VMFS-5 or an upgraded VMFS-3?

25/07/2014

With vSphere 5.0, VMware also introduced a new version of its vSphere Virtual Machine File System, known as VMFS-5. For a complete list of the new features, see the “What’s New in VMware vSphere 5.0 – Storage” whitepaper. Since vSphere 5.5, the maximum supported VMDK size on a VMFS-5 datastore has been increased from 2 TB to 62 TB. More information on this in KB 2058287 “Support for virtual machine disks larger than 2 TB in VMware ESXi 5.5”.

Although vSphere 5.x fully supports predecessor VMFS-3, it’s also possible to upgrade an existing VMFS-3 to VMFS-5. See also this whitepaper “VMware vSphere VMFS-5 Upgrade Considerations
But beware; an upgraded VMFS-5 does not support all of the new features. Most noticeable are:

  • An upgrade VMFS-5 continues to use the previous file-block size, which may be larger than the unified 1MB file-block size. This can lead to stranded/unused disk space when there are lots of small files on the datastore. It is also stated that this can affect the performance of subsequent Storage vMotions.
  • An upgraded VMFS-5 datastore doesn’t have new features like; the new Sub-Block Size, Increased maximum number of files per datastore, no GPT.
  • Also, VMFS-5 upgraded from VMFS-3 continues to have its partition starting on sector 128. Newly created VMFS-5 partitions will have their partition starting at sector 2048.

So, by deploying newly created VMFS-5 and upgraded VMFS-5 datastores, chances are that inconsistencies across your datastores are introduced.
So instead of upgrading existing datastores, another approach is rebuilding datastores (fresh formatted VMFS-5) and relocating your VM’s. Of course this takes some planning and you will need a spare LUN.

One question remains, how to recognize a new or an upgraded VMFS-5 datastore? OK, you can have a look in the vSphere Client or Web Client. If the Block Size is not 1 MB, it is an upgraded one. But now the block Size is 1 MB, can you be sure it is a newly created one?

VMFS-5_upgrade_01

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VDCA550 – Objective 7.2 – Utilize basic workflows using Orchestrator

26/06/2014

vCenter Orchestrator was an objective in the VDCA410 exam that qualified for the VCAP4-DCA certification, disappeared in the VDCA510 exam and returned in the VDCA550 exam

Skills and abilities

  • Configure and manage vCenter Orchestrator
  • Add Orchestrator to vCenter
  • Create basic vCenter management workflows
  • Troubleshoot existing workflows
  • Import/export packages

Tools:

Configure and manage vCenter Orchestrator

First of all, what is vCenter Orchestrator (vCO from now on)? According to the documentation, vCO is a development- and process-automation platform that provides a library of extensible workflows to allow you to create and run automated, configurable processes to manage the VMware vSphere infrastructure as well as other VMware and third-party technologies. The Key word in this definition is the word “process-automation”.

The architecture of vCO

VDCA550-7.2-01Figure 1 – vCO Architecture (Source: VMware)

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VCAP5-DCA exam VDCA550

10/04/2014

This week, VMware released the new VDCA550 exam. This exam also qualifies for the VMware Certified Advanced Professional 5 – Data Center Administration (VCAP5-DCA) Certification.

So, now two exams qualify for this certification, the other being the VDCA510 exam that has been around since July 2012. The difference between those, the oldest exam is based on vSphere 5.0, the latest is based on vSphere 5.5.

With a new exam comes a new Exam Blueprint. Both blueprints can be found here.

Although the Exam Blueprint for the VDCA510 exam is currently on version 2.9, there are no changes in the Objectives since version 1.1.

So what has changed in the Exam Blueprint for the VDCA550 exam?

  • Section 1.2, The number of live lab activities (VDCA550; 23 and VDCA510; 26).
  • Section 1.6, The Time limit has changed (VDCA550; 180 minutes and VDCA510; 210). Both an additional 30 minutes for non-native English speakers.
  • Section 1.12, the environment available during the exam is described in greater detail in the VDCA550 Blueprint. Also, the vSphere 5.5 environment consist of five ESXi 5.5 hosts, two vCenter 5.5 Servers, vCOPS 5.6 Foundation, vCenter Orchestrator 5.5 and vSphere Replication 5.5 appliances plus an Active Directory domain controller and shared storage.
  • Section 1.13 presents an overview of the documentation available during the exam; links to the actual documentation are included in the Blueprint. You won’t find this overview in the VDCA510 Blueprint.
  • Under the Objectives, all “Knowledge sections” have been disappeared in the VDCA550 Blueprint. Although some parts moved to the “Skills and Abilities” section.
  • The VDCA550 Blueprint does not have a separate Troubleshooting section. Some troubleshooting objectives have been moved to other objectives.
  • The VDCA510 Blueprint has a total of 9 sections; the VDCA550 Blueprint has 7 sections.

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vExpert 2014

03/04/2014

On April 1, the vExperts 2014 are announced. Corey Romero, John Troyer, and the VMware Social Media & Community Team have named 754 vExperts. For the second time in a row, I have been selected for my (modest) contribution to the amazing VMware community. I feel proud, honoured and humbled at the same time.

Congratulations to all the other vExperts! Let’s continue and make it an awesome 2014.
The announcement and the complete list of vExperts can be found here.

I would like to thank all of you for making this possible.


The ESXCLI tree

02/03/2014

In a previous post, I presented an overview of the ESXCLI command. This command is part of the vSphere CLI. For an introduction read the post I just mentioned.

The ESXCLI command has a lot of Namespaces and command options. To get some more insight, I created a Mind map. But that was in 2012 and vSphere 5.0 was the actual version. Since then, vSphere 5.1 and 5.5 were released and with that the ESXCLI has undergo a lot of enhancements.

So time for an update. This new version of the ESXCLI Mind map has the following enhancements:

  • The previous version only contained namespaces. In this version, the command options have been added. Namespaces are normal font, command options are in Italic.
  • All vSphere 5.1 additions are coloured in blue.
  • All vSphere 5.5 additions are coloured in red.

esxclitree-01Figure 1 – ESXCLI Namespaces

The Complete picture, so that makes clear why Mind mapping tools are so useful. :-)

esxclitree-02Figure 2 – Complete picture

The Mind map can be downloaded from here. WordPress still does not allow me to upload .mm files. So after downloading the file, change the extension from .doc to .mm.
FreeMind, the free mind mapping tool I use, can be found here.


Resolving MS SQL Remote connection issues II

07/02/2014

In my previous post, I discussed some steps for troubleshooting the connection from a new would be vCenter Server to a remote MS SQL Server. Because MS SQL servers can host multiple database instances, I added a second Named instance “Dynamic” to my SQL Server 2012.

Start the SQL Server Configuration Manager. Go to SQL Server Network Configuration. Now we see our second instance named “Dynamic”. Note that the TCP/IP protocol is (again) enabled by default. Open the properties and switch to the “IP Addresses” tab.

20140207-01Figure 1

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Resolving MS SQL Remote connection issues I

06/02/2014

Setting up a vCenter Server with a remote MS SQL database is a common practice for environments other than very small, proof of concepts or labs. Chances are, you will face some difficulties setting up a remote connection from the new vCenter Server to the MS SQL server. In case the DBA is not around, this post presents a few points to help you setting up a remote connection to the database.

In this example, I installed MS SQL 2012 on a Windows Server 2012 R2.

The first part of the VMware vCenter Server is the Single Sign On (SSO) server. SSO also needs connectivity to the MS SQL Server; unfortunately, SSO comes with its own peculiarities. So my advice is to test the connectivity beforehand, by setting up an ODBC connection to the database. The areas of interest are:

  • Default Instance and Named Instances
  • Ports and Network configuration.
  • Services.
  • Windows firewall.
  • Permissions.

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