Author Archives: Seb

Upgrading vSphere from Nutanix Prism

Nutanix customers love the fact we give them their weekends back by having 1-click upgrades for the Acropolis operating system, BIOS, BMC, Firmware and the Hypervisor. When speaking to some customers still go through a multi-step process to include:

Download Updates in VUM
Create a new baseline
Attach Hosts to baseline and scan hosts to validate
Place DRS to manual and evacuate guests from the host
Issue shutdown command to CVM
Place host into maintenance mode
Proceed with remediation wizard
Complete upgrade
Reboot host
Power on CVM
Validate RF in Prism and move on

Yes, a couple of these steps are added compared to non-Nutanix environments, however there are still a number of steps that need to be completed.

With Prism, as long as the cluster is managed with vCenter, we are able to manage the entire process for you, by simply opening the upgrade tab, uploading the offline upgrade package with the json file from the Nutanix support portal and off you go! It’s as simple as that, and here’s another video to show the process.

Expanding a Nutanix Cluster

Number two in the video series……

One of the major appeals of Nutanix is pay as you grow economics. Start small and grow large, no forklift upgrades and having to forecast what your growth will be over the next ‘N’ years. Once you have your initial three node cluster, you can expand out your cluster at any time simply and non disruptively via Prism, you can even mix model types too to run different workloads in the same cluster. 

As you will have seen from the last video (if you haven’t it can be found here), foundation is now CVM based, therefore you can image nodes at the same time you expand out a cluster. Foundation will look at the baseline of the cluster (AOS version ‘X’ and Hypervisor version ‘Y’) and allow you to image a factory configured node to the same settings as your cluster and immediately add the capacity (storage and compute) to that cluster. This is the same regardless of adding a node or a block….

Here’s a video (sped up again) to show the process:

Building a Nutanix cluster

I’ve been at Nutanix for 30 months now, and what a journey it has been. The software has many new features, some of which I would have never thought would be possible, H/W models to serve every application requirement and multiple H/W vendors with Supermicro, Dell, Lenovo, Cisco and now HPE and even multiple hypervisor options with our own AHV, VMware vSphere, Microsoft Hyper-V and Citrix XenServer. 

Having such diversity, you need a strong story around installation and configuration. Going back to when I joined, I think it’s fair to say the automated installation process was still in it’s infancy, but today with CVM based foundation it’s a breeze and you can have multi-node clusters up and running guest VMs within an hour from the box, ever quicker if you choose AHV for the full native experience. 

Whilst Nutanix documentation is solid, I was asked by a customer for a video guide to help them with internal training. Therefore I’m starting a simple video series, starting with the cluster build process. I posted here:

The video is making use of the java applet for build, and is installing a VMware vSphere cluster. There is no narration, just a simple run-through. Yes, it has been sped up in parts, else it would be a little boring.

Stay posted for the rest of the series.

 

 

 

Home Lab Refresh

I’ve had my old lab a while now which consists of the following:

2 x Mac Mini w/16GB RAM and 256GB SSD upgrades

1 x Cisco SG300 24 port GB switch

1 x Synology DS412+ w/ 2 x 256GB Samsung Pro SSD and 2 x 2TB WD RED HDD

I also have an iMac with Core i7, 32GB RAM and 1TB fusion drive which allows me to spin up some workloads to ease congestion on the Mac Mini’s. 

This has served me well, however, the 16GB RAM in the Mac Minis was really a limitation, especially when I wanted to spin up and down different vApps consisting of a number of items which could easily consume the combined 32GB RAM available.

Luckily, there are a number of people in the community who had done the hard work for me in testing and blogging about various methods which meant I could be lazy and simply look for the feedback of others. The stand out two sites I looked at were that of  Frank Denneman and Fred Hoffer.

I had a few requirements that I needed to meet which were:

R01: Be quiet, be very quiet

R02: Have IPMI/WoL capability (IPMI preferred)

R03: Be able to spin up vApps containing multiple VMs (i.e., A Horizon View environment), without delay from resource constraints 

After some design workshops in my head, and avoiding talking to the CFO (in this case my wife to be) I decided I would keep a single Mac Mini as a management server (running ESXi 5.5) and I would host the vCenter appliance, a DC and a jump box which I can connect from remotely, all installed on a local 1TB SATA drive. The Mac Mini is silent and has very little power draw so I don’t mind leaving it powered on 24/7.

I already have a NAS which is more than adequate for the my needs and allows me to use the WoL function so I can power on remotely only when needed, and the switch I have, whilst is not 10GB but in reality id much more than I need.

Due to the expense of the system I went for I have only purchased one to start with, but plan on adding a second further down the line, for now though, this should keep me busy.

So, the all important kit list: (I’ll link to the manufacturer site for parts) I was lucky enough to be in the US twice already this year, so I got some parts over there! (Note: This setup may look familiar if you’ve read the above blogs)

Case: Fractal Design R4 

Motherborad: SuperMicro X9SRH-7TF

CPU: Intel Xeon E52620V2???

CPU Cooler: Noctura NH-U9DXi4

Power Supply: Corsair RM550

SSD: Samsung 840 Pro 256GB (x2)

This platform rocks and is almost silent. I’m going to upgrade to vSphere 6 shortly so will have a further post about the configuration at a later date. Thanks to the vExpert programme for giving me the ability to licence my lab!

Hyper-V Terminology in VMware speak

 

I’ve never had much to do with Hyper-V and my knowledge of it is nowhere near as strong as VMware, however since joining Nutanix I find the topic comes up more and more in conversations with clients. It’s great that Nutanix is hypervisor agnostic and supports multiple platforms, but this means I need to get up to speed with the Hyper-V lingo!

I’ve come up with the below table that I can use as my mini translator, so when in conversation I have a quick reference point.

VMware vSphere Microsoft Hyper-V
Service Console Parent Partition
VMDK VHD
VMware HA Failover Clustering
VMotion Live Migration
Primary Node Co-Ordinator Node
VMFS Clustered Shared Volume
VM Affinity VM Affinity
Raw Device Mapping (RDM) Pass Through Disks
Distributed Power Management (DPM) Core Parking
VI Client Hyper-V Manager
vCenter SCVMM
Thin Provisioning Dynamic Disk
VM SCSI VM IDE Boot
VMware Tools Integration Components
Standard/Distributed Switch Virtual Switch
DRS PRO/DO – Performance and Resource Optimsation/Dynamic Optimisation
Web Access Self Service Portal
Storage VMotion Quick Storage Migration
Full Clones Clones
Snapshot Checkpoint
Update Manager VMST – Virtual Machine Servicing Tool

Disable vSphere SSO – Reg Hack

DISCLAIMER: This ‘hack’ is UNSUPPORTED and should never be used in a Production Environment – for home labs though may  be useful!

Whilst experiencing an issue with a corrupt SSO installation in vSphere 5.5, I discovered a reg hack that allowed me to continue to login to a vSphere environment with domain credentials until I could resolve the existing issue with SSO. This is a simple change and involves editing the vpxd.cfg file.

  • On the vCenter server navigate to vlxd.cfg file
    • For Windows 2003: C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\VMware\VMware VirtualCenter\vpxd.cfg
    • For Windows 2008: C:\ProgramData\VMware\\VMware VirtualCenter\vpxd.cfg
    • For the Appliance: /etc/vmware-vpx/
  • Open vpxd.cfg in a text editor
  • Search for the following:

NewImage

  • Change ‘true’ to ‘false’ between the highlighted tags

NewImage

  • Restart the vCenter server

“The Times They are a Changin”

No, I’ve not gone crazy and plan on writing a blog on Bob Dylan, this post is still a tech focussed one.

After leaving university in 2003, I found my first job working for a mortgage company working in a team supporting the mortgage application software. After a few months, I managed to get promoted/transferred into the Server Support team. I was lucky in a sense to skip the usual progression of Helpdesk to Desktop Support to Server Support, but I grabbed this opportunity with both hands and started learning about Microsoft Server OS’s (primarily 2000 and some 2003 at the time if you are wondering), AD, Exchange, Citrix PS4, Firewalls, switches and a little known software product called VMware ESX 2.5. I’d like to say I was one of the early users of ESX 2.5, but I’d be exaggerating the truth, in fact I remember the more senior members of the team evaluating the software and discussing benefits, of which I had a little understanding of at the time. This was my first introduction into virtualisation.

The company was eventually bought out by Lehman Brothers, and rather than make the ‘Big Move to the City’ I took voluntary redundancy (a huge payday for me in those days) and spent a month having fun in Las Vegas, Amsterdam and Barcelona, before starting work the following month for a local reseller who were a big HP shop, Microsoft Gold Partner and VMware VAC (Authorised Consulting Partner). I started life here on the HelpDesk, which wasn’t a backward step as you may think, as it was providing 3rd line support for the reseller contractual customers, which involved support and administration of a wide variety of platforms including VMware. From here and over 5 years I progressed to a Technical Specialist focussed on Virtualisation and Shared Storage technologies (primarily VMware and Dell EqualLogic). I spent many hours speaking to customers about the benefits of virtualisation and countless hours in front of VMware Convertor progress bars. During this time, I started to understand really grasp the benefits virtualisation brings to the business world and evangelised the technology to many first timers. And at that time there were many.

As my knowledge and belief in virtualisation grew, I decided I wanted to move on to bigger and better projects at an enterprise level and start looking at other benefits aside from server virtualisation, such as private/public cloud, VDI and automation. Almost three years ago, I joined the consulting team at Xtravirt and was thrown straight into a 4K seat VDI deployment spanning EMEA. The past three years have seen me involved in some large VDI deployments as well as some big deployments with the vCloud stack.

It’s been an interesting journey to see how the term ‘Software-Defined’ is now more the focus extending virtualisation concepts across the technology stacks, not just compute. Vendors are now concentrating on making the entire datacenter Software-defined to make IT available as a service.

So, if you’re still reading this (which I hope you are), the reason for me writing the article is to announce that I’ll be leaving Xtravirt and joining Nutanix as a Systems Engineer on 21st October 2014. I’ve had the pleasure of working on a large scale VDI deployment over the last 7 months hosted on a Nutanix platform, the web-scale architecture and SDS (software-defined storage) approach Nutanix bring to the market genuinely excites me. This is a change of role for me moving into a product focussed pre-sales role, but when you truly believe in something, it makes the decision a much easier one.

My blog will still remain heavily focussed on the VMware side of things, however as I start to learn about Microsoft Hyper-V and KVM you may see some of that sneaking in too!

I’d like to thank Xtravirt for the past three years, and look forward to the future with Nutanix!

 

VMworld EMEA | See you there?

no limits

With just two weeks to go, VMworld EMEA is fast approaching and I’m lucky enough to be one of the handful of the Xtravirt team to be in attendance. Xtravirt are sending a large group across to Barcelona, not only to liaise with our partners and attend sessions for personal development, but also to network. This will be my fourth VMworld (all EMEA based) and I can honestly say these events are not only fantastic for content (both technical and business) but also networking. I’ve lost count of the number of people I’ve met, and stayed in contact with, be it at VMUGs/LinkedIn/Twitter over the years.

I’m not going to be posting a list of the sessions I plan to attend as this is likely to change, however you can be certain to find me in the bloggers/hang space area at some point most days, so be sure to come and say hello! Also, I’ll be sure to be watching a number of the vBrownBag sessions as these guys never fail to provide awesome community content.

There are a number of vendors in the Solutions Exchange I’ll be stopping at to say hello, they are:

Nutanix

pernixdata

VMUG

VMware (for EVO:Rail)

VMware (for vCloud Air)

Pure Storage

SimpliVity

Cloud Physics

As I’ve already mentioned, there will be a number of the Xtravirt team in attendance, so If you want to speak to any of us about the services Xtravirt offer, or just want a chat, be sure to come and say hello, alternatively, if you would like to arrange an official meeting please click here.

xtra

 

#SWUKVMUG | VDI Made Easy with Nutanix

Last week, I was asked to present at the South West UK VMUG, alongside Nutanix to present a real world deployment story. I talked at a high level about how using Nutanix in a 6K seat VDI deployment, not only made my life easier as one of the the architects on the solution, but how it also helped my client meet their requirements easily.

I’ve linked to my slides below, for those who are interested.

Big thanks to Michael Poore, Simon Eady, Barry Coombs and Jeremy Bowman for the invite to come and speak, also big thanks to Nutanix for allowing me to take half of their presentation time!

If you would like to view the presentation, then you can download it by clicking the link

 

Hey 10Zig – You Guys Rock!

This all started back in November of last year, when I wrote the post Calling all Thin Client Vendors. If you haven’t read the post I’m basically calling out vendors to lend me some kit with PCoIP compatibility for some testing I want to do at home in my own time and at my own pace. Cheeky I know, but hey, sometimes if you don’t ask you don’t get. Luckily for me, the ‘first’ lady of the virtualisation world (Jane Rimmer – if you hadn’t of guessed already!) read my post and got the attention of the guys over at 10Zig.

After some good conversations with James Broughton and Tom Dodds I re-iterated the point to them this was for personal use only, it wasn’t linked to a client and I doubted they would get any sales from this, they were still happy to work with me and lend me some units – how cool is that?

Not long after conversations were flowing, I got a completion date to move into my first ‘owned’ house, I lined up a couple of VCAP exams, then got engaged and was then placed on a long term fast paced project, I just didn’t see me having the time to carry out any of the testing I had planned, so I reluctantly told the guys to keep hold of the units they had planned to lend me.

A few weeks ago, Tom got back in touch to see if I were in a position to look at the units again – this time I was. Within a few days I had a large package arrive and was amazed to see the contents!10Zig GoodnessThey have sent me two (yes two!) V1200 series zero clients, the dual screen V1200-P TERA2 (Click here for info) and the quad screen V1200-QP TERA2 (Click here for info).

Also, and unexpectedly they also threw in a 5118v thin client (Click here for info) with Windows 8 Embedded to allow me to compare Thin vs Zero devices.

To top it all off, they have also arranged for me to have direct contact with their support team and a WebEx session to introduce me to the tech and get me on my way!

I’d better spin up my lab and make sure VMware View is ready to get put through its paces with these devices!

Stay tuned for some further posts on the performance of these units.

Finally Jane, thanks for putting me in contact with these guys! Tom, James thanks again for the generosity.