Thursday, February 10, 2011

Capacity Planner - reports don't work in 2.8.0

After the recent upgrade of Capacity Planner to version 2.8.0 a number of minor changes have been introduced some of which has been mentioned in a previous post. But there is one change in particular which has been giving me grey hair.

The problem was the Reports link did not work: The first project I created, after the upgrade, was done in the regular fashion using the wizard, choosing CA or CE etc. After this I registered the Collector database ID and started uploading data. Data was sent fine. But it did not show up in the Dashboard even after a week of waiting. In the projects overview it stated for the project that there was 'not enough data' and the collector success rate was at 0%. Clicking on the project gave the following info: 'Cannot display dashboard: no statistics data has been collected'.

But there are two tabs on the Dashboard front page of which the default is Projects and the other one is Companies. My data was showing under the Companies tab, not under Projects, as I had not created a separate project for this customer/company.

And here's the part that was driving me nuts. Even though I could see the data, I could not run the reports. When I tried clicking the reports link nothing happened - there was no drop down box and mouse-over on the link showed 'javascript:void(0)'. This is quite a big deal as I'm usually using the Assessment reports as the final product of the Capacity Planner for the customer.

The trick to fix it was to create a new project and attach it to the existing customer (this can be done during the wizard - after the customer has been created). And then, also as part of the wizard, you can choose the relevant servers to be included in that particular project (I chose all). And then you have to wait a one or two days for the data warehouse to process the changes (yes it can take a couple of days...). After this, the Reports -> Optimization Reports link will be available again.

Third post in the Top 5 Planet V12N

More or less by coincidence I discovered that one of my posts had made it to the weekly V12N top 5 blog posts at the VMTN blog - which to me is quite an honour. It means, I guess, that someone else finds your writings useful to some extent.

This is the third post I have on the Top 5 list:

Capacity Planner 2.8.0 released - A new version of VMware Capacity Planner v2.8.0 build 46460 has been released (only available to partners). The most notable new features are support for desktop assessments and that multiple assessments can be grouped under one company. The collector interface is more or less unchanged.

P2V pre-migration checklist - and considerations - My previous post was a P2V post migration checklist. This post is a pre-migration checklist which is about all the information that should gathered and checked before doing any P2V conversions. I have been involved in a number of larger P2V projects (+50 P2V's) and, in my experience, proper planning is a key element for a successful project. Typically, you, as a VMware- or P2V person, have no real knowledge of the Windows servers to be converted - their just another server.

Week 48, 2009
VLAN testing in ESX 3.5 - The traditional way of testing is to create a vSwitch with only one vmnic connected. Then connect a VM on that vSwitch with one of the VLANs. Configure an IP address in the address space of the VLAN and ping the gateway. Do this for all the VLANs, and then connect the next vmnic to the vSwitch and start over. The following method speeds up VLAN testing significantly (in this case from 100 to 16 test cases). It is not totally automated, but I have found it very useful nonetheless.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Capacity Planner - uploading to Dashboard without internet access

Over the last couple of weeks, I've been setting up a Capacity Planner at a customer site (not full time, though). There have been the usual complications of not receiving user accounts with the proper access rights but also this time there was trouble uploading data from the Collector to the Dashboard. The customer uses a proxy server and even though we had specified as a requirement that TCP port 80 and 443 outbound should be opened, they weren't. I could register the collector but no files were transferred to the Dashboard and files stayed in the 'outbox'. After a while they found another proxy that could be used, and right away after reconfiguring the proxy from within the collector, I could see files started transferring (It's quite nice to see when the tool actually works as expected - because it doesn't always in my opinion...)

So I was looking around for another way to upload the files and it turns out, that this can be done fairly easily. The process is fairly straight forward. On the primary collector you generate the files to be uploaded but then you leave them in the outbox. Then you copy the files from the outbox and put them in the outbox of another collector that works and has proper internet access. This secondary collector does not need to registered to the specific project or customer as the files have already been tagged with an ID and the Dashboard will know where to put the files. I followed this KB article to move files to another collector.

Another learning point was that if you're unsure that your files are actually uploaded all the way to the Dashboard and you want have a backup, then enable the 'archiving' function on the collector. That way you will keep all info and will be able to re-upload at a later stage. See this KB article for reference. Make sure to have enough disk space available. After one week of collecting data without sending any to the Dashboard for 150 servers - the log files amounted to about 1 GB of data (for a full CA analysis).

And bonus info: After the update to 2.8.0, they have change Dashboard somewhat. Now, data can end up both under a given 'project', which is the default view when you login, or it can end up under the 'customer' tab (there are two different tabs in your customer overview). This, to me, was quite confusing as I was expecting to see data arriving under the 'projects' tab which was reporting 'no data collected' for the customer even though I had been uploading data for almost one week.

ESX 4.1 install error on BL460c G7 - NIC driver fails to load

The HP BL460c G7 is on the VMware HCL list for ESX 4.1. However, when trying to install ESX 4.1 there's an error during install - it fails to load drivers for the network adapter ("No network adapters were detected"). It doesn't help to update all firmware to latest version (even though this should be done in any case...) (Update 2011.02.18: This problem persists on ESX 4.1 U1)

This is a known error and there's a fix for it. However, it seems strange that the G7 blade has made it to the HCL list...

The problem is that the Integrated NC553i Dual Port FlexFabric 10Gb NIC driver is not included in VMware's installation ISO for ESX 4.1. There are two ways to solve the issue. One is to load a custom set of drivers for the NIC and the other is to use an HP VMware install image. If you're using ESXi or scripted installation of ESX classic, then you have to use the HP image.
(Update 2011.07.19: Custom HBA driver should also be loaded during installation - simply load both ISOs)

Custom NIC driver from VMware can be downloaded here.
Custom HBA driver from VMware can be downloaded here.

(Update 2011.02.18: Apparently, the NIC drivers are updated quite frequently at the moment. Go to this main link and then 'plus out' Driver CDs to find the most recent one.)

HP image for ESX(i) can be downloaded from here.

The custom driver, when downloaded, is in an ISO format. To load it during installation, do the following:

  • Upload the ISO file to where you have the ESX installation image
  • On the Custom Drivers page in the wizard, choose Yes and click on Add. It will tell you to load the driver CD (see picture below)
  • Unmount the ESX installation CD and mount the driver ISO in stead. This can be done without interrupting the installation. You will be prompted to verify the custom driver package, click OK (see picture below)
  • That's it. at a later stage in the wizard, you will be prompted to reinsert the installation ISO. Do that when prompted.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Capacity Planner 2.8.0 released

A new version of VMware Capacity Planner v2.8.0 build 46460 has been released (only available to partners). The most notable new features are support for desktop assesments and that multiple assesments can be grouped under one company. The collector interface is more or less unchanged.
Unfortunately, it doesn't look like VMware is spending too many resources developing this tool.

More importantly, support for Windows 2008 server for the collector has been added (see installation guide page 8, requires login)

Below is the "what's new" part of the release notes:


The following items are the main changes in this version.

· Desktop Assessments. In addition to CA and CE assessments, users can create Desktop Assessments. These assessments facilitate analyzing a Desktop environment for virtualization. To support Desktop assessments, additional objects are collected for analysis.

· Collector or Dashboard Inventory Additions. Information about Users, Login Profiles, Logon Sessions, User Groups and Networks is collected in addition to the existing objects in CP 2.7.x. The Dashboard provides different views that help users identify the Users, Locations, Networks and Desktops that are View Ready.

· Separate Projects and Companies. Instead of creating a separate company for each type of Assessment, users can create multiple CA, CE, or Desktop projects within the same company. They can use the same data collected within a company to perform different Assessments. The landing page is redesigned to show separate Projects and Companies tab.

· Hardware Profiles. Hardware Profiles allow tags to describe the Hardware. Hardware Profiles can represent different types of Hardware such as CPU, Chassis, Adaptor NIC etc. Users can create Hardware Profiles representing specific devices and have the option to mark them View Ready. This information is used in identifying whether Desktops having the corresponding hardware are View ready.

· Reporting Enhancement. Optimization reports have been modified to include View Readiness information for Users, Networks, Locations, and Desktops.

· Templates Update. Cluster and Shared Storage templates are added to specify Cluster and Shared Storage configuration. These templates can be included in Scenarios for placement of systems.

· Scenario Improvement. The scenario can now be marked for Desktops or Servers. Users have the Cross Boundaries option for Networks. The Scenarios can now build clusters considering shared storage.