Archive for September, 2009

EMC Storage Viewer Plugin for vCenter

September 27, 2009

If you have EMC as your storage platform and VMware vSphere or ESX 3.x as your virtualization platform there is a handy little plug-in from EMC that can help make life a little easier for you.  Afterall when you have to deal with everything from “it won’t print!” and “I just deleted my entire departments file directory, can you restore it?” to “that supervirus.exe attachment seemed like something cool so I just double-clicked it” who couldn’t use a few tools to make things easier right?  I’m talking about the EMC Storage Viewer plug-in. 

In a nutshell, the plug-in gives you greater detail and ease to see which vm’s are tied to which datastores and which LUNs they reside on inside the storage array. There are a couple versions available depending on if you’re running ESX 3.5 or vSphere and best of all they’re free!  They can be downloaded with you’re EMC PowerLink account.  Now for those of you who’ve used PowerLink before, well, lets just say it isn’t the easiest place to find stuff so let me save your searching:   From the HOME page goto Support > Product and Diagnostic Tools > Symmetrix Tools > Symmetrix Tools for VMware. 

Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel here let me just point you Chad Sakac’s blog where he has all the details of the product and even a cool short video to walk you throught the install.  You can view it here:

So if you have EMC Clariion or Symmetrix and VMware check out the Storage Viewer plug-in for vCenter soon.

QLogic CNA’s – The Gen 2’s Are Here

September 20, 2009

For those of you who have made the jump to Cisco Nexus or FCoE you are probably already familiar with what a CNA adapter is and have them installed in your servers.  For those of you not yet familiar with the technology, just think of it as the next generation of HBA that allows you to run Ethernet and FCoE over the same adapter. 

The major players in the market, no surprise, are Emulex and Qlogic just like in the HBA market.  Qlogic recently released the newest Gen2 CNA cards and I expect that Emulex won’t be far behind.  So what are some of the benefits of the new Gen2’s?  Well, here’s a short list:

–          Single-Chip:        The older cards required multiple chip sets to handle the different functions of the card resulting in a full height card which created space issues in some servers.

–          150% Faster FCoE data transfer rates

–          Up to 60+% more efficient from a power stand point

–          Full FCoE hardware offload to increase virtualization performance

–          Compatible with SFP+ copper cables for the Nexus 5000 (much less expensive)

There are some very good promotions available for the dual-port cards until the end of the year so check with your reseller if you are looking to go down the CNA road or if you’re already on it.

Cisco Nexus 1000v and Cisco VN-Link

September 13, 2009

I won’t even pretend to be an expert in the area of Cisco networking but I just wanted to write something short around Cisco VN-Link and the Cisco 1000v (don’t expect technical here).  Most of you are probably aware of the new Cisco 1000v virtual switch that is basically a plug-in to VMware vSphere but are probably less familiar with or haven’t heard of VN-Link in any detail.  So what are the differences between the two?

It is beneficial to think of VN Link and the 1000v as two types of virtual switching solutions from Cisco.  The 1000v is a software based distributed switch integrated into the VMware vSphere hypervisor.  So when vm A wants to talk to vm B (or C or D……)  the traffic really never has to leave the hypervisor and is handled within this distributed virtual switch.  So what about traffic leaving the hypervisor for the outside world (physical servers, non-vmware vm’s, etc.)? For traffic going outside the virtual world to the network Cisco tags its traffic with a VN Tag to ID which vNIC it came from.  VN-Link is similar in some ways to the 1000v but it does it’s work at a hardware level (Nexus 5000) and uses this VNTag to do so.

The 1000v is specific to VMware but VN-Link can be used by other hypervisor vendors like Microsoft Hyper-V, Citrix Xen Server, Henry’s Hillbilly Hypervisor or whatever else pops up down the road.  These vendors can then develop their own distributed switch solutions using this technology.  Now I know I missed a truck load of info and probably made some errors in my over simplification here but hey, I told you I was still somewhat Cisco stupid at this point.  If you want more detailed info on the subject straight from the horse’s mouth, check out:

Here’s a VERY rough whiteboard that a trainer shared with me last week that shows the differences in traffic flow between the two solutions.


Microsoft Hyper-V R2, not ready?

September 8, 2009,289142,sid94_gci1366981,00.html?track=NL-654&ad=722981&asrc=EM_NLN_9135324&uid=8451108

An interesting article,  of course you have to keep in mind that this presentation was given at VMworld last week.  The presentation was given by the Burton Group ( ).

VMworld Day 3 and Day 4

September 6, 2009

VMworld – Day 3

Another day of sessions.  The frist round of the day started with a presentation on the new Data Recovery feature in vSphere.  For those of you not familiar with this, it is a backup solution built right in to the vSphere product.  It is really designed more for the SMB space and not for environments with hundreds of vm’s.  Our engineers had some issues with the first few configurations of this feature but I think the bugs have been worked out and it is a good backup solution for smaller shops.

Next up was a presentation on deploying the Cisco 1000v.  To say the least the session was packed but unfortunately the presenter was, well, pretty dry and boring.  All that aside the session was pretty good.  Not a lot of new news for me but some decent info on the architecture and capabilities.

The last session for the day was Re-architecting Backup and Recovery for Virtual Environments.  It was given by a guy from The Burton Group.  I was amazed at how many people showed up for this session.  As the presenter put it, “this stuff is boring, I assume you are all here because backup sucks and you want to know how to fix it.”  He was right.  Overall it was a really good session.  Lots of discussion around things to look out for and all the various options and solutions available for vm backups.

After the sessions were done it was party time.  This year VMware hired Foreigner as the band.  Awesome concert, amazingly they sounded as good as they did 20+ years ago.  Oh yeah, did I mention all the free food and beer you could handle …… always a plus in my book!

VMworld – Day 4

Final day here at VMworld.  Nothing to earth shattering to report.  Hit a few of the vendor booths in the morning.  Talked to the guys from Atlantis Computing and saw a quick demo of their ILIO product.  Hit a technical session on VMware Fault Tolerance which was pretty good.  After that I had two separate sessions on running tier 1 databases (SQL and Oracle) on vSphere.   Finally I hit a session on SRM architecture and road map ahead.  There are a bunch of tweaks scheduled for the next release (support for vSphere, roll-back, improved storage visibility

So there you have it.  Now all I have to do is get up at 3am and head to the airport for my way too early of a flight back to Raleigh.

VMworld 2009 – DAY2

September 2, 2009

Busy day yesterday so I didn’t get a chance to post this earlier.  I also managed to loose all my notes so I’ll try to go from memory and try not to hurt myself in the process.

The first session yesterday was Tips and Tricks for Configuring VMware View Composer.  It was a pretty good deep dive on the things to watch out for when configuring persistent and non-persistent pools.  There was also a good bit of discussion around the various maximums View can handle.

The second session was all about the new PCoIP protocol.  This was really cool stuff.  The short of it is that PCoIP will really enable VMware to compete, especially against Citrix ICA, on both LAN and WAN performance. PCoIP will work as both software or in conjuction with Teredici hardware solutions.  WYSE is releasing a PCoIP thin client that uses the Teredici hardware solution.  I saw this at their booth and it is impressive.  Now pretty much any PC workload can run virtualized even CAD apps and other graphics intensive applications.  At the end of the presentation the presenter said ” and by the way I ran this entire presentation from a View desktop (hosted on the east coast)”.  You really couldn’t tell the difference.

The third session of the day was all about the Cisco, EMC, VMware relationship and the vision of what datacenters going forward will look like and how the 3 companies have been working together toward the same goal.  There was discussion around how everything works together with the new features in vSphere.  There was a short demo of EMC Ionix that was really cool and some good general info on Cisco UCS.

The final session for the day was all about designing VMware View for the Enterprise.  This was really good.  We walked through just about every consideration from the ESX cluster configuration to the configuration of pools and parent images.  I had about 4 pages of notes by the end so to say the least I’m slightly pissed I lost them.  Hopefully I’ll find them today.

After that it was off to the EMC Partner party at a local night club (yeah this had something to do with me loosing my notes!).  Got to meet a few EMC techical guys from Europe amoung others.  EMC definitly has the whole entertainment thing down pat.