Thursday, July 31, 2008

PowerShell Support in VMware VI Toolkit

I am not even close to being a PowerShell guru. But I have had the opportunity to get my hands dirty when working with Microsoft's virtualization management product, System Center Virtual Machine Manager SCVMM has the claim as the first product built entirely upon PowerShell. Any and every action performed through the SCVMM GUI uses PowerShell to run the task. The trend in Microsoft seems to be towards moving all management products to this model. and with good reason. Allowing a user to see the scripts that their actions in the GUI are creating gives them great examples to work with. Plus PowerShell has been met with high praise, and what better praise than to be adopted by a competitor...

It has been news for awhile now that VMware would include PowerShell support in a VI Toolkit. I have not had the opportunity to play with it yet but I thought the news was great. I ran across this post tonight. PowerGUI now has a plugin that allows you to run in directly in the VI Client! This tool will provide a similar type of "use a GUI to generate a script" functionality that SCVMM does.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

VMware puffs chest over Exchange record

This article initially caught my eye because of the hardware that was used. I found it fairly interesting, here it is for reference. I did some further reading this evening though and noticed that VMware has a whole web page dedicated to virtualizing Exchange.

I wonder how Microsoft will handle products like SQL and Exchange when Hyper-V releases, considering they've always been against virtualizing these in a production environment. They will certainly want too appear confident in its performance, especially when VMware is publishing things like this.

They might need to update their Exchange Support policy for running on virtualization software in the meantime since VMware just made it look a little silly.

Friday, February 1, 2008

System Center Virtual Machine Manager file transfers causing disk fragmentation

I recently noticed a trend on the Microsoft Virtual Server hosts at the organization where I work. With no scheduled disk defragmentation taking place on the drives where the .VHD files are stored, fragmentation is rampant. Rampant is really an understatement, this fragmentation is quite extreme.

When first looking at the fragmentation of the host servers I figured a lack of a regular defrag schedule was the main problem....I am not so sure of that. Those of you familiar with and use Microsoft Virtual Machine Manager know that it moves files around by using BITs (Background Intelligent Transfer Service). BITs best feature is the ability to resume interrupted file transfers, which is very nice when migrating large Virtual Machines between hosts. BITs also seems to have another interesting perk:

Below is a simple test. I took a virtual host with no virtual machines. I ensured that the drive where the virtual machine would be placed was empty (no fragmentation).

I then deployed a virtual machine with one 16GB fixed size .VHD using SCVMM. Now a normal file copy of a 16GB file would result in a contiguous non-fragmented copy. After the VM was deployed by SCVMM, a disk defrag analyze resulted in the following report:

Fragments File Size Most fragmented files
8,590 16.00 GB \VirtualServer\VirtualMachines\FRAG-TEST\FRAG-TEST_16GB-FIXED-W2K3-STD-x86-SP2.VHD

1 file deployed, 8,590 fragments?

So lets say you have a production host server that has no scheduled defragmentation. Day to day operations of deploying new machines and migrating existing machines is managed by SCVMM. What does the fragmentation look like after a few months of operation with about 25 virtual machines (with ALL FIXED SIZE .VHDs) running on it?

Fragments File Size Most fragmented files
35,068 40.00 GB \VirtualServer\VirtualMachines\VHDFILE.vhd
35,067 40.00 GB \VirtualServer\VirtualMachines\VHDFILE.vhd
15,383 16.00 GB \VirtualServer\VirtualMachines\VHDFILE.vhd
15,068 16.00 GB \VirtualServer\VirtualMachines\VHDFILE.vhd
14,952 16.00 GB \VirtualServer\VirtualMachines\VHDFILE.vhd
14,310 16.00 GB \VirtualServer\VirtualMachines\VHDFILE.vhd
13,017 16.00 GB \VirtualServer\VirtualMachines\VHDFILE.vhd
12,047 16.00 GB \VirtualServer\VirtualMachines\VHDFILE.vhd
12,040 16.00 GB \VirtualServer\VirtualMachines\VHDFILE.vhd
11,812 16.00 GB \VirtualServer\VirtualMachines\VHDFILE.vhd
9,145 16.00 GB \VirtualServer\VirtualMachines\VHDFILE.vhd
9,142 16.00 GB \VirtualServer\VirtualMachines\VHDFILE.vhd
8,657 16.00 GB \VirtualServer\VirtualMachines\VHDFILE.vhd
7,746 40.00 GB \VirtualServer\VirtualMachines\VHDFILE.vhd
7,026 16.00 GB \VirtualServer\VirtualMachines\VHDFILE.vhd
6,227 16.00 GB \VirtualServer\VirtualMachines\VHDFILE.vhd
1,141 2.78 GB \VirtualServer\VirtualMachines\VHDFILE.vhd
5 16.00 GB \VirtualServer\VirtualMachines\VHDFILE.vhd
5 16.00 GB \VirtualServer\VirtualMachines\VHDFILE.vhd
4 16.00 GB \VirtualServer\VirtualMachines\VHDFILE.vhd
4 16.00 GB \VirtualServer\VirtualMachines\VHDFILE.vhd
3 16.00 GB \VirtualServer\VirtualMachines\VHDFILE.vhd
2 2.02 GB \VirtualServer\VirtualMachines\VHDFILE.vhd
2 2.02 GB \VirtualServer\VirtualMachines\VHDFILE.vhd
2 2.02 GB \VirtualServer\VirtualMachines\VHDFILE.vhd
2 2.02 GB \VirtualServer\VirtualMachines\VHDFILE.vhd
2 532 MB \VirtualServer\VirtualMachines\VHDFILE.vhd
2 532 MB \VirtualServer\VirtualMachines\VHDFILE.vhd
2 532 MB \VirtualServer\VirtualMachines\VHDFILE.vhd
2 2.02 GB \VirtualServer\VirtualMachines\VHDFILE.vhd
(VHD files renamed by author)

That is some serious fragmentation folks. I won't even throw in variables like dynamic disks, or checkpoints (which are always created as dynamic disks!). I'll buy a beverage of choice for the person who can calculate the number of extra disk I/O operations the storage array is performing because of this extreme fragmentation.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

IBM Director and Hyper-V

Microsoft recently released the their WMI API's for Hyper-V. They can be found HERE. The WMI APIs extend Hyper-V management and tasks to scripting languages (much like the Virtual Server COM APIs).

What I found interesting was this little tidbit in a post by Mike Sterling, a Microsoft Community rep who frequently posts in the Hyper-V Technet Forum:

"We expect the Hyper-V WMI APIs to be used widely in a variety of ways such as:
· By third party management vendors who want to write tools to manage WSV (examples, HP Openview & IBM Director)"

I know IBM Director already attempts to manage VMware, it will be interesting to see what type of support they have for Hyper-V when the time comes around.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

And the winner is......

Due to the hangover that I have from last night's primary coverage, I am willing to make my prediction....

Congratulations to Sony and their Blu-ray format. My understanding is that the battle went down to the wire with Warner but your 500 million prevailed. A few things that will be interesting to see how they play out:

1. What will Toshiba do? They are now manufacturing players for a format that has essentially lost. Perhaps they hold on and hope that HD-DVD keeps a foothold in do-it-yourself markets due to it's lower cost?

2. How long before Microsoft releases a Xbox Blu-ray accessory? Perhaps their adoption of HD-DVD was merely a competitive ploy against Sony? I tend to think they are banking on their Live download service, and at $6.00 per HD movie rental why wouldn't they be?

3. Will we continue to see Blu-ray player costs dramatically drop if the competition is down and out?

My geekness almost won out over socially acceptable behavior at the local Wal-mart a couple of days ago. I had to utterly restrain myself from informing the dude in the cowboy boots and trucker hat that he wouldn't be able to buy movies for much longer for that HD-DVD player he was lugging around. In the end I decided that there was probably a better chance the guy thought he was buying a souped up VHS-DVD combo, than he was a HD video enthusiast.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Server 2008 RTMish

I have never visited the site,, but they claim to be "WatchingMicrosoftLikeaHawk". They posted a story on the 4th that Microsoft Server 2008 is expected to RTM on the 16th.

Assuming M$ holds to to the 'official word', we could expect to see Hyper-V in July, maybe patch Tuesday the 15th??