In Windows Active Directory you can easily copy an existing user and create a matching account for a new user. For whatever reason this cannot be done through the ADUC GUI (ADUC – Active Directory Users and Computers) when it comes to groups. I find this very annoying – especially if you have groups with dozens or even hundreds of users. I thought there must be a better way of doing this and indeed – PowerShell is your friend when it comes to such tasks. [Read more…]
If you are running a vCloud Director environment, host maintenance and host management is a bit different. Changes you make in vCenter might not reflect correctly inside vCloud. If vCloud Director does not know about certain changes, the stability and performance of your environment is at risk. [Read more…]
Sometimes things happen for no reason. I am working in a new, inherited environment these days and a lot of my time is spent investigating, gathering data and information, and of course putting out fires here and there. The last system administrator had left before I started and so I am flying blind a bit, but that is alright. [Read more…]
Recently I had the need to do some SAN storage cleanup. We had VMs that were changed in regards to criticality and accordingly needed to be moved (storage vmotion) to different LUNs. In the environment I currently work in, storage has several tiers and it depends on the VM criticality where it fits in. As an example a development or test VM would be on different storage compared to a production server. [Read more…]
Yesterday VMWare announced their new licensing scheme vSphere 5 and man, that is like a small bomb went off. The new licensing will definitely add cost to virtualization when using VMware’s products. And with Microsoft’s Hyper-V virtualization technology slowly catching up – this is the time for any business to re-think their virtualization strategy. This is the moment to really think about if you need VMWare for virtualization. [Read more…]
When using virtualization products like VMWare vSphere (ES) or Microsoft Hyper-V you can always run into issues – be it from a management/administration perspective or from a performance perspective. It can help a lot to put certain procedures and best practices into place early on to assure that your environment is stable and runs at the highest performance level possible. [Read more…]
I recently had to P2V (or better V2V) a VMWare VM. The Virtual Machine was sitting on an ESXi host and I wanted to pull it over into a production ESX cluster. At the same time I wanted to shrink the hard drives of the VM – especially the D drive. When the machine was built it had gotten a 200 GB hard drive, but in the end they only used 5 GB (if at all). The solution is often the VMWare converter application as it allows to shrink the drives during the process.
I fired up the converter, but within 1 minute after kicking off the P2V process the converter died giving me this error message:
FAILED: Unable to create a VSS snapshot of the source volume(s). Error code:
I did a Google search for it and found several people with the same problem. Some found a fix by modifying the registry, but that did not match my situation. Found a few other things, but again with no luck. Then I tried the cold clone converter version from VMWare. However, the cold clone converter failed to recognize the NIC inside the VM. [Read more…]
When moving VMs from an ESX 3.5 cluster to an ESX 4 “vSphere” cluster in VMWare you will have to look at upgrading the VMWare Tools for sure. However, you also have the option to upgrade the virtual hardware of a VM. The virtual hardware upgrade offers some performance benefits, but not every VM will be able to take advantage of it. It is also not mandatory to upgrade the virtual hardware, however if you do want to upgrade the virtual hardware, you need to upgrade the VMWare tools to the latest version first AND you need to go through a full reboot cycle first. Upgrading the virtual hardware of a VM requires to shut it down as the option is only available in a powered off state of a VM.
So far I have upgraded the virtual hardware on several VMs in my environment and the overall experience has been good (knock on wood). In one instance I had missed to update the VMWare Tools to the latest version and upon the attempt to upgrade the virtual hardware my vCenter politely asked me if I really wanted to proceed. I did not and opted to update the VMWare Tools first.
What can you expect after the upgrade? You can expect a plug and play fest so to speak. It’s like ripping out the motherboard and all the other components from a physical server and to replace them with newer ones. So far I upgraded several operating systems including Windows 2000, Windows 2003, and Windows 2008. No issues other than the usual “plug and play spiel” inside Windows.
I still have to do some performance testing, but overall things seem to be speedier.
Are you planning on using Hyper-V for web hosting as a host server or to offer Hyper-V host servers to your customers? I have been working with Hyper-V a little bit and I am not too impressed with it at the moment. I am a friend of streamlining my environment, to automate stuff, and to reduce any need for support as much as possible by being pro-active and cautious how and what I roll out.
While Hyper-V is a virtualization product that – once it is running and configured – seems to do a good job, I do see it as a potential problem, too. For one, if you are not experienced with Server 2008 Core, MS Clustering, and Hyper-V itself, the learning curve is quite challenging. The setup is fairly complex and I also see it from a maintenance and support perspective that this could draw resource away from your core web hosting business.
So, if you plan on using Hyper-V for Web hosting, make sure to put enough research into the project. Automate as much as possible and set clear expectations and a framework – especially if you are offering Hyper-V servers to customers.
Personally I do prefer VMWare ESX over Hyper-V. It is a little more expensive, but the ROI is definitely there + the software is mature and easier to setup and to maintain compared to Hyper-V. I see it as one of those “You get what you pay for” situations. Yes, Hyper-V allows you to do virtualization, but it is still way behind the offerings of VMWare.
PS: Check out ThePlanet.com for your dedicated server needs. Great prices and great support.
Today I upgraded my first VirtualCenter or vCenter installation to the new vSphere vCenter 4. The upgrade was very smooth and went almost without any hiccups. The vCenter client upgrades itself the next time you login. One of the first things I noticed are the thresholds for the alerts. The data store alarm thresholds needed some readjustments as the default values are very … well, let’s say it conservative. Anyway – the adjustments are easy to make.
All 3.5 ESX hosts report in properly and all VMs show up, too. So, backwards compatibility is working good. I started browsing around in the new interface and I am impressed by the performance. The new vCenter 4 client is significantly faster than the 2.5 U4 version. One of my new favorite tabs is the new “Storage Views” tab. Easy access to storage information about all my VMs. This view is not perfect yet, but I think it is a good step in the right direction. If VMWare can add percentages and other related information, this will be one of the most useful tools inside vCenter.
The new and improved Update Manager is another great improvement. My existing baselines are still in place and there are 2 new buttons – one for “Stage” and one for “Remediate”. I tested the remediate functionality on one of my stand-alone hosts and it worked flawlessly. I still have to check what the “Stage” button functionality really provides though.
If you are using VMWare for your web hosting environment, you are probably looking forward to this upgrade – especially the vSphere Upgrade. VMWare has provided some information about performance improvements for vSphere and no matter if you run VMs that provide shared web hosting or VPSs or virtual dedicated servers – better performance out of your existing hardware can also mean more money in your pocket. In my environment I am partially able to run some hosts with a 35:1 ratio (Dell 2950 with dual Quad Core CPUs and 32 GB Ram).
I will bring up a vSphere Cluster within the next 3-4 weeks (waiting for new hardware to arrive) and after that work on upgrading all the other ESX hosts in my environment to vSphere 4.
PS: If you are looking for cheap dedicated servers, check out ThePlanet.com