Monday, October 21, 2013

When to Virtualize Your Servers?

Server virtualization isn't just for big companies. Entry-level virtualization tools are free or low-cost, and there are many benefits to virtualization (including saving money). It’s not a question of “if” you should virtualize your servers; it’s a question of “when.” In this article, I outline five steps you should take to determine when to virtualize your servers.
There are a number of server virtualization solutions available today. However, this article isn’t about which solution to choose. Many virtualization questions are “solution agnostic,” and the question of “when” to virtualize your servers is one of them.
So, if you haven’t started using virtualization or you haven’t fully virtualized your IT environment, I recommend the following five steps to determine when you should make that move.

#1 – Understand the Benefits of going virtual
You don’t want to undertake a virtualization project without understanding why you are making this effort. Most of us have to justify a project like virtualization to a manager, director, VP or CIO. Even if you don’t have to do that, you should be able to answer the “why” question for yourself with an answer that’s more concrete that “because it’s the next big thing.” Below is a list of reasons why most administrators feel compelled to virtualize their server infrastructure:

• Save time – Administering virtualized servers over physical servers can save a huge amount of time.

• Save money – Any way you measure it, virtualization comes out as a cost-saving proposition. Dollars are saved in less administrative time, fewer infrastructure requirements and less energy utilization.

• Simplify management – Virtualization enables the use of advanced features like resource optimization, high availability and point-in-time snapshots of servers.

• Recover from disaster – Having a reliable disaster recovery plan is essential for ensuring business continuity. Virtualization offers hardware independence and decreased recovery time in case of a disaster or failover. Once you and your management team are convinced that virtualization is the right decision for your company, move on to the next step.

#2 – Evaluate a virtualization solution.
There are many virtualization solutions available today. In addition to VMware vSphere 4, you can evaluate Microsoft Hyper-V or Xen/Citrix, to name a few. If you choose to evaluate or analyze all of them, you may be spinning your wheels. To date, VMware has held the dominant position in the virtualization market space, with more than 150,000 customers globally. No one else in the marketplace has come close to matching the maturity, breadth of offerings, reliability, oradoption rate of VMware. Many times, all that the competition can offer is a claim of a lower price tag, but make sure that you’re doing
an apples-to-apples cost comparison – more on that later..

When selecting the right virtualization solution for your company, consider the following:
• Don’t choose the “newest” or “cheapest” solution just because they are new and seemingly inexpensive.
• Look for a solution that has been around for a long period of time to ensure the technology has been tested with a variety of applications
• Look for a solution that has been proven in production IT environments
• Choose a solution that offers flexibility and options to fit the needs of your company
In my opinion, two solutions meet these criteria. They are VMware ESXi Free Edition and the VMware vSphere platform. The first is available for free and is a good way to start your company on the path toward virtualization. The second product can be evaluated for free and purchased as a low-cost package solution for smaller deployments.
While these two solutions each have their own unique fit, they both have been proven by businesses of all sizes over a long period of time and they have the most to offer of any virtualization solution available today.
The only way to truly get comfortable with virtualization is to try it for yourself on your own servers and perform tests in your environment. Download and evaluate any solution before making a purchasing decision.

#3 – Determine if applications are going to work well with virtualization.
One of the concerns I have heard from administrators who haven’t virtualized their servers yet is that they believe their applications might not be “virtualization friendly.” While there may be a few cases in which this is true, the numbers of servers that can’t be virtualized are small compared to the vast majority of all servers that can.
In my experience, if you understand the application, the majority of the time, you won’t have any trouble consolidating a physical server into a virtualized environment. I have successfully virtualized Citrix Server, Exchange 2007 Servers, graphical applications, database servers, and other critical enterprise applications. If you are concerned that your virtual servers won’t offer the performance that your applications demand visit the VMware Virtual Appliance Marketplace ( Virtual appliances are pre-built, preconfigured, ready-to-run enterprise applications packaged with an operating system inside a virtual machine.

#4 – Analyze the cost of virtualizing your server infrastructure.
In Step #1, I mentioned that you can save your company money by virtualizing your servers. As most of us work for businesses, and businesses are in the business of maximizing profits, it only makes sense that before undertaking a virtualization project, you should analyze the cost and potential savings (the ROI). For those companies who value ROI, I anticipate that the ROI of virtualization will always be there, but the question may be how long does it take to achieve that ROI? When I get asked that question, I recommend that you calculate your ROI to virtualize your servers, with the VMware ROI calculator. For example, when I used it, it showed that by consolidating and virtualizing 20 physical servers down to 3, you could save $200,000 in server, related hardware and power, cooling and real estate costs and $85,000 in IT staff operating costs over 3 years1. Plus, if you have more physical servers to start with, the cost savings are even greater. Furthermore, the typical payback period, or amount of time to break even on the investment, for a 20 server consolidation project is 1 month. What other IT projects can you say that about? Even if you don’t use numbers, I believe that the cost savings of virtualization is obvious. Virtualization requires:

• Fewer servers
• Fewer infrastructure costs – cooling, UPS, generator
• Less spent on electricity
• Less space needed for you IT infrastructure
• Less time spent administering servers
• Faster response to business needs

If you can install a product that does all those things, it will eventually (and probably very quickly) pay for itself. That’s what I call “a no-brainer.” One point to note about comparing costs among virtualization vendors. Some vendors like Microsoft and Citrix will position their solutions as “free” compared with VMware. We know that no solution that you rely on to stand up your production infrastructure can really be “free.” Those vendors have made their hypervisors free but shifted the cost to their management tools, which are necessary to use when managing a production environment. VMware has introduced a method for comparing “cost per application,” which they position as the true way to measure cost in an apples-to-apples way. I would encourage you to explore that cost comparison further.

#5 – Analyze the time and skill needed to virtualize
your server infrastructure I don’t want to minimize the time and skill required to create a virtual environment. Depending on the scope of the project, it could be very quick or it could be a more significant undertaking. If I were to estimate the time to learn about VMware vSphere and consolidate 20 physical servers with “typical” applications onto two or three VMware ESX Servers, it would look like this:

• Learn about VMware vSphere – via reading, video training,
or a VMware class – 1 week
• Install and configure VMware vSphere – 1 day
• Perform test server consolidations using VMware
Converter– 1 day
• Convert all 20 physical servers to virtual servers and
consolidate – 3 days
Total time = 2 weeks

Again, this is just a generalization with lots of assumptions made. However, as you can see, being able to learn about virtualization, get your virtual infrastructure installed and configured, and consolidate 20 servers in a matter of 2 weeks is a relatively small investment of time for an effort that yields huge benefits and fast ROI for your company. Keep in mind that VMware ESXi—the company’s free solution that provides basic server optimization functionality—requires even less time. You may even choose to work with a VMware Partner who can assess your requirements and install and configure VMware virtualization software for you. Make the move when you’re ready

Virtualization isn’t just for big companies anymore. There is no doubt that you should virtualize your servers – it’s simply a matter of when. I believe that the time to virtualize is now, but you should make that call for yourself. Be sure to follow the five steps outlined in this article before you make a purchasing decision.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

vSphere Web Client

Use the vSphere Web Client to connect to vCenter Server systems and manage vSphere inventory objects.
Use of the vSphere Web Client requires a supported Web browser.

The vSphere Web Client requires the Adobe Flash Player version 11.5.0 or later to be installed with the
appropriate plug-in for your browser.

Log in to vCenter Server using the vSphere Web Client

If you want to use vCenter Server 5.0 with vSphere Web Client, verify that the vCenter Server 5.0 system is
registered with vSphere Web Client.
If you want to use vCenter Server 5.1 with vSphere Web Client, verify that vCenter Server is installed and
that both vCenter Server and vSphere Web Client point to the same vCenter Single Sign On instance.

1 Open a Web browser and enter the URL for the vSphere Web Client:
By default the port is 9443, but this can be changed during vSphere Web Client installation.
2 In the Username text box, enter the user name that is on the vCenter Single Sign On and has
permissions on vCenter Server.
3 In the Password text box, enter the password.
4 Click Login.
5 If a warning message about an untrusted SSL certificate appears, select the appropriate action based on
your security policy.

Log Out of vCenter Server Using the vSphere Web Client

Click the username at the top of the vSphere Web Client window and select Logout.

Use the vSphere Web Client Inventory Tree

You can use the inventory tree in the vSphere Web Client to browse and select objects as an alternative to
the navigator.
The inventory tree shows a hierarchical arrangement of objects in four different views: Hosts and Clusters,

VMs and Templates, Storage, or Networking.

1 From the vSphere Web Client Home, click vCenter.
2 Under Inventory Trees, click one of the four categories to display one of the tree views.
3 Click the triangle next to any object to expand the tree and show the child objects.
4 Select an object in the inventory tree to display information about the object in the center pane.
5 (Optional) Click the selected object to shift to the navigator and bring the object into focus.
6 Click one of the tabs in the center pane to access additional information and actions.
Getting Started
Related Objects

Install the Client Integration Plug-In in the vSphere Web Client

The Client Integration Plug-in provides access to a virtual machine's console in the vSphere Web Client, and
provides access to other vSphere infrastructure features.
You use the Client Integration Plug-in to deploy OVF or OVA templates and transfer files with the datastore
browser. You can also use the Client Integration Plug-in to connect virtual devices that reside on a client
computer to a virtual machine.
Install the Client Integration Plug-in only once to enable all the functionality the plug-in delivers. You must
close the Web browser before installing the plug-in.
If you install the Client Integration Plug-in from an Internet Explorer browser, you must first disable
Protected Mode and enable pop-up windows on your Web browser. Internet Explorer identifies the Client
Integration Plug-in as being on the Internet instead of on the local intranet. In such cases, the plug-in is not
installed correctly because Protected Mode is enabled for the Internet.
You cannot launch the virtual machine console in Internet Explorer without the Client Integration Plug-in.
In other supported browsers, the virtual machine console can run without the plug-in.
The Client Integration Plug-in also lets you log in to the vSphere Web Client by using Windows session
For information about supported browsers and operating systems, see the vSphere Installation and Setup


If you use Microsoft Internet Explorer, disable Protected Mode.

1 In the vSphere Web Client, navigate to a link to download the Client Integration Plug-in.
2 If the browser blocks the installation either by issuing certificate errors or by running a pop-up blocker,
follow the Help instructions for your browser to resolve the problem.

Pause and Resume a Task in Progress in the vSphere Web Client

You can pause many tasks in the vSphere Web Client and later resume them from the Work in Progress
1 In a dialog box or wizard, click the minimize button.
The task is paused and minimized to the Work in Progress pane. Any changes that you have made in
the dialog box or wizard are saved, but not yet applied to the object you are working with.
2 When you are ready to resume the task, click it in the Work in Progress pane.

The dialog box or wizard opens and you can resume the task from where you left off.

Refresh Data in the vSphere Web Client
You must manually refresh the data in the vSphere Web Client to see changes made to objects by other users
during your session.
For performance reasons, the vSphere Web Client does not continuously refresh data on all objects in the
inventory. All changes that you make during your current session are immediately reflected in the client
user interface. Change made by other users or in other sessions are not reflected until you manually refresh
the data.

Searching the Inventory in the vSphere Web Client
With vSphere Web Client, you can search the inventory for objects that match specified criteria. If the
vSphere Web Client is connected to a vCenter Server system that is part of a Linked Mode group, you can
search the inventories of all vCenter Server systems in that group.
You can only view and search for inventory objects that you have permission to view. Because the search
service queries Active Directory for information about user permissions, you must be logged in to a domain
account to search all vCenter Server systems in a Linked Mode group. If you log in using a local account,
searches return results only for the local vCenter Server system, even if it is joined to other servers in Linked

Save a Search in the vSphere Web Client
You can save search queries so that you can retrieve them to rerun later.
1 Enter a query for either a simple or advanced search.
2 Click Save.
3 Type a name for the search and click OK.
The search query you entered is saved. You can reload that query later and repeat the search.

Load a Saved Search in the vSphere Web Client
You can load a saved search query to rerun the search.
The vSphere Web Client saves search queries, not search results. When you load a saved search, the search
query is run again and new results are displayed.
1 From the vSphere Web Client Home, click Saved Searches.
2 Click the saved search.
The search runs and the results are displayed.

View Recent Objects
You can quickly navigate to the objects that you visited during your vSphere Web Client session. You can go back and forth between objects you last visited without having to search for the objects in the object
navigator or in the inventory tree.
In the Recent Objects drop-down menu, you can see a history of the most recent objects that you visited in
your environment. Recent objects display two types of objects, the most recent objects that you visited, and
the latest objects that you created. The recent objects list is persistent between vSphere Web Client sessions, but the new objects list is not persistent between vSphere Web Client sessions.

Configure the vSphere Web Client Timeout Value

By default, vSphere Web Client sessions terminate after 120 minutes of idle time, requiring the user to log in
again to resume using the client. You can change the timeout value by editing the file.
1 On the computer where the vSphere Web Client is installed, locate the file.
The location of this file depends on the operating system on which the vSphere Web Client is installed.
2 Edit the file to include the line session.timeout = value where value is the timeout value in minutes.
To set the client to never time out, specify a negative or 0 value for the timeout.
For example, to set the timeout value to 60 minutes, include the line session.timeout = 60.
3 Restart the vSphere Web Client service.

  • On Windows operating systems, restart the VMware vSphere Web Client service.
  • On the vCenter Server Appliance, restart the vSphere-client service.

Remove Stored User Data in the vSphere Web Client

The vSphere Web Client stores user data including saved searches, Work In Progress items, and Getting
Started Pages preferences. You can remove this stored data to reset these items to the initial defaults and
remove stored data that you no longer need.
You can remove data only for the currently logged-in user. Data stored by other users is not affected.

1 In the vSphere Web Client, click the name of the currently logged-in user and select Remove Stored
2 Select the data to remove.
3 Click OK.

Drag and Drop Objects in the vSphere Web Client

You can select an inventory object, and while holding the left mouse button you can drag and drop it to
another object. Drag and drop is an alternative way to quickly initiate operations that are available in the
context menu, such as Move To and Migrate.
For completing some drag-and-drop operations, you do not need to perform any additional actions. For
completing others, you might have to go through a wizard.

1 In the vSphere Web Client inventory tree or in a list view, select an inventory object group.
You can drag-and-drop objects within the vSphere Web Client inventory tree, or from a list view to the
inventory tree.
You can access list views from the Inventory Lists, the Related Objects tab, and search results.
2 Drag an object to a destination object.
The mouse cursor changes depending on whether you can drop the object to the object you currently
point to.
3 Drop the object on the destination object.
A task starts in the Recent Tasks panel.
4 (Optional) If a wizard opens, follow the prompts to complete the drag-and-drop operation.
The object is moved to the destination object you selected.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

ESXi 5.5 Hardware Requirements

Make sure the host meets the minimum hardware configurations supported by ESXi 5.5

Hardware and System Resources

To install and use ESXi 5.5, your hardware and system resources must meet the following requirements:

  • Supported server platform. For a list of supported platforms, see the VMware Compatibility Guide at
  • ESXi 5.5 will install and run only on servers with 64-bit x86 CPUs
  • ESXi 5.5 requires a host machine with at least two cores
  • ESXi 5.5 supports only LAHF and SAHF CPU instructions
  • ESXi 5.5 requires the NX/XD bit to be enabled for the CPU in the BIOS
  • ESXi supports a broad range of x64 multicore processors. For a complete list of supported processors,see the VMware compatibility guide at
  • ESXi requires a minimum of 4GB of physical RAM. Provide at least 8GB of RAM to take full advantage of ESXi features and run virtual machines in typical production environments.
  • To support 64-bit virtual machines, support for hardware virtualization (Intel VT-x or AMD RVI) mustbe enabled on x64 CPUs
  • One or more Gigabit or 10Gb Ethernet controllers. For a list of supported network adapter models, see
  • the VMware Compatibility Guide at
  • Basic SCSI controllers. Adaptec Ultra-160 or Ultra-320, LSI Logic Fusion-MPT, or most
  • NCR/Symbios SCSI.
  • RAID controllers. Dell PERC (Adaptec RAID or LSI MegaRAID), HP Smart Array RAID, or IBM
  • (Adaptec) ServeRAID controllers
  • SCSI disk or a local, non-network, RAID LUN with unpartitioned space for the virtual machines
  • For Serial ATA (SATA), a disk connected through supported SAS controllers or supported on-board
  • SATA controllers. SATA disks will be considered remote, not local. These disks will not be used as a
  • scratch partition by default because they are seen as remote

  • NOTE You cannot connect a SATA CD-ROM device to a virtual machine on an ESXi 5.5 host. To use the
    SATA CD-ROM device, you must use IDE emulation mode.

    vSphere 5.5 Upgrade Process

    Upgrading is a multistage process in which procedures must be performed in a particular order. Follow the
    process outlined in this high-level overview to ensure a smooth upgrade with a minimum of system

    IMPORTANT Make sure that you understand the entire upgrade process before you attempt to upgrade. If you do not follow the safeguards, you might lose data and access to your servers. Without planning, you might incur more downtime than is necessary.

    If you use vCenter Server Heartbeat in your vSphere deployment, use the vSphere Server Heartbeat

    installation and upgrade documentation to upgrade vCenter Server.
    vCenter Server 5.5 removes support for Windows Server 2003 as a host operating system
    vCenter Server 5.5 removes support for Windows Server 2008 SP1 as a host operating system.

    You must complete the upgrade process in a specific order because you can lose data and server access.
    Order is also important within each upgrade stage.

    You can perform the upgrade process for each component in only one direction. For example, after you
    upgrade to vCenter Server 5.x, you cannot revert to vCenter Server 4.x. With backups and planning, you can restore your original software records.

    You must complete one procedure before you move to the next procedure. Follow the directions within each
    procedure regarding the required sequence of minor substeps.

    Because certain commands can simultaneously upgrade more than one stage, VMware recommends that
    you understand the irreversible changes at each stage before you upgrade your production environments.

    To ensure that your datacenter upgrade goes smoothly, you can use vCenter Update Manager to manage
    the process for you.

    vSphere upgrades proceed in the following sequence of tasks.
    1 If your vSphere system includes VMware solutions or plug-ins, make sure they are compatible with the

    vCenter Server version that you are upgrading to.

    2 If you are upgrading vSphere components that are part of a VMware View environment,

    3 Make sure your system meets vSphere hardware and software requirements.

    4 Upgrade vCenter Single Sign-On, vCenter Inventory Service, vCenter Server, and the
    vSphere Web Client.

    5 If you use VMware Update Manager, upgrade VMware Update Manager.

    6 Upgrade your ESXi hosts.
    a) Use vSphere Update Manager to perform an orchestrated upgrade of your ESXi hosts
    b) Upgrade a single host at a time, interactively, from an ESXi ISO installer image stored on a CD,
    DVD, or USB flash drive
    c) Use a script to perform an unattended upgrade for multiple hosts.
    d) If a host was deployed using vSphere Auto Deploy, you can use Auto Deploy to upgrade the host
    by reprovisioning it.
    e) Upgrade or patch ESXi 5.x hosts by using esxcli commands.

    7 Reapply your host license.

    8 Upgrade virtual machines and virtual appliances, manually or by using VMware Update Manager to
    perform an orchestrated upgrade.

    IMPORTANT After you upgrade or migrate your host to ESXi 5.x, you cannot roll back to your version 4.x ESX or ESXi software. Back up your host before you perform an upgrade or migration, so that, if the upgrade or migration fails, you can restore your 4.x host.

    Licensing ESXi 5.5 Hosts

    You can use the vSphere Web Client and vCenter Server to license an individual host.

    About ESXi Evaluation and Licensed Modes
    After you purchase vSphere licenses, VMware provides a serial number that you use to license ESXi hosts.
    You can use evaluation mode to explore the entire set of features that are available for ESXi hosts, including
    features that are not included in the license that you have.
    For example, in evaluation mode, you can use vMotion, HA, DRS, and other features, even if you have not
    licensed those features.
    The installable version of ESXi is always installed in evaluation mode. ESXi Embedded is preinstalled on an

    internal USB device by your hardware vendor. It might be in evaluation mode or prelicensed.

    The evaluation period is 60 days and begins when you turn on the ESXi host, even if you start in licensed
    mode rather than evaluation mode. Any time during the 60-day evaluation period, you can convert from
    licensed mode to evaluation mode. To take full advantage of the 60-day evaluation period, you should
    convert to evaluation mode as soon as possible after you first power on the host.

    Recording the ESXi License Key

    All ESXi editions have license keys associated with them. VMware recommends that you write down the
    license key and tape it to the server, or put the license key in a secure, easily accessible location.
    You can access the license key from the direct console or the vSphere Web Client. If the host becomes

    inaccessible or unbootable, it is important that you have a record of the license key.

    Access the ESXi License Key from the Direct Console
    If you have physical access to the host or remote access to the direct console, you can use the direct console

    to access the ESXi license key.

    From the direct console, select View Support Information.
    The license key appears in the form XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX, labeled License Serial

    Access the ESXi License Key from the vSphere Web Client

    You can use the vSphere Web Client to access the ESXi license key.
    1 From the vSphere Web Client, connect to the vCenter Server.
    2 Select the host in the inventory.
    3 Select the Manage tab.
    4 Select Settings.
    5 Select System.
    6 Select Licensing.

    The license key appears in the form XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX.

    Disable ESXi

    If you do not want your server to be an ESXi host, you can deactivate the ESXi setup.


    1 Remove VMFS datastores on the internal disks so that the internal disks are no longer set up to store
    virtual machines.
    2 Change the boot setting in the BIOS so that the host no longer boots into ESXi.
    3 Install another operating system in its place.

    Remove All Custom Packages on ESXi 5.5

    After adding custom packages, you might decide to remove them.

    Before you remove custom packages, shut down or migrate running virtual machines off of the ESXi host.


    1 Reboot the ESXi host.
    2 In the direct console, select Remove Custom Extensions and press F11 to confirm.
    3 Reboot the host.
    All custom packages are removed.