In my last post, I discussed building a lightweight VMware infrastructure for a customer using a Synology RS2414RP+ NAS. Today, I wanted to do some performance testing and baselining to get an idea of the kind of load it would support. To do this, I used a VMware Fling called VMware I/O Analyzer. A Fling is an ad-hoc tool built by VMware engineers or the community as one-off side projects.
Author Archives: Frank Pineau
How to set up VMware ESXi, a Synology iSCSI NAS, and Active/Active MPIO
Update: Looking for NFS instead of iSCSI? Check out this post: How to set up VMware ESXi, a Synology NFS NAS, and Failover Storage Networking
This week, I’ve been working on a lightweight virtualization infrastructure for a customer and I thought you’d like to see a little of how I put it together. The customer wasn’t really interested in paying for a full SAN solution that would include chassis redundancy and high performance. They opted instead for a 12-bay Synology RS2414 RP+, a couple of HP servers for ESXi hosts, and a Cisco 2960 Layer 2 Gigabit storage switch all tied together with VMware vSphere Essentials Plus.
While not exactly a powerhouse in terms of speed and reliability, this entry-level virtualization platform should serve to introduce them into the world of virtual servers, drastically reduce rackspace and power consumption, provide the flexibility they need to recover quickly from server hardware outages, and allow them to more easily migrate off of their aging server hardware and operating systems all without breaking the bank. Today, I’m going to show you how I set up Active/Active MPIO using redundant links on both the ESXi hosts and the Synology NAS, allowing for multipath failover and full utilization of all network links.
Importing a Foreign VMDK
One of my users asked me for a VM last week to test out some demo software. I created the VM and handed it off. Later, he told me that something was wrong with the server because he couldn’t get his demo to run. It turns out that the demo was provided as a zipped-up collection of virtual machine files. The software vendor had instructed him to install VMWare Player, load up the files, and run it that way. Of course, the VM I provided him wasn’t set up to run a nested player, so I told him to give me the files and I would load them up as a native (and un-nested) virtual machine.
Enabling SNMP on your VMware host
If you’re like me, you like to have monitoring running against, well, pretty much everything. vSphere vCenter has pretty good alerting but I also have an SNMP monitor that I can use. Today, I’m going to show you how to enable SNMP on your ESXi hosts.
Diagnosing a PSOD
Last week, one of my hosts purple-screened. This seems like a bad thing, but it’s really not, and it does happen sometimes. It’s good practice to determine the root cause in case it’s something likely to happen again.
Believe it or not, purple screens are really a good thing. Your system is trying to save you from much worse. What is generally happening when you get a “Purple Screen of Death” is that some piece of hardware or software is misbehaving to the point that you are going to start experiencing data corruption and so the entire system halts to protect it from itself.
In my case, my PSOD came from a non-maskable interrupt. This is a special interrupt that the system is not allowed to ignore. It’s a signal that something critical just happened and Bad Things will ensue unless immediate action is taken. In the short term, it means your system just crashed. In the long term, it just saved you from potentially major data corruption. Bad, and yet good. On my HP server, NMI errors are generated by the hpnmi driver (which you should have installed as part of your VMware HP driver package to all of your HP ESXi hosts). This driver will keep an eye on your HP hardware and generate an NMI in the event of a catastrophic failure.
VCAP5-DCA exam updated to version 5.5
Well, this might pose a bit of a conundrum for me. VMware today announced that they’ve updated the VCAP5-DCA exam to version 5.5. I’m smack-dab in the middle of my VCAP5-DCA study. All of my test prep has been for the version 5.0 test and I have much less familiarity with 5.5’s web client than I have with the VIC. If I elect to take the 5.5 exam, I’m going to have to build a new lab and start over with some topics. Luckily, it appears as though the 5.0 test will still be offered (at least for now) and that either test will grant the VCAP5-DCA.
Building a Lab computer
My desktop computer recently died an ignominious death. And by that, I mean it just refused to boot. Not even a beep code. Troubleshooting it seemed to indicate that the old AMD Athlon64 processor had finally croaked. I was kind of in the market for a new PC anyway, but I’d rather have done a graceful migration, not a dead-PC replacement.
I had a couple of goals I wanted to accomplish:
VMware training and certification on a budget
One of the problems with working for a smaller company is that the money for training is rarely in the budget. For this reason, I have to find alternative routes that I can afford to pay for myself. VMware has a fairly expensive barrier to entry in that the prerequisite for the VCP program is a pricey formal class. I actually like this idea because it rarefies the certification somewhat. I still remember the heady days of the paper MCSE where anyone could do a test dump and get certified.
VMware has several levels of certification. They have the Associate program, which requires no class time and certifies that you have a very basic understanding of the product. They have Professional program at the next level, which does requires class time and has a fairly difficult multiple-choice test. Then there’s the Advanced Professional (the one I’m currently working on) for which the test is entirely lab work, and lastly the Design Expert level which I liken to a doctoral thesis in that you have to present a design before a review board and defend it.
SSL + DDNS on Synology NAS
Last year, I picked up a Synology Diskstation DS412+. This is a great little NAS. It’s affordable, consisting of basically just a backplane and a chassis. You supply your own hard drives. I bought it because I needed a local server that could stream media to a Roku and it fit the bill perfectly. One of the cool side benefits is that this model supports NFS, iSCSI and VAAI primitives, so it will make a nifty target for my VMware lab. I’ll talk about all that in a later post. In this one, I want to talk about dynamic DNS.
Frank’s Tech Support and Pretty Good Sandwiches Grand Opening
Alright, I have to be honest here. This very first post is not going to be my best work. This is the post that WordPress wants you to make as part of the setup process for your account. Bear with me.
I’ve had the idea kicking around for awhile to make a tech blog where I could share some of the solutions to virtualization and networking problems that I’ve encountered as a way to give little back to the folks who have helped me solve those problems. I also happen to like sandwiches, and the ones I make are pretty good. They’re not great. I’m not a chef. Likewise, my solutions are pretty good. I want them to be great and I’m hoping this blog will help improve my skills.
The name came from a goofy conversation I had with my wife. I told her I wanted to open a restaurant that served deli sandwiches and where you could get your PC defragged or whatever while you were eating. I would have a glass-enclosed server room off to one side that the diners could view. The place would look like a tech room or a datacenter. The gag was that the tech counter would always be closed with a sign that said “At lunch, back in 30 minutes.” and the sandwiches would be an weird mix of whatever I felt like making that day and where I could be deliberately surly and belligerent to the customers (in stark contrast to how users usually treat I.T.). For example, I’d serve an “Egg McMahon” which is just a plain egg salad sandwich, but it would cost a million dollars and be delivered along with a camera crew and some balloons. I think it would be an annoying place to eat.
In the last year or so, I’ve started diving heavily into virtualization. I took and passed the VMware Certified Professional certification and I’ve started working on my Advanced certification. My goal, eventually, is to achieve a VCDX, although I don’t know how realistic that is. I think it would be cool if people came here to find the answer to that annoying problem they’ve been Googling for the last three hours. I’ll write up my solutions as best I can and hope to drag a few people out of the dark along with me.
Thanks for reading and I hope you come back!