EVO:RAIL Configuration Steps

26 Aug

Screen Shot 2014-08-20 at 16.00.06HAVE YOU GOT A QUESTION ABOUT EVO:RAIL?


You can post questions to the forum –

Resources (User Guide, Datasheet, Technical Videos) –

At power on of the first EVO:RAIL appliance a configuration UI is presented which guides the customer through the Initialization, Building, Configuring and Finalizing stages.  The team that have developed the EVO:RAIL has completed the automated the entire configuration process of vSphere 5.5 U2 environment – that includes the VMware ESX host, vCenter, LogInsight. So in a way EVO:RAIL is a new product, but in another way its not – its the same vSphere products you might have been using in your environment for the last 10 years or more.

The EVO:RAIL opens with the Hello, my name is EVO:RAIL page:

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The next thing you will see is the “Lets Started” page with the “Customize Me” and “Just Go” buttons. When you buy an EVO:RAIL you can supply the OEM partner with all the variables needed to complete the setup. Before the box ships they use this data to setup an .XML file or JSON file. It’s essentially a text file which holds all the variables. This pretty typical stuff such as VLAN IDs, IP ranges (for management, Virtual SAN, vMotion) as well as other IP/FQDNS such as vCenter IP DNS IP(s), NTP FQDNs, and BMC IP adresses. The JSON file can also other configuration variables such as Time Zone configuration… So IF everything goes to plan – the JUST GO button would read this preconfigure JSON file and configure the EVO:RAIL with ZERO interaction. Alternatively, the “Customize Me!” button allows the operator to modify these defaults. It’s entirely possible that a customer might say they want VLAN101 for a VM network on 10.20.30.x and – and after the order, and before the appliance arrives to want to change that. The Just Go! options would take you striaght into the Initalize, Build, Configure and Finalize pages – which should take around <15minutes to complete.

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So, remember if everything goes to plan in the ordering process – shouldn’t really need to use the “Customize Me!” option – Just Go!. But I want to show you those pages just in case you think you need them.

If you click Customize Me! then you will see the Configure EVO:RAIL pages. The break down in to four sections covering Hostnames, Networking, Passwords and Globals. Let look at each of those in turn.

The hostnames page allows you to configure the prefix (host, esx, whatever) and seperator (none or a dash), and then iterator (1,2,3 or 01, 20, 03) together with the Top-Level Domain parameter – so I could have as my naming convention for example. This UI also allows you to rename the vCenter Server hostname and TLD as well. Notice also in the bottom right-hand corner its possible to supply your own alternative XML/JSON file (indicated by the red arrow…). There are sample formats in the EVO:RAIL user guide. This can be used as an alternative to the default-config-static.json file that is on the appliance when its first shipped to the customer.

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The Networking page actually contains 5 different sub-pages which allow you to specify network parameters used for the Management (ESXi Hosts), vMotion, Virtual SAN, vCenter Server and VM Networks. I think this is so easy to understand – its like any other IP management tools you have used such as IP Pools in vSphere or vCloud Director – or even IP Subnets in DHCP. It’s just the beginning end and range of contigious IP data (no exclusions are allowed by the way) together with Subnet Mask and Default Gateway. You’ll notice in the ESXi Hosts page the option for VLAN ID is not available. This is because when the EVO:RAIL is order you specify this VLAN ID, and it is encoded by the OEM supplier when order an EVO:RAIL. All the networking here is being done using Standard Switches – without the need for Distributed Switches – the edition that ships with the EVO:RAIL is the Enterprize Plus version.

Incidentally, all these pages have validation behind them – to stop obivious fat fingering – such not including enough IP and so on. Generally the recommendtion here would be the make the starting/ending ranges have enough IP space for the maximum number of EVO:RAIL nodes. That’s 4 EVO:RAIL appliance, containing 4-nodes = 16 nodes altogether. That way when a new EVO:RAIL is railed-up (is that a new word?) then it just gets discovered and added to the existing cluster…

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The vMotion pages and Virtual SAN pages look very similiar – but notice how the VLAN ID parameter is modifiable

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The next networking page concerns vCenter Server. For the most part you shouldn’t need to change the default IP address that was set when the EVO rail was ordered. But if you did change the ESXi host IP Ranger, you would need to change the vCenter IP address to reside within that network. Notice how you can’t modify the Subnet Mask or Default Gateway – as vCenter and ESXi should reside on the same network. And yes, the version of vCenter used is the Suse-based VCSA edition. So that why EVO:RAIL can be setup and configured without the need of any Microsoft licensing.

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Next you can specify the VM Networks, that EVO:RAIL ESXi host will support – these are just tagged portgroups on a Standard Switch… Customers can modify or add additional networks in this inital configuration UI as they see fit.

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Under the Password page, you can see the passwords used for each part of the system. By default the logon to the EVO:RAIL and the Web Client (should you chose to use it) is the SSO account administrator@vsphere.local. If you wish using the Web Client you can complete the AD configuration to allow for delegation to Active Directory User and Groups. The Show Passwords? button will actually replace the behind the astrisks ****** to show the passwords originally decided upon when the EVO:RAIL was order, and of course you can change them – the password file changes passwords for ESXi and vCenter.

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The Active Directory configuration basically handles the AD portion of vCenter Server Appliances https://5480 UI that’s built upon VMware Studio. If you haven’t ever used that UI before (because you use the Windows version of vCenter) it looks like this:

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To make the vCenter Server appliance (and as consequence the EVO:RAIL Management UI) work completely with AD after the EVO:RAIL appliance is configured you would need to use the vSphere Web Client to complete the delegation process… I’ve written about this process in the Back To Basic Series:

Back To Basics: Post-Configuration of vCenter 5.5 Install (Web Client) in the Adding Microsoft Active Directory and Delegating Responsibility section

Back To Basics: Enabling AD User/Groups to Manage VMware SSO

Finally, The Globals page allows you to configure your TimeZone, Set NTP using a comma to seperate multiple NTP servers, DNS Servers (not hard requirment as the EVO:RAIL has its own open-source DNS service) and I imagine most people would set their internal DNS servers here. Again, comma seperated variables can be used to set the primary/secondary DNS server. Log Insight is built-in to EVO:RAIL, this can be changed to external SysLog services if you would prefer to use an alternative. Finally, proxy server settings can be used to allow the EVO:RAIL to speak to external systems for updates (offline upgrades/updates are available).

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The Validate button checks your configuration  – and once your ready you can go ahead and Build Appliance.

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IF you have changed the IP address of vCenter, you will recieve this message.

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You connect this to the appliance to watch the build out animations – theres a progress bar here that will show what’s going on. It’s in the “Configuring” page that EVO:RAIL implementation of Zero Network Config is happening – something we call “LoudMouth” it allows us to configure the IP address on the ESXi host even when it doesn’t have one.

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From this point onwards, you ready to go off and have a cup of tea (or coffee if you prefer). Have a chat with some by the water cooler. Check your FB, Twitter or if you going grey like me – your email… By the time you get back (<15mins) you should see this message – and the EVO:RAIL is ready to use.

IF you didn’t change the IP address of the EVO:RAIL’s vCenter – then it will be same IP address that was used to connect to the Configuration Steps. At this point the EVO:RAIL is ready for VMs. You can use either the EVO:RAIL Management UI to do that

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or else point your Web-Browser to to get the vSphere Web-Client. So that’s 9443 for the vSphere Web Client and 7443 for the EVO:RAIL Management client. The choice is yours.

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EVO:RAIL – Configuration and Management Videos

25 Aug

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You can post questions to the forum –

Resources (User Guide, Datasheet, Technical Videos) –

There’s a whole host much more polished videos than mine that are available here:

This blogpost talks about the configuration of the EVO:RAIL and shows describes the Initialize, Build, Configuration and Finalizing steps are like. The whole process if everything goes smoothly and peachy is around 15mins or less, that said some beta tester reported a smaller value. But heck, what’s a couple of minutes between friends. The whole thing is designed to be simple, and carried out by someone with minimal VMware knowledge. I’m going to talk about in detail the steps involved in my next blogpost. But for now might just want to watch this 8minute video I put together. I used the VMworld HOL lab to record this, so its an entirely nested configuration. The version of EVO:RAIL in this video is one that was provided to the HoL some weeks ago. Some fields in the Configuration steps will have changed, and some icons might be slightly different. So isn’t the actually GA build that customers will see – but its very close – and hope quickly gets the idea across. Once I have access to the GA build I will probably replace these videos with something more current.

The 4-step process which has been trimmed in the video did actually take exactly 15mins… The logon shows me using “root” as the account, in the real world this is more likely to be the administrator@vsphere.local account from SSO…

In the video you might see in the “Tasks” indicating a “disconnect”. These aren’t something to worry about, its basically when the operator (me) has refreshed or reloaded a page. That’s picked up by event logging as disconnect/reconnect. It’s actually quiet difficult to see the difference between a geninue disconnect, and one triggered by the user of the web-browser.

I also did a second video which demos the EVO:RAIL Management UI as well. The logon shows me using “root” as the account, in the real world this is more likely to be the administrator@vsphere.local account from SSO… or your AD Domain credentials if an administrator has completed the AD domain requirements for SSO and delegate privileages.


Posted in EVO:RAIL


What’s New at VMware VMwold: EVO:RAIL and EVO:RACK

25 Aug

Screen Shot 2014-08-20 at 16.00.06



You can post questions to the forum –

Resources (User Guide, Datasheet, Technical Videos)

Well, announced to today after much speculation is EVO:RAIL (the project formally known as “Marvin” or “Starburst). It’s not to be confused with EVO:RACK which a TechPreview, and developed by different team down the corridor at HilltopB.

If you want to see EVO:RAIL in the flesh, and your at VMworld – come down to the booth where you might end up talking to me OR head over to the special EVO:RAIL Zone where some of our hardware partners will be there to show you the tin, and talk about their work.

So the basics. EVO is from Evolution, and RAIL is from the fact that the product is 4-node box with vSphere5.5 and Virtual SAN ready to rock and roll. You can see the way things are going when it comes to building out a new environment with software-definited everything. You can either BYO (Build Your Own) by consulting the HCL and buying the supported hardware. You can approach VCE (VMware/Cisco/EMC) for a vBlock or NetApp partner for a referrence architeture based on FlexPod (VMware, Cisco/NetApp). Now there’s a third option – an EVO:RAIL… and shortly after that EVO:RACK.

You can see the EVO: RAIL as being part of the new catagory we called “Hyper-converged”. That distinguises itself from converged architectures (vBlock/Flexpod) because there isn’t a storage array here, but VMware VSAN.

Firstly, VMware is NOT getting into the hardware business – its working with its trusted OEM partners, to create a competitive market place for EVO:RAIL. You can vote with your regular hardware vendor, or you can shop around. It’s your choice. The speeds, and feeds will be be broadly similiar in the 1.0 release. It will be really up to the OEMs to compete with each other, and perhaps add additional services, support or whatever. That means the EVO:RAIL experience with OEM VendorA should be broadly the same as OEM VendorB.

Key Features – its a 2U box which contains in it 4-nodes running VMware vSphere 5.5 U2. You can couple together 4 EVO:RAIL appliances together to create a 16-node cluster (4×4). New EVO:RAIL appliances are discovered on the network, and are automatically configured and enrolled into the EVO:RAIL using the Zero Network Configuration methodology. Actually, a significant amount of work has done by our very skilled engineers to re-enginer this (something we call Loud Mouth), which has result in patents being filed. Each node in the EVO:RAIL presents 192GB of RAM, and 6-cores with two 10GB network interfaces (used in a Active/Standby Standard Swith configuration) with secondary 1Gbps BMC interface – management, VMotion, Virtual SAN and VM networking is all driven by the 10Gbps cards.  One EVO:RAIL appliance (populated with 4-nodes) presents 16TB worth storage which is a combination of SSD (for use with Virtual SAN) and HHD. Using some internal testing we reckon conservatively one EVO:RAIL will support about server 100VMs or about 250 virtual desktops. If you went all the way up to 4 EVO:RAIL nodes you would be looking at 400 server VMs in total, or 1000 virtual desktops. Finally, EVO:RAIL comes with its own patch management and upgrade process (which isn’t based on VMware Update Manager – you might be quite pleased about that?). So unlike some other solutions which come with their own unique upgrade/patch management technologies – this should be a simplier model to upgrading.

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So what are the use-cases. Well, conventional server consolidation is one for perhaps a reasonable sized SMB (who needs more than two-node or three node cluster would provide based on something like vSphere Foundation). I think ROBO or perhaps retail sector may well be interested as well – and as EVO:RAIL is based on vSphere 5.5 U2, all the other technologies that intergrate with vSphere. So it could be used as target for vCAC or used in a colocation facilitity to be a target for SRM/VR DR scanarios. Personally, I think the SMB/ROBO segment will be where the product gets it fastest adoption. But I also I think that EVO:RAIL could sit along side an existing environment for specific  project – such Horizon View.

So in summary: 100% VMware, provided in a competitive marketplace delivered by OEMs you know. Not a single source appliance from a single vendor based around a VSA model, but embedded deep in the kernel. Although EVO:RAIL is 1.0 product – its based on technologies that have been tried and tested by customers around the world (ESX, vCenter, LogInsight). Get it up and running in minutes, and add additional EVO:RAIL appliances in scale-out model in even less time by autodiscovery process driven by Loud Mouth.

In my next blogpost I will be delving in more into what the customer experiences is like, and some of the requirements needed prior to setting up the first EVO:RAIL.

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VMTN Community Roundtable Podcast: #292 – VMware Foundation & VMworld Survival

21 Aug

IMG_3916This week I’ve been working in Palo Alto, CA at Corporate Headquarter. I’m here getting up to speed with all things VMware. Compared to others I’m not uber-busy, but somehow the pre-VMworld stress levels are rubbing off even on me. I thought coming out a week before would help me recover form the jounery, but I didn’t count on a bad layover at Houston, and the pulling a muscle in my neck. So if I’m looking at bit robotic at VMworld this year, its because I’m dosed up pain killers!

Being in Palo Alto meant I was for the first time able to do the VMTN Communities Roundtable Podcast in person with Eric Neilson. I tootled round to his place in Palo Alto and we did the recording from his home office come garage.

This weeks podcast had the folks from the VMware Foundation – Nicola Acutt who is the VP over there, and Jessa Chin who is the groups Sr. Corporate Citizenship Manager. In case you don’t know the VMware Foundation is the charitable arm of VMware, and amongst the many things it does is allow employees who raise money for good causes – and donate them via the Foundation. What VMware then does is match that donation. I used the VMware Foundation to do two donations associated with the EUC book that myself and Barry Coombs wrote a couple of years ago. Anyway, Nicola and Jessa were on the show to tells us all about how for the first time the VMware Foundation will have a booth on the Solution Exchange, and that there will be a fun event on at show that will help raise money for good causes (you get to select the cause). So I implore you – if you are at the event this year – please make your way to the Solution Exchange and do your bit for charity.

The second part of the show is about a VMworld Survival Guide – promoting tips and tricks to get you though the week. There’s a hashtag on Twitter #AdviceForVMworld where folks are offering up their tips. Personally, the last 3 VMworld I’ve gone on the Wagon, and gone dry for the whole event (okay, there might have been one or two small lapses). I’m not really a big drinker myself, and found the long days combined with drink lets me completely shattered. I left my drinking until the Thursday night when the event is over, and I know I can sleep in on the Friday. One other bonus is you get more sense out of me sober, than bellowing fussy opinons in a noisy bar. Second. Protect your voice. If you are speaking or doing booth duty like I am for the first time this year – you need to protect your vocal cords. Thirdly, decompression time. Any conferrence can be a very intense couple of days. I nearly always schedule sometime in late afternoon before dinner or parties – to go back to my room. Take of my shoes. Do/Say nothing. Before showering and going back out again.

Anyway, follow the hashtag for further tips – and enjoy the show! If you like the show please add us to your iTunes or RSS Feed…

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Posted in Chinwag


My VMworld 2014 – Session List

19 Aug



Booth Duty:
I’ve #VMworld booth duty. Come and meet me in the EVO:RAIL Pavilion near the Solutions Exchange – Mon 1-3pm; Wed 1-3pm; Wed 2-5pm

If your not at this years VMworld Event – you can post questions to the forum –

The conferrence has video all about EVO:RAIL… Check it out here:

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For some reason “No Limits” always makes me think of song by 2UNLIMITED – “No Limits”

This isn’t really my sort of beat-combo music, but its testiment to how some high-energy, high-octane danze music can give you an ear-worm…

Well, this post is long over-due but its really my own recommended list of VMworld 2014 sessions. These particular session are somewhat last minute, and they only appear in the schedule builder recently – so you may want to review your sessions if you have already done so – to free up some slots.  Before I name check those… I shoud pimp my own ride…

IMPORTANT: In order for these hyperlinks to work you must be logged in to BOTH the site AND Session Builder.

Hands on Lab

If you want to actually play with EVO:RAIL there is a HOL-SDC-1428 – VMware EVO:RAIL Introduction

INF1192 – Ask the Experts : Design Advice for Small and Midsize Business

Tuesday, Aug 26, 5:00 PM – 6:00 PM – Moscone West, Room 3002
Wednesday, Aug 27, 8:30 AM – 9:30 AM – Marriott, Yerba Buena Level, Salon 7

Join several industry experts to talk about the considerations that come into play for small and midsize organizations. IT administrators at small and midsize businesses wear many hats, which requires a breadth and depth of knowledge of not just the technology, but the business as well. In this interactive design workshop, we’ll go through some of the most common challenges we see customers facing when moving towards the next generation of virtualization. Considerations will be made including management, backups, storage, & networking.

SDDC1337 – Technical Deep Dive on EVO:RAIL, The new VMware Hyper-Converged Appliance

In this session,Duncan Epping and Dave Shanley with provide technical details for VMware and Hyper-Converged Infrastructure. Dave Shanley – Lead Engineer, VMware

Tuesday, Aug 26, 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM – Marriott, Yerba Buena Level, Salon 1
Wednesday, Aug 27, 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM – Marriott, Yerba Buena Level, Salon 7
Duncan Epping – Principal Architect, VMware

SDDC3245-S – Software-Defined Data Center through Hyper-Converged Infrastructure

Monday, Aug 25, 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM – Moscone South, Gateway 103
Chris Wolf – VP & Americas CTO, VMware
Mornay Van Der Walt – VP, Emerging Solutions, VMware

The Software-Defined Data Center is the indisputable future of IT. The question for you then becomes how to get your company and IT organization there and where do you start. Key consideration factors include choice, flexibility, time to value, ongoing maintenance, ease of use and budget, amongst others. With these in mind, and understanding that there is no single “one size fits all” solution, VMware offers several ways to get you to the Software-Defined Data Center. In this session, Chris Wolf, VP and Americas Chief Technology Officer, and Mornay Van Der Walt, a Vice President in Emerging Solutions, will dive deeper into new solutions based on vSphere and Virtual SAN that will transform the end-to-end user experience as you know it today—from initial purchase to deployment to ongoing maintenance and support.

SDDC2095 – Overview of EVO:RAIL: The Radically New Hyper-Converged Infrastructure Appliance 100% Powered by VMware

Monday, Aug 25, 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM – Moscone West, Room 3001
Bryan Evans – Senior Product Manager, VMware, Inc.

Come learn how Hyper-Converged Infrastructure can simplify deployment and implementation of your Software Defined Datacenter.

SDDC1818 – VMware Customers discuss the new VMware EVO:RAIL, and how Hyper-Converged Infrastructure is impacting how they manage and deploy Software Definited Infrastructure
Tuesday, Aug 26, 12:30 PM – 1:30 PM – Moscone West, Room 3014

Bryan Evans – Senior Product Manager, VMware, Inc.
Michael McDonough – Director of Business Development and Alliances, VMware, Inc.

Come hear how VMware customers are utilizing Hyper-Converged Infrastructure in their vSphere deployments.

BCO2629 – Site Recovery Manager and vSphere Replication: What’s New Technical Deep Dive

Wednesday, Aug 27, 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM – Marriott, Yerba Buena Level, Salon 9
Thursday, Aug 28, 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM – Moscone West, Room 2024

Ken Werneburg – Senior Technical Marketing Architect, VMware
Jeff Hunter – Senior Technical Marketing Architect, VMware

SRM and vSphere Replication are mature products that can be used as the bedrock of a disaster recovery plan for your virtual infrastructure. Come learn in technical detail how the advances in these key products in 2014 enhance the capabilities of DR, to protect any environment from small through enterprise environments. We will have top experts from VMware’s technical marketing group present to you on the use cases and features of these two products to give you a full understanding of what these new changes enable, and how they work.

STO2496 – vSphere Storage Best Practices: Next-Gen Storage Technologies

Tuesday, Aug 26, 5:00 PM – 6:00 PM – Moscone West, Room 2020
Wednesday, Aug 27, 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM – Marriott, Yerba Buena Level, Salon 15

Rawlinson Rivera – Sr. Technical Marketing Architect, VMware, Inc
Chad Sakac – SVP, Global Systems Engineering, EMC
Vaughn Stewart – Chief Technical Evangelist, Pure Storage

This VMware Technical Communities Session will present a technical best practices with emerging storage technologies for vSphere. The storage industry is experiencing a high level of innovation that will influence your next datacenter refresh. Storage industry experts present this session in a vendor neutral perspective on best practices with storage infrastructure technologies spanning host-based acceleration, all-flash, and hyper-converged. Vaughn and Chad focused on delivering a deep technical session and have invited Rawlinson Rivera of VMware to join and expand the knowledge transfer. This session will present best practices that span connectivity, performance, availability and failure domains, data protection and automation.

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Posted in VMworld


Back To Basics: Storage VMotion (SVMotion)

15 Aug

Storage VMotion (SVMotion) Explained

Storage VMotion (SVMotion) was initially introduced as method of relocating VMs of older VMFS file system to a new VMFS file system. Since then its has evolved into a technology that can serve many functions. In a manual configuration it can be use to relocate the files of the VM from datastore to another, however when enabled with Storage DRS and Datastore Clusters – SVMotion provides the engine for moving VMs around to improve overall disk performance, as well as assisting with placing the right VM on the type of storage of its IOPS requirements. In the early days, SVMotion required that VMotion was first configured, since then SVMotion has become a core feature of the vSphere platform, and therefore no such dependency exists.

SVMotion are significantly more intrusive to the vSphere environment than the more common VMotion events. This makes perfect sense because by definition SVMotion means the copying of significant amounts of data. Whereas with VMotion the files of the VM stay still, where the location of the VM moves from host to host. SVMotion can be carried out with moving the VM from the host. So it can be seen as being the polar oppposite of VMotion. With VMotion the VMs files stay still, but the VM is move to different host, with SVMotion the VM stay still, but the files are moved to a different datastore. Due to this increase in on load during the period of SVMotion, it could theoretically degrade the performance of the VM, and if simuluatanous SVMotion are carried out then the overall performance of the vSphere host could be degraded. For this reason many SysAdmin opt to carry out SVMotion at times when the load on the VM and host is at it lowest. VM can be left powered on, but the overall impact is reduced.

There are many different reasons to want to use SVMotion and these include:

  • Decommisioning an old storage array who maintanance warranty is about to expire
  • Switching from one storage protocol (NFS, iSCSI, FC, VSAN) to another.
  • Relocate VMs from a LUN/Volume that is running out of capacity or IOPS (or both)
  • To convert RDM disks to virtual disks

Requirements and Recommendations

It goes without saying that to carry out a manual SVMotion the vSphere host requires access to both the source and destination datastores – and the destination datastore has sufficent capacity to hold the relocated VM. Remember this includes not just the .VMDK virtual disks, but other annicilary files such as the VMkernel Swap file and any snapshot files.

The number of similatanous SVMotions you can carry out will be dependent of the number of other events happening at the same time. You can think of each event VMotion, SVMotion, SVMotion without shard-storage and other provisiong events as having a cost. These cost calaculation or scalability maximums are always changing with each new iteration of vSphere, as well being dependent on the event happening in your environment at the time. The current limits are available here

Triggering Storage VMotion (SVMotion)

It’s rare to see a VM with single virtual disk that contains the OS, Applications, Data and Logfiles. It’s more common to provision a VM with multiple virtual disks, with each different type of disk on different teirs of storage – balancing capacity and performance against the demands of the different types of activity. This does assume that the environment isn’t a flat storage layer without teirs – for example currently in a VSAN 1.0 environment, the VMware Cluster presents just one layer of storage accessible to all the hosts.

In this example we have a VM with 3 virtual disks where disk/1/2/3 have all been placed on the highest teir of storage called Platinum. This storage is iSCSI enabled and is SSD based. It’s been determined that although the application and data located in disk/1/2/3 are on the correct teir of storage, disk3 which contains the log files could be relocated down to either Gold/Silver/Bronze tiers. This is not an uncommon scenario with organizations that are new to virtualization, and have yet to go through process of automation where these setting would be correct from day one. Adding a new virtual disk to a VM default to creating it in the same location at the VMs .vmx file, and although this can be changed, VM Operators often forget this fact.

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1. SVMotion can be triggered by right-clicking the VM, and selecting Migrate

2. Next select the Change datastore option

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3. In a “Basic” view ALL the files of the VM would be relocated to the selected datastore. Notice that SVMotion has the capacity to convert the virtual disk format, as it is being moved from one datastore to another. To relocate individual virtual disks we need the Advanced view.

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4. The Advanced View allow the SysAdmin to select the virtual disk and browse to the require destination datastore

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5. Once select the administrator can change the virtual disk format – remember that if the datastore is NFS based, then all virtual disks are held in the thin provisoning format only.

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6. Clicking Next and Finish will triggger the SVMotion process.

At the end of the process you should be able to see the virtual disk has been relocated to the new storage.

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Back To Basics: Troubleshooting VMotion

14 Aug

This post is all about the errors and warnings you get with VMotion. For the most part VMotion works without an issue out of the box – unless the pre-reqs have been met (heck, you could say that about any piece of software I guess…) Occasionally, a setting on a vSphere host or VM can cause either a warning or an error. For the most part these are well explained in the UI which you simply read, and then fix the offending setting. Where things can tricky is when VMotion is leverage for some other function such as DRS or maintanance mode. If there errors you can find the vSphere host stuck at 2% in maintanance mode which can never complete. Remember DRS if you have it enabled does have “Faults” option which will tell you why you have a problem, and handy link to the Troubleshooting Guide…

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In the case above the VM was on local storage, and therefore no host could be used a target for VMotion.

As ever with software most problems stem from poor or inconsistent administration. Once the basic requirements have been met there are number of situations that can trigger errors or warnings on during the “compatiability” check or cause VMotion to fail altogether. These warnings occur due to setting on the physical vSphere host or the properties of the VM, and are summarized below. Errors must be resolved for the feature to work, but warnings can be bypassed in the interface – and this quite an important distinction. Errors are show-stoppers for manual or automated VMotions, warnings are much less a serious concern.

Ideally, a manual VMotion should trigger no errors or warnings to give the VM Operator a seamless experience. In my experience the best approach is to permissions can be used to disable options and features for these vCenter users to stop them making configuration changes in the first place – and to always ask if these folks have been granted more rights than they really need… That said, I find in my own daily admin I’m often inconsistent – and in a hurry. I rush to make a configuration change, get distracted, and never go back to undo the piece of admin I will know will cause problems later. It’s called human error in the trade…

VMotion Errors

  • Storage Errors

In a classic configuration VMotion requires that the VM files be accessible to both the source and destination vSphere hosts. If for example a VM is placed on a local VMFS volume, which is accessible just to the source vSphere host then an error message will appear. Most SysAdmins resolve this problem by using Storage VMotion or Cold Migrate to relocate the files. To prevent VM Operators from creating VMs on local storage there are couple of options – If the host boots via FC-SAN, iSCSI-SAN, USB/SD-CARD or PXE then there is no real requirement for a local VMFS volume. Alternatively, local storage can be grouped into datastore folders, and the permissions assigned to stop operators from accessing it.

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Back To Basics: VMotion – Change Host and Datastore

11 Aug

In VMotion’s first iteration both the source and destination hosts need access to the same shared-storage. This limited the scope of VMotion to protocols like FC, iSCSI and NFS. It also meant possible limits around moving the VM from one vSphere Cluster to another vSphere Cluster – as in many cases the storage of one cluster isn’t visable to another. Many customers worked around this problem by having at least one datastore accessible to both clusters – often referred to in popular parlance as the “Swing LUN”. Later releases of vSphere have introduced the capacity to move VMs from host to another when there isn’t a common shared datastore – its wants sometimes referred to as a “shared nothing” environment.

Esseentially, the Change Host and Datastore option chains together two process – the SVMotion of the VMs file to another hosts, followed by the switching from one host to anther of the ownership of the running VM through the process of VMotion. This means it is possible to move a running VM on local storage on one host to different hosts local storage. Additionally, it also allows for the ability to move VMs from one cluster to another where no common shared storage exists.

In this case a VM is located on local storage one vSphere host (esx01nyc), to another vSphere host’s (esx03nyc) local storage:

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1. Select Change Host and Datastore

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2. Select a Destionation Resource (aka VMware Cluster or Resource Pool)

3. Select a Host

4. Select a Datastore

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5. Select a VMotion Priority


Back To Basics: VMotion

07 Aug

This post covers VMotion in the main – the use cases, the requirements, how it works and how easy it is to setup…

Introduction: VMotion

This topic all about the moving of the virtual machine from one location to another – occasionally this refer to as workload protability or ‘live migration’ by industry experts or other virtualization vendors. VMware’s flagship technoloy is called VMotion. Indeed it was VMware who pioneered the technology that allows the SysAdmin to move a running VM from one physical host to another, without powering off the VM and without disconnecting users. Storage VMotion discribes similiar process by which the files that make up the VM (.VMX, .VMDK) are relocated from one datastore to another, again without powering off the VM and without disconnecting users. Finally, cold migrate describes a process by which the VM is relocated either to another host, another datastore or both – with the VM powered off. This can be neccessary because the requirements of VMotion or Storage VMotion for what ever reason cannot be met.

The requirement for VMotion and Storage VMotion to work have change over various releases. With VMware introducing new requirements, and weakening or some case removing them altogether. For instance, early version of Storage VMotion, required that VMotion was enabled first – now Storage VMotion is built-in to the platform and does not require that VMotion be enabled first. Similiarly, early versions of VMotion required the VM to be located on Shared Storage (such as FC, iSCSI, NFS) and non-shared storage such as Local VMFS volumes were not supported. By combining the functionality of VMotion and Storage VMotion it is now possible to enjoy the benefits of workload portability without the need for shared storage – although this remains a desirable feature to many customers.

Initially, when VMotion was first demonstrated few people really appreciated how revolutionary the technology was going to be. However, once customers got over the initial thrill and disbelief, they quickly came to accept the capability as given. Now, where VMotion shows its value is in related features and technologies that leverage it. It’s these business benefits that really makes a VMotion an important feature in vSphere. For instance:

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Back To Basics: Dell VSM and Data protection

04 Aug

This is my last post on the Dell VSM plug-in for Dell Equallogic Arrays – this finally section deals with the more “advanced” option such as Managing Replication, Data Recovery with Snapshots & Replication, Restoring a VM from Dell Snapshot, Modifying Snapshot and Replication Schedules and finally a little gotcha with using Dell VSM with linked mode…

Managing Replication using Dell VSM

In a multi-site, multi-vCenter environment one Dell VSM can be registered with the respective vCenter environment – and the Dell EqualLogic Groups at each site can be registered to the system.

If the multiple Dell EqualLogic Groups are already “pair” together this will be displayed in the interface. This same interface can be used to create the pairing process if it has not already been carried out using the Create button. The arrow pointing from New York to New Jersey, and from New Jersey to New York indicate that replication is configured in both directions.

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If you environment contains multiple sites and mulitiple vCenter the model is to deploy and register a Dell VSM at to each vCenter. In this example there are two locations – New York and New Jersey with a vCenter at each location.

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