Wednesday, February 25, 2015

VMware P2V Converter Best Practices...Pre and Post conversion checklist

As we all know, using Vmware vCenter converter one can convert Windows and Linux based physical machine and third party formats to Vmware virtual machines.
The best/easiest approach to converting a Windows operating system from a physical machine to a virtual machine is to perform a hot migration with VMware Converter installed locally on the source (physical machine) operating system.

only VMware Converter 4.2 and later support physical to virtual machine conversion for Linux sources. For earlier versions of Converter, the support is experimental and some of the features, such as partition resizing, are not available.

Here I am going to discuss what we should check pre and post P2V conversion…..

Tasks to perform before conversion

To prepare for conversion:
1.     If the source is a domain controller, special considerations must be made. VMware does not recommend virtualizing an active domain controller with Converter.

2.     If the source is Microsoft Exchange, SQL, or other database server, VMware recommends that the application (Microsoft Exchange/SQL) and database services be shut down prior to conversion. This minimizes any chance of corrupted database tables or stale data in the destination virtual machine.

3.     Disable the real-time antivirus scanning during the conversion.

4.     Verify that you are using or have downloaded the latest version of VMware Converter.
If you have previously installed or attempted a conversion with an earlier version of VMware Converter, a previous version may still be installed verify/uninstall it.
5.     Install VMware Converter directly to the source operating system using the local Administrator account, if you are going to use remote hot clone feature you may choose a custom installation to only install the converter agent. If the source server is running Windows NT or Windows 2000, you must reboot it after installing VMware Converter or Converter does not start.
        Note: In some cases, a domain administrator account may be used depending on your environment, local and group policies, and account permissions.
6.     If the NIC on the source machine is compatible with TOE (TCP Offload Engine), you need to disable it by running this command in a command prompt on the source machine:

netsh int tcp set global chimney=disabled  
7.     Confirm that the source has 200 MB of free disk space on its system volume. This space is required to operate the disk snapshot features in Converter.
Note: It is possible to separate the source partitions in different destination volumes during the conversion.
8.     Run VMware Converter as a local administrator. Using a local administrator account removes any possible permissions issues. If you are performing a remote conversion, be sure to specify the login user as the Administrator account.

Note: In some cases a domain administrator account may be used depending on your environment, local and group policies, and account permissions.
9.     Run the System Configuration Utility(msconfig) on the source server to reduce the number of services and applications running on startup, all software except for All Microsoft Services and VMware Converter Service..
10.   If you have static IP addresses assigned, assign the interfaces DHCP addresses prior to conversion, if possible.

11.   If the source is a virtual machine created in Microsoft Virtual PC, remove the Virtual PC Additions, prior to conversion.

12.   If the destination is an ESX host:

·         Connect to the server using its IP address instead of DNS host name. Using the host name of the ESX host may expose issues with DNS name resolution that can prevent the Converter from connecting.
·         Confirm that the source server can access the destination ESX host directly using ports 443 and 902, even if using VirtualCenter. Authenticate to the ESX host using the root account.
·         If the source server contains a hard drive or partition larger than 256GB, ensure that the destination datastore's block size is 2MB, 4MB, or 8MB, and not the default 1MB size. The 1 MB default block size cannot accommodate a file larger than 256 GB.  The block size is no longer used on a VMFS 5 datastore connected to an ESXi 5.0 Host.
·         Confirm that you are providing a unique name for the target virtual machine. Use the Virtual Infrastructure (VI) client to confirm that the name is not already in use.

Tasks to perform after conversion has completed

After conversion has completed:
1.     Review the virtual hardware settings:

·         Adjust the number of virtual NICs. If you need to customize the host name or IP address, leave all NICs disconnected but present.
·         Remove any unnecessary devices such as USB controllers (if running on ESX), COM ports or floppy drives
2.     Start the virtual machine in Safe Mode.

3.     Click Start > Control Panel > Add / Remove Programs. Remove any unnecessary programs used to install or support device drivers, such a RAID management tools, network teaming or management software, wireless card management software, and video and sound drivers. Do not restart if prompted by an uninstall program.

4.     Restart the virtual machine into Normal mode.

5.     Remove any additional devices or device drivers that were used to support hardware on the physical server. Use either the Device Manager or Control Panel, depending on the version of Windows, to remove unnecessary devices. It may also be necessary to view the Event Log to clear any remaining device startup failure messages.

Note: To remove the hidden devices from the Windows operating system, follow these steps:
·         Click Start, point to All Programs, point to Accessories, and then click Command Prompt.
·         At a command prompt, type the following command , and then press ENTER:
            set devmgr_show_nonpresent_devices=1
·         Type the following command at command prompt and then press Enter: start devmgmt.msc
·         Troubleshoot the devices and drivers in Device Manager.
NOTE: Click Show hidden devices on the View menu in Device Manager before you can see devices that are not connected to the computer.
·         When you finish troubleshooting, close Device Manager.
·         Type exit at the command prompt.

Note that when you close the command prompt window, Window clears the devmgr_show_nonpresent_devices=1 variable that you set in step 2 and prevents ghosted devices from being displayed when you click Show hidden devices.

6.     VMware recommends changing the HAL in the virtual machine to uniprocessor if the source server is configured with multi-CPU hardware abstraction layer (HAL), and the destination virtual machine is configured to use a single CPU.

7.     Install VMware Tools and restart if prompted.

8.     If required, customize the virtual machine's identity. VMware recommends using the Microsoft Sysprep utility to accomplish this, however it can also be accomplished by manually changing its computer host name, IP address, and any other required unique identification.

9.     If the System Configuration Utility(msconfig) was used prior to conversion, select the Normal startup option to change switch back to a normal boot configuration.

10.   Apply any previously removed static IP address settings, as required.

11.   Reconnect any disconnected virtual NICs, as required.

Want to read more about Best practices for using and troubleshooting VMware Converter, checkout KB Article 1004588.

For Required VMware vCenter Converter 5.x ports take a look of KB Article 1010056.

For Troubleshooting checklist for VMware Converter take a look of KB Article 1016330.

To see various stages in the conversion process, take a look of Alex Hunt's following blog post: Troubleshooting common P2V Conversion Failures.

If I missed anything please let me know in the comments…..Thank you!

That’s it.... :)

Monday, February 23, 2015

Working with vSphere scheduled tasks

You can create scheduled tasks for operations that you want to automatically run once or at a recurring interval.
One cannot define scheduled tasks on an ESXi alone, you have to use vCenter to create and manage scheduled tasks.
The tasks you can schedule are listed in the following table:

Scheduled Task
Add a host
Adds the host to the specified datacenter or cluster.
Change the power state of a virtual machine
Powers on, powers off, suspends, or resets the state of the virtual machine.
Change cluster power settings
Enable or disable DPM for hosts in a cluster.
Changes the following resource settings:
CPU – Shares, Reservation, Limit.
Memory – Shares, Reservation, Limit.
Check compliance of a profile
Checks that a host's configuration matches the configuration specified in a host profile.
Clone a virtual machine
Makes a clone of the virtual machine and places it on the specified host or cluster.
Create a virtual machine
Creates a new virtual machine on the specified host.
Deploy a virtual machine
Creates a new virtual machine from a template on the specified host or cluster.
Migrate a virtual machine
Migrate a virtual machine to the specified host or datastore by using migration or migration with vMotion.
Make a snapshot of a virtual machine
Captures the entire state of the virtual machine at the time the snapshot is taken.
Scan for Updates
Scans templates, virtual machines, and hosts for available updates.
This task is available only when vSphere Update Manager is installed.
Installs missing patches from the baselines selected for remediation on the hosts discovered during the scan operation and applies the newly configured settings.
This task is available only when vSphere Update Manager is installed.

To create scheduled tasks one should have Schedule Task.Create Tasks access privilege. You create scheduled tasks by using the Scheduled Task wizard. For some scheduled tasks, this wizard opens the wizard used specifically for that task. For example, if you create a scheduled task that migrates a virtual machine, the Scheduled Task wizard opens the Migrate Virtual Machine wizard, which you use to set up the migration details.
Scheduling one task to run on multiple objects is not possible. For example, you cannot create one scheduled task on a host that powers on all virtual machines on that host. You must create a separate scheduled task for each virtual machine.
How to Create a Scheduled Task:

Using vSphere client you will find the options here, Home => Management => Scheduled Tasks => The current list of scheduled tasks appears, In the toolbar, click New

Using vSphere Web client you will find the options here, Navigate to the object for which you want to schedule a task => Select Manage => then select Scheduled Tasks => From the Schedule New Task drop-down list, select the task to schedule.
                                             Available options when we selected Datacenter/Cluster

                                                                   VM related available scheduled tasks

If the task to schedule is not available in the VI or Web Client, use the vSphere API.
Caution: Do not schedule multiple tasks simultaneously on the same object. The results are unpredictable.
There is a known issue of Cannot schedule tasks or set the correct time on ESXi hosts from the VMware vSphere Web Client 5.5. This issue is resolved in vCenter Server 5.5 Update 2d.

Want to read more about vSphere scheduled tasks, take a look of ESXi and vCenterServer 5.x Documentation.

That's it.... :)

Friday, February 20, 2015

vSphere 6 – New Config Maximums etc.

vSphere 6 Doubles the vSphere Maximums:
64 hosts per cluster (vSphere 5.x it was 32)
8000 VMs (previously 4000)
480 CPUs (vSphere 5.x it was 320 CPUs)
12 TB of RAM (vSphere 5.x it was 4 TB of RAM)
2048 VMs per host (vSphere 5.x it was 512 VMs).

on Some blogs maximum VMs per cluster still listed as 6000, that information is based on beta builds.....for more info take a look here : vSphere 6 – Clarifying the misinformation

VMs get a little bigger as well:

Virtual hardware 11 (vmx11),  newly released on vSphere 6
4TB of RAM (NUMA aware)
VDDM 1.1 GDI acceleration
xHCI 1.0 controller compatible with OS X 10.8 + xHCI driver.

Note: It will be possible to use vSphere C# client to view functionality in virtual hardware 9, 10 and 11. Editing of settings will be possible in vmx8 and access to view settings virtual hardware 9 and higher.

Also the C# client in the final release of vSphere 6.0 will be able to manage vCenter.
FT Features: 
4vCPU VMs can be protected by FT
VMs with up to 64Gb of RAM
Up to 4 FT protected VMs per host
Hot configured FT possibility
Enhanced virtual disk format support
VADP support (can backup FT protected VMs now. Previously not possible) 

Configuration Maximums vCenter Server 6 on Windows or Linux based VCSA:

As the limits increased so now minimum requirement of RAM for vCSA is 8GB and in this configuration you can run up to 20 hosts with total 400 VMs.  Take a look of below table for different sizes of the appliance. The size can easily be adjusted during the deployment process.

vSphere6.0 Linked mode comparison:

That's it....yes i know there are many more things ;)

How to compress, merge spilit or convert PDF files Online for free

Last day one of my friend asked me for a way to compress PDF files as he need to send scanned copy of his documents to someone and the size of PDFs folder was more than allowed limit (yes he already compressed the folder).
I suggested him there are many freeware utilities available for this but he said he don’t have admin privilege to install anything on his office system so I have to look for any online tool to do this job. When I Googled for it, found many sites to do this job but on most of the sites first you will have register with your mail id and even after login there are some restrictions for a basic/free user. After checking many site eventually we came across and I found it exactly what I was looking for or even more without sign up/sign in...and its completely freeJ :D

Using Smallpdf one can do following tasks online : Compress, Merge, Split a PDF and can also convert it between formats. You can also unlock a password protected PDF using it.

Just select the intended option Compress, Merge or whatever then you will find an option to drop/upload your pdf file,

Once upload complete it would hardly take a minute to do the magic and your file is ready for download....

Once you download your file, it will automatically deleted from there within an hour (as written just below the download button)....

Btw I would suggest against uploading any privacy critical file on any such site... ;) 

That’s it… :)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

GodMode : Super Control Panel For Windows 7/8/10

Most of the settings you usually access on Windows through Control panel. But not everything can be found there. 
"God Mode" is a hidden feature of Windows OSs  : 7, 8, 8.1 or 10 (tech preview), which gives you access to every option in Control Panel on one screen. It’s a folder that brings together a long list of customization settings allowing you to change all your settings from one place. This is useful, especially for power users, since navigating the traditional Control Panel is tedious and unintuitive.
It's very easy to enable and damn useful if you tweak things around a lot. One just needs to create a folder and then name it with some strange characters and voila! The folder will become an icon with some super powers :)

To access "God Mode", follow these steps.

1. Create a New folder on your Desktop.
2. Rename it to this:

If you don’t like to use that name God Mode for a folder you can change it to something like this:
You Are The Best.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}

Just keep the text and the “.” before … you can put anything as a text if you like.
That's all you need to do.
3. Here is the screenshot of GodMode folder,

Depending on which version of desktop you’re actually working on, it works on most recent versions of Windows (except Windows XP) . You can create this Super control panel icon on Windows 7, 8, 8.1 or 10 (tech preview).
That's all... :)

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

VMware Hands-On Lab (HOL) : Great way to Explore VMware Products in a Virtual Lab Environment for free

VMware Hands-On Lab (HOL) is a great resource to learn and practice new features of various VMware products online for free….recently Vmware HOL team added these new labs to catalog….

·          HOL-SDC-1408 - The Introduction to Virtual SAN 101 lab has been renamed to What’s New with Virtual SAN 6.  This lab is now backed by vSphere 6 and highlights some of the new features in Virtual SAN 6.

·           HOL-SDC-1410 – The previous Introduction to Virtualization 101 has been renamed toWhat’s New with vSphere 6.  This lab is also backed by vSphere 6 and highlights some of the new features.

·         HOL-SDC-1428 – The VMware EVO:RAIL Introduction lab has been rewritten and includes additional content around Auto Discovery, Software Updates and Node Replacement.

·          HOL-MBL-1452 – The Horizon 6 with View – Use Cases lab has been updated to include a guided tour of AppVolumes.

·          HOL-SDC-1420 – VMware Integrated OpenStack and NSX – This lab has been updated with VMware Integrated OpenStack.  In this lab, you will explore managing vSphere and NSX with VIO.

·          HOL-SDC-1427  VMware Software Defined Storage Solution for the Enterprise updated to include Virtual Volumes provider content.  It’s a great lab to learn about Storage Policy Based Management Virtual SAN and Virtual Volumes.

·           HOL-SDC-1429  Virtual Volumes – With the announcement of vSphere 6 and Virtual Volumes, this lab has been updated to the latest build of vSphere 6.  It gives you a closer look at Virtual Volumes and provides content to get you more familiar with the concepts and data path workflows.

·           HOL-SDC-1430 Docker Essentials for the vSphere Admin – This is a new lab first released at Partner Exchange in San Francisco last week.  It is designed to introduce Docker and DevOps in general to the vSphere Administrator.

·         HOL-SDC-1431 – vSphere Optimization Assessment – This is the second new lab being released and shows how vRealize Operations can be used to optimize your vSphere environment.

     There are many other labs available there, for a full catalog of available labs take a look at VMware Hands-OnLab.