Have you ever considered the best way to plan, design and work with VMware Update Manager (VUM)? In the early days using VMware 3.x when VUM was first released, I would end up installing VUM on the vCenter server itself. After all, that was the recommendation from VMware at the time. I propose that this is no longer the case and I would like to present a list of best practices to follow when working with VMware Update Manager. This list came from VMware, but should only be considered as a guide. Each environment is different and your mileage may / will vary.
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Virtualizing business critical systems requires that a layer of virtualization management solutions be added to the virtualization platform. Virtualization management solutions in the areas of virtualization security, virtualization configuration management, virtualization service and capacity management, virtualization service and capacity management, virtualization provisioning and lifecycle management and backup and recovery should be added to the platform.
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Virtualization Security, Configuration Management, Service and Capacity Management, Provisioning and Lifecycle Management, and Backup/Recovery are essential functions that must be added to a virtualization platform when virtualizing business critical applications. VMware vSphere is clearly the market leading and most robust virtualization platform – and clearly the virtualization platform most suitable as the foundation of a virtualization system designed to support business critical applications. However, the virtualization platform must be complemented with third party solutions in these areas in order to create a system that can truly support business critical applications in an effective manner.
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When you hear the term “host” when talking about virtual environment, what is the first thing you think of? For me, the answer is simple, a host is an appliance. For years now I have been standing on my soap box and preaching the power and fundamentals of automation in building and configuring your virtual environment. I came across a thread on the VMware VMTN Community Forum where a concerned individual was in a position that he was going to have to rebuild his host from scratch. What he did to get himself into this position was to run a hardening script on the host and then the host became broken and unusable. This person was concerned that he did not have a backup of the host and was looking for a way to rollback.
Cloud Computing ...
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When you read books on virtualization, cloud computing, security, or software product sheets a common word that shows up is Policy. Tools often claim to implement Policy, while books urge you to read or write your Policy. But what does Policy imply?
Webster (webster.com) defines policy as:
1 a : prudence or wisdom in the management of affairs b : management or procedure based primarily on material interest
2 a : a definite course or method of action selected from among alternatives and in light of given conditions to guide and determine present and future decisions b : a high-level overall plan embracing the general goals and acceptable procedures especially of a governmental body
When you read policy in product literature and books we are looking at definition number 2 and often a over b. But what does this mean to those who administer and run virtual environments or make use of cloud services?
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Unless you have been on vacation or hiding under a rock then you have heard the latest buzz in the industry that vSphere 4.1 has been released. There have been a lot of blog posts on the topic already. You can find one example here, here and what we at virtualizationpractice.com posted here. The thing I want to hit on for this post is the fact that this release will be the last release for full version of ESX. Moving forward on any new releases of ESX will be strictly ESXi. Anyone that knows me over the years knows that I have not really been a big fan of getting rid of the full version ESX Server. Call me old school and the fact that I have spent a great deal of time developing the automation used in the environments that I have supported over the years and have been really happy with what I was able to accomplish via kickstart and bash.
Business Agility ...
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The ROI from virtualizing tactical applications is driving by the consolidation in the number of physical servers needed once tactical workloads are virtualized. However, when virtualizing Tier 1 or business critical applications, it is likely that significant consolidation in the number of cores per workload is not possible – leading to the requirement to find a new way to cost justify these projects.
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With the release of vSphere 4.1, VMware has added to their Dynamic Resource Load Balancing (DRLB) suite of tools that I hinted at in my post on Dynamic Resource Load Balancing that I wrote last week as well as providing new memory over commit and other functionality. In essence, vSphere 4.1 is more than a point release, this update includes many features that aid in security, reliability, and is a direct response to customer requests.
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I just finished writing all the content for my next book entitled VMware ESX and ESXi in the Enterprise: Planning Deployment of Virtualization Servers (2nd Edition) which continues the discussion on Dynamic Resource Load Balancing (DRLB). DRLB is the balancing of virtualized workloads across all hosts within a cluster of virtualization hosts without human intervention. This is the ultimate goal of automation with respect to virtualization and therefore the cloud. In effect, with DRLB the virtualization administrators job has been simplified to configuration and trouble shooting leaving the virtual environment to load balance work loads on its own.