Wednesday, April 24, 2013

VMworld 2013 - Call for Papers Voting is Now Open. Cast your vote to see your favorite sessions!!

Time of the year when VMware has opened the flood gates for votes on sessions you would like to see at VMworld - The flagship industry event by VMware. Its been 10 long years that VMware has been running the show and this year its gonna be as big as always.

It is a great opportunity for customers, partners and industry experts to get together and share how they have made a difference in their workplace and industry verticals by using the solutions available today with VMware and the partner ecosystem. To read more about the event and the dates you can see this link.

A few weeks back, VMware requested the industry experts to share their experiences and technical know-how by delivering sessions at VMworld through its Call for Papers Program. I feel it is a great initiative as this allows collaborative learning to play a big role at the event. Given an opportunity, I would love to present at this AWESOME event and I have done my bit by submitting for a couple of sessions.

As the title of my post suggests, these sessions need support from the VMworld audience, who can vote for the sessions which they want to see during the event. The most popular and in demand sessions would make it to the final rounds of presentation sessions, demos or panel discussions.

Here are the sessions which I have submitted. Have a look, and if you think they will help the larger audience and would address the issues I am trying to solve, then vote for them. Of-course I would also encourage you to vote for other great sessions which are listed out there.


 Breakout Session

 vSphere performance best practices are the key for a successful operation of a VMware vSphere Environment. Although it is easy to build an environment keeping Best Practices in mind, it is difficult to sustain them as the environment grows. This session would not only help you learn about the top 10 best practices, but also help you understand how you can leverage vCenter Operations Manager to ensure that these Best Practices are being followed at all the times in your VMware Virtual Infrastructure.

This session would be in a discussion and presentation mode between a Professional Services Consultant who ensures that vSphere Best Practices are applied in every infrastructure designed by him. At the same time, he urges VMware customers to maintain these best practices as the infrastructure grows. On the other hand with each best practice being discussed and explained by the Consultant, the VMware vCOps Subject Matter Expert would talk about how these best practices can be monitored using Out of the Box and Custom features of vCenter Operations Manager.

Top 10 vSphere Best Practices which would help you maintain the health of your vSphere Environment. This would range around the key technology areas of CPU, Memory, Disk & Network
Making it easy to ensure the application and monitoring of vSphere Best Practices in your virtual infrastructure using vCenter Operations Manager.
Creating Customer Reports and Dashboards on vCenter Operations Manager and understanding how they can help.


Session Type:  Breakout Session

 This session gives a deep dive into the nuts and bolts of vSphere Replication. It further discusses on how vSphere Replication can be leveraged with VMware Site Recovery Manager to Protect and Recover workloads in case of a disaster. The session would also have a demo on how to configure vSphere Replication and Site Recovery Manager. Lastly, it will list down the considerations and use cases where vSphere Replication has helped VMware customers for Disaster Recovery enablement using SRM.

This would be a deep dive technical presentation discussing how vSphere Replication works behind the scenes. Then the presentation would talk about integration of vSphere Replication with VMware Site Recovery Manager. The session would conclude with a quick demo, use cases and best practices around using vSphere Replication for Site Recovery Manager.
Learn to leverage vSphere Replication as your DR replication Technology
Best Practices and Caveats of using vSphere Replication with Site Recovery Manager

Learning about Nuts & Bolts of vSphere Replication and integration with SRM, through a Demonstration
Advanced Technical


Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery

Here is the process to vote:-

1- Open the following webpage -
2- Login with an existing VMworld account or create a new one (Takes only a minute).
3- Go through the sessions listed. (If you wanna vote for me, the session numbers are 5235 and 5239)
4- Click on the  button next to the session title to vote.

Please vote and also share this with others :-)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Passed my VCAP5-DCD - The Experience Does Count!

Can't express how happy I was when I saw the message on the screen - "Congratulations- You have Passed the VCAP5-DCD.". I waited for an excruciating 225 minutes looking at the 26 inches monitor and going through 100 questions to finally get the result which I wanted and I am extremely happy. The happiness is actually forcing me to put down this experience into this blog and re-visit and read it every-time I need motivation in life.

94 questions with multiple choices, match the following and then the 6 confusing VISIO diagrams with possibly 20 different ways to create each diagram. The good thing was that I was able to finish in time, in fact I had 1 minute left on the clock when I answered my last question. 

Well, I would not talk about the study material and the resources available as you will find a number of excellent posts with detailed information on what to study, how to study and from where to study. I will just mentioned a few pointers which would help you whether you study or not :-)

Here are my tips:-

a) Time Management - This should be Priority Number 1. You have to finish those 100 questions and Pace yourself throughout the exam. If you miss the bus and are left too far behind, then chances are that you will not be able to get to the finish line (passing marks). Good part is that there are no options to review, flag, re-visit the answers which you have given once. So treat each question with care and spend appropriate amount of time on it. Both VMware and I recommend that you spend at-least 15 minutes on the Visio design type questions. Keeping that in mind let's see how much time you got:-

Total Time you have                = 225 mins
15 Mins for 6 Visio Questions =  90 mins
Remaing Time                          = 135 mins
Remaining Questions                =  94

Time you can spend per question = 135/94 = 1.5 minutes per question

Well this is tight, make sure you are good with fast reading and understanding. Make quick notes as that helps.

b) Gain Field Experience -  I would be lying if I say that I did not study for this exam. I did use a lot of resources which are available online. But I would say that the 75% of knowledge to crack this exam came from the work I have done in the field. The rest 25% can come from books/training etc. The design work which I have done for customers has helped me visualize what the test is asking and I could answer on the basis of the real time scenarios which I face in the field on a daily basis. Not to say that studying does not work, but it does not work for me. My recommendation would be not to prepare for this exam in a week or a month, but to prepare for it every day by looking at the vast ocean of vSphere concepts. 

I know some people who have not done design in the field and have passed the exam and I really appreciate what they have done. For me the experience is the number one thing which helped. 

Some other things would be:-

c) Create a vSphere Design - Do it if you can..

d) Cover everything on the Blueprint

e) Read Blogs they help a lot - Here is a list of top blogs -

Well, I will sign off now and open that bottle of vBeer which I guess I completely deserve :-P Woooohooo....

Monday, April 1, 2013

Dividing Bandwidth of a 10 GB CNA Adapter for ESXi Networking and Storage using Network I/O Control (NIOC)

This post circles back to an article which I wrote in the month of January 2013, about Dividing Bandwidth of a 10 GB CNA Adapter for ESXi Networking and Storage!! In that article, I gave you an overview of how you can divide the available bandwidth on a 10 GB CNA card at the hardware level to create multiple vmnics and vmhbas for network and storage traffic respectively.

I got a lot of comments and feedback on that article, wherein some of the experts spoke about doing the same with VMware vSphere Network I/O Control (NIOC). In a recent engagement, we did face a constraint under which the 10 GB adapter could not be segregated at the hardware level. 

This was the opportunity for me to use the 10 GB network with segregation using the vSphere Network I/O Control. I wanted to share the learnings & the experience with my readers as well.

Quick Recap

A CNA card a.k.a "Converged Network Adapter" is an I/O card on a X86 server, that combines the functionality of a host bus adapter (HBA) with a network interface controller (NIC). In other words it "converges" access to, respectively, a storage area network and a general-purpose computer network. As simple as it sounds, it makes things simple in the datacenter as well. Instead of running down those cables from each NIC card/FC HBA or iSCSI cards, you can just use a single cable to do all these tasks for you. This is because the CNA card is converged and can carry all the traffic on a single physical interface.

Since we do not want to segregate the bandwidth on the physical card, we will just do a simple segregation on Network & Storage. This will be done in case we chose our storage medium to be Fiber Channel and not an IP based storage.
If it is IP storage such as NAS or iSCSI, we will divide the entire card into 1 vmnic per physical port in the CNA and then create portgroups for VM Traffic, Management Traffic and IP Storage. However, in my case I had FC storage in place, hence the  bandwidth on the  physical card was divided as shown in the figure below:-

Here, the CNA card has 2 physical ports, each with 10 GB bandwidth. I have further divided this card into 1 network card and 1 FC HBA per physical port. Hence, I will have a total of 2 Network cards and 2 FC HBA per CNA card. If you like the concept of No Single Point of Failure (SPOF) and can afford another card, and then you would end up having 4 NIC Cards and 4 FC HBA Ports per Blade server.

Now a look at how I would use these NICs to configure the networking for the ESXi Server. The diagram below shows how I would configure the networking on my ESXi server to get the best possible configuration out of the available hardware resources. Since we only have 2 Network cards now, we will hook up all the port groups on to it and use Network IO Control to divide the bandwidth at the vSphere layer. Here is how things would be connected logically:-

**NOTE - You need dvSwitch for NIOC configuration, hence you need to ensure that you are on Enterprise Plus Licensing for this to work.

The fun is not over yet. Once you have setup everything on the dvSwitch, things would look like my lab dvSwitch. Look at the screenshot below:-

Now comes the part where you enable Network I/O Control (NIOC) and divide the network resources within the default or defined port group types. Here are the steps to do this.

1- On you vCenter Server click on Home -> Networking -> dvSwitch.
2- Click on the Resources Tab as shown below and Enable NIOC
3- Once it is enabled, click on each resource pool listed for different port group traffic and assign shares.
4- Limit the bandwidth, if you need to for any of the port group.

Here is the screenshot for what I did with my network switch:-

Remember you are free to toggle around the bandwidth for the resource pools on the basis of how much you want for your port groups. The bandwidths which I have mentioned above are a guideline and can be used as they fit in most the bills.

Benefits over CNA level segregation

There are a few benefits of using this method and I will quickly list them down here:-
  • You can change the Bandwidths on the Fly as per the requirement.
  • Do not need any down times to make changes.
  • The single point to configure or change things is the dvSwitch so dependency on each host is ruled out completely.
  • Very easy to manage and control
  • vSphere Admin has no dependencies and can bump up the vMotion bandwidth if he needs to move VMs across quickly for some reason.
And I can keep on writing...... So if you have Enterprise Plus Licensing, then I would recommend this way of doing things for sure.

Hope this helps you design the network and storage with the 10GB Adapter with using enterprise class features such as VMware Network IO Control.

Don't forget to Share and Spread the Knowledge. This will help others!!