Saturday, September 7, 2013

Installing a simple VMware View Setup

Installing VMware View can be simple or complex depending on the choices made and the components installed. It is one thing to install a vcenter server, a connection server and installing the agent and client; it is another thing to use persona manager, composer and linked clones. In this demo, I decided to install a simple setup since I had not played with View since the previous version.

Step 1: Install the VMware View Client on a windows machine.

01. Download the view client for windows (linux also available). Download the x86 or x64 client depending on the machine you want to use. I used 2k3 64 bit so I installed the x64 client.
02. Double click on the Installer.
03. Click on Next.
04. Accept the license agreement.
05. Click on Next.
06. Accept your machine name (auto populated).
07. Click on Next.
08. Click on next when asked about adding icon to desktop.
09. Click on Install.
10. Click on Finish
11. Reboot the windows machine.
12. Double click on the VMware View Client to launch it; then close it.

Here are some photos:

Step 2: Install the VMware Agent on a Windows Machine (xp, vista or 7)

01. Log into the xp machine as the domain administrator
02. Insert the cd with the agent software
03. Double Click on the Installer. (There are two, 32 and 64 bit)
04. Click on Next.
05. Click on Install.
06. Verify that the firewall is disabled after the install.
07. Reboot that virtual machine.

Here are some photos:

So far so good, now it's time to prepare the connection server...

Step 3: install and configure the Connection Server

01. Install 2008 R2 64 bit
02. Install VMware Tools
03. Change the ip to a static ip, the name and join an AD domain
04. Insert the VMWare View cd and double click on the installer
05. Click on Next to start the installation

06. Agree to the License Agreement
07. Agree to the default location for the install and click on next.
08. Select to Install a View Standard Server.
09. Select the view recovery password (vmware1!)
10. Select to configure the firewall automatically.
11.  Select the authorized users (admin group by default).
12. Deselect the choice to participate automatically in the user experience
13. Click on Install.
14. Click on Finish.
15. Connect to the view connection server via https://view_server_name/admin

16. Log in as administrator
17. Click on Product Licensing under View Configuration
18. Add the View License (no 60 days eval here).
19. Click on Servers
20. Specify who is the vcenter server and add it.
21. Select Pools
22. Click on Add
23. Select Manual Pool.
24. Select Dedicated Pool
25. Select to Manage Vcenter VMs
26. Select your vcenter server
27. Name the pool Pool1
28. Add the xp1 vm
29. Click on Add, Next, Next and Finish.
30. Select the Pool called Pool1
31. Click on Entitlements
32. Click on Add
33. Input the names of entitled users.
34. Click on Ok.
35. Launch the View Client and Connect.

Notes: Before you test the setup, make sure the firewall is disabled on the Connection Server and that everybody can ping all the components involved.

Friday, September 6, 2013

How to Configure the Vsphere Storage Appliance

Introduced in 5.0, the VSA (Vsphere Storage Appliance) allows you to create a two or three node cluster without shared storage. I decided to use the latest version 5.1.3 since it had several advantages over the original version. For example, the vcenter server can manage multiple VSA clusters or be a virtual machine inside of the cluster itself. I decided to create a simple two node cluster with a separate vcenter server running 2003 64 bit. My Vcenter server had two cpus, 6 gbs of ram.

Here are the steps and issues I encountered.

01. Install esxi 5.1 in two servers. My servers had 8 gbs of ram (minimum 6gb), 4 nics and two disk drives. I did not have hardware raid (needed for support) but I had two 40 gb disks per esxi server. I had to remove my original drive since the install of the VSA kept complaining about different disk sizes and having less than 30 GBs of space.

02. Install a brand new vcenter server. Mine was running 2k3, sp2. It is imperative that you upgrade
internet explorer. 2k3 comes with i.e. 6.0. This does not work well with the VSA Manager tab. It took me a while to find the bug about IE 6.

03. Download the latest version of the Vsphere Storage Appliance from . Burn it into a dvd.

04. Create a Datacenter (mine was called Training) and add the two esxi hosts. make sure the esxi servers have a static ip address.

05. Start the installation of the VSA. Simply run the vmware-vsamanager.exe executable on the vcenter server. I found the executable in the  D:\Installers folder.

06. Select the Language of your choice and accept the License Agreement.

07. Accept the ip address of the vcenter server (automatically  populated) and the communication ports that will be used.

08. Provide the password for the user vmwarevcsadmin. I used Vmware1! This is the VSA service account.

09. Use the demo license (60 days).

10. Click on Install and eventually Finish.

Warnings/Issues I encountered/Did not expect

The only issue I encountered during the installation was a complain that the Windows Firewall was not running. Strange since it was disabled after the install of the vcenter server as it should had been. I started the firewall, rerun the installer and then disabled the firewall again. At the end, i checked the VMware VSA cluster service and it was running. I launched the vsphere client, connected to the vcenter server and verified that the VSA plugin was enabled. I was prepared to enable it manually to see the VSA Manager tab in the vsphere client but did not have to.

11. Launch the Vsphere Client and connect to the Vcenter Server. Log in as the administrator

12. Select the Datacenter and look for the new tab called the VSA Manager.

13. Select New Installation

14. Select your Datacenter

15. Select the two hosts. Here is where you may issues with the hardware being used. It is easy to see that the installer recognized that I had unsupported hardware but after a couple of changes, it let me
select them. This issues can be related to lack of raid, no redundancy at the network level (how you build the switches), lack of EVC compatibility (easily fixed, info at bottom of doc) and so forth.

16. Select the IP address of the VSA Cluster and the IP address of the VSA Cluster Service

17. Specify the storage capacity to use. Here is a photo of the entire set of questions.

18. Select format disks on first access.

19. Click on Install and walk away for a while. Once you finish, the cluster will be ready to be used.

20. Click on Finish.

Final Notes:

1. Although the Installation and configuration steps are simple, there are many gotchas. There are requirements regarding the storage, virtual switches and port groups and so forth. Read the entire VSA Installation PDF to avoid some of the issues I encountered.

For example, I pasted the network and EVC related information from the install pdf.

Network Configuration:

When networking configuration on ESXi hosts has been changed, or if you need to manually configure the NICs selected for different portgroups, the following consideration apply:

Each ESXi host must contain at least one vSwitch.
Configure five port groups on each host, named exactly as follows: VSA-Front End Network, VM
Network, Management Network, VSA-Back End Network, VSA-VMotion.
For each port group, configure NIC teaming so that it has at least one active and one standby NIC.
If the NIC is active for the Management and VM Network port groups, it should not be active for
VSA-Front End port group. Use the standby NIC instead.
If the NIC is active for port group VSA-Back End, it should not be active for the VSA-VMotion port group. You can use the standby NIC.

EVC Support:

If your configuration does not allow to enable the EVC mode on the HA cluster, disable the EVC
mode by setting the evc.config property to false in the VSAManager/WEB-
INF/classes/ file.

2. If you want to test the VSA in a nested environment (not supported but works), check out

What follows is a capture of one Vcenter server managing multiple vsas.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

How to Configure Vcenter Server Heartbeat 6.5

Vcenter Server Heartbeat 6.5

The goal here was to configure Vcenter Server Heartbeat 6.5 using two virtual machines. They could be physical servers or a combination of physical and virtual. In this case, the two machines were virtual and were running 2k3 with sp2. The ip of the vcenter will be (the ip that runs only on the active vcenter server) and each vm will have two virtual network cards. The ips to use will be and .160 for the primary (administration) channel and and 60 for the vcenter secondary channnel. The secondary channel does not need dns or netbios over tcp/ip. The secondary vcenter will be a clone of the primary to start.The secondary vm will not be running initially. It is imperative that you create a network share called heartbeat under C: in the primary vcenter.These vcenter servers can't be domain controllers or dns servers. These machines need to belong to a domain prior to starting the configuration.

Warning: Read the entire pdf on how to configure the two nodes; in particular how to configure the virtual nics of both servers. The only issues I encountered were related to the configuration of the primary nic, since it has two ips (The management ip and the floating ip). TCP/IP Filtering was my nemesis.

How to Configure the Primary

01. Download the vcenter server heartbeat software and copy it to the desktop of the primary.
02. Double click on the installer icon.
03. Click on ok.
04. Click on Setup.
05. Select Install Vcenter Server Heartbeat.
06. Select Primary Server.
07. Agree to the license.
08. Do not add a license, use the evaluation grace period (60 days).
09. Select Lan Deployment (both machines in same network).
10. Specify that the secondary vcenter is a virtual machine.
11. Select primary vmware channel.
12. Add the ip for the primary server's ip.
13. Select ip for the secondary server's ip.
14. Click on nNext.
15. Select Primary Principal.
16. Click on add, put for the ip of the primary.
17. Click OK.
18. Click next.
19. Select for the ip of the secondary and click Ok.
20. You will get a warning about secondary not visible since it's powered off. Click no to proceed.
21. Rename the primary server to new-vcenter1 (not fully qualified).
22. Rename the secondary server to new-vcenter2 (not fully qualified).
23. Accept the default vcenter heartbeat port (52267).
24. Add administrator as user and add the administrator's password.
25. Specify the network share created on primary ahead of time \\localhost\heartbeat.
26. Click on next, finish and reboot primary server.
27. Change directories to C:\Program Files\VMware\Infrastructure\SSOServer\utils.
28. Run rsautil manage-secrets -a recover -m Vmware1! (the sso password I used) to refresh it.
29. Restart the SSO Service.
30. Restart the Vcenter Server Service.

Primary is now in place.

How to Configure the Secondary

01. With the web or vsphere client, disconnect all its nics from the network.
02. Power up the secondary.
03. Using Windows, set up the address with no gateway nor dns records.
04. Disable netbios over tcp/ip for that interface.
05. Set up the primary adapter with the address of, add the gateway and dns records.
06. Click on advance and add the adddress
07. Reconnect the nics with the web or vsphere client.
08. Install the Vcenter Server Heartbeat software.
09. Click on Setup.
10. Select install Vcenter Server Heartbeat and click on next.
11. Select Secondary and click on next.
12. Add the address of the network share folder \\\heartbeat.
13. Click on Next.
14. Select the Secondary Vmware Channel and click on next.
15. Select secondary principal and click on next.
16. Add VMWARE\administrator and provide the password for renaming purposes.
17. Reboot the node.

How to Configure Heartbeat

01. Go to the primary and click on the Manager Server icon.
02. Click on the "+" button.
03. Select "localhost".
04. Click on Applications, select Plugins.
05. Select VirtualCenterNFPlugin.dll and edit.
06. Enter the information administrator/vmware1!.
07. Got to Tasks under Application.
08. Click on User Accounts.
09. Click on Add.
10. Enter administrator and vmware1!.
11. Click on OK.
12. Edit the NFSetSPN.exe to run as vmware\administrator.
13. Do this for both the primary and secondary.

This capture shows both vcenter servers healthy and communicating.

How to Validate and Test

01. Go to C:\Program Files\VMware\Vcenter Server Heartbeat\R2\bin.
02. Run Nfavt.exe to emulate a failure.
03. Verify the automatic switchover.
04. Log into the vcenter server for testing purposes.

This is the script that will make the primary fail...

The auto-switch can be seen in the console. Once the switch completes, the second Vcenter Server
is active and running with the ip of

Here is a view from the former passive server. The secondary is now active and not replicating to the primary until such server has it's services restarted.