What Next for x86 Hardware Industry: The Death of the Blade Format?

The rise of server-based flash caching and other technologies like local performant storage pools, whether virtual storage appliances like the HP StoreVirtual VSA or VMware’s VSAN, marks a possible return to the days of the pizza box server in data centers across the world.

The pizza box server is a 1U unit that was the dominant server type before the rise of the blade format in the early nineties. Two of the drawbacks that caused its original demise were its lack of local storage capacity and its format. Then, the rise of the blade format, with the HP c7000 chassis being 10U in size and supporting sixteen half-height blades, saw an increase in density that allowed sixteen servers to serve resources in a space that previously only allowed ten. The blade format had other benefits as well, especially with the introduction of 10GbE and converged networking. Now a chassis could be serviced from just two 10GbE connections to the switching infrastructure. Taking into account remote management of the guests and chassis, an additional two Ethernet cables were required for iLO management. All are telling use cases for the blade format.

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On MPIO and In-Guest iSCSI

Introduction
I recently had a “stimulating discussion”* with Tom about MPIO initiated from a virtualized guest OS to a new SAN I am installing, and the pros and cons there of. This is one of those situations where the constraints of the technology make sense in a physical situation, but look a bit odd virtualized, so I wanted to ensure that I had the best possible solution for my needs, with the least extra effort, and importantly, some logic to back up the decision.

Host Becomes disconnected

In my current role I have inherited a largish vSphere 4.1 environment, that has to put it nicely “evolved”.  We have been having host disconnection issues in one of the clusters, coupled with HA Configuration errors.  well today one host disconnected and absolutely refused to reconnect, bizarrely it kept telling us that the username/password combination was incorrect within vCenter.

So we jumped on the ILo and entered the SAME username and combination and low and behold we gained access to the promised land.  Now I know what you are thinking “CapLocks”, but no checked that.

My next troubleshooting step was to restart the management agents on the errant host but again this did not fix the error.

The I had a “lightbulb” moment, as we checked the network settings on the host. I saw that the gateway address was incorrect, it was configured with a correct gateway address but for the wrong subnet.  it was set to the vMotion network not the Management network. reset that and all of a sudden we could rejoin vCenter.

I then checked the rest of the Hosts in the Cluster and found the same basic configuration error, we reset the gateway across the cluster and low and behold now HA works as designed and no more configuration errors.

Moral of this story is “Check the Basics”

The evolution of VMware Tools for Linux

VMware Tools for Linux is getting better all the time. Actually it has been in movement for years and the way it has improved shows the strength of Open Source.

Back in the old days, we only had one package to care about: VMware Tools as bundled with the VMware product. Many times it stopped working after a kernel upgrade and we had to patch the source code by hand. Continue reading

VMware Security Advisory: VMSA-2014-0002

Updated Security Advisory, this one relates to some third party advisories. but please note that it does include a critical status!!, however that said, there is currently nothing you can do about the issue unless you are running vCenter 5.5, the update to the latest version “Update 1”.

The issue relates to a possible DDoS attack on the NTP Service and I advise you to read KB2070193 for full information on the vulnerability and remediation approaches.

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News: VSAN and vSphere 5.5 Update 1 are available, finally pricing is released!

Today marks the release of vSphere 5.5 Update 1, you can find the release notes here and the links to the download are found here.  Why is this such a milestone? Well it also finally marks the release of VMware’s long awaited entry into the world of Software defined storage the VSAN, but before we move onto that what else is contained in Update 1? Continue reading

New: VSAN is now GA

Today finally marks the announcement of the general availability of VMware VSAN. This is VMware’s most public beta to date.

So, What Is VSAN?

VSAN is true integrated software-defined storage. It is embedded into the vKernel, it is a distributed object store, and as such, it is resource efficient. There is no requirement for an extra virtual machine on each host.

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