XenServer 6.0 Upgrade Notes and Tips

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I’ve been running XenServer 5.X at home for a test lab for a couple of years.  It’s been stable and easy to use.  Upgrading to XenServer 6.0 has been on my to-do list, and I finally got around to it this weekend.  On my old clunky hardware, I had a few issues, so here’s some notes on what I did…

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VMware Online Training

I recently attended VMware vSphere: What’s New [V5.0] class from VMware.  Normally I prefer to go to instructor led training.  This time, because of tight budgets and schedules, I elected to attend a Live Online class.  It wasn’t bad!  Read more to see what an online class from VMware is like… Read more

Come to the SLO VMware User Group!

vmug_logoI’m helping start a local San Luis Obispo VMware User Group.  Anyone withing driving range of San Luis Obispo is welcome to come.  This is a great opportunity to come together with your fellow VMware users to discuss virtualization trends, best practices, and the latest technology!

The first meeting is Wednesday, November 9, 2011 from 10 AM to 2 PM at San Luis Obispo City-County Library,  Library Community Room, 995 Palm Street San Luis Obispo, CA 93401.  VMware is buying lunch, and we’ll discuss highlights of VMworld 2011.

For more information, and to register for the event, click here.

In the future, we are standing up a SLO VMUG web site.  There’s not much there (yet), but we hope to get some content posted this weekend.

NetApp Certified Implementation Engineer (NCIE) – Passed NetApp Exam NS0-502 Today

I passed the NS0-502 NetApp Certified Implementation Engineer-SAN and Virtualization test today.  I had the good fortune to take some instructor led courses for this from Fastlane – Data ONTAP 8.0 7-Mode Administration (DOT87M) and Accelerated NCDA Boot Camp Data ONTAP 8.0 7-Mode (ANCDABC87).  They were good preparation.  The exam was 62 questions, 90 minutes.  I passed it with a 82% and it took me 40 minutes.

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The best part of VMworld was…

The best part of VMworld 2011 was THE LABS!!!

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How do you have a 500 seat lab operating 0800-2000 daily with NO PC’s OR SERVERS in a back room?  The cloud.

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Passed the ISC(2) Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) today

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UPDATE! CISSP granted to me on Sep 22, 2011!

Security is one of the many things I do.  I chose to go after the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) for a variety of reasons.  One and perhaps the most important is that it is required for many, if not most, upper level IT jobs in the Federal Government, whether you are an actual Federal Employee or a contractor (DoDD 8570).  So having CISSP is one of “those certifications” that are commonly listed on many job announcements.  I got serious about studying for the CISSP at the beginning of 2011, and I took the ISC(2) CISSP examination for on July 23, 2011 in San Francisco.

It takes ISC(2) a while to score the paper and pencil tests, but I received notification today that I passed!  Whew!  I didn’t want to have to take that one again.  (I guess the score reporting times vary, but it took me 17 days, a couple of weeks, to get email notification.  That’s in line with what ISC(2) says…)

I’m not officially a CISSP until ISC(2) processes my endorsement paperwork, I’m working on that. UPDATE! CISSP granted to me on Sep 22, 2011!

Read on for my thoughts about getting ready for the CISSP and what I did to prepare.

To recap ISC(2)’s turnaround times:

Exam date: Jul 23, 2011
ISC(2) notification of pass by email: Aug 09, 2011 (17 days)
Endorsement faxed to ISC(2): Aug 15, 2011
ISC(2) acknowledged endorsement rcvd: Aug 15, 2011 (Same Day!)
ISC(2) awarded CISSP, notified by email: Sep 22, 2011 (38 days)
Cert received via snail mail: Oct 07, 2011 (15 days)

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Growing a Disk is *ALWAYS* a Bad Idea if You Have Snapshots

Never grow a disk if the machine has snapshots.  Even if the GUI lets you.

This morning I got a request to grow a virtual disk on a vm.  What you should do is look at the machine and see if it has any snapshots.  If it does, then you should delete them before attempting any disk grow operations.  In fact, what should happen is is if you try it, the GUI will give you an error stating that the “machine has snapshots, grow is not allowed”.  I was going too fast (and didn’t have enough coffee) and tried growing it with the machine on.  It failed.  I didn’t check for snapshots, I just turned the machine off.  Then I grew the disk.  It allowed me to do this.  (Really, the GUI should have refused to do this.)  This did *NOT* do what I expected…

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Be Careful When Putting an VMware ESX Host in Maintenance Mode With A vCLI Script

If your VMware ESX hosts are like our ESX hosts, the hosts are in clusters and you have Distributed Resource Scheduling (DRS) enabled.  So in the vCenter GUI, when you right click a host and select “Enter Maintenance Mode”, DRS evacuates all running virtual machines to other hosts in the cluster.

I’m learning more about scripting actions like this with the vSphere Command-Line Interface (vCLI).

Specifically, the book says that the vCLI command “vicfg-hostops –operation enter” (“Entering and Exiting Maintenance Mode with vicfg-hostops”, page 28) does exactly the same thing.  In fact that page in the manual says “If VMware DRS is in use, virtual machines that are running on a host that enters maintenance mode are migrated to another host automatically.”

This is *NOT* true.  When you run this command, runnings vm’s are SUSPENDED, not migrated.

As far as I can tell, I’m doing everything correctly.  Others have seen the same thing.

I’m not sure if it’s a “feature” or what, but be careful.  Telling a host to enter maintenance mode with a vCLI script may not migrate running machines.

(If it matters, I’m running ESX 4.1, Update 1.)

Replacing a Motherboard in a NetApp FAS 3140 Storage System

I’m located in a fairly rural area, far away from our friendly local NetApp service engineer.  I recently had some hardware issues with a FAS 3140 storage system.  After opening a ticket on NetApp’s support site, and trying various things to get it working, NetApp suggested that we replace the motherboard.  They gave me the option of doing it myself.  I like doing things like this, so I said sure.  Read more for a discussion of how it went…

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A Brief Overview of VMware vStorage API for Array Integration (VAAI) and Why You Should Care

VMware vSphere version 4.1 introduced various new features, including vStorage API for Array Integration (VAAI).  If you are using storage that supports VAAI (and most storage vendors are implementing it over time) then you can offload some storage intensive tasks to the storage array, and the ESX hosts are freed up to do other tasks.  What this means is that for certain kinds of tasks like making a new disk for a virtual machine (vm) that needs to be zeroed out, copying a vm, cloning a vm, etc., these operations will be much faster and the ESX hosts will be much less busy.

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