Posts Tagged ‘VirtualCenter’

VirtualCenter 2.5 Update 3 Upgrade Process – here we go again!

October 23, 2008

It seems the VirtualCenter upgrade process is not getting any better. I can’t for the life of me understand how bugs like this got through with the Update 2 release, but they did and are one of the primary drivers for my company to roll out Update 3 asap (that and the security fixes). But lo, there are new upgrade problems afoot, notably this one which I have encountered 3 times now. Duncan called it out a few weeks back.

Now what really grinds my gears is that the most important fixes (for me anyway) are security related and of course the fix for the guest customisation bug. That is, binary patches – nothing at all to do with the database. In fact I can’t find anything obviously database related in the release notes, and this is somewhat validated by the fact to get around this we need to append a “MINORDBUPGRADE=1” argument to VCDatabaseUpgrade.exe (the DSN, UID and PWD arguments don’t appear to be necessary). So for anyone at VMware reading this, STOP TOUCHING THE VC DATABASE WHEN YOU DON’T HAVE TO. Minor DB upgrade? WTF? You’re risking the VC database and ruining another persons saturday (now we need a Unix admin, a Windows admin _and_ a DBA to upgrade VC) for a MINOR UPGRADE?

Additionally, the jre binaries are not upgraded correctly as we found out when the Sun Ray environment in our lab broke after applying U3 (Sun have a KB article about this that I can’t find at the moment). A clean install had no such problems however.

If VMware are going to continue with these monolithic style updates so frequently (Update 1 in April, Update 2 in July, and now Update 3 in October), they need to get their chi together. Tomcat and JRE security related bugs come out all the time, and if you work in a regulated environment then you have no choice but to patch ASAP. But having to touch the database in order to do so is the opposite of cool. Be cool VMware, be cool!

UPDATE: Here’s that Sun KB article I was referring to… it actually mentions Update 2 but the same applies for Update 3


VM Template for Citrix Provisioning Server

October 7, 2008

A rather odd bug with VirtualCenter is the inability to deploy VM’s with a SCSI controller but without a disk… even creating a template from a VM that has a SCSI controller but no disk results in a template with no SCSI controller (you then have to convert it to a VM, re-add the SCSI controller, then convert back to template. Only to find the SCSI controller stripped during the deploy from template. There’s 10 minutes of my life I’ll never get back).

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time you’ll know I’m not exactly a fan of Citrix XenServer, but Citrix Provisioning Server on the hand is _very_ cool (albeit prohibitively expensive and not without it’s drawbacks… another post maybe). For the uninitiated, Provisioning Server streams a disk via the network. But obviously the streamed disk needs to be access via a disk controller (duh!). Which is why I want to create a diskless template in the first place.

Before firing up the trusty PowerShellified version of Notepad2, i did a cursory search of the VI Toolkit forum to see if someone had done this already… and surprise surprise, Cool Hand LucD had done my work for me.

So yeh, now all I need to do is deploy my scsiless and diskless template with new-vm and call the function from LucD, and all is well in the world – big ups to LucD.

/me makes W shape with fingers on one hand while simultaneously pounding fist on chest with the other

VirtualCenter 2.5 Update 2 Database Changes

August 8, 2008

After my previous postings on the VirtualCenter upgrade process, I had some correspondence with VMware devs that was proxied by John Troyer from the VMTN Blog. During the course of that correspondence, I lamented the generic names given to the stats rollup SQL agent jobs. SQL agent jobs are created per-instance and thus having generic names would be problematic in a shared SQL environment – effectively, you’d need a SQL instance per VC database, instead of a single SQL instance with many VC databases. Not exactly an optimal use of resources on the SQL box.

But surprise surprise – today I installed VC 2.5 Update 2, and guess what I saw

As you’ve probably guessed, ‘server1_vcdb’ is the name of my VC database. Sure, they probably meant to put a space in between ‘rollup’ and [databasename], but don’t I feel just a little bit special ^_^. Thanks guys.

Manually Remove Datastores from VirtualCenter 2.0.x Database

June 30, 2008

Removing invalid datastores from the VirtualCenter database (in 2.0.x at least) is a bit of a pain… y’know, the ones that don’t actually surface in the UI but you know are there because you get a “duplicate name” style error when adding a new datastore.

Manually editing the VirtualCenter database should never be taken lightly, and if there’s a stored procedure or something that actually does this then someone please let me know. Otherwise, do the following:

1) Stop the VirtualCenter service and BACKUP THE VIRTUALCENTER DATABASE
2) Fire up whatever database management tool you like and connect to the VirtualCenter database.
3) Fire off the following query:

select * from VPX_DATASTORE

4) Find the offending datastore in the returned results, and make a note of the ID number (the first column)
5) Fire off another query:

select * from VPX_DS_ASSIGNMENT where DS_ID = id of datatstore to delete from previous query

6) Delete all rows returned from this query – all the values should be NULL (except the DS_ID column of course)
7) Go back to the VPX_DATASTORE table and delete the row with the non-existent datastore in it

In the case where you have a number of hosts that show as “inaccessible” as a result, you could put together a few more queries to handle that too… or even better do it in PowerShell! Hmmm, will have a look at that a bit later.

VirtualCenter 2.5 Update 1 Upgrade Process – Not So Sucky After All!

April 18, 2008

EEEK! In my original post on the VC 2.5 Update 1 upgrade process, I incorrectly stated that the VC database user needs full sysadmin on the database server for the upgrade, and pondered why that was the case. Well it turns out that is entirely NOT the case at all!

Had I RTFM, I would have seen that the VC database user just needs the db_owner role on the MSDB system database, not sysadmin on the entire server. This is apparently a requirement for the SQL Agent job creation. Curiously, although the documentation states this is a requirement for a clean install as well, you only get the permissions error if you run the interactive installer. If you permission the VC database user with only the db_datareader, public and SQLAgentUser roles on the MSDB system database (I work in the finance industry – least privilege is important!) then run the installer silently, you don’t get the permissions error and the SQL Agent jobs are still created!

Thanks to John over at the VMTN blog and the VMware support guys for sorting me out on that one!

VirtualCenter 2.5 Update 1 – Upgrade Process Still Sucks!

April 13, 2008

Well what can I say… the old days, the bad days, the all-or-nothing days – they’re back!

Once again, the VirtualCenter upgrade process is the equivalent of a full uninstall and reinstall. Someone better let the developers of the VMware management tools suite (or at least whoever writes the installers) that VMware are supposed to be an enterprise software company.

I have a video of the process, but until I find that elusive video host that allows resolutions of 800 x 600, I can’t post it up. But the usual caveats apply… here are the main ones:

1. The VirtualCenter service is removed and reinstalled to run under the context of LocalSystem. So for all you ppl who have enterprise class deployments with the database on another host and vpxd running as a domain account in order to use Windows Authentication to the database, you need to reset the service account credentials. I would strongly advise doing this after the VC installer has run but BEFORE proceeding with the database upgrade wizard.

2. The VirtualCenter database user must have sysadmin rights on the entire database server in order for the upgrade the work. Why this is the case is anyone’s guess – a clean install only requires ‘dbo’ rights on the VC database itself. But that isn’t enough for the upgrade.

3. The bug with ADDLOCAL=VPX is still present if you’re doing a clean install. I can’t remember if I logged a bug report for that already, but looks like I need to raise another one. We don’t use WebAccess in my organisation, and given the choice I’d rather not have to install Tomcat on the VC box – it’s just one more bit of software that will require security patches. Might need to log a feature request for an IIS based web console.

The support matrix document still isn’t updated to reflect whether managing ESX 3.5 U1 with VirtualCenter 2.5 GA is a supported configuration. It will be a small consolation if it is, and an absolute disappointment if it is not.

For anyone running VC 2.5 already, it’s not worth upgrading IMHO. The release notes really don’t provide any compelling reason to upgrade unless you’re running a lot of ESXi and want non-experimental HA (which suggests that the HA code has been moved into the VC agent). For anyone doing fresh installs or upgrading from 2.0.x it would be worth going straight to Update 1 though.

VI 3.5 Update 1 released – ESXi finally has full HA support!

April 11, 2008

I thought VMware were going to make a liar of me for a minute, but as reported here VirtualCenter 2.5 Update 1, ESX 3.5 Update 1 and ESXi 3.5 Update 1 have been released on April 10th. Several other plugins (Update Manager, Converter) have also received Update 1’s.

Doesn’t look to be anything mind blowing in the release notes, but one thing that stands out is that 3i finally has full HA support (albeit a homogenous cluster is required). Well done VMware, I’m glad we didn’t have to wait for the next major release for that!

I’ll go through an upgrade over the weekend and report back any findings, unless Mike beats me to it of course 🙂

Download the bits here

VirtualCenter 2.5 & ESX / ESXi 3.5 Update 1 imminent – what caveats will there be?

April 8, 2008

I must admit, I’m a bit sceptical that VMware will really deliver on it’s new naming convention. My understanding is that they want to move away from dot-dot releases and go to ‘updates’ in order to imply a common code base or something, kind of like Microsoft are doing with their ‘no new functionality in service packs’ mantra. But like Windows Service Packs, I have no doubt ‘updates’ will still have all the hardware vendor re-certification requirements of dot releases. Here’s hoping they can at least do away with forking patches based on ‘update’ level… otherwise, what is the bl__dy point?

Dot-dot releases have long been called ‘maintenance’ releases by VMware, but somehow they are considered significant enough to have serious interop requirements. For example, managing ESX 3.0.2 hosts with VC 2.0.1 is an unsupported configuration. If updating VirtualCenter to a new ‘maintenance release’ level wasn’t tantamount to a full uninstall and reinstall of VC (kissing goodbye to your database in the process if you’re not careful), it wouldn’t be such a big deal… but we all know that is not the case! I really hope the same upgrade pain and support requirements don’t carry through with the new ‘update’ nomenclature, guess we’ll know in a couple of days 😉

VI 3.5 Update 1 Release Date – April 10th

March 31, 2008

Someone slipped up earlier today and posted links to ESX 3.5 Update 1, ESX 3i Update 1 and VirtualCenter 2.5 Update 1 on the VMware downloads page (there was nothing actually available for download though). Presumably that person thought the world runs on California time or something, as the links disappeared a short time later.

Anyway, April 10th looks to be the release date for Update 1 so if you’re planning anything significant in the near future, might be worth holding off to see exactly what is included in the update.

I just noticed that 3i has a name change to ESXi in that screenshot too… good to see the marketers getting their share of this release (assuming it’s not a typo)!

VirtualCenter 2.5 Database Changes

March 4, 2008

It’s no surprise that the database schema and stored procs have undergone a significant overhaul in VC 2.5, but for me some of the kep improvements is with regards to the statistics collection levels.

In VC 2.0.x the statistics collection level was a single global setting, with Level 1 being the default and VMware recommending that anything above Level 2 was used purely for diagnostic purposes.

But with 2.5, the stats collection levels can be configured per rollup period, which is great! So the recommendation now is to use Level 3 for Daily and Weekly rollups, and Level 1 for monthly and yearly. That makes it easy to do reporting on things like CPU Ready Time without needing tera’s of disk for data that is pretty much useless after a week.