Why Virtualize?

The other day, I was going through some other forums I don’t usually read and I came across an interesting thread title, “Is virtualization going the way of the Dinosaur?”  After reading through some of the responses and the numerous amount of posts by the thread starter, I started to wonder.

How would I explain virtualization to someone? 
Think of it this way. A client has ask you to scope and install 5 servers for their new business. The new servers will need to be able to host a Domain Controller, SQL Server, Exchange Server, Web Server and Root CA.

Footprint.

Straight away virtualization comes to mind.  Why? Installing 5 physical servers is a huge task, not only the moving, placing in a rack, and the shear amount of cables to plug in, but running 5 servers is also going to increase the energy footprint. For example, the Dell R720 server has redundant 725w power supplies, that’s 1450w per server. Now, times that by each server, that’s a whopping 7250w or 7.25kw
You can see immediately that the power bill is going to sky rocket. Going virtual would allow you to decrease the amount of servers down to essentially 1, however, 2 would be recommended to spread the load, and 3 would be even better for High Availability.  3 Servers doing the job of 5 would effectively be only 4.3kw,  saving the company money.

Time.
The time it takes to move 5 servers into a rack, plug in and build each server is time consuming and costly, what if you only had to plug in 3 servers, thus allowing you to start installing the software long before you had a chance with the extra 2 servers.

Convenience. Once you have ESXi installed on your 3 servers, you are set to configure your vSwitch’s and then your storage. Once configure, you can start building your virtual machines (In this case, the 5 servers).  Once you have installed and set up your servers, you are set ready to go.

“Oh no..! We forgot that we need to let our partner company in to access one of our web apps… which means we now need another server and we haven’t got the budget for it!”
Never fear, everything is under control and this is where virtualization becomes really worth while. Your administrator only needs to log onto vSphere and right click on a host, selecting New Virtual Machine and in approximately 2 minutes, a server is in the process of being built. In less than 2 hours, you can have your sixth server up and running and your partner company logging into your web app.

There are many different designs for how to set up your virtual infrastructure, this can be storage, i.e. Physical SANs, or vSAN on the hosts. Or Switches if you use iSCSI for your SANs.  
This adds to the footprint, but also adds flexibility to what you can achieve with your infrastructure.

Key Point

  • Reduces the energy footprint
  • Minimises set up/installation time
  • Easy to manage
  • Flexible and easy to expand infrastructure i.e. additional servers 

Please leave any comments or recommendations.

Thank you. 

vForum 2013 – Sydney, Aus. Oct 21 – 22

Just a quick heads up that vForum is upon us again this year in Sydney,  some really good sessions are one and well worth going in to see.  Below are a few links to check out.

October 21st and 22nd., 2013.   
You can also take your VCP or VCAP exams at vForum and get 75% off the exam price.
http://info.vmware.com/content/APAC_ANZ_vForum_Certification?src=&xyz=&elq=&preload[4074696]=&discountcode=
If you are unable to attend both days, or are unable to purchase an all access pass, there are still many great sessions you can get into for free and many amazing things to see. 
Enjoy and have fun! 

Create a virtual SSD in VMware Workstation for vSAN and vFRC

For many people who are studying to become VMware certified or are learning how to use vSphere, there is a need for a lab setup to learn your way around and to understand how to set up and maintain the environment. Training labs are also really helpful for reviewing new technology for your workplace.

Two new pieces of technology that have been released that utilize Solid State Drivers in vCenter 5.5 are vSAN and vFlash Read Cache. These are really fascinating features and I couldn’t wait to get my hands into vCenter and start playing. Unfortunately, there was a little hitch, VMware Workstation did not allow me to create any SSDs for the hosts to read. In Workstation 10 you are able to create SATA drives along with the usual SCSI and IDE – but unfortunately, no SSDs.

But Alas! not all hope is lost. There is a quick and easy way to make a SCSI drive be seen as an SSD.

Lets follow through a couple of steps which should hopefully help.

1. Create a new scsi HDD just like any other.

Once created, under VM settings, click on the new hard drive and select “Advanced” on the right hand side. Take note of the SCSI ratio. eg SCSI 0:1    This becomes important in the next step. 

 Next navigate to where your Virtual Machines config files are stored. right click on  the .vmx file and click edit.

Scroll down to the bottom and type in  SCSI0:1.virtualSSD = 1      (Where “SCSI0:1” is of the HDD advanced settings) – save and close.

Start your VM.

Here is a video showing from no SSD’s being seen in vSAN through to adding them and then seeing them in vCenter.

Thank you for reading.   Please leave feedback and let me know anything you would like me to cover.

Thanks
Keiran.

VMware Hands On Labs (HOL)

At VMworld 2013, VMware announced their new training platform “Hands On Labs.” These are designed for the administrator who wants to brush up on their skills administering VMware technologies, or the administrator whose manager has asked them to take a look at a VMware product that the company is wanting to deploy. These labs are very convenient for those also wanting to study and gain a VMware certification, giving the user an opportunity to work through lab scenarios and get a feel for the environment to grow their understanding of virtualization.

HOL is for anyone who wants to learn, and know more about Software-Defined-Datacenters, Software-Defined-Networking, Mobility, etc.  Each lab includes a manual on the side to step you through the process. I highly recommend thoroughly reading through the manuals as they cover a lot of content in depth. Most of the labs are multilingual and are easy to follow. 
Once inside the lab, you are presented with a windows desktop with the applications pre-installed, ready to run. The web browsers are pre-loaded with a home page of the vCenter/vCloud Director/ etc. for which the lab is for. This is great to get the user involved straight away, no waiting to install any software.   These labs are also very quick to load. 
I highly recommend this to anyone who is wanting to get involved with anything virtualization.

You can check out the Hands on labs at:  http://www.projectnee.com/HOL 

Home Lab Setup

Once again, I have found myself rebuilding my home lab as I find more features to play with. It does become a little tedious, but it does also provide a good opportunity to look into fresh design possibilities and be able to play and test them out.

I thought in this blog, I might just take you through a baseline setup that I use and suggest to those who are starting out in either their early days using vSphere or are on their journey to a VMware certification.

There are a couple of ways you can build your lab, I am running VMware Workstation 9.0 and nesting ESXi  hypervisor inside as a virtual machine. (When you start adding VMs to the virtualized hypervisor, it starts to become inception like.)   You can purchase physical gear as well, although, I have found, as much as I love using the real stuff, the power bill wasn’t happy.  

When I talk about “physical” servers, keep in mind that they are virtualized in VMware Workstation. When I build my lab, I tend to build a “physical” Domain Controller and vCenter servers, followed by three ESXi hypervisors and an Openfiler NAS/File Server for an iSCSI Storage Array.  The reason why I use a “physical” Domain Controller and vCenter is so that I can perform deployments into companies where they have a Domain Controller and are implementing virtualization. It is also a good way to practice P2V.

Each hypervisor consists of 4 NICs:

  • 1 x Management Network
  • 1 x Standby
  • 2 x Storage
For best practice, the storage network and SAN (Openfiler)  are on a separate subnet from the production network. 
If you are limited on resources and can’t stretch out to run Openfiler, there are some great tools available for running an iSCSI inside a windows OS, such as Starwinds Free iSCSI, or the Microsoft iSCSI Target.  If you have several different sized hard drives that you want to put into an array for either performance or storage space for the purpose of creating a “SAN” storage, you can create drive pools with Windows 8/Server 2012. 
In the end, I connect to my vCenter server using vSphere c# Client or WebGUI on my host computer. 
There we go. There is just a small insight into a baseline setup for learning your way around vSphere and how I set up my lab. 
Thanks
Keiran.

If you have anything you would like me to cover, or any general comments, please feel free to leave them below.  Thanks. 

First thoughts on vCenter 5.5

Hi All.

VMware has worked really hard and presented some really awesome new features in ESXi 5.5, from adding more into the Web GUI and making it more user friendly for Mac users, through to things like vSAN which allows use of the local storage as network SAN.

You all know the rule of thumb, not to deploy straight into production. I think it is best to stick by this until at least the first update, which we should see rolled out in the next month or so.
I did, however, roll out 5.5 to my study lab to test out the new features and start to get acquainted  with the web GUI.  I wasn’t to happy with the now minimum requirement of 4GB of RAM for the Hypervisors and also for vCenter.   I have only 16GB in my computer and I have a few “Physical” servers, 3 ESXi hosts and a SAN all nested inside VMware Workstation.   This meant I had to redesign my layout so that I could still use a similar setup.

Another issue I came across (it may have been something VMware planned on) was that “domain admins” and other user groups were not attached to the vCenter permissions. This was evident when I logged in as Administrator and was unable to do anything and was unable to see any vCenter servers or anything else in the Web GUI or vSphere C# Client.

To fix this, the user needs to log in as administrator@vsphere.local > Click on vCenter Servers > Select the vCenter Server > Click Manage > Click Permissions > Click the “+” > select which user group to grant permission to.

Watch the video for a visual on how to change this.

Thank you for viewing.  If you have any questions or comments please get in contact, or if you have any suggestions on anything you would like to see me cover. 

Welcome to ReadySetVirtual

Hello and welcome to ReadySetVirtual.

This blog is designed to bring to you information in regards to Virtualization, such as new features, tutorials, etc.  at the same time, helping me learn more. My main goal is to be able to use this as a way of “taking notes” as I study to become a VMware Certified Professional. I have a youtube channel that shows tips and tricks in vSphere.

About Me:

Just a little about me.  My name is Keiran. I am a Network Administrator at a local school here in Brisbane. and I also consult to small business’.  I am married with no kids (yet).   I enjoy learning a lot about technology, and spend a great deal of time reading about all the cool things that technology can do for us, and what is just above the next step as we climb.   I am currently studying to sit the VMware Certified Professional (VCP) exam, and then sit the Course at Stanley Community College in January to complete the course, thus certifying me as a VCP.

I currently look after two sites running virtualization. One site is a 3 host, 2 SAN running ESX 4.0.  The second site has 3 hosts, 2 SANs  and running ESXi 5.0.  

I hope you find this beneficial to you and helpful on your journey working with virtualization in your environment.

I am falling in love with virtualization and hope you do too.

Thanks for reading, and my first blog on the new ESXi 5.5 will be up shortly.

Thanks you

Keiran.