Tag Archives: ESX/ESXi

VMware Event – London – 8th Oct – Not to be missed

If you are in London on the 8th October 2010 then you could be in for a treat, VMware are arranging a fantastic event, well worth the visit and best of all its free !

The event is called: Managing vSphere in large environments using APIs and PowerCLI

There are limited spaces available so act now or you will miss out, some of the most fantastic minds of VMware will be gracing London with their presence before heading out to VMworld Copenhagen.

Think of this as a taster of the kind of things you can expect from Technology Exchange, the contents are listed below, I would recommend this to any VMware admins who are managing large implementations of vCenter, there will be some great detail in these sessions.

If you would like to attend please send an email to PowerCLIEvent@virtu-al.net with your name and company, this will strictly be on a first come first serve basis as there are limited numbers.

If the API’s are not for you then make sure you read the last session before dismissing this day !

The Agenda of the day is as follows:

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VMware View 4.5 – More PowerShell Cmdlets

Its probably not news to you that VMware have now released View 4.5, just one of the many cool announcements made at VMworld 2010 – San Francisco.

Did you know however that View now has some PowerShell cmdlets ? – Yeah that’s right.

The Good

I think its great that VMware are putting so much time and effort into PowerShell and giving windows admins a great tool to manage their VMware infrastructure with, one thing I always tell anyone who will listen is that PowerShell is “the glue” that sits in between your applications to enable a common programmatic interface allowing you to glue all these applications together to give you the end results you need, whether it be deploying a VM and then installing Windows and then installing Exchange and then following on to add the mailboxes and patch the server and even send you an email at the end to say its done or simply just adding an “A host” record to a DNS server for a VMHost after installing ESX and patching the host using the Update manager cmdlets.

The possibilities are endless, well as endless as your imagination !

So yes, the point here is that its a great thing that VMware continue to add PowerShell enablement to their apps giving us the freedom to automate them.

With View 4.5 we are given 45 cmdlets to manage our View environment, these are listed below: Continue reading

vCheck v5

That’s right, its finally here, vCheck v5 has arrived !

If you have been using previous versions of this report then its time to update, I have added lots of cool new features and checks which make this report (even if I do say so) awesome !

Some of the highlighted features of v5 are:


Each section now has comments telling you why I think it may be an issue, there are often links to blog posts and useful information for further reading, an example is below:


Obviously for the experts among you these comments can easily be removed in the script by changing the $comments = $true to $false

Automatic searching for log warnings

There is now a handy link to both the VMware KB site and Google which will automatically search for the errors found on these sites, no longer do you have a reason for not investigating those errors !


Multiple new checks

There are so many new checks that I have now created a dedicated page on my site for this script which lists some basic information, this will of course change over time as more detail is needed and I hope to shoot some video soon showing how to change some of the key areas.

To access the page click the “Featured Scripts” area above and select “vCheck (Daily Report)” or click here.



I have been bugging various people to help me with this script, whether it be for information or html help, thanks to everyone who helped me out and also to the beta testers.

To mention a few of the people specifically, thanks goes to:

Raphael Schitz – As always he has contributed some great checks for v5 and thought of areas I would never have.  Amazing job my friend.

Duncan Epping – I have bothered him more than once for clarification on the way things work, cheers mate.

Andy Grant – He did a great job helping me tidy up my HTML and add new areas.

The beta testers – you know who you are !

Sorry if I missed anyone !

Dell ESXi Management

Unlike the traditional ESX software, the ESXi software does not have a service console. It helps reduce the installation footprint of the software and can allow the hypervisor to be directly installed on the system’s internal flash storage or a USB key.

At the moment I am investigating moving to ESXi from ESX, after resolving the DSET issue I was then faced with the management of the ESXi hosts, currently the full fat ESX hosts have the Dell open management agent installed on them and SNMP configured, this allows the Dell management server to keep track of the underlying hardware and report any hardware issues or firmware updates.

But what happens with ESXi 4.0 and the removal of the service console ?

Earlier with ESXi 3.5, OpenManage component were integrated with the downloadable Dell ESX3i ISO image
but from ESXi 4.0 onwards, VMware introduced a new concept called vSphere Installation Bundle (VIB), this allows the end users to download VIB files and install it directly into ESXi 4.0. Dell are now posting their OpenManage component as a VIB on support.dell.com.

To help reduce the system footprint and to simplify deployment, the ESXi software does not have a traditional service console management interface where Dell OpenManage agents are installed. Instead, to provide the required hardware manageability, VMware has incorporated the standard Common Information Model (CIM) management profiles into the ESXi software.

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Getting started with the Update Manager Cmdlets

Last night I needed to update some of my hosts with the latest patches that have been released recently, this gave me the ideal opportunity to look at the recently released VMware Update Manager cmdlets for PowerCLI.

For a full list of cmdlets or to download click here.

Whilst upgrading one of my hosts I shot a short video which will take you through some of the basics like:

  • Adding a baseline to a host
  • Scanning the host
  • Listing the patches which will be applied
  • Remediating a host

When watching the video don’t think about how you can do this to a single host, keep in mind that this could be run against multiple hosts or added to the end of a configuration script to ensure your hosts are up to date with the latest security patches after being deployed. Continue reading

Another reason to upgrade to ESXi

The reasons why not to upgrade to ESXi are getting less and less recently, I think I knocked the automated configuration on the head at the London VMUG with my recent presentation which can be seen here.

With the improved vSphere API’s and using PowerCLI we are slowly able to replace most of the things which used to be performed at the service console, a few of these can be read about here.

But what happens when PowerCLI can not help ?

At a recent engagement with a customer we pretty much got rid of all reasons why we couldn’t move to ESXi apart from one.

Being based on Dell hardware the customer needed to be able to send a detailed report on what the issue was with the physical host, the Dell readers amongst you will be familiar with a Dell System Extraction Tool (DSET), this is a utility which is run on the host (through the service console) which looks at the logs, the Dell management agents and the system to create a packaged hta file which can be sent to Dell, in our case the customer often found it very hard to get hardware components replaced unless a DSET was sent, if not impossible.

The obvious part of this statement was the fact that it ran in the service console, when checking the Dell documentation it was clearly stated that the DSET application was not supported in ESXi:


So when reading the above statement “The server can be rebooted to a supported Linux environment to use DSET” gave me an idea: Live-CD.

After searching for a while I managed to find a nice repository of Dell Live boot CD’s with various different versions of the Dell Open Manage Client already pre-installed, just booting from this CD not only enabled the web interface which you can normally view by accessing the https://<ip address>:1311 url but also allowed me to design a support mechanism where we could boot to a supported operating system via the live boot CD and copy the DSET app over to the box which runs and produces our hardware report for us.

This might sound simple but believe me, it was nearly a show stopper when moving to ESXi, I hope this post helps others in the same predicament this customer was in.

Virtualising XenApp – What’s the magic number ?

In the past I have virtualised a number of different applications and types of servers, among these have been several Citrix WinFrame/MetaFrame/Presentation Server or as it is currently known XenApp Servers.

Recently I have been asked about this on a number of occasions and the question is always the same:

How many users can you get on a Virtualised XenApp Server ?

That’s like saying how long is a piece of string ! – The answer to this question is the same to most IT related questions I get asked…. It depends !

To be able to give this subject the full attention that is needed I plan on creating a series of blog posts which will enable us to discuss the different configuration types and I will hopefully aid you in working out what your magic number is, how many users you can get on a virtual XenApp server.

The series of blog posts will probably change as I start to delve into the different subjects but all will eventually link from this post.

Why Virtualise XenApp ?
Design Factors
•    Sizing
•    Citrix Desktops
•    Seamless Applications
•    Redundancy
•    Licensing
•    Cost Cutting
•    Strategy
•    Applications
•    Tweaking
•    Templates
•    Deployment
Upgrade strategy

Hopefully this will help with some of the questions I have received recently, if there is anything missing which you would also like me to include then please do let me know via the comments of this post !

If you are also into podcasts then make sure you listen to the recent discussion I had with the Chinwagger himself – Mike Laverick, this can be found on his blog here.

PowerCLI: Configured Maximums – Storage

With vSphere introduced some new maximum’s which we not only have to memorise for the exams but also have to keep in mind when designing and using your infrastructure.

In the back of your mind when adding a new host to a cluster you should always be thinking, how many hosts should be in this cluster ? or when adding another LUN to your clustered hosts, how many datastores should I have as a maximum before it starts impacting my performance and how many paths are supported ?

The answer to these questions (in my case anyway) is to use PowerCLI to check them 🙂

I will of course add these to the next version of vCheck so they are automatically checked for but in the meantime here are some quick one-liners to check your infrastructure against the configured maximums for storage, I will add more as I write them:

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ESX4 U1 & the Intel 82576 Gigabit Network Adapter

Previously when installing ESX it has picked up all devices and automatically installed everything needed to use the server as an ESX host, recently whilst installing a new Dell R710 (a great review of the server can be found on the techhead.co.uk site here) I came across an issue where the additional Network Adapter in the PCI slot was not found by ESX.

The R710 has 4 internal adapters which were found as below:


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Boot from Paravirtualized SCSI Adapter

From vSphere U1, VMware now support booting from a Paravirtualized SCSI adapter, why would you want to do this ?  Well why not, check out the VMware  Performance Blog where VMware have tested this adapter and shared their results.

VMware were able to achieve 350,000 I/O operations per second on a single vSphere host (ESX 4.0) and 3 virtual machines.  From their findings the VMware Paravirtual SCSI (PVSCSI) adapter was able to achieve 12% more throughput with 18% less CPU cost compared to the LSI virtual adapter… Now you see why we should use it !

So in trying to test this the first thing I did was move one of my current virtual machines onto the adapter by clicking “edit settings” go to “SCSI controller 0” and click the change type button, from there you can select “VMware Paravirtual”. Continue reading