VMware Releases VI3 Update 5

Sometime yesterday ESX(i) Update 5 finally hit VMware Update Manager, about 2 days after the official announcement and release on the VMware website. This announcement includes updates for ESX, ESXi and vCenter Server. In addition to Update 5 being released there were about 20 additional updates made available for ESX(i), including 16 which were marked as critical.

The following information provides highlights of some of the enhancements available in this release of VMware ESX Server, this information can be found in the VMware ESX(i) 3.5 U5 Release Notes:

Enablement of Intel Xeon Processor 3400 Series– Support for the Intel Xeon processor 3400 series has been added. Support includes Enhanced VMotion capabilities. For additional information on previous processor families supported by Enhanced VMotion, see Enhanced VMotion Compatibility (EVC) processor support (KB 1003212).

Driver Update for Broadcom bnx2 Network Controller– The driver for bnx2 controllers has been upgraded to version 1.6.9. This driver supports bootcode upgrade on bnx2 chipsets and requires bmapilnx and lnxfwnx2tools upgrade from Broadcom. This driver also adds support for Network Controller – Sideband Interface (NC-SI) for SOL (serial over LAN) applicable to Broadcom NetXtreme 5709 and 5716 chipsets.

Driver Update for LSI SCSI and SAS Controllers – The driver for LSI SCSI and SAS controllers is updated to version 2.06.74. This version of the driver is required to provide a better support for shared SAS environments.

Newly Supported Guest Operating Systems – Support for the following guest operating systems has been added specifically for this release:

For more complete information about supported guests included in this release, see the VMware Compatibility Guide: http://www.vmware.com/resources/compatibility/search.php?deviceCategory=software.

  • Windows 7 Enterprise (32-bit and 64-bit)
  • Windows 7 Ultimate (32-bit and 64-bit)
  • Windows 7 Professional (32-bit and 64-bit)
  • Windows 7 Home Premium (32-bit and 64-bit)
  • Windows 2008 R2 Standard Edition (64-bit)
  • Windows 2008 R2 Enterprise Edition (64-bit)
  • Windows 2008 R2 Datacenter Edition (64-bit)
  • Windows 2008 R2 Web Server (64-bit)
  • Ubuntu Desktop 9.04 (32-bit and 64-bit)
  • Ubuntu Server 9.04 (32-bit and 64-bit)

Newly Supported Management Agents – See VMware ESX Server Supported Hardware Lifecycle Management Agents for current information on supported management agents.

Newly Supported Network Cards –This release of ESX Server supports HP NC375T (NetXen) PCI Express Quad Port Gigabit Server Adapter.

Newly Supported SATA Controllers – This release of ESX Server supports the Intel Ibex Peak SATA AHCI controller.

In addition to the enhancements found in ESX(i) 3.5 U5, there is also one lonely enhancement made to vCenter Server 2.5 U5:

Support for High Consolidation in VMware HA Clusters– VirtualCenter 2.5 Update 5 includes significant performance and scalability improvements to VMware HA. Use VirtualCenter 2.5 Update 5 for environments with more than 35 virtual machines per host in an HA cluster.
For information on the ESX Server host settings required for this scalability improvement, see ESX Server host settings required for environments with up to 80 virtual machines per host in an HA Cluster (KB 1012002).

Updating your ESX servers can and should be done with VMware Update Manager. To upgrade your vCenter Server installation you’ll need to download the installation ISO or ZIP from the VMware website and perform an in-place upgrade. Be sure to create a backup of your vCenter Server database then follow the steps in the Installation Guide.

Created on December 6, 2009 by Rick Scherer

Posted under ESX 3.5 Tips, ESXi 3.5 Tips, vCenter.

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VMware ESXi 4 and HP Servers

I’m proud to say that HP has full support for ESXi 4 installed on SD or USB Flash memory.  They even offer the installable ISO pre-built with their CIM providers, available here. There is a catch though, they only support their approved SD or USB Flash memory….sorry, but you cannot BYOF (Bring Your Own Flash).  This is reflected on their download page:

HP VMware ESXi 4.0 solution requires the following:

  • VMware ESXi 4.0 free downloadable product. To upgrade your license to Enterprise Plus, purchase HP VMware ESXi 4 product 571979-B21.
  • HP ESXi 4 CIM Providers.
  • Registration on VMware ESXi hypervisor web page to obtain permanent license serial number.
  • Acquire your choice of HP supported and qualified media – any HP supported hard drive, USB or SD Flash devices listed below.
  • Please note that all devices will need to be imaged for ESXi 4.0.

    Information about HP supported SD card and USB Flash drive:

    • Supported SD card**:
      HP 4GB SD Flash Media
      HP Part Number 580387-B21
      [spare kit part number 583306-001]
    • Supported USB Flash Drive**:
      HP 4GB USB Flash Media Drive Key
      HP Part Number 580385-B21
      [Spare kit part number 583307-001]
      *Must be purchased separately.
      **HP VMware ESXi 4.0 does not support any other USB or SD flash devices

    Seems simple, doesn’t it?   Actually it works great and I have put a few dozen servers into production with this method, the best part is no more local HDD which saves even more power!

    One question I often get is,  why do you need a 4GB drive, I though ESXi was only 32MB?  Well, even though it is true that ESXi is only 32MB you still need adequate space for the VI Client, VMware Tools (all Operating systems) and upgrade space (for future ESXi patches and releases).  Using a 4GB drive ensures that you’ll have enough space for everything.

    There is one problem currently that I am facing, HP has both the SD Card and USB Flash Drive on back-order and there is no expected ETA for either of them!  This has delayed a major project I’m working on and I’ve had to resort to using temporary “junk” USB drives to get the customer by in the mean time.

    If someone from HP is reading this, PLEASE get your OEM to produce some new ones ASAP!

    Created on October 27, 2009 by Rick Scherer

    Posted under Storage, vSphere.

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    Before Host Profiles there was vicfg-cfgbackup.pl

    This last weekend I was reminded of a RCLI command that creates a backup of your ESXi Host configuration.  A client had an ESXi host where the USB drive failed.  The system didn’t entirely crash, it pinged so HA didn’t kick-in however hostd and vpxa weren’t responding so management from vCenter was impossible. Performing a reboot of the host proved it was a USB failure when it failed to boot.

    So, HA kicked in finally when the host was powered off – however the remaining hosts in their cluster did not have adequate resources to power everything back on.  We needed to get this failed ESX host back online and quick!

    Brought in new USB stick with fresh ESXi 4.0 installed, plugged in and powered up.  In the TUI configured the Management Port IP address/gateway/DNS, etc.    But now what, all of the (NFS) Datastores, vSwitch configuration and advanced settings were toast…and they didn’t have Enterprise Plus.

    Say Hello to vicfg-cfgbackup.pl — a RCLI command which could be found in the vMA.  This utility will allow you to create a backup and restore a full ESXi configuration.  Luckily we had this (backup) command running on a nightly basis so we knew the configuration was complete.  A simply command and the host was online.

    Seeing that ESX is going to be phased out, this RCLI command is a valid alternative for those ESXi users that do not have Enterprise Plus licensing.

    The commands vicfg-cfgbackup.pl (esxcfg-cfgbackup.pl) allow you to backup and restore the configuration of your ESXi host.

    To backup the host you would run the command.

    vicfg-cfgbackup.pl –server <server_name> -s <backup_file_name>

    To restore your backup configuration to your host you would run. This will cause the host to reboot once the process is complete. NOTE: The host must be in Maintenance Mode for this to work. The backup configuration must also match the patch level of the ESXi install. You can add a -f to force if needed.

    vicfg-cfgbackup.pl –server <server_name> -l <backup_file_name>

    Created on October 12, 2009 by Rick Scherer

    Posted under Backup & Recovery, ESXi 3.5 Tips, vSphere.

    This blog has 21,638 views and 8 responses.

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    Committing snapshots generates a content ID mismatch error

    I had a big problem Monday AM on one of my core SAP VM instances, that also happens to have a SQL DB server on it. Our VCB process finishes up on late Sunday night, if you’re not aware of how VCB works, it basically creates a snapshot of the Virtual Machine, then mounts the now readable VMDK parent to a proxy server where your backup agent resides. Once the backup is complete the snapshot is committed.  This wasn’t the case Monday AM — the VM crashed and I was paged. Snapshot didn’t commit, parent VMDK could not be found, had to manually set Parent CID in the delta VMDK file then finally when I got it back online the SQL DB was corrupt :( — luckily I had a full SQL backup from the night before.

    This is where VMware KB 1007969 comes into the story…

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    Created on April 14, 2009 by Rick Scherer

    Posted under ESX 3.5 Tips, ESXi 3.5 Tips, Storage.

    This blog has 12,478 views and 6 responses.

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    Like Veeam FastSCP? Get Veeam Backup for 50% Off!

    The past few weeks I’ve been working with a customer that only has ESXi, Veeam FastSCP has came in really handy lately! I can copy files between systems or between a system and my desktop, the flexibility it creates is amazing.  It also attempts to utilize the VMKernel API first, if it cannot make a connection that way it will fallback to SSH.  Did I forget to mention, its blazing fast!

    Well, now is your chance to get Veeam Backup and Replication for 50% off! Don’t miss this great opportunity to get a solid backup utility for your ESX(i) infrastructure.  Oh yeah, it also works with ESXi Free Edition!

    Backup small header

    Through June 15, Veeam Software is extending a special upgrade offer that gives you budget relief, freeing you to license the new #1 for VMware backup and replication. Veeam has the functionality, reliability and performance you need now.

    You can have both backup and replication in one product – now 50% off when you provide proof of purchase of a competing product. Learn more >>

    Created on April 7, 2009 by Rick Scherer

    Posted under Backup & Recovery.

    This blog has 3,461 views and 2 responses.

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    VMware Enhanced VMotion Compatibility (EVC)

    I recently ran into a situation with a customer where they needed to add another host to their cluster.  Problem is, their original hosts had single core AMD Opteron processors (Opteron 285) and the host they wanted to purchase came with either a Dual-Core or Quad-Core Opteron.  The customer was scared about the VMotion Compatibility between their older AMD hosts and the newer hosts they would be purchasing….so much that they wanted me to find them an old single-core system. I know EVC is nothing new, I’ve been enabling it when needed for almost 8 months now.  You may run into a situation where your customer (or boss) is a little hesitant in enabling this advanced feature. But rest assured, VMware has KB 1003212 to answer all your questions.

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    Created on March 31, 2009 by Rick Scherer

    Posted under ESX 3.5 Tips, ESXi 3.5 Tips.

    This blog has 21,799 views and 2 responses.

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    VMware ESX 3.5 Update 4 Released

    VMware has released the latest update to its ESX(i) 3.5 flagship product, Update 4.  It is strongly recommended that you upgrade to VMware vCenter 2.5 Update 4 prior to upgrading your ESX hosts.  Updates such as this one typically include a number of system improvements and also all of the patches available in-between it and the previous update available. Numerous driver additions and updates have been added to this update roll-up, including;

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    Created on March 30, 2009 by Rick Scherer

    Posted under ESX 3.5 Tips, ESXi 3.5 Tips.

    This blog has 11,214 views and one response.

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    Idealstor Releases VMware vCenter Backup Solution

    Idealstor, a leading developer of disk-to-disk backup solutions, announced today the release of iBac VIP for VMware Virtual Center.  iBac VIP for Virtual Center was created to simplify VMware backups by offering a single license that backs up every virtual machine regardless of how many ESX hosts have been implemented.

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    Created on February 2, 2009 by Rick Scherer

    Posted under Backup & Recovery, Storage.

    This blog has 3,581 views and no responses.

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    ESX Patches – Resolve SAN LUN Issue

    In a previous article I discuss how an ESX host can halt if LUN metadata updates are done the same time a LUN path fails.  Thankfully VMware has released a patch for this problem, along with a few others.  I strongly suggest you to upgrade if your running VMware ESX 3.5 U3 and block level storage.

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    Created on February 2, 2009 by Rick Scherer

    Posted under ESX 3.5 Tips, ESXi 3.5 Tips, Storage.

    This blog has 4,549 views and no responses.

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    Issue: VMware ESX/ESXi SAN I/O Failure

    In the twitter queue today I heard a new VMware KB has been released in regards to a potential SAN failure (FibreChannel and iSCSI).  More information and the most recent updates can be found on the VMware KB.  I’ve included a breakdown of the issue and resolution, which can be found below.

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    Created on January 12, 2009 by Rick Scherer

    Posted under ESX 3.5 Tips, ESXi 3.5 Tips, Storage.

    This blog has 14,814 views and 7 responses.

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