How-To Change XtremIO Disk.SchedNumReqOutstanding in VMware vSphere 6.0

Recently I was working on our lab in the office after upgrading our hosts to vSphere 6.0 and needed to change the Disk.SchedNumReqOutstanding values to 256.  However this value has changed in 6.0 to NoofoutstandingIOswithcompetingworlds.

There are a lot of PowerCLI scripts out there to set this value for all of your XtremIO luns, however in 6.0 there were additional values added to storage.core.device.set.

So here’s a PowerCLI script that will connect to your vCenter server, enumerate your hosts, and modify the Disk.SchedNumReqOutstanding value to the EMC recommended 256.

 

So you want to build a VMware Homelab…

So you want to get started learning VMware technologies huh?  Well  you’re going to need something to practice on.

Now, there’s nothing wrong starting out by running a lab environment on your primary desktop or laptop, assuming you have 16+GB of ram at a minimum. If this is the route you’re planning on taking, I suggest getting started with VMware Workstation and downloading a prebuilt environment called AutoLab.  It makes setup of the environment and it’s solutions fairly easy, the only downside is it isn’t updated very frequently so it’s often behind on it’s support for new products.

But what happens when you want to start playing with scenarios in the real world with hardware that’s dedicated to that purpose?  Well first you’re going to need to find some.
When it comes to homelab kit, most of us have a few rules.

  1. Quiet
  2. Low Power
  3. Cheap(ish)

Let’s face it, you don’t want your closet to sound like a 747 is taking off, nor do you want to be shelling out the money to cool some 5U behemoth server just to run through some application testing.  Now if you’re made of money, and have a garage or basement that’s going to be housing your lab; move along, this is not the homelab article you’re looking for.

As mentioned above, a good home server is inexpensive, silent and has a low power consumption. I’m going to show you a few options for buying the building blocks of a VMware homelab starting with the hosts.  Our candidates for today are as follows…

  • HP Microserver N36L / N40L / N54L
  • HP Microserver Gen8
  • Intel Next Unit of Computing (NUC)
  • Gigabyte BRIX

 

HP Microserver N36L / N40L / N54L

These guys were the defacto standard solution for a lot of homelabbers when they first came out. I won’t go into the previous generations of the device, and instead will tell you that the latest available N54L has an AMD Dual Core 2.20GHz CPU. The Gen7 Microserver is a capable system that can run ESXi without any problems. It checks a number of the items off our list coming in at around 25W idle with no drives installed, and at around $300 it’s one of the lowest cost solutions on our list and it supports 16GB of RAM.

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However, due to the age of these guys, the price doesn’t get you a whole lot of power.  The Turion chip inside these Gen7 microservers is serviceable at best.  Running windows updates on a VM is a multi-hour affair (especially .NET).  But if you’re not constantly tearing down and rebuilding systems on your lab and are looking for a device that can support a more static workload, you’d be hard pressed to find a guy more capable.

Now while these guys aren’t exactly up to today’s standards when it comes to performance as an ESXi host, they definitely have a place in our homelab!  In addition to my Synology 1515+ I have in the lab I’ve also got one of these Gen7 microservers running the XPenology project, which is essentially all of the best bits of Synology’s DSM software running on your own hardware.

Due to their 4 drive bays and PCI-E slot these guys are rock stars as a shared storage solution for your homelab.  Pair one of these with a Quad Port PCI-E 1x card (like this one) and you’ve got yourself one hell of a NAS.  Need some more storage? Throw in a SAS expander card (like this HP P410 which supports 8 drives across 2 4x SAS ports) and run an external enclosure (like this!) next to it! For all of the gripes people have about the CPU performance, these truly are versatile little devices!

  • AMD Turion CPU with 2x 2.20GHz
  • Up to 16GB Memory
  • 4 HDD Slots
  • 1x Gigabit LAN onboard
  • 2 PCI-e Slots (16x, 1x)
  • Remote Access Card available
  • ESXi 6.0 works without any modifications

What to Buy?

Using as a ESXi Host…

Using as a shared storage SAN / NAS…

 

HP Microserver Gen8

So we just talked about previous generation of the Microserver, now let’s talk about the current version. The Generation 8 Microserver is a revised platform and comes with more power, upgraded ports and an integrated iLO. It is also the only system in this list that is officially supported by VMware and listed in the Hardware Compatibility List. The Ivy Bride Intel CPU has great performance. The primary downside to the Gen8 is it’s price.  Unfortunately the Xeon based systems are somewhat substantially higher cost than their Pentium and Celeron based brothers.

  • proliant_microserver_800x600_00003Multiple CPUs available eg. Intel E3-1220V2 with 4x 3.1GHz
  • Up to 16GB Memory
  • 4 HDD Slots
  • 2x Gigabit LAN onboard
  • Integrated iLO
  • MicroSD Slot for ESXi
  • ESXi 6.0 works best with HP Customized Image

What to buy?
Now before you go buying one of these, if you can hold off a little while, there are rumors about a Gen9 microsever being released soon. Quantities of Gen8 hardware is in short supply around the channel partners right now, and HP’s own web store has slashed the prices of Gen8 hardware around the globe.  Unfortunately there aren’t any official announcements, but if I had to guess it’d be in the next month or so.

If you’re looking to catch a good deal, it’s probably worth your while to see if you can get one at a decent price around the web.

 

5th Gen Intel Next Unit of Computing (NUC)

The Intel NUC (Next Unit of Computing) is an interesting little device. The latest generation (5th) of the NUCs based on the Intel Broadwell chips are available with, or without 2.5″ drive support. Whether you have a 4th, or a 5th Gen NUC, these systems are a great choice and very wide-spread as VMware Homelabs. FYI… In order to install ESXi 6.0 you will need to create a customized ESXi Image.

  • maxresdefaulti3, i5 and i7 Broadwell Intel CPU available
  • Up to 16GB Memory supported (1.35V SODIMM)
  • It’s possible to get 32GB of RAM using Intelligent Memory
  • 1x Gigabit LAN onboard
  • M.2 SSD support
  • 2.5″ HDD/SDD support

What to buy?
If you’re considering a NUC for your VMware hosts, ensure that you don’t buy one with a Celeron chip inside. If you can find a good deal on a Gen 4 NUC, feel free to snag it up. The Haswell chips inside the Gen 4 devices work just as well often for a lower price.

 

Gigabyte BRIX

Now to a device that is similar to the NUC in design and function.  The Gigabyte BRIX Pro are high performance systems with 2.5″ HDD/SDD support and a quad-core CPU. They also have VT-d support and are good candidates for ESXi. The fastest available CPU is an Intel Core i7-4770R (4x 3.90 GHz) which is a little crazy for such a small package. Comparative to the NUC devices, the BRIX are a little less expensive, but should have all of the same fuctionality as they’re built based off the NUC reference design. As with the NUC, if you’re installing ESXi 6.0 you’ll need to create a customized install image.

  • i3, i5 and i7 Intel CPU available
  • Up to 16GB Memory supported (1.35V SODIMM)
  • 1x Gigabit LAN onboard
  • mSATA SSD support
  • 2.5″ HDD/SDD support

What to buy?
BRIX s and BRIX Pro have 2.5″ HDD support and are the best choice for ESXi. You should buy at least an i5.

So that’s the list of devices that I’ve played with in the past, do you have your own hardware you’ve got running and want me to include it here?  Shoot me a comment!

Symantec Endpoint Protection SVA Network Connectivity Issues

This afternoon while deploying the Symantec Virtual Appliance for vShield for a customer I ran into an issue after the initial deployment where the appliance could not connect to the configured network in the configuration file.

For whatever reason, the appliance is configured for the default route of the private vmservice-vshield-pg network instead of the specified  Network in the config file.

In order to get the appliance talking correctly to the Symantec Endpoint Protection Manager I had to remove the gateway for ETH1.

Login to the console of the appliance with the username admin and the password you specified during deployment.

Then run “sudo su –” enter your admin password again and now you’re root.

Edit the eth1 config by typing the following command. “vi /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-eth1

Cursor down to the “GATEWAY=169.254.1.1” and press your D key, and then D key again.

Write out the file by pressing the following keys in order… (not the parentheses)  “: w q ENTER”

Now it’s time to restart the networking service… enter the following command “service network restart

Attempt to ping your Symantec Endpoint Protection Manager IP now and if you get a reply you’re all good.

This is only going to be an issue in the event that your SEP SVA is on a different network than your SEP Manager Server.

 

Let me know if this worked or didn’t for you, and I’ll be happy to research a little more.

vCenter Error: Idm client exception: Operations error

Earlier today I was setting up vCenter Server Appliance 5.5 in the lab and ran into an issue getting Active Directory authentication working.

After joining to the appliance to the domain via the admin URL, I attempted to entitle some users to vCenter, however when clicking on the domain identity provider I received the following error…

Error: Idm client exception: Operations error

Doing some research it appears the Single Sign On service uses DNS Reverse PTR records to communicate with the domain controllers, so ensure that you have reverse DNS entries for both your vCenter Server Appliance as well as your Active Directory Domain Controllers!

VMware Horizon Mirage 4.4 Now Available

So earlier today I was in Reston, VA at VMware’s swanky new Executive Briefing Center with a customer talking about End User Computing.  When my buddy Chris mentioned that VMware Mirage 4.4 has gone GA.  I cannot tell you guys how much traction this product gets from customers when I perform a break fix demonstration right in front of their eyes.  It truly is a powerful piece of software for maintaining the integrity of either physical or virtual endpoints.  Below is the official announcement from VMware about the release.  Let me know if you have any questions!

 

VMware Horizon Mirage 4.4 Now Available!

Horizon Mirage 4.4 is now generally available! This latest release of Horizon Mirage introduces several exciting new features that benefit a variety of areas in IT. Horizon Mirage 4.4 now includes support for the latest Windows desktop operating systems – Windows 8 and 8.1. With this addition, Horizon Mirage can protect desktops and laptops with operating systems starting from Windows XP (if you still have it!) to Vista to 7 and now 8 and 8.1.  The next major feature, and one that benefits distributed enterprises, is a new Mirage Gateway. The gateway allows secure centralized management of remote endpoints without the need for VPN. Finally, enhancements to the Windows 7 migration process helps make migrations even faster with Horizon Mirage – as if they weren’t fast enough already! Here’s more information on some of the key new features in Horizon Mirage 4.4:

Windows 8 Support – Windows 8 and 8.1 devices can now be centralized and recovered using Horizon Mirage. IT can initiate a full system recovery in case of a lost, stolen, or broken beyond repair desktop, laptop or tablet. End users can initiate self-service file recovery in case they want to revert a deleted file or revert a file to a previous snapshot. And all of this can be done in minutes to hours, not days to weeks.

Mirage Gateway – The Mirage Gateway helps remote users connect their devices back to the corporate network, where Horizon Mirage is centrally located. End users do not need to set up a VPN connection to synchronize or back up their local files to the centrally-located Mirage Server(s). Saving this extra step across many remote users creates a non-disruptive experience for those remote users. And, the Mirage Gateway includes enterprise-grade scalability and security.

Fast Windows 7 Migration – A new policy can be applied to endpoints such that data does not get backed up or centralized during a migration workflow. This can lead to a tremendous amount of time saving as centralization is generally one of the biggest time consumers in a migration project.

Easy Upgrade for Horizon View Customers with Horizon Mirage – If IT needs to upgrade the Horizon View agent from 5.3 to future releases, they can do so with Horizon Mirage. Using a base or application layer is a two-step process that allows IT to perform this upgrade. The upgrade does not disrupt any applications that are managed outside of the base or app layer that contains the View upgrade.

Web Console and File Portal Enhancements – Using the web console and file portal just got better with Horizon Mirage 4.4. End users can now download multiple centralized files, and even folders, across devices. The web console has been further improved to allow IT to perform mass centralization and get deeper insight into the endpoints being managed with dashboard drilldowns. These enhancements automate management for IT, making troubleshooting easier and providing a scalable endpoint centralization option.

As noted above, Horizon Mirage 4.4 introduces several enhancements and new features that help IT work better, faster and smarter. This translates into fantastic support for end users, which helps maximize business efficiency.