VCP

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VCP – EVC

EVC ,or enhanced vMotion Compatibility, is a feature that ensure vMotion capability within a cluster.  That is, you could possibly have a cluster that contains a mixed batch of servers.  Some that have newer Intel processors, some that have older Intel processors and so forth.  The problem is, that based on the feature set of the CPU, certain features are presented to the VM guest.  If you try and vMotion a server to a different guest that lacks that feature, vMotion will fail.  EVC takes into consideration the CPUs on all of the hosts in the cluster and basically computes the lowest common denominator.  It then present that feature set to the VM guests.  So even though a newer server might have a newer feature set, it would be masked by the hypervisor to ensure vMotion compatibility between other hosts in the cluster. 

EVC is turned on at the cluster level.  To enable EVC, right click the cluster and edit settings…

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As you can see on my cluster, the EVC feature is turned off.  Let’s try and turn it on.  Click the ‘Change EVC Mode’ button…

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For kicks, I tried enabling EVC for AMD hosts.  The compatibility checker immediately noticed that I actually have Intel based hosts.  Also, it noticed that the CPUs I do have are not compatible with EVC.  The CPU has to have a specific feature to support feature set masking and the processors I have don’t support it.

A couple of other quick notes to consider…

-EVC can only be configured on a cluster that doesn’t have any running guests.  This is to ensure that a feature currently in use by a guest doesn’t get taken away (masked) by EVC while it is in use.

-EVC masks features so in some cases, this can be undesirable.  Keep that in mind when you build the clusters.  Purpose built clusters are always a good idea in my mind.

-EVC can save you some pain when using things like DRS.  I’ve configured DRS before and then days later determined DRS wasn’t working.  It was because the hosts weren’t compatible. 

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VUM is a tool that can be used to keep the VMware components of both hosts as well as VMs up to date.  It provides a means and process to check for compliance of items against predefined baselines. 

To install VUM, follow the same process you used to install vCenter.  VUM will be an install option off the same menu…

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Click the Install button to start the install.  Click Next…

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Click Next…

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Click Next…

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Uncheck the ‘Download updates…’ box and click Next…

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Fill in your vCenter information and click Next…

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Leave the default option for a new SQL instance and click Next…

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Leave the default options for VUM connectivity and click Next…

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Click Next…

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Click on on the warning about low free space (if you get it)…

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Click Install…

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Once the install finishes, fire up vCenter and select ‘Plug-ins’ from the top menu bar, then select ‘Manage Plug-ins’ option.  This loads the plug-in manager…

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Under the available Plug-ins header, you should see VUM.  Under status, click the ‘Download and Install…’ hyperlink.  This will download and kick off the VUM client installer.  I’m not going to walk through the installer since nothing is configurable.  When it’s done, you should see that VUM has moved into the ‘Installed Plug-ins’ category…

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If you close the plug-in manager, you should now see it listed on the home page…

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Click on the Update Manger link to load VUM.  Now, first things first.  We told VUM not to automatically download updates.  So let’s get some updates downloaded.  Click on the configuration tab in VUM, then select Download Settings from the left hand menu.  Hit the ‘Download now’ button to download the patch definitions. 

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Once the task is completed, you should be able to click on the Patch Repository tab and see all of the patches and updates that have been downloaded…

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Now, the next step is to create baselines that can be applied to hosts and VMs.  Click on the Baselines and Groups tab at the top…

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VMware has some default baselines that break the patches into critical and non-critical updates.  The baselines can be tuned to search the patch repository for almost anything you want.  For instance, we are going to edit each one of the pre-made baselines and tell them to only search for ESXi5 patches.  Click the first baseline and then click edit…

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Click Next…

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Click Next to leave the baseline in dynamic mode.  Dynamic mode means that if any new patches are downloaded they’ll still work as part of this baseline…

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On the next page change the setting for product from ‘Any’ to the ESXi5 option.  Then click Next…

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We don’t want to exclude any patches so click Next…

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There aren’t any additional patches we want to add so click Next again…

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And on the last page click Finish to wrap things up…

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Make the same changes to the other predefined baseline.  Now we are going to create a baseline group which is essentially an object that holds multiple baseline policies.  On the right hand side of the screen under ‘Baseline Groups’ select the create option…

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Call the group ‘Hosts – Windows Servers’ and click Next…

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There are no upgrade baselines so click Next…

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On the patches page click to check both of the existing baselines.  Then just click Finish to end the wizard.  Now we’ve just created a host baseline.  If you noticed, along the top of the ‘Baselines and Groups’ tab there’s an options for Hosts (default) and one for VMs/VAs.  Now let’s click on the VMs button and create another baseline group that has all of the predefined VM baselines as members.

Ok, so I know I rushed through that, but that’s because I want to get to the interesting stuff.  So right now, we should have a host baseline group…

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and a VM baseline group…

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Now, we can apply these baselines to hosts and VMs.  Let’s start with the VMs.  Go to home, then ‘VMs and Templates’ view.  Select your data center out on the left hand side of the screen..

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Then scroll the tabs all the way to the left.  The last one should be for ‘Update Manager’….

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Now, we want to attach our baseline to the entire data center so that it get’s attached to all of our VMs.  So click the attach link at the top…

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Then select the baseline group we created at the bottom and click ‘Attach’.  Once that’s attached, click the ‘Scan’ button to start a scan….

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Make sure that all three boxes are check and click the ‘Scan’ button.  Once the scan is completed we should see our results…

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So let’s see what it found.  Not surprisingly, my two windows server 2K8 boxes are showing as non-compliant.  They were created a long time ago and then moved over to these new lab boxes.  On the other hand, my 2K3 server is showing as compliant since that was a totally fresh install.  So let’s take a look at remediating one of the 2K8 boxes.  To work on 1 individual box, I click on it’s virtual machine name…

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Now the screen has updated to show my stats on that one single VM.  If we click on ‘Details’ link under the upgrades column it will tell us why the host isn’t compliant….

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Looks like we are running an older version of virtual hardware.  Close this out, and then go ahead and click the remediate button…

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Select the baseline group from the options on the left, then click next…

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The next screen allows us to schedule the update.  Since this is a virtual hardware upgrade, go ahead and leave the default options.  Then click next…

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On the next screen uncheck the option for taking a snapshot.  Then click next…

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Lastly, click Finish.  Now if you are watching your tasks, you should notice at this point that the VM is being powered off.  Virtual hardware can’t be upgraded unless the machine is powered off, so in order to complete the task, VUM had to power off the VM.  Now if you are like me, you might be thinking "hey,  it didn’t say it was going to reboot the machine at all".  This is where is pays to know a little bit about the upgrade requirements for each piece of VUM.  VUM doesn’t warn you about everything so you need to know what you can and can’t do at certain times.  Nonetheless, the process should finish..

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And your VM should come back online.  A quick look at the data center as whole and we can see that particular server is now off the non-compliant list…

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Now let’s take a quick look at host upgrades. Go ahead and change your view to hosts and clusters and select the Windows Server cluster object we created earlier.  Then scroll the tabs all the way to the right to find VUM.  Same deal, click the attach link and select the baseline group we created…

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Then click Attach and hit the scan button right away.  When it’s done we can take a look at our host status…

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As you can see, both of our host are not in compliance.  Let’s take a look at the 10.20.30.6 host and see why.  Click on the individual host, and then click on the details link the shows up underneath the patches column…

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As you can see, the host is missing quite a few patches.  Close this window out, then click the ‘Stage’ link in the bottom right….

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On the next screen click Next…

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Click Next…

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Then click finish.  This will kick off the staging process that actually pushes the updates to the host.  When it’s done, you can see that it staged 12 out of the 33 patches to the host. 

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Let’s go ahead and tell it to remediate this host. Go ahead and click the remediate button. 

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Click Next…

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Click Next…

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Have it run immediately, and click Next…

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I check the box to tell it to disable removable media since I’ve seen it hang on that before with DRS.  Then click Next…

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Click Next…

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Click Finish and watch the magic happen.  You should see the host enter maintenance mode and migrate any VMs off of it.  This is the beauty of doing this with DRS clusters…

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Now you should see the updates being applied, and the host being rebooted…

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When the host comes back online, it should exit maintenance mode and rejoin the DRS cluster.  Now let’s check and see what it’s current compliance status is…

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As you can see, our host is now fully compliant. 

So I know this was a quick run through but it’s the best that can be done for a general VUM post.  As you can hopefully see, VUM is a powerful tool.

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VCP – Disk space

In my next post, I’m going to install VUM (VM update manager) and it’s going to take more space than I have available on the C drive of my vCenter server.  So, what I need to do is extend the C drive of the VM.  However, there isn’t enough space on the LUN from my iSCSI server to extend it as large as I want.  So I’m going to have to fix that too.  So I’ll tackle this post in two pieces.  First, we’ll extend the data store, and second we’ll extend the disk on the Windows host.

Extending a VMFS partition
So there are a couple of options for doing this.  If the disk that the storage array presented to you has available space, you can simply extend the VMFS partition.  If it doesn’t you can add on ‘extents’ which are basically additional LUNs from the storage array.  We are going to do both so let’s start with the simple extend.

To extend a data-store, log into vCenter, go to home, and then select ‘Datastores and Datastore Clusters’.  Select the data store you’d like to extend on the left, and the click the configuration tab on the right…

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In the Datastore detail pane, click the properties button….

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Examine the total capacity of the existing VMFS datastore.  We are currently at 99.75 gig.  Now, click the ‘Increase’ button…

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Select your existing datastore from the available and click Next…

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On the nest screen, you can see that vSphere determined that there was available free space on the LUN that could be used to expand the VMFS datastore.  If there wasn’t we’d be talking about adding an extent.  Click Next…

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Since we want to use all of the free space on the disk, leave the default setting and click Next…

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To wrap up the configuration, click Finish.  This will kick off the VMFS Expand task as well as a rescan…

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Once these are done, the VMFS store size will show our new available size…

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Now, if we wouldn’t have had free space on the disk to expand into, we could add an extent.  Let’s add a small 5 gig extent to the same VMFS store just as an example.  Click the properties button for the datastore again, and once again click the increase button…

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If everything goes to plan (which is didn’t the first time around for me.  See this post) you should see the new available LUN that you are going to use as an extent.  Select it and click Next…

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Click Next again…

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Click Next again…

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Click Finish.  When the task wraps up, you should see your new extent in the list of available extents for that particular VMFS volume….

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And if we close the window, we should see our new size reflects the extent being added…

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Note, this can all be done on the fly without affecting any running VMs on the VMFS datastore.  So now that we’ve seen how to increase the size of a disk on the ESXi side, let’s increase the size of the disk on the host…

Extending an NTFS partition on a Windows host
So now that we have free space on the VMFS datastore, let’s increase the size of the disk allocated to the VM.  We started with 10 gig, so lets’ bump it up to 80.  Right click the VM, edit settings, select your hard drive, and change the size to 80 gig and hit OK to process the settings…

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Now, let’s go look at the host side of things.  Log into Windows and go to disk management.  As we expected, the NTFS partition is still 10, but the disk now has 70 gig free…

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The expansion of the partition is easiest handled by using ExtPart.exe.  If you’ve never used it before, google for it and download.  Right click on the unallocated space and see exactly how many megabytes are free.  In my case it was 71688 meg.  This it the output of my running the tool…

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And when it’s done running…

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I now have my 80 gig C drive.  All done…

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