I had an interesting problem to work last week and wanted to share the knowledge here with you. My problem was to move the database for a VMM Server (Virtual Machine Manager) database from SQL Express to a remotely hosted SQL. As always, there are many ways to do this and after doing some research I picked the one that looked like it was the easiest with not much work. Being efficient is important for anyone working in information technology. And if you are using Hyper-V in your web hosting environment, this might come in handy. [Read more…] about How to move a Hyper-V VMM Database to a new SQL Server
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…] about VMWare Is Driving Customers To Microsoft Virtualization
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…] about Virtualization – Some Best Practices
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…] about VMWare Converter Problems and how I solved them
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.
In late November of 2009 VMWare released the U1 packages for vSphere (ESX 4) and vCenter 4 (VirtualCenter). U1 stand for Update 1 and you can compare it to a service pack on the Windows side of things. Update 1 for vSphere fixed several bugs. Update 1 for vCenter added Windows 7 and Windows 2008 Server R2 compatibility. So far so good. I deployed the U1 package for ESX 4 via the Update Manager with no issues. However, U1 for vCenter surprised me with a noce problem.
After applying U1 for VirtualCenter 2 hosts in a HA cluster did not play nice. I was not able to enable HA (High Availability) for this cluster on these 2 hosts. The event log inside vCenter did not provide me with much information, however the vmkernel log pointed towards something in regards to name resolution. I checked the DNS settings and name resolution via DNS – no issues here. Then I checked for the hosts file to see if something was messed up.
Well, the hosts files (/etc/hosts) were missing. Let me rephrase that – they were not missing, but they were renamed to hosts.old. I have yet to find the reason why this happened or why the vcenter agent would do it. However, after I renamed these files back to just “hosts” and then initiated the “Reconfigure for HA” inside VirtualCenter these 2 hosts came back just fine and joined the HA setup. I am working with ESX since the good old 2.5.x days and back then it was very important to have a custom configured hosts file. With 3.5.x that requirement disappeared (if I remember this correctly), however I have always used custom hosts files in case DNS craps out on me and this incident now shows that there is a large dependency on having at least a basic hosts file on an ESX 4 vSphere host to use features like HA (High Availability).
Like this VMWare Tutorial? Please recommend it to others. You can also find more VMWare Tutorials in our VMWare section.
If you run VMWare ESX in your data center, you might be interested in finding new ways to tune your overall system performance. One easy way to tune performance is often overlooked, because it initially is thought to affect system redundancy. Rest assured, this will not affect your system redundancy. Here is the situation:
Usually an ESX host is built with 2 physical NICs assigned to the service console. The VMotion setup is configured to use the same switch so that NIC teaming can be used. However, VMWare recommends to separate your VMotion traffic from any other traffic, but if you ask around in the VMWare Administratosphere (yes, I know – it is a word I just made up) you will find out that almost nobody does it because of the limited number of NICs you can “throw” at a server. So, the VMotion NIC and the Service Console NIC are usually teamed.
Here is a neat little trick that allows you to physically separate the traffic at least on the NIC level and to dedicate a physical NIC to your VMotion traffic. Adjust your NIC teaming settings and instead of having both NICs active on the Service Console and on the VMotion side, make one NIC primary and the other one secondary and vice versa.
So, in production this looks like that the Service Console is running on VMNIC0 as the active NIC and VMNIC1 as the Standby NIC. At the same time the VMotion NIC is set to use VMNIC1 as the primary NIC and VMNIC0 as the standby NIC.
Conclusion: In the old setup a VMotion process could flood your NIC with traffic and any service console traffic would then be affected by this flood of VMotion related traffic. Worst case scenario this can make a host non-responsive or very slow responding. So, with this change made as discussed, you can effectively separate VMotion traffic from normal Service Console traffic and still give the Service Console virtual switch the redundancy you want.
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
This one might be an issue that will bite VMWare in the rear in the long run. With the release of the new version of ESX 4 “vSphere” they also changed their licensing model a little bit – now putting more emphasis onto Multi-Core CPUs. While the initially looks as not critical, it actually is. Quad-Core CPUs have been out for a long time already, and six-Core and eighth-Core CPUs are out or soon out. VMWare pulls the line at 6 Cores before you have to buy the more expensive license. With hardware being more reliable more VMs will reside on a single system and more RAM and CPU will be needed. So, even if you only have a server with 2 or 4 physical CPUs you suddenly pay a premium for the higher number of cores. Imagine a server with 4 Procs each with 8 cores. You have to shell out quite some cash now to be able to take advantage of that horse power and as a result your overall ROI will go down dramatically because the hardware costs already more and now the software will, too.
Along come Hyper-V, Xen, or maybe Virtual Iron (just acquired by Oracle) – all at a much lower price tag. I am not riding the wave of saying the software like Hyper-V is free as there is always a cost, but crunching the numbers really might pay off. And as a result VMWare might lose out. Hyper-V (r2) is closing the gap on one of the most important features: Vmotion will now be available – called Live Migration. While VMWare has many more features that are nice to have, in days like these when money is tight and budgets get slashed, IT managers might raise the question if they really need all the bells and whistles VMWare vSphere has to offer or if they can get by with Hyper-V (R2).
A Hyper-V rollout might require more thorough planning and a little more attention to level out resources and stuff like that, but overall that extra work might be resources well spent while you save thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars. VMWare likes to respond with a lot of good marketing blabla to many Hyper-V issues – some are true, but quite a few are really just hype. Hyper-V is not the answer to everything, but you might end up with a fair mix of both systems to get the best of both worlds. For VMWare that could mean a much smaller piece of the pie.