Reclaim Thin Provisioned Space – Punchzero

Thin provisioning of virtual disks has been a quiet benefit to IT administrators working in virtual environments.  In the recent past of thick provisioned storage as the only option (still common in non-virtualized, local storage environments), administrators made educated guesses about the amount of disk space their systems would need.  Only in the 2008 Server family did Microsoft even include operating system tools to expand disk partitions, an incentive to over-provision storage. Continue reading Reclaim Thin Provisioned Space – Punchzero

Enabling and Accessing ESXi Shell

The ESXi Shell (formerly known as “Tech Support Mode”) is a Busybox embedded Linux environment which vSphere administrators can use as a direct command line administrative interface for the vSphere host. Everything one might want to do with the CLI (“run common system administration commands against ESX/ESXi systems”) can be done in the ESXi Shell for the local system. In addition, there are some commands and options that can only be run in the ESXi Shell. There’s also the added advantage of not needing to install the CLI package on a machine with network access to the vSphere host. It’s also where you’d run utility scripts like ghettoVCB for backup. Continue reading Enabling and Accessing ESXi Shell

Simplify software installation with Chocolatey

Working in the virtualization field demands a skill set which crosses domains.  Windows guest administration is one of the tasks that can’t be ignored. Be it template management, deployment, or performance troubleshooting, Windows administration is a basic skill that a well-rounded administrator should be able to do.  However, Windows administration can be a full time job, so if one’s focus is one level up, on the hypervisor, it’s important to have a consistent set of easily accessible tools to do basic administrative tasks.  A colleague pointed me to Chocolatey as a meta-tool which can help install and manage best-of-breed tools which often aren’t developed by Microsoft or included with the standard operating system install. Continue reading Simplify software installation with Chocolatey

Link Aggregation Misconceptions

Think you’ll be able to use Link Aggregation Groups (LAG) to turn your four Gigabit links into a single 4 Gigabit link? Well, Link Aggregation might not do the job you think it will do. Listen, I get it. There are a ton of topics that you have to know about to be an effective Virtualization solution designer, and network intricacies might seem pretty far down the list. So here’s the deal.

Continue reading Link Aggregation Misconceptions

Link Aggregation on vSwitch0

I got asked about getting Static Link Aggregation working on the default Management Network on vSwitch0, which reminded me of this frustrating incident.  It’s one of those quirks that you have to swallow as a quirk and make sure to remember. Link aggregation on vSwitch0 need special attention.

Continue reading Link Aggregation on vSwitch0

More on DL180 G5 Host Updates

After using a CentOS LiveCD to update an HP DL180 G5 E200 storage controller’s firmware, without being able to recognize the 3TB SAS drives (625031-B21) connected to it, I went back to the well and updated the BIOS to 2010.10.25 (8 Dec 2010) using the same method.  I just re-used the USB stick and added the new update in a new directory.  But no joy on recognizing the drives.  This step was a bit scary as the DL185 G5 has a known issue with needing to go to an intermediate BIOS level.   Skipping that will brick the system.  But nothing like that is anywhere in the BIOS version history for the DL180 G5.  It didn’t get bricked.

Continue reading More on DL180 G5 Host Updates

Firmware Updates on vSphere Hosts

Recently, HP and Dell have both come out with their latest generation hardware platforms (HP’s Gen8 platform and Dell’s 12th generation platform).  Along with those platforms come updates to embedded management features (HP’s iLO and Dell’s iDRAC 7).

Great stuff.  But sometimes in the real world, we’re faced with hardware that wasn’t manufactured this year.  How does one manage those platforms in a virtualized environment?

Continue reading Firmware Updates on vSphere Hosts

Clarity on Enhanced vMotion in Essentials Plus

I was at Spiceworld 2012 Austin on the 11th and 12th of October and got some clarity on the issue of vSphere 5.1 Enhanced vMotion in Essentials Plus (which doesn’t have Storage vMotion). Mike Fegan, a VMware SE, explained that on Essentials Plus, we have the option to do a standard vMotion, if we are using shared storage, or a run state plus Storage vMotion, but not a pure Storage vMotion. He later re-stated that on Spiceworks. Thanks again, Mike.

vSphere 5.1 Announcement Annoyances

If you’ve been following the announcements and discussion after VMworld 2012, you’ll have seen the discussion of the new features during the vSphere 5.1 announcement.

I’ve been confused by the description of enhanced or share-nothing vMotion (what should you call it [internet archive wayback machine]?). Continue reading vSphere 5.1 Announcement Annoyances