Tag Archive for 'VMware'

VMware Technology Network Subscription – Bring it Back!

One of the biggest beefs I’ve had with VMware over the last few years, and I apologize to everyone to whom I’ve already ranted about this to, is that they don’t have program that is like Microsoft’s TechNet.

What’s so great about TechNet, you might ask?

With the TechNet subscription you get access to everything that Microsoft offers  - with full retail keys.  This isn’t some time bombed trial, this is the real deal.  You get access to all of their software from the distant past right up through early release betas of their software – like the upcoming Windows 8 and Server 2012.  This is essential for long term test VMs and testing software with what can be complicated, involving installs like Active Directory and Exchange, for example.  Also, you get access to the creme of their productivity software crop like Project and Visio.  Best of all its “only” $200 to start and $150 to renew.  If that sounds expensive, remember that a single Server 2008 R2 license can  run you $700 alone, and the productivity software can also run hundreds of dollars.

Why might Microsoft sell this subscription if they could get so much more money for each project by forcing you to buy real licenses for real products?  It’s pretty simple, really. As individuals, we are not going to buy this software at these prices, and would then turn to free or cheaper alternatives.  Microsoft must know that  TechNet sub is something a very technical person is going to buy – like IT Professionals.  What IT Professionals use at home directly influences what they use at work – and business purchases are Microsoft’s bread and butter, they’ll tell you this to your face no matter how much it seems like they are about conquering the home PC.  Having your home PCs run Windows and Office is just another way to keep business running what their employees know and can be efficient with.

Back to the VMware Technology Network Subscription (VMTN).  They used to have a similar program that let you use full versions of their software in your home and labs and many attribute this program with the rapid adoption of VMware in the Enterprise space – since you could play with it on the cheap and gain confidence in it, then it made sense to champion it within your organization.  VMware discontinued it about five years ago (or so…) when they made clear that Windows GSX Server (VMware Server) and VMware player were free products that could be used.  GSX has totally gone the way of the dinosaur now, and while VMware player is immensely useful in some tasks, it doesn’t allow you to play with the Enterprise features that you might actually want from VMware.

VMware does offer a free version of their bare metal hypervisor, ESXi.  The problem?  This Hypervisor also does not allow you to experiment/implement any of the Enterprise features that differentiate VMware from the rest – and it doesn’t even allow for any scripting automation, another of VMware’s strengths.  This very much limits the usefulness of the platform.  It should be noted that you can get sixty day trials of just about everything VMware offers easily online, but the issue there is that the “big” offerings like SRM and VDI are so intricate in their setup that it can take easily longer than sixty days to get them fully off the ground if you are just doing it in your free time.  You also have to completely scrap the entire setup, from ESXi to vCenter to these addons as they are all tied to that same sixty day time frame.  Want to do it again?  You need a new email address to sign up for the trial again!

The elephant in the room is this – Microsoft is very serious about taking VMware’s ball and going home with it.  Virtualization was the #1 focus of Server 2008 R2 SP1 and it appears that Server 2012 will continue the trend.  IT Professionals that are using TechNet will have easy access to using Hyper-V in all of its glory (and 2012 is looking much easier/sweeter than 2008 R2 SP1) already.

Even with my VCP and years of VMware experience along with a fairly sizable investment in specialized RAID hardware for native disk redundancy in my home lab, Server 2012 looks mighty attractive for my home platform.  It doesn’t need to be this way, VMware.

I am not the only one who thinks so.

Agree?  Raise your voice.  VMware is missing a big opportunity here and anyone invested in VMware from a technical expertise level or from a shareholder level knows the dangers of competing with Microsoft (just ask Novell or the other companies they have left bloodied in their wake.)  Do the right thing, VMware.  Let me pay you a little money so I can recommend your products to those with the big checkbooks.


Configuring ESX vmnic from the command line

Every once in a while when building a new ESX (not ESXi, mind you) server you don’t really know which of your multiple connections is bound to the switch that will work for your service console if you are lucky (?) enough to have your networking interfaces all separated out.

Well, here is just the bit of code to run at the command line to try several different vmnic uplinks in quick succession:

esxcfg-vswitch -U vmnicX vSwitch0

esxcfg-vswitch -L vmnicY vSwitch0

Iterate through your vmnics until you can ping out and voila, all better!


Killing Wayward VMs in vSphere ESX

From time to time as an ESX admin, you’ve likely come across a VM that doesn’t want to die.  The infamous “Another task is already in progress.” error message likely means you have a VM locked into la-la land, unable to be powered down, reset, restarted, shut down or otherwise manipulated.  If you have ESX, this is about the time you find yourself firing up Putty and heading in to do some low level surgery.

First steps:

  • topping the virtual machine by issuing the command vmware-cmd /vmfs/volumes/<datastorename>/<vmname>/<vmname>.vmx stop.   Equivalent to sending it a shutdown command.  Will probably fail.
  • If this does not work, one can issue the following command: vmware-cmd /vmfs/volumes/<datastorename>/<vmname>/<vmname>.vmx stop hard. This will try to kill the Virtual Machine instantly.  Equivalent to a power off, will likely fail.
  • If that does not work, one can issue the command vm-support -x to list the running VMs and their World IDs, then vm-support -X worldid (note the x is case sensitive in both commands). This then prompts the user with a couple of questions, then runs a debug stop of the VM, and creates a set of log files as well that you can forward to VMware tech support.  This does some fancy background things and is your last stop before calling VMware support.  Not to mention, its a great way to get the PID of all your running VMs.  You can try kill -9 PIDOFYOURVM but that probably won’t work if the previous commands failed.
  • I’ve had to do this about four times in four years, just often to have always forgotten how to do it…


    VMware Lab Manager 4.01 Review

    This isn’t going to interest most folks who are reading my blog.  I need to get this written out though, because some guy was looking for Lab Manager feedback and couldn’t find constructive criticism.  Here is mine, and I am sure Google will index it.

    As of 4.01, VMware vCenter Lab Manager has its uses, but it has huge gaps:

    1) Total lack of storage resource monitoring tools/information that would be useful. You can’t export storage usage, linked clone tree structures, etc. If you aren’t familiar with CoW disks, linked clone chains, etc. you soon will be and you’ll be wondering about this in a big way when you need to constantly buy huge chunks of SAN disk with little hard data.

    2)No exisitng backup solutions. Want to back up your library entries? Enjoy manually exporting them and hitting them one by one. SAN replication IS NOT a backup mechanism, folks. Backup is to tape or similar.

    3)Very little in the way of customization. We have users that constantly fill up LUNS and IP pools when they have open space in other LUNS and pools because they just use the defaults. We’d like to set the default to blank in many cases, but that isn’t available.

    4)Redploying VM’s nets them a new IP. This is a huge issue at times if you have IP sensitive configurations, especially when dealing with fencing.

    5)Active Directory is a mess with fenced VMs, etc. Not really Lab Managers fault, but that’s the state of things.

    6)Scalability. Using host spanning networks you are limited to 512 distributed switch port groups that each fenced configuration uses. In large deployments, you are likely to collide with this, necessatating another vCenter/Lab Manager instance and fragmentation of resources.

    7)Maitenance issues. Maitenance Mode even with host transport networks enabled is borked because of the little VM that Lab Manager locks to each host. This is fairly ridiculous and convulutes what should be a very straight forward process.

    8)Get ready to work some enourmous LUN sizes vs what you are likely used to. We have 2TB FC Luns and the only one we extended to 4TB is having locking issues, etc. NFS is the way you need to go.

    9)Enjoy adding another Server 2003 instance to your infrastructure, because 2008 isn’t supported as an host OS for the Lab Manager services.
      Oh yeah, all your important data is located in a little SQL express database on that server too. This is Enterprise software, right?

    THE biggest issue I have with Lab Manager is the fact that Lab Manager accesses the ESX servers directly. Do us all a favor and use vCenter as an abstraction layer so we can actually see what the crap is going on and rely on a proven set of administration tools. Ideally Lab Manager would be a plugin and wouldn’t be harboring its own database, etc.

    Bottom line is that you need to be sure you have the right needs for Lab Manager to be useful.

    Original Thread:



    OVF Exports from VMware Products

    An OVF is a portable container for VMs that allows for easy import into a virtualization platform, like the VMware suite of products.

    It seems like a no-brainer task to make one, you just highlight the VM in vCenter, click on file –> export, easy peasy.

    This process is slow, prone to error and isn’t very flexible.  There is a very elegant, if non-gui centric way of accomplishing this seemingly easy task.

    OVF Tool

    It is a great little command utility that takes a couple arguments (target, destination) and out comes a VM or OVF/OVA file.   It is supported under Windows and Linux and provides reliable functionality for your OVF import/export needs.

    Tool Syntax:

    c:\Program Files (x86)\VMware\VMware OVF Tool>ovftool –help examples
    Source Locator Examples:



    vi://username:pass@localhost/my_datacenter/vm/    \

    Destination Locator Examples:



    vi://username:pass@localhost/my_datacenter/host/    \
    vi://username:pass@localhost/my_datacenter/host/    \

    Note: the /host/ and /Resources/ part of the above inventory path are fixed and must be specified when using a vi destination locator.  The /Resources/ part is only used when specifying a resource pool.


    ovftool -tt=vmx c:\ovfs\my_vapp.ovf c:\vms\
    (.ovf file to .vmx file. Result files will
    be: c:\vms\my_vapp\my_vapp.[vmx|vmdk])

    ovftool c:\vms\my_vm.vmx c:\ovfs\my_vapp.ovf
    (.vmx file to .ovf file. Result files will be c:\ovfs\my_vapp.[ovf|vmdk])

    ovftool http://my_ovf_server/ovfs/my_vapp.ova c:\vms\my_vm.vmx
    (.ova file to .vmx file)

    ovftool c:\ovfs\my_vapp.ovf vi://username:pass@my_esx_host
    (.ovf file to ESX host using default mappings)

    ovftool c:\ovfs\my_vm.vmx vi://username:pass@my_esx_host
    (.vmx file to ESX host using default mappings)

    ovftool https://my_ovf_server/ovfs/my_vapp.ovf \
    (.ovf file from a web server to ESX host using defaults)

    ovftool c:\ovfs\my_vapp.ovf \
    (.ovf file to vCenter server using managed ESX host ip address)

    ovftool “vi://username:pass@my_vc_server/my_datacenter?ds=\
    [Storage1] foo/foo.vmx” c:\ovfs\
    (VM on ESX/vCenter server to OVF using datastore location query)

    ovftool c:\ovfs\my_vapp.ovf \
    (.ovf file to vCenter server using vCenter inventory path)

    ovftool vi://username:pass@my_host/my_datacenter/vm/my_vm_folder/my_vm_name \
    (VC/ESX vm to .ovf file)

    ovftool https://my_ovflib/vm/my_vapp.ovf
    (shows summary information about the OVF package [probe mode])

    \End Tool Syntax

    The syntax for this tool is grueling.  I started out trying to a do a datastore query export and gave up, I ended up using the folder method.  It took me *36* attempts to get it to work.  You can view the folder structure by looking at the VM and Template view in vCenter.  The syntax is case sensitive and you need the “quotes” for when you have a open space in the command, much like other command line entries.  Also, the “\” in the examples seems to be VMwares way of saying you need a space there, putting that in the actual line throws an error.

    Good luck!


    VMware Workstation 7 Released

    Workstation 7 went live last night and it looks like it brings plenty of interesting things to the table.

    • Windows 7 Support w/aero, OpenGl1.4 and SM3 hardware acceleration
    • OpenGL2 support for Windows XP
    • ESX Server Support

    With a beefy enough workstation, you could setup a complete ESX cluster with shared storage and actual running 32 bit VM’s (it appears that VMware is still not making VT and AMD-V available to guest operating systems, which would prevent you from testing out Hyper-V.  Virtual Box purportedly supplies this functionality, but I have not tried it.)  That is pretty darn cool and a great resource given that a bunch of expensive hardware isn’t required to run through training labs, etc.

    Windows 7 support is cool and I am sure it will continue to improve over the next couple minor releases.  It is also good to see that XP is still getting some love in the form of increased 3D support.  I wonder if that includes 64 bit XP guests?  Guess I’ll have to find out :)

    This also means a new version of ACE, the image management tool, was released which I will be checking out…