A glimpse of things to come? … PCoIP at 30,000 feet

I’ve got to tell you, I’m pretty darn excited right now.  Why?  I’m typing this to you from 30,000 feet on a Delta flight from Cincinnati to Las Vegas (for VMware Partner Exchange).  And why is that so special?  Because, as the title suggests, I’m typing this on my VDI image which resides hundreds of miles away and thousands of feet below me.

Delta has a fairly new service from gogo called “gogo inflight … wi-fi with wings.”  This is my first time using the service because the past few flights I’ve taken, I’ve either not had the need to connect or the aircraft I happened to be on did not yet have the service.  But this time I have some work to do (i.e. my next “confessions” article for VSM), so I figured I’d give it a whirl.  And, being a gluten for punishment, I decided to see if I could push the limits of PCoIP.  After a quick sign up form (gogo isn’t free) and firing off a VPN connection back to my home office, I launched the View client and crossed my fingers.

And I can tell you that I am thoroughly impressed!  The Windows are snappy, flash is decent and low-end multimedia is adequate.  I was watching a youtube.com video with full sound and, while the picture was a little blurry and sound/video sync was slightly off, it was totally watchable.  And furthermore, it didn’t cripple my session.  Not bad, considering my latency is between 150ms and 250ms, with an estimated average about 200ms.

Is this a glimpse of things to come?  Right now it may seem pretty far fetched.  After all, the process to connect to my desktop image was fairly painful.  I had to …

  1. Boot into my local OS
  2. Connect to the gogo inflight wireless access point
  3. Launch my Firefox browser and walk through the gogo signup form
  4. Dig trough my briefcase for my wallet and pay for the service
  5. Fire off my OpenVPN client to my home VPN server
  6. Launch the VMware View Client

Not exactly what I’d call a seamless user experience.  And I believe that conquering this experience – that is, the mobile user – will be the coup de grace for traditional desktop infrastructure.  Until then, virtual desktop infrastructure will certainly happen in pockets, but massive, wide scale adoption will continue to elude us.  So what has to happen here?  In my mind, I see the following things need to happen …

True ubiquity of wireless Internet

This means two things.  First, the Internet has to be everywhere at all times.  I’m a true mobile user and I need to know that no matter where I am – whether it be on a puddle jumper, or in a remote country hotel – that when I power on my laptop, I will have access.

And second, this also means the connection to the Internet has to be completely integrated and transparent.  I don’t want to have to dig for my credit card every time.  But even more than that, I want the connection to happen for me automatically, in the background, as part of the boot processes.  My software client should auto detect the available wireless networks, connect, and debit my account.  Will I have a single unified account that works across all providers?  Or will I have multiple accounts that my software client will handle?  Or will it be a single, wireless / satellite provider that can reach me anytime, anywhere?  I don’t know and I don’t really care.  The point is, I don’t want to deal with it.  I want to press power and, after a short boot (maybe even zero boot?), have access.  Period.

A  purpose built Thin OS

Booting into a local OS just to launch a client and connect to a remote OS just isn’t going to cut it.  The boot process needs to be fast and do nothing more than present me with a login GUI.  If I’m remote, the VPN connection (and any necessary login parameters) need to be part of the login process.  There’s no need for a full blown local OS if our goal is to do little more than connect to our primary desktop environment.  Sure, us hardcore tech weenies will almost always want some sort of backdoor access to the local OS.  But for 99% of the users out there, they don’t care and just want a seamless desktop experience.  In fact, if done correctly, they shouldn’t even know there is a local OS and their desktop is actually running in a remote datacenter.

Does this actually exist yet?  Sort of.  ThinClients typically deliver this kind of user experience.  But for the most part, ThinClients aren’t mobile devices.  I’ve seen a ThinClient laptop model before, but I don’t know a single person actually using one.  I’ve actually seen for more cases of customers converting PCs and laptops to ThinClients.  Theron Conrey gives us a great example with his blog post VMware View Linux Live CD How-to.  And there are enterprise solutions for converting PCs to ThinClients from both Wyse and DevonIT.  So, we’re pretty darn close on this front, but still not 100%.

A rich user experience in low bandwidth, high latency environments

Like I stated earlier, my current PCoIP experience is pretty darn impressive.  It is, by far, the best experience I’ve witnessed to a remote desktop.  But, I’m not sure the average in-flight user would be ecstatic about it.  Sure, all things considered, you can’t beat it.  But I recognize all the variables working against me right now.  The typical user will not know or even care.  They just want it to work.  The good news is that PCoIP will continue to improve and brings the promise of delivering a rich user experience, whether at 30k feet of a single switch port away.

So, I ask again, is this a true glimpse of the not-too-distant future?  Ten years ago, I was the only one of my friends and family to have a cell phone.  Five years ago, mainstream virtualization in the datacenter was laughed at.  And a few short months ago, typing this blog post on my VMware View image was impossible.  So, you tell me.

Mass upgrade of VMware Tools in Linux guests

linuximage

Installing and/or upgrading VMware tools has always been a bit more complicated for Linux guests than for Windows guests.  After the installation of the package binaries, the vmware-config-tools.pl script must be run to configure the tools for your environment.  This script has to be run from the console, which is a pain when you’ve got more then just one or two Linux VMs.  And may the good Lord help you if the modules aren’t suitable for your running kernel and you don’t have a compiler (or the C header files for your running kernel) already installed.

When VMware added the Automatic Tools Upgrade …

image

The situation certainly improved, but it is by no means a fool proof solution.  In my experience, it doesn’t work 100% of the time for Linux guests (though this *could* be due to the heavy modification I’ve done in my distro).  And furthermore, what if you want to automatically upgrade 100’s of Linux guests, not just one?  Or what if you’ve already got a deployment tool that you’d like to use to push the tools out?  (Kind of tough when the script needs to be run directly in the console)

So, I looked to see if there was a way to improve the situation.  First, I needed to find a way to run vmware-config-tools.pl remotely in an automated fashion.  And by the way, it’s not that you can’t run this script remotely via SSH because you can.  The problem is that when you do so, you immediately get following question …

 

It looks like you are trying to run this program in a remote session. This program will temporarily shut down your network connection, so you should only run it from a local console session.  Are you SURE you want to continue?

 

Unfortunately, to run vmware-config-tools.pl remotely, we need to include the –d flag so that the script will automatically select the default answers to all of the questions for us.  And the problem is, the default answer to this question is “no.”  

So I looked through the vmware-config-tools.pl and I found that it’s really only checking to see if the SSH_CONNECTION environment variable is set.  Well, that’s easy … simply executing vmware-config-tools.pl in a different shell allows us to side step this. 

Next I just created a simple bash script that gets pushed out to the /tmp directory along with the vmware tools installation package (also pushed to the /tmp directory) and gets executed remotely by my deployment tools (which for me are are just more bash scripts, but this should work with any enterprise deployment tool).  Here’s the simple script I used for my guests …

 

#!/bin/bash

RPM=`ls /tmp | grep VMwareTools`

rpm -e VMwareTools
echo "Old VMwareTools removed" > /tmp/vmware_tools_upgrade.log

rpm -i /tmp/$RPM
echo "$RPM installed" > /tmp/vmware_tools_upgrade.log

sh -l root -c /usr/bin/vmware-config-tools.pl -d
echo "vmware-config-tools.pl -d executed" >> /tmp/vmware_tools_upgrade.log

service vmware-tools restart
echo "vmware-tools restarted" >> /tmp/vmware_tools_upgrade.log

service network restart
echo "network restarted" >> /tmp/vmware_tools_upgrade.log

exit

 

This is obviously a very basic script and could easily be enhanced with better logging and error handling.  Also, for Debian distros, such as Ubuntu, you’d need to modify this script to handle the tar.gz installation package … unless, of course, you’ve modified your distro to handle RPMs (as I have).

The good news is that, at least for my environment:

  1. This works 100% of the time and a restart of the VMs is not necessary. 
  2. I no longer have to upgrade many guests by hand.

However keep in mind, there is still a network outage during the upgrade (usually just about a minute or two), so be sure to continue using a maintenance window for your upgrades. 

A handy new addition to the Command Line Tool for View 4

First things first

Thanks to Scott Sauer (@ssauer) and John Blessing (@vTrooper) for holding down the fort here at Virtual Insanity while I’ve been finishing up some unfinished projects and preparing for the VCDX Design Exam (which I take later this month).  One of Scott’s posts actually won a vSphere blog contest.  Nice work Scott!  These two guys are becoming pretty good friends of mine here in the Cincinnati area, so hopefully I can convince them to keep the content flowin’.

An itch I couldn’t scratch

I’ve mentioned here on this blog, at least once or twice, that I “eat the dog food” and actually run my primary XP desktop as a VMware View image.  Since the conversion almost a year ago, everything has been running pretty well with only a few minor bumps along the way.  And with the recent addition of PCoIP, I can’t imaging ever going back.

But there was one little reoccurring problem I was having for which I couldn’t seem to find an answer.  It wasn’t a show stopper of an issue, but it was just an “itch I couldn’t scratch,” if you know what I mean.  And the problem went something like this …

  1. Inside my desktop VM I have a Cisco VPN client, necessary for a secure connection back to corporate HQ in Palo Alto, CA. 
  2. When connecting to my desktop with the VPN client inside the VM inactive, I had no issue.
  3. However, if I disconnect from my desktop while the VPN session was active, then I couldn’t reconnect to my desktop via VMware View. 

The reason?  The broker was sending me the new IP address of the Cisco VPN Adapter, which is an IP address on the VPN, and an IP address my local computer didn’t know about. 

Now, if I were to log off instead of disconnect from my desktop, this would terminate the VPN session and therefore wouldn’t be a problem.  But who wants to log off every time?  More often than not, I have things open on my desktop (e.g. half written emails, documents, browsers with many many open tabs, etc.) that I don’t want to bother saving and closing every time I step away from the computer.  And really the bigger issue is with unintentional disconnects that result from local power/network/OS issues.

I tried all sorts of things to fix this.  Among other thins, I tried …

  1. Reordering the NICs, hoping the broker was just grabbing the first NIC. 
  2. Poking around the broker and agent install files, hoping to find a way to force the IP address. 
  3. I even tried uninstalling and reinstalling the View agent and the Cisco client, hoping the order of installation might do the trick (admittedly, this was a random shot in the dark)

But nothing seemed to work.  So until recently, to reconnect I would have to connect directly to my desktop via RDP, or connect to the console via the VMware Infrastructure Client, then disconnect the Cisco VPN and then reconnect via the View client. 

See what I mean?  Not a show stopper, but man what a pain in the butt! 

The solution

Well I found a way around this with a handy new addition to the Command Line Tool in View4.  Check out page 12 of the Command Line Tool for View Manager titled “Override IP Address.”  On the broker from a DOS prompt, in the c:\Program Files\VMware\VMware View\Server\bin directory, execute the following …

vdmadmin.exe –A –d <desktop name> –m <machine name> –override –i hostname

The “desktop name” is the name of the VM in the broker.  The “machine name” is the name of the VM in vCenter.  It’s likely they’ll be the same, but they don’t have to be and in fact, in my case they weren’t the same.  The “hostname” can be either a FQDN or an IP address.  Oh, and I can tell you that all parameters must be present or the command won’t execute. 

But that was all there was too it.  Now I can disconnect and reconnect to my desktop, regardless of the state of my VPN client.

I’m Feeling Groovy

groovy

A few months ago I posted an update, with a section near the bottom titled “RoR (Ruby on Rails) and other next generations frameworks."  And in that section I made the statement …

 

About two years ago I was introduced to Ruby on Rails and since then, most of my development work has been with RoR.  Thus far, however, I haven’t posted anything on this blog about RoR.  Why?  Two reasons.  The apps I’ve written to date have absolutely nothing to do with VMware.  And second, like I said, I’m an amateur.  Anyone looking for RoR help and advice can probably find better info on actual RoR blogs. … But I’ve decided that this is about to change.

 

But since that post, I have yet to write anything about RoR. Why? Believe it or not, I’ve got a really good reason.  You may have recently heard that VMware has acquired a company called SpringSource.  And SpringSource offers support for a similar type of language and framework which has deep roots in Java, called Goovy and Grails (in addition to a slew of other Java related products and services).  From the SpringSource website …

 

Grails is an advanced and innovative open source web application platform that delivers new levels of developer productivity by applying principles like Convention over Configuration.

 

Groovy is the leading open source dynamic language for the Java Virtual Machine that offers a flexible Java-like syntax that most Java developers can learn in matter of hours.

 

Once I learned about the acquisition, I had to make a decision. Do I continue down the RoR path? Or do I switch gears and go in the direction that VMware’s going? Not that it’s impossible to be good at both — or even difficult for a true developer — but I’m not a developer by trade and I’ve got too much going on in my life and with VMware to focus on more than one language and framework at at time.

Now, this may sound like an easy decision, as it would naturally make sense to follow my employer’s lead. But while I’ve played with may different languages in my past (e.g. C++, Visual Basic, Perl and Ruby) and even become fairly proficient in one or two, the one language I’ve avoided has been Java. Frankly, Java just isn’t fun for the amateur developer, in my humble opinion. But after doing my homework and reading numerous blog posts such as Bye bye Ruby, hello Groovy I decided to make the switch.

And so far I’m pretty happy with my decision. Groovy may have Java-like syntax, but it is a dynamic language that is a lot of fun to code in and it’s and pretty darn powerful. I’ve already finished my first web app written in Groovy and Grails (a reporting and graphing tool that the local OHV rep’s and SE’s will use) and it’s about to go live.  So right now, I’m feeling pretty Groovy.

Actually, as I type this, I’m at the New Orleans airport after three days at SpringOne 2GX where I’ve been immersed in all things Groovy, Grails, Spring, etc. It’s been a great event, where I sat in on many fantastic sessions and got to meet super crazy smart people. That’s always fun for me. But right now I’m in information overload. I need to compile my notes (which I had to take by hand because my laptop battery decided to reduce it’s charge life to about 5min.  Grrrrr.) and put them into something meaningful for the audience of this blog, which for the most part are not developers.

Until next time, check out Groovy and Grails and read the good tutorials out there like …

    Farewell Mrs. Speck. My life is better because of you.

    I’m in New Orleans.  This is arguably one of the funnest cities on earth (or so I’m told, this is my first time here).  But despite the crazy night life and all the energy outside, I type this blog post sitting in a dark hotel room with a stiff drink in my hand.  I’m not in the mood to venture outside right now.  The vodka tonic helps blur a reality I keep avoiding.

    Just a few short hours ago, while sitting in one of the sessions at the SpringOne 2GX event, I received an email from one of my oldest and dearest friends.  His mother, Martha Speck, lost her battle with cancer.  A battle that began a mere two weeks ago and frankly, a battle that I didn’t even know was being fought until today.  While reading his message, I found myself trying not to break down in tears in front of 50 of my peers in the session.  And my emotional response came as somewhat of a surprise to me because it had been a number of years since I’ve spoken to Mrs. Speck.  But when someone touches your heart and life, time is irrelevant.

    Do you have a teacher that you identify as the one person who really inspired you?  I do.  It was Mrs. Speck.  She was my English and Creative Writing teacher in high school.  Anyone who had Mrs. Speck for Creative Writing at Liberty High School knows what an incredible teacher she was.  Steve and I actually had her class together at the same time.  I’m sure that must’ve been a bit strange for her.  Can you imagine?  Her son and her son’s best friend sitting in the back of the classroom thinking they could get away with murder.   Oh and we tried!  We were young and stupid and tried to take advantage of the situation with all sorts of crazy nonsense.  But she handled our antics with the perfect blend of class, humor and discipline.  We got away with more than we probably should have, but not nearly as much as we wanted to!  And somehow, through it all, I came out of her class with a passion for writing … something I certainly didn’t have going in to her class.  She exposed and cultivated a latent passion within me and therefore she, in no small way, had a hand in shaping my future.  If you think about it, this very blog is the result of her inspirational teaching.

    But her inspirational teaching, in and of itself, wouldn’t make me well up with tears.  You see, Mrs. Speck was once known to me as my “second mom.”   During my high school years, her son Steve and I were the best of friends and we shared most of our free time together.  This, of course, means that I had the fortuitous opportunity to spend a lot of time with Steve’s family.  His mother, father and sister became my second family as I shared countless evenings and weekends with them.   It was a great time in my life filled with so many wonderful memories.

    But despite the wonderful memories I have of my time with Steve and his family, right now as I sit here in this dark hotel room, I am overwhelmed with deep sadness and regret.  Deep sadness because an amazing, brilliant woman who played a significant role in shaping my future, and more importantly, a woman who I once called “mom,” is gone.  And I feel deep regret because as my life has taken me all over the world, it has been years since I’ve seen or spoken to her … something I will never be able to rectify.

    At the end of the day, I believe the only thing we can hope for (as far as this earthly life is concerned) is to leave the world a little bit better than we found it.  In fact, I believe there is no higher compliment than to simply say, “my life is better because of you.”  This is a compliment I would pay to more than one person in my life for sure, but also to be sure, the list would be extremely short.  So let me say, with a tear on my cheek and with all the sincerity and love in my heart …

    Farewell Mrs. Speck.  My life is better because of you.

    How vCenter handles custom Sysprep.inf files

    I ran into an issue the other day as I was trying to deploy a VM from from a template using the vCenter Customization Specification Manager.  I was trying to use a custom Sysprep.inf file that would automatically have the newly created VM join my AD domain and placed in a specific OU. 

    Now, when I Sysprep’d the VM normally with my custom .inf file, everything worked fine.  But importing that exact .inf file into vCenter and deploying the VM from a template, the Sysprep failed.  So I had some digging to do, and here’s what I found out.

    First, vCenter doesn’t actually store Sysprep.inf files.  Rather, vCenter stores the configuration parameters in XML and then generates the Sysprep.inf file on the fly during the deployment process.  (This part I actually already knew, the next part I didn’t).

    Second, and most importantly, when importing a customized Sysprep.inf file, vCenter does not store each parameter as a separate XML element.  So for example, given the following custom text …

    [Identification]
    JoinDomain=mydomain.com

    DomainAdmin=administrator

    DomainPassword=1234

    MachineObjectOU="OU = MyOU,DC = mydomain,DC = com"

     
    I thought this would be stored in the normal, expected format, like this …

    <JoinDomain>mydomain.com</JoinDomain>

    <DomainAdmin>administrator</DomainAdmin>

    <DomainPassword>1234</DomainPassword>

    <MachineObjectOU>"OU = MyOU,DC = mydomain,DC = com" </MachineObejctOU>

    But it turns out, when importing sysprep.inf files, vCenter stores the parameters as a single XML element with a modified <_type> element like this …

    <_type>vim.vm.customization.SysprepText</_type>

    <value> [Identification] JoinDomain=mydomain.com DomainAdmin=administrator DomainAdminPassword=1234 MachineObjectOU="OU = MyOU,DC = mydomain,DC = com"</value>

    There’s a couple important points to note here:

    1. vCenter only stores the XML this way when importing a sysprep.inf file.  When using the customization wizard, vCenter generates XML which is formatted the normal way. 
    2. The first element, <_type>, contains the value vim.vm.customization.SysprepText.  When using the wizard, the value for this element is vim.vm.customization.Sysprep (without the trailing “Text”).
    3. When the XML is stored this way, whitespace matters!  Notice how whitespace is the delimiter in the <value> element?  And notice the spaces in the MachineObjectOU parameter?  Removing the spaces did the trick.

    A few of my favorite things from VMworld2009, so far

    I’ve been here at VMworld2009 in San Francisco since Sunday.  Monday was Partner Day and marked the unofficial first day of the event.  Yesterday, however, was the actual first day, open to all attendees.  There is much coverage of the event by numerous bloggers, so I won’t reinvent the wheel and bore you with duplicate content.  Instead, here are a few of my favorite things, so far (we’ve to two more days).  Oh, and this is by no means a complete list.  there are a LOT of cool things happening here and I don’t have the time and/or energy to write about all of them.

    John Troyer Streaming Live from the Solutions Exchange

    First, I often find myself watching John Troyer’s live coverage from the Solutions Exchange.  Which is weird because I could literally walk there in about 2 minutes.  But when I’m in my room in between meetings, it’s nice to have it on in the background so I can listen in on all the stuff I’m missing.  And John has been interviewing some very cool people.  

    Check it out here … http://www.ustream.tv/channel/vmworld

     

    vCloud Express

    The vCloud Express is …

    The VMware vCloud™ Express service delivers the ability to provision infrastructure on-demand, via credit card, and pay for use by the hour. As a VMware Virtualized ™ service, it ensures compatibility with other VMware environments both internally and with external services.

    (Taken from http://www.boche.net/blog/index.php/2009/09/01/vmware-announces-vcloud-express/)

    VMware actually demoed vCloud Express with Terramark, one of the service providers in the program.  It was pretty slick to see them simply add some user and credit card information and then spin up a VM quickly and easily on stage. 

    Now that I’m having serious power problems in my house because of my home lab (hence the reason this blog keeps going up and down), I really think I’ll be using vCloud Express very soon.

     

    SpringSource

    VMware’s acquisition of SpringSource was actually announced weeks ago, but this was the first time there was really any lengthy discussion about it.  Frankly, the SpringSource acquisition is probably the thing that I am most excited about.  And I personally believe it will play a significant role in VMware’s future.  There is actually a lot of things I’d like to say about this, but will save it for a later post.

     

    Running VMware View / RDP sessions on your iPhone with the Wyse Pocket Cloud client

    Given the fact that I “eat the dog food” and actually run my VMware corporate desktop as a VMware View image, and I am also an iPhone user, I think this is super slick and something I know I will use …

     

    A Shameless Plug

    The folks over at Virtual Strategy Magazine have asked me to do a video blog of the event.  Our first recording was last night and I would guess they’ll have it posted sometime today.  When it’s up on their site, you can find it here … http://www.virtual-strategy.com/VMworld-2009.html

    Also, if you’re here at VMworld and undecided about your Thursday schedule, why not come to my session?  :)  I’ll be presenting at 10AM in room 135.  The topic?  How to convert old PCs to thin clients using a Linux OS and the VMware View Open Client.  Hope to see you there!

    Confessions of a Virtualization-aholic

    The editor of Virtual Strategy Magazine recently asked me if I would be interested in committing to a regular monthly column for them.  After thinking about it for a few days, I agreed and my first article in the series was published on Monday.  The title of the column is going to be “Confessions of a Virtualization-aholic” where I’ll talk about real world experiences, with plenty of exaggeration and embellishment for effect. :)

    You can follow my new column by visiting Virtual Strategy Magazine and this month’s article is here http://www.virtual-strategy.com/Features/Sweemer-20090825.html.  I’ve also republished the article below.

     

    image

    The data center lights are brighter than the sun. The air is particularly stale and warm today. Beads of sweat are forming on my forehead. One bead grows too large and trickles down my face into my right eye. The salty liquid forces me to squint and temporarily blurs my vision. I hear Jamiroquai’s "Virtual Insanity" playing in the background. Sweet.

    My vision returns and I notice a lone leaf of paper, like tumbleweed, dancing across the raised tile floor. It’s caught in the airstream of the temporary fans brought in to combat the blistering heat pouring off the mountains of servers. Off in the distance, I see an Oompa-Loompa doing a perfect pirouette. That’s weird. He’s kinda freakin’ me out. But nevermind. Back to the heat. It’s bad and it’s getting worse.

    There are just too many servers. Some renegade, old-school wahoo added more hardware when the existing hardware is way underutilized. Brainwashed products of an era dominated by inefficient operating systems and incompatible applications, you can’t blame them anymore than you can blame a dog for being a dog. But placing blame aside, they have an incredible knack for making a horrible mess of things. I need to put an end to this.

    I can feel the temperature rising. The data center technicians have all stripped down to their knickers. Long hair and pot bellies abound. It ain’t pretty. Except for Megan Fox. She’s hot. Evidently, in between filming scenes for her next Transformers movie, she moonlights as a server admin. Who knew? She turns to me and says "Aaron, you have to help us!" There’s an air of desperation in her voice.

    "Don’t worry, miss…everything’s going to be alright."

    In super slow motion, she flicks back her hair, gives me a sexy smile and a wink. I can’t disappoint Megan! Now I’m on a mission, the heat must come down. Servers must be eliminated. Everything must be virtualized!

    It’s show time. Without hesitation I start to P2V everything in sight. The growing crowd starts to cheer and I feed off their excitement. Web, database, middleware, you name it … nothing is safe, nothing is sacred. I’m a P2V monkey, but instead of flinging poo, I’m flinging servers. One by one, each server meets its timely end. The heat is retreating. Trees are being saved! Energy execs are sobbing as their profits diminish with every dead server!

    The pile of lifeless hardware is growing quite large. Each server bears an official death certificate which reads "Virtualized by VMware." Most of us cheer. But a few of the old timers hover over the steaming pile of scrap metal screaming "NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" One of the poor pathetic souls shakes his fist at me and calls me a murderer. I can’t help but snicker.

    Just then, Megan breaks through the crowd and comes running toward me. Oddly enough, her knickers are gone and she’s covered by nothing more than a recent issue of Virtual Strategy Magazine. Carryl Roy, Editor in Chief of VSM, yells "We’re only digital, not print!" To which I exclaim, "I really think you’re missing the point!" And at that very moment, Megan leaps toward me and lands with her lips in perfect alignment with mine.

    "My hero!" says Megan.

    "Sweemer’s the name, virtualization’s my game."

    She moves in for a long, wet kiss. But before our lips touch, she pauses, gives me a funny look and says, "BEEP." Huh? That was weird. Well, it’s Megan Fox, she can say whatever she wants ‘cause she’s so hot! But let’s try that again.

    "BEEP"

    Okay, Megan sweetheart, you really need to stop that. It’s distracting.

    "BEEP BEEP BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP"

    My eyelids open and I’m staring at the rear end of my 10-year-old boxer, Lucy, who apparently managed to crawl into bed in the middle of the night. I reach over and grab my alarm clock and mid BEEP, I throw it against the wall. I’m pissed. I lost Megan and woke up to old stinky dog butt. But then I roll over and see my amazing, beautiful wife. Megan’s got nothing on her! And life is good again.

    My wife opens her eyes and says "You were dreaming about Megan Fox again, weren’t you?"

    "Why do you say that?"

    "Because you woke me up 15 times last night screaming, ‘P2V me, Megan! P2V me, baby!’"

    I try to conceal my embarrassment as my wife just giggles. But she does a great job of comforting me when she says "Don’t worry, baby. I dream about Megan Fox, too." Sweeeeeet. I love my wife.

    Well, time to get up and get ready, I’ve got a long day, which begins with my Virtualization-aholic’s Anonymous meeting. It’s been rumored that Simon Crosby and Steve Ballmer will be there. Care to join us? We meet right here, once a month, at Virtual Strategy Magazine. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you may even hurl, as you hear weird, wacky and sometimes seriously disturbing Confessions of a Virtualization-aholic.

    Notes from VMware (aka, Mr. Michael White’s Newsletter)

    I wish I could take credit for the following work, but everything below is brought to you by Michael White.  Michael is a co-worker of mine, an SE out of Canada who we often refer to as the “SRM King.”  He continually impresses me with his ability to crank out a weekly news letter loaded full of great content.  Well last night, he happened to mention I could republish his work on my blog.  Shoot, you don’t have ask me twice!

    Keep in mind as you’re reading, everything is a direct cut and paste.  So anything written in the first person (e.g. “I have found …” or “I have decided”) would be referring to him, not me.  I certainly don’t want to take credit for all his hard work! :) 

    If you have any questions or comments for Michael, feel free to leave a message for him.

     

    Notes from VMware:

    Cluster BP, FT and Issue, HA Issue, vDS Cheat Sheet, vDR Issue, YAPOTAV, vSphere Reference Card, View Design BP, SRM FAQ, and really a LOT more!

     

    vSphere Cluster – ESX or ESXi or Mixed – suggestion / recommended best practice

    We say that one day that ESX will not exist, and that ESX and ESXi are the same.  Or almost the same.  However, I have found in Host Profiles and FT there is very good reason to not mix ESX and ESXi in the same cluster.  As soon as VMworld is over, I am redoing my mixed cluster to all ESXi (instead of mixed).  First, we all know of the problem I reported some time ago that the 8/6/09 patches for vSphere would break FT in a mixed ESX / ESXi cluster.  There is no short term solution for that. The workaround is to have a cluster that is all ESX or all ESXi.  Second, host profiles have a problem dealing with service console / management network ports.  In theory you can manage that by using a reference server that is ESX and it will translate as necessary for ESXi.  It doesn’t do so well at that.  So using Host Profiles to do a push of a distributed virtual switch (only) ends up causing issues in ESXi consoles.  I ended up doing the ESXi hosts manually.  The real solution to the FT and HP type issues is to have a cluster all ESX or ESXi.  And I am voting for ESXi in my lab.  Make no mistake, if you don’t listen to this you will have some issues that are not pleasant.

     

    Using ESXi and ESX and FT in same cluster?  And FT broke with the 8/6/09 patches?

    The only solution to this at this time is to separate your ESXi and ESX servers into their own cluster, or upgrade one or the other to be the same as the other – meaning all ESXi or ESX and your problem should go away.  If you have not installed the 8/6/09 patches yet, and you are using FT, and you have ESXi and ESX in your cluster than either change your cluster to be all ESXi or ESX and than install the patches.  Not installing the patches until we fix this is NOT an option.  I have decided, and as mentioned somewhere else in here, to redo my cluster as all ESXi.  It won’t take much time.  Some background on this issue can be found at http://communities.vmware.com/message/1335428#1335428.

    Update on odd issue with HA not working if the vSphere ESX console was using certain IP addresses

    I hope everyone has already heard that the vSphere bug talked about in http://kb.vmware.com/kb/1013013 and something I mentioned, I think in my last newsletter now has a patch. This is the bug that when a very specific IP address scheme is in use on management ports / service console with no other IP schemes in use and a host crashed, the VM’s that should have been started by HA would in fact not be started at all.  I have not tested the fix, as I am wrestling with SRM and trying to get ready for VMworld.  To avoid this bug, only one of the addresses on your service console or management ports need to be using something outside of the ‘special’ scheme.

    vDS Implementation Cheat Sheet

    I worked with the distributed switches in the past in a lab sense, but recently. For my future SRM testing, I got it going for real in my lab.  And it was hard, confusing, and not intuitive at all.  So I wrote a cheat sheet so you would not have to suffer.  It is attached.  I have used it a few times and am happy with it so hopefully it will make things quicker and easier.  Let me know if you need improvements or changes in it.  http://www.virtualinsanity.com/wp-content/uploads/vDS-Implementation-Cheat-Sheet-b.pdf

    Data Recovery Issue – which stops backups from happening

    If you ever have an issue with writing to your destination when doing backups, you may see the restore point in red with a (Damaged) beside it.  This can cause your backup to not work again.   The events part of the Reports will show file access errors – 3902.  The solution to this is not in the documentation for vDR but it is here. Expand the display of restore points to be bigger than the default 5.  I used 25 when I had this issue.  Now click all of the restore points that show as damaged.  Then select the Mark for Deletion button in the top right of the screen.  Now change to the Configuration \ Destinations screen and select the destination that is associated with your backup, and use the Integrity Check option near the top right of the screen.  It will take a while.  Once it is complete with no errors – check the Events view of Reports – you need to restart the appliance.  Now your backups should work!

    YAPOTAV – Yet another post on why to attend VMworld

    Find this at http://blogs.vmware.com/vmtn/2009/08/yapowtav-yet-another-post-on-why-to-attend-vmworld.html.

    New vSphere document reference card

    Forbes Guthrie has done a wonderful job on a reference card for vSphere documentation stuff.  It pulls stuff out of the documentation and highlights it as a result.  Very handy and well done.  Find it at http://www.vreference.com/public/vsphere4-notes1.0.pdf

    View Design Best Practices training

    Would you like to learn more about designing a View infrastructure?  The more people you have that depend on it the more important training and experience becomes.  Get some ideas on design at http://mylearn.vmware.com/descriptions/EDU_DATASHEET_ViewDesignBestPractices_V3.pdf

    SRM FAQ online now thanks to Duncan at Yellow-Bricks

    This is from information I have shared with Duncan but it is great information and I appreciate him sharing with everyone.  Find it at http://www.yellow-bricks.com/srm-faq/.  Duncan’s web site is one of the few you should read frequently. He is a PSO guy in Europe and is very smart, and knows what to communicate – does it real well and I appreciate it.

     

    vSphere and VM snapshots and block size

    This is something else that Duncan has done.  There is a behavior difference between 3.5x and 4.0 that could catch someone.  Find out more from Duncan at http://www.yellow-bricks.com/2009/08/24/vsphere-vm-snapshots-and-block-size/.

    VMware View Cheat Sheet

    I have had some help to update my VMware View Cheat Sheet and it has gone very well.  Our next update of this will have a lot more but this is a good document to get you going with View.  www.virtualinsanity.com/wp-content/uploads/VMware-View-Cheat-Sheet-a.pdf

     

    Important patch for Celerra when using NFS with VMware

    You can find more information about this at Virtual Geek, but it is important to understand that you need to upgrade your Celerra DART OS before you enable NFS datastores with VMware.  Find out more at http://virtualgeek.typepad.com/virtual_geek/2009/08/important-patch-for-celerranfsvmware.html

    Lab Manager 4 Upgrade issue

    The installer during an upgrade of LM4 assumes all the default roles are present and unmodified.  If the customer removes or changes any the upgrade installer will fail.

    FT – Architecture and Performance

    Do you know how to determine how many FT enabled VM’s your vSphere server can support?  Do you know how to design your FT environment for the best performance?  In fact, do you know what the performance overhead for FT is?  All of this and more is answered in http://www.vmware.com/resources/techresources/10058.

    How can I determine the exact build number for my ESX 4.0.x hosts?

    You can find out the way to determine the build numbers for components of ESX 4.0 hosts at http://kb.vmware.com/kb/1012514

    VMware Data Recovery Evaluator’s guide

    This is a very nice document for someone who needs some guidance for testing VDR.  It is a quite way to get started.  http://www.vmware.com/resources/techresources/10055.  My preso on VDR at VMworld is a combination of install / config / best practices and it will be very useful.  Look for the session, or the preso after VMworld.  It will fit with this eval guide nicely and is known as BC2142.

     

    AppSpeed and Maintenance Mode

    Currently AppSpeed has no when to listen to the ESX host it is working on, so when the host tries to enter Maintenance mode it will not be able to since the AppSpeed sensor VM will not listen to it and it will not VMotion off the host.  This is a very high priority for us to fix. You will need to manually turn off this sensor before trying to do maintenance mode.
    Need some help searching the VMware KB?  Find it at http://xtravirt.com/xd10112 – some interesting info.

    NFS Storage Configuration Help

    Do you need some help configuring NFS support for your ESX servers.  There is some help at
    http://communities.vmware.com/docs/DOC-7900.  This link has only a little info but it does include some troubleshooting info.

    VUM and Cisco – conflict message

    I got a conflict message from VUM when I tried to patch recently.  It was a conflict with the Cisco Nexus stuff which I do not have installed.  It turns out that I could just ignore it but it was a little bothersome.  We are going to change that message in the near future to be more informative.  That way if you know you don’t have Cisco (or whatever) installed you can just install with no issues.  The issue is we download all the meta data or patches for ESX without any granularity. So the Cisco patches come done too.  More info can be found at http://kb.vmware.com/kb/1013068.

    Suggested VMware Employee Sessions at VMworld

    This is a list that one of my co-workers put together. It might give you some ideas of what to look for. 

    • Michael White – BC2142 – Data Recovery intro and best practices
    • Tiffany To – DV1790 – View TCO-ROI expert
    • Mahesh Ramachandran – VM1724 – Capacity IQ Tech Preview
    • Chris Rimer – EA2342 – Oracle sessions (especially around questions of Support and Licensing)
    • Richard McDougall – TA3438 – vSphere Performance Guru
    • Jacob Jensen – TA2103 – Virtual Networking guru (especially around the Cisco v1000)
    • Andy Banta – TA3264 – iSCSI Best Practices (THE iSCSI Engineer/Expert at VMware!)
    • Kaushik Banerjee – TA2942 – Performance Best Practices (This guys is a genius in performance and on the Perf. core team!)
    • Paul Manning – VM3566 – Storage Best Practices (Many of you have been on calls with Paul for storage related topics!)
    • Brian CS, Charu Charubal, and Rob Randell – VM2847, TA2544, DV2626, – Security Team extraordinaire
    • Mostafa Khalil – TA2509 – Storage Best Practices (Mostafa is one of the first VCDX members!)
    • Amir Sharif – TA3195, V13226 – ESXi PM – ESXi sessions
    • Monica Sharma – VM2408 – ConfigControl Tech Preview
    • Bill Call – VM2657 – LifeCycle Manager Uber-Guru!
    • Dean Flaming and Travis Sales – DV2478 – ThinApp (These are some of the best sessions I have ever seen historically from these guys!)
    • Gaetan Castelein – EA3605, EA 3606 – Virtualizing Tier 1 applications –
    • Srinivas Krishnamurti – VM2280 – Managing VI from your mobile phone! :)
    • Duncan Epping – TA2259 – Expert VI Design (Duncan runs the #1 Virtualization blog “Yellow-Bricks”)
    • Dean Yao – BC3369 – FT Real World design
    • Howie Xu – TA3521 – vNetwork Troubleshooting (Howie invented the vSwitch! – and wrote one of our TCP/IP stacks)
    • Banjot Chanana – BC3425 – High Availability Futures
    • Nicholas Jacques – PA4694 – AppSpeed PM
    • Eric Horschmann – TA3880 – vSphere vs Hyper-V/XenServer
    • Warren Ponder – DV2697 – View /VDI PM
    • Mike DiPetrillo – TA3326 – Cloud (Mike is another uber-rock star and talks all things Cloud!)
    • Rahul Ravulur- -VM4380 – vCenter PM covering future of vCenter
    • Naeem Malik – VM3609 – Capacity Planner expert
    • Aaron Sweemer – DV3567 – How to convert old PCs to Thin Clients using a thin Linux OS and VMware View Open Client.

    **** Reminders ******