MOA – VMware on the road

what is
this ?

The MOA project started in 2003 as a plugin for Bart Lagerwijs PEbuilder. This plugin allowed to run VMware Workstation 4.5.2 from a Windows based LiveCD.
Since that time it has been in constant development and nowadays you can use it for much more than that.

Typical use-cases :
– it is a very good replacement for the VMware Coldclone CD
– it can be used to run VMs in a restricted Kiosk-mode
– it can be used as a very powerful multi purpose portable toolbox

How to Install Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 for VMware vCenter 5 – The Lone Sysadmin

by Bob Plankers on October 6, 2011 · 9 comments

in Best Practices,How To,Virtualization

My venerable post on installing MS SQL Server 2008 for vCenter 4 was getting old, so I thought I’d update it, if only because I have a new admin helping me and I’m going to stick him with doing a bunch of installs. Ha!

I thank the VMware folks who have incorporated a lot of the tweaks from my original document into the defaults for vCenter 5. They were probably obvious, and not taken from my work, but it’s content I don’t need anymore. Awesome.

While I don’t mean this page to become a general support site for vCenter SQL Server installations please leave a comment if something needs to be clarified or corrected, or if I’m doing something dumb here. I consider my DBA skills to be somewhere between amateur and semi-pro, I’m self-taught mainly via Googling stuff, and may not have an answer for you if you are asking a support question. It should go without saying that you should talk to VMware or Microsoft Support if you are having issues.

There are some decent installation resources on Microsoft’s TechNet site for preparing SQL Server installations. It’s worth the read through. Likewise, the first installations I did were on a non-Active Directory, standalone Windows Server VM that I’d taken a snapshot of. The ability to revert the snapshot and try again is priceless.

I am using Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 running on Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2. As with all things in IT your mileage may vary, so use your head. These instructions assume a familiarity with Windows, and a general ability to figure things out once you’ve seen it once (towards the end you’ll see why I say this, I start omitting a lot of repetitive maintenance plan stuff). I tend to create local accounts, even with Active Directory, because I’m just paranoid about network authentication. Do what you like or what you need to.


1. Create an individual role account, ‘sqldb’ for SQL Server. Assign it a long, random password, set “Password never expires” and “User not allowed to change password.”

2. Decide where you are going to do the install. On my hosts I have a system drive, C:, and an application/data drive, E:, which I use for installations like this. This might be a good time to use a database sizing calculator.

3. Download the latest VMware-certified Microsoft SQL Server service pack (from Microsoft) for immediate installation afterwards.

4. Install Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 through Server Manager->Select Server Roles. Check “Application Server” and permit it to add the required features, then advance to the “Select Role Services” page. Check only the “.NET Framework 3.5.1? option, then continue through the installation.


1. Run Setup.The SQL Server Installation Center will start. I usually pick the “System Configuration Checker” from the Planning menu, just to make sure nothing is seriously wrong. If it is I fix it, then exit the Checker.

Once that is complete I choose “Installation” on the left, then “New installation or add features to an existing installation.” This will start the installer. Follow along and enter the license key, then advance to accepting the license terms. I usually don’t opt to send usage data offsite, but do whatever you want.

2. The installer will prompt you to install Setup Support files. You don’t have much choice so go ahead with it.

3. Fix anything Setup Support identifies as a warning or error. If it’s the firewall rules generating a warning consider if you will be connecting from off-machine. If not, no worries, else the warning text has a URL to follow for instructions on how to modify the firewall.

4. On the “Setup Role” page choose “SQL Server Feature Installation.”

5. On the “Feature Selection” page:

Check “Instance Features -> Database Engine Services”

Under “Shared Features” choose Client Tools Connectivity, Management Tools – Basic, and Management Tools – Complete.

I usually also select SQL Server Books Online, too, because I like having the reference available.

I change the Shared Feature directories from C: to E:, with the same path.

6. On the “Instance Configuration” page:

I choose the default instance, leaving the instance ID set to the default (MSSQLSERVER) and change the instance root directory from C: to E: with the same path.

7. Keep clicking Next until you get to the “Server Configuration” page:

Click “Use the same account for all SQL Server services” and enter the account information for the ‘sqldb’ user you created.

Set “SQL Server Agent” to startup type of Automatic. Ensure the “SQL Server Database Engine” is also set to Automatic.

Double-check that “SQL Server Browser” is set to Disabled and has the account name set to “NT AUTHORITYLOCAL SERVICE”

8. On the “Database Engine Configuration” page:

On the “Account Provisioning” tab choose Mixed Mode (SQL Server authentication and Windows authentication). Set a password for the built-in SQL Server system administrator account that is nice and random. This is the superuser account for the database.

Under “Specify SQL Server administrators” add any additional users that will need to maintain the SQL Server (such as yourself). This makes it easy for them to log in and do things. The “Add Current User” button is nice…

On the “Data Directories” tab I change all the C:s to E:s, but that’s just how I roll.

9. Keep moving through the pages of the installation wizard and finish the installation, then install the latest SQL Server Service Pack. Manually run Windows Update to also check for any updates available that way. Reboot if it tells you to.

Database Configuration

1. Start the Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio and log in as the ‘sa’ user.

2. Right-click the topmost SQL Server object, usually named with the machine name or “local” (depending on how you logged in). Choose “Properties.” Choose the “Memory” page. Set “Maximum Server Memory (in MB)” to something sane for the host. I usually set it to 25%-50% of the RAM on the host. The more memory you can give it the better, as the database will cache data in RAM, but you also want to leave room in RAM for the OS (2 GB), some file cache, and vCenter (4 GB) if you are going to install it on the same host. Swapping is bad, remember you can always go in later and increase it again. Click OK.

3. Right-click the “Databases” folder, pick “New Database…” Under “General” I set the database name to “VCDB” but you can name it whatever you want as long as you remember the name. Under “Options” set the recovery model to “Simple.” Click OK.

4. Right-click the “Security” folder, pick “New->Login.” In the General page enter the username ‘vpxuser’, select “SQL Server authentication” and enter a nice long random password that you’ll remember and/or record. I uncheck “Enforce password policy,” “Enforce password expiration,” and “User must change password at next login.” Set the default database to VCDB and the default language to English.

Click the “User Mapping” page on the right. Check the “Map” box for VCDB, then choose db_owner from the role membership list below. Then check the “Map” box for msdb, and choose db_owner for that, too.

I click the “…” box in the “Default Schema” column for both msdb and VCDB, and set the default schema to ‘dbo’. Then click OK.

By the way, you have some options here, as outlined in the VMware documentation. However, I think their documentation is a bit confusing, and the installer will take care of most of this for you. I like that.

5. Grant “VIEW SERVER STATE” to vpxuser in the database in order to enable database monitoring. The quickest way to do this is to click the “New Query” button in Server Management Studio, then enter:

grant VIEW SERVER STATE to vpxuser

and press the “!Execute” button.

6. Configure the SQL Server TCP/IP options. By default TCP/IP is enabled for MS SQL Server, but VMware has instructions on changes that need to be made for JDBC support. Make sure you make those changes to the IPs that will get connections, not just the first one you see. If you’re using IPv6 (and you should be) make sure you set the parameters on those IPs, too.

7. Create an ODBC data source. VMware has instructions on how to do this in their vSphere installation documentation. I usually provide the database name and vpxuser login information so I can test the connection when it offers.

8. Grant “Local Launch” permissions to SQL Server 2008. This fixes a known issue that generates event log errors and may prevent some scheduled jobs from running. To do this open Administrative Tools->Component Services.

Browse to Console Root->Component Services->Computers->My Computer->DCOM Config->MsDtsServer100. Right-click MsDtsServer100 and pick “Properties.”

On the “Security” tab, under “Launch and Activation Permissions” select “Customize” and then click Edit. Add the local ‘sqldb’ user you are using and allow Local Launch. Click OK all the way out.

9. I usually reboot at this point. Some of these changes require restarting the SQL Server anyhow, and if you haven’t rebooted for Windows Update and SQL Server service packs it’s a good opportunity.

vCenter Installation

1. Install vCenter. The specifics of this are documented by VMware. If you are prompted, connect to the VCDB database using the ODBC connection you created above, using the ‘vpxuser’ username and password.

Weekly Database Maintenance Tasks

This part of the installation will set up some regular jobs to clean up the database, make backups, and do some performance optimization. I’ll walk you through the basics, figuring that you can handle schedules and whatnot yourself.

1. Start the Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio again and log in as the ‘sa’ user. Open the “Management” folder and right-click “Maintenance Plans.” Select “Maintenance Plan Wizard.”

2. On the “Select Plan Properties” page give it the name “Weekly Maintenance Plan.” I select “Single schedule for the entire plan or no schedule” and click the “Change” button to pick when I want it to run. I usually have the weekly job run at 2100 on Sunday, as nobody is usually doing anything then, and it’s before my server’s backup window. When you figure this out say OK to the schedule and then Next.

3. On the “Select Maintenance Tasks” page I choose: Check Database Integrity, Reorganize Index, Rebuild Index, Update Statistics, Back Up Database (Full), and Maintenance Cleanup Task. Click Next.

4. On the “Select Maintenance Task Order” page I move “Back Up Database (Full) to after “Check Database Integrity” if it isn’t there already.

5. For “Define Database Integrity Check” I choose all databases, including indexes.

6. For “Define Reorganize Index” I choose all databases, compact large objects.

7. For “Define Rebuild Index” I choose all databases, reorganize pages with the default amount of free space. I also check “Keep index online while reindexing.”

8. For “Define Update Statistics” I choose all databases, all existing statistics, full scan.

9. For “Define Back Up Database (Full)” I choose all databases, and ignore databases where the state is not online. I set the backup set to expire after 21 days, back up to disk, and create a backup file for every database. I set the backup folder to be on my data drive, E:Program FilesMicrosoft SQL ServerMSSQL10.MSSQLSERVERMSSQLBackup, and to use a backup file extension of “bak”.

The “Compress Backup” option seems like a good one but it isn’t supported on 64-bit SQL Server. It’ll let you set it, then fail on execution. This is how I learned where the logs are (E:Program FilesMicrosoft SQL ServerMSSQL10.MSSQLSERVERMSSQLLog). You’ve been warned.

10. For “Define Maintenance Cleanup” I have it delete backup files, using “E:Program FilesMicrosoft SQL ServerMSSQL10.MSSQLSERVERMSSQLBackup” as the search path and “bak” as the file extension. I have it delete files older than 22 days, but you can set it to whatever you need. Pick whatever report options you’d like (if you want email you’ll have to define yourself as an operator elsewhere in the Management Studio).

11. Click OK. I usually go into the Maintenance Plans folder now, right click on this job, and choose “Execute” to see if it runs. Check the logs if it doesn’t.

Daily Database Backup Task

1. If you took the steps above you get a weekly full backup. I like daily backups, too. So go back into the Maintenance Plan Wizard and create a new plan called “Daily Differential Backup.” Set the schedule to recur Monday through Saturday at a good time (like before your system backup). You don’t need to schedule it on Sunday if you have the full backup happening then.

2. Choose only “Back Up Database (Differential)” and configure the plan. Again, I set it to back up all databases, ignoring databases where the state is not online, and to back up to the same location as above (E:Program FilesMicrosoft SQL ServerMSSQL10.MSSQLSERVERMSSQLBackup) with the “bak” extension, expiring after 21 days. Same “Compress Backup” warning as above.

3. Pick the report options you like, click through to save the plan. You might try executing it to see if it works.

Regular Reorganize Database Task

1. One of the performance suggestions buried in the VMware KB is to regularly reorganize the indexes, since the historical statistics tables get unwieldy. You can do this manually (boo), or schedule a job to do it by running the Maintenance Plan Wizard again (yay). Choose only “Reorganize Indexes” and set the schedule to recur every six hours, every day (or however often you want, I figure four times a day is a nice compromise). This keeps the logical fragmentation of the indices down.

2. Click through the pages of the wizard until you get to “Define Reorganize Index Task.” Have it only reindex VCDB, choose “Tables and views” in the Object selection, and check “Compact large objects.” Click through until you’re done.

Check Your Work

You’re done. At this point I’d make sure that all the scheduled jobs run, then wait a couple days to make sure the backups are happening. You might want to try restoring a backup then, too, so you know how to do it if you ever need to, or perhaps practice kicking off a manual backup (for upgrade situations, etc.). Watch your disk space for backups and logs, too. If you are getting a lot of logs you can add or change a maintenance plan with a maintenance cleanup task to delete old logs.


via How to Install Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 for VMware vCenter 5 – The Lone Sysadmin.

Understanding VXLAN Virtual-Physical-Cloud L2/L3 Networks

VMware has announced VXLAN, the Virtual Distributed Layer-2 Network IETF draft standard, of which Arista is a co-author. VXLAN is a special encapsulation mechanism that runs between virtual switches and enables virtual machines to be deployed and moved on or between any server within the network. The main benefits to the IT department in planning to support VXLAN is the ability to deploy a virtual machine on any server within the network, regardless of its IP subnet. This enables the IT department to create a scalable network architecture that supports capacity on demand and workload mobility regardless of geography and IP addressing. VXLAN requires no changes to the underlying IP addressing architecture and should require no major changes to installed infrastructure in the data center.

What is VXLAN?

Virtual eXtensible LAN is a new network encapsulation and segmentation mechanism that enables a VM to be deployed on any server, regardless of the IP subnet the physical ESX host is in. It accomplishes this by encapsulating the MAC and IP packets from the virtual NIC with a UDP header and then using IP multicast to emulate a broadcast domain. To get traffic in and out of this encapsulated 'virtual wire' the non-encapsulated traffic must go through a vShield Edge virtual machine acting as a VXLAN gateway. Performing these elegant L3-transparent migrations with L2-only storage transport technologies like FCoE is impossible.

I invite you to take a look at the 'Fall 2011 Arista Webinar Series' that kicks off at the end of September.  Arista will be joined by top industry partners to reveal the best practices of data centers, one vertical at a time.  Arista Tech Education - For Engineers, By Engineers.

How to configure Multi-NIC-vMotion in VMware vSphere 5

We have two new videos for your viewing pleasure today. Both videos discuss and demonstrate the processes involved with configuring Multi-NIC-vMotion in vSphere 5.0

The first video details the process relating to a Standard vSwitch and the second video shows the process concerning a Distributed vSwitch.

Both of these videos were created with the assistance and guidance of our friend Duncan Epping over at Yellow Bricks. Thanks Duncan!

We hope you enjoy these videos!


VKernel presents vOperations Suite 4

In June 2011 I was part of the TechField Day #6 delegation and one of the companies we visited was VKernel. During the VKernel presentation we, the delegates, had a number of comments on the layout / GUI part of vOPS. Only a few months later, VKernel shows they have been using our feedback and of their customers and made some pretty good adjustments to the GUI with the release of VKernel vOPS 4.

Of course that is not the only change in vOPS 4. One of the biggest new features is that VKernel vOPS is now “Hypervisor Agnostic”, which specifically means that besides VMware vSphere, they now also support Microsoft Hyper-V and will be supporting RHEV in Q4 2011.

VKernel vOPS 4 is not only Hypervisor agnostic in a way that it retrieves performance data from both VMware vSphere and HyperV, but the VKernel appliance can of course also be deploy as VMDK and VHD file.

A considerable change in the GUI is the instant drill-down to VM level from a high level view. This high level view shows you the health of all your VMs in one glimps. Each VM is represented by a single square, the more VMs the smaller the squares get. Even with 2000 VMs you can still get a fairly good indication of your complete environment within seconds. VMs in good health are green, VMs with a slight problem are yellow and if things are really bad…. You guessed it, the square that represents the VM turns red.

Except for performance, it is also important to know if you are using your resources in a cost effective way. VKernel came up with a new feature called Cost Optimization. By using a cost index per VM, vOPS 4 can tell you if your VM is being used cost effectively. The index is calculated based on hardware costs, resource usage and VM density.

When talking about this with Bryan Semple (CMO VKernel) I had my doubts about the calculations made. Using the VKernel cost index, a VM using a lot of resources on very expensive hardware, would get ‘punished’ for using these resources on an expensive host. Is that fair? An expensive host often has the most power, fastest RAM, etc and maybe you should run the more resource intensive VMs on the more expensive hosts. But who is to blame if the VM is not running where it should be running? It isn’t the VMs fault. So maybe the index should be more host oriented instead of VM oriented. Bryan thinks I have a point there and he will discuss this with the development team.

More details can be found at the VKernel website.

See full post at: VKernel presents vOperations Suite 4

Towards Virtualized Networking for the Cloud

Towards Virtualized Networking for the Cloud

Posted by Steve Herrod
Chief Technology Officer

VMworld 2011 is well-underway with more than 19,000 attendees gathered in Las Vegas to learn about, celebrate, and drive the future of both virtualization and cloud computing. The amount of news has been staggering, but I want to take more time to focus on one particularly important announcement in this blog; a new vision and approach for networking in the cloud era.

Cloud computing holds the promise of accessing shared resources in a secure, scalable, and self-service manner, and these core tenets place huge demands on today’s physical network infrastructure.  While compute and storage are virtualized, network is still a physical impediment to full workload mobility and can inhibit multi-tenancy and scalability goals. Even with VLAN technologies, the network continues to restrict workloads to the underlying physical network and to non-scalable, hard-to-automate constructs.

Have we seen this before?

I like to think about this problem as similar to one we’ve previously seen in the telephony industry. One of the fundamental challenges with today’s networking is that we use an IP address for two unrelated purposes, as an identity AND as a location. Tying these together restricts a (virtual) machine from moving around as easily as we would like. We had the same challenge with telephony before wireless came of age… our phone number rang for us at a specific destination rather than following us wherever we went!


Just as our mobile phone numbers allow us to take calls virtually anywhere, separation of a machine’s network ID from its physical location enables more mobility and efficiency for applications. And this is exactly what we’re after in the cloud… a model that enables the efficient and fluid movement of virtual resources across shared cloud infrastructures both within and across datacenters. This improved mobility will ultimately enable better approaches to load balancing, disaster recovery, power-usage optimization, datacenter provisioning and migration, and other challenges approaching us in the cloud era.

Welcome VXLAN!

VMware has collaborated with Cisco and other industry leaders to develop an innovative solution to these challenges called “VXLAN” (Virtual eXtensible LAN). VXLAN enables multi-tenant networks at scale, and it is the first step towards logical, software-based networks that can be created on-demand, enabling enterprises to leverage capacity wherever it’s available. How does it work?

Using “MAC-in-UDP” encapsulation, VXLAN provides a Layer 2 abstraction to virtual machines (VMs), independent of where they are located.  It completely untethers the VMs from physical networks by allowing VMs to communicate with each other using a transparent overlay scheme over physical networks that could span Layer 3 boundaries.  Since VMs are completely unaware of the physical networks constraints and only see the virtual layer 2-adjacency, the fundamental properties of virtualization such as mobility and portability are extended across traditional network boundaries. Furthermore, logical networks can be easily separated from one another, simplifying the implementation of true multi-tenancy.

And VXLAN enables better programmability by providing a single interface to authoritatively program the logical network. Operationally, it will provide the needed control and visibility to the network admin while allowing the flexibility of elastic compute for the cloud admin.

And VXLAN can be implemented to be very efficient and resource savvy. We take advantage of efficient multicast protocols for the VM’s broadcast and multicast needs. We leverage Equal-Cost Multi-path (ECMP) in the core networks for efficient load sharing. And within the virtualized environment we leverage vSphere’s DVS, vSwitch, and network IO controls to ensure the VMs get the bandwidth and security that they require. Cisco will certainly leverage the N1000V switch as one key place for VXLAN implementation, and other partners will soon announce their approach as well.

A Collaboration

VMware has collaborated closely with Cisco and industry leaders including Arista, Broadcom, Brocade, Emulex, and Intel in making this an industry-wide effort and to ensure a seamless experience across virtual and physical infrastructure. As part of this effort, we have published an informational IETF draft (see to detail the use case and the technology. To achieve its full potential, VXLAN must be adopted across the industry, and we’re committed to helping this happen in an open and standards-compliant way.

In Closing… 

VXLAN is the flagship in a growing set of capabilities that deliver a new model of networking for the cloud. For some additional context, be sure to check out Allwyn’s blog on logical networks from May. It addresses the physical limitations associated with today’s networking infrastructures in an evolutionary way, and offers a model that enables the efficient and fluid movement of virtual resources across cloud infrastructures. And what’s more, it does so in an evolutionary way that leverages today’s network infrastructure investments. Stay tuned for even more updates on this exciting new development!








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Simplifying IT support and deployments with converged systems

All IT solutions will experience problems at some point in their life.  Supporting IT solutions is difficult, time-consuming and costly, but also a fact of life – a fact as a systems administrator I am thankful for.  It means, I have a job.  Problem solving skills are absolutely necessary, but all administrators need the expert help of vendors’ support departments when our knowledge runs into something we just don’t know.

Unfortunately, when multiple vendors’ products are coupled together as a solution, support can become nasty as vendors point back and forth at each other while trying to get to a resolution.  The more complex the solution, for instance a SAN, the more difficult to troubleshoot through the multiple layers of software, firmware and hardware, even multiple vendors of the solution.  And, I believe, the hassle has made customers seek a better way.

Finding a better way

In my employer’s case, they chose to standardize with a single vendor long before I joined the staff.   We have stuck with servers and storage hardware from the single vendor, including their certified part upgrades (no third party upgrade components).  We chose to do this to simplify our support and avoid finger-pointing.

The vendor we standardized with was HP, and the reason was that they offered an entire line of products under their umbrella to meet our needs.  By the time I joined the staff in 2006, we were already HP heavy, except where a specific Unix was required by another vendor.   What we wanted as a customer was the quickest and easiest route  to a resolution, with the least resistance and finger-pointing, when a problem came up.  Even beyond the hardware solutions, HP has handled our software support for Microsoft, RedHat and VMware for many years.  We wanted this because the software companies could not finger point at the hardware or vice versa – HP was doing it all.  Sure, it might happen between teams in HP occasionally, but we could easily escalate our case and have a manager bring this to a resolution.  It has worked well for our needs.

Having all this expertise in-house is an advantage that HP is now branding under the name “Converged Systems” or the “Instant-On Enterprise”.  Earlier this week, I attended a webinar for the Blogger Reality Contest where HP unpacked more of its converged solutions strategies.  HP is bringing together all of the pieces spread throughout its portfolio into specialized solutions.  Its not a new concept, in my opinion, but one that some customers have been already using for years on their own.  HP has improved on this by tweaking configurations  to squeeze performance out of configurations and adding software to ease installation and management of the solutions.

Building Upwards – HP VirtualSystem

HP introduced VirtualSystem in June as a modular, easy and quick way to implement virtualization in customer datacenters.  The VirtualSystem solution is a full package of storage and compute resources plus the software tools to quickly and easily deploy a virtual stack in an environment.

For HP VirtualSystem, the key benefits are:

  • Quick built out timeframe
  • Automation through Insight Control suite components
  • Monitoring through the Insight Dynamics suite components
  • Improved virtual machine performance, cost and scale due to purpose built hardware
  • Ability to upgrade to CloudSystem for fully automated IT
  • Single point of contact for support – HP for compute, storage and software, including hypervisor

HP VirtualSystem comes in 3 levels (shown below).  The VS1 is built out using rack-mount, Proliant hardware for both the server hosts and for the storage and features a P4000 series iSCSI storage array.  It is rated to handle up to 750 virtual machines and can scale up to 8 physical hosts.  The VS2 is built out using HP BladeSystem with a P4800 iSCSI storage array (covered in depth last week).  It is rated for up to 2500 virtual machines and can scale up to 24 physical hosts.  The third offering is the VS3 which is built on HP BladeSystem and the 3PAR Utility Storage platform to provide ultimate scale and performance.  VS3 introduces fiber channel storage capability and scales up to 6000 virtual machines with up to 64 hosts.

In terms of choice, VirtualSystem supports all three major hypervisors from VMware, Microsoft and Citrix.  Using my company as an example again, the multi-hypervisor datacenter already exists.  We are utilizing VMware vSphere heavily and then some Citrix XenServer.  When it came to planning upgrades for our aging MetaFrame/XenApp farm, we looked at virtualization.  As we evaluated XenServer, we found it to be “good enough” for running Citrix XenApp on top of it.  XenApp has its own failover and redundancy built into the application layer, so many of the VMware advanced features did not matter.

For VirtualSystem, HP is also handling all support for both the hardware and software for these solutions.  Having experience with HP’s software support teams, I can report that they do a good job at it.  I would not say they are always perfect, but in general, they have solved our issues and advised us well, so in reality this is a big benefit.  For those who want not on break/fix support, HP offers Proactive 24 Services for an additional level of preventative support.

Building to the cloud – HP CloudSystem

As I learned at HP Discover, just because you have a large virtualization pool in your datacenter does not mean you have a private “cloud.”  The critical difference between a virtual infrastructure and a cloud is orchestration and automation.  Built on top of HP VirtualSystem, HP CloudSystem is a solution that offers all of the necessary orchestration, service catalog and workflows to turn virtual infrastructure into a true cloud.  There is a clear and clean upgrade path from VirtualSystem into CloudSystem.  And for those starting fresh or who want to evaluate the HP solution, there is even an HP CloudStart service which will deliver a rack with CloudSystem into their datacenter and have it fully operational in 30 days or less.

CloudSystem is offered in three levels: CloudSystem Matrix, CloudSystem Enterprise and CloudSystem Service Provider.  CloudSystem Matrix is targeted towards those looking to automate the private cloud, customers who are looking to add automation and orchestration to their existing virtual systems.  It provides infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and basic application provisioning in minutes.  CloudSystem Enterprise extends upon Matrix and allows for private and hybrid cloud, enabling the bursting of workloads to public cloud.  It is a platform for hosting not only IaaS, but Platform as a Service (Paas) and Software as a Service (SaaS).  CloudSystem Enterprise provides application and infrastructure lifecycle management and allows for management of traditional IT resources in addition to virtualized resources.   The CloudSystem Service Provider edition extends upon the Enterprise edition and allows for multiple tenants on a single infrastructure, securely without exposing customer data between customers.  It is intended to host public and hosted private clouds for customers.  The editions in CloudSystem are more about capabilities and less about limits, compared to VirtualSystem.

Since automation and orchestration is the key of CloudSystem, that is where I wanted to focus.  The base of CloudSystem is the Matrix Operating System, which is the same combination of HP software found in the HP VirtualSystem solution.  On top of the Matrix Operating System, the CloudSystem Matrix solution includes Cloud Service Automation for Matrix.  This software includes Server Automation for lifecycle management for physical and virtual assets via a single portal and set of processes and HP SiteScope, an agent-less monitoring solution for performance and availability.

The enterprise and service provider editions include a beefed up version called, simply, Cloud Service Automation.  It includes the entire orchestration, database and middleware automation pieces of the pie and a cloud controller software.  These additional pieces allow not only the automatic and streamlined provisioning of physical and virtual servers but also the provisioning of the required glue that sits in between the apps and the servers.  The diagram below from HP shows all the moving parts of Cloud Service Automation better than I can explain in words.  And because, Cloud Service Automation is total lifecycle management, there are the pieces for monitoring and performance management which would be needed.  In addition, the centralized portals serve as point for both end users and IT professionals to manage the cloud.

Cloud Maps are another feature of CloudSystem and these are predefined automation workflows for deploying software and platforms easily.  These are the piece of the puzzle that allows for improved deployment times and also allow for drag and drop creation of new workflows and processes in the cloud.  HP has worked with its software partners to create these maps of requirements and automate the process of deploying their solutions.

Beyond all of the capabilities, HP is working hard to make this an open solution by making it compatible to burst workloads into third party clouds, whether its Amazon’s EC3 or a vCloud service provider.  This was a point stressed during the announcements at HP Discover and during the call on Tuesday.

This is post number two for Thomas Jones’ Blogger Reality Show sponsored by HP and Ivy Worldwide. I ask that readers be as engaged and responsive as possible during this contest.  I would like to see comments and conversations that these entries spark, tweets and retweets if it interests you and I also request that you vote for this entry using the thumbs up/thumbs at the top of this page.  As I said earlier, our readers play a large part in scoring, so participate in my blog and all the others!

This isn’t the first time I’ve written about CloudSystem.  In June,  I posted about my take on CloudSystem Service Provider from a potential service provider’s perspective.  I encourage you to take a look at that post, too, after you take a minute to comment and/or vote on this post.

VMware vSphere 5 Licensing and Pricing Update

As you are probably aware, when VMware announced our new Cloud Infrastructure Suite, we also introduced changes to the vSphere licensing based on a consumption and value-based model rather than on physical components and capacity. 

While we believe this model is the right long-term strategy as we move into the cloud-computing era, the announcement generated a great deal of passionate feedback from partners and customers that led us to examine the impact of the new licensing model on every possible use case and scenario - and equally importantly, taking into consideration our partners’ and customers’ desire to broadly standardize on VMware. We’ve listened to your ideas and advice, and we are taking action with the following three updates to the vSphere 5 licensing model:

  • We’ve increased vRAM entitlements for all vSphere editions, including the doubling of the entitlements for vSphere Enterprise and Enterprise Plus. Below is a comparison of the previously announced and the new vSphere 5 vRAM entitlements per vSphere edition:


  • We’ve capped the amount of vRAM we count in any given VM, so that no VM, not even the “monster” 1TB vRAM VM, would cost more than one vSphere Enterprise Plus license. This change also aligns with our goal to make vSphere 5 the best platform for running Tier 1 applications.

  • We’ve adjusted our model to be much more flexible around transient workloads, and short-term spikes that are typical in test & development environments for example. We will now calculate a 12-month average of consumed vRAM to rather than tracking the high water mark of vRAM.

Finally, we introduced the vSphere Desktop Edition to address vSphere licensing in a desktop environment. vSphere Desktop is licensed on the total number of Powered On Desktop Virtual Machines allowing  customers to purchase vSphere for VDI use case on per user basis.  Our price books are being updated and will be available on Partner Central shortly. 

If you have additional feedback please we welcome your comments here. We also have several resources on Partner Central available to provide clarity for you and your customers, a vmLIVE session available for replay, and an additional vmLIVE scheduled for August 10th 

We value our partnership with you and look forward to a successful introduction of vSphere 5 into the marketplace this quarter!

-- Scott Aronson
Senior Vice President of Global Channels and Alliances.

Talk of the Town – VSphere 5 Licensing

A somewhat surprising popular topic at the moment considering the amazing features announced by VMware this week is vSphere 5 Licensing, so says Alan Renouf, a Senior Technical Marketing Architect here at VMware.

Alan has just posted a blog post: vSphere 5 License Entitlements where he speaks to the confusion and misunderstanding of the new licensing model.

Alan also provides a powerful script that you can run on your current system to determine where you stand when you decide to upgrade to vSphere 5. Here is a demo video of that script.

Be sure to head on over to Alan's blog to pick up the source script.

VMware announces vSphere 5.0, changes licensing entitlement

VMware previewed vSphere 5.0 today via a live webcast with CEO Paul Martiz and CTO Steve Herrod.  The vSphere 5 releases should be available in the third quarter of 2011, according to a press release from VMware.  Along with  many enhancements, a new licensing model was also announced which removes the physical processor and RAM limits which were previously imposed on vSphere licenses.  The new model uses vRAM, or RAM allocated to virtual machines, in a pool for your entitlement.  VMware says that the change is to allow for more robust hardware deployments for the cloud without restrictive hardware based entitlements.  It offers the same pay-for-consumption model as cloud services.

As a current vSphere customer, I was immediately wondering what does this mean for my licenses and how will my existing licenses under maintenance be converted to vSphere 5.0.  The answers to that an all the licensing changes can be found in this PDF from VMware –

In short, here are the changes:

Processor restrictions from vSphere 4 are removed.  vSphere 4 Standard & Enterprise were limited to 6 cores per processor (socket).  vSphere 4 Advanced and Enterprise Plus were limited to 12 cores per processor. vSphere 5 has no cores per processor restriction.

Physical RAM restrictions were removed.  vSphere 4 Standard, Advanced, & Enterprise editions were limited to 256GB of RAM per host.  vSphere 5 has no physical RAM restriction.

vSphere 5 introduces the vRAM per processor entitlement.  vSphere Essentials, Essentials Plus & Standard liceses receive 24GB of vRAM (RAM allocated to VMs) per processor license.  vSphere Enterprise receives 32GB of vRAM per processor and vSphere Enterprise Plus receives 48GB of vRAM per processor.   vRAM consumption is based on the amount of allocated virtual RAM to virtual machines.

vRAM can be pooled and consumed by all hosts managed by a vCenter instance.

vSphere Advanced licensing level no longer exists in vSphere 5.  Users of this level are entitled to Enterprise licensing.

The licensing guide states that vRAM entitlement should be purchased in advance of use and is based on a “high watermark” usage, however, the licensing guide says that a hard stop will not be imposed should you consume more than your license, except with vCenter Server for Essentials.

vRAM consumption is measured by the amount of virtual RAM configured to all powered on virtual machines in a vCenter instance (or multiple instances, if linked)