VMware VSAN will be GA in the week of March 10. Licensing per socket or desktop

During a special webinar at March 6 VMware announced the general availability of Virtual SAN (VSAN). VSAN 1.0 will be available in the week of March 10.

If you are unaware of VSAN: It is probably the product which release got the most attention other than that of vSphere. VSAN offers SAN-features using server based storage.

Benefits of VSAN are:

  • Reduce investment costs by using cheap low cost storage instead of expensive SAN
  • Pay as you grow model instead of large upfront investments. If you need more storage capacity simply add SDD or HDD instead of having to buy a new SAN extension.
  • It lowers operational costs because it is simple to use, does not require a storage administrator and has increased automation

VSAN can be implemented in two ways: either select your own choice of hardware based on the special VSAN HCL or select from 16 preconfigured VSAN Ready nodes available from  IBM, Cisco, Fujitsu and Dell. HP and others are expected to deliver VSAN Ready nodes at GA or sometime later.

At least three nodes are required. The maximum number of nodes in a VSAN 1.0 cluster is 32.

vSphere 5.5 Update 1 will support VSAN GA. I will not be surprised if Update 1 is released at the same time as VSAN.

Cormac Hogan and Duncan Epping are writing a book on VSAN to be published by VMware Press. Release date is expected before VMworld. More details at ntpro.nl

VMware will announce pricing at GA.

The Register did some research and found several pricelists mentioning Virtual SAN. It seems VSAN  can be purchased in two ways:

  • per CPU socket. Commercial listprice is around US $ 3100.- excluding Support and Subscription. Academic and VMware Volume Purchasing prices are lower.
  • per desktop. A 1o pack VSAN desktop will cost around US $ 600,-

<update>VSAN went GA at March 12. Pricing is now made public. See for an overview this post.

There will be some special offers for VSAN:

-customers using the beta will receive a discount of 20%.

-customers using VMware Virtual Storage Appliance will get reduced pricing when they upgrade to VSAN.

VMware release a new VSAN Design and Sizing Guide edition March 2014 which can be downloaded here.

VMware has a free Hands-on Lab (HOL)available which enables you to play and explorer with VMware VSAN. No need to have hardware, software and licenses. The HOL is running in the cloud.

More information:

This is a very good post by Chad Sakac. It provides some different views on two VMware statements on VSAN. Chad states:

It IS NOT an accurate statement to say that VSAN is “better” or “performs better” because it’s embedded in the kernel.

It IS NOT an accurate statement to say (as a general statement) that VSAN is lower CAPEX than external storage – though it IS accurate that it offers a compelling CAPEX picture in many use cases.

Cormac Hogan – Virtual SAN (VSAN) Announcement Review

Duncan Epping – VMware Virtual SAN launch and book pre-announcement!

Ivo Beerens – VMware VSAN Launch Q&A

What it takes to write a book on IT

As you might know currently I am authoring a book on Microsoft hybrid cloud. The book will explain Windows Azure IaaS and how to connect on-premise Windows Server/System Center infrastructures to Windows Azure to create a hybrid cloud. The book will discuss cloud computing, Microsoft Cloud OS, Azure datacenters, VPN, PowerShell, Hyper-V Recovery Manager, App Controller, StorSimple,  Windows Azure Pack, billing, costs structure, administration, monitoring and much, much more.

In a series of blogpostings I will describe my experiences in writing this book. This first blog in the serie will give you an indication about the tasks involved in writing a book.

One thing to consider when wanting to write a book yourself: it will take LOTS of time.

Things I did/ do to write the book:

  • discuss contract and content with the publisher
  • discuss with girlfriend about sponsoring ;-)
  • create the outline. This provides the publisher an indication about content,
  • do research on content for the book.
  • install software in testlab. Create screendumps etc.
  • write first draft of chapters
  • search for reviewers
  • contact with Microsoft
  • write TIS. This has description of the author and content of the book. Used for publication at sites like Amazon.com
  • write bio used in book.
  • fill in invoice forms for publisher. During severall stages of the book an invoice is sent.
  • create images
  • contact with publisher with questions on reviewing etc
  • contact with reviewers
  • process reviews made by publisher and reviewers
  • monitor status of delivery of reviews
  • write blog for promotion
  • write final draft of chapters

Hope this gives an impression of the amount of work. My book will have about 250 pages. I estimate I will need about 200-250 hours to do all the tasks involved in writing the book.


RVTools version 3.6 released

RVTools made by Rob de Veij is one of the best FREE tools available which helps consultants and system administrators in inventory and managing a VMware vSphere infrastructure. It offers a lot of information on the configuration of storage, network, virtual machines, ESX hosts  and a LOT more. Information can easily be downloaded in CSV format so you can do for example capacity planning. With RVTools you can disconnect the cd-rom or floppy drives from the virtual machines and RVTools is able to update the VMware Tools installed inside each virtual machine to the latest version.

If you do not know RVTools I strongly recommend to download the tool and see for yourself how useful it is and makes your life much easier. You won’t regret.

Download here.

New in the RVTools 3.6 release:

  • New tabpage with cluster information
  • New tabpage with multipath information
  • On vInfo tabpage new fields HA Isolation response and HA restart priority
  • On vInfo tabpage new fields Cluster affinity rule information
  • On vInfo tabpage new fields connection state and suspend time
  • On vInfo tabpage new field The vSphere HA protection state for a virtual machine (DAS
  • Protection)
  • On vInfo tabpage new field quest state.
  • On vCPU tabpage new fields Hot Add and Hot Remove information
  • On vCPU tabpage cpu/socket/cores information adapted
  • On vHost tabpage new fields VMotion support and storage VMotion support
  • On vMemory tabpage new field Hot Add
  • On vNetwork tabpage new field VM folder.
  • On vSC_VMK tabpage new field MTU
  • RVToolsSendMail: you can now also set the mail subject
  • Fixed a datastore bug for ESX version 3.5
  • Fixed a vmFolder bug when started from the commandline
  • Improved documentation for the commandline options

StarWind SAN V8 Beta 3 is available

StarWind software released StarWind SAN V8 Beta 3.

The software products uses local storage on servers running Windows Server to provide SAN features. It supports features like VMware HA, vMotion, Hyper-V Live Migration etc. It also does replication and deduplication and much more.

This is an interesting storage solution for small and midsized organisaties who do not have the budget for expensive SAN solutions.

This will be the last beta release. A release candidate is expected soon. The final release will probably made available second half of February 2014.

If you are using SAN V8 Beta 1 or Beta 2 you can update by installing Beta 3 over the existing installation.

New in this third beta:

LSFS device:
• Correct processing of device size parameters and usage of available storage of underlying disk.
• Fixed he issue which led to disk write errors (when certain amount of data was written on the device and device files multiplied).

Synchronous replication for LSFS device:
• Fixed snapshot management functionality: creation and deletion of snapshots now works correctly.
• Fixed the issue, where the state of HA node changed to “unsynchronized ” without any reason.

VSS providers:
• Hardware VSS provider is now available for LSF S devices and LSFS devices with synchronous replication.
• Software VSS Provider is now available for LSFS devices.

Asynchronous replication:
• Replication on very slow channels is now possible.
• Mounting of snapshot fixed.
• Replication algorithm fixed.
Minor fixes to the VAAI commands processing implemented.

Release notes are here.

Download the software here

Save the Date! TechEd Europe 27-31 October 2014 in Barcelona

Microsoft released the location and date for TechEd Europe 2014. It will be held 27-31 October  in Barcelona. The venue is the Fira Barcelona.

Registration opens in spring 2014

More info here.

Exchange does not support NFS. Vote and you might change that.

You might be aware that Microsoft does not support running virtualized instances of Exchange which virtual disk files are hosted on NFS datastores. Microsoft will provide best effort support if you are running into issues. Microsoft does however support running Exchange on SMB 3.0 file shares presented to Hyper-V servers.

See the storage requirements of Exchange 2013 here.

This is an interesting post about the lack of NFS support for Exchange by Microsoft.

Exchange will perfectly run when hosted on NFS. Many organizations use this configuration without issues and they probably are even not aware of this limitation. Here is a  view by Tony Redmond NFS and Exchange: not a good combination:

Many storage vendors like Tintri, Maxta, NetApp and Nutanix use NFS.

You might change the support policy by voting ‘I agree‘ on this survey titled support storing exchange data on VMDKs on file shares(nfs/smb)

The replies by many experts in this survey are very interesting to read.

Running Citrix AppController on Windows Azure (it won’t)!

Since 2013 Citrix supports running XenApp & XenDesktop on Windows Azure.  I wanted to be able to have a demo / Proof of concept  environment showing XenApp, XenMobile, AppController and ShareFile on Windows Azure to demo to customers.

My  experiment was to see if AppController can  run on Windows Azure. To make a long story short: it does not… 

If you are interested in why not, read on.

AppController is distributed by Citrix as a virtual appliance. It can run on XenServer, Hyper-V and VMware ESXi. I could not find any documentation which said which Linux distribution is used. If I had that info I could decide if AppController could be run on Azure. There is no mentioning of Azure support in Citrix documentation nor on blogs. 

As Azure runs Hyper-V 2008 and Hyper-V 2012 in datacenters and does support some Linux guest I deciced just to give it a go. In the Netherlands we say “if you do not shoot, you will always miss.. “

So I downloaded the VHD file and created a new virtual machine on Hyper-V Manager. This allowed me to configure the appliance. It requires  an IP-address.  I set this is x.x.x.4 .  I enabled SSH to be able to do some remote management.

I also created a virtual network in Azure to have control over the subnet used by the AppController VM.

First challenge was the format of the VHD supplied by Citrix. This was in a dynamically expanding disk which Azure does not support. So I needed to convert the vhd from dynamically expanding to fixed size. I used Hyper-V Manager for that task. Mind you will need enough diskspace to host the maximum filesize of the VHD. The maximum filesize of the supplied VHD is set to 50 GB.

After that I did an upload to Azure and tried to convert the VHD to Disk. Error! Grrr.  The filesize was not a whole number. So used Vhd resizer on my laptop to convert the vhd filesize to a whole number. This finished in about 15 minutes.

Another upload. Luckily empty spaces in a VHD are not uploaded to Azure so upload is rather quick.

As an administrator you do not have much control over IP assignment in Azure. IP-addresses are assigned by a Microsoft managed DHCP server. The first VM which boots in an ‘empty’ subnet will receive IP x.x.x.4 , the next x.x.x.5 and so on.

So created a VM using the just uploaded vhd. Made sure this VM was the first in the subnet. Booted the VM and the state shows running. However no response on http/https/ssh.

Windows Azure does not offer a remote console. So there is no way to monitor the boot process of this Linux based virtual machine. I guess the boot process just halts on trying to ‘find’ some hardware devices like network interface.

I hope this info was usefull.


Veeam releases free RDP Appliance for Hyper-V Server

Microsoft has a free hypervisor offering called Hyper-V Server 2012 R2. Hyper-V Server 2012 R2 is fully equal to the Hyper-V role in Windows Server 2012. The only item not available in the free edition is the free usage rights for virtual machines running on a host installed with Hyper-V. Each virtual machine instance running on free Hyper-V Server 2012 R2 needs to be licensed.

Hyper-V Server 2012 R2 comes as a core installation. This means there is no graphical userinterface available to perform management. Especially connecting to the console of the virtual machine can be a challenge. Hyper-V Manager does not run on the Hyper-V Server itself. Adminstrators needs access to another Windows Server 2012 or Windows 8 with   Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) installed to be able to access the console of VM’s.

Veeam to the rescue. The company released a free virtual appliance which is a RDP proxy. The appliance runs CentOS and installs on a Hyper-V host. The appliance can connect to virtual machines using VMconnect. VMconnect is a modified RDP for connection to consoles of virtual machines. VMconnect is able to connect even when the virtual machine does not have an IP-address.

Read more of this post

Release: 5nine Cloud Security 4.0 Beta

5nine Software released today the beta of its latest version for Cloud Security: 5nine Cloud Security for Hyper-V. This product updates 5nine’s Security Datacenter for Windows Server Hyper-V. 5nine Cloud Security for Hyper-V delivers strong virtual machine separation and SDN  segmentation solutions together with secure multi-tenancy, agentless antivirus and antimalware technologies – including an intrusion detection system.

New features include real-time active anti-virus protection, VM Security groups, new LWF R2 vSwitch extension, full NVGRE support and user/roles – level access.

Key Details

5nine Cloud Security for Hyper-V is designed specifically to:

  • Meet the security demands of enterprise, management service providers (MSPs), public sector, and hosting providers who leverage Microsoft’s Hyper-V Server and Cloud Platform
  • Provide the first and only seamless agentless compliance and agentless security solution for the Hyper-V Cloud
  • Deliver multi-layered protection together with integrated, agentless antivirus and intrusion detection capabilities
  • Offer unmatched levels of industry-demanded protection and compliance (including PCI-DSS, HIPAA, and Sarbanes-Oxley)
  • Secure the Cloud environment with anti-virus technology that runs with virtually zero performance impact while simultaneously improving virtual machine density
  • Provide network traffic control between virtual machines
  • Enforce secure multi-tenancy and Virtual Machines Security Groups
  • Provide NVGRE support
  • Detect and block malicious attacks

5nine Cloud Security is available as a standalone application or as a Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) Plugin. It also has a comprehensive API to be integrated with third party applications.


Complete 5nine Cloud Security for Hyper-V (V4.0) product descriptions and features can be found at: http://www.5nine.com/securitydatacenter.

Beta of 5nine Cloud Security for Hyper-V version 4.0 can be requested at techsupport(at)5nine(dot)com

Nutanix announces 5 new models including NX-7110 optimized for graphics performance

Nutanix today announced that it will extend its line of converged storage and compute platforms with a new model optimized for heavy graphical usage like 3D and CAD. Also the current NX-3000 and NX-6000 line of servers is extended with 4 new models.

One of the use cases of the Nutanix Virtual Computing Platform is VDI. Because disks (Nutanix used SSD and HDD) are in the same box as the CPU’s performance of storage is improved compared to the traditional way of presenting storage like SAN and NAS. VDI is notorious for being dependant on storage performance. When storage does not perform, end users will complain about bad performance.

New is the Nutanix NX-7110 platform. This server further enhances the VDI user experience by enhancing video performance. This server has three PCIe slots which can be used by NVIDIA K1, NVIDIA K2 and Teradici APEX cards for  server offload..

The Teradici card offloads the PCoIP image encoding tasks thus reducing the server CPU utilization. This enables a better user experience and also allows a better VM to CPU consolidation. More VM’s per CPU reduces costs. PCoIP is only supported by VMware View.

The NVIDIA cards allow GPU virtualization which means the graphical processor can be virtualized and shared by multiple users. This greatly enhances the user experiences of Server Based Computing (Micrsoft RDS and Citrix XenApp) as well as Virtual Desktop Infrastructure solutions like Citrix XenDesktop and VMware View.

Using the Nutanix NX-7110 usage of AutoCAD, Autodesk, SolidWorks CAD and 3D software is possible on VDI and SBC.

The image below shows the hardware specs of the NX-7110. Mind there is only one node per 19″ appliance. Other Nutanix appliances/enclosures allow up 4 nodes per enclosure. Also NVIDIA K1 and K2 cards cannot be mixed.

Nutanix also announced four new models in the current NX-3000 and NX-6000 series. The NX-3060, NX-3061, NX-6060 and NX-6080 have two Intel Ivy processors with 10 cores each per socket. Also the nodes can have up to 512 GB of internal memory. This allows an up to 30% greater VM density per node


StarWind SAN V8 Beta 2 released

StarWind software released the Beta 2 of StarWind iSCSI SAN v8.

The software products uses local storage on servers running Windows Server to provide SAN features. It supports features like VMware HA, vMotion, Hyper-V Live Migration etc. It also does replication and deduplication and much more.

This is an interesting storage solution for small and midsized organisaties who do not have the budget for expensive SAN solutions.





StarWind SAN V8 Beta 2  version provides most salable and essential storage features:

  • Scale-out architecture creates fault-tolerant clusters with an unlimited number of hosts. StarWind also enables double or triple synchronous mirroring in a cluster, which guarantees 99.99% or 99.9999% uptime respectively.
  • Asynchronous WAN-replication copies data to the remote secure host and enables the primary storage to be restored from the replica when needed. The replication channel bandwidth does not affect the performance of the replicated storage.
  • The VAAI support for single-node devices and devices with synchronous replication offloads some tasks to the storage array, thereby reducing the CPU load and memory usage.
  • Flash caching is used as L2 cache to decrease random reads.
  • SSD/flash cards can be leveraged as the primary storage with StarWind’s dedicated Log-Structured File System (LSFS).
  • Fixed and upgraded LSFS replaces random writes with a big sequential write, which improves VM performance drastically.

The Beta 2 release also contains a large number of fixes for small bugs and updates. For more information about new features and enhancements, please view the StarWind SAN V8 Beta 2 release notes here.

Sign up for our public beta now! Try new features of the true software-defined storage. Leave your feedback and help to  improve the software!

VMware vCloud Hybrid Service roadmap

In September 2013 VMware launched vCloud Hybrid Service (vCHS). It is a VMware owned and operated public Infrastructure as a Service offering. It offers a lot of control over virtual machines and networking.

During VMworld US and Europe VMware had a lot of breakout sessions about vCHS. In the near future I will make some postings with technical details on this new service.

First lets have a look at the roadmap of vCHS. The information in this post is based on the various sessions I attended at VMworld and is made public by VMware.

Read more of this post

Recordings of 23 VMworld Europe Breakout Sessions available free

VMware TV published a couple of recordings of breakout sessions presented at VMworld Europe. The recordings can be watched for free. No account needed.

The interesting thing to note is that VMware seems to be publishing more content of VMware than previously. I believe last year about ten videos were posted. Now sessions that were held at October 23 are put online on the same day. I believe this is very nice and VMware follows Microsoft who publishes content of all TechEd events within 24 hours.

  1. VSVC5690 – vSphere Upgrade Series Part 1: vCenter Server
  2. VSVC4944 – PowerCLI Best Practices – A Deep Dive
  3. VSVC4605 – What’s New in VMware vSphere?
  4. VSVC5005 – What’s New in vSphere Platform & Storage
  5. VSVC4830 – vCenter Deep Dive
  6. VSVC5690 – vSphere Upgrade Series Part 1: vCenter Server
  7. VSVC5821 – Performance and Capacity Management of DRS Clusters
  8. BCO5065 – VMware vSphere Fault Tolerance for Multiprocessor Virtual Machines – Technical Preview
  9. BCO5041 – vSphere Data Protection – What’s New and Technical
  10. BCO4872 – Operating and Architecting a vSphere Metro Storage Cluster Infrastructure
  11. BCO5129 - Protection for All – vSphere Replication & SRM Technical Update
  12. NET7388-S – Network Virtualization: Moving Beyond the Obvious
  13. NET5847 – NSX: Introducing the World to VMware NSX
  14. EUC5291 – Horizon View Troubleshooting: Looking under the Hood
  15. EUC7370-S – The Software Defined Datacenter Meets End User Computing
  16. PHC4783 – How To Build Your Hybrid Cloud and Consume the Public Cloud
  17. PHC5605-S – Everything You Want to Know About vCloud Hybrid but were afraid to ask
  18. STO5391 – VMware Virtual SAN
  19. STO5715-S – Software-defined Storage – The Next Phase in the Evolution of Enterprise Storage
  20. VCM7369-S – Uncovering the Hidden Truth in Log Data With vCenter Log Insight
  21. VAPP4679 – Software-Defined Datacenter Design Panel for Monster VM’s: Taking the Technology to the Limits for High Utilisation, High Performance Workloads
  22. SEC5893 – Changing the Economics of Firewall Services in the Software-Defined Center – VMware NSX Distributed Firewall
  23. OPT5194 – Moving Enterprise Application Dev/Test to VMware’s Internal Private Cloud- Operations Transformation

VMware announces vCloud Operations Management Suite 5.8

vCenter Operations Management Suite version 5.8 has 4 new features:

  1. monitor business critical applications
  2. monitor fiber channel storage
  3. monitor Hyper-V servers
  4. monitor Amazon AWS services

monitor business critical applications
In the 5.8 release application monitoring is limited to Microsoft Exchange Server and SQL Server. vCenter Operations Management Packs for Microsoft applications will be available to get insight into the health of Microsoft applications. A management pack (MP) provides knowledge about an application. The MP will be able to discover application inter-dependencies and services. Also there is knowledge about what metrics to measure, what thresholds to set etc. The management packs for SQL and Exchange will provide health information for clusters. So it shows servers and instances in Database Availability Groups for example. And it shows the status of services like MSSQL Agent, MSSQL Analysis, MSSQL Report and MSSQL database. It also shows when for example the CPU has a high utilization indicating something is wrong.

The 3th pary OS and application management packs are part of the vCenter Operations Management Suite Enterprise edition.

Microsoft System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) also uses Management Packs. However these will go much deeper inside the applications than vCenter Operations. I believe vCenter Operations focusses mainly at the infrastructure level of the application.

Monitor fiber channel storage
Storage Analytics is another new feature of vCOPS. It allows a deep insight into the status of the Host Bus Adapter, Fabric and Storage array. It will answer questions like ‘why is my virtual machine slow?’. In this 5.8 release monitoring is limited to fiber channel storage. iSCSI and NFS support will come soon. The admin will get insight in latency and throughput. Errors like CRC, link loss and timeouts are being monitored and admins gets alerts.

The infrastructure management packs are part of the vCenter Operations Management Suite Advanced & Enterprise edition.


Amazon AWS and Hyper-V support
vCOPS uses vCenter Hyperic and Hyperic Management Pack for monitoring Hyper-V. An Hyperic agent is deployed on the Hyper-V server to get insight. It does monitoring of CPU, memory, disk and network. It is able to show capacity and performance of storage volumes. There are two ways to get information form the Hyper-V servers and VM’s running on it. Either by the Hyperic management pack for vCenter Operations, or by the SCOM management pack for vCenter Operations. The later is usefull for SCOM users. It is a kind of gateway between SCOM and vCenter Operations Manager.


Amazon services like EC2, Elastic Block Store, Elastic Map Reduce, Elastic Load Balancing and Auto Scaling Group can be monitored using the AWS management pack. The MP connects to the Cloudwatch service provided by Amazon. This is a REST API service. vCOPS provides a VM utilization dashboard showing performance statistics like cpu usage, memory usage, disk read etc for Amazon VM’s.

VMware vSphere 5.5 available for download!

At September 22 2013 VMware made vSphere 5,5 generally available. VMware ESXi 5.5.0 and vCenter Server 5.5 can be downloaded here.

Documentation can be downloaded here.

The free vSphere Hypervisor is available for download here. Mind there is no limit anymore in the amount of addressable physical memory. Before version 5.5 you were limited to 32 GB internal memory.

The 5.5 release was announced at August 26 during VMworld 2013 US.

What is new in vSphere 5.5 can be read in this post.

Also available for download is:

  • vSphere Replication 5.5
  • vSphere Data Protection 5.5.1
  • vCenter Orchestrator Appliance 5.5.0
  • vCloud Networking and Security 5.5.0
  • vCenter Operations Manager Foundation 5.7.2
  • vSphere Big Data Extensions 1.0
  • vSphere App HA 1.0.,0
  • Cisco Nexus 1000V Virtual Ethernet Modules for vSphere 5.5.0
  • VMware vSphere CLI (vCLI)
  • vSphere PowerCLI

Also released at September 22 are;

Storage Replication Adapters for VMware vCenter Site Recovery Manager
VMware vCenter Site Recovery Manager 5.5
VMware vCenter Server Heartbeat 6.6
VMware vCenter Infrastructure Navigator 5.7.0
VMware vCenter Operations Manager Advanced 5.7.2
VMware vCenter Operations Manager Enterprise 5.7.2
VMware vCenter Operations Manager Standalone 5.7.2
VMware vCloud Director 5.5.0
VMware vFabric Application Director 5.2.0
vSphere Storage Appliance 5.5

At the release of vSphere 5.1 VMware announced this would be the last release of the full Windows based vSphere client. In future releases all features would be only available in the vSphere Web Client.

However in vSphere 5.5 we still need the vSphere C+ client. For connection directly to the ESXi host, for VMware Update Manager, for Site Recovery Manager and for some third party solutions.

The vSphere 5.5 client can be dowloaded here



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