Archive for June, 2009

Detect Virtual Hardware Version From Within the Guest

June 25, 2009

Like most enterprises, we wrap up VMware tools with our own logic and install transforms… y’know, stuff like setting the video hardware acceleration level in the VM before running the tools installer so you don’t get pop-ups, not installing the hgfs driver, etc etc.

The problem when a new version of tools comes out (ie along with an ESX patch, update or major new version) is that you need to do some kind of host level detection to ensure you don’t install a higher level tools into a VM that is running on a downlevel host, as it’s not supported. Of course, running downlevel tools on higher level hosts is supported for the most part (within the same major version at least). Often this problem exists for only a short period while your fleet is upgaded – once that is complete, you can blat out the correct tools version for your estate wholesale.

But unfortunately there is no surefire way of determining what version of ESX a guest is running on from within a guest that doesn’t have VMware tools installed. Even with tools installed, there’s no way I know of but there could be some kind of undocumented backdoor way of finding out – who knows.

So with the introduction of ESX 4, I thought the best bet would be to check whether a guest was running on Virtual Hardware 7 (HW 7) or not. Sure, it’s possible to create version 4 (HW 4) guests on ESX 4, but at least if you found HW 7 you could be absolutely certain that the ESX 4 version of tools should be installed. And besides, I will be mandating that any new machines created on vSphere will have HW 7 so the only things on HW 4 will be migrated machines.
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VMware Studio 2.0 – Public Beta Out Next Monday!

June 24, 2009

The latest installment of the VMware Coffee Talk Webinars was today, covering off the soon to be released VMware Studio 2.0. But the amount of change and feature enhancements that have gone into this new version, it could seriously skip a few numbers and go straight to 6.0 or something – it’s a _massive_ release, and I’m simply astounded at the amount of excellent thought and work that has gone into the product. All while remaining completely free of charge.

But rather than me write about it here, you really should go view the webex yourselves (pdf’s available now, webex recording available soon) – it really will be worth your while. My fears of a developer focused Eclipse interface have been destroyed – anyone with a modicum of intelligence (ie anyone reading this 🙂 will find their way around it easily.

One thing I will mention here though, is an amusing fail by my distinguished VMware SE, Rob. I was taunting him about the abundance of donuts in the office today via private chat, however Rob replied to ‘All Participants’ instead of just to me. In case the transcript of the webex doesn’t make it online, here are the entries in all their glory:

June 24, 2009 9:34:02 AM from Rob Upham
to All Participants: Stop. You’re making me hungry.

June 24, 2009 9:34:17 AM from Rob Upham
to All Participants: Donuts are made from animals, ya know!

June 24, 2009 9:34:43 AM from Pablo Roesch
to All Participants: what kind of donuts are we talking about here ?

June 24, 2009 9:34:54 AM from Rob Upham
to All Participants: Sorry everyone – that should’ve been private(!)

June 24, 2009 9:35:06 AM from Stuart Radnidge
to All Participants: busted!

June 24, 2009 9:35:16 AM from Stuart Radnidge
to All Participants: but to answer your question, krispy kreme of course 😀

June 24, 2009 9:35:20 AM from Pablo Roesch
to All Participants: private donuts are cool

Sorry Rob, but I really did think that was funny 🙂

Why Are So Many Orchestration Tools Developer Focused?

June 22, 2009

This is something that has quietly been boiling away in the depths of the cavern of my mind for a while now – why is it that all the big name orchestration tools on the market (currently) target developers? You need to know Javascript if you want to do anything interesting with VMware vCenter Orchestrator, C# for Citrix Workflow Studio (and most other Windows Workflow Foundation derivatives), and Java for tools like Enigmatec.

Requiring developers for infrastructure automation is kinda useless – if you want to get anywhere fast, you need an admin who can write a spec properly (yeh right) or a developer who has knowledge of operational process and infrastructure (equally improbable). Or some kind of hybrid engineer who can do both but neither very well, and those guys are expensive. Not to mention stubborn and temperamental. Why not just build the tool for the people who run the infrastructure in the first place? Isn’t orchestration supposed to be making their lives easier?

I’m bringing this up now because a new plugin announcement popped up on Eclipse Plugin Central today, for VMware Studio 2.0. If you don’t know what Eclipse is, you’re proving my point about tools like this being developer focused nicely. That’s not to say VMware Studio 2.0 will be more developer focused than admin focused, but choosing Eclipse has developer written all over it.

Having said that, I think it’s a good move by VMware to standardise on something like Eclipse for tools like this. The workflow development environment in the Orchestrator client is _very_ cool indeed, but I can’t help thinking that a lot of effort must go into that side of the tool. Effort that could be minimised if it also used Eclipse, as you’d have at least 2 products using a common platform. Other tools like LifeCycle Manager could potentially follow suit.

A special VMware Studio 2.0 Coffee Talk webinar is planned for June 24th. As one of the aforementioned developery infrastructure engineer types, I’m quite looking forward to learning where VMware are going with Studio. But I’m not sure the general population of VI admins will be so keen. My advice is for all to tune into the webinar and decide for yourselves as to how useful an Eclipse based VMware Studio will be. My personal hope is that I can use it to remaster ESXi. Ooo did I say that out loud? 😉