Apr 06

VMware HOL (HandsOnLabs) What’s New with vSphere 6.5

What’s New with vSphere 6.5

HOL-1710-SDC-6-MYVMW-HOL . 1 hrvmware

  1. vCenter High Availability
    1. Essentially a 3 node HA vCenter cluster to eliminate protect from failures in hosts, hardware or appliances
    2. VAMI / vCenter Server Appliance Management Interface is now called; “vCenter Server Appliance Management UI” so I guess it’s VAMUI
    3. Totally incorrect instructions have you logging in vCenter Client, not the appliance mgt; look for the appliance MGMT link (local:5480)
    4. Look at various network and system utilization stats.
    5. Create support bundle, backup, shutdown, etc.
  2. Update Manager
    1. Next release of Update Manager is integrated with VCSA (VCenterServerAppliance) No longer will you be able to connect to Update Manager installed on a Windows Server
    2. To start the Update Manager on VCSA just start the service.
    3. Run on internal PostgreSQL DB.
    4. VCSA and UM run on the same DB instance but separate databases.
    5. For those not used to UM, it is used to patch and update ESXi hosts, install third party software on hosts, I.E., HP Firmware for example. Updates VMware tools.
  3. Content Library
    1. Lists all content like .ISOs, templates, vApps, scriptsvmwarecontentlibrary
    2. Enhancements include things like being able to mount .ISO to VM direct from Content Library
    3. Create new virtual machine with custom specification from Content Library
    4. Content Libraries can be synchronized across two vCenter servers.
    5. Create a new Content Library and sync to it.
  4. SOIC / Storage IO Control
    1. Show up by Host Profiles in “Policies and Profiles”
    2. Create multiple SIOC Policies
    3. Storage policies are defined by disk, so each disk could have different policy, for example on a DB server.
  5. HTML 5 Host Client (webclient)
    1. Walk through common features
    2. Generating GSS Support Bundle (Global Support Services)
  6. Encrypt VMs
    1. Add a Key Management Server
    2. Set up encryption storage policy
    3. Create encrypted VM, encrypt an existing VM
    4. Decrypt multiple VMs simultaneously.
    5. Encryption is essentially just another type of Storage Policy.
  7. Visit HOL here; http://hol.vmware.com/
Nov 27

VMware vCenter 6.0 VCSA – Where is the .OVA?

Um, Yeah, there is no OVA with vCenter Server Appliance 6.0

We take a quick look at setting up vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) 6.0 since it’s a bit different with no .OVA option. In fact, there is a VMware KB article they created because so many people were asking where to find the .ova download. With 6.0, there is ONLY an .ISO.  That’s the only option to download. You should be able to download VCSA 6.0 or VCSA 6.0U1 here.

If you remember the old process, you could set up one host, connect to the host with vSphere Client, and then import the .OVA and you’d be up and running in mere minutes.

Fortunately, the new process is almost as simple, as long as you get a couple of pieces right up front. Please watch the video from our YouTube Channel and we walk through the process. Essentially, you 1) download the .iso, 2) install the Client Integration Plugin and 3) install / push / import the VCSA to a host.

Jul 11

Windows Server 2012 R2 (70-412) Continuity and Disaster Recovery – Study Guide

Prepare yourself for the Microsoft MCSA 70-412 exam. This course explores how to implement an advanced DHCP solution, implement an advanced DNS solution, and deploy and manage IP Address Management.

Videos at the bottom (WinRE)

These notes are my personal notes from the FREE training on Pluralsight. You can get your FREE signup through technet/MSDN or Dreamspark. The title of this course is exactly the title of this post. These notes are from this specific course only. I use these as a refresher Study Guide. POWERSHELL topics and2012GregShieldscmdlets are in purple. I have a few notes with the “DEMO” each time the training included a DEMO just so you can see how many demos there were which were really helpful. Thanks to Greg Shields @ConcentratdGreg, the trainer, contact info at the end.

All, or nearly all, sections include DEMOS so I’m not notating that separately.2012TrainingRecommendedOrder

These training courses should be preferably taken in this order (screenshot).

  1. Configure and Manage Backup Solutions
    1. Configure Windows Server Backups FEATURE
      1. Compared to NT backups, this focuses on VOLUMES.
      2. Pretty fully featured technology today.
      3. If you want to do Bare Metal backups, you need to check that along with System State, System Reserved, and probably the C or OS drive.
      4. Advanced settings
        1. excluded files
        2. VSS settings
          1. copy vs. full (are you using some other backup application, if so you use COPY)
      5. Destination
        1. local volume
        2. remote shared folder
        3. Optimize backup performance = types of backups (full, incremental, etc.)
      6. POWERSHELL WB = Windows Backup
      7. Get-WBJob
      8. Stop-WBJob
      9. Get-WBVSSBackupOption
    2. Configure Azure Backups
      1. designed to just get a back up into the Cloud
      2. Create “Backup Vault” tied to subscription and choose location
      3. Download Vault credentials, and download and install Azure Backup Agent
      4. Is now called MICROSOFT Azure Backup NOT Windows Azure Backup
      5. set up encryption; Microsoft cannot recover data
      6. Azure looks almost the same as a Windows backup. File and folder; just data, not system restore.
    3. Configure role-specific backups
      1. Backup Operators is the default, maybe too many permissions for many cases; can shut down system.
      2. Create your own role for backup files and directories and restore files and directories
    4. Manage VSS settings using VSS Admin
      1. extended from original design (previous versions for users) to now include backups (quiescence)
      2. VSS writer (specific by vendor for the application, Exchange, Oracle, AD, SQL, etc.
      3. the VSS requester is the partner to the writer
      4. PS vssadmin list writers
      5. vssadmin list providers
      6. vssadmin add shadowstorage /for=c: /on=f: /maxsize=20% set location for VSS
      7. vssadmin create shadow /for=c:     create vss shadow copy, very quick nearly instantly
      8. vssadmin can remove, revert, etc.
  2. Recover Servers (restore)
    1. individual file or folder recovery
      1. backup from – choose location, then choose files and folders (other choices volumes, applications, system state, or virtual machines)
      2. can put back in same, or different location
    2. Bare metal server recovery
      1. boot into WINRE (WINdows Recovery Environment) and also here; Tom’s Guide; when to use RE
        1. one option is to use shutdown command shutdown /r /o /t 02012NewShutdownSwitches (Check out Windows 8 new shutdown switches here)
        2. the /o is a new switch
        3. This is a gui based windows recovery console. Allows you to find the system image, install drives, connect to network locations to find image. Do you want to repartition drives.
        4. Don’t even need DVD media.
        5. Here is a link to a video of the WINRE console.
        6. The F8 replacement is WINRE
        7. msconfig – set what startup you get for NEXT boot to boot into safe mode, AD repair, etc. In case boots are so fast you can’t see F8
        8. you can also boot to windows DVD
        9. From WINRE you can boot to command prompt view, and you can manipulate unmounted drive (OS is not mounted). You can tell because command prompt is on the X drive which is the WINRE OS
          1. startrep (start repair scan)
          2. bootrec (boot record repair) Fixmbr, Fixboot, ScanOS, RebuildBcd
          3. Advanced boot options (looks like the F8 options)
            1. safe mode, with networking, with command prompt, boot logging, debugging, low-resolution video, last known good, disable restart, disable early launch anti-malware etc., etc.
        10. Configure the boot configuration data store
        11. multi boot menu to offer recovery options (not multi os boot)
          1. bcdedit
          2. bcdedit /export c:\save (export and save config)
  3. Configure site level fault tolerance
    1. Configure Hyper-V Replica, including Replica Broker and VMs
      1. Replica is NOT failover clustering
      2. provides a way to keep another copy of VM files (usually at remote site)
      3. Replica CAN work with failover clusters
      4. Replica is NOT OS specific; you can set it up with just shell VM, no OS to prove it
      5. Kerberos – not encrypted traffic, requires trusted AD
      6. certs – encrypted, no trusted domain needed
      7. set up on each VM individually
      8. configure frequency
      9. can also set up scheduled recovery points
      10. VSS for application consistent recovery points
      11. you can do the initial replication via external media, network, choose other machine, etc.
      12. set failover TCP/IP
      13. on the TARGET location server there is “test failover” under network adapter in Hyper-V Manager
      14. PLANNED failovers all start from the SOURCE location
      15. UNPLANNED start from Destination location (thought is that the source location is down, or offline)
      16. Adding Replica to Failover Cluster, need to
        1. Need to add the Hyper-V Replica Broker ROLE
    2. Configure Multi Site Clustering, including network settings, Quorum, and Failover Settings
    3. Configure Hyper-V Replica Extended Replication
      1. create a second replication site
      2. this is initiated from the TARGET location of the original source.
      3. most other stuff is the same
    4. Configure Global Update Manager
      1. https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn265972.aspx#BKMK_GUM
      2. When a state change occurs such as a cluster resource is taken offline, the nodes in a failover cluster must be notified of the change and acknowledge it before the cluster commits the change to the database. The Global Update Manager is responsible for managing these cluster database updates. In Windows Server 2012 R2, you can configure how the cluster manages global updates. By default, the Global Update Manager uses the following modes for failover cluster workloads in Windows Server 2012 R2:
    5. Recover a Multi Site Failover Cluster
      1. make sure you can support the IP and network configuration in the failover site
      2. same Cluster Manager is used to manage stretch (multi site) clusters
      3. configure preferred owners to deselect the DR site
      4. QUORUM
        1. node and file share is preferred
        2. even number of hosts per location preferred
        3. Force start without a quorum; https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh270275.aspx
Jul 11

Installing Hyper-V Role in VMware Workstation; error Hyper-V cannot be installed: A hypervisor is already running

This quick post and video shows how to get past the Hyper-V cannot be installed: “A hypervisor is 2012HyperVErroralready running” error when trying to install the Hyper-V Role on a server running as a VM on VMware Workstation. This is common in a virtual lap scenario for certification study.

To resolve this issue, change the guest OS type to Hyper-V.Caution: Hyper-V functionality inside VMware Fusion is experimental and is unsupported.To change the guest OS type to Hyper-V:

  1. Shut down the virtual machine.
  2. Click Virtual machine > Settings.
  3. Select General and change the guest OS type to Hyper-V (unsupported).
  4. Select Processors & Memory in the Settings.
  5. In the Advanced options of Processors & Memory, select Enable hypervisor applications in the virtual machine
  6. Reboot the virtual machine to enable Hyper-V.

The video is here

Jun 24

How to create RDM mappings for SQL Clustering with MSCS on VMware 6.0

How to create RDM mappings for SQL Clustering with MSCS on VMware 6.0

Using vSphere 6.0

For the sake of this discussion, we’re building two VMs for use in a two node failover MSCS cluster for SQL 2012.  We’ll simply call them A and B.

We will be using the Web Client for this, since that’s the direction VMware is pushing. However, the Fat (C#) client is faster for this task as it takes fewer steps.  For example, on the fat client, when you create the first RDM mapping, it will automatically create a new, second SCSI controller. When on the web client, you have to manually create the SCSI controller first, then start building the RDM drives.

The documentation in the 6.0 documents is very sparse, and I don’t think it’s even complete or accurate so this took a bit of effort to figure out and get set up.

Add a new SCSI Controller (we had issues with other “types” and use VMware Paravirtual exclusively now)

Add a new disk;
mscs3Select the target LUN by LUN ID;

Choose your new SCSI controller 1 (not like picture) and pick an unused SCSI ID.


This shows the proper SCSI controller and ID selection.

After creating this, go to the Windows OS on A, bring disk online, initialize, format, name, label, etc.

Now go to server Node B and add a RDM pointing to that exact same file.

You told it to store the VMDK pointer “with the server” so go to that datastore and fine the VMDK that was created by the new drive creation on A. When you create this drive in VMware on B, then you can go into the OS on the B node and the drive should show up there labeled and formatted and drive lettered.

If you keep track of it as you go, you can add several drives at once on A (2,3,4,5,6,7…) and it will create them all at once, then go over to B and add/create them all at once. But you have to keep your VMDK names and LUN IDs straight so you know which one is which. Doing one at a time is slower but less confusing.


How to tell (after it’s created) which VMDK file a new RDM is using on A, so you can find the correct VMDK when you create B;

Go to “Edit Settings” then at the top there is a “Manage other disks”

Open that button, then drop down the details on the disk you’re looking at and it will show you the VMDK and datastore. This VMDK is just a “pointer” or “mapping” file to the LUN.



Pick the SAME SCSI controller and port that you did on A;

Set LUNS as “perennially reserved”.  If this is not set right, the ESX HOST will take HOURS to boot, depending on how many RDMs it has to scan. Ours took 2.75 to boot. When this was set right via esxcli, they would boot in about 6 minutes, counting the HP specific boot processes. This is addressed in this KB, scroll down to the “perennially reserved” section. ESXi/ESX hosts with visibility to RDM LUNs being used by MSCS nodes with RDMs may take a long time to start or during LUN rescan (1016106)




Jun 15

Windows Server 2012 R2 (70-412) MCSA and the 70-412 Exam – Study Guide Part 2 – build a lab

These notes are my personal notes from the FREE training on Pluralsight. You can get your FREE signup through technet/MSDN or Dreamspark. The title of this course is exactly the title of this post. These notes are from this specific course only. I use these as a refresher Study Guide. POWERSHELL topics and2012GregShieldscmdlets are in purple. I have a few notes with the “DEMO” each time the training included a DEMO just so you can see how many demos there were which were really helpful. Thanks to Greg Shields @ConcentratdGreg, the trainer, contact info at the end.

As mentioned previously, the second section of this course seem like it was going to focus on how to build a lab in preparation for training, so I broke it into a separate post.

Windows Server 2012 R2 (70-412) MCSA and the 70-412 Exam

Building Your 70-412 R2 Environment

  1. VMware workstation
    1. please note; VM Workstation is a licensed product; you have to PAY for it. You can get a 30

      My physical lab 5 DL380 G5s (one not in picture) and two DL360 G5s. The G4s are being decomissioned.

      day trial of VM Workstation here. Also, if you have ever passed a VMware certification (like me) then you get a free license as one of your benefits. So, for example, I have a permanent license for Workstation 10, but cannot upgrade without buying a new license. I suppose you could do this lab on VBOX also if you have familiarity there. At the end of this I will also post some links to good sites about virtual labs.

  2. VM infrastructure and IP scheme
  3. Forest infrastructure
  4. Understanding the Network Infrastructure
  5. VyOs router for network routing
  6. Use of templates or clones. Discussion of Linked Clones to minimize disk use. Linked Clones are a VMware specific ability. VMware Linked Clones use the same virtual disks as the parent. So you could have 10 linked clones using one set of disks, with a very much improved storage use scenario especially in a lab.
  7. Reviewing lab IP scheme and host design;
    1. 4 Domain Controllers
    2. 1 File Server
    3. 2 NLB hosts
    4. 5 Failover Cluster hosts
    5. 1 Certificate server
    6. 1 RMS (Rights Management Server)
    7. 1 ADFS (Active Directory Federation Services)
    8. 1 desktop
    9. Total of 1,2,3 let’s see 16 machines looks like all in VM Workstation running on one PC
  8. Forest infrastructure
    1. company.whatever
    2. separate forest to test ADFS
    3. three different sites
    4. 4 subnets; VMware Workstation doesn’t support subnetting which is why we have VyOS
  9. Setting up VYOS
    1. default username and pw is “vyos”
    2. setting up multiple NICs to support the subnetting
    3. adding 4 more NICs
    4. Configured VYOS
    5. Configured internal home router for the appropriate vlans

Ok that’s about it. It does looks like a pretty good way to set up this all in a virtual lab. I’d like to see how it performs but probably pretty well since he put all the drives on a separate SSD.

Here are some of the other links I have gathered on building a lab. Some focus on low power (electricity costs), some focus on being quiet (don’t need the disturb the spouse) and some on different things. I’ve had the good fortune to be able to collect some HP G5 servers which I have been able to use, using iSCSI and / or VMware VSAN for storage. I used this lab to study for and pass my VCP-DCV5.1 test.


Labs in general

While this one could go under “low noise” or “low power” they’re not really stated goals so I’m putting it here, it’s one of the best; http://packetpushers.net/vmware-vcdx-lab-the-hardware/

Similar lab build; http://rickmur.com/home-lab-server/

A more expensive ($3,000.00) work office targeted option using HP / CDW parts; (can this run ILO?) https://virtualizationreview.com/blogs/virtual-mattox/2012/03/build-cheap-screaming-virtualization-lab-server.aspx

Another good follow along lab; http://ethancbanks.com/2014/03/15/my-home-lab-esxi-5-5-server-build-and-the-logic-behind-it-all/ but this guy had a couple of Cisco SG300-52 switches that are worth min $400.00 each so not really cheap.


Nested / Low Power / Low noise or some combination

“nested” generally simply means you have one hypervisor running on another, or one hypervisor running as a VM.

Nested lab on VMware Workstation; low cost; http://www.heathreynolds.com/2014/02/building-nested-esxi-lab-on-vmware.html

Nested lab on ONE DL380 G5; http://www.running-system.com/how-to-build-a-nested-lab-on-a-hp-dl380-g5-server-step-1/ You can sometimes get a G5 on Craigslist for cheap or free. I got a couple for free, and I got a couple for as little as $90.00. There are thousands of these G5s still in production and they are solid hardware. Anything older than G5 won’t have processors that will support virtualization.

First one I have seen specifically on VMware 6.0 which just came out a few months ago; http://www.vladan.fr/nested-esxi-6-in-a-lab/

This looks cool; Intel NUC, low power (15w with 5 running VMs) http://www.vclouds.nl/how-to-build-a-low-cost-low-power-and-fast-esxi-home-lab/

Around 30w; https://matthill.eu/projects/vmware-esxi-low-power-home-lab/

VBOX lab


In my experience, Memory is going to be the first constraint on a lab system no matter which method you choose. After that, probably storage. On nested environments (like this Pluralsight training) SSD would be a great idea.

Jun 05

Links from HP Discover 2015

Water cooled server racks; APOLLO; http://www8.hp.com/us/en/products/servers/high-performance-computing/apollo/apollo8000-product-portfolio.html

Video explanation of the APOLLO water cooled system; this is the Peregrine system they talked about that is being used to heat the sidewalks with excess heat from the datacenter; https://youtu.be/9Ih3R84Corg

The MACHINE; the HP Labs folks running this section were real genius types;  http://www.hpl.hp.com/research/systems-research/themachine/

MEMRISTOR; http://www8.hp.com/hpnext/tags/memristor#.VXGmJc9VhBc

StoreVirtual VSA; virtual array storage and servers in single appliance; http://www8.hp.com/us/en/products/data-storage/storevirtual-vsa.html

VPV; http://www8.hp.com/us/en/software-solutions/vpv-server-virtualization-management/

SiteScope; http://www8.hp.com/us/en/software-solutions/sitescope-application-monitoring/

Operations Manager; http://www8.hp.com/us/en/software-solutions/operations-manager-infrastructure-monitoring/


HP Moonshot; lots of buzz, very flexible, and very dense; http://www8.hp.com/us/en/products/servers/moonshot/#products

HP Vertica; SQL on Hadoop; http://www.vertica.com/hp-vertica-products/sqlonhadoop/

Hadoop with Cloudera or Hortonworks; http://www8.hp.com/us/en/products/servers/high-performance-computing/hadoop.html

Helion; huge buzz about Helion the Cloud Infrastructure / Openstack offering; http://www8.hp.com/us/en/cloud/hphelion-openstack-overview.htmlhttps://docs.hpcloud.com/helion/openstack/1.1/. Supports Chef, Puppet, etc., etc., etc.

Internet Giants; this was running, just kind of interesting; http://pennystocks.la/battle-of-internet-giants/

Feb 20

Passed VMware VCA-Cloud

I took and passed the VMware VCA-Cloud certification this week. It was new in 2013 and VMware offered discount vouchers and I had one so why not take the test. It is an online test that you can take at home. It is 50 questions in 75 minutes, I think it was. You do not have a bunch of spare time. It is a base cert, mainly around product knowledge on the cloud offerings. You can download the exam blueprint and get more information here; VMware VCA-Cloud.

VMware VCA-Cloud

VMware VCA-Cloud

The questions were as expected. The exam is a full blown, complete exam that will take the full time mentioned. Questions were multiple choice. 95% of the questions had one answer (radio buttons) and a few had multiple answers (checkboxes).

This certification (VCA-Cloud) is kind of unique. One of the most burdensome requirements of VMware certification is the mandatory training, which generally will cost you (or your employer) about $3,000 – $4,000 per week. This test, however, has the training provided online for FREE. True, this is not a “Professional” level cert, it’s only an “Associate” certification but that still could be considered a way to get started for minimal cost, and something you can control without employer involvement. To get started here would be the steps required;

  • set up a VMware “mylearn” account at https://mylearn.vmware.com. This is NOT your “myvmware” account. MyLearn = training, certification. MyVMware = support, licensing, communities.
  • Log into your MyLearn account and go to this VCA-Cloud training link. It states it takes three hours, but I think that might be per module, and there are three modules.
  • After you compltete this training, you can use it as the requirement to schedule the test at Pearson VUE.
  • Remember, the test scheduling process is a bit clumsy. You have to go into MyLearn, then, well nevermind. It’s so clunky they made a FAQ about how to schedule a VMware certification test. Actually, they are just making it a requirement that you have completed the training. If you don’t have the code from the training, you can’t schedule the test.
  • Originally, this test was FREE with vouchers, but now it’s $120.00 which is still much cheaper than the VCP series tests.
  • The VCA-Cloud is a NON-proctored test. I.E., you can take it online from anywhere, including your home. The VCP tests are proctored, onsite only.
  • As always, the VMware exam BLUEPRINT is critical; download it and be familiar with all topics in it.


The next steps on my training now are;

This is the next test I need to take for Server 2012 http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en-us/exam-70-417.aspx

The second shot (20% off, free second test if fail) is back, until May 31, 2014 http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en-us/second-shot.aspx

70-417 links

This is the test I have the free voucher for; http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en-us/exam.aspx?id=74-409

I think I could also pass the ITIL Foundations exam, so that’s in the mix somewhere.

Jan 23

What’s new in VMware vSphere 5.5

What’s new in VMware vSphere 5.5

With the release of vSphere 5.5 it might be time to take a quick look at what is new, and determine if there are compelling reasons to pursue 5.5.  vSphere 5.5 is being called vSphere 2x because many of the configuration maximums have doubled.

  • Increased Maximum RAM and vCPUs per Host
    • Increased maximum supported RAM from 2TB to 4TB
    • Increased logical CPUs per host from 160 to 320
  • Increased vCPU per host
    • Increased from 2,048 to 4,096
  • Increased VMDK file size
    • Increased from 2TB to 62TB for both VMS-5 and NFS


Other advancements include;

  • Increased NUMA support
  • Support for CPU C-States
  • Scalability Enhancements for the free vSphere Hypervisor
  • Improved network performance
  • Expanded GPU support
  • APP HA
  • Latency Sensitivity
  • vCenter SSO
  • BDE (Big Data Extensions) to allow deployment and management of Hadoop clusters. Yayy!
  • Traffic filtering enhancements


For more detail on these enhancements, please refer to the following links;
Summary of what’s new from VMware Blogs
Windows IT Pro – top 10 features
VMware KB on 5.5 – what’s new


Nov 29

VMware ESX and HOSTS files

As I’ve dug into VMware, there seems to be a common thread suggesting that all ESX hosts should be available via IP, short name (machine name) and FQDN.

Here is a good excerpt from an article outlining that concept. This is from VMwarewolf, and he’s talking about 3.0, but this came concept still applies. I still see a lot of KB and forum articles still saying this is important, and in the 5.1 boot camp there is discussion about resolving by all three methods.


Today I bring you VMware ESX users a valuable tip that I have picked up in the few weeks I have worked at VMware Tech Support . By this time next week I will have reached the end of my probationary period and will be a regular full time employee. Even though I’m still greener than daffodil sprouts in the garden, I have handled a number of cases that were easily solved with this small configuration change

LINK – http://www.vmwarewolf.com/my-number-1-tip-for-esx/