My vSphere Upgrade -or- How I Broke The Network

Let me preface this by saying that this is not my first vSphere upgrade.  I’m comfortable with the procedures and I’m confident in my ability.   I still broke the network.  But, like a good admin should, I own up to it.  It was my fault.  But, also like a good admin, I tracked down the outage and fixed it.  Pointing fingers and redirecting blame doesn’t get the packets flowing again.  Ok, I’ve got that out of the way so you can’t look upon me with scorn.

It all started during a monthly maintenance cycle.  This month, I was deploying a new vCenter 5.5 Server Appliance (VCSA) to replace our non-virtualized Windows 2008 vCenter 5.1 Server.  I didn’t really care about historical data, and recreating permissions and so forth is relatively simple in this particular environment, so my plan was to stand up a new VCSA, disconnect the hosts from the old vCenter and connect them to VCSA.  Next, I used VUM to upgrade the hosts from 5.1 to 5.5.

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How to set up VMware ESXi, a Synology NFS NAS, and Failover Storage Networking

Hello, sandwich fans!  It’s been awhile since I’ve written, but I have some fresh deli meat for you today.  If you recall, last year I wrote a blog post about setting up VMware, Synology, and iSCSI MPIO.   It turns out to have been my most-read post so far, for which I thank you.  Since I’ve gotten such positive feedback, today I’m going to show you a similar setup, but this time I’m going to use NFS instead of iSCSI.

There are some pretty significant differences between iSCSI and NFS, both in terms of architecture and performance. One big difference is that NFS really doesn’t have support for multi-pathing (MPIO) in the way that iSCSI does.  It has a few work-arounds like using alternate subnets and so forth, but for today we’re going to rely on simple failover on the host side with LACP link bonding on the storage side.    Later on, we’ll compare the performance to the iSCSI system we built last year.

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Back up your ESXi host configurations with PowerCLI and vCLI

I hate PowerCLI.  There.  I said it.  I’m not a programmer.  I can barely script.  My upcoming VCAP exam pretty much requires some proficiency in PowerCLI.  Perhaps you see my dilemma.  Since I have to know it, I figured I’d better learn it.  I decided to get started with something relatively simpe:  Backing up my host configs.  I’m going to show you how and I’m going to explain the commands.

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Performance testing a Synology NAS using Iometer

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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