Monday, 30 January 2017

VMware vSphere 6.5 "The Respective Client's"

As we are aware that VMware announced General Availability of VMware vSphere 6.5 on November 15 2016 and it provides a lot of cool features and functionalities that has been enhanced, I decided to dedicate this article to talk about various client options which are available to us for managing ESXi host and vCenter Server.

Let's discuss about few important things we need to know about VMware host client HTML5 based (available since vSphere 6.0 update 2), vSphere Client HTML5 based (released in vSphere 6.5) and VMware vSphere Web Client (Adobe Flex based) which will help us think why exaclty they are called "The respective clients" because these clients and the development team at VMware deserves all those respect which it needs by proving us all the new and improved features and functionalities.

VMware Host Client
  • VMware host client is an embedded HTML 5  based client used to connect and manage single ESXi host by providing the IP/Hostname of your ESXi host and specifying the username and password.
  • We can make use of Host Client to perform basic administration and troubleshooting tasks  and advanced administration for our ESXi hosts.
  • When we start comparing with some of the key difference in legacy C## client and host client we can easily interpret the features difference between these two as configuration options/security profile/ services options and also the advance settings options look and feel has been changed.
  • Another feature that can be seen in the hardware tab apart from the management of PCI devices is power management wherein we can make use of power management features provided by ESXi host to adjust the balance between the available power and efficiency of ESXi host, by default it uses Balanced Power management policy and try to reduce the energy consumption with minimal performance compromise, other policy to choose from includes High Performance which do not use any power management features and provides more absolute performance but a lower efficiency whereas Low Power policy provides less absolute performance but at higher efficiency and custom policy which gives us the advance configurations options to choose from.
  • Feature which i liked the most is the autostart option where in we can configure a Virtual Machine to start before other virtual machines running on that host, to configure this option we need to enable the auto start configuration on the host as shown and then by right clicking the Virtual Machine we can increase/decrease the Virtual Machine start priority.
  • Under the host management tab we have another option of security and users which has lot of new sub options to choose from including - 1 Acceptance level for VIB's where we can specify the type of accepted VIB's (Partner,VMware Certified,VMware Accepted and Community) 2 - Authentication - Active directory and Smart Card Authentication 3) Certificates 4) Users 5) Roles - has a new row which talks about a new role NO Cryptography Administrator which supports all administrator privileges except for the cryptographic operations privileges (encrypting/decrypting Virtual Machines)

vSphere Web Client
  • vSphere web client provides us a complete set of functionalities needed to manage vCenter Server appliance through web browser accessible over https://vcenterserverappliance/vSphereclient.
  • vSphere web client architecture comprises of three layers 1) User Interface Layer - UI layer consist of adobe flex which is open source application framework for building web applications that can be deployed consistently on all major browsers, desktops, and devices and contains user interface elements, data portlets and commands, one can navigate through these flex elements to interact with vSphere objects and make necessary changes to the vSphere environment. UI layer provides all the necessary components including the core and 3rd party plugins which are required to exchange information from 2) Service Layer which is a collection of java services running in a framework on the application server known as virgo server. The java service running in service layer is responsible for communicating and collecting data from vCenter Server and other remote sources which is then displayed to us in web client with the help of flex based UI layer. 3) Data Source Layer - is the final layer which has vCenter Server or other backend data sources from where the data is being fetched and displayed we can find the link for the Architectural diagram of vSphere web client made available at vSphere 6.5 Documentation
  • When it comes to the vSphere web client in vSphere 6.5 there are some changes which has been made to client integration plugin also which was one of the important plugin required in vSphere 6.0 because of the various features set it provides including datastore file upload/download ovf import/export, content library import/export and windows session authentication is now no longer required for above functionalities except for windows session authentication for which we need to install the enhanced authentication plugin which provides integrated windows session authentication and windows smart card functionality and can be downloaded by opening the URL of web client by disabling the protected mode and enabling the pop-up in our browser.
vSphere Client

  • vSphere client is also HTML5 based web application that we can use for connect to our vCenter Server systems and managing ESXi hosts and its associated Virtual Machines.
  • Likewise the vSphere Web client vSphere client architecture also comprises of 3 Layers including 1) User Interface layer which consists of an HTML platform which provides a plug-in architecture for the extensions displayed in a Web browser. The HTML application provides us with all user interface elements with which we can interact, including menus, commands. We can make use of the user interface elements to view information about an object in the vSphere environment, send a command, and make changes to our vSphere infrastructure.
  • Layer 2 Java Service Layer and Layer 3 Backend Layer is same as we discussed in the vSphere Web client however an additional spring framework that can be used to establish communication between service and user interface layer.
* When working with vSphere Client there are few workflow functionality which are available in the vSphere web client but are not yet available in vSphere client refer the link to check the details about these updated functionalityFunctionality Updates for the vSphere Client



Tuesday, 17 January 2017

My Views as Guest Blogger - vCenter Server 6.5

While working with Product development/Marketing team of Vembu Technologies which is a privately held, information technology company that specializes in developing software products in Backup, Disaster Recovery and cloud storage domains.

I got an opportunity to express my views as Guest Blogger on Vembu Blog so thought of dedicating an article about 10 things we need to know about vCenter Server 6.5 which majorly focusses on VMware vCenter Server 6.5 new features and functionalities which are available as part of VMware vSphere 6.5 release.



Quick Overview about features and functionality we need to know about vCenter Server 6.5 as highlighted in the article.

  • vCenter Server High availability which can be achieved by creating multiple vCenter Server Nodes (Active,Passive and Witness nodes).
  • Enhancements been made to Watchdog Service.
  • Integration of update manager with vCenter Server appliance.
  • Embedded and External deployment methods for Platform Services Controller a.k.a (PSC) and vCenter Server.
  • File Based backup and restore for PSC and vCenter Server.
  • API enhancement for better Virtual Machine management and automation capabilities.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

What's New - Nakivo Backup and Replication v7 Beta

We have already dedicated couple of articles related to Nakivo Backup and Replication v6.1 wherein we have seen the architectural components and also talked about new features available in Nakivo Backup and Replication v6.1 here is a link for your quick reference Demystifying Nakivo Backup and Replication v6.1

In our last post related to Nakivo Backup and Replication Series we also discussed about 

Backup/Recover Active Directory Objects with Nakivo Backup and Replication v6.1 in case you missed it here is the link for your quick reference 
Backup/Recover Active Directory Objects with Nakivo


Apart from testing the backup and recovery related functionalities using Nakivo Backup and Replication v6.1 we also had a detailed discussion on Replicating Virtual Machines here is the link for your reference Replicate VM's with Nakivo Backup & Replication

We also talked about working with Nakivo Backup and replication appliance and what's new with Nakivo Backup and replication 6.2 which was announced by NAKIVO on october 13th 2016 which help us by providing backupreplication, and recovery of paid EC2 instances sold through AWS Marketplace.

Dedicated this article to talk about some new features which has been added in Nakivo Backup and Replication v7 and currently is undergoing in Beta here is the link to try V7 beta Join v7 Beta

What's New - Nakivo Backup and Replication v7 Beta 

  • Nakivo has successfully added the support for Hyper-v 2016 and 2012 providing image based, application aware and incremental hyper-v backup solutions ensuring consistency of our applications and database.
  • No need to worry about choosing a different repository for our VMware, Hyper-v and AWS EC2 backups, single repository can be used for the same and and backups are automatically compressed and deduplicated across to save on storage space.
  • We can set up the backup jobs and send the backup copies offsite and also to AWS and Azure clouds ensuring the safety of our data in case of primary backup failure.
  • In addition to Hyper-v backup we can also see another important feature which has been added i.e Hyper -v replication which can help us in creating and maintaining identical copies of Hyper- v virtual machines also known as replicas which are being replicated and remains in power off state ensuring no resources are being consumed and can be powered on instantly. 
I will be dedicating more articles on Nakivo backup and replication v7 testing out these functionalities and features in my Home lab environment so stay tuned :-) 

Thursday, 5 January 2017

How to Configure ESXi Dump Collector on vCenter Server Appliance

While delivering one of my recent classes on Advance VMware vSphere, I came across a lab based question wherein one of the participant was really interested to see the live demo doing the configuration and see the working of ESXi dump collector service.

I managed to take the screenshots when proceeding further with the configuration of the same and thought of dedicating a blog post talking about the concept behind ESXi dump collector service.

ESXi Dump Collector ?

  • ESXi dump collector sends the state of the VMkernel Memory which is core dumps to a network server whenever the ESXi host systems encounters a critical failure.
  • In this rare event when ESXi host experience an error from which it is not able to recover the ESXi hosts displays a purple diagnostic screen aka PSOD and save the contents as core dump, these core dumps are important when it comes to troubleshooting the issue which made the ESXi host to show a purple diagnostic screen.
  • Whenever you see a PSOD it's always good practice to take the screenshot of the same as the information that u might see could be similar to the one you are going to find in the core dumps and other important reason is related to network connectivity issues which may not allow the ESXi host to save the dumps over the network.
As we can see from the above screenshot which was a forceful purple screen of death caused by connecting to the ESXi host and running few commands so as we can test whether the dump collector service is working properly and receiving the core dumps.

Well to test whether the dump collector service is working properly or not we may not require a forceful PSOD as we can go it simply by running few ESXCLI commands, but to check the core dumps and read the information from them we need to go with the same.

First thing first login to your vCenter Server appliance using web client and start the dump collector service listed under and specify the max size of repository.

Home>Administration>SystemConfiguration>Services>VMware vSphere ESXi Dump Collector>Start



Time to configure ESXi host through command line so as it can send the core dumps to the vCenter Server appliance which in our case is acting as network server configured to receive the core dumps.

*Note: Installation/Configurations/Specifications methods used here has been Tested in My Home Lab Nested Environment

Connect your ESXi host through Putty after enabling the SSH on your ESXi host and run below commands.

esxcli system coredump network get which gives us information about the current status of our ESXi hosts.


esxcli system coredump network set -- interface -name vmk0 -- server -ipv4 10.x.x.x. --server -port 6500

11

esxcli system coredump network set --enable true


esxcli system coredump network get to check if there is any change in the configuration which we have seen above,i used two different ESXi hosts in my environment so don't get confused if see the root login on ESXi01 and ESXi02.

 
As highlighted earlier we need to verify if the syslog collector network service is working properly or not and for that we don't need to forcefully bring PSOD ( i did it to show the coredumps details to my participant ) we can simply run below command which help us to identify if the configuration we have doing so far is completely done or not.

esxcli system coredump network check


To check the details on our vCenter Server appliance will connect to it through putty and enable shell once logged in go to /var/log/vmware/netdumper/netdumper.log and we will be able to see some entries similar to 


Note - The above entries are before we forcefully crashed the ESXi host and below entry is the one which shows post results.


Which shows a new entry has been added giving us the location for coredumps i.e var/core/netdumps/ffff/172/20/10/52/zdump_ffff.172.20.10.52-2017-01-05-09_53-0 and helps us find the reason behind this purple screen of death was crash command that we executed on our ESXi host.