Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Tech Tip: How to fix the dynamic disk problem after a P2V

The scenario:

A customer has a non-critical HP server that they would like to P2V. It is installed with 2 x SATA disks without a SATA RAID controller, runs Windows Server 2003 and uses software RAID 1 mirror over the two disks which are set as dynamic. On top of this, the mirrored disks are split into two logical partitions, C: and D:.

Breaking the mirror and performing a hot P2V using VMware Converter 4.0 Standalone, with the two volumes being P2V'd into two separate .VMDK files fails at 95% during the reconfiguration phase.

If you receive a failure at 95%, it just means that the reconfiguration has failed due to VMware Converter not being able to find the system partition, that actual data copy has successfully completed and the data is intact. Obviously the virtual machine will not boot so how can we fix this?

The solution:
  1. Boot the virtual machine, select F2 to go into the virtual machine's BIOS and make sure that the VM is booting from the correct virtual disk.
  2. Boot the machine into a disk management software like Acronis Disk Director Suite or similar and convert the partitions from logical to primary partitions and then select the C: partition as the active partition.
The virtual machine will now boot successfully.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Change Evolution is 'The Way'

I'm working on a paper, document, anything, (probably just this post now since my schedule is so busy) on something that's been in the back of my mind for a while now, and every time I speak to a new opportunity or a customer I always wished that I had something substantial to leave behind to show that yes, it is possible to achieve the desired future state without pain.

What I'm talking about is how to get from A to Z without pain, fear, risk, or increased cost and time.

'A to Z' is an expression that we all use, but in Lehmann's terms it is getting to the desired future state from the current state.

What is the future state? For example a server migration project of 1000 Wintel servers into VMware infrastructure in 6 months.

So if A is the origin and Z is the destination, then the journey of getting from A to Z is the experience. It is the experience that is all too important. In a project's lifecycle, the primary purpose of a project is to bring benefit to something (an organisation for example). But the experience can vary dramatically. Z can be achieved but at what cost? Z can be achieved but it could take a long time. Z can also be achieved but after how many mistakes, issues and actions that were required to achieve Z?

Is there a way to define the experience? To reduce the amount of risk and unplanned change, to limit the exposure to mistakes and unknowns. To cap the amount of time and cost to achieving Z. 'The Way' then is called a methodology. A methodology is a collection of processes and frameworks which are used to control the execution of change within a project.

So while I’m in a pessimistic mood, let’s go over why there are difficulties from having a comfortable journey:
• Lack of planning
• Lack of clear objectives
• Lack of support and acceptance (See Steve Chamber's Barriers to Virtualisation)
• Lack of risk management
• Lack of a business case or project justification
• Lack of change control

Why is change so feared?

Let's assume that your project justification and initiation are all good and that your project plans, objectives, business case and RAID are all up to scratch and now you are ready to embark on a project that changes your IT infrastructure. Have you considered how you will manage change? Are there push backs from the business or application owners who don't really need or want anything to happen to their precious server due to changing the way a workload is run?

How can you alleviate their fears and introduce controlled change?

So let's take the classic CIO/IT Director from a few years ago at a time when x86 consolidation using virtualisation was still in its infancy (there are those that still think transitioning to a virtual infrastructure is a risk too far). These CIOs had fears around change - change of management, change of skills, change of processes and changes with operations. These fears were prevalent then and are still prevalent now. In my view the main enablers for change are the frameworks that can be used to get from A to Z.

Without change, an IT organisation will never be able to evolve into an IT organisation that has more reliable infrastructure, more efficient processes and more streamlined operations. Those companies that do embrace change and evolve are considered to be the most high performing IT Organisations.

The consensus is basically this: change causes fear, therefore projects such as P2V take forever to do, and without the correct methodology your P2V project could fail before it has actually begun. But by introducing controlled change and then putting the processes and governance in place; the strategy controls, manages change and provides a framework for effective management and delivery of the project.

The barrier to evolution is due to a fear of change, we alleviate this fear by controlling change. Change then becomes the enabler for evolution: please welcome Change Evolution.

So what is Change Evolution?

Change Evolution is a framework that uses ITIL/Visible Ops methodologies to control migration to virtualisation projects. It expedites ROI due to enablement of change management as part of BAU/Operations.

Change Evolution is a framework for delivering projects with

  • less Risk
  • less Time
  • less Cost

Monday, 18 May 2009

Power CLI Quick Start Guide


1.1 Overview

The VI Toolkit (for Windows) provides a powerful yet simple command line interface for task based management of the VMware Infrastructure platform. Windows Administrators can easily manage and deploy the VMware Infrastructure with a familiar, simple to use command line interface.

The VI Toolkit (for Windows) is a tool that system administrators and developers can use to automate the management of VMware Virtual Infrastructure. With the VI Toolkit (for Windows), many tedious and time-consuming tasks can be completely automated in as little as one line of code.

The VI Toolkit (for Windows) takes advantage of Windows PowerShell and .NET to bring unprecedented ease of management and automation to the Virtual Infrastructure platform. The VI Toolkit (for Windows) provides 125 PowerShell cmdlets that cover all aspects of Virtual Infrastructure management.
Some common tasks that the VI Toolkit (for Windows) can be used to perform include:
  • Snapshoting all virtual machines.
  • Disconnecting or removing all Floppy or CD-ROM drives from all Virtual Machines.
  • Large-scale cloning of templates.
  • Moving large numbers of Virtual Machines from one virtual switch to another.
  • Migrating large numbers of Virtual Machines between ESX hosts.
  • Reports and monitoring across the entire Virtual Infrastructure.
1.2 System Requirements

The following platforms are supported by the VI Toolkit (for Windows):
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003 R2 (32 or 64 bit)
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003 with Service Pack 2 (SP2) (32 or 64 bit)
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003 with Service Pack 1 (SP1) (32 or 64 bit)
  • Microsoft Windows XP with Service Pack 2 (SP2) (32 or 64 bit)
  • Microsoft Windows Vista (32 or 64 bit)
1.3 Virtual Infrastructure Platforms Supported

The following platform combinations are supported by the VI Toolkit (for Windows):
  • Management of ESX 3.0.2 using Virtual Center 2.5
  • Management of ESX 3.5 using Virtual Center 2.5
  • Management of ESXi 3.5 using Virtual Center 2.5
  • Direct management of ESX 3.0.2
  • Direct management of ESX 3.5
  • Direct management of ESXi 3.5
1.4 Pre-requisites

The following tables lists the software pre-requisites and the location to each installer. This guide focuses on the most recent releases as dated 05/02/2009, which are Windows PowerShell V2 CTP3, VI Toolkit (for Windows) version 1.5 and the VI Toolkit Community Extensions build 46896.

Windows PowerShell
VI Toolkit (for Windows)
VI Toolkit Community Extensions

Another pre-requisite that is also recommended for general administration is Notepad++. This is used to create and edit scripts that can be run with the VI Toolkit.
Notepad++ can be downloaded from here.


There are three installation tasks that need to be performed before you can start using the VI-Toolkit to manage a VMware Infrastructure.

Windows PowerShell. The VI Toolkit 1.5 (for Windows) requires Microsoft PowerShell V2 CTP 3.

Please download it from here.

VI Toolkit (for Windows). Can be downloaded from here.

VI Toolkit Community Extensions. Can be downloaded from here.


The procedures below go through in detail how to get the VI-Toolkit up and running after installation. Once installed the icon below will be available on the Windows Desktop.


Before launching the VMware VI Toolkit application, you must first set up your PowerShell profile. The new desktop shortcut does two things for you: it starts powershell with the VI Toolkit snapin loaded and it runs a script which modifies the look of the Powershell window and adds some cool extra functions. If you want to have the same functionality in your normal Powershell window and your scripts, you have to copy some stuff to your Powershell profile.

3.1 First, set up your profile:

1. Start a normal PowerShell Window by navigating to Start | All Programs | Windows PowerShell V2 (CTP3) | Windows PowerShell V2 (CTP3), the following will be launched:

2. Run the following command:
Test-Path $profile

3. If it returned True then you already have a profile file. If it returned False, then proceed to the next step.

4. Create a profile file by running:
New-Item $profile –ItemType File

5. If an error is returned then create a WindowsPowerShell directory under your My Documents folder and then repeat step 4.

3.2 Adding the snap-in:

1. Open your profile by running:
Invoke-Item $profile

2. Add the following line to the profile file to load the snap-in:
Add-PSSnapIn VMware.VimAutomation.Core -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue

3.3 Adding undocumented functions

1. Open the file C:\Program Files\VMware\Infrastructure\VIToolkitForWindows\Scripts\Initialize-VIToolkitEnvironment.ps1

2. Copy the following Function Blocks to your profile file:
Get-VICommand, New-DatastoreDrive, New-VIInventoryDrive, Get-VIToolkitDocumentation, Get-VIToolkitCommunity

If the steps were performed successfully, then your profile will be present in the folder structure C:\Documents and Settings\Hugo Phan\My Documents\WindowsPowerShell/ Microsoft.PowerShell_profile.ps1

And its contents will look something like this:

3.4 Enabling the execution of scripts

The Set-ExecutionPolicy changes the user preference for the execution policy of the shell. The execution policy is part of the security strategy of Windows PowerShell. It determines whether you can load configuration files (including your Windows PowerShell profile) and run scripts, and it determines which scripts, if any, must be digitally signed before they will run.

You need to set the execution policy to unrestricted using the below cmdlet

set-executionpolicy unrestricted

will return the current execution policy.

The default ExecutionPolicy is Restricted. Unrestricted is unnecessarily risky.

Set-ExecutionPolicy RemoteSigned
is more secure and works for VI Toolkit 1.5.

3.5 Loading the Community Extensions

The VI Toolkit for Windows Community Extensions is a PowerShell module designed to work with the VI Toolkit for Windows.

1. Download and extract the package and then copy the coreModule folder to the root of C:

2. Open up a Windows PowerShell session and then type in the following command
Import-Module “c:\coreModule\viToolkitExtensions.psm1”

Now you are ready to start using the VI Toolit by either logging into a vCenter environment or by launching scripts.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Upgrading to VMware vSphere using the vSphere Host Update Utility

There are three ways in which to upgrade to VMware vSphere, these are

  1. VMware Update Manager

  2. vSphere Host Update Utility 4.0, and

  3. a clean install of vSphere

This post goes through the upgrade process using the vSphere Host Update Utility 4.0. A 10 minute video is available here:

The vSphere Host Update Utility 4.0 is an application that is installed as part of the vSphere vCenter installation package.

  1. To start the upgrade process, launch the vSphere Host Update Utility.
  2. The vSphere Host Update Utility will request confirmation to connect to the VMware patch repository.
  3. Add the host to the update utility by clicking on Host | Add Host.
  4. Type in the FQDN or IP address of the host you wish to upgrade then click on Add.
  5. Now click on the Upgrade button to start the upgrade wizard.
  6. Next browse to the location of your vSphere ISO file then click on Next.
  7. Read and accept the license agreement to continue.
  8. Enter the root credentials then press Next.
  9. The Host compatibility check will perform some checks and will allow the upgrade to continue if the host meets the criteria.
  10. Next select a local datastore (recommended) to store the disk file for the Console OS and also select the disk size.
  11. Leave all other settings on default and finish the Wizard
  12. Once complete, reconnect the host in vCenter to install the new vCenter Agent.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

My lab is bigger than your lab

Following on from vinternals post about what a terrabyte of RAM looked like. Here is what 2Tb of RAM looks like installed in 16 BL685c servers.