Storage DRS Default VM Affinity Setting

[Updated] This is a very short post as I only learnt about this recently myself. I thought it was only available in vSphere 5.5 but it appears to be in vSphere 5.1 too. Anyhow Storage DRS now has a new setting that allows you to configure the default VM affinity setting. Historically, VMDKs from the same virtual machine were always kept together on the same datastore by default; you had to set a VMDK anti-affinity rule to keep them apart. Now you can set a default for this option, which can either be to keep VMDKs together on the same datastore or to keep VMDKs apart on different datastores.

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What happens when VMFS heap depletes completely?

I’ve blogged about the VMFS heap situation numerous times now already. However, a question that I frequently get asked is what actual happens when heap runs out? I thought I’d put together a short article explaining the symptoms one would see when there is no VMFS heap left on an ESXi host. Thanks once again to my good friend and colleague, Paudie O’Riordan, for sharing his support experiences with me on this matter – “together we win”, right Paud?

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vSOM and VDPA Releases

In case you missed it, VMware released two interesting additions to the product portfolio last week.

vSOM – vSphere with Operations Manager

It became apparent that vCenter’s UI, while adequate for a lot of activities such as VM provisioning, does not provide the level of detail or forecasting required to manage large and complex infrastructures on a day to day basis. This is why VMware has introduced a new SKU which bundles the vCenter Operations product with vSphere. vCenter Operations Manager (vCOps) is the most comprehensive product for monitoring the health and performance of your virtual infrastructure. It  also monitors capacity & over provisioning and helps you to anticipate performance bottlenecks. Great to see it included with vSphere. Read more about it here and here.

VDPA – vSphere Data Protection Advanced

VDPA, as you might expect from the name, is building on top of VDP (vSphere Data Protection) which we released last year alongside vSphere 5.1. Scalability enhancements in the new VDPA include a larger store (up to 8TB) for storing deduplicated backup data and the ability to grow this store dynamically (in case you started out with a small store and now require a larger one). Another major feature, possibly the best feature of VDPA, is the ability to do backups and restores of Microsoft® SQL Server™ and Microsoft® Exchange Server™, both at the image-level and at the guest-level. Read more about VDPA here.

Software iSCSI and IPv6 Support

A little while ago, I researched a support statement regarding Software iSCSI & IPsec. After digging around a bit, I found out that the answer was no, it is not supported since we have not yet done a complete set of tests on this combination of products/features.

However, in the course of my research, I came across some conflicting support statements about Software iSCSI & IPv6.

  • KB article 1010812 – IPv6 Storage (Software iSCSI and NFS) is experimental in ESX 4.0
  • KB article 1021769 – VMware vSphere ESX/ESXi 4.1 supports IPv6 for use with the Service Console and VMkernel management interfaces, and is compatible with Software iSCSI, vMotion, High Availability (HA) and Fault Tolerance (FT). Note: IPv6 is not supported for a dependent hardware iSCSI adapter or with TCP Checksum Offload.
  • And in  the vSphere 5.1 Storage Guide, page 78, it states that ESXi does not support IPv6 with software iSCSI and dependent hardware iSCSI.

It appears we went from experimental, to supported to not supported. Really?

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Does Software iSCSI on vSphere support IPsec?

This came up in a conversation today. Does VMware’s Software iSCSI implementation support Internet Protocol Security (IPsec) in vSphere 5.1? Internet Protocol Security (IPsec) secures IP communications coming from and arriving at an ESXi host.

Although KB article 1021769 states that IPv6 is compatible with Software iSCSI, it doesn’t state whether or not IPsec is supported with Software iSCSI. To find this information, you have to reach for the vSphere Security Guide. Under the section ‘Securing iSCSI Devices Through Authentication’, it states:

ESXi does not support Kerberos, Secure Remote Protocol (SRP), or public-key authentication methods for iSCSI. Additionally, it does not support IPsec authentication and encryption.

Therefore the answer is no, Software iSCSI currently does not support IPsec at this time.

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Heads Up! Valid Static Address Ranges in vSphere 5.1

If you are planning to upgrade to vSphere 5.1, you need to pay attention to this, especially if you have assigned static MAC addresses to your virtual machines. After upgrading to vSphere 5.1, VMs with statically assigned MAC address may fail to power on with the error: “The MAC address entered is not in the valid range.” 

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Heads Up! VOMA – ERROR: Trying to do IO beyond device Size

This is a short note on trying to use VOMA, the vSphere On-disk Metadata Analyzer, on a dump taken from a VMFS-5 volume which was upgraded from VMFS-3. This is not an issue if VOMA is run directly on the volume; it is only an issue if a dump is taken from the volume and then you try to run VOMA on the dump. It may error during phase 1- ‘Checking VMFS header and resource files‘ with an error ‘ERROR: Trying to do IO beyond device Size‘.

When a VMFS-3 is upgraded to VMFS-5, a new system file, pb2.sf, is created for additional pointer blocks. One of the major differences between VMFS-3 & VMFS-5 is the introduction of double-indirect pointer blocks which means that we can created 2TB VMDKs with a unified 1MB file block. With a very full VMFS-3, this new system file could be placed quite a ways down the volume. With offline dumps for VOMA, our support folks will typically request the first 1.5GB of a volume to do the analysis. If the pb2.sf file is outside of this first 1.5GB of disk, then you will encounter this error. In this case, VOMA should be run against the actual volume, ensuring of course that it is completely quiesced. I recently did an article here which details what might be heartbeating to a datastore, even when there are no running VMs.

Get notification of these blogs postings and more VMware Storage information by following me on Twitter: @CormacJHogan