Design, Storage, Uncategorized, Virtualization, vmware, VSAN

Core Knowledge vSAN HBA

The fundamentals cannot be over-emphasized. You need to ensure that the key components of your vSAN host is configured per recommendations.

Just a reminder of the HBA controller configuration.

  1. Make sure the device is on the Hardware Compatibility Guide (HCG) 
  2. And verify the firmware is up-to-date.

I have seen first hand what impact different firmware can have on your environment.

Example: Dell Perc H310

Controller queue depth impacts the rebuild/resync times. A low controller queue depth may impact the availability of your production VMs during rebuild/resync. A minimum queue depth of 256 is required in vSAN. Some vSAN Ready Node profiles require minimum queue depth of 512, All Flash configs.

For more details see this: vSAN Hardware Quick Reference Guide

The availability of vSAN and VMFS can be vying for the same resource; the HBA.

Do NOT mix Disk Access modes to your Host Bus Adapter (HBA) also called an I/O Controller. Pass through configuration is preferred, but RAID-0 can work. vSAN prefers to have a more direct access to the device attached to the I/O Controller.  So for example if the HBA is setup with some logic configuration the groups all the devices together before presenting to the ESXi host then you have some prep work to do. Several array controllers do not support pass through mode,  to use this type of controller for vSAN, we need to create a single disk RAID-0 group for every SSD and HDD.



Dell PERC 740


  • RAID levels access for the devices attached.
  • vSAN and VMFS devices on same HBA.

From the VMware KB:

  • Do not mix the controller mode for vSAN and non-vSAN disks.
    • If the vSAN disks are in pass-through/JBOD mode, the non-vSAN disks must also be in pass-through/JBOD mode.
    • If the vSAN disks are in RAID mode, the non-vSAN disks must also be in RAID mode.
    • Mixing the controller mode will mean that various disks will be handled in different ways by the storage controller. This introduces the possibility that issues affecting one configuration could also affect the other, with possible negative consequences for vSAN.

If you absolutely must use the same HBA:

  1. limit the use of the VMFS that is sharing the HBA with vSAN.
  2. AND DO NOT USE RDM for that shared device/HBA
  3. DO NOT have the boot device on the same vSAN controller
  • If the non-vSAN disks are in use for VMFS, the VMFS datastore should be used only for scratch, logging and coredumps.
    • Virtual machines should not be running from a disk or RAID group that shares its controller with vSAN disks or RAID groups.
    • ESXi host installation is permitted on non-vSAN disks attached to same controller.
  • Do not pass through non-vSAN disks to virtual machine guests as Raw Device Mappings (RDMs).

The number and type of drives plus their disk group configuration is not covered here but another topic of important discussion!




Design, servers, Storage, Uncategorized, Virtualization, vmware

vSphere Content Libraries (CL)


The introduction of the Content Libraries feature came with vSphere 6. The goal is to reduce the complexity in management of VM templates, vApps, ISO images, and scripts that your virtual environment needs for day to day operations. Content libraries are container objects.
The Content library can be

  1. Local to the vCenter your create it in.
  2. Published externally to other vCenters with password authentication
  3. Subscribed Content Library to another library

The flexibility of the content library topology availability will enable your organization to maximize your operational efficiencies. How? Here are some scenarios that Administrator face.
“What Template did you use to build this VM?”
“Is it patched? Is it the latest one?”

Now imagine this conversation across the business units that span across geographic regions, time zone etc.
What and Where?
Some key things that a CL will help prevent is the bad practice of building workflow and processes around a single person. Increase efficiency in your organization, by using a central repository of essentials files you can avoid using the “wrong” vm template. That answers the what version is the latest? You can increase efficiency of answering the question of where is the latest version?

How do you setup a CL?

  1. In the vSphere Web Client navigator, select vCenter Inventory Lists > Content Libraries.
  2. Click the Objects tab.
  3. Click the Create a New Library icon (create a content library).
  4. Enter a name for the content library, and in the Notes text box, enter a description for the library and click Next.
  5. Select the type of content library that you want to create.



Local content library

A local content library is accessible only in the vCenter Server instance where you create it.

Published content library

Select Publish externally to make the content of the library available to other vCenter Server instances.

If you want the users to use a password when accessing the library, select Enable authentication and set a password.

Optimized published content library

Select Optimize for syncing over HTTP to create an optimized published library.

This library is optimized to ensure lower CPU usage and faster streaming of the content over HTTP. Use this library as a main content depot for your subscribed libraries. You cannot deploy virtual machines from an optimized library. Use optimized published content library when the subscribed libraries reside on a remote vCenter Serversystem and enhanced linked mode is not used.

Subscribed content library

Creates a content library that is subscribed to a published content library. You can sync the subscribed library with the published library to see up-to-date content, but you cannot add or remove content from the subscribed library. Only an administrator of the published library can add, modify, and remove contents from the published library.

Provide the following settings to subscribe to a library:

  1. In the Subscription URL text box, enter the URL address of the published library.

  2. If authentication is enabled on the published library, enter the publisher password.

  3. Select a download method for the contents of the subscribed library.

    • If you want to download a local copy of all the items in the published library immediately after subscribing to it, select Download all library content immediately.

    • If you want to save storage space, select Download library content only when needed. You download only the metadata for the items in the published library.

      If you need to use an item, you can synchronize it to download its content.

  4. When prompted, accept the SSL certificate thumbprint.

    The SSL certificate thumbprint is stored on your system until you delete the subscribed content library from the inventory.

6. Click Next.
7. Select a datastore, or enter the path to a remote storage location where to keep the contents of this library.



Enter an SMB or an NFS server and path

If you use avCenter Server instance that runs on a Windows system, enter the SMB machine and share name.

If you use vCenter Server Appliance, enter a path to an NFS storage. You can store your templates on an NFS storage that is mounted to the appliance. After the create a new library operation is complete, the vCenter Server Appliance mounts the shared storage to the host OS.

Select a datastore

Select a datastore from your vSphere inventory.

vSAN Datastore will appear here as a choice

8. Review the information on the Ready to Complete page and click Finish.

Great now you have a Content library.. what next?

ADD CONTENT to your Content Library.
You can:
Clone the VM as a template into your Content Library (Right click the VM choose
Actions–> Clone –> Clone to Template in Library


Now for another time saver!
So, you already realize the importance of a repository and you have a single folder on datastore that says /iso-templates. Now what? You need to be able to copy all of that to your new Content Library. So you can publish the CL and enable other vCenter’s to Subscribe.
The tricky option is to deal with ISO images.

Sure Templates and VM’s can be handled with cloning VM to Template actions but here is a option for existing templates in your datastore. This will save you a bit of time in re-copying the ISO back into the content library.


When I first started to use the CL I didn’t see an option the the CL to add ISO files. I reached out to Roman Konarev and he provided this excellent guide.


How to import your ISOs from DS:
Get a URL to your ISO file that you want to import to Content library. The structure of that URL is the following: [DataStore url]/[ISOs folder]/[file_name].

Here is my ISOs folder:
Here is my DS url:

So, the final URL will be the following: ds:///vmfs/volumes/56cd1758-86602854-5166-020019640efe/RK_ISOs/small_ISO.iso

2)    Open a standard “Import library item” wizard and paste the URL above there:


** vSphere 6.5 update **

** Update to vSphere 6.5 and make it easier! **

What a difference a version makes!


  1. In the vSphere Web Client navigator, select vCenter Inventory Lists > Content Libraries.
  2. Right-click a content library and select Import Item.

    The Import Library Item dialog box opens.

  3. Under Source section, select the option to import an item from a local file. Click Browse to navigate to the file that you want to import from your local system. You can use the drop-down menu to filter files in your local system.
  4. Under Destination section, enter a name and description for the item, and click OK.

Content Libraries can even extend into the Cloud!

Create a content library that is subscribed to the content library you published from your on-premises data center. Content is synchronized from your on-premises data center to your SDDC in VMware Cloud on AWS.

EMC, Storage



What is it: 

“The vVNX Community Edition (also referred to as vVNX) provides a flexible storage alternative for test and development environments.”

SDS = Software Defined Storage!!
Download a full-featured version of vVNX available for non-production use without any time limits.”
File type: *.ova
File Size: 2.1 GB
Release date: 5/4/2015
Version: 3.1.2

Download here!

Architecture and functionality:

White Paper details: vVNX Community Edition

Installation Guide:


Before you can obtain and activate the trial vVNX license, you must have completed the following tasks:

  1. Registered to create a product support account.
  2. Downloaded the vVNX software.
  3. Installed vVNX.
  4. Launched Unisphere.
The Configuration  runs when you log in to Unisphere for the first time.
  1. Note the vVNX system UUID provided on the License dialog in the Configuration Wizard.
  2. Go to the Electronic License Management System (ELMS) download page at
  3. Click Obtain evaluation license for vVNX.
  4. Enter the vVNX system UUID and select vVNX as the product type. 
  5. Click Download to save the license to your local system.
    Note: An email confirming that you have successfully obtained the evaluation license is sent to the email address you provided when you registered.
  6. Return to the License dialog in the Configuration Wizard and click Install License File
  7. Locate the license file, select it, and click Upload to install and activate it. 

Note: Do not repeat this procedure once you have saved the license and received the confirmation email. If you try to enter the vVNX system UUID again, you will receive a “Duplicate UUID” error message.

EMC, NFS, Storage

VNX and NFSv4

Just a note to self: (Actually when discussing NFS with your customer)

If you are using VNX make sure you use OE 7.1 and greater. Why??

NFS4 is enabled by default but just not turned on!!

$ server_nfs <movername> -v4 -service -start where: <movername> = name of the Data Mover

There are other considerations to implement NFSv4

  • NFSv4 Domain
  • Access Policy: Mixed is recommended
  • Delegation Mode off
  • You can even restrict access to NFSv4 only, as normally a file system is exported to all versions of the NFS protocol

Please see:

EMC White Paper: h10949-configuring-nfsv4-vnx-wp.pdf

EMC, Storage, vmware

Software Defined Storage: VMware VVOL

Closer to reality… Closer to GA

Yesterday VMware announced public beta2 for vsphere6 and VVOL.

Why separate Beta programs?

While vSphere 6 can be leveraged ontop of most existing hardware that supports vSphere 5.5; not all storage vendors will be ready for VVOL.

All major storage vendors will be supporting the new VVOL feature. And the impact of this is very big.

But let’s start with some background information….

What is VVOL

**please note the capital V 🙂

VVOL is a new paradigm — a standard, a model, template for storage. You won’t be doing storage like you have in the past; well not 100% the same. Sure you will have the traditional tasks a storage admin will have to do for fabric based storage arrays.. but what makes things really interesting is what I call the integration point.

Currently Storage arrays are not VM aware; VVOL changes that. I guess you can call it adding more “intelligence” to your storage.

The conversation is storage meet this VM/Application. It isn’t about just consuming a LUN, but more about making a VMDK a native object on the storage system.

This point/ intersection is where the conversation should grab your attention.

I won’t try to recap what the status quo is today for storage and vmware, but know this: it is complex. Time consuming at a high operational cost and requires specialized training to ensure availability, management of SLA: performance and capacity.

Very important reference reading: (much more detailed information)

Cormac Hogan’s blog:

Duncan Epping:

Chad Sakac


VMworld 2013 VVOL Session

VMworld 2012 VVOL Session


And when you are ready… go and DO THE BETA! (or at least join the beta community and learn all you can!!)

Rawlinson shows you all about the beta and examples of storage vendors using VVOL


EMC, ScaleIO, Storage, Uncategorized, Virtualization, vmware

Open Source tool: Vagrant OPENSOURCE. Learn it. Use it. Software tools are great and sharing tools and supporting the OpenSource community is a good thing. This is part of a multi-part post. I will share my experience setting up ScaleIO in my vmware Fusion Lab. First find a tool to make provisioning quicker, more consistent, and automated. Tool: Vagrant From the vagrant website:

Vagrant provides easy to configure, reproducible, and portable work environments built on top of industry-standard technology and controlled by a single consistent workflow to help maximize the productivity and flexibility of you and your team. To achieve its magic, Vagrant stands on the shoulders of giants. Machines are provisioned on top of VirtualBox, VMware, AWS, or any other provider. Then, industry-standard provisioning tools such as shell scripts, Chef, or Puppet, can be used to automatically install and configure software on the machine.”

more later..   vagrant and more about


Intro to ScaleIO


EMC ScaleIO at a Glance

EMC ScaleIO is a software-only solution that uses application hosts’ local disks to realize a virtual SAN that is comparable to or better than external SAN storage, but at a fraction of the cost and complexity. ScaleIO makes a convergence of the storage and application layers possible, ending up with a wall-to-wall single layer of hosts. The lightweight software components of ScaleIO are installed on the application hosts alongside applications like databases and hypervisors.

Breaking traditional barriers of storage scalability, ScaleIO scales out to hundreds and thousands of nodes. ScaleIO’s performance scales linearly with the number of application servers and disks. With ScaleIO, any administrator can add, move, or remove servers and capacity on demand during I/O operations. ScaleIO helps ensure the highest level of enterprise-grade resilience while maintaining maximum storage performance.

ScaleIO natively supports all the leading Linux distributions, Windows Server and hypervisors and works agnostically with any SSD, HDD, and network. The product includes encryption at rest and quality of service (QoS) of performance. ScaleIO can be managed from both a command-line interface (CLI) and an intuitive graphical user interface (GUI). Deploying ScaleIO in both greenfield and existing data center environments is a simple process and takes only a few minutes.”

Storage, Virtualization, vmware, vsom

VMware vSphere with Operations Management

What a title! Operations Management  How do you define Operations management?

Can it be one system (ESX host or 1000?) How many VMs are running? How many vCenters do you run? How much storage do you have?

What: But more important is: What are you charged with? What is your responsibilities? How can you answer questions respective to your area(s) of responsibility? Can you answer questions related to your infrastructure?

OK. What about the next level of questions related to the above?  You may know what you run (hopefully) but how is it running? Is it running with maximum efficiency? Can you improve how things are running? Where are your bottlenecks? At which level? VM? Storage? Network? Host? You can determine that in about 60-90 seconds for  a single VM, a single host, a few DataStores.

What tools are in your toolkit? perfmon, esxtop, vcenter performance tab, vsom (vcops) other???


Now things are getting interesting… Data collecting is good. That is step one.

Now sorting and analyzing data is the next level. What about data correlation? Data analysis?

Root Cause Analysis (Why, why, why, why, why, why, why? aka “The 7 Why’s” … to drill down and find the answer) RCA is exhausting and time consuming. It burns up your man hours aka OpEX. How large is your team/ staff to address this question? And then the next quadrant.. Data Trending? Can you be proactive? Can you make more than a SWAG? How accurate is your predictive prowess? What is your strategy to handle these questions? I work with many customers looking to answer these questions. Scope and scale of responsibility can be overwhelming. I do know that VSOM does help and more often than not does answer the above questions and MORE.


Operations Management

 VSOM  Badges   Badges..

We don’t need “Badges? We don’t need no stinkin’ badges!” Actually you do.

When you understand the mindset Health Risk and Efficency or just for short H.e.R.E.   The approach to the vsphere management is very visual. Very quick and very dynamic.

*** Badges are not Metrics. Badges are MORE.


Performance, Capacity and Configuration INFORMATION – A single view. QUICK and Informative.
Analytic algorithms – beyond normal parameters… RED is bad!
VSOM. .Deploy the vApp…!
You’ve now employed a FTE (Full Time Employee) That just keeps working and working for you.

Health  — Operations

Immediate issues – Anomonilies & Faults

Risk — Short Term health
Forward looking issues, may come up if not addressed soon
Efficiency  — Long Term Health
Where improvements can be made
VSOM uses a multi-dimensional analysis. There are more facets, properties of an object monitored than a single dimension. i.e. is it on or off. How long it it on. What kind of health does it have? Can it access the resources defined for it? Can it meet the demand the object wants for the associated resources it needs? i.e. disk access? network access? compute access? Is this being throttled by a bottleneck somewhere?
How is your Virtual Environment? I call this the compute ecosystem.
Score card
“immediate Issues”
“Future Issues”
– Time remaining
  • when resources exhausted
-Capacity remaining
# VMs deployed
# VMs powered on.
# VMs remaining can be deployed
Longer time period vs workload (instantaneous)
Reclaimable Wastes “Right-sizing” of VMs. Maximize. Run Hotter.
Where do you want your operations to be be set. Are you running at the level you can manage? Are your end users consuming resources effectively??
  • above or below optimum
  • reduce VM sizing

Learn more vmware education Class 

Read a Book or for your online reference



How is your digital kungfu?? 🙂

More later..