The Virtualization Practice

Author Archive for Steve Beaver

Steve Beaver
Steve BeaverStephen Beaver is the co-author of VMware ESX Essentials in the Virtual Data Center and Scripting VMware Power Tools: Automating Virtual Infrastructure Administration as well as being contributing author of Mastering VMware vSphere 4 and How to Cheat at Configuring VMware ESX Server. Stephen is an IT Veteran with over 15 years experience in the industry. Stephen is a moderator on the VMware Communities Forum and was elected vExpert for 2009 and 2010. Stephen can also be seen regularly presenting on different topics at national and international virtualization conferences.

In my last post I talked about how to resolve an issue where a disgruntled employee walked out with the USB memory stick that had VMware ESXi installed on it. In that particular case, the VMware ESXi host kept on running and I was able to get a backup and restore the current running configuration via some PowerShell Magic. All in all it was a pretty easy issue to resolve with very little down time. This got me thinking about which method would be the best option to use in the Enterprise. Installing to local disks or installing to a USB memory stick.

I got a call from a client today that is running a VMware ESXi server as a proof of concept in their SMB environment. The admin that setup the VMware ESXi Server configured the ESXi server to boot and run ESXi from a USB memory stick. Things have been running fine but the company and the administrator that setup the server had a falling out, so to speak, and the administrator left the company and took the USB memory stick with him. The server continues to run fine as ESXi basically runs from memory but, rebooting this host is now not an option since there are no files available for the host to boot from. So what is the best way to recover and get things back to normal? I did a little research and the information that I have found will work will both ESXi 3.x as well as vSphere ESXi.

When I first got started in virtualization it was a very new technology and during that time there were not that many resources available to the virtualization administrator and sometimes it would have been nice to be able to see what others were doing and to be able to share my thoughts and ideas with others to make sure I was presenting the best possible solution to my customers. During these early years the VMTN Community Forum was established and these forums were the place to do this collaboration. I found this to be one of the best arenas to ask questions and share ideas. The VMTN Community area quickly took off and in a lot of cases was the quickest way to find an answer, solution to your problem or issue you were trying to resolve.

While at VMworld 2010 in San Francisco this year, I got to meet up and talk with Robert from Atlantis Computing. Our conversation was about VDI and he was quite proud of the capabilities that Atlantis ILIO brings to the table in the VDI space. The conversation went well and got me interested in investigating a little further on the technology. Atlantis ILIO or “VDI Booster” as they like to call it, is a solution to address the complexity and high costs of VDI Deployment and management. ILIO has been architected to support most of the main VDI players like VMware View, Citrix XenDesktop, Microsoft Hosted Virtual Desktop (HVD),and Quest Software vWorkplace to name a few.

One thing I noticed while attending this year’s VMworld in San Francisco was how many people attending the event had iPads. Actually, it was the hottest item being given away by almost all the vendors in attendance at the show. I was lucky enough to get one of the iPads that EMC was giving away. I recently heard that the iPad is the hottest selling tech item in history so far. During VMworld I got a chance to see the VMware iPad application to control your virtual environment and was really impressed. I really think the iPad might have a chance to become the tool of choice for the IT admins to monitor and administrate their environment. I am hoping that by VMworld 2011 we will be seeing a lot more client applications written and ported to the iPad and/or other mobile devices.

I saw a question get posted on twitter that kind of intrigues me a little. The question was pretty straight forward. “How many virtual machines should I be able to run on a host?” That is really a fair question in itself but what I find intriguing is that this is the first question he asks. Is this really the first thing administrators think to ask when designing their environment? After all there is no set formula on how many virtual machines you can run on a host. You can be a little more exact when working with VDI because for the most part all the virtual machines would be set up pretty much the same way and the numbers can be a little more predictable. That would not be the case when working with server virtualization. You are going to have servers all with different configurations and amount of resources provisioned to the virtual machines. This variation is what will change your slot count and the amount of virtual machines you can run on the host.

I can remember, in what seems like a really long time ago, about the creation of a new company, Acadia, that will support the coalition of VMware, Cisco and EMC’s vBlock product. I had really long forgotten about the new company that was going to be formed when EMC really started their hiring blitz and campaign to get all the well known talent that EMC could get their hand on. That had been the news and buzz in the industry, as well as a nonstop twitter topic speculation about who was going to be the next person to enroll in Chad’s Army as a vSpecialist. It really appeared that the EMC crew was going to be in the best position to support and sell vBlock technology.

IO Virtualization Approaches: VMworld 2010 Review

There seem to be three styles of IO Virtualization (IOV) taking place within the virtual environment. At VMworld, the IO Virtualization companies were out and talking to people about their wares, products, and approaches to IO Virtualization. These three methods are:

* Converged Network Adapters used within Cisco UCS, HP Matrix, etc.
* Attached IOV top of rack devices such as the Xsigo Device
* PCIe Extenders

Each of these provide unique benefits to your virtual environment but which to use? First, we need to know what each of these approaches brings to the table.

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