Summer Wrap-Up – #VirtualDesignMaster, #HyperV, and more

With summer coming to a close, there’s an unavoidable temptation to look book on what was. This year has been pretty busy, so I thought I’d take some time to look back on my accomplishments.

In February, I started this blog. I set out with a goal of one article per week on the blog. In the last seven months, I’ve met that average for the week even if I don’t write another article (52 articles in 29 weeks), but I also learned that it’s not feasible for me to actually write one article every week. I wrote three series, on PowerCLI, Auto Deploy, and Puppet for the vSphere Admin (ongoing) and managed over 14,000 page views in ~7 months. I have been lucky enough to convince Jason Crichton (@hawkbox) to contribute articles on Hyper-V while I took a summer break, and there’s really no point in trying to advertise new content during VMworld next week. I count the blog as a success and I learned some lessons along the way.

Speaking of which, I am unable to attend VMworld this year. Last year was my first VMworld and I sorely miss the opportunity to go back and to meet all my tweeps. I’ll be watching online, however!

In the area of personal growth, I acquired my VCP5-DCV certification in April and became a vExpert in July. Both were exciting, the certification because it validated my technical knowledge and the vExpert because it validated my community activities. The fact that both came with some free licenses didn’t hurt, either. I plan to put those to good use in the coming months to continue my education! I’m looking forward to being part of these two communities and learning from the other members.

In July, Season 2 of Virtual Design Master (VDM) began. I was one of 11 contestants. I survived round 1 and round 2, but I had to fold on round 3 of 4 due to time commitments. Congratulations to Timothy Patterson (@PcProfessionals) for winning Season 2! I learned a LOT during this competition – taking all the skills I use on a day to day basis as a vSphere admin, what I studied for my VCP, and a number of vSphere design books and applying it to design and engineering, which is not part of my day job in operations. I haven’t done any actual design work in years, and then it was always on a much smaller scale. VDM was challenging, exciting, and scarey. It was also very rewarding. In addition to the technical growth, there was a great sense of community and co-opetition between the contestants and the viewers of the competition. Check out #VirtualDesignMaster on Twitter for some great discussions. There’s some good content about IPv6 and Openstack in particular.

As I mentioned above, I was able to convince Jason to become a contributing editor on my blog. He is in the middle of his own Hyper-V series, which now has its own page. As a vSphere admin myself, I find the content very helpful – the world isn’t all VMware – and I hope that others find it useful as well. We would both love to hear any comments you have on the series and what direction it should go in.

In addition to all of the above, my wife changed jobs in August and we moved from Richmond, VA to Indianapolis, IN. We’re really excited about the new job and home, but we’re both very exhausted, too. If you’re in the Indianapolis area and I didn’t meet you at the IndyVMUG, drop me a line.

Have a great summer, and enjoy VMworld if you are attending!

Installing SCVMM for Hyper-V

Welcome Back! For this article I am going to try and cover SCVMM (System Center Virtual Machine Manager) well enough to allow you to install it for testing purposes. This isn’t intended to cover all of the details as I think there is too much material here for one post and I haven’t had time with my new job to properly explore deeply yet. If I have missed something important or you would like me to go into more detail on a part of this, please send me a message and I will be happy to look into it.

SCVMM is the functional Hyper-V equivalent to vCenter in a vSphere environment. I have rather extensive experience dealing with vCenter, so I wanted to try and familiarize myself with SCVMM in the same way. With System Center 2012 and 2012 R2 it comes as part of the entire package, which is rather handy. I am going to go through step by step and show my experience with it. I will make note of any caveats or landmines I come across during the setup.

Probably the number one thing to consider before getting started is your SQL environment, where are you going to host your SQL DB? I am in the process of familiarizing myself with SQL 2012 right now so I have chosen to deploy this on another server. You are also able to use a local SQL Express install should you only want to run this in testing. I  would recommend a dedicated server if you plan to run this in production.
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Hyper-V memory oversubscription

Welcome back to my third article, I hope these provide some useful information. This posting is based around my observations of the differences in how vSphere and Hyper-V manage memory on the host. Without further rambling, let’s get started.

Hyper-V handles memory in a noticeably different way than vSphere does. This has taken me some getting used to but the largest take away is that it does not overcommit memory. Microsoft uses the term Dynamic Memory for their version, and based on my observations that is a good term for it.

Memory over allocation in vSphere is handled through the VMTools and the balloon driver in instances of the memory allocation actually being utilized. This historically, to my understanding, results in paging to disk when recovered memory isn’t adequate for the needs to be met. This is where Dynamic Memory kind of breaks my brain. Unlike vSphere, which more or less just assumes you will overcommit at some point, you need to explicitly enable this functionality. It’s not complicated, just not something you might think to do when coming from a VMware environment.
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Hyper-V Replication

Hello again, welcome back to the second of my indeterminate number of articles covering my various observations regarding differences around vSphere and Hyper-V. This post is covering host replication without a central controller. So hopefully you benefit from and enjoy this one.

As near as I can tell there is no direct analog in vSphere to compare this to.  As such I’m going to give as much of an explanation as I realistically can and show where I think this would be extremely beneficial.

Hyper-V replication does not require SCVMM or any kind of centrally managed vCenter equivalent, all it requires is two or more Hyper-V hosts that meet the necessary requirements for performing the replication. (CPU, Memory, Storage, etc….) Once that is met it is quite straight forward to do as a test.
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Basic Sudo Access

A few months back I noted that I’d be more concerned with security going forward. Among other things, this means using sudo for accounting and authorization. A mature system would configure this via Puppet or another CM tool. If you haven’t gotten there with your CM tool, or you are working on a standalone system, you can still enable basic sudo access with a few steps:

[root@puppet git]# useradd rnelson0 -c "Rob Nelson"
[root@puppet git]# passwd rnelson0
Changing password for user rnelson0.
New password:
Retype new password:
passwd: all authentication tokens updated successfully.

[root@puppet ~]# cat > /etc/sudoers.d/sudoadmins
rnelson0        ALL=(ALL)       ALL
  1. Add a local user.
  2. Set a password for the local user.
  3. Allow the user to use sudo for all commands.

This is a good start for a lab. In production, more granular sudo permissions should be used, in addition to a central user management system, like LDAP or ADS. And if you have to do this in more than one place, automation is a good idea.