Tuesday, October 13, 2020

VMware Connect Learning (previously VLZ) - now FREE for 12 months

There have been a couple of branding changes at VMware:

    VMware Education Services is now known as VMware Learning
    VMware Learning Zone is now known as VMware Connect Learning

VMware Connect Learning is a huge library of self-paced training and videos which you can use to learn about new technology, new products, new features, or pecific use cases. It has Basic and Premium options which work as annual subscriptions - learn more about it here

There was a promotion started earlier this year which gave a FREE Premium subscription for 6 months - the exciting news (and the reason for this post) is that the promotion has been extended to give a full 12 months access!

There's no reason to wait - the promotion is available til the end of October - head to the subscription page now and sign-up!

I hope this has been informative and thank you for reading!

Friday, September 25, 2020

vSphere 7 Update 1

vSphere continues to deliver the ability to scale your infrastructure to meet the demands of modern application workloads such as Kubernetes clusters/pods, or high-performance application workloads. 


Let’s glance at the increased scalability numbers and see how it can benefit you in your journey towards application modernisation.

vSphere 7 update 1, the total number of ESXi hosts in a vSphere Cluster is now increased to 96 hosts compared to 64 hosts in a previous release. Starting from vSphere 7 Update 1, you can run up to 10000 VMs in a vSphere cluster compared to 6400 VMs in vSphere 7.

Starting from vSphere 7 Update 1, we now support a maximum of 768 vCPU and 24 TB vRAM per VM, leaving competitors far behind in this category. These scales are well suited to support memory-intensive database workloads such as SAP HANA and EPIC Cache Operational Database.

 I hope this has been informative and thank you for reading!

Thursday, August 20, 2020

vSphere Lifecycle Manager - vshere 7 vLCM

vSphere Auto Deploy is a great feature that uses PXE boot infrastructure together with vSphere Host Profiles to provision and customize ESXi hosts. Depending on the ESXi host configuration, enforced by its attached Host Profile, state information is stored on the ESXi host itself or by the Auto Deploy server. When the Auto Deploy server manages the state information for ESXi hosts, it is referred to as a stateless installation.

Sphere 7, the new vSphere Lifecycle Manager (vLCM) is introduced. vLCM is a powerful new approach to simplify consistency for ESXi host lifecycle management. Not only for the hypervisor itself, but also for the full stack of drivers and firmware for the server hardware powering your virtual infrastructure. This blog post details vLCM support for vSphere Auto Deploy.

Stateless vs Stateful

using Auto Deploy, which is part of the vSphere Enterprise+ license, there’s some infrastructural components used. Think about a TFTP host for the boat-loader used by Auto Deploy, DNS and DHCP (configured with option 66 and 67), and a syslog target for logs and dumps next to your vSphere infrastructure that contains the Auto Deploy feature.

Customers have multiple options in Auto Deploy. There’s several configuration options how ESXi is run on the physical host. Options are:

   Stateful Install: When a host is booted for the first time, the host profile configuration states Auto Deploy is to install ESXi on local host storage. All consecutive host boots, only the local storage is used until the image profile configuration is changed.

    Stateless: Auto Deploy is used to install ESXi in memory on the target host. The state information of the ESXi host is managed by Auto Deploy. No local storage is required.
    Stateless Caching: Similar to Stateless installations. However, the ESXi image and configuration is cached on local storage. If communication with the Auto Deploy server is disrupted, the host is able to boot using the cached data.

vLCM (Manage with a single image) the following screen provides information about the prerequisites.

When configuring the Auto-Deploy “Deploy Rule”, select a vLCM managed cluster to be the “Host Location” to use Auto Deploy with vCLM. By doing so, there is no need to provide an Image Profile because vLCM will automatically create it from the selected cluster

Migrate from stateless to stateful

Auto Deploy environment from stateless to stateful? This is as easy as re-configuring the Host Profile used in the deploy rules. Moving to a stateful installation does require host local storage, to verify if your host is equipped with local storage. Be sure to check the url vSphere 7 – ESXi System Storage Changes to get a better understanding of what is required and recommended for ESXi host local storage in vSphere 7.

Select the Host Profile as used in the Auto Deploy Deploy Rule. This is where you need to change the System Image Cache Configuration to ‘Enable stateful installs on the host’. The process of changing the Host Profile configuration

once ESXi hosts reboot, the ESXi bits are installed on the host local storage. The installation is persistent, fully supported by vLCM

I hope this has been informative and thank you for reading!

Friday, July 17, 2020

vSphere 7 Hands-on Labs

VMware Hands-on Labs are hosted lab environments where anyone can try VMware products with no installation or experience required. Each lab is accompanied by a lab manual which guides the user through a set of exercises used to demonstrate product capabilities and use cases. VMware Hands-on Labs are available for free to anyone and are great tools to learn a new product or feature or even study for an exam. And, since these are fully functional lab environments, users have the ability to go off-script and explore, test, and learn as they see fit.

New vSphere 7 Hands-on Labs (HOLs for short). These HOLs focus on our latest vSphere offering and allow users to check out its new capabilities without having to download and install in their environments.

   VMware vSphere – What’s New                    HOL-2111-01-SDC
   VMware vSphere – Advanced Topics              HOL-2111-02-SDC
   VMware vSphere – Security Getting Started   -  HOL-2111-03-SDC
   VMware vSphere 7 with Kubernetes               HOL-2113-01-SDC

These vSphere 7 Hands-on Labs have about 4.5 hours of brand new exercises and content to help users learn all about our new vSphere 7 release.

I hope this has been informative and thank you for reading!

Friday, May 29, 2020

Virtual Watchdog - vSphere 7

The new virtual watchdog timer (vWDT) is a new virtual device introduced in vSphere 7. It enables developers and administrators to have a standard way to know whether the guest operating system (OS) and applications, running inside a virtual machine, have crashed. It is an important function for clustered applications to gain high availability.

A watchdog timer helps the operating system or application to recover from crashes by powering off or resetting the server if the watchdog timer has not been reset by the OS within the programmed time. When workloads run on vSphere, the virtual equivalent of the watchdog timer helps the guest OS to achieve the same goal. It does so by resetting the virtual machine if the guest OS stops responding and cannot recover on its own due insuperable operating system or application faults.

This means that if the guest operating system stops responding and cannot recover on its own due insuperable operating system or application faults, the virtual watchdog timer is not reset within the allocated time. When this happens, a virtual machine reset is issued. When the system in the virtual machine is booted again, the watchdog timer helps the guest OS to understand if the restart was caused by a crash.

The virtual watchdog device is provided by vSphere, but is configured by the guest OS. It is exposed to the guest OS through BIOS/EFI ACPI tables. 

Guest OS Support
Modern server operating systems include support for watchdog timers. No additional VMware drivers are necessary on both Windows and Linux operating systems. Additional configuration may be required depending on the used guest OS. Other operating systems like FreeBSD of Mac OS X do not support a watchdog timer.
  •     Windows 2003 supports a Watchdog Resource Table (WDRT)
  •     Windows 2008 and later supports Watchdog Action Table (WDAT).
    • The guest OST does not require additional configurations.
  •     Linux distributions, like Ubuntu 18.04 and Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.6, based on 4.9 or later kernel support Watchdog Action Table (WDAT).
    • Verify if the wdat_wdt.ko driver is available.
Virtual Watchdog Configuration

The goal is to provide a watchdog timer that allows the guest OS to use it without the need for additional drivers. To configure a virtual machine to use a virtual watchdog timer, VM hardware version 17 (introduced with vSphere 7) and a guest operating system that supports watchdog timer devices are required. 
Start with BIOS/EFI boot

You can enable the virtual watchdog timer to start either by the guest OS, or by the BIOS or EFI firmware. If you chose the virtual watchdog device to start by the BIOS or EFI firmware, it starts before the guest operating system boots. Be sure you meet the requirements. If the guest OS does not support watchdog devices, then virtual machine will be constantly rebooted by the watchdog device. 

The vSphere Client provides information if the virtual watchdog timer is running on the virtual machine. 
The virtual Watchdog device capability in vSphere 7 is a great addition for VI admins and developers to understand the status of their clustered applications running on vSphere.

I hope this has been informative and thank you for reading!


Friday, April 24, 2020

vSphere 7 Core Storage

vSphere 7, there are some exciting new storage features and interoperability. Under  core storage, we’ve added external connectivity to NVMe device with NVMeoF, shared VMDKs for Microsoft WSFC, and in VMFS, optimized first writes for thin-provisioned disks. On the vVols front, many products our customers use were not supported. Many of our engineering groups have been hard at work, adding support for vVols. SRM, CNS, and vRops now support vVols! 

Support for NVMeoF

vSphere now supports NVMe over Fabrics allowing connectivity to external NVMe arrays using either FC or RDMA (RoCE v2). As NVMe continues to grow and become the preferred storage, being able to connect to external NVMe arrays is critical. With this first iteration partner and customers will be able to evaluate NVMeoF.

Shared VMDKs

No one really likes RDMs, but in many cases, they are required for clustered applications. In this release, we have added another avenue to migrate off RDMs. VMFS6 with vSphere 7 now supports SCSI-3 Persistent Reservations. Now you can migrate your Microsoft WSFC to VMFS using FC connectivity.

Affinity 2.0

Thick or Thin provisioned disks has, and continues to be, a topic of discussion with each having its pros and cons. The most common con of thin provisioning is the overhead of the first write to unused space. With the new Affinity Manager, that impact has been reduced by creating a Region Map of available resources, thus avoiding the back and forth between the file system and Resource Manager to find available space.

vVols Interoperability

vVols’ increasing growth and adoption has customers asking for support in many of VMware's other solutions. In vSphere 7, there has been a significant advancement in getting vVols supported by other products.

SRM support for vVols

As one of the biggest asks, vVols support in Site Recovery Manager which has been in development for about a year. We showed tech previews at VMworld last year, and there was quite a bit of interest. Numerous customers have been waiting for SRM support before moving to vVols. The wait is over, and it is finally official; SRM 8.3 now supports vVols! For more information, here's the link to SRM.

vROps support for vVols

Another popular request was the support of vVols in vRealize Operations (vROps). The question often arose, “Why can’t we see vVols datastores in vROps, it’s just another datastore?” Well, with the release of vROps 8.1, vVols datastores are now supported.

CNS support for vVols

Kubernetes is quickly becoming the standard for deploying new applications. With its modular and scalable functionality, it allows organizations to quickly ramp and adapt their applications. In vSphere 7, we have added support for vVols as persistent storage in CNS, allowing the use of an SPBM policy to map to a Storage Class. This allows for simplified management of your CNS infrastructure while utilizing the benefits of vVols. With this release, vVols snapshots and replication are not be supported.


VMware Cloud Foundation allows organizations to deploy and manage their private and public clouds. VCF currently supports vSAN, VMFS, and NFS for principle storage. Customers are asking for support of vVols as principle storage; while the VCF team continues to evaluate and develop that option, it is not available. In the meantime, vVols may be used as supplemental storage after the Workload Domain build has completed. Support for vVols as supplemental storage is a partner supported option.

I hope this has been informative and thank you for reading!

Thursday, April 16, 2020

VMware Cloud Foundation 4 (VCF)

VMware announced VMware Cloud Foundation 4 during the App Modernization in a Multi-Cloud World online launch event.  VMware Cloud Foundation 4 brings together the latest innovations in VMware vSphere 7, VMware vSAN 7, VMware NSX-T, and VMware vRealize Suite 2019, along with new capabilities from VMware Tanzu to support Kubernetes, cloud native architectures and app transformation in your business.

VMware Cloud Foundation has already been shown to reduce TCO for organizations who build their hybrid cloud on the VMware Cloud Foundation platform.  By delivering enterprise agility, reliability, and efficiency from initial deployment through Day 2 operations, Cloud Foundation helps you to deploy the full HCI stack as the foundation of your private cloud.

Complexity of Modern AppsWe know that modern applications are rapidly evolving.  They are being deployed more often and are needed faster to meet line of business objectives.  Modern apps can be built using a combination of VMs, containers, microservices and serverless functions.  As such, a hybrid cloud platform that only supports virtual machines is insufficient to meet the needs of today’s applications.

VMware Cloud Foundation 4 brings full-stack integration of the HCI infrastructure layer together with native Kubernetes capabilities built into the stack to provide an automated, turnkey hybrid cloud solution that will help you manage complex Kubernetes environments, deliver a developer experience that greatly reduces risk and increases IT operational efficiency.

By consolidating Kubernetes clusters & VM workloads on the Cloud Foundation platform – managed with existing vSphere tools, processes and skillsets – customers will recognize improved economics.  That same platform can extend across the Hybrid Cloud to deliver the portability of vSphere-based workloads to modern apps.

VMware Cloud Foundation 4 adds a new component to the full HCI stack – VMware Tanzu Kubernetes Grid.  With Tanzu Kubernetes Grid, developers can manage consistent, compliant and conformant Kubernetes clusters running on vSphere through Kubernetes tools and restful APIs.  At the same time, vSphere 7 with Kubernetes (previously known as ‘Project Pacific’) will deliver hybrid infrastructure services, all accessible through Kubernetes and RESTful APIs, including:
  • vSphere Pod Service extends Kubernetes with the ability to run pods directly on the hypervisor. When developers deploy containers using the vSphere Pod service, they get the same level of security isolation, performance guarantees and management capabilities that VMs enjoy.
  • Registry Service allows developers to store, manage and better secure Docker and OCI images using Harbor.
  • Network Service allows developers to manage Virtual Routers, Load Balancers and Firewall Rules.
  • Storage Service allows developers to manage persistent disks for use with container, Kubernetes and virtual machines.
Together with vSAN 7, NSX-T and vRealize Suite 2019, Tanzu Kubernetes Grid and vSphere 7 with Kubernetes deliver a new level of consistency in infrastructure and operations across hybrid clouds.

I hope this has been informative and thank you for reading!

VMware Connect Learning (previously VLZ) - now FREE for 12 months

There have been a couple of branding changes at VMware:     VMware Education Services is now known as VMware Learning     VMware Learning Zo...