Changing Windows VM Boot Volume Block Size with vSphere Converter

First things first. This is unsupported by Microsoft, VMware, Amazon, Google, AOL, Geocities, John Madden, Edgar Allen Poe and your mother. Also, not generally a good idea.

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Storage providers (NAS, SAN, HCI, Cloud, etc.) typically have preferred block sizes for the volumes created on top of their file system. Alignment is also super critical within a VM and you can read a great post about alignment on Duncan Epping’s blog here. Applications also have some best practices around formatted volume cluster sizes (or allocation units, or block size) based on their default average IO size. For instance, for Microsoft MS SQL, Microsoft highly recommends using a block size (allocation unit, cluster size – will be used interchangeably here) of 64k on any volume containing a database. More detailed info here.

Most often, when deploying an application, you will install the binaries on the root drive (C:\) and place the data on a secondary disk. Most applications allow this, some do not. For those instances where the do not and the application has been installed on the boot drive (C:\), you’re stuck with the cluster size you chose on installation (default of 4k).

If the application cannot deal with it’s data on a different device/directory than its binaries, and the binaries cannot be moved, you’re typically stuck unless you want to re-install and migrate data.

If you want to live on the edge, you might be able to convert the boot drive’s block size using VMware’s free vSphere Converter.

This is a step-by-step for that process. Continue reading

Virtualization Field Day 4 – Austin, I am IN you!


I’ve been fortunate enough in my career to be a part of a group of IT folks that have been able to take part in a Tech Field Day, a series of industry events bringing together technology purveyors, community influencers, analysts, enthusiasts, tweeter folk and grey beards (none of these are mutually exclusive of the others). It’s a place that brings new vendors with exciting visions of technology and old vendors with shiny newness, both of which provide an exciting look at the ever changing landscape of enterprise IT.

Besides my general fondness of Stephen Foskett (and his glorious peanut brittle) and Tom Hollingsworth, I’m excited to be a part of the event from the vendor perspective, getting to attend with my friends Jesse St. Laurent and Brian Knudtson from SimpliVity to give delegates (and viewers) a deeper look into how we do Hyperconverged Infrastructure and what’s possible when you do deduplication and compression in real time in-line.

But where the real action takes place is the delegates. The industry folks (admins, engineers, bloggers, analysts, friends) that come to these Field Days are the linchpin to its success and to its enjoyment. Most of the people going I’ve had the pleasure of knowing for a while and meeting in person previously, and some I’ve only interacted with online and am thrilled to finally meet in person.

Amit Panchal @AmitPanchal76
Amy Manley @WyrdGirl
Christopher Kusek @cxi
Emad Younis @Emad_Younis
James Green @JDGreen
Jeff Wilson @Agnostic_Node1
Julian Wood @Julian_Wood
Justin Warren @JPWarren
Larry Smith @MrLESmithJr
Marco Broeken @MBroeken
Matt Simmons @StandaloneSA
Mike Preston @MWPreston

This current event (Virtualization Field Day 4) will be held in Austin, TX January 14-16 and focuses on technologies and people that enable and push the virtualized datacenter forward. You can follow along with the events with the live stream on the TFD site and on twitter with the #VFD4 hashtag.

SimpliVity as Visionary – Just Getting Warmed Up

First off, congrats to SimpliVity and other vendors for being included on Gartner’s inaugural Converged Infrastructure (no?) Integrated Systems Magic Quadrant (MQ)! The report not only further validates this direction for infrastructure and the importance of convergence, but also highlights the breadth of scope within this space.

Reading over the report, they used a very broad definition for Integrated Systems (read more about that at Ron Singler’s blog here), which in turn lead to them not using the term ‘converged infrastructure’. The graphic depicts Gartner’s basic qualification for inclusion in the Integrated Systems category:


This resulted in the inclusion of everything from broad workload systems (VCE, SimpliVity, etc.) to workload specific systems like Oracle Exadata and Teradata. Equally interesting, however, was the exclusion of Pivot3, Scale, UCS, VSAN, Maxta, Atlantis ILIO, EMC ScaleIO,  etc.

If you look at Gartner’s Inclusion and Exclusion Criteria section (p.s. you can download the report here), you will see that they specifically excluded software-only solutions and most ‘Server SANs’ which require customer based installations and layering and only included systems that fully integrated storage (which is why no UCS without Netapp). But just because you fall into Gartner’s definition does not mean you make it into the report (e.g. Pivot3, Scale). What does this mean for vendors in the current report that will go to a software based model in the future? Or those that may OEM their software only solution to hardware vendors? Not sure, but Gartner can certainly change their criteria at their choosing.

It’s a fascinating space with explosive growth that leads to the necessity of including vendors both new and old. Note that SimpliVity had only been GA for 5 months when the data for this report was gathered. I can’t think of such a young company being this far in the Visionary quadrant, save perhaps Amazon Web Services, and even then, they had a running start (more on that over at Gabe Chapman’s blog).

What does this mean for SimpliVity? We’re certainly not taking a ‘we’re just glad to be here’ stance. It’s great affirmation of our trajectory and we’re just getting warmed up.

Let’s Simplify Things

Over the past few decades, many technologies have come into the datacenter to increase both the quality and number of services. Some of these have been to solve direct technical problems (WAN acceleration), some have been to solve capacity and utilization problems (deduplication, virtualization, SAN/NAS), and some to solve ‘keep the business alive’ problems (backup, BC/DR, etc.). With each of these solutions came another box to consume more space, more power, more cooling, more money, and on and on. On top of the physical ‘mores’ is the ‘complexity more’. More software. More management consoles. More throats. Though, these silos of infrastructure did bring less of a few things: less productivity, less agility, less flexibility, etc.

Enter convergence. At the base of it, convergence is about simplicity and efficiency.  As Stu Miniman said, “Customers, however, are not looking to buy “convergence””, they’re looking to solve the problems of complexity, inefficiency and inflexibility. And not just solve them for one application, silo or data set, but to solve them at scale.

A number of vendors come straight to mind when talking about convergence, but one thing that’s certain is that this a change in how the business of the datacenter is done. As we know, change is not always met with open arms within an industry. As Andre Leibovici pointed out in his linking to an article about a change in an industry: “disruption will always be challenged by standards”

Traditionally, datacenter projects include deploying a storage product, a backup product, a replication product, a compute product and a virtualization product, often taking a number of days to a number of weeks to implement. Enough. Let’s change this. Let’s simplify.

For this reason, I’m excited to join an amazing team (Gabriel Chapman, Ron Singler, Dave Robertson, Mario Brum, etc.) at SimpliVity. Their take on hyperconvergence is, I feel, the most complete to date and their efficiency and simplicity of collapsing silos of datacenter technologies is refreshing. I’m excited about integrating more than just storage, compute and a hypervisor in a platform, but also fine grained policy based backup, deduplication, compression, wan optimization, replication and more in a building block architecture with one management console.

I’m extremely grateful to my friends at Computex for the opportunity to work with them helping customers along the virtualization path and I look forward to continuing conversations about simplifying datacenters. Let’s do it.


TL:DR – I’m joining SimpliVity: yay :-)

Upgrading vCenter Operations Manager OS to SLES 11 SP2

With the release of vCenter Operations Manager 5.8 (now at 5.8.1), an upgrade to the appliance’s underlying OS also needs a bit of patch, which makes sense since SLES 11 has been out for a while (January 2013). It’s a pretty simple upgrade, but you have to do it from the OS itself, not the vC Ops admin console. Continue reading

Change vCloud vApp/VM Storage Profile with PowerCLI

VMware has done a lot to open up the APIs for vCloud with the 5.1 release, however it still leaves much to be desired. One of the nicer things is the ability to change a storage profile for a VM. However, you need to know the HREF for the storage profile that you want to change to. This wasn’t so easy to get (I would love to be able to use a “get-storageProfile” PowerCLI cmd-let), but thankfully, Jake Robinson (@jakerobinson) and the VMware Community to the rescue:

This script uses PowerCLI for Tenants (which cannot be installed on the same box running the ‘regular’ PowerCli). Taking his prompt to build an XML file from an HTTP GET to a vCloud HREF, we can retrieve storage profiles from any OrgvDC you have rights to. From this XML, we can assign a storage profile to a VM (or in this case, every VM in a vApp) based on it’s name and the Org you’re logged into. I modified his script a little bit, because if we pass an Org to the function, we don’t get the storage profiles, but if we pass an OrgvDC HREF, we automatically get the storage profiles (because storage profiles are assigned to Org vDCs and not globally to an Org). This reduces the number of function calls needed.

All this script needs is your vApp name and desired Storage Profile name.

What this also addresses is the ability to migrate all vCloud VMs off of the “*Any” Storage Profile.

# This function does a HTTP GET against the vCloud 5.1 API using our current API session.
# It accepts any vCloud HREF.
function Get-vCloud51($href)
 $request = [System.Net.HttpWebRequest]::Create($href)
 $request.Accept = "application/*+xml;version=5.1"
 $response = $request.GetResponse()
 $streamReader = new-object System.IO.StreamReader($response.getResponseStream())
 $xmldata = $streamreader.ReadToEnd()
 return $xmldata

# This function gets an OrgVdc via 1.5 API, then 5.1 API.
# It then returns the HREF for the storage profile based on the $profilename and

function Get-storageHref($orgVdc,$profileName)
 $orgVdc51 = Get-vCloud51 $orgVdc.Href
 $storageProfileHref = $orgVdc51.vdc.VdcStorageProfiles.VdcStorageProfile | Where-Object{$ -eq "$profileName"} | foreach {$_.href}
 return $storageProfileHref

# Get vApp, Storage Profile and OrgvDC names

$vappName = read-host "vApp name"
$profileName = read-host "Storage Profile"
$orgVdcName = read-host "Org vDC Name"

$orgVdc = get-orgvdc $orgVdcName

#Get storage profile HREF

$profileHref = Get-storageHref $orgVdc $profileName

# Change each VM's Storage Profile in the vApp

$CIvApp = Get-CIVApp $vappName
Foreach ($CIVM in ($CIvApp | Get-CIVM)) {
 $newSettings = $CIVM.extensiondata
 $ = "$profileName"
 $newSettings.storageprofile.Href = "$profileHref"
 Write-Host "Changing the storage profile for $ to $profileName"

Solving vShield Edge Gateways Not Upgrading/Re-deploying after vSM 5.0.1 to 5.1.2 Upgrade

After upgrading from vCloud Director 1.5.1 to 5.1.2, vShield Manager 5.0.1 to 5.1.2 and vSphere 5.0 to 5.1.0 following all of the Best Practices KBs for each, the time came to upgrade off the vShield Edge Gateways to take advantage of some of the advanced capabilities and performance. When I attempted this via vCloud Director (right-click Edge Gateway and choose ‘Re-deploy’), I was met with this error message:

Cannot redeploy edge gateway BizDev External Network (urn:uuid:f1e69daa-7b56-4e8b-8713-549cfbe8c9f7) org.springframework.web.client.RestClientException: Redeploy failed: Edge connected to ‘dvportgroup-9622’ failed to upgrade.

Inspecting the vCloud Director debug logs revealed this:

2013-05-29 07:42:56,316 | DEBUG | nf-activity-pool-192 | LoggingRestTemplate | Created POST request for "" |

2013-05-29 07:42:56,316 | DEBUG | nf-activity-pool-192 | LoggingRestTemplate | Request::URI: method:POST |
2013-05-29 07:42:56,316 | DEBUG | nf-activity-pool-192 | LoggingRestTemplate | Request body :<none> |
2013-05-29 07:42:56,406 | WARN | nf-activity-pool-192 | LoggingRestTemplate | POST request for "" resulted in 404 (Not Found); invoking error handler |
2013-05-29 07:42:56,406 | ERROR | nf-activity-pool-192 | NetworkSecurityErrorHandler | Response error xml : <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" standalone="yes"?><Errors><Error><code>70001</code><description>vShield Edge not installed for given networkID. Cannot proceed with the operation</description></Error></Errors> |
2013-05-29 07:42:56,407 | DEBUG | nf-activity-pool-192 | EdgeManagerSpock | Failed upgrading edge connected to dvportgroup-9622. |
com.vmware.vcloud.fabric.nsm.error.VsmException: vShield Edge not installed for given networkID. Cannot proceed with the operation

at com.vmware.vcloud.fabric.nsm.error.NetworkSecurityErrorHandler.processException(
 at com.vmware.vcloud.fabric.nsm.error.NetworkSecurityErrorHandler.handleError(
 at org.springframework.web.client.RestTemplate.handleResponseError(
 at org.springframework.web.client.RestTemplate.doExecute(
 at org.springframework.web.client.RestTemplate.execute(
 at org.springframework.web.client.RestTemplate.postForEntity(
 at java.util.concurrent.Executors$ Source)
 at java.util.concurrent.FutureTask$Sync.innerRun(Unknown Source)
 at Source)
 at java.util.concurrent.ThreadPoolExecutor$Worker.runTask(Unknown Source)
 at java.util.concurrent.ThreadPoolExecutor$ Source)
 at Source)
2013-05-29 07:42:56,407 | ERROR | nf-activity-pool-192 | DeployGatewayActivity | [Activity Execution] Handle: urn:uuid:f1e69daa-7b56-4e8b-8713-549cfbe8c9f7, Current Phase:$GenerateBacking, ActivityExecutionState Parameter Names: [BACKING_SPEC, NDC, activitySupervisionRequest, com.vmware.activityEntityRecord.EntityId, REDEPLOY, DEPLOY_PARAMS] - Could not deploy gateway BizDev External Network |
org.springframework.web.client.RestClientException: Redeploy failed: Edge connected to 'dvportgroup-9622' failed to upgrade.

-- snip --
2013-05-29 07:42:56,437 | DEBUG | LocalTaskScheduler-Pool-31 | JobString | Job object - Object : BizDev External Network(com.vmware.vcloud.entity.gateway:d21b172b-b926-46e7-8e8b-07fb71843b18) operation name: NETWORK_GATEWAY_REDEPLOY | vcd=83908311-0f60-48e3-a2ec-f10f07c4f187,task=b6261962-0d14-48b0-836b-45fc0d68df65
2013-05-29 07:42:56,486 | DEBUG | LocalTaskScheduler-Pool-31 | CJob | No last pending job : [BizDev External Network(com.vmware.vcloud.entity.gateway:d21b172b-b926-46e7-8e8b-07fb71843b18)], status=[3] | vcd=83908311-0f60-48e3-a2ec-f10f07c4f187,task=b6261962-0d14-48b0-836b-45fc0d68df65
2013-05-29 07:42:56,487 | DEBUG | LocalTaskScheduler-Pool-31 | CJob | Update last job : [BizDev External Network(com.vmware.vcloud.entity.gateway:d21b172b-b926-46e7-8e8b-07fb71843b18)], status=[3], [5/29/13 7:42 AM] | vcd=83908311-0f60-48e3-a2ec-f10f07c4f187,task=b6261962-0d14-48b0-836b-45fc0d68df65
2013-05-29 07:42:56,487 | DEBUG | LocalTaskScheduler-Pool-31 | TaskServiceImpl | Cleaning busy entities for task 'b6261962-0d14-48b0-836b-45fc0d68df65' | vcd=83908311-0f60-48e3-a2ec-f10f07c4f187,task=b6261962-0d14-48b0-836b-45fc0d68df65
2013-05-29 07:42:56,488 | DEBUG | LocalTaskScheduler-Pool-31 | BusyObjectServiceImpl | Unsetting 1 busy entitie(s) for task ref NETWORK_GATEWAY_REDEPLOY(com.vmware.vcloud.entity.task:b6261962-0d14-48b0-836b-45fc0d68df65) | vcd=83908311-0f60-48e3-a2ec-f10f07c4f187,task=b6261962-0d14-48b0-836b-45fc0d68df65
2013-05-29 07:42:56,492 | DEBUG | LocalTaskScheduler-Pool-31 | TaskServiceImpl | Recorded completion of task 'NETWORK_GATEWAY_REDEPLOY(com.vmware.vcloud.entity.task:b6261962-0d14-48b0-836b-45fc0d68df65)' (retry count: 1) | vcd=83908311-0f60-48e3-a2ec-f10f07c4f187,task=b6261962-0d14-48b0-836b-45fc0d68df65
2013-05-29 07:42:56,494 | INFO | LocalTaskScheduler-Pool-31 | LocalTask | completed executing local task NETWORK_GATEWAY_REDEPLOY(com.vmware.vcloud.entity.task:b6261962-0d14-48b0-836b-45fc0d68df65) |

What I quickly realized is that it also affected the ability to modify any existing Edge Gateway IP/NAT/Firewall/VPN settings. If it were just the upgrade that was affected, I probably would have left it for another day.

Through all my searching, I could not find anyone who had a solution that worked for me and most posts ended up saying “call VMware support”. Well, I’m a glutton for punishment and often don’t know when to give up, so I kept at it and I was able to get it working.

I shutdown the new vShield Manager VM and rolled back to the snapshot I took of original vShield Manager VM after the vCloud Director upgrade but before the vShield upgrade. I then started to go through the steps again in this VMware KB: Upgrading to vCloud Networking and Security 5.1.2a best practices guide with a few deviations.

Even though I had enough space to run the main upgrade bundle, I ran the space clearing VMware-vShield-Manager-upgrade-bundle-maintenance-5.0-939118.tar.gz bundle anyway. After that finished, I ran the main 5.1.2 upgrade bundle (VMware-vShield-Manager-upgrade-bundle-5.1.2-943471.tar.gz).

Before I did the backup, deploy new OVF, restore, maintenance bundle upgrade routine in the KB, I went through and did an upgrade of each edge gateway (under the Edges dropdown in the vShield Manager web UI) which worked! In essence, this is a simple re-deploy of a new OVF of the gateway and reconfiguration of the service template with the latest version from the new vShield Manager.

Then I installed the VMware-vShield-Manager-upgrade-bundle-maintenance-5.1.2-997359.tar.gz bundle. After that was all booted back up and stable, I stopped vCloud Director, took a backup of vSM, deployed the new vSM OVF, installed the VMware-vShield-Manager-upgrade-bundle-maintenance-5.1.2-997359.tar.gz bundle to the new install, restored the backup, re-registered vSM with vCenter, started vCD, re-registered vCD with vSM.

Hope this helps someone out.

Upgrading to vCloud Director 5.1 with Existing Nested ESXi VMs

While my upgrade from vCloud Director 1.5.1 to 5.1 went on through out the day, I started to have a sinking feeling that I wasn’t going to be able to complete it with zero downtime for all of the VMs in the environment.

In our environment, a lot of training and product demos happen, and much of that relies on utilizing nested ESXi, similar to how VMware’s Hands On Labs are run at VMworld (and thankfully, now available online outside of the event).

William Lam has a great article on modifying your vCloud Director database to automatically pass the ‘nested hypervisor’ support flag to vCloud hosts as they’re brought into vCD to be used as a resource rather than having to modify each vSphere hosts’s config file.

However, with vSphere 5.1, VMware changed how nested ESXi is enabled. It’s now on a per VM basis rather than a per host basis. William’s post “How to Enable Nested ESXi & Other Hypervisors in vSphere 5.1” covers the changes and the new process quite well, so I won’t cover that here.

The biggest kicker to this is that it requires the VM being VMware Hardware Version 9 which is new to vSphere 5.1. So, any current nested ESXi (or any other nested hypervisor) is running, at highest, Hardware Version 8. Continue reading

Change Virtual Machine SCSI Controller Type in NexentaStor VSA

Before I say anything, I shouldn’t need to say this, but I will. This is not supported. Now, on to the fun!

The current release of NexentaStor (v3.1.4.1) is made available as an OVA to make it easy to import into VMware environments. Currently this only “works” in full blown vSphere hosts and not Fusion/Workstation/Player (“works”, because with some fenagling, you can get it running in Fusion – don’t have access to Workstation/Player at the moment). Ok, already getting off track. This OVA comes with the following hardware configuration:

1 vCPU
1 x 8GB Hard Drive (syspool)
– this is configured with a VMware Paravirtual controller
1 Virtual Nic
– this is configured as a VMXNET3 device
Continue reading

Nexenta VAAI-NAS Beta Released, NFS Hardware Acceleration

Skip to Update 1

Along with the release of NexentaStor 3.1.4, Nexenta Systems today officially released the (very) Beta VAAI-NAS plugin for VMware vSphere 5.x via the community forums. VAAI-NAS is still not widely supported in the NAS world, and of those that do, not all support all the primitives.  You can search the VMware Compatibility Guide for vendors that are VAAI-NAS certified.

VAAI, to catch up, is the the suite of primitives (instructions) that allow vSphere to offload certain VM operations to the array. For NAS Hardware Acceleration, these are:

  • Full File Clone – Enables virtual disks to be cloned by the NAS device (but not ‘hot’, the VM must be powered off).
  • Native Snapshot Support – Allows creation of virtual machine snapshots to be offloaded to the array.
  • Extended Statistics – Shows actual space usage on NAS datastores (great for thin provisioning).
  • Reserve Space – Enables creation of thick virtual disk files on NAS.

Everything you wanted to know about VAAI (but were afraid to ask)

At this point, all primitives are working (or supposed to, it’s beta, right?) save for the Native Snapshots.

Here’s a quick tutorial to install the agent in NexentaStor and the plugin in VMware Vsphere.

Continue reading