Monthly Archives: September 2013

Free Virtual Tools for the SMB’s

I was catching up with my good friend Scott, an IT integrator for Law Firms and CPA’s in the Chicago area, about whats new in our lives. He’s been busy for the last 2 years migrating most of his clients from Windows XP to 7. I was telling him about some of the fun things I’ve been learning about in Virtualization. I told him about Horizon View and how we virtualized our entire production server environment (24 servers) on just 2 Hosts.  His first reaction was “That all sounds great, but most Small Businesses can’t afford that kind of stuff like SAN’s, Hosts or VDI”. I tend to agree with him, some companies just can’t see the value in virtualizing their servers or workstations because of the high upfront costs.

But it got me thinking that there are free and low cost options that Small Businesses can take to make things easier, consolidate aging hardware and prepare for the next big wave of upgrades. So I decided to throw together a list of free software that “could” help SMB’s that just can’t afford the latest and greatest but still benefit from virtualization.

ESXi

ESXi

ESXi is the foundation of any virtual server environment. VMware has been releasing ESXi as a free hypervisor for the last few years. It is a great way to start the journey into virtualization. A typical SMB company has a few servers that just sits there idle 50-70% of the time. Why not reduce the amount of wasted server resources (chassis) and consolidate those server instances onto one or two hosts (existing physical servers).

Now of course there are some downsides to just running a bare metal hypervisor, there is no redundancy, manual interaction on a per host basis, as well as no intelligence because of a vital piece = vCenter! But that shouldn’t stop people from starting down that road!

Get started with virtualization by downloading and trying it for yourself!

Veeam Backup

veeamfree

Veeam is an industry leader in virtualization backup software. They have a free version to use forever and it works great! Although many would say it shouldn’t be used as a primary backup, it is a great ad-hoc utility to backup Full Virtual Machines. Again if you are just getting started this is a great way to test, evaluate and use in small production environments.

Veeam One

veeamone

Veeam One is a management suite for the VM’s on your hosts. There are no limitations to the number of VM’s, Hosts or Clusters. Being a free software and complimenting ESXi virtual machines is a great way to be proactive as opposed to reactive to problems that come up in your job. Veeam One comes with over 200 pre-defined alarms and notifications to help you understand problems before they happen. There are some logging and archival limitations to the system. But free is free and you can’t beat that!

Syslog Server

syslog

Syslog’s are becoming a necessity in determining problems or submitting support cases with hardware/software vendors. It would be awesome to collect all of those logs into one place right? What’sUpGold has a free syslog server that you can use in your environment. It is very easy to setup and reduces the time to collect system logs when trying to resolve a problem.

WebHelpDesk

SW_WHD_logo

Web Help Desk is a Solarwinds product that we have used for our Help Desk ticketing system. As a systems integrator in the past I had my clients use this very simple software so I could log and track tickets, knowledge base articles, assets and more. They have a free edition limited to one technician but if you are a one man shop this is great! Did I mention they have a virtual appliance…

Virtual Appliances

Virtual appliances are servers that run on Linux flavors that are free alternatives to some Windows only software sets. You can run a file and print servers, LDAP, AD PDC host, Torrent, Help Desk and many more applications like them on free self contained virtual machines. TurnkeyLinux.org is a great place to start. VMware has some great vApps that you can demo as well on the Solutions Exchange site too. We run several virtual appliances that don’t take up much space and resources that do the job well.

There are many free and great products out there that I haven’t mentioned. Kendrick Coleman has a massive list of free vSphere related tools that you can check out. I have just scratched the surface!  If there are others that I didn’t include, please feel free to mention them in the comments section below.

vSphere 5.5 Upgrade – Walkthrough and Notes

Since the announcement of vSphere 5.5 at VMworld, I have been waiting for the day to upgrade our environment. That day has finally come. We decided to go with the Simple Install since there isn’t anything custom when we install vCenter.

We have Horizon View in our environment, so the first step was to shutdown all workstations, linked-clones, etc and disable provisioning to not create additional clones. We shutdown all servers except our Firewall, Exchange, Primary File Server and vCenter servers (Apps and DB’s). Now that we have our environment in a controlled state, we are ready to start the upgrade process.  So lets get to it!

Download the vCenter 5.5 Install Package for Windows from VMware, mount the ISO or extract the contents to a temp location and select autorun.exe

Slide0Select the Simple Install Option, review the upgrade process and click Install to start the upgrade of Single Sign-On.

Slide1

It has already detected the previous version, Click Next

Slide2

Accept the End User License Agreement, who really reads that stuff! Click Next

Slide3

Make sure that the FQDN, IP is accurate. vCenter Windows Server is joined to the Domain and Value is correct, Click Next

Slide4

It has detected the previous instance of SSO so it will migrate the existing information, Click Next

Slide5

Choose the local default domain account credentials for SSO, Click Next

Slide6

Confirm the Site Name, Click Next

Slide7

Choose the install location, Click Next

Slide8

Here is an overview of the choices we made, time to Install

Slide10

It will take a little bit of time to install, when it completes it will proceed to start installing vSphere Web Client components.

 Slide3

vSphere Web Client begins to install and register with SSO. Next up is the Inventory Service.

Slide1

Pretty simply choice, keep your existing inventory or stay up all night and rebuild it. We chose to get some sleep tonight! Click Next

Slide2

It’s ready to install the Inventory Services, Click Install

Slide5

Install the components and watch the progress bar. It will immediately go into vCenter Upgrade next.

Slide1

Click Next

Slide2

Enter License, Click Next Slide3 \

Enter your SQL Database credentials for vCenter Database, Click Next

Slide4

It prompts you that vSphere Update Manager isn’t compatible with 5.5 (we will upgrade that after we are done), Click OK

Slide5

Upgrade the existing vCenter database, check the box, Click Next

Slide6

Choose Automatic, Click Next

Slide7

Unless you want a Domain Account to auto login, choose a separate login account for the vCenter Service Account.

Slide8

Validate your ports, you have the option to increase the ephemeral ports. We didn’t increase them because we will not hit 2000+ VM’s before vSphere 6 comes out, Click Next

Slide9

Everybody has a different take on this option, we chose Large so that we don’t have to hit an artificial limit on JVM Memory issues, to each his own, Click Next

Slide10

Time to Install, Click Install

Slide11

The database upgrade took a while…

Slide13

Progress!!!

Slide15

vCenter has finished the upgrade process, are we done? Not just yet!

Time to install the Windows vSphere Client, just select the Client install option and click Install.

Slide0

Next through the options since there isn’t any customization to apply.

Slide5

vSphere Client is updated, to sign in!

So at this point we went to fire up vCenter Windows Client to start upgrading Update Manager but ran into an error where our AD accounts wouldn’t authenticate to vCenter. After a little research (Google!) we found this article from VMware. We have a AD Admin group nested into the Local Admin group, upgraded vCenter doesn’t like this.

It was an easy fix, log in using local admin to vSphere Web Client, go to vCenter permissions and add Domain Admin group (users to manage vCenter), then you are back in business. Now it’s time to upgrade vSphere Update Manager so we can start upgrading ESXi Hosts.

Slide1

Choose vSphere Update Manager and Click Install

Slide2

In the Installation has detected our existing version of Update Manager, Click OK

Slide3

Click Next

Slide4

Allow Update Manager to download baselines, patches and others after install, Click Next

Slide5

Verify your vCenter Information, remember that vCenter account we entered earlier? Time to enter it again, it will validate and Click Next

Slide6

SQL Connection Info, Click Next

Slide7

Choose Yes I want to upgrade my VUM Database!, Click Next

Slide8

Verify Port Settings, Click Next

Slide9

Click Install

Slide10

Watch the progress!

Slide11

Installation is complete time to fire up the vSphere Windows Client to install the plugin.

Slide12

Login using your credentials or use Windows Credentials. Notice the warning in the new version, you MUST use Windows VIC to manage Update Manager, Site Recovery Manager or an isolated Host.

Now we need to load vSphere Update Manager into our vSphere Client so navigate to Plug-ins > Manage Plug-ins

Slide13

Choose Download and Install under the Status Column, It will fire up the Client Install

Slide15

Click Next

Slide16

Accept the End User License Agreement, Click Next

Slide17

Click Install

Slide18

Watch the progress!

Slide19

Click Finish

Slide20

Now we see that vSphere Update Manager has been installed and is “Enabled” in vSphere Client, time to start upgrading hosts!

First we need to create a Baseline to see which hosts are out of compliance. So let’s start there.

From the Home view select Update Manager from Solutions and Applications

Slide1

Create a new Baseline

Slide2

Choose a Name and select Host Upgrade for your baseline type, Click Next

Slide3

Choose you ESXi Image, if you do not see the ESXi image in the list, go to Admin View > ESXi Images tab to import the ESXi 5.5 image, Click Next

Slide4

 

Verify your settings and Click Finish, now we can run our baseline again the hosts we want to upgrade. For now we are only upgrading our Production Server Hosts because we are waiting on Teradici to update the Firmware of the APEX 2800 PCoIP Offload Cards for vSphere 5.5

 

Final Thoughts

So we simulated almost everything before we did the upgrade in Production, aside from the Nested AD Group, we didn’t hit any snags. I hope this walk through has been beneficial. If you have any questions or comments please post them.

vSphere 5.5 Upgrade – Ready, Aim, Fire!

I was hoping to have my DFW VMUG User Conference Download article finished today but I am waiting on my slide decks to put the final pieces together. So look for that article in the next few days, spoiler alert: the User Conference was awesome!

I want to upgrade vSphere 5.5 all night long!

Tonight we will be upgrading our vCenter environment to 5.5. As our team was going through our checklist I ran across some good tidbits of information, a lot of which came from my previous post. The two biggest items so far have been the which order to upgrade the components and to make sure there would be any hiccups during the upgrade. The component upgrade process we are going to follow is based on KB Article 2057795. Here is the upgrade order I plan to take:

5.5 Upgrade

So far we are aware of one issue going into the upgrade, there is a Single Sign-On issue related to AD authentication when running SSO on Windows 2012, you can find the reference here. I’m glad we caught this because we were planning to migrate our vCenter server onto 2012. There is a fix, but will wait to do the OS upgrade for another night.

I will be following up with my notes on how the upgrade process went.

Wish me luck!

DFW VMUG User Conference is tomorrow!

cropped-vmw_vmug_logo31The Dallas-Fort Worth VMware User Group is hosting their annual User Conference tomorrow, October 25, at the Irving Convention Center from 8am-5pm. This User Conference is a great opportunity to network with other VMware people (no matter what position!), gain valuable knowledge on what is going on in the world of VMware, better understanding of Solutions Best Practices and more.

A lot of what will be discussed is information that was announced at VMworld 2013, including vSphere 5.5, NSX, vCloud Hybrid Services, Open Stack and Horizon Suite. So if you weren’t able to make it to San Francisco then definitely come to the User Conference!

It’s also a great time to meet up with other members of the DFW VMUG, get involved, get signed up and of course you cannot miss vBeers at Champps in Las Colinas afterwards.

Keynote Sessions:

  • Lunch Keynote – Damian Karlson
  • End User Computing Keynote – Steve Kaplan
  • Industry Expert Panel
    • Jon Harris
    • Mark Vaughn
    • Tony Foster
    • Tommy Trogden

There will also be several breakout sessions:

  • Automation Generation – Nick Weaver
  • A Deep Dive on VMware Horizon Mirage Technical Use Cases
  • Horizon Workspace Architecture and Design Discussions
  • Troubleshooting Your VMware Horizon View Implementation
  • How to Troubleshoot VM Performance Issues Across Applications, Infrastructure and Storage Using vCenter Operations Management
  • Troubleshooting Storage Performance (Is it the Hardware or the Software?)
  • Performance Best Practices for vSphere
  • Software Defined Storage, The VCDX Way!
  • VMware Virsto Technical Best Practice

Event Registration

Event Agenda

Event Sponsors

Irving Convention Center

500 W Las Colinas Blvd, Irving, TX 75039

Directions

The best part is…IT’S FREE! Who doesn’t like free?

Hope to see you there, I will be sporting my VMUG T-Shirt.

RTFM or KB’s – vSphere 5.5

So vSphere 5.5 is out and you are all pumped to get it loaded into your production environment. I know I am! There are a few important articles that you should check out before you start down the 5.5 road. Rick Blythe has compiled an awesome list for us to reference! Enjoy!

PS: Thanks Wayne Conrad for the link on Google+

Links inserted from: http://blogs.vmware.com/kb/2013/09/vsphere-5-5-is-here-kbs-you-need-to-know-about.html

The first grouping contains absolute ‘must know’ information, the second grouping gets a bit more into details.

Also not to be missed:

Hello World!

This is the first of what I hope is many posts related to the ever expanding world of Virtualization as it relates to VMware and the solutions that it supports. From vSphere to Horizon View and beyond, it is my goal to continue to enhance my knowledge about VMware Solutions and how they are helping me achieve efficiency at my job.

 

So stay tuned for more (hopefully good!) articles in the near future.