The Virtualization Practice

Virtualization Management

Virtualization Management covers all aspects of managing a modern virtual or software defined data center. This includes managing across virtualization platforms and clouds, monitoring the performance and availability of the virtualization platforms (hypervisors) and the clouds, monitoring the capacity of the virtualization platforms and clouds, ...
monitoring the performance of the applications running on these platforms and clouds, automatically provisioning these environments, securing these environments, and ensuring that the data in these environments is always protected and available.

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.

Microsoft to Bring the Cloud to the Datacenter with Server App-V

Microsoft is bringing its strongest assets – the installed base of its key products in the enterprise, and its library of commercial and custom built applications (and their associated developer communities) along with compelling new technologies like Server App-V to the virtualization and cloud fight. Leveraging Azure and App-V along with these existing enterprise assets makes Microsoft into a much more potentially formidable competitor to VMware than Microsoft is today based solely upon Hyper-V.

This day seem to start like any other but it seems like as soon as I was logged in to start my day issues arose. It seems like I lost one of my VMware 3.5 ESX servers and all the virtual machines on the host were knocked offline. This should not have been a big deal since HA was enabled but, Murphy has a way of making life really interesting. So as I logged into the vCenter client I noticed that the host in question was in a disconnected state and all the virtual machines showed up as disconnect. In past experiences I have seen HA, during a host failure, recover the virtual machines in under five minutes. So I waited and waited thinking HA should have kicked in by now. Time for a little further investigation!!

There is a cardinal rule that we should all know about, especially for those of us who have spent a lot of time developing kickstart scripts for automated builds of the VMware hosts in your environment, that you do not use windows word editors like Notepad or WordPad when working with Linux files. If you use notepad to edit Linux files it will add unwanted line feeds (LF) to the file which may cause the file to be misinterpreted. If you must use Microsoft Windows as your client OS use Microsoft WordPad which does not modify the file in this way.

There is a great deal of marketing hype about which hypervisor is better but I have spent some thinking about this and really have to wonder if the hypervisor is what we should really be focusing or concentrating on. A lot of third party vendors are starting to port their products to be able to work with both hypervisors but what about the management server itself? When third party application vendors design their applications to work with VMware or Microsoft hypervisors they have been writing plug-ins for their product to work inside the management server systems and or its client.

The security companies are looking into all aspects of virtual environment introspection to label, tag, or mark all objects for compliance reasons, inspect the contents of virtual machines for asset management (CMDB), and an early form of Root Kit detection.

Virtualization Security is not just about the firewall, it is about the entire ecosystem, auditing, compliance, and object management.

Is the CMDB Irrelevant in a Virtual and Cloud Based World?

The CMDB’s that were designed and architected for static physical systems appear to be unwieldy, too difficult to keep up to date, and not real-time enough to make the transition into the virtualized and cloud based world. Virtualized environment change too fast for existing CMDB’s to keep up, and the notion of keeping a CMDB up to date as assets are moved into and out of public clouds seems hopelessly beyond the intended original use case of a CMDB. A new category of datastore is needed that will address the needs of virtualized and cloud based environments, while incorporating performance information with configuration information.

When working with VMware ESX there are some tips that I can share that can help you manage your environment. This tips are not anything really new or exciting but rather a reinforcement of some best practices to live by in order to improve auditing for compliance and troubleshooting. Use of the following in conjunction with remote logging functionality will improve your compliance stance and improve your ability to troubleshoot over a period of time.

How you may ask? By using a tool that logs all local administrator actions to a remote logging host. There are two ways to do this today for ESX (SUDO and the HyTrust Appliance) and only one mechanism for ESXi and vCenter (the HyTrust Appliance).