Blog Archives

vSphere – vCloud – The Query 1.5 API “feature” pageSize bug?

Alright, this is going to be difficult for me to really explain so I will do my best to serve it justice. First, I am not a coder and I do not know the ins and outs of the API and code. What I will attempt to explain to you is how you can reproduce this issue on your VCD instance. I also want to note this is vanilla VCD 1.5 with no updates yet. I currently do have a case with VMware opened and I have yet to resolve it.

Let’s get to the nitty gritty.

First off, I want to say that I am not 100% sure that any other queries you use produce the same affect. This issue seems to happen with only the VMadmin query.

First I would recommend reading about connecting the Rest API with Will’s blog over at VMware:

http://blogs.vmware.com/vsphere/2012/03/exploring-the-vcloud-rest-api-part-1.html

Now that you have read that and understand how to connect to the REST API I will show you an example of a basic VMadmin query.
(Note: you need to have over 128 VCD Vapps to reproduce this type of issue)

GET http://vcd.url.com/api/query?type=adminVM

This showed me that I had 333 queries returned however on the 1st page I only found 128. Now the way the script talked to VCD API was rather plain and it was basically doing this query and dumping it to a XML file. The idea was that this was similar to 1.0 API where I could get all the data I wanted and dumped into an XML file. This wasn’t the case. It seems I couldn’t get around this 128 limit. So I decided to try the next query:

Get http://vcd.instance.com/api/query?type=adminVM&pageSize=999

After running it I still got 333 queries returned but only 128 on the single page EVEN after specifying a pageSize=999 so this isn’t the end of it… let’s dig deeper. After further researching I had actually found documented proof that this was a hard setting somewhere.

Page 212 of the VCD 1.5 API Guide taken from here: http://www.vmware.com/pdf/vcd_15_api_guide.pdf

So it became obvious to me at this point that no matter what your query is it would always default to 128 objects per page. So I tried to also do the following to change this hard setting (at the recommendation of someone) located in a global.properties file in the following directory on the vCloud Director cells:

/opt/vmware/vcloud-director/etc

add/change the following: restapi.queryservice.maxPageSize=1024

I added this to the global.properties file and the VCD cells service were also restarted. Can you guess what still happened? Nothing… this didn’t change anything at all. In fact, it still remained broken. Folks, this still wasn’t the worse part about it. Lets cover the part that I believe is a true bug in the API and had someone on Twitter also comment that there is a possible bug in adminVM query.

Lets say I do a query for a pageSize=135 and my query returns 153 results. We get the usual 128 queries per page. Here is an example of the commands I used:

GET https://vcd.url.com/api/query?type=adminVM&pageSize=135&page=1&fields=name&sortAsc=name

Sort ascending gives me an alphabetical sorting of all my vApp names and I can find a Breaking point for my virtual machines (I know my ABC’s and what should be next so to speak). So I copy and paste the results into Notepad++ and it shows me 128 entries of the page size of 135 (give or take a few for other lines returned not relevant to the query. The bug as discussed is evident. However, it doesn’t show the other 7 entries it should be showing. Remember, we did the page size for 135. So now let’s take a peek at page 2.

GET https://vcd.url.com/api/query?type=adminVM&pageSize=135&page=2&fields=name&sortAsc=name

So after you run this query you will the list of the remaining 153 results. However if you take notes you will notice that it is in fact completely missing the 7 other entries. So basically your query takes the 7 it could NOT list and dumps it out to somewhere in the Cloud…. So what does this mean aside from the fact that there is a bug?

You will need to use a looping construct and not specify a page size greater then 128. (see Will’s comments below)

This is a bug and I don’t think I could make it any clearer. I wish I could’ve provided some screenshots but I think if someone does there due diligence they will see what I am talking about. If you have 2000 VCD vApps and you do a page size of 500 you would lose 372 queries between each page. No matter how you specify the page size, modify the Global.properties its just broken plain and simple. If someone would like to provide some screen shots I would be happy to put them up here to show some better detail.

If you want to discuss in further detail feel free to comment and I will follow up.

UPDATE: After reviewing with VMware on some things I found out this is actually a true but with the vCloud 1.5 API bug.  The good news is that there is a fix slated to be published in August, perhaps they will allow for a private fix if you really need it. Stay tuned. If anyone has some information aside from this please provide and I will link it! Thanks again. Also, this is not related to any type of Query parameter this is more to do with how the Query service works.

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vSphere – vCloud – Fast Provisioning – My Thoughts…

Yea, some would say this post is probably overdue but lately I have sincerely been thinking. Have we been drinking some Kool-Aid around this feature? I couldn’t help but have some concerns around possible implementation of this feature in VCD installments. I in particular, am not sold on it completely. Here are just some quick reasons for me that didn’t exactly sell me.

  1. It’s a very “new” feature in regards to VCD which is still early in its years as a cloud platform.
  2. No way of currently updating those linked clones unlike VMware View. (some admin over head as well as using local and shared catalogs)
  3. Added complexity (with linked images, snap chains, and how you have handle storage motion)
  4. By Default ALL linked clone images are mis-aligned. (VMware has yet to address this problem) In some cases this could be a compounding factor causing some additional I/O overhead.
  5. Design has to be highly considered and evaluated with a max of 8 node clusters (This will affect current installments as well)

So yeah, I know I look like the bad guy but I seriously think this release was just a target more to SMB than anything. IMO, this is more like a feature for those of smaller businesses because now they don’t have to go out and spend all that crazy dough on a VAAI capable array (Hooray for them :)) which begs to question….

Why do you need to enable this feature if you already leverage VAAI capable arrays?

It just seems to me that Fast Provisioning is a little pre-mature in its release. Although VCD continues to improve I think this features needs some serious improving before some bigger shops may decide to utilize it. The other down is that we have yet to see any real progress on the UNMAP problem and it’s now treated as a manual task we should run during certain times… or outages I should say. That really blows because we all know what kinds of benefits and problems thin provisioning on some array can cause. For the most part, it’s just really bad reporting… lol.

Here are some other sources I would recommend reading and I seriously think you should read them and learn for yourself if it’s really worth it. Also, be careful not to put the cart before the OX and do your homework. Some people drink the kool-aid and don’t think to question or ask “What’s really under the hood?”. Fast Provisioning should never be compared to VMware View… It’s similar but not identical.. I would definitely recommend reading Nick’s blog it opened my eyes to what he calls the “Fallacies” and of course Chris has a good read.

http://datacenterdude.com/vmware/vcd-fast-provisioning-vaai-netapp/
http://www.chriscolotti.us/vmware/info-vcloud-director-fast-provisioned-catalog-virtual-machines/
http://www.kendrickcoleman.com/index.php?/Tech-Blog/vcloud-director-15-features-that-effect-limitation-and-design.html

vSphere – Networking – ESXi Single NIC VDS Management Migration

Well, I wasn’t sure how to name this blog as VMware continues to use all kinds of different lingos for all of their bells and whistles. I had the unique opportunity to begin working with migrating management interfaces or also know as vmkernel interfaces around from VSS to the DVS switching. This present a lot of struggles but it seems to me that VMware has really improved this functionality in the later versions of vSphere. I recall running into many kinds of issues when doing this on 4.0. So far using a vCenter 5 server with a mix of 4.1 and 5.0 host testing has proved to be seamless and non-interruptive. However, I would still highly recommend considering all your options and testing this method THOROUGHLY before ever touching production environments.

I was able migrate a single physical NIC running ESXi management from a VSS to a VDS. This video covers how I did that. The reason for the video was because I got all kinds of senseless google links when trying to search for something documented. So, I did myself a favor and published one.

Remember, this is a test and this is only applicable for me to use in a few environments. In most cases I use redundant NICs. Now the real kicker about this is that to migrate from a VDS to a VSS requires a bit more thinking and planning. Especially if you only got access to a single PNIC. Maybe I will cover that some other time… for now try to use two. Also, this may be a solution for environments running single 10GB and need to use PVLANS or centralize managment.

vSphere 5 – Storage pt.2 vCloud and Vsphere Migrations

The point..

So on my last post I covered some things to think on when looking at the new VMFS-5 partitions. Obviously the point in moving to the new VMFS would be to gain all the benefits as explained in that previous post. One thing you will see in this post are just the types of migrations. I also want to highlight that I shared some resources on the bottom for those of you who may want to review some deeper highlights. Obviously there isn’t a ton of documentation out there highlighting this nor the special *features* for vSphere 5 (sVmotion issues??) that you may run into. So let hope I do this yet further justice. On to the blog!

Adding VMFS-5 to the vCloud

  1. Log in to vSphere and ensure you have a new LUN provisioned (covered above in how to:)
  2. Log into vCloud Director Web Interface and you must be an administrator.
  3. Click “System” tab and click on Provider VDC. Right click a PVDC and select “Open”
  4. After opening the PVDC select the Datastores Tab and then click the +/- button to add/remove datastores

  1. Browse through the datastores by clicking the > button or by searching in the top right. When you have located your datastore highlight it and then click the button then click “OK”. Disregard the warning.


(Note: the yellow highlights are ways you can search and browse through datastores. This is very handy when there are many to look through)


(Note: Highlight in yellow shows the datastore added successfully. This is a 20TB Datastore)

You will now see the datastore in the datastore summary tab for that PVDC

Migrating Virtual Machines for vCloud Director to the “new” VMFS-5 LUN.

  1. Make sure the vApp is NOT a linked clone. If it is a linked clone defer to the references below.
  2. Ensure the Datastore you want to Storage Motion the Virtual Machine to is also provisioned to the Org VDC. Do this by opening the Org vDC and selecting the “Datastores” Tab.

    Note: you can see both datastores are attached to this VDC with the organization known as App1

  3. You could then log-in to vSphere client with the following noted vCenter and perform a storage vMotion. Another way of doing a Storage vMotion could be by using William Lam’s script he wrote as well. (see references below)
  4. If you need to perform the sVmotion defer to the following method below.

NOTE: I would highly recommend that you roll out update 1 to all vCloud components. This addresses a few major fixes that will allow for operations to run more smoothly. More importantly, the only way to sVmotion vCloud VMs is to turn them off. This is a pretty common issue with vanilla vsphere 5/vcloud 1.5 roll outs. I also experienced this problem. For more information please see references at the bottom.

Migrate a Virtual Machine with Storage VMotion in vSphere

Use migration with Storage VMotion to relocate a virtual machine’s configuration file and virtual disks while the virtual machine is powered on. You cannot change the virtual machine’s execution host during a migration with Storage VMotion. (Note: that if VM is managed by vCloud and not at 1.5 update 1 you will need to possibly power off the virtual machine to perform the svmotion. If the virtual machine is a fast provisioned vm (linked clone) then you will need to perform the sVmotion through an API.

Procedure

  • Ensure you are not moving vCloud vApp if you are please follow the above process first.
  • Display the virtual machine you want to migrate in the inventory.
  • Right-click on the virtual machine, and select Migrate from the pop-up menu.
  • Select Change datastore and click Next.
  • Select a resource pool (the same) and click Next.
  • Select the destination datastore:
    To move the virtual machine configuration files and virtual disks to a single destination, select the datastore and click Next.
    To select individual destinations for the configuration file and each virtual disk, click Advanced. In the Datastore column, select a destination for the configuration file and each virtual disk, and click Next.
  • Select a disk format and click Next:
  • Option Description
    Same as Source Use the format of the original virtual disk.
    If you select this option for an RDM disk in either physical or virtual
    compatibility mode, only the mapping file is migrated.
    Thin provisioned Use the thin format to save storage space. The thin virtual disk uses just as
    much storage space as it needs for its initial operations. When the virtual disk
    requires more space, it can grow in size up to its maximum allocated capacity.
    This option is not available for RDMs in physical compatibility mode. If you
    select this option for a virtual compatibility mode RDM, the RDM is
    converted to a virtual disk. RDMs converted to virtual disks cannot be
    converted back to RDMs.

    Thick Allocate a fixed amount of hard disk space to the virtual disk. The virtual
    disk in the thick format does not change its size and from the beginning
    occupies the entire datastore space provisioned to it.
    This option is not available for RDMs in physical compatibility mode. If you
    select this option for a virtual compatibility mode RDM, the RDM is
    converted to a virtual disk. RDMs converted to virtual disks cannot be
    converted back to RDMs.

    NOTE: Disks are converted from thin to thick format or thick to thin format only when they are copied from one
    datastore to another. If you choose to leave a disk in its original location, the disk format is not converted, regardless of the selection made here.

  • Review the page and click Finish.
  • A task is created that begins the virtual machine migration process.

References:

Linked Clones:
http://www.virtuallyghetto.com/2012/04/scripts-to-extract-vcloud-director.html
http://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?language=en_US&cmd=displayKC&externalId=1014249

Storage Motion Issue:
http://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?language=en_US&cmd=displayKC&externalId=2012122

How To’s sVmotion CLI/VCO style:
http://www.virtuallyghetto.com/2012/02/performing-storage-vmotion-in-vcloud.html
http://www.virtuallyghetto.com/2012/02/performing-storage-vmotion-in-vcloud_19.html
http://geekafterfive.com/2012/03/06/vcloud-powercli-svmotion/
http://geekafterfive.com/tag/vcloud/
http://pubs.vmware.com/vsphere-50/topic/com.vmware.ICbase/PDF/vsphere-esxi-vcenter-server-501-virtual-machine-admin-guide.pdf

Storage Considerations for vCloud:
http://www.vmware.com/files/pdf/techpaper/VMW_10Q3_WP_vCloud_Director_Storage.pdf

VMware vSphere 4 and 5 Labs – Foundations – The different kinds…

To Build a lab:

I have been thinking a lot about how there seems to be a few gaps in the VMware community when it comes to learning to set up a VMware vSphere lab environment. So I thought I would take the time to try and put together a full on post dedicated to resources on building a VMware Lab. When I first thought about this I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do a full A-Z build. Covering every single feature or deployment, but often times I would rather not re-invent the wheel. There are MANY post covering how to do this in general but I wanted to make a point of identifying the types of labs that you can set up and how to exactly go about it as well. The key word is “lab” so you don’t want to spend a ton of money (unless you have it) on your lab. To start off there are a multitude of setups you can do and many ways you can do it. I also want to stress that if you are getting ready for your test then YOU need to have one of these labs.

vSphere Lab video 2 Cents and quick overview! (this is my fist video post)

Nested VMware vSphere Lab

  1. Hosted on a Desktop Virtualization Product Like VMware Workstation 7 or 8
  2. Allows for easy HCL compliance
  3. Does require a robust desktop
  4. Can get slow depending on what you’re doing (design)
  5. Networking is all virtualized (plus)
  6. Storage can be virtualized or something like iSCSI can be used
  7. Mobility (can move VM’s around between desktops and laptops)

Physical VMware vSphere Lab

  1. Runs ESXi as bare metal
  2. Is more expensive
  3. “Real World” set up so is truly a lab
  4. Must meet HCL
  5. Will need Physical Networking (Managed networking highly recommended)
  6. Takes longer to build out or rebuild
  7. Can run nested labs on top of ESXi (pretty much using ESXi in the way you would use VMware Workstation)
  8. Storage can be virtualized or something like iSCSI can be used
  9. Can move hosted VM’s but the physical systems are not portable/mobile (depends I guess)

In a nutshell I will be covering the nested set-up since that seems to be the less expensive rig. I also love the fact that I can move it around to my laptop and desktop which is quite handy. Also fairly easy to backup as well.

***Disclaimer: The thoughts and views expressed on VirtualNoob.wordpress.com and Chad King in no way reflect the views or thoughts of his employer or any other views of a company. These are his personal opinions which are formed on his own. Also, products improve over time and some things maybe out of date. Please feel free to contact us and request an update and we will be happy to assist. Thanks!~

VMware Backup Journey CommVault and Veeam

The Beginning…
When I first started testing solutions for BU/DR for VMware it was a very interesting journey (in my lab). It was a big pain using IBM TSM for  virtual VMware backups, it’s also hard to find information on it as well..(Previous Experiences)  Other products like Data Domain are really useful to and serve their purpose.

VEEAM number 1 for VMware? (Is it true? Decide for yourself )
Personally, you will have to decide for yourself if Veeam is number 1 for VMware.  I personally don’t know because I really haven’t seen it deployed in large environments. I have tested it and worked with extensively a part from that.  I also believe it is one of the most advanced products when it comes to VMware environments.  It also offers a lot of features that most products for VMware Environments don’t. Of course this could be because they have some patent pending technologies.

Enter… CommVault… (The gap filler)
So needless to say as awesome and fun as it was working with VEEAM I had no choice but to check out CommVault. CommVault has an interesting approach and a Gap closer being able to bridge virtual and physical environments. That offer alone is enough for some companies to make a decision.  In some ways it may be better to compare CommVault to IBM TSM then to Veeam.  I will do my best to compare it to only VEEAM in regards to virtual environments.

My Personal Thoughts:
CommVault does have a lot of good things going for it but I sincerely believe (personal opinion) Veeam is a more “mature” backup product for the virtual arena.  I also think that Veeam could learn a thing or two from CommVault like getting into that physical backup space.  At the end of the day most companies would probably prefer an overall solution to multiple solutions  for backup and DR.  The answers lies and design and your requirements.  If your cloud platform has to meet certain requirements then VEEAM may be a better fit.  Then again, if you have to meet other requirements like retention requirements, encryption, of more granular things (like backup reporting) then CommVault may be a better fit. Pricing and things like that also have their pros and cons.

***Disclaimer: The thoughts and views expressed on VirtualNoob.wordpress.com and Chad King in no way reflect the views or thoughts of his employer or any other views of a company. These are his personal opinions which are formed on his own. Also, products improve over time and some things maybe out of date. Please feel free to contact us and request an update and we will be happy to assist. Thanks!~

VMware vSphere Management Tools

All I can say is “Whew!”. I am definitely looking forward to this.

So I am hoping to test some new products.

Criteria:

  1. What free tools the vendor offers?
  2. Capacity Management
  3. Reporting (Access and Automation)
  4. Monitoring
  5. Other Features
  6. Overall Cost (Licensing Model)

Tools:
(NOTE: The order is not specific to favorites or a product being the best. Also noted are the free tool they offer)

  1. vKernel – vScope
  2. Veeam One – Monitoring and Reporting)
  3. VMTurbo – Community edition
  4. Solarwinds – VM Monitor

Again, if you may know of any other products drop me a line and I see if we can add them to the list. There will be a review, rating, and follow up after testing and working with the products.

***Disclaimer: The thoughts and views expressed on VirtualNoob.wordpress.com and Chad King in no way reflect the views or thoughts of his employer or any other views of a company. These are his personal opinions which are formed on his own. Also, products improve over time and some things maybe out of date. Please feel free to contact us and request an update and we will be happy to assist. Thanks!~

vSphere VCP 510 Study Guide – Prepping up! (VCP5 resources Updated!)

UPDATED: ( Check out my VCP 5 Experience!  )
Recently heard some things around the rumor mill that the VMware test has recently been changed/updated in December.  I am still getting a lot of feedback that it covers a lot of the things that haven’t changed between vSphere 4 and 5 while at the same time addressing some of the newer features.  The previous one seemed to have more to do with vSphere 4.1.  Again this is just what I hear on random threads and so forth.  I have also updated my resources page and will be working on an offline guide here soon.

So in response to all these opinions I think I have found a solid list to help.  I am also working on a documentation source that could be available offline for others to study as we don’t always have internet access.  These are a bunch of PDF’s from both websites and VMware alike.  If this is a problem I could remove it later. (Click here to get what I have for now)

** Check out my VMware vSphere Lab Series Here! **

vSphere 5 Helpful Study Links:
http://vcp5.wordpress.com/
http://cosonok.blogspot.com/search/label/vSphere5
http://vinfrastructure.it/en/certifications-on-virtualization/vcp/vcp5/
http://damiankarlson.com/category/vcp-5/
http://damiankarlson.com/2011/11/01/vmware-vcp-5-resources/
http://virtuallanger.com/vcp5/
http://blog.mwpreston.net/vcp-5/
http://www.vreference.com/vsphere-5-notes/
http://www.vreference.com/vsphere-5-card/


Blueprint related for VCP5
http://damiankarlson.com/2011/07/13/vcp5-vs-vcp4-comparing-exam-blueprints/
http://virtuallanger.com/vcp5/
VMware Blue Print Download

Test Quizzes:
http://www.kalenarndt.com/vcp-510-quiz/
http://www.simonlong.co.uk/blog/vcp5-practice-exams/

vSphere 5 Links for Everything:
http://vsphere-land.com/vsphere-links/vsphere-5-links.html

VCP5 Videos:
http://www.trainsignal.com/VMware-vSphere-5-Training.aspx
http://cbtnuggets.com/it-training-videos/series/vmwr_vcp5
http://professionalvmware.com/brownbags/

Networking:
vsphere-5-new-networking-features-enhanced-nioc
vSphere 5 New Networking Features – Introduction
vSphere 5 New Networking Features – NetFlow
vSphere 5 New Networking Features – Port Mirroring

Storage Related Studying:
vSphere 5.0 Storage Features Part 1 – VMFS-5
vSphere 5.0 Storage Features Part 2 – Storage vMotion
vSphere 5.0 Storage Features Part 3 – VAAI
vSphere 5.0 Storage Features Part 4 – Storage DRS – Initial Placement
vSphere 5.0 Storage Features Part 5 – Storage DRS – Balance On Space Usage
vSphere 5.0 Storage Features Part 6 – Storage DRS – Balance On I/O Metrics
vSphere 5.0 Storage Features Part 7 – VMFS-5 & GPT
vSphere 5.0 Storage Features Part 8 – Handling the All Paths Down (APD) condition
vSphere 5.0 Storage Features Part 9 – Snapshot Consolidate
vSphere 5.0 Storage Features Part 10 – VASA – vSphere Storage APIs – Storage AwarenessvSphere 5.0 Storage Features Part 11 – Profile Driven Storage
vSphere 5.0 Storage Features Part 12 – iSCSI Multipathing Enhancements

What’s New Documentation
What’s New in VMware vSphere 5.0 Platform
What’s New in VMware vSphere 5.0 Storage
What’s New in VMware vSphere 5.0 Performance
What’s New in VMware vSphere 5.0 Networking
What’s New in VMware vSphere 5.0 Availability


If you want the complete documentation for vSphere 5 resources to keep offline you can download it from 
here.
If you want to check out my resource page for downloading other files check it out here.


***Disclaimer: The thoughts and views expressed on VirtualNoob.wordpress.com and Chad King in no way reflect the views or thoughts of his employer or any other views of a company. These are his personal opinions which are formed on his own. Also, products improve over time and some things maybe out of date. Please feel free to contact us and request an update and we will be happy to assist. Thanks!~

Top 10 Free VMware Tools Review

Wow, I have to say this was a very informative webinar with two vExperts – David Davis and Kendrick Coleman.

You know when you’re a VMware admin its sometimes good to get away from the cloud and get your head in a different arena. New scenery is always a nice thing.

They explained the tools briefly and effectively. They noted use cases, features, and gave a good overall summary of a lot of the tools. Some of the tools are returning favorites like Veeam, PowerGUI, and well vGhetto.

Some of them were new like VMturbo’s Community Edition appliance which I thought was a no-brainer. I worked with VMturbo before in our own company and was pretty impressed with the product. Also, the new IPAD app was also on their list but as you know I am not an Apple fan at all. It’s a good product but I just don’t buy into proprietary stuff (My Opinion). What interesting were the tools that were mentioned on his prior list that I would’ve liked to look into.

I think over all I am going to test some of these tools very soon and in fact I have already downloaded them. One tool I have been using is RVtools. This tools is pretty incredible IMO. It’s really fast at gathering data and does a good bit of remediating off hand and in fact I will probably place it on my remediation list for tools. In the matter of literally a few seconds you can find out things like:

  1. Snapshots
  2. VM Disk space
  3. Datastore Space
  4. General health problems
  5. VMware tools status
  6. Full auditing of your environment (host and VMs)

It’s a pretty invaluable tool to quickly gather all that data and put in a form that you can export and keep. The next tools I am going to check out is probably going to be the vkernel tools and Veeam. Others I will look into when I finish completing my lab set up. The biggest issue we face with testing some of these really cool tools like VMturbo and vKernel is that they require a Linux OVF/OVA format. Being that our cloud is “Highly” secured the compliance list for these things can be a mile long and well bringing them to compliance will just be a headache. So for now we will probably stick with Windows based applications because we already have those security compliant. Plus we can probably run them on our desktops for testing puposes.

I also want to use the VMware Guest Console simply because it really overcomes the hassle of learning how to script things and really gives you flexibility to overcome certain obstacles..

At the end of the day I thought this webinar was really informative and helpful and I would like to wish them and the makers of the tools a big THANKS for making VMware admins life all over the world.. easier 🙂

***Disclaimer: The thoughts and views expressed on VirtualNoob.wordpress.org  and Chad King in no way reflect the views or thoughts of his employer or any other views of a company. These are his personal opinions which are formed on his own. Also, products improve over time and some things maybe out of date. Please feel free to contact us and request an update and we will be happy to assist. Thanks!~

CISCO UCS – Benefits of VMXNET3 Driver

Well so I have been at it again.  Attempting to learn enough stuff about CISCO UCS to better understand what it can do.  I already know there is a lot of potential and that we probably don’t utilize it to its capacity.

The other day a colleague and I were talking about slowness in general in cloud environments and he mentioned how we could improve performance for all the VMs from E1000 to the VMXNET3.  Now I am fully aware of all the benefits and features of the VMXNET3 but I have to say; I was very reluctant to buy into the EVERY VM now gets a 10GB link – In my opinion, that terrifies me at first though. What if a VM all of sudden decided to GO NUTS and completely saturate the link? That would impact other VMs, would it not? At first yes, that could happen on a “RARE” occasion but you obviously have to understand your design and how Cisco UCS works.

Now onto the other observations and misconceptions I had about the VMXNET3.  I have to say from what I have researched and gathered it does seem that most articles point to an increase in overall performance.  Others reported that Host to Host communications was greatly increased even more than the percentages seen in outbound traffic.  One blog post stated nearly a %300 percent increase! > that’s very impressive. So now I can confidently say if you are using CISCO UCS you should definitely consider using VMXNET3 driver. (NOTE: You cannot use FT with VMXNET3)

So how exactly does all this tie into my CISCO UCS post?
In short it’s this link here.

Excerpt:
“The revolutionary Cisco® UCS M81KR Virtual Interface Card (VIC) helps increase application performance and consolidation ratios, with 38 percent greater network throughput, complementing the latest increases in Cisco Unified Computing System CPU performance and memory capacity. The virtual interface card and the Cisco Unified Computing System together set a new standard for balanced performance and efficiency.”

Now the VIC Card seems pretty cool, but what I thought was a little disappointing is that most companies will only really use something like this for a particular “Use Case” and It’s also curious because they don’t get into other things like upstream traffic and how it would affect host to host communication.  The other disappointing factor was they tested this using RHEL which I can understand and it wasn’t really a real world test.  What they only wanted to prove was that by offloading network traffic to UCS you get better performance.  Now, this doesn’t mean I still wouldn’t want to know what it is capable of.  Even so they showed just how having the interface card and VMXNET3 how much further traffic was improved.

Now Down to the nitty gritty:

1)      Limitation on total overall Network Interfaces for VM’s

a)      1/2 height can only have 1 VIC = 128 Virtual Interfaces

b)      Full Height can only have a maximum of 2 VICs = 128-256 Virtual Interfaces

2)      Doesn’t really benchmark windows – that really does matter in the scheme of things considering MOST environments RUN windows.

3)      Doesn’t really go into detail on how you would bind these NICS between UCS and vSphere Hypervisor. Only allocating a MAC in UCS and then using VMDirect Path for the NIC. (this is probably more simple then I think)

4)      They don’t cover host to host but they do cover Chassis to Chassis which is great to see that kind of performance – but come on show us host to host!!!

5)      Scenario 3 isn’t real clear on the VM ethernet interface used – it says “Default enic” so my guess is they couldn’t use anything else but a VMXNET3 – not sure why it says that.

6)      Statistics for how CPU performance was affected per scenario

7)      Does this mean there is no needs for 1000kv switching since you can use the “VIC” to set up your interface within UCS itself? (This would be my biggest reasoning > hand off to Net Eng = WIN!)

8)      Lastly, VMware vCloud Director uses templates and is automated..how could you creatively design this to work with an automated cloud solution? (I mean heck I would love the performance; Only thing I can think is VCO plug-in for UCS and Tie it into VCO/VCD plug-in, Maybe? Why I say “USE-CASE”)

Obviously this is a lot of information but I would honestly like to test this in my own environment and see how well it does perform.  Our cloud platform offers everything from weblogic, oracle, SQL, and more. Anyways let me know your thoughts and any other information would be greatly appreciated! Yes, I know I am a Noob 🙂 .

***Disclaimer: The thoughts and views expressed on VirtualNoob.wordpress.com and Chad King in no way reflect the views or thoughts of his employer or any other views of a company. These are his personal opinions which are formed on his own. Also, products improve over time and some things maybe out of date. Please feel free to contact us and request an update and we will be happy to assist. Thanks!~

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