Thursday, February 12, 2015

VMware Virtual SAN 6.0 What's New

With the announcement of vSphere 6.0, comes Virtual SAN (VSAN) 6.0 the next release of VSAN since 5.5.

This makes several improvement and I will be listing them here and do note of the differences as there are some improvement with changes to existing VSAN 5.5.

To start clear, we need to know the terms right.  You will often hear Hybrid VSAN and All-Flash VSAN.  Hybrid is not new.  Since VSAN 5.5, it is always in Hybrid VSAN.  What it means it's a mixed of Flash or Solid State Harddisk (SSD) for cache and Magnetic Disk (MD) for persistent data.

What about All-Flash, this is new in VSAN 6.0.  There will be no MD but make of all Flash/SSD for flash and SSD for persistent.

source: VMware, Inc

In VSAN 5.5, the cache read/write ratio was 70/30.  This is fixed and cannot be changed.  Of course in a VDI environment, this will be less favorable though it is using flash/SDD for cache since only 30% of the cache is used for write cache in a write intensive VDI environment.

In VSAN 6.0, the cache is 100% write where read is straight from the SSD persistent area.  This is definitely very favourable for any environment and workload.

Here is a table of the changes.  Between VSAN 6.0 Hybrid and All-Flash is only the IOPS different.

Virtual SAN 5.5
Virtual SAN 6.0
Virtual SAN 6.0
Hosts per Cluster
VMs per Host
IOPS per Host
Snapshot depth
per VM
Virtual Disk size
Virtual Machine per Cluster
Components per host

The next most still ask for the overheads since it is running on the kernel.  A rule of thumb will be
less than 10% of CPU utilization.

With the announced of VSAN 6.0 which will include VSAN 5.5 will support Direct Attached JBODs for Blade servers.  This will allow Blade servers which have little or no disk to scale with such storage and used in a VSAN setup.

VSAN is supported in self build servers from the HCL list or via VSAN Ready nodes which comes with all the parts already certified to run or available through EVO:RAIL.

Use Cases
  • In VSAN 5.5, it was mostly suitable for DR, Test/Dev, VDI.  However in VSAN 6.0, it is now added with one more which is Business Critical Applications (BCA).  This is made possible due to 1) All-Flash, 2) New disk format which will results in better performance.
  • The Ethernet for Hybrid VSAN network required is at least 1GB Ethernet but recommended to use 10GB.  For All-Flash VSAN, 10GB is a requirement.
  • Minimum hosts is still three for VSAN 6.0.  However I would recommend a N+1 which is four hosts to start.
  • Minimum one disk group per host.  One Flash/SDD for cache and One MD/SSD for persistent data per disk group.
  • Maximum of 7 MD/SSD for persistent data.
  • Maximum of 5 diskgroup.
File Format
  • VSAN 6.0 uses VSAN FS as the new file format vs VMFS-L in VSAN 5.5.  Online migration via RVC Console is supported.  VSAN 6.0 will still support VMFS-L even if you choose not to upgrade.
  • VSAN 5.5 uses vmfsSparse (redo logs) for snapshot while VSAN 6.0 uses vsanSparse.  Read more of vmfsSparse here
  • Note that once VSAN 6.0 file format is used, vSphere 5.5 will not be able to join the VSAN cluster.
Updated 13/2: Availability
In VSAN 5.5, we were unable to control where each nodes in the VSAN cluster will be e.g. in a 10 hosts clusters, 5 nodes are sharing the same power supply i.e. same rack and the other 5 nodes on another power supply i.e different rack.  This helps also help in network partitioning where the bigger Fault Domain will win when separated.

With VSAN 6.0, we are able to create Fault Domain where we can grouping a VSAN cluster into different logical failure zones.  This allows VSAN to understand and ensure provision of replica will not fall into the same logical failure zones.

This is extremely useful as in the past, without fault domain we could need more resources to create a workaround. Assuming FTT=2, you will need at least 5 nodes for 3 replicas and 2 witness.  As illustrate below, without logically creating a Fault Domain, there are actually 6 Fault Domains due to the number of servers and in such, even though two nodes are in the same rack its actually 2 Fault Domains to VSAN so resulting replica be still be placed in the same rack so creating FTT=2 ensure at least one replica is on a separate Fault Domain.
source: VMware, Inc

With the new Fault Domain, we can maintain the default FTT=1 and ensure at least one replica will be in each separate Fault Domain to achieve redundancy as shown below.  Not only does this allows even the minimum of 3 nodes, it also uses less resources.
source: VMware, Inc

Monday, February 9, 2015

VMware 2015 Certification Roadmap

With the new year of 2015, VMware education also did some amendments to their certification roadmap to adapt to the industry requirements.  However there isn't a big change but one major one I see is the VMware Certified Advanced Professional (VCAP) has been renamed to VMware Certified Implementation Expert (VCIX).  You can view more details here.  The roadmap diagram is as below:

You can also find the more updated charts for version 5 and version 6 here.

In fact I was seeing this coming since under Network Virtualization track it has already started with VCIX.

Although VCIX6-NV started with only an administration exam, I believe all tracks will contain both design and administration exam as mentioned under VCIX section.

The other change would be under the Cloud Management & Automation track where there are two different VMware Certified Associate (VCA) but only one VMware Certified Professional (VCP) track.  This will be focused on VMware vRealize Automation and no longer focused on VMware vCloud Director.

Many are confused with the new name VCIX and thinking it only contain administration exam due to the word "Implementation".  However this is not true, it will contain two exams one for Administration and one for design similar to the original VCAP.

To help in the prerequisites, refer to the solution track diagram.  Choose a track and follows the previously requirements.

VCA can be taken without any prerequisites.  Exam can be done anyway and it's online.  There is no need to take the exam at a test center.  Suitable for any business function individual who is new to VMware solutions and accredited their understanding.

VCP, you will need a qualifying course (normally a 5 days course) and an relevant VCP exam.  In additional an online foundation exam is required (not sure what this online foundation exam does, but I believe upon passing will you be authorize to book a VCP exam).

VCIX, you would need to obtain VCP of the appropriate track before seeking an authorization to attempt.  To be granted VCIX, you MUST complete two exams; Design and administration.
Certification requirements: VCP Certification + VCIX Design exam + VCIX Administration exam.
The exam for each is also shorten to 2 hours instead of 4 hours previously in VCAP.  A total of 4 hours (2 exams x 2 hours) is required to achieved VCIX.

For VCDX, upon completion of VCIX certification, you will be granted to attempt VCDX with a submission of a design proposal and upon passing the assessment will you be granted a slot to a defense panel to be certified this title provided passing the defense.

Hope this clarify everyone confusion.

If VMware Education follows the same as below, I would see the follow but this is not confirmed and I will update this once I have more information:
For those who are like me who already obtain certain certification, I believe there will be a an upgrade by taking the relevant exams e.g. VCP6-DCV from VCP5-DCV without any course for a short period of time before a What's New course is required.

For VCAP, this is now a grey area since VCIX requires two exams to be achievable.  For those owning only one VCAP, they might be required to complete both exams to achieved VCIX.  No information is provided at time of writing and I will update once I have more information.

For renewal of VCDX, this will be something new since in the past, VCIX will only need to complete VCAP Design.

With all the changes, the same rules applies, any certification will be valid for 2 years from the last certification achieved from VCP and above.  Within the 2 years period, another certification from VCP and above needs to be obtained else all certifications under one's name will be revoked.

Update 24th Mar 2015
Version 5 to Version 6 certification upgrade/migration path announced.  Here is a simple explanation.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Announced of VMware vExpert 2015

For those who are not aware, the application for vExpert 2015 started in November 2014 and today it was announced.  A total of 1028 individuals this time!  That was a big increased from last year 754 at the start of 2014 and 581 from 2013.

For those who are new to vExpert, you can follow the update that are entitled to you throughout the year and posted in this community page log into based on your email ID.  Many vendors each with their respective way to reward vExpert either via a NFR use their product or a free T-shirt.

For those who have missed the application, this year however there were no news of quarterly application mentioned like last year.

Nevertheless, keep up the good work and carry on the contribution you have been doing to be rewarded this accreditation year after year.

Once again, congratulation to all individuals. Keep it going!

If you missed it, do check out the next application date, which has yet to be announced.

Some benefits listed below:

  • You will receive an email for your access to the community page and a logo will be created for your use.
  • A certificate will also be posted later stage based on year for your accreditation.
  • A few listed in the source here.
  • PluralSignal a year of subscription of all online courses which I highly recommend.  For the rest of the NFR software licenses, it will be based on your needs and requirements and many can be announced here.
  • Ravello Systems provide 1000 free CPU hours per month for vExpert 2015.  Sign up here.
  • Free Polo from DataGravity.

Update 29th Jul 2015:
DataGravity offer free Nike Golf Polo (I guessed similar to last year Tintri) in black or blue with customization to your twitter handler and/or number of years as vExpert.

Update 21st May 2015:
Ravello Systems benefit for vExpert 2015.

Update 9th May 2015:
Tintri as always have contributed once again with rewarding to all vExpert a nice customize Polo.  Make your order here.

Update 28th Feb 2015:
The vExpert 2015 round 2 application is live!  Head to the form if you have missed the first round.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Long Wait is Over!

The start of February also mark the great launch today by VMware.  Another milestone achieve with more to look forward to which will change the way things will run in an infrastructure.

Today has been the long awaiting launch of vSphere 6.0 (which many thought was during vSphere 5.5 but finally it made it), there are also some changes to some add-on products changes as well as bundle update.

The General Availability (GA) for vSphere will be in Mar 2015.  The training courses are found here.

What's New

vCloud Suite will be updates with vSphere 6.0 and vCloud Director and vCloud Network & Security will be deprecated as announced last year and no longer seen in this bundle.  This also get updated with the new vRealize Operations (vROps) Suite to 6.

vSphere with Operations Management (vSOM) will be updated to 6.0 which include vSphere 6.0 and vRealize Operations (vROps) 6.0.  Finally those on vSOM 5.5 have been asking for vROps 6.0 has been granted their wishes.

VMware Data Protection (VDP) 6.0 is now one single product.  There will be no more VMware Data Protection Advanced (VDPA) but now call VDP.  It is now available for vSphere Essential Plus and above edition.  This also included in the new vSphere Remote Office Branch Office.  VDP 6.0 in vSphere 6.0 contains the full functions of VDPA.  With this launched, customer who are on valid Subscription & Support (SnS) for vSphere will be entitled to download VDPA 5.8 and/or VDP 6.0.

vSphere Hypervisor Free edition now support vSphere Data Protection API.  Which means now even if you are on the free Hypervisor, you can also enjoy offloading your backup process to your supported backup solutions.  How cool is that!

Virtual SAN (VSAN) 2.0 is announced with vSphere 6.0.  Many new features and one of which is a all flash VSAN but this comes as a add-on licensed via per CPU or per desktop (for VDI).  Host limits has also been increase to 64 similar to vSphere 6.0.  The greatest improvement will be VSAN snapshot now adopt similar technology from VirSto a storage solution which was acquired early 2013.  All this comes with a new file system.  One main function is the ability to support direct attached JBOD.

vSphere Enterprise Plus, vSphere with Operations Management Enterprise Plus and vCloud Enterprise get to use VMware Integrated OpenStack free of charge with Support sold separately.

vSphere 6.0 What's New
In this release, Transparent Page Sharing (TPS) is disabled by default when shipped.  Starting from all the new updates for vSphere 5.x, TPS will be disabled.  Check out the kb.  To enable or disable you can refer to this blog post.   This is due to security reason mentioned here.  However this is more of a logical risk than a physical risk as as of now there is no case of such security due to enabling TPS have been reported.

Do take note of TPS and it could help drive performance in terms of memory aspect especially for Mission Critical Applications.

Install and Upgrade
vCenter Server Appliance (vCSA) now comes in a guided installation wizard for easy deployment especially for user who are new.  There will also be two separate ISO for binary for the Windows vCenter as well as the vCSA, saving user time on download and space to store them previously when there are all bundled in one ISO.

Newer hardware support is always expected which you can refer to VMware Hardware Compatibility List (HCL) and OS supported here.

For scalability please see the table below.  Though many might say this is just a number game but there are real customer which I experience with requirements for this mainly these are monster VMs made up of Database servers.
vSphere 5.5
vSphere 6.0
32 Hosts per Cluster
64 Hosts per Cluster
4000 Virtual Machines per Cluster
8000 Virtual Machines per Cluster
320 CPUs
480 CPUs
64 vCPUs
128 vCPUs
12 TB RAM*
512 Virtual Machines per Host
2048 Virtual Machines Per Host

 * With specific server OEM partners

Storage IO Controls now extend to per VM level.  This was similar to what was introduced in vSphere 5.1 when network IO control provided for per VM.

The long wait is over!  Finally vSphere is able to support NFSv4.  This was a much request for NFS storage users since NFSv4 has already been on the market for quite some times and vSphere 5.5 was speculated to support but didn't when released.  Kerberos that comes with NFSv4 will be supported as well :)

Virtual Volumes (VVol)
New way of presenting Storage to be VM aware providing Per VM granularity similarly to what VSAN was able to do with policies.  This is achieved with VMware Storage APIs - Storage Awareness (VASA).  This also remove the need to lots of LUN Management tasks which often creates lots of issues.  This will support protocols namely iSCSI, NFSv3 (no NFSv4 at time of writing), FC and FCoE. Capability of Storage will be expose to vSphere via the VASA provider just like VSAN on vSphere.  This will introduce storage policy based management (SPBM) to traditional storage on vSphere for the first time!

Storage and Availability Integration
This release introduced content library where you can replicate images e.g. template, ISO, etc. to other vSphere cluster removing the waste time and effort creating or trying to copy from one to another.  Also with the support for the new Storage features namely VSAN, vFlash, SRM, VVol and vSphere Replication.

IPv6 support for Management Network.  Things to note only vSphere 6 is supported for IPv6 so no management of below version 6 is allowed.  This has to be a green field implementation of course if you intend to migrate your existing vSphere Cluster to IPv6, expect definitely a downtime on the management this will need careful planning.

NIOC version 3, CoS tagging and user-defined network resource pools are deprecated.  Version 3 lets you set up bandwidth allocation for virtual machines at the level of the entire distributed switch upgraded from just physical adapter level.  Read more here.

vMotion Capabilities Extension
  • vMotion across vSwitches currently supported on virtual standard switches (vSS) and virtual Distributed Switch (vDS) supported across all edition vSphere which support vMotion
  • vMotion over long distance with up to 100ms round-trip time (RTT) is now supported available in vSphere Enterprise Plus Edition.
  • vMotion across vCenters on local, metro and cross continents provided it meets the requirement of vMotion over long distance stated above and supported on vSphere Enterprise Plus Edition.  Requires 250 Mbps per vMotion operation.  vMotion Network on L3 connection.
Fault Tolerance for Multi-Processor VM (SMP-FT)
Oh Yes Yes!  The support for SMP-FT VM.  Don't be too excited just yet as the maximum number for this is up to 4 vCPUs and only available in vSphere Enterprise Plus.  Though this might not be able to support most of their giant monster VM, it sure helps more on typical critical applications that needs only 4 vCPU and below.

Side note, SMP-FT is also available for vSphere Remote Office Branch Office edition but subject to 2 vCPU and 4 vCPU for Standard and Advanced respectively.

vCloud Air Integration
vSphere 6.0 will support vCloud Air in terms of backup, Disaster fail over and back.  Do note offering is only available in US, Europe, Japan and China at time of writing.

vSphere Replication
Yes finally it has been a long time that is only support a RPO of 15 mins and this kills it easily comparing to all other network or host based replication solutions.  In this release, it now has 5 mins RPO time (subject to bandwidth availability and data rate of change) and up to 2000 VMs from prevous 500 VMs which will help in SRM support definitely.

Certificate uses PKCS#12 format for SSL.  There is use of a new compression library FastLZ.  More information can be read here.

vSphere App HA
Sadly to say, in this release App HA has been removed.  I am not sure what will be replacing it (or ever there be), at this time, if you need it, you have do with vSphere 5.5 or use third party solution like Symantec AppHA.

VMware Data Protection (VDP)
With the new release of vSphere 6.0, there will be no more purchase needed for VMware Data Protection Advanced (VDPA).  Instead, VDPA features will be fully available in VDP 6.0.  Customer with valid Subscription & Support (SnS) for vSphere will be entitled to download VDP 6.0.  VDP 6.0 will be able to support vSphere 5.1 and above.

vCenter Server Applicance
It now has the same support limits similar to Windows vCenter Server with embedded vPostgres
Content Library.  It now support Linked-Mode and comes with four sizes: tiny, small, middle and large.

Virtual Data Center (vDC)
Abstracted from vCloud Director, this isn't new but it's new in vSphere.  With vDC, you will be able to pool and abstract resources and provide them to different clusters.

Policy Based Management (PBM)
As you see more and more policy driven management, this release is also a start start with VM placement through tags and working with VM anti-affinity policies.

vSphere Host Client
If you are managing a single host not joined to a vSphere vCenter, you will now use this client to manage this host with VM with hardware above version 8 supported.

vSphere Web Client
With support of SRM now in web client since the release of SRM 5.8 this will carry forward to vSphere 6.0.  vCenter Update Manager however is still not supported :( The greatest news on this piece is the long awaiting performance improvement!  And yes this in release lots of performance improvement has been done to this long awaited issue.  Everything from login, right click, Workflow, Screen to screen, etc.  Also to stay the same as vSphere Infrastructure Client, the task windows is place back to the bottom of screen (Why on earth was it first introduced on the right?).

A side note, vSphere client is now able to read only for hardware version 9 to 11 instead where previously it cannot manage VM on hardware above version 10 in vSphere 5.5.  Do note it can ONLY edit VM that is on hardware version 8.

There are just many other smaller features and enhancements that are not listed here but the main ones which I felt were the main attractions.  Will fill more up as it comes along.  Of course my post will still focus in making everything plain and simple to digest for the greater audience out there.

vSphere Assessment Tool (vSAT)

If you are not aware, there is a new tool announced during VMworld US 2019. That is the vSphere Assessment Tool (vSAT). To access the sit...