Saturday, February 25, 2012

vSphere 5: Design Considerations

Decide to start a new chain of post on articles and reference done by various expert that I refer to and read about which might be good to take note of.

I will be updating this post as often as possible and updating the date so it will be the first post whenever I update it.

For those who are into know more on planning for DRS and Availability I would strongly encourage that you read about the VMware vSphere 5 Clustering technical deepdive.

Storage DRS
Have datastore clean formatted as VMFS 5 datastores.  This does not just helps but it will also put the load when perform any storage activities like Storage DRS, Storage vMotion to the storage subsystem if VAAI is supported.  Having upgrade the datastore from VMFS 3, would still result in sub-block sizes especially if there are not formatted using 1MB blocksize which is standardize in vSphere 5.  In such, the lod legacy datamover (FSDM) will be use which slow down such activities and making benefits from Storage DRS not as cost effective.

During implementation, many would leave the evaluation license for the next 60 days for ease of deployment especially for customer who have yet to purchase the license or when the license is not Enterprise Plus and setting up multiple ESXi servers may be a pain if its all using standard switches with no host profile feature to use.

Storage DRS with Storage Auto Tiering
This question has been often been asked whether to use Storage DRS with Storage Auto Tiering.  The answer is here and Frank Denneman has a post describing this.  But do not to turn off I/O Monitoring for Storage DRS since in short it handled on the storage and only space utilization is used for Storage DRS.

HA working with DRS and SDRS
This post by Frank Denneman is a good read to consider how HA will perform with DRS and SDRS applying with the affinity rules.

We often do that.  However we have to pay attention to the features used and will not be available especially when using a feature.  E.g. vDS used by customer on Enterprise or lower edition license.  Using DRS affinity or anti-infinity rules where customer is on Standard edition license.

A good note was pointed out by Gabe's, I thought it will be a good read. 
vCenter DRS rules bug when downgrading license

Thanks to Gabe's on this DRS setting.  You never know what you have set when customer did a last minute change of license and you forgot to remove this.

Storage DRS
As know vSphere5 introduced Storage DRS and in such there is a need to consider the need to have it enabled in your design and also if default affinity rule to be enabled to keep VM with more than one virtual disks to be place together or across datastores.

Frank Denneman explains storage DRS in this post very well and its good to understand it to decide the impact on your design.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

VCAP5 DCD Beta Experience

I must stress this blog of mine is on a personal account and has no relationship with any company or affiliation that I am associated with.  Participates of beta includes partners to users.

Did my VCAP5 DCD Beta today.  Went at 2:30PM seated throughout for over 4 hours.

I would say it almost similar as VCAP4 DCD however more tougher.  More on BCDR and also more design questions.

Since the exam is still in beta, there definitely would be improvement before GA that is what the beta is exam is for to gather feedback.

1.  Some of the questions in English used were rather ambiguous.  Some of us did have some problem understanding it and you might just misunderstood it.  That happens in most IT exams I would say even Microsoft ones.

2.  On the drag and drop drawing diagram questions, I encounter one question which I have to do it 4 times.  Reason was because every time I clicked next and after which click back the whole design I did was cleared.  I did that 3 times and on the fourth time, I decided to do bit by bit and clicking Next and Back again to make sure it is saved.  Beta so I have feedback on this.

3.  Some of the drag and drop questions text were not shown complete.  The text were longer than the boxes but fairly reading the few words you would know what it mean though.  Unless you did not study for it.

4.  In some of the drag and drop questions, you are suppose to drag the correct answers to the variable.  The answers are listed and you have to drag the numbers and place the numbers on the variable.

As this is a beta, more improvement would need to be done before it goes GA.  Providing all the comments to the questions would help improvement been made before GA.

Overall its a good experience comparing to DCD 4.

Any candidate thinking to take this exam have to make sure you do study the blueprint thoroughly and making sure you understand what the material means.  Design and implementation experience is crucial.  Design questions are out to test your ability to do a design.

Update 1:
I have asked a friend who have taken it on 20th Feb, it seems that he didn't encounter any problem.  However he find the English need to be improved.

Update 2:
Apparently everyone who took the beta who I spoken with has the score sheet printed with the unanswered questions even though they complete the exam.

The questions that was not saved by the system would be printed on your score sheet.  In this case, the questions that were not saved by the system that I have done are shown even though I completed all and it seems also there are all the visio drawing questions.

Update 3:
Receive results of the beta exam and I didn't make it for it.  Now is waiting for the transcript to see what I did not do well in.  Apparently I realize those who made it did 2 things: did not review the question, 2. Never click back.  Just as expected in the beta these two actions is not stable.  Hopefully this will be corrected at GA.

Update 3:
Managed to clear the VCAP5-DCD.  Apparently I sense the marking methods are slightly different from VCAP4-DCD in such, it makes it harder to score.  I have saw many commented that its almost the same for both exams but they did a lower score for it.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Understanding vCenter 5 Editions

Have met some customer who are tight on budget and is on Essentials or Essentials Plus.

There are some confusion with the packaging of the vCenter editions and I would like to clarify some of this with some of the links around VMware sites for easy understanding.

Essentials or Essentials Plus are bundled with vCenter Essentials while vSphere Standard, Enterprise and Enterprise Plus is often quote with vCenter Standard.

So what does this mean?  With the different vCenter Edition, there are some hard limitations.  If you refer to my vRAM entitlement post here, I have mentioned that there is a hard 192GB vRAM entitlement and limit to 3 hosts to one vCenter for Essentials and Essentials Plus.  vCenter Essentials bundled ONLY in vSphere Essentials or vSphere Essentials Plus kit is limited to manage hosts up to 6 CPUs or 3 hosts whichever comes first.  This is due to the limitations from this vCenter edition.

Also with vCenter Essentials, there is no linked mode and this is found in the vSphere 5 Documentation Center here.  When planning a design, you need to know the limitations and the requirements before recommending the correct vCenter and vSphere Edition.

As for the features comparison of all the Editions of vSphere 5 from Essentials to Enterprise Plus, this is located in this KB.

Having summarize the above, customers who are on Essentials or Essentials Plus and like to have features like linked mode found in vCenter Standard, there is a feature limitation controlled in vCenter Essential.  There is also vCenter Foundation edition which just limit to 3 hosts management.

vCenter Standard or vCenter Foundation cannot be purchased by users under vSphere Essentials and Essentials Plus licensing based on End User Licensing Agreement (EULA).  The solution is to upgrade towards vSphere Standard or above with acceleration kits.

However there is a SKU for vSphere Essentials or vSphere Esential Plus for ROBO which allows vSphere Essentials/Essentials Plus to be managed by one vCenter Standard or Foundation.  However do note of the limitation from vSphere Essentials and vSphere Essentials Plus still exist even with vCenter Standard or Foundation.  Details can be found here.  There is also a blog post on the most updated vSphere 5.5 for ROBO.

There is also another edition known as vCenter Desktop.  However this is not available for purchased.  It is automatic included in all VMware Horizon bundles.

Update 1:
There is also vCenter Foundation edition.  This is mainly for customer who like to make manage up to 3 hosts of vSphere Standard and above.  Unlike vCenter Essentials there is no 6 CPU limitation.

Update 14th May 2013
vRAM entitlement has been removed and updated with vSphere Essentials/Essentials Plus ROBO and update for various editions of vCenter.

Update 14th Mar 2014
Update information link for vSphere Essentials/Essentials Plus for ROBO.

Update 3rd Jul 2014
Added vSphere 5.5. for ROBO.

Update 12th Oct 2014
Explain vCenter Desktop.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

SRM 4.x: Installation Error

A customer got to me on the following during their installation.  They were trying to configure SRM 4.x to their storage and encounter the below error:

Before starting the implementation of SRM, it is always recommended to check out the storage matrix of the management software, firmware and the adapter version required.  This can be done so from here.

Some Site Recovery Adapters require a specific version of Java to be installed.  There is a KB on the requirement of JRE which have been stated.  So make sure Java is installed on the SRM server.  Check with the Storage vendor on the required Java version for this case.  They might be dependency for different version of management software used.

Some Array vendors do not include the path to the perl binary.  To resolved this issue, you can point the path to SRM installation path from this KB.

A collection of common issues you can refer to from the VMware Communities post.

As for those users using EMC Clariion CX4-120/240, you will need Solutions Enabler software from the EMC PowerPath site.  Please make sure that a 32bit version is used as the SRA are 32bit and will only work with 32bit Solutions Enabler.  This can be found in this KB.

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