vrijdag, maart 30, 2007

VMware: autopatching ESX with an FTP repository

Dominic Rivera from vmprofessional has posted a more advanced Perl script for patching different versions of ESX. He uses an FTP repository & does an MD5SUM check before installing the downloaded patch. Check it out here!

Sources are available:


Pre-compiled patchlist.txt

VizionCore: ESXReplicator beta 2.0 Update

I got a lot of reaction on my latest post. I said the following:

As does Double-Take for VMware Infrastructure, ESXReplicator makes use of VM snapshots on the source VM during replication

It is very important to note that there is a huge difference in the snapshot techniques used by Double-Take for VMware Infrastructure and VizionCore ESXReplicator.

Vizioncore only leverages snapshots during the replication cycle to free up the VMDK as they scan it. Replicator has it's own engine for the differential (cool huh?). This is very different to Double-Take that relies on a snapshot always being open.

VMware: New patches released

VMware released some new patches for ESX 3.0.1. Especially the ESX-1541239 is an interesting one, as it addresses a critical issue with Emulex HBA drivers.

ESX-1541239 Patch 03/29/07 Critical Patch
ESX-2257739 Patch 03/29/07 Critical Patch
ESX-2559638 Patch 03/29/07 Security Patch
ESX-6431040 Patch 03/29/07 Security Patch
ESX-9916286 Patch 03/29/07 Security Patch

maandag, maart 26, 2007

VizionCore: ESXReplicator 2.0 Beta 8 preview

EsxReplicator is a real-time replication solution for the VMware ESX Server environment. A beta is now available to the public with support for VI3. I must admit that I was fairly impressed by this beta version. VizionCore has done a great job. We had just 1 small problem after setup (a Next->Next->Finish install BTW).

OK, let’s check the necessary steps (besides installing the .msi):

The first step is to configure your SMTP settings, and fill out the recipient and from mail address. Also, you can set your VC Tree Expand Level (tree level expansion).

Then, next steps include adding, configuring and connecting to your VirtualCenter and/or ESX hosts.

Ok, now comes the fun part: replication. Just add a replication job via the GUI by selecting the appropriate VM and selecting Add Replication job or Assign a New Job.
A Replication Job Wizard is displayed. Note the intervals: a minimum of 15 minutes in between replication steps:

You can specify to disable quiescing, the target host and datastore. That’s about it!

You can see a nice progress summary when a job is executed. This is useful to quickly determine when & where a job failed.

Job details are shown after a replication process. Check out the giant clock! BTW, all replication job details are saved under C:\Program Files\vizioncore\esxReplicator\Logs folder.

Some remarks:

  • As you can see, this is a very simple and straightforward product
  • As does Double-Take for VMware Infrastructure, ESXReplicator makes use of VM snapshots on the source VM during replication
  • ESXReplicator did not detect that my VM was already on the same LUN as the to-be- copied replication, so my replication job failed.
  • Also, a 2nd server with the name SR-LIC01 was added to the inventory. So effectively, we had 2 SR-LIC01’s in our VC inventory! Not a good thing and something that Double-Take for VMware Infrastructure does not allow to happen (it registers the VM for a brief period and then removes it from the inventory).
  • We saw a rather high impact on the service console (CPU0 and vmnic0), but this is normal considering it is an ESX to ESX host action.
  • It looks like ESXReplicator is VMotion aware, nice!

Conclusion: VizionCore ESXReplicator 2.0 for VI3 looks like a very promising product. It is simple & easy to use.

HP: Data Protector VCB integration packet for VI3

For those using HP Data Protector as a backup solution: HP finally released a VCB/script toolkit for use with VI3

This package contains the scripts and the document describing the integration of VMware Consolidated Backup 3.0.1 snapshot capabilities with HP Storage Data Protector 5.5 and 6.0.

Download it here

dinsdag, maart 20, 2007

VMware: SAN System Design & Deployment Guide

I just noticed that VMware has released a new guide on designing & deploying ESX on a SAN. It's a fine read.
Download it here

vrijdag, maart 09, 2007

VMware: Beware patch 2

Some installation remarks on patch 2 for VirtualCenter. These are the experiences of the guys on the VMware forums and myself :)

  • Make sure to disable HA and DRS when patching your VirtualCenter. Otherwise, some ESX host may become disconnected from VirtualCenter.
  • Make sure to upgrade your VI Client! The new VI Client (build 40644) is NOT backwards compatible. I saw weird stuff happening when using the new VI Client on the patch 1 VirtualCenter release!!
  • Check your VPXA agent version after the installation (issue vpxa –v). The new version should be VMware VirtualCenter Agent Daemon 2.0.1 build-40644 (was 33643). If not and your ESX host shows a disconnected state in VC, start to panic :). Or just install it manually by running 'service mgmt-vmware restart' at the console. Reconnect the ESX host.
  • License location has changed from C:\Program Files\VMware\VMware License Server\vmware.lic to C:\Program Files\VMware\VMware License Server\Licenses\vmware.lic. I had to reboot the license server.
  • Last but not least: Don’t click Yes when asked to overwrite the data. It will wipe out your DB!

VMware: (Auto)patching your ESX host

As you all know, patching an ESX host is not exactly fun. VMware has promised to deliver a better patching system in their new version (ESX 3.1 and VC 2.1). In the meantime, we have to make sure that our ESX hosts are patched. In this post, I will use an IIS repository to deploy ESX patches from a central server (well, its not a push but rather a pull technology).

A special thanks goes out to Arne who wrote an article (in Dutch) on his excellent ictfreak blog on configuring IIS for ESX patches. I decided to use it and add a Perl script and a patchList to make the process more manageable.

First part: installing & configuring IIS
  1. Create a folder called VIPatches
  2. Download all patches from the VMware site
  3. Extract them to the VIPatches folder. It should look something like this:

  4. In the VIPatches, create a file called patchesList.txt with the relevant patch numbers IN THE CORRECT ORDER. Make sure no additional carriage returns are available after the final patch (in our case 3199476).
  5. Install IIS
  6. Go to IIS manager and create a new website. Call it VIPatches (or something similar)
  7. Change the port number to a free port (example: port 8082)
  8. Make sure to browse to the correct folder (in our case E:\VIPatches) and to activate Directory browsing

  9. On the directory security tab: make sure Anonymous logon is selected.
  10. On the HTTP Headers tab, MIME Types button: add .* and ‘application/octet-stream’
  11. Browse with your preferred internet browser to http://<servername>:8082/VI3Patches. You should be able to see all patches.
Second part: configuring & patching your ESX host
  1. Use the Service Console
  2. Open the appropriate firewall port by issuing the following command (depending on your configured port in IIS):
    esxcfg-firewall -o 8082,tcp,out,httpClient
  3. Create (touch) a script under /tmp called patchESX.pl (or create it on a central location so you can copy it to all your ESX hosts with WinSCP or FastSCP).
  4. Open with nano (or vim) and add the following content:
    # patchESX.pl -- auto update esx perl script
    # by Vincent Vlieghe
    # Version 6/03/2007

    use LWP::Simple;

    $patchlist = get 'http://<yourservername>:8082/patchesList.txt';
    @array = split(/\n/, $patchlist);
    foreach $item (@array)
    print $item;
    $item = trim($item);
    $cmdQuery = "esxupdate query | grep ESX-$item";
    if(system($cmdQuery) == 0)
    print "\n$item is already installed - skipping\n";
    print "\n$item is not yet installed - installing\n";
    $cmdUpdate = "esxupdate -n -r http://<yourservername>:8082/ESX-$item update";
    sub trim($)
    my $string = shift;
    $string =~ s/^\s+//;
    $string =~ s/\s+$//;
    return $string;
  5. Replace <yourservername> with the IIS servername. Make sure the ESX host can contact it (check your DNS!).
  6. Make sure your ESX host is running in maintenance mode.
  7. Run the script by issuing perl patchESX.pl. Watch and enjoy!
  8. Reboot your ESX host when all updates are installed.

dinsdag, maart 06, 2007

VMware: new patches available for ESX 3.0.1

Some new ESX 3.0.1 patches are available. Update ESX-3199476 adds support for using Microsoft Clustering Server (MSCS) with Windows 2003 Service Pack 1 (SP 1) and R2 Guest Operating Systems.

There are now a total of 20 patches available for download. BTW: High on my ESX agenda is: creating some general (Perl) script and a (virtual) update server for easier maintenance. Why? Because installing 20 updates for every existing/new server introduced in the environment is a pain in the ***. Download them here

VMware: VCB & existing snapshots

Just a quick note here for people using VCBMounter / VCB: VCB does NOT support existing snapshots. We noticed a delay of 5 minutes during the (manual) execution of the VCBMounter command initialization & the actual snapshot failure. This results in a disconnected ESX host in VirtualCenter (30 seconds disconnect). This also means that the snapshot backup didn’t work.

You actually lose some functionality (namely: creating snapshots before an upgrade/service pack & testing it for a number of days before committing the snapshot). Something for VCB 2.0 maybe?

zaterdag, maart 03, 2007

VMware: VirtualCenter 2.0.1 Patch 2 (Build 40644)

VirtualCenter 2.0.1 Patch 2 (Build 40644) resolves a variety of issues and includes several improvements:

  • Database Issues
  • License-Handling Improvements
  • Performance, Performance-Reporting, and Related Issues
  • Other Issues

I would suggest to download the patch here & install it. I know I will ASAP!

vrijdag, maart 02, 2007

Microsoft: Hypervisor - Windows Server Virtualization Demo

For those who can't wait to see MS Server Virtualization in action, check out this little demo movie on Arlindo's blog (MSFT Belgium). If they can do what they promise (hot add almost all components, etc.), then VMware has some catching up to do :)

VMware: VMware Server 1.0.2 released

For those using VMware Server: a new maintenance update, 1.0.2, is now available for download. This update fixes numerous bugs. Check the release notes here

Citrix: CPS 4.5 first impressions: installation

Well hmmm, the installation process has not really changed since MPS 4.0. It uses the same installation screens to connect/create your IMA datastore, configure XML ports, etc.. This is what I have noticed during installation:

The prerequisites have changed a bit:

  • You can only install CPS 4.5 on Windows 2003 (x86 or x64)
  • Access Management Console now uses .Net Framework 2.0 (was .Net 1.1)
  • Java JRE 1.5 (was Java 1.4)

  • Visual J# .Net 2.0

The new Access Management Console is to replace the (Java based) Presentation MC. From now on, applications are published from within this console. Also, the new Access Management Console is now divided into a number of separately installed components:

What I didn’t understand is the fact that you can still choose to install the Standard Edition. The Standard Edition does not exist anymore… Confusing??

This is new: you can now Enable IMA encryption during the installation of CPS 4.5.

The IMA encryption feature provides a more robust AES encryption algorithm. IMA encryption is a farm-wide setting. If you enable IMA encryption during Citrix Presentation Server installation, each server you add to the farm has IMA encryption enabled. To enable IMA encryption during installation, you must generate a key, which is used for all the servers in your farm, and specify that key during Setup. You can generate the key before Setup or during Setup.

Citrix: Application Streaming Internals

With the release of CPS 4.5, Citrix has updated its documentation library on http://support.citrix.com. One of the documents that caught my eye is Citrix Application Streaming Internals. It is more like a white paper/getting started guide and is worth the read.

This white paper provides you with details about profiling and Citrix Streaming Profiler internals for Citrix Presentation Server 4.5. It is one of a series of white papers designed to provide you with more detailed information beyond the scope of the Citrix Application Streaming Guide included with the Presentation Server documentation.

Download it here

donderdag, maart 01, 2007

VMware: Best practices for deploying Citrix on ESX

First and foremost: this tuning list is my own experience and the experience of several users on the VMware forum. Your mileage may vary.

The goods:

  • Virtual Infrastructure 3
  • Windows 2003 Std (or Enterprise) Edition R2 (x86, not x64)
  • Citrix Presentation Server 4.0 (yes, I know, the old one ;))

The tips:

  • First this: it all depends on the applications used! Context switches is the key here...
  • Use Windows 2003, not Windows 2000
  • Don’t P2V your servers, but use clean templates
  • Make sure the correct HAL (single or multi) is installed in the virtual machine. Otherwise, your vCPU will spike.
  • Always assign 1vCPU. If necessary, add a 2nd vCPU. Do not use 4 vCPUs!
  • Use 2 GB to start. Scale up to +-4 GB of vRAM if necessary
  • Use 1 .vmdk for your system partition (C:\ or other remapped drive letter) and 1 separate .vmdk for your program files.
  • Put the page file on the 2nd .vmdk
  • Important: disconnect any .iso file in your virtual CD-Rom
  • Use roaming profiles and cleanup your profiles at logoff
  • Disable sound for your published apps
  • Install the UPH service (download it here)
  • User sessions: for me, 30 users on a VM is the sweet spot. Do not expect to get as many users on it as on a physical box!
  • Scale out, not up. A major advantage of VM is to clone/NewSID/sysprep existing servers and put them into your existing Citrix farm. Just stop & disable your IMA service, clean up your RMLocalDB (if you use enterprise) and NewSid the thing. Refer to this support article for more info.
  • Use dual core or quad core systems. This because ESX will have more CPU to schedule its vCPUs on.
  • Don’t ever use a 2 vCPU Citrix virtual machine in a 2 pCPU physical machine!
  • Do not install the memory ballooning driver while installing the VMware Tools
  • Do not use a complete installation Vmware tools: there is an issue with roaming profiles and the shared folders component. See my previous article for more info.
  • Disable COM ports, hyperthreading, visual effects & use speedscreen technology where possible.
  • Use snapshots when installing applications or patching your servers (yes! With VMware you can do this!). In case of disaster, you can still revert to the original working server without using backups. Make sure all snapshots are removed ASAP when finished!
  • Always check that there are no snapshot leftovers (f.e. the infamous _VCB-BACKUP_ when using VCB)
  • Don’t forget you can use DRS rules to run your citrix servers on separate physical hosts.
  • Check out this vmworld 2006 presentation
  • And last but not least: do not forget to read ESX's (excellent) performance tuning white paper.

Citrix: Presentation Server 4.5 available NOW

Presentation Server 4.5 is available now for download on http://www.mycitrix.com. Download and test!