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Updated VMware OS Optimization Tool Released

Here’s an announcement for all of you VDI administrators out there. VMware has recently released a new version of their awesome OS optimization tool for Horizon View.

Change Log

  • Windows 10 template (beta)
  • Login time optimization, for Windows 7, Window 8, Windows 8.1.
  • Visual effect correction, now works for both current user and new users. This change applies to Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1.
  • Some items are not selected by default, for better compatibility or user experience. You can still select them on demand.
  • A reference tab is added for OSOT Fling home site, as well as other optimization materials.
  • Drop old product support (View 5.3).
  • UI enhancement: optimize product compatibility settings.
  • Issue fix: When UAC is enabled, incorrect message shows in command line mode.

Optimization Items

  • ​​Windows 8: hide fast user switching
  • Windows 8: disable welcome screen
  • Windows 8: change item recommendation level: Disable Windows Update service: recommended -> Optional. Update description.
  • Windows 7 & 8: Fix item: “Disable IPv6”, according to https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/929852
  • Windows 7 & 8: Add optional item to disable visual effects. By default these items are NOT selected.
  • Windows Server 2008-2012: add item to disable Windows Update service.

Template & GUI

  • Windows 7-8 template has been separated into two templates.
  • Template is automatically selected based on the target OS (for both local analysis and remote analysis)
  • MasterTemplate is removed
  • Remove description column in history view
  • Remove template content view on remote analysis panel
  • Rename most of optimization items. Sort items in alphabetical order

Template Management

  • Simplify the GUI. Two “Set” buttons have been removed. The XML content is update on the fly with user input.
  • Mandatory fields are marked with a red “*”
  • Add a new field: default selected
  • Add a new Save button, which is enabled for custom templates, and is disabled for built-in (readonly) templates.​
  • Context menu added for each step node
  • Add menu item Remove for group node
  • Disable Remove button for the top level
  • Adjust column width for better text display
  • Prevent user from removing top level group node
  • Update up and down icon
  • Label icon now has the same context menu as label (tree view)
  • Field Step Type has been removed for group node (unnecessary)
  • Title of HKCU operations has been changed according to command name (LOAD/UNLOAD), for consistency

Issue Fix

  1. ​Missing icon on optimization result
  2. Add feature “product compatibility”. A dialog is added before analysis to ask user for in-use VMware products/features. The information is used to tweak optimization items. For example, if Persona Management is selected, the expected status of Volumn Shadow Copy service is AUTO, rather than the default DISABLED. Currently the configuration covers only Persona Management and View 5.3 Fixpack.
  3.  Add template capability: default selection state (XML attribute of step node: defaultSelected). You can specify which item is not selected by default in a template.
  4. By default, item “Disable Windows Firewall Service” is not selected, and the severity level has been lowered from MANDATORY to RECOMMENDED. Disabling Windows Firewall prevents some software from installing correctly.
  5. Fix optimization items
  6. Customer Experience Improvement Plan (CEIPenable)
    * Disable Diagnostic Service Host (WdiServiceHost)
    * Interactive Services Detection (UI0Detect)
    * Disable Windows Media Center Network Sharing Service (WMPNetwrokSVC)
    * Fix blank items
  7.  Add MasterTemplate back. This will fix the error message when using Remote Analysis.
  8. Minor model dialog tweak for progress bar dialog.
  9. Update manifest for OS compatibility.
  10. Include build version. So you can identify whether the tool you have has the correct level.

Download and play with it here : https://labs.vmware.com/flings/vmware-os-optimization-tool

vRealize Operations Manager 6.2 Released

A shiny new version of vRealize Operations Manager has been released, bumping the version number up to 6.2.  Here’s a few highlights that come with the new version.

vRealize Operations Manager 6.2 is the latest release of the VMware integrated vRealize Operations Suite. Updates cover all major areas of the product including installation, configuration, licensing, alerting, dashboards, reports, and policies. This release introduces the following enhancements.

  • Enhanced Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS) Integration
    vRealize Operations now offers enhanced integration with the vCenter Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS) when making and executing workload placement recommendations. The vRealize Operations Manager analytics determine cross-cluster placement opportunities, while vCenter Distributed Resource Scheduler determines the best destination within clusters. The enhanced integration uses all DRS rules, constraints, and enterprise-class capabilities.
  • New Workload Utilization Dashboard
    The Workload Utilization Dashboard enables you to see the object workload utilization for Cluster, DataCenter, and Custom DataCenter containers. The new dashboard incorporates an updated Utilization widget, capable of operating in either a capacity or workload utilization mode.
  • Ability to Import Single Sign-On Users
    As an Administrator, you can now add and authorize new users for vRealize Operations Manager by importing them from a Single Sign-On source.
  • Telemetry Enablement on Upgrade
    This release includes a one-time dialog after you upgrade that allows you to participate in the VMware Customer Experience Improvement Program. This program collects anonymous product configuration and usage data to enhance future versions of vRealize Operations.
  • Portable Licensing
    The portable licensing feature adds the ability for customers to license use of the product in vSphere as well as non-vSphere environments.

    • This is part of a larger effort to decouple VMware licensing from a single deployment method. You should be seeing more information on this in the next couple of weeks!

On top of the new features listed above, it’s now possible to mix license keys from Advanced and Enterprise deployments.

Applying License Keys

vRealize Operations Manager 6.2 allows customers to install multiple Advanced and Enterprise editions in the same vRealize Operations Manager deployment. This enhancement lets customers deploy single choice and suite licenses together.

License counting for individual license keys is handled through licensing groups. You can mix editions or licensing models in one of the following ways:

  • Deploy vCloud Suite Standard, vSphere with Operations Management, and vRealize Operations Standard together in one deployment.
  • Deploy vCloud Suite Advanced or Enterprise, vSphere with Operations Management Advanced, vRealize Operations Insight, and vRealize Operations Advanced or Enterprise in one deployment.

Note: You cannot deploy a Standard edition license with either an Advanced or Enterprise license in the same deployment.

Head on over to https://pubs.vmware.com/Release_Notes/en/vrops/62/vrops-62-release-notes.html to get all the info on what’s changed and what’s new!

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.

704941-421_5_1600x1600

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 type sudo su – and press enter, 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…  : 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.

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