowed for periodic replication events to be scheduled which drew from a marker snapshot until the replication was complete. Upon extended error (where the replication fails), the failure of the replication causes a roll-back to the marker point, eliminating any data that has transferred between the pools. For WAN replication, this can be costly as no check-points are created along the way.

More problematically, there has been no way to recreate a replication service in the event it has been either deleted or missing (i.e. zpool moved to a new host.) This creates a requirement for the replication to start over from scratch – a problem for very large datasets. With Auto-Sync 3.1, later problem is resolved, and provided NexentaStor can find at least one pair of identical snapshots for the file system.

Where I find this new “feature” particularly helpful is in seed replications to external storage devices (i.e. USB2.0 arrays, JBODs, etc.). This allows for a replication to external, removable storage to (1) be completed locally, (2) shipped to a central repository, and (3) a remote replication service created to continue the replication updates over the WAN.

Additionally, consider the case where the above local-to-WAN replication seeding takes place over the course of several months and the hardware at the central repository fails, requiring the replication pool to be moved to another NexentaStor instance. In the past, the limitation on auto-sync would have required a brand new replication set, regardless of the consistency of the replicated data on the relocated pool. Now, a new (replacement) service can be created pointing to the new destination, and auto-sync promises to find the data – intact – and resume the replication updates starting with the last identical marker snapshot.

NexentaStor Native Transport

The default transport for replication in NexentaStor 3.1 is now NexentaStor’s TCP-based Remote Replication protocol (RR). While SSH is still an option for non-NexentaStor destinations, netcat is no longer supported for auto-sync replications. While no indication of performance benefits are available, two tunable parameters are available for RR auto-sync services (per service): TCP connection count (-n) and TCP package size (-P). Defaults for each of these are 4 and 1024, respectively, meaning 4 connections and 1024KB PDU size for the replication session.

Conclusions

For VMware vSphere deployments in SMB, SME and ROBO environments, NexentaStor 3.1 looks to be a good fit, offering high-performance CIFS, NFS, iSCSI and Fiber Channel options in a unified storage environment complete with VAAI support to accelerate vStorage applications. For VMware View installations using NexentaStor, the VAAI/ATS feature should resolve some iSCSI locking behavior issues that have made NFS more attractive but remove SCSI-based VAAI features. That said, with the storage provisioning changes in View 4.5 and upcoming View 5, the ability to pick from FC, iSCSI or NFS (especially at 10G) from within the same storage platform has definite advantages (if not complexity implications.) Suffice to say, NexentaStor’s update is adding more open storage tools to the VMware virtualization architect’s bag of tricks.

NexentaStor 3.1 is available for download now.

Update, 8/12/2011:

Nexenta has found some problems with 3.1 post Q/A. They’ve released this statement on the matter:

Nexenta places the highest importance on maintaining access to and integrity of customer data. The purpose of this Technical Bulletin is to make you aware of an issue with the process of upgrading to 3.1. Nexenta has discovered an issue with the software delivery mechanism we use. This issue can result in errors during the upgrade process and some functionality not being installed properly. Please postpone upgrading to v3.1 until our next Technical Bulletin update. We are actively working to get this corrected and get it back to 100 % service as fast as possible. Until the issue is resolved we have removed 3.1 from the website and suspended upgrades. Thanks for your patience.

Nexenta Support, Aug. 6, 2011

According to sources from within Nexenta, the problems appear to be more related to APT repository/distribution issues “rather than the 3.1 codebase.” All ISO and repository distribution for 3.1 has been pulled until further notice and links to information about 3.1 on the corporate Nexenta site are no longer working…

Update, 8/17/2011:

Today, while working on a follow-up post, the lab systems (virtual storage appliances) were updated to NexentaStor 3.1.1 (both Enterprise and Community editions). Since a question was raised about the applicability of the VAAI enhancements to Community Edition (NexentaStor CE), I’ve got a teaser for you: see the following image of two identical LUNs mounted to an ESXi host from NexentaStor Enterprise Edition (NSEE) and NexentaStor Community Edition (NSCE). If you look closely, you’ll notice they BOTH show “supported” status.

vSphere VMFS5 Datastores provided by NexentaStor Community (VSA04) and Enterprise (VSA03) editions.

Update, 8/19/2011:

Nexenta officially re-released NexentaStor 3.1 today in the form of version 3.1.1 – it is available for download now.

h1

Short-Take: VMware View PCoIP Client for Android

July 15, 2011

Today VMware released a “Tech Preview” version of VMware’s View Client for Android: a PCoIP-only client suitable for LAN and WAN (via PCoIP Secure Gateway). We’ve had a quick first look this evening when the application appeared on Android Market – a free download – and it looks great. On my NotionInk Adam tablet (NVidia 1GHz dual-core) running Honeycomb 3.0.1 the display updates where just as snappy as my iPad2 running View Client for iPad. The only problem I experienced in the hour or so of working with the client is the lack of three-finger support in the Adam/Honeycomb port to spawn the pop-up keyboard.

The View PCoIP Client for Android supports the same saved desktop icon paradigm as it's iPad predecessor for quick access.

The View PCoIP Client for Android allows for desktop connections to stay active even when the app is not in the foreground - a one-up on the iPad predecessor.

Android View PCoIP Client - Task switching to other Android application

Task switching in View PCoIP Client for Android works just like any other Android application.

Android View PCoIP Client - Retrieving a View desktop from background

View PCoIP Client for Android is easily restored from the background without reconnection delays.

And yes, that last screen shot shows 1-bar on AT&T’s 3G network and it’s totally useable just like on the iPad. If you’re waiting for a rocking View client before plunking down money on that 10.1″ ASUS EEpad Transformer (now with Honeycomb 3.1) and it’s keyboard/mousepad “docking” station (complete with additional run-time doubling battery) then wait no more: Android has arrived. Remember though, this is just a “Tech Preview” and the apple needs a bit more polishing before you go running to your CIO…

SOLORI’s Note: Although the View Client for Android was “optimized” for 1280×800 format, it still had no problem with the more limited 1024×600 Pixel Qi display on my NotionInk Adam. In fact, changes in rotation on the Android seemed faster than on iPad2 and multitasking on the Honeycomb system did no seemed to be affected to a backgrounded desktop.

As another test to compatibility, I tested small-screen PCoIP goodness on my Samsung Fascinate and it rocks! Beware, there is just enough display to be useful with the pop-up keyboard on-screen, however and the scroll-back on the screen with keyboard in foreground made for interesting URL entry while trying to get to Hulu, but audio was clear and frame rates at about 3-5 fps (visual est.) but very clear. Task switching on the single-core Android Froyo device worked flawlessly too.

How did Hulu fare on Honeycomb? Unfortunately it was not up to scratch in full screen, but I found it passable in the embedded mode (Mozilla 3.6). This kind of performance issue will likely be very platform dependent on Android version, CPU, display and vendor tweaks to the Google Android kernel – especially hacked kernels like the NI Adam (tested). Unlike the Apple-controlled IOS, Android leaves a lot of performance enhancements to platform providers and most just pass-on the reference kernel without significant improvement in performance. For a “preview” release, Team Fox at VMware has delivered the goods.

VMware’s official blog post has a quick walk-through video. A User Guide and Release Notes are also available from VMware.

h1

Short-Take: Clock Ticking on VI 3.5 Updates, June 1 Deadline

May 26, 2011

If you’re still not quite ready to upgrade from VI 3.x to vSphere, time may be running out on your ESX hosts to stay “current” inside of VI3 unless you act before June 1, 2011. If your VMware VI3 hosts have not been patched since November of 2010, you are at risk for losing update/patching capabilities unless you apply ESX350-201012410-BG before the deadline. This patch ONLY addresses the expiring secure key on the ESX host which will otherwise become invalid on June 1, 2011.

If you need to bring your hosts current (without upgrading to vSphere) the last full patch release from VMware for VI 3.5 addresses the following issues:

Enablement of Intel Xeon Processor 3400 Series – Support for the Intel Xeon processor 3400 series has been added. Support includes Enhanced VMotion capabilities. For additional information on previous processor families supported by Enhanced VMotion, see Enhanced VMotion Compatibility (EVC) processor support (KB 1003212).

Driver Update for Broadcom bnx2 Network Controller – The driver for bnx2 controllers has been upgraded to version 1.6.9. This driver supports bootcode upgrade on bnx2 chipsets and requires bmapilnx and lnxfwnx2 tools upgrade from Broadcom. This driver also adds support for Network Controller – Sideband Interface (NC-SI) for SOL (serial over LAN) applicable to Broadcom NetXtreme 5709 and 5716 chipsets.

Driver Update for LSI SCSI and SAS Controllers – The driver for LSI SCSI and SAS controllers is updated to version 2.06.74. This version of the driver is required to provide a better support for shared SAS environments.

Newly Supported Guest Operating Systems – Support for the following guest operating systems has been added specifically for this release:

For more complete information about supported guests included in this release, see the VMware Compatibility Guide: http://www.vmware.com/resources/compatibility/search.php?deviceCategory=software.

  • Windows 7 Enterprise (32-bit and 64-bit)
  • Windows 7 Ultimate (32-bit and 64-bit)
  • Windows 7 Professional (32-bit and 64-bit)
  • Windows 7 Home Premium (32-bit and 64-bit)
  • Windows 2008 R2 Standard Edition (64-bit)
  • Windows 2008 R2 Enterprise Edition (64-bit)
  • Windows 2008 R2 Datacenter Edition (64-bit)
  • Windows 2008 R2 Web Server (64-bit)
  • Ubuntu Desktop 9.04 (32-bit and 64-bit)
  • Ubuntu Server 9.04 (32-bit and 64-bit)

Newly Supported Management Agents – See VMware ESX Server Supported Hardware Lifecycle Management Agents for current information on supported management agents.

Newly Supported Network Cards – This release of ESX Server supports HP NC375T (NetXen) PCI Express Quad Port Gigabit Server Adapter.

Newly Supported SATA Controllers – This release of ESX Server supports the Intel Ibex Peak SATA AHCI controller.

Note:
  • Some limitations apply in terms of support for SATA controllers. For more information, see SATA Controller Support in ESX 3.5. (KB 1008673)
  • Storing VMFS datastores on native SATA drives is not supported.

This patch comes with a roll-up approach that VMware describes this way:

Note: As part of the end of availability for some VMware Virtual Infrastructure product releases, the ESX 3.5 Update 5 upgrade package ESX350-Update05.zip has been replaced by ESX350-Update05a.zip in order to remove dependencies upon patches that will no longer be available for download. Hosts upgraded using ESX350-Update05a.zip are equivalent to those upgraded using the older package, but patch bundles released before ESX 3.5 Update 5 will not be required during the upgrade process.

h1

Short-Take: vSphere 4.0 U3 Out Today, Drivers & Fixes

May 6, 2011

Today, VMware announces the release of vSphere 4.0 Update 3 (U3). Many, many fixes and enhancements – some rolled-in from (or influenced by) vSphere 4.1. Updates to ESX, ESXi, vCenter and vCenter Update Manager are available now (see below for links).

Don't forget to click the "View History" link to expose the vCenter and ESX updates available for older versions...

VMware ESX/ESXi

  • Enhanced APD handling with automatic failover
  • Inclusion of additional drivers
  • Bug and security fixes
  • Additional guest operating system support
  • Updated VM Tools (WDDM, XPDM and PVSCSI drivers)

Patch Release ESX400-Update03 contains the following individual bulletins:

ESX400-201105201-UG: Updates the VMware ESX 4.0 Core and CIM components
ESX400-201105202-UG: Updates the VMware-esx-remove-rpms
ESX400-201105203-UG: Updates the VMware ESX 4.0 EHCI HCD device driver
ESX400-201105204-UG: Updates the VMware ESX 4.0 USB core component
ESX400-201105205-UG: Updates the VMware ESX 4.0 SCSI qla4xxx driver
ESX400-201105206-UG: Updates the VMware ESX 4.0 USB storage component
ESX400-201105207-UG: Updates the VMware ESX 4.0 SCSI qla2xxx driver
ESX400-201105209-UG: Updates the VMware ESX 4.0 e1000e driver
ESX400-201105210-UG: Updates the VMware ESX 4.0 mptsas, mptspi device drivers
ESX400-201105212-UG: Updates the VMware ESX 4.0 nx-nic device driver
ESX400-201105215-UG: Updates the VMware ESX 4.0 scsi hpsa device driver
ESX400-201105216-UG: Updates the VMware ESX 4.0 bnx2x device driver
ESX400-201105217-UG: Updates the VMware ESX 4.0 Megaraid SAS device driver
ESX400-201105218-UG: Updates the VMware ESX 4.0 bnx2 device driver
ESX400-201105219-UG: Updates the VMware ESX 4.0 SCSI-AIC 79xx device driver

Patch Release ESXi400-Update03 contains the following individual bulletins:

ESXi400-201105201-UG: Updates Firmware
ESXi400-201105202-UG: Updates Tools
ESXi400-201105203-UG: Updates VI Client

VMware vCenter™

  • Windows 2008 R2 is now a supported platform
  • Additional guest operating system customization support
  • Additional vCenter Server database support
  • Bug and security fixes

VMware vCenter Server 4.0 Update 3 offers the following improvements:

Guest Operating System Customization Improvements: vCenter Server adds support for customization of the following guest operating systems:

  •         RHEL 6.0 (32-bit and 64-bit)
  •         SLES 11 SP1 (32-bit and 64-bit)
  •         Windows 7 SP1 (32-bit and 64-bit)
  •         Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1

Additional vCenter Server Database Support: vCenter Server now supports the following databases:

  •         Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 (32-bit and 64-bit)
  •         Oracle 11g R2 (32-bit and 64-bit)
  •         IBM DB2 9.7.2 (32-bit and 64-bit)

For more information about using IBM DB2 – 9.7.2 database with vCenter Server 4.0 Update 3, see KB 1037354.

Additional vCenter Server Operating System Support: You can install vCenter Server on Windows Server 2008 R2.
Resolved Issues:In addition, this release delivers a number of bug fixes that have been documented in the Resolved Issues section.

VMware vCenter Update Manager

  • Windows 2008 R2 is now a supported platform
  • Additional vCenter Server database support
h1

Short-Take: VMware View, What’s Up with PCoIP?

March 21, 2011

Isn’t it time you looked at what VMware View and PCoIP have to offer? Now that there is a server off-load card supporting View PCoIP virtual machines, the overhead of display processing opens-up opportunities for denser View servers (or does it?) Here’s what VMware says about PCoIP in the “VMware View Architecture Planning Guide, View 4.6”

VMware View with PCoIP
PCoIP is a new high-performance remote display protocol provided by VMware. This protocol is available for View desktops that are sourced from virtual machines, Teradici clients, and physical machines that have Teradici-enabled host cards.

PCoIP can compensate for an increase in latency or a reduction in bandwidth, to ensure that end users can remain productive regardless of network conditions. PCoIP is optimized for delivery of images, audio, and video content for a wide range of users on the LAN or across the WAN. PCoIP provides the following features:

  • You can use up to 4 monitors and adjust the resolution for each monitor separately, up to 2560 x 1600 resolution per display.
  • You can copy and paste text between the local system and the View desktop, but you cannot copy and paste system objects such as folders and files between systems.
  • PCoIP supports 32-bit color.
  • PCoIP supports 128-bit encryption.
  • PCoIP supports Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) encryption, which is turned on by default.
  • For users outside the corporate firewall, you can use this protocol with your company’s virtual private network or with View security servers.
  • MMR is not supported on Windows 7 clients or virtual desktops.
    • Although MMR is not supported on Windows 7 virtual desktops, if the Windows 7 desktop has 1GB of
      RAM and 2 virtual CPUs, you can use PCoIP to play 480p- and 720p-formatted videos at native resolutions.
      For 1080p, you might need to make the window smaller than full screen size.

If you use PCoIP, the display protocol from VMware, you can adjust the display resolution and rotation
separately for each monitor. PCoIP allows a true multiple-monitor session rather than a span mode session.

  • The maximum number of monitors that you can use to display a View desktop is 10 if you use the RDP display protocol and 4 if you use PCoIP.

RAM Sizing for Specific Monitor Configurations When Using PCoIP
If you use PCoIP, the display protocol from VMware, the amount of extra RAM that the ESX host requires depends in part on the number of monitors configured for end users and on the display resolution. Table 4-1 lists the amount of overhead RAM required for various configurations. The amounts of memory listed in the columns are in addition to the amount of memory required for other PCoIP functionality.

RAM sizing for Multi-Monitor PCoIP sessions

When you consider these requirements, note that virtual machine configuration of allocated RAM does not change. That is, you do not need to allocate 1GB of RAM for applications and another 31MB for dual 1080p monitors. Instead, consider the overhead RAM when calculating the total physical RAM required for each ESX server. Add the guest operating system RAM to the overhead RAM and multiply by the number of virtual machines.

  • Software developers or other power uses with high-performance needs might have much higher CPU requirements than knowledge workers and task workers. Dual virtual CPUs are recommended for compute-intensive tasks or for Windows 7 desktops that need to play 720p video using the PCoIP display protocol.

Maximum Connections for View Connection Server
Table 4-7 provides information about the tested limits regarding the number of simultaneous connections that a VMware View deployment can accommodate.

This example assumes that you are using VMware View with vSphere 4.1 and vCenter Server 4.1. It also assumes that View Connection Server is running on a 64-bit Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise operating system.

Maximum Connections for View Connection Server

PCoIP Secure Gateway connections are required if you use security servers for PCoIP connections from outside the corporate network. Tunnelled connections are required if you use security servers for RDP connections from outside the corporate network and for USB and multimedia redirection (MMR) acceleration with a PCoIP Secure Gateway connection.

Network Bandwidth Considerations
For display traffic, many elements can affect network bandwidth, such as protocol used, monitor resolution and configuration, and the amount of multimedia content in the workload. Concurrent launches of streamed applications can also cause usage spikes.

Read the rest of this entry ?