Kevin's Blog Photography, technology, and whatever else

10Nov/115

ESX Datstore filled up by AVVI Snapshots

One thing that I just learned overnight is that you really should keep an eye on the Snapshots in ESX/vSphere.  We are running the AVVI backups from Backup Exec 2010, and it uses the vSphere storage APIs to do it's business.  BE has vSphere run a snapshot by calling the API and then it grabs that snapshot and sends it to whatever your backup medium is.

In the past I have seen where a snapshot gets left behind and not deleted.  Last night I started getting paged from our monitoring system that one of our AD servers was offline.  After having to jump through some hoops to get in via VPN (because the AD server was the one used to authenticate and give DHCP to VPN users) I was able to get onto the ESX server.  There I saw that the snapshots had hogged up all available disk space on the ESX box and my AD server was stalled as a result.  It turns out that the snapshots for my Exchange server were piled up and I had to delete them.  Once there was free space again my AD server was back online and everything is OK again.

Now I need to figure out a way to monitor my ESX server for datastore space so that this does not happen again.

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28Jun/111

ESX 4.0 and USB devices

I'm having trouble getting USB to work on one of my ESX 4.0 hosts.  I did a bunch of research and found that in the initial release of ESX 4 USB was 'supposed' to work but didn't.  All the posts I read indicated that this was fixed in subsequent releases so I went about the task of upgrading my host to the newest release.

After quite a bit of fiddling I was able to get Update 3 installed.  After this I still have not had any luck getting my USB device to connect.  I'm tryinmg to connect a Serial to USB adapter so that I can connect to a Cisco console cable, or other serial devices.  I do have it working just over the regular com/serial port onboard, but I want it to work via USB so that I can more easily move the connection around to other boxes/laptops/etc.

Much of the info that I read dealt with USB HDs so perhaps they work but not these other types of devices/adapters?  If anyone has any ideas I sure would appreciate it!

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31Mar/116

ESXi Free Version Limitations

I thought that after my previous post about ESXi really being free, I would write a post with the limitations I've noticed when you don't have vCenter Server.  Having never used ESXi before and always having had vCenter I didn't really know what to expect.

This is surely not an exhaustive list, but just things I've noticed so far.  Some of the items on these lists  really go into the differences of the licensed versions of the product, and I haven't noted that here. (Standard, Enterprise, Enterprise Plus)

In no particular order....

* No cloning of virtual machines (Instead I just copy a machine directly on the data store and 'add to inventory')

* No templates (same as above)

* No Virtual Consolidated Backup (VCB) (With the free version you do not have access to download it at all)

* No Virtual Data Recovery (VDR) (same as above)

* No Clustering

* No vMotion

* Performance charts only display 'Real Time' statistics

* No Alert features

* No console on the host.  Management is ONLY through VIC

* Symantec's VMWare agent will not work

* Distributed Resource Scheduling (DRS)

* Power Management features

* Dynamically adding CPU and RAM to a running Guest

[UPDATE] * vStorage APIs (why Symantec's AVVI will not work)

 

Things I was surprised to see...

* AD Integration for security in the Virtual Infrastructure Client (VIC)

* Resource groups

* Performance statistics of any kind

* Guest automatic startup/shutdown features

 

 

For now this is all I can think of.  I will try and keep this list in mind and update it as I notice other things.

Post a comment if there is something you have noticed!

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24Mar/110

ESXi Really Is Free!

Now that I'm past my first month at the new gig I have learned quite a bit.  I've gotten a handle on the environment and layout here, and I'm still finding things every day.  There are a few things that have been quite an adjustment to get used to.

One of the things I miss the most is VirtualCenter and shared storage.  When I first got here there was no virtualization and when we started discussing it the folks around here were pretty set that we would use Hyper-V.  The primary reason for this is that my new company is on a program for start-up companies called BizSpark which allows you access to any Microsoft product with deferred payment, so Hyper-V was essentially no cost for a while.   I recall hearing that ESXi is a free license when your just installing it on a single server, so I started poking around.  Without shared storage though, you cant do anything more with Hyper-V than you can with ESXi.  It turns out that ESXi is indeed available free of cost, and if you go onto VMWare's website you can register, download, and get a license code for it in just a few minutes!

I installed ESXi 4.1 onto our new Dell server, setup my local storage, networking and authentication, and started setting up new guests just as I would have if we did have shared storage and VirtualCenter.  There are limitations, but many of them are management and monitoring/alerting features. Without VirtualCenter your not going to be able to VMotion, DRS, and several other advance features, but without shared storage you cant anyway!  As far as core functionality and usability the product really is complete and usable.

One of the notable limitations I've experienced is the lack of performance monitoring.  You only get the 'RealTime' reports of performance on your Host and Guests.  To relieve some of this I've downloaded Veeam's (also free) Monitoring software.  It has more enhanced monitoring of the environment, although it also is limited and only allows for historical reports back 1 week.

All in all, with some known limitations, but a greatly improved price tag, you CAN run VMWare for free.

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22Nov/100

DR Test Results

Recently we performed our annual Disaster Recovery test.  We have learned something very valuable every year and tried to adjust our recovery plans accordingly, with this year being no different.  Even with all the new technology, DR still seems to be a tricky undertaking.

The first year we tested our plan we found that we really, really, REALLY, don't want to restore Active Directory onto unlike hardware.  The following year we had gotten a node onto our MPLS cloud which allowed us to have a replicated AD server at the DR site.  This greatly reduced the problem of restoring AD.  The year after that we tested our phone system portion of the DR plan and discovered that working with the telco in a DR situation will be challenging at the very least.  In the two years since that second test there have been some major changes that removed our ability to have replicated AD, so we were back to square one on that front.

This year we thought we would do a restore of our two year old VMWare environment.  We had decided to keep the scope to restoring only "Tier 0" service.  This included VMWare ESX , Symantec BackupExec, vSphere, and AD.  Time permitting we planned to restore as many servers as possible beyond the Tier 0 that were the bare minimum.

In the last year we had made the choice to purchase Symantec's BackupExec Agent for VMware Virtual Infrastructure (AVVI).  This is a BackupExec agent that allows you to backup VMWare Guest OS files directly through the ESX server and/or SAN.  The idea is that we would have our virtualized servers backed up to tape at the VMWare file level and that this would allow us to restore directly back to ESX.

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