Upgrading your vSphere environment to vSphere 5.0 – Part 2 – Reviewing your existing infrastructure

In the last article we went over some of the licensing issues you may incur as part of the upgrade. Next thing you should do is to do a review of your existing environment. This will help you determine what features you want to implement that would require Enterprise Plus licensing. Features like Storage I/O Control, Network I/O Control, Storage DRS and Distributed Virtual Switching; all require an Enterprise Plus license.

Other factors that you may want to take into affect, maybe your environment may have grown from a simple POC and has just had equipment thrown at it whether new or recycled. You will have to make sure ALL the pieces are on the VMware HCL for vSphere 5.

This is a good time to update any documentation or create it if it was never done. Logical and physical designs of not only of the hosts but the virtual machines as well. Upgrade your virtual center server to run on Windows 2008 and SQL 2008.

Analyze your existing infrastructure, what is your current CPU utilization, memory utilization, disk utilization, disk I/O, and network utilization. These are all factors that need to be looked at to ensure a successful upgrade.

Additionally what about changes in your environment? Will you be looking at VDI in the future? What about business continuity? These questions need to be answered and documented because you may need to re-architect your environment to include technologies like Site Recovery Manager or VMware View.

VMware View 5 Connection Server Basic Configuration

You have your connections servers installed, now comes the fun of making the configuration. To log into the View Administrator from a web browser go to the following address:

https://<servername>/admin

By default, anyone in the local administrators group can logon as a View Administrator. This should be addresses before the system becomes production.

You should be logging into the View Administrator from a supported web browser with Adobe Flash 10 or greater. The following is a list of supported web browsers:

  • IE 7
  • IE 8
  • IE 9
  • Firefox 3
  • Firefox 3.5

Now that you are logged into the View Administrator. Before configuring View, we need to do some work in the Virtual Center instance that will be attached to.

First, if you are using Composer, you should have it installed on the Virtual Center. Second, we need to have an account in Virtual Center to be created and assigned permissions to be used by both View Manager and Composer. You could also create two accounts with separated roles.

The following privileges are needed by the View Manager:

  • Folder->Create Folder
  • Folder->Delete Folder
  • Virtual Machine->Configuration->Add or Remove Device
  • Virtual Machine->Configuration->Advanced
  • Virtual Machine->Configuration->Modify Device Settings
  • Virtual Machine->Interaction->Power Off
  • Virtual Machine->Interaction->Power On
  • Virtual Machine->Interaction->Reset
  • Virtual Machine->Interaction->Suspend
  • Virtual Machine->Inventory->Create New
  • Virtual Machine->Inventory->Remove
  • Virtual Machine->Provisioning->Customize
  • Virtual Machine->Provisioning->Deploy Template
  • Virtual Machine->Provisioning->Read Customization Specifications
  • Resource->Assign virtual machine to Resource Pool

The following privileges are needed by the View Composer:

  • Datastore->Allocate Space
  • Datastore->Browse Datastore
  • Datastore->Low Level File Operations
  • Virtual Machine->Inventory->(All Privileges)
  • Virtual Machine->Configuration->(All Privileges)
  • Virtual Machine->State->(All Privileges)
  • Virtual Machine->Provisioning->Clone Virtual Machine
  • Virtual Machine->Provisioning->Allow Disk Access
  • Network->(All Privileges)

If you are going to use Local Mode the account will need the following privileges:

  • Global->Set Custom Attribute
  • Host->Configuration->System Management

Next we need a service account in either the same domain or a trusted domain as the View Connection Server. This account should have the following permissions to the organization units (OUs) that you will be deploying the virtual desktops to:

  • List Contents
  • Read All Properties
  • Write All Properties
  • Read Permisisions
  • Create Computer Objects
  • Delete Computer Objects

Now it is time to configure the Connection Server. First we have to do the license, which we navigate to that section by clicking on Product Licensing and Usage on the left-hand menu. Edit the license and verify.

Now we must add the Virtual Center server. To do this under the View Configuration section click on Servers. Under the vCenter Servers section click Add. Fill in the FQDN of the Virtual Center server, the username and password of the Virtual Center account with the appropriate permissions outlined above. If you are using View Composer, then enable it; Click on the Add button. Type the FQDN of the domain, the username including domain and the account password. This is the Active Directory account you configured with the necessary permissions on those particular OUs to deploy the virtual desktops. Click Ok when completed.

This is a very basic configuration to begin with. There is still Client connections, pools and more to cover before this would be production ready. I will cover that in another post.

VMware View 5 Components and Requirements

VMware View 5 has four types of servers:

  • Connection Server
  • Transfer Server
  • Security Server
  • Composer Server

Connection Server
The Connection Server, also known as the broker, authenticates users against Active Directory and then directs them to the correct virtual workstation. This server can be installed either on Windows 2003 R2 Service Pack 2 for a 32-bit operating system or if you want a 64-bit operating system you would go with Windows 2008 R2.

For production implementations your connection servers should have at least four (v)CPU and 10+ GB of RAM.

In order for the connection server to work, you must have one of the following versions of vSphere:

  • vSphere 4.0 Update 3
  • vSphere 4.1 Update 1
  • vSphere 5.0

When you install the second connection server, you will install it as a Replica Server. Replica’s should be installed in the same network location over a local area network. You should not install them in separate network location separated by a wide are network. Doing this could cause issues with the LDAP (ADAM) database becoming inconsistent and causing users to not be able to connect to their virtual desktops.

Transfer Server
This optional component can be installed to allow for the check-in, check-out and replication of virtual desktops that will be used in local mode. Local mode allows the virtual desktop to be run on a physical Windows desktop without being directly connected to the connection server.

The Transfer Server must be managed by the same virtual center server that manages the virtual desktops.

Note: Must be installed with an LSI Logic Parallel SCSI controller.

This server can be installed either on Windows 2003 R2 Service Pack 2 for a 32-bit operating system or if you want a 64-bit operating system you would go with Windows 2008 R2.

Security Server
This optional component can be installed to provide more security between the clients connecting from the Internet to the connection server.

Composer Server
Composer allows you to deploy many virtual workstation from a base image and only record changes to those individual workstations, using a process of linked clones. While using composer will change your storage requirements and increase your View licensing costs, it is usually made up with the overall saving in the storage required for a large VDI deployment.

Composer server you must have one of the following versions of vSphere:

  • vSphere 4.0 Update 3
  • vSphere 4.1 Update 1
  • vSphere 5.0

A database running on SQL 2005 service pack 3, SQL Server 2008 R2 Express, SQL Server 2008 service Pack 1, Oracle 10g Release 2 or Oracle 11g Release 2 with Oracle 11.2.0.1 Patch 5 is required to install Composer. You can use the same instance of SQL server as your Virtual Center server.

Upgrading your vSphere environment to 5.0 – Part 1 – Licensing

So the time has come to upgrade your existing infrastructure to vSphere 5. Unless you are new to the IT field you will not just pop in the CD and do an upgrade.  The first thing you need to do is to look at your licensing to make sure that your upgraded licenses will cover your existing infrastructure. With vSphere 5, the licensing has been moved from a physical CPU centric model to a vRAM usage model.  For example, if you scaled up your virtual environment (using bigger beefier servers) like a quad-processor quad-core with 1 Terabyte of RAM; under the old licensing shame you needed to purchase four single CPU licenses.  Going to the same licensing level (will use Enterprise+) you are only allotted 96GB per single CPU license which would only allow you to use a maximum of 384 GB for your virtual machines.  To cover your 1 TB of RAM to be used for your virtual machines you would need a total of 11 CPU licenses.  If you are running extremely large virtual machines with a lot of RAM then the maximum amount of memory counted would be that of 1 Enterprise Plus license or 96GB.  Anything above that is not counted for licensing purposes.

Another issue with upgrading that you should plan for is typically when you under go a major version upgrade your Enterprise Plus licensing is downgraded to Enterprise level.  You will need to talk to your VMware representative for your options on this. Updated: According to the entitlement map on VMware’s website, if you are currently an Enterprise Plus license will map to the new Enterprise Plus licensing and so forth.  This is great news for companies that want the enhanced capabilities and don’t want to pay for upgrade licensing like we did going from version 3 to version 4.

vsphere5license1

There are also a number of new features that are only available in vSphere 5 if you only have Enterprise Plus licensing.  These include the new Storage DRS and Profile drive storage.  All these items need to be taken into account, planned for and budgeted before doing your upgrade.

vSphere5Features

 

 

Signs That your disk usage is too high

Whether you are converting physical to virtual, creation of new machines, or existing virtual machines are using additional resources then originally specified two years ago; at sometime your environment will run out of resources. Most of the time you will run out of disk or memory.

When it comes to running out of disk, you could run out of actual space or the number of IOPS (Input Outputs Per Second). Most SANs and even VMware is very good at showing space utilization, but to show that you are suffering issues from maxing out the I/O is not as easily understood.

First lets look at the GUI, you can go to a specific virtual machine and click on the performance tab.  Click the Advanced button.  Under the Switch To drop-down box, select Disk.  Then click on Chart Options, then select Command Aborts. Click OK.  As you can see in my example we are at zero which is good, if this virtual machine was registering anything.  If you have anything other then zeroes, then you I/O pipe is bottlenecked somewhere and the storage is issuing a SCSI command abort.

NewImage

I prefer to do it by the virtual machine, but you can also do it by selecting the host and going through the same steps.  The difference is that the Virtual Machine view will give you only the LUNS that are connected to that virtual machine, where in Host view it will give you all the LUNs connected to the host.

The next method I prefer to use as I think it is not only faster but more accurate; and that is using the command line and ESXTOP.  From the either local tech support or remote tech support command line enter ESXTOP, I prefer removing in via SSH so that you can expand the screen.  Once in ESXTOP, press the d key on the keyboard, this will bring you to the disk view and show you all list disk controllers.  The counters you want to look at specifically are:

  • DAVG/cmd
  • KAVG/cmd

ESXTOP1

DAVG/cmd should not be over 25, this usually means that there is an issue on the array causing the latency.  KAVG/cmd should never be over 2, if it is there is an issue with the host that is causing the latency.  This could be that the is a virtual machine with a high amount of I/O load (SQL or Exchange) that could be causing the issue.  To find out hit the v key on the keyboard to breakout the disk usage by virtual machine.  To break it out LUN you can press the u key.  This way you can figure out the culprit or culprits and take steps to fix the issue and bring the environment back to normal.