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Category Archives: Vmware vSphere 4.01


This is third part of Using ESXi to replace ESX. I really hope I can myself clear and anyone who visit my sites would like it and enjoy the time when you are here. Please do leave comments and footprints. Thanks.

After discussing about staring point and architecture, it’s time for us to install and configure ESXi. There are some tips and tricks I would like to share with you in this chapter.

Install ESXi 4

First of all, you need to download vendor version of ESXi (please refer to PART 2) and you should load it with your ILO or something similar. You can ask your SAN team to block HBA or move that HOST out of Storage group but in this case, I didn’t do that since it’s merely lab test server.

The installation is pretty straight forward. You don’t have many choice to go. Basically, it’s either install or not. Once  you get into installation, the only thing you would be offer to make choice is where you want to put your files on.

As you can see, the first one is my local disk. Disk 1 is KVM adapter. Disk 2 is my Test SAN Lun. So go for local disk is what I want.

ESXi Partitions

I did brief ESXi partitions in last article. I will give you more details in this one. By default, the ESXi builds 3 partitions out of your local disk.

They are:

  • Swap Partition also called vFat Scratch partition (Used for vm-support to store temp space, upgrade, 4GB)
  • Diagnostic Partition (for CPU, memory core dump, 112MB).
  • bootloader Partition (4MB)
  • Primary boot bank (Core hypervisor(32MB), VMKernel, Server manufacturer customizatons, 255MB)
  • Backup boot bank (started with empty, will be filled later as backup of boot bank, 255MB)
  • Store partition (Auxiliary files, VI Client, Vmware tools, runtime storage, 917MB)
  • VMFS Partition (rest of DISK space)

Plus, visorfs (325.5MB) runs in-memory file system which holds /var/logs, /tmp,/etc/vmware, etc.

I mentioned this picture in my last post, but this is better version. From this picture, you can clearly see which partitions are and what’s they are for.  fdisk -l shows disk information. It’s all physical.  Please be aware the size of partition has been increased since ESXI4.

df -h is to display file system command. Be aware the first one (visorfs) is in memory. This is only display partition list which has been mounted from file system. It’s not all current not existed partitions.

This pictures indicates what has been mounted under /vmfs/volumes. Notice there are 6 mounted but only 5 of them got link files. The scratch doesn’t have link file but you can access from /scratch.

Well, this is ESXi. So you don’t get any other options to choose for the rest of installation. Let’s just quick go through it.

blah, blah, blah

blah,blah,blah

After reboot, you suppose to see this picture from your ILO or KVM. Then, ESXi installation is finished.

This interface is not just some quick menu of ESXi, it’s DCUI (Direct Console User Interface). I will leave it for next post.

Hope you can enjoy my post and not falling sleep. :p

To be continued…..


This is part 2 of whole series of Using ESXi to replace ESX. ESXi comes long way and still not taking major market for production. But I personally believer RCLI, VCenter+ESXi will be the future. Vmware has already developed hidden page to guide everyone to upgrade from ESX to ESXi. Yes, please read on and I will explain it later.

So this is sort of deep dive to ESXi system. However, there ain’t much information about ESXi4 so I have to add lots of own opinions. If I made mistake, please feel free to point out.

Ok. Let’s take look what the difference between ESX and ESXi at Architecture level.

This is ESX4 architecture. Essentially, everything is running on Service Console (Red Hat). VMKernel itself is an operating system just like all other OS. But it relies on SC to do all communication works and runs different agent. VMware agents (vpxa, hostd, etc) runs on SC and always run into stability issue after people install all other Hardware monitoring agents on SC. According to my experience, we always have some HA agents issue, SC stop responding to ping and heartbeats. Then, the issue resolved by itself after few minutes. All command lines are running on SC and then, SC forwards to VMKernel and wait for reply. This is long way to go and consumes lots of extra resources and bring tons of headache to VMWARE.

The above picture is ESXi diagram. I have to say, ESXi is not only a free product, but also a brand new design from architecture level. It has following advantages comparing with ESX.

Vmware agetns ported to run directly on VMKernel.

Let me bring up another diagram so  you can take a close look.

As you can see, vpxa, hostd and other important processors have migrated from SC to VMKernal. They are running on User world API stack and waiting for the communication from RCLI, vPowershell, and VC.

Authorized 3rd party modules can also run in Vmkernel. These provide specific functionality

  • Hardware monitoring
  • Hardware drivers

There are quite big changes in the Hardware monitoring world. VMware in default weak SNMP protocol (no SNMP trap set for ESXi) and focus on CIM broker.

The Common Information Model (CIM) is an open standard that defines how computing resources can be represented and managed. It enables a framework for agentless, standards-based monitoring of hardware resources for ESXi.

Basically, instead of using SNMP trap and query SNMP to your HOST, you should enable WBEM to do all the jobs. If  you want to deploy your ESXi system, you should not download ESXi directly from vmware site, but instead, you should go to your server company to download their special version of ESXi. For example, HP provides HP WBEM(Web Base Enterprise Management) embedded ESXi for free downloading. ESXi allows third-party to pre-install CIM Plug-ins and ESXi and plug-in can be upgraded separately. All what you need to do is to download HP SIM Manager and start querying. (In default, WBEM queries every 2 minutes)

With this design, ESXi can use agentless framework to let hardware monitoring system get full details of Host and also secured and prevent unexpected error caused by HW Agent (like HP SIM Agents).

The “dual-image” approach lets you revert to prior image if desired

This is very interesting design special for ESXi.

The ESXi system has two independent banks of memory, each of which stores a full system image, as a fail-safe for applying updates. When you upgrade the system, the new version is loaded into the inactive bank of memory, and the system is set to use the updated bank when it reboots. If any problem is detected during the boot process, the system automatically boots from the previously used bank of memory. You can also intervene manually at boot time to choose which image to use for that boot, so you can back out of an update if necessary.
At any given time, there are typically two versions of VI Client and two versions of VMware Tools in the store partition, corresponding to the hypervisor versions in the two boot banks. The specific version to use is determined by which boot bank is currently active.
As what the pdf says, ESXi alwasy keep another version of configuration file and other components. If boot fails, it can switches over like “Last good configuration” function in MS.
If you runs command fdisk -l in the ESXi, you will get following picture.

As you can see, the first part is Extended partition, also called Store partition. It’s about 917MB in ESXi4 instead of 750MB in ESXi 3. It stores Auxiliary files like VI client, VMWare tools, runtime storage etc.

The second partition is 4GB as what VMWARE called Scratch partition. Next one is VMFS partition. Partition FAT16<32M is bootloader partition. It remains as 4MB to choose which boot bank should be loaded. Boot bank (255MB in ESXi) contains core hypervisor code. Diagonistic Partition (112MB in ESXi4) is for core dump purpose. And the last one is Hypervisor 3 Locker. Once you start Locker mode, no remote access will be accepted.

As you can see, ESXi4 has 3 different boot options. Primary, backup and locker mode. It provides failover and security as well. I will review this part again in my next part (part 3).

No other arbitrary code is allowed on the system

Essentially, ESXi should be consider as an appliance with firmware. Yes, there are still quite few things you can mock around, like open SSH, setup SNMP TRAP, Backup configuration settings without host profile function, but comparing ESX 4, it’s much simple, easy, fast, efficient and safe.

Much less updates means much better stable system

Let’s see this diagram from Vmware, then it will explain by itself.

Finally, at last but not least.

VMWARE has developed web page to help user to Upgrade from ESX to ESXi. But you can’t find link from it’s parents page which is vSphere page.

I provide the link so you can see it by yourself.

http://www.vmware.com/products/vsphere/esxi-upgrade/architecture.html

To be continued….

Add-on:

One of my friends just questioned about ESXi and think ESX is better environment to execute his precious codes. I think Service Console has nothing to do with implement or execute code because this job is done by vSphere API. ESXi has vSphere API just like ESX and has no issue to execute any codes running on ESX.

For better understanding, I’m showing you this picture to prove my point.


Reference:

http://www.vmware.com/files/pdf/vmware_esxi_architecture_wp.pdf

http://www.vmware.com/products/vsphere/esxi-upgrade/architecture.html

http://docs.hp.com/en/5991-6518/ch01s06.html


First of all, let me express my personal feeling to people actually visit my site day by day. I have been away for one week to get MCITP:EA certificate and haven’t updated my blog for one week. But I’m just surprised by how many people actually keen to come back my blog.

Now, I’m off MS for a while and finally can dive into VMware world again and hopefully, I can get practical and deep as well. With no further duo, please allow me to bring up this new series topic, Using ESXi to replace ESX.

Why would you to use ESXi to replace ESX in the production?

I’m pretty sure that’s the first question you would ask. That’s also first question my manager asked as well. In the old time, ESXi is a free product and not even get supported by Vmware. And what’s wrong with ESX?

Well, if we double check what vmware said recently.

§First choice is ESXi Embedded, whenever possible.

ESXi is the future.

VMware has announced its intention to eventually replace ESX with ESXi.

§Design the management infrastructure to support VMware® ESXi, even if deploying VMware ESX™.

Limit the use of service console–based command-line management and monitoring agents

Develop ESXi management techniques now because ESX will eventually be phased out.

This message is from a vSphere Design workshop and blogged in vFrank.

As far as I understand, Vmware had enough headache to fixing RedHat version of Service Console. More than 50% percentage of Updates are delivered for SC.Thousands Support call are related to this poor Management console and Vmware believes ESXi can work better, lighter, and easier. According to my personal experiences, I’m very troubled by ESX console ping dropping. I have 2 or 3 software monitoring SC via ping, SNMP and there are always issues.

Concerns about ESXi

It’s free product, do I get support?

Yes, you do. I just have Vmware License team shoot an official Email to me to prove ESXi is supported as long as you have full production support. You will get exactly same support as esxi.

Does ESXi support vMotion, HA, FT, DRS, blah,blah?

Yes, they are. ESXi support all those functions with no issues.  I would like to provide you a link which is comparison of ESX and ESXi. http://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?language=en_US&cmd=displayKC&externalId=1015000

So what kind of features does ESXi support?

I can show you a picture with most functions of ESX and ESXi supported. If you want to get full list, please follow this link. http://www.vmware.com/products/esxi/facts.html This page shows there are no functions ESX supports while ESXi doesn’t.

To be continued…….

Reference:

http://www.vfrank.org/2010/04/13/esx-will-be-phased-out-esxi-is-the-future/

http://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?language=en_US&cmd=displayKC&externalId=1015000

http://www.vmware.com/products/esxi/facts.html



Well, I had an opportunity today to attend EMC inform 2010 which holds at Crown building. This Inform is hold by Vmware, EMC, Cisco. As what they like to call themselves “VCE”.

This inform is about to push vPLEX technology, vBlock and 100% Virtualisation into market. They brought along few companies including MelbourneIT with them to testimony their new technology.

Shall we push ourselves to 100% virtualisation?

Basically, Vmware still try to push 100% virtualisation to public and more companies regardless the fact most of company only virtualize 75% of their production. The reason people don’t virtualize the rest of 25% is understandable. Virtualization needs to use certain amount of overhead resource to run their virtual kernel and that’s inevitable.

Some software like SQL, Exchange, and ERP system are still using physical boxes because major advantage of virtualization, which is consolidation, is not long goal you can get when you virtualize those servers. According to one of CTO who gave the speech during the inform, the best practice for virtualizing those servers is to give them a dedicated box to run. Meaning, you are not only pay for the MS license, you also need to pay for extra Vmware license cost. So Why would you virtualize the rest of 25% production?

The answer is DR system. According to EMC CTO, EMC is ready to implement VPLEX Local and VPLEX Metro technology between 2 SAN systems. (for now). Once you can duplicate your large caches of SAN in two different geographic location, Vmware Site Recovery Manager (SRM) can kick in and make Vmware DR easy and possible. Meaning if you want your Exchange, SQL and ERP to have a good DR, you need to virtualize 100% your production although you have to pay quite a bit for extra license, SAN and datacenter rent. So it’s really up to business and how far they want to cover their bottom.

Does VPLEX actually work?

Well, I believe it does. It doesn’t matter you call it virtual storage layer or vm teleportation or  VPLEX, but it does help you to storage vmotion a VM from one SAN to another SAN (distance less than 100km) in just 7 minutes. Yes, we can do it without VPLEX, but it will take up to 1.6 hours!

I personally reckon the best speech during this inform was not from EMC nor VMWARE, it was from CTO of Melbourne IT. Melbourne IT has more than 5000 servers and half of them are virtual machines. They are Web hosting company which generates 5TB Internet traffic per day. One story CTO of MelbourneIT gave to us was the website of CFA (Victoria Country Fire Authority). Victoria had very bad bush fire in 2009. When bush fire happened at first day, only few thousands people visited this website. After few days, it became national news so visitor numbers increased from few thousands to 10 thousands. After few more days, this actually become global news. It’s like most people in this world thought the whole Australia was on fire. The website had 20 million visitors in one day! This amount of visits crashed the hosting server easily because MelbourneIT never expected this kind of traffic. So after only 11 minutes, MelbourneIT was able to migrate the whole VM to another datacenter via SAN replication link. The VM was transferred to much large datacenter which is capable to handle large traffic and be alive since them. Once the traffic backed to normal, Melbourne IT was able to transfer this VM back to low cost, slow speed tier. Awesome, isn’t it? The link they have for SAN has 50ms latency and less than 100km distance.

What is vBlock?

Accelerate the journey to private cloud with integrated packages combining best-of-breed Cisco, EMC, and VMware technologies. These packages are jointly tested and supported to deliver optimal performance and reduce operational expenses.

Vblock 2 delivers high-performance, large-scale virtualization across data centers of large enterprise customers. Vblock 1 delivers performance and virtualization for large or midsized companies and is suitable for data centers of any size, including remote-office locations. Vblock 0 is an ideal platform for companies that want an entry level configuration for small data centers, remote locations, or as a test/development platform.

In short, vBlock is a central management of “VCE” system. It uses one application to management and control multilayers. As EMC (as storage), CISCO(as back bone) and Vmware kernal tried to talk to each other, we need a system to manage all running jobs. Also, vBlock can be used for private cloud to communicate with public cloud or 3rd party cloud. To prove this case, One of guys from Optus made presentation regarding one of their client (a university) to integrate with Oputs Cloud. But he didn’t give us more details as what exactly T1 applications running on it so I don’t really buy it.

Summary:

EMC Inform is really a single company show (Vmware belongs to EMC) and they try to push VPLEX and VMWARE DR to market. For VPLEX, I believe you can use it to replicate Datacenter and VMWARE SRM is possible but not cheap. For the cloud, I guess we still have to wait and see how it goes in next 5 years.

Please leave your comments if you like.

P.S: I just got new domain for my blog so you can remember it. It is

http://geeksilverblog.com

Reference:

http://www.emc.com/solutions/application-environment/vblock/vblock-infrastructure-packages.htm


I just heard news about the article from Burton Group report. Basically, this reported review both Vmware View 4 and Citrix Xen Desktop 4 and conclude neither of these software are suitable for Enterprise. I would like to add some personal comments towards this issue.

No support for Low bandwidth and high latency?

HDX vs. PCoIP
In general, Citrix’s ICA/HDX can support connections with latency of 150 milliseconds or more and bandwidth of 50 Kbps without experiencing unacceptable performance degradation, and it integrates with external WAN acceleration devices by disabling ICA compression.

VMware View 4’s PCoIP does not meet the bandwidth/latency criteria of 50 Kbps/150 milliseconds, and IT pros are advised to use the “local desktops” feature to deliver virtual desktops across low-bandwidth environments. In addition, PCoIP does not support WAN acceleration devices because there is no way to disable PCoIP’s native encryption/compression feature.

In my opinion, View still relies on RDP connection which will be supported by WAN accelerator soon. According to our test, RDP can work on 30kbps with 150ms latency. Too shame for Vmware who bought third party trying to replace RDP. It still doesn’t work, does it?

Security, central management in one box and role-based access controls

XenDesktop 4.0 is missing a few “critical” features, including security logging and auditing of administrative actions and three-year support for its entire product portfolio. It also lacks security hardening guidelines and is complex to deploy, and the management console scales to only 5,000 desktops. VMware View 4’s management console has the same scalability maximum.

“Five thousand desktops is not very many when you are talking about enterprises with hundreds of thousands of desktops,” said Chris Wolf, a Burton Group virtualization analyst and co-author of the report. “This means they have to use multiple management consoles to manage their users, and that isn’t acceptable.”

Though VMware’s virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) market share is growing, Burton Group doesn’t consider View 4 an enterprise-class server hosted virtual desktop platform because it lacks role-based access controls, enterprise management integration and Windows 7 guest support. It also needs a user application self-service portal (like Citrix Dazzle) and low-bandwidth WAN support.

Well, I’m not worry about this part. According to new View 4.5 features list, those above requirement are resolved by new version of View. I also believe W7 will be supported in the near future.

Now, I’m giving you partial feature list of View 4.5 as following.

–          “Local Mode” : off-line VDI finally out of experimental phase. There is also a new role in this scenario: the Transfer Server.

–          ThinApp 4.5 with Application Entitlement (assign applications to Desktop Pools; MSI only)

–          Tiered Storage : define different datastores for different datatypes (replica’s, userdata etc.) <- great feature !

–          Full Sysprep support

–          Disposable Disk technology (ability to identify Temp/Swap data in your image and clean that data automatically).

–          Snapshot support for Linked Clones (Floating Pool)

–          Role Based Administration

–          Kiosk Mode Desktop Pools (GUI suppression and device-based assignments)

–          Native MacOS client

–          Web Download Portal (for downloading the client software via the web)

–          A good dashboard with more event logging for better troubleshooting

So what do I concern for new View version?

According to above list, PCOIP still doesn’t provide good performance when users in low bandwidth condition. Also, the real problem I think for this new version is how to hybrid normal Terminal profile, normal user profile together. Also, how much resource a core can handle. According to Vmware blog, 16 virtual desktop per CPU core with best practice for View. This is much lower than TS can run on the ESX host. It actually make per Virtual Desktop cost pretty high comparing with TS solution.

Personally, I’m not worried about upgrade user profiles from previous version (XP to W7) since you would use central data for user data anyway when you implement VDI solution. All what you need to do is to educate user to save data to the right network location(it would be fast since most likely they would be in same subnet).


Reference:

http://searchvirtualdesktop.techtarget.com/news/article/0,289142,sid194_gci1512903,00.html

http://virtualfuture.info/2010/05/vmware-view-4-5-expected-features/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+Virtualfutureinfo+(Virtualfuture.info)


I’m pretty new for Vmware View 4 system. Today, I have decided to install an evaluation View 4 into my test lab and see how it goes. But I have encountered few interesting mistakes on the way. I would like to share them with everyone so you don’t need to make same mistakes.

1. Windows 7 Support or not Support?

Well, basically, I want to install W7 into View so I can use it in our production system in the future. I have installed the first View template (Windows 7 64bit) and tried to install View Agent on it. But it failed. System told me View 4 doesn’t support 64bit windows 7 as template (but View Client runs fine on W764bit). So I wiped it out and installed the 32bit Windows 7. After I setup everything, I tried to connect View from my client (Windows 7 64bit Enterprise). Authentication to View Connection is fine. but My View Client gives me black (blank) screen.

Well, the reason for that is simple. View 4 is only supported Windows 7 32bit in TechView stage. Meaning you don’t get support for using W7. There are two solutions so far.

Solution A:  Using RDP protocol instead of PCOIP. Well, PCOIP is pretty new protocol which supports multimedia and 3D effect for your connection. But it doesn’t work well with W7.

so you need to choose correct protocol when you try to connect to your W7 pool.

Solution B: Change Windows 7 display drive and Video memory size. Basically, you can change default W7 driver (Vmware SVGA 3D) to VMWARE SVGA II. And also change the video memory to 40MB.

Please follow this link to see the detail.

http://thejeremykeen.com/2010/03/16/blank-screen-on-windows-7-vmware-view-desktop-using-pcoip/

2. View Desktop Source is not ready

Well, this is pretty common errors you will see when you try to connect to View from client. See as following picture.

The actual root cause could be vary. I can give you few common mistakes.

Mistake 1: Forgot to install View Agent

When I tried to build another pool (windows xp sp3), I forgot to install View Agent on the template windows. View Agent is critical for View and it helps Connection to understand whether this snapshot of template is occupied or not. It also helps redirect Printing and USB as well. If you made this mistakes, you need to reopen your template and installed agent. Then, refresh all snapshots after that.

Mistake 2: Tasks are not finished

Essentially, View Connection server will run lots of script directly to vCenter. If vCenter hasn’t finished the tasks (you can see from recent task bar), it won’t be ready.

Mistake 3: DHCP and DNS

View doesn’t do magic. It still relies on Windows DHCP and DNS to work. Basically, a new snapshot of your template need to be assigned an DHCP IP (when I tested in my lab, there is no DHCP, I have to manually assigned IP to snapshots) and DHCP needed to be registered in the DNS. If you are not able to ping your template from client computer, you won’t able to access your snapshot. So if you are hurry, you can run ipconfig /registerdns on snapshot and ipconfig /flushdns on client to manually refresh DNS record.

Those just some basic mistakes we may encounter. Please leave your comments if you run into more errors.

Thanks


This is part 2 of vDS (vNetwork Distributed Switch), My Understanding.

How does vDS work?

What will your instructor tell you? “Please don’t consider vDS is a switch connecting to Hosts. vDS is just a template”  Well, that’s what you always heard from all your instructors. but template of what? The answer is vDS is template of HIDDEN vSwitch sitting on your local host. vDS(the template) is managed by vCenter(high level operation) and your local Host(low level operation). Let’s see a diagram.

From this diagram, you can see there are two hosts. Each host has hidden switch which received template (vDS) from vCenter. The local template will be updated every 5 minutes like what I mentioned in Part 1.

Now, let’s open this hidden switch and see what’s happening in there.

As you can see, the hidden switch has forwarding engine and teaming engine which will be configured and controlled by setting in vCenter. There are two IO filters (not just one) is to be used in VMSafe. So what VMSafe does is let third party software (for example, the Trend Micro)  build a VM appliance and be certified by VMWARE to prove it won’t do any damage. That special VM will use special API to monitor traffice (like firewall) or check virus. Meaning, if you want to use VMSafe product, you have to use vDS, meaning you have buy Enterprise Plus license! I guess that’s why VMSafe product is not popular.

ok. Back to vDS. Let’s make a small conclusion. vDS is also a vSS. But it’s hidden in the Host. This hidden vSS is using template made by vCenter and Local Host so you can control traffic and share switch data between hosts.

Few things you need to know about vDS

vDS is capable to do everything vSS can do because it’s basically a super (hidden) vSS. Once you assign a vmnic OR VMkernal, SC or VM to vDS, you won’t be able to use them in vSS. It’s same thing as vSS.

I won’t say there are not much point to use vDS but if you do want to use vDS, you would either use Cisco Nexus to replace vDS or you want to use VMSafe product. Or you have Enterprise Plus license and want to use host profiles.

vDS timeout issue

vDS is not as convenient as vSS which only connects to single Host. sometimes, it’s not easy to remove vDS switches or even switch physical nic to different vDS switches. If vDS believes a port is busy, vCenter won’t allow you to delete vDS or remove a host from it. By the default, vCenter automatically forces all “busy” ports on all distributed switches to time out every 24 hours.

You can make change on vpxd.cfg to make it as 10 minutes.

vpxd.conf is located at c:\documents and settings\all users\application data\VMware\VMware VirtualCenter\vpxd.cfg

In vpxd.cfg, add the line <vpxd><dvs><portReserveTimeout>10</portReserveTimeout></dvs></vpxd> and save the file.

Restart vCenter. The default timeout is now set to ten minutes.

After the port reservation has timed out, remove the vNetwork Distributed Switch or dvPort group.

Reset the default timout by removing the line you previous added to vpxd.cfg.

Restart vCenter.

Best Practise for vDS daily operation

If you run into problem with vDS, always start checking from vCenter->Networking level. Because it has general view to tell you all vDS details such as IP on each port group, PVLAN info and which VM or kernal ports it connects. Then, you should drill down to single host ->Configuration->Networking to add or remove objects. If you do have issue, try to remove all objects to another vDS and then, make your change.

For the rest of details, like PVLAN, blocking of individual ports, you can check this file to continue your journey of vDS.

Click to access vsphere-vnetwork-ds-migration-configuration-wp.pdf

Reference:

http://kb.vmware.com/1010913

Click to access vsphere-vnetwork-ds-migration-configuration-wp.pdf


vSphere has introduced many new features. One of new feature is vDS (vNetwork Distributed Switch) which always confuses me and lots of people. I’m trying to explain it as simple and easy, also deep to you as I can. If I make any mistakes, please feel free to leave comment. Thank you.

So What is vDS? What’s difference between vSS and vDS from configure file structure?

vDS is a new Virtual Switch introduced by Vmware. The old vSS is more like local Host property. All switch data saved in the local Host. Other Host is not aware what kind of vSS other Host has.Not only vCenter can’t do anything about it, it causes trouble when you do vMotion.  vDS is saved in both vCenter and Host. One copy in the vCenter, vDS is saved in the SQL database. In the local host, vDS has another local database cache copy sits at /etc/vmware/dvsdata.db. This local cache will be updated by vCenter every 5 minutes.

You can use following command to help you to get copy to read the local host database.

cd /usr/lib/vmware/bin

./net-dvs > /tmp/dvs.txt

then, you can read dvs.txt

Also, after you configure vDS on your local host, your esx.conf (/etc/vmware) has record shows brief configuration information of vDS.

Those 3 configuration combines vDS structure. This also makes vDS can work even after Host disconnected from vCenter.

What’s difference between vSS and vDS on control level?

With vSS, everything should be controlled on local host. Basically, you go to Local Host->Configuration->Networking. Then, you start everything from there. But vDS is different. vDS divide control into 2 different level. I call them high level and low level.

High Level: High level is to create/remove, management teaming, distribution port group etc. This level sits at vCenter->Inventory->Networking.

Low Level: This level is to connect your vm, vmkernel, and your local physical cards to vDS. Please be aware that your vm, vmkernel, etc are connecting to distribute port group. Unlike local vSS (you have create same vswitch, same vswitch port group on all hosts), vDS is pushed from vCenter to all Hosts. As long as you are connecting to same vDS, you will have same distribute port group.

With local physical nic card, they need to connect to dvUPlink side. You can choose any number of local nics to connect or even no nic at all. But what you can’t do is to setup teaming (only work for 2 nics from same host), traffic shaping, VLAN because you need to setup on high level.

To be continued. ……..


First of all, I just finished my Vmware Training. I have to say I am not satisfy with training at all. As Vmware training high cost, we expect an intense, high quality and extended training. But it doesn’t come out even near as what I expected before. Therefore, I write this article to show you how to choose best Training Centre and the best courses for you.

What’s difference between a good instructor and a normal instructor?

A good instructor supposes know Vmware product inside to outside. He knows not only whatever is written on the ppt file and your textbook, he also supposes to give you real world examples and bring up, what it is, how it works and why it is designed in this way. My first Vmware training experience was so great. My trainer knows everything about ESX 3.5 and SAN, I had 5 days intense training and we finished at 5:30pm or even later until the building manager kicked us out. However, my latest Vmware training instructor only just reads whatever on the books and can’t give us any real examples. He is also not able to answer any questions out of book as well. Not mention some valuable tricks.  I’m wondering what’s qualification to become a trainer? If it’s just like that, I can just read training book for one month, and I can become a qualified trainer too!!??

Does training center reputation matter?

The answer is no. The quality of training is totally up to your trainer. As matter of fact, some small or new training centre has very good instructors. So don’t always look for biggest training centre for training.

What kind of questions should I ask about my trainer?

Ok. Here is the key. The salesman of training centre always say they have best people in town. Don’t believe that. Just asked:

  1. Is your trainer an employee of Vmware?
  2. Is your trainer full time employee of your centre or part time?
  3. How long has your trainer teaching vmware technology?

1. Is your trainer an employee of Vmware?

If the answer is yes, then you are lucky! The best trainers may not necessary work for Vmware. But Vmware guys are the best trainers! so you need to prepare yourself in the class for knowledge impact.

2. Is your trainer full time employee of your centre or part time?

So you got first answer as no, that’s why you asked this question. If your trainer is full time working for training centre, you may want to change to another training organization. He may has no real life experience and read bed time story for you before you close your eyes. If he is just a part time for training, then, luck you! You will have lots of real world cases to learn!!

3. How long has your trainer teaching vmware technology?

A good trainer supposes teaching vmware for at least 3 or 4 years. If your trainer is very new about teaching vmware, please ask what his job was to determine whether he has enough knowledge or not.

How to choose your Vmware Course?

Vmware vSphere has lots of course. Not all courses available to your country or city. Please confirm it from your training centre.

I have you a list of possible course you may find.


VMware vSphere: Overview
This 1-day course gives delegates a practical introduction to the core features of VMware vSphere 4
(Please don’t attend this course but go to http://www.vmware.com to read OverView doc).


VMware vSphere: What’s New
This hands-on training course explores new features in future versions of VMware vCenter Server and ESX andESXi, as well as how to upgrade.

(Please don’t attend this course but go to http://www.vmware.com to read What’s new doc).

VMware vSphere: Install, Configure, Manage
4 Day VMware Course covering the installation, configuration and management of VMware vSphere.

(yes, it is good for beginner)

VMware vSphere 4: Fast Track
Intensive 5-day VMware vSphere course for delegates wishing to take the VCP Examination

(It has everything. Depends on your instructor, it could be very good course. But please remember, it’s fast track. So you are only learning tip of everything. Nothing too deep. If you are VCP 3 and you know about vSphere, please skip. )


vSphere 4: Skills For Operators
This 2-day course explores configuration and management of VMware vSphere™ virtual machines

(I don’t know this course, any one ?)


VMware vSphere: Manage Availability
This 1-day hands-on course equips delegates with the skills required to ensure the availability of their existing vSphere deployments
(It sounds very good. You should have Vmware guy in your class)


vSphere 4: Managing Scalability
This 1-day course equips delegates with the ability to build and run a scalable vSphere 4 virtual infrastructure.
(It sounds very good. You should have Vmware guy in your class)


VMware vSphere 4: Troubleshooting

4-day advanced course that gives delegates the skills required to troubleshoot the Vmware vSphere virtual infrastructure competently.
(Well, it supposes be very good course. But again, it depends on your instructor. If you ran into a book reader just like mine…….)


VMware vSphere: Manage for Performance
This 4-day hands-on course explores the management of performance in a VMware® vSphere™ environment.

(It sounds very good. You should have Vmware guy in your class)


VMware View: Install, Configure and Manage
3 day course covering the installation, configuration and management of the VMware View components.

(Well, it supposes be very good course since View is relatively new product. But again, it depends on your instructor. )


VMware Site Recovery Manager (SRM)
2 Day VMware Site Recovery Course – Learn to install, configure and operate VMware Site Recovery Manager.
(Well, it supposes be very good course. But again, it depends on your instructor. )


VMware Virtual Desktop Manager (VDM)
This 4 day training course covers the installation and management of a VMware Virtual Desktop Infrastructure using VMware Virtual Desktop Manager (VDM)

(Well, it supposes be very good course. But again, it depends on your instructor. If you ran into a book reader just like mine…….)


VI3 Integration Workshop
1 Day Workshop on VMware Infrastructure – Learn how the infrastructure will affect your day-to-day work.
(urr, I don’t know what that is. )


VMware Infrastructure: Design
4 day VMware course that explores the foundations of designing VMware Infrastructure architectures

(Well, it supposes be very good course. But again, it depends on your instructor. )


VMware Capacity Planner
2 day Capacity Planner course aimed at systems engineers offering server consolidation services to their clients using VMware products.

(Well, it supposes be very good course. But again, it depends on your instructor. )


Well. I’m little bit hesitated for me to write this ESXTOP article. The reason for that is there are quite good ESXTOP articles that everyone refers to. I think I just write something simple and useful from my past Experience for the beginners.

Here we go!

Any system need to be monitored properly. For Vmware ESX Hosts, ESXTOP is absolutely best tool.

This tool can monitor basically everything happening in one host box. Including CPU, MEMORY, DISK, NETWORK I/O. ESXTOP can be pre-configured so it will remember your special settings. It also can be exported to csv file which can be used by performance (Windows), Excel or third part tool (like RVTOOLS).

As a Vmware administrator, I used to check out memory and DISK status everyday morning.

TIP:In the default, ESXTOP refreshs every 5 secs, but you can manually refresh it by press spacebar.

1. How to run ESXTOP


It’s easy. You just need to either use SSH tool (like putty) or just use KVM console (or ILO) to get into server and login in as root. Type esxtop in the black command console, here it is.

2. What should we to check out in CPU?

When you get into esxtop, you can press ‘c’ (not ‘C’), you will get cpu interface. To be honest, most ESX host case issue happens in memory , disk, I/O. For me, only thing you need to focus is%RDY part.

If this %RDY is higher than 10, you may have some troubles with wrong vCPU in some VMs.

TIPs: Press ‘f’ to get into Filed order. Press any keys (‘ABCDEfGH),  you can add new filed on the screen.

If you want to save your current configuration, press ‘W’ (not ‘w’) in the main interface (not filed screen), you will get prompt of path where you want save.

3. What should we check for Memory?

Memory is always issue for Vmware admin. I can give you a very simple case. One Engineer is using template to build a new server. After server built, he needs to increase new VM memory from 1 GB to 4GB. So he added memory in the configuration file, done?  No. He forget to change the setting on the Option->Memory. So his vm is still limited to use 1GB memory instead of 4GB. If you check VM itself, it’s fine. System shows 4GB memory, but from VM level, Host is only granting it 1GB physical memory and 3GB balloon memory.

As you know, Ballon memory is kind of slow procedure. So we don’t want that. I found it at second day when I check out memory part.

Press ‘m’ to get into memory. Press ‘f’ to get into field selection window. Press ‘i’ to select MCTL.

Make sure MCTLSZ is 0. If it is not, check out VM is ballooning or not from vClient.

4. What should we check for Disk VM?

Disk VM is view for individual VM I/O activity. Normally, CMDs is the one we care about. It indicates how much Disk Command this VM execute per second. Normall, CMD value is no more than 2000.

CASE: One VM got virus attacked. The VM is writing disk crazily. The value of CMD was 20,000!! It flooded whole SAN box.

DAVG /cmd is latency of disk read or write. It depends on disk you use. For FC disk, should less than 20. For SATA, should be around 200. You can select filed ‘f’ and ‘j’ for latency stats

5. Looking for help?

Just press ‘h’ key at anytime.

6. How to save esxtop result to csv?

login to console

preconfigure your esxtop and save it (use ‘W’)

quit esxtop

run “esxtop -b -d 2 -n 30 > esxtopcapture.csv”

-b stands for batchmode.

-d 2 is a delay for 2 seconds

-n 30 is to get 30 sample (it means 1 minute with 2 sec delay).

7. How to read data?

You can load data with windows performance. But I use esxplot.

Go to http://labs.vmware.com/flings/esxplot and download esxplot.

Install in the Windows. Run esxplot.exe at esxplot\bin folder.

Then, import your data. Once  you import data, don’t forget to double click your host name to expend all details.

If anyone is interested in full long bible, please following these links:

ESX Bible: http://communities.vmware.com/docs/DOC-9279

Great ESX blog: http://www.yellow-bricks.com/esxtop/