Free vSphere 5 goodies for vGeeks – Cloud Contest

Considering we are now officially in the holiday season and to keep the holiday spirit alive I have with the help of some awesome people pulled together a free giveaway to 3 lucky winners. Welcome to the Cloud Contest!!

What will you get?


  1. 1 Workstation 8 license (sorry this is windows only)
  2. VMware vSphere 5  – Note – This is 365 day eval license that is NOT to be used in a production environment. (Thank you John)
    • vSphere 5 Enterprise Plus (16 CPU)
    • vCenter Server 5 Standard
    • VMware vSphere Storage Appliance Add-on for vCenter Server 5 Standard
  3. VMware vSphere 5 Administration Instant Reference (kindle edition)
  4. VMware vSphere 5 Clustering Technical Deepdive (kindle edition)

Two runner ups:

Duncan Epping who needs no introduction has made this even better. He will be throwing in 2 paper copies of VMware vSphere 5 Clustering Technical Deepdive to two runner ups.

Christopher Kusek (cat ears) is another awesome person in the virtualization world as we all know. He will be giving away  2 paper copies of  VMware vSphere 5 Administration Instant Reference.

So now if you dont win the 1st spot, you can still walk away with two very good books that any VMware admin must have.

Since the runner up prizes will probably be sent by the co-authors of the books. I guess one can request for them to sign the copy. This makes the paper copies even better.

What do you do to win?

  1. Reply to this post with answers to the following: (please use your real email address or an address you would like your vSphere licenses to be associated with when replying below, don’t worry you will not get any spam)
    • Define a cloud. I am not looking for a textbook answer, but more about what you think a cloud is or should be.
    • How will cloud computing impact the Enterprise IT world.

If you want you can follow me on Twitter @hashmibilal and/or like my FB page. However this is absolutely not a requirement but feel free to do either one or both just to be nice 😀

How will a winner get chosen? 

Simple, the best answer wins. I know I know, there is not a right answer to the questions above. This is why a panel of about 5 vExperts will decide which one is the best and most appropriate answer. No, I am not announcing who will be in the judging panel, but they will all be vExperts.

How long do you have?

You have until Dec 31st 2011 11:59 PM Central Time to submit your entries for the contest. You will still be able to submit entries after that time, but your entry will not be included in the contest. This way we still leave the option for knowledge sharing open.

So make sure you have replied back to this thread with your answers before Dec 31st 2011 11:59 PM Central Time.

When/Where will a winner be announced?

Considering all the vExperts in the panel also have a life, please allow a couple of days for a winner to be picked. I will say the announcement will be made no later than January 3rd 2012 11:59 PM Central Time. It could happen sooner.

The winner will be announced here. I will create a new post with the winners name and response. I will edit this post and add a link to the bottom so that you know when the announcement is made. You can also subscribe to the blog (top right under the QR code) if you wish to be emailed when a new post is published. Don’t worry I don’t spam.

One request:

Please make sure you intend to use the products/books that are being given away. I would hate for all this to be given away only to sit in someone’s inbox and not be used. If you wish to answer the questions and don’t want to be included in the contest, please point that out and the judging panel will filter your reply. And finally, please dont copy and paste the answer from somewhere, it will be obvious and will be disqualified.

Thank you all. Good Luck to all of you and may the best response win all the awesome goodies included in this package 😀


Winners are announced here.

Free vSphere lab give away, with gears and vouchers

Wanted to get on the vSphere bandwagon but can’t figure out how to get your lab setup so that you can take it for a spin? Well, Cody Bunch over at ProfessionalVMware has made your wish come true. It’s a free lab give away which virtually has everything that you will need to get your lab going and leave you in a place where you would feel confident in stepping to the other side.

The lab give away includes, awesome books, video training, VMware Workstation, Exam voucher, 365 day eval license for vSphere plus a bunch of awesome gear and much more.

So what do you have to do? Simple:

1-3 minute video of explaining who you are and why do you think the lab will help you. All the details are here.

I think, this is an awesome opportunity to not only get your feet wet but jump right into the virtualization ocean. Hurry up, this ends on 12/13 (Midnight) and the winner will be announced shortly after (Dec 14th and no later than Dec 16th).

Good Luck!!

HA Cluster design considerations in vSphere 5

For the past two months my life has been a little crazy which is why I haven’t been actively blogging. Not that the storm is over, I just finally made a commitment to blog at least once a week so here is my attempt to keep my promise to myself.

Over the past few months a lot of good useful and interesting information has been emerging from the various blogs and finally the vRAM fever is over. I was giving a presentation a few days ago that basically discussed the HA differences in vSphere 4 and 5. Besides the architectural difference between the two versions, I was also covering how it could impact our designs and what that really means. I figured I should share some of that information here as it could be useful to most VMware admins.

Some recap: In vSphere 4, as well all know there are 5 primary nodes that are needed for a HA cluster to function. The first 5 hosts in a HA cluster are the primary nodes and a primary is replaced by a secondary only during the following conditions:

  • When placing a primary host in maintenance mode 
  • When removing a primary host from the cluster
  • When HA is reconfigured
Which means during a primary host failure, there is no secondary host taking its place. So if you loose all 5 primary nodes, then your HA cluster will not work. To get around that issue we limit the number of hosts in a failure domain to 4. Basically no more than 4 hosts of the same cluster in a blade chassis or in a rack. So what if you have create a 32 node cluster? This is what your setup would look like if we want to make sure a primary host is always available.

vSphere 4 32 node HA Cluster

In vSphere 5, because the primary and secondary concepts don’t exist anymore and because a master is guaranteed to be available in a cluster in almost all possible scenarios, we can perhaps improve on our 32 node cluster shown above. Duncan and a few other bloggers have been blogging heavily on the details of HA in vSphere 5 and I would recommend you take a look at them to get more details on whats under the hood. But in a nutshell, HA has been gutted and rewritten where you have a master host and every other host is a slave in the HA cluster. Apart from the Netwrok heartbeats, datastore heartbeats are introduced that allows the state of hosts to be correctly identified (failed, isolated or network partitioned). Keep in mind these capabilities were not present in previous versions and now with more accurate information about other hosts in the cluster, HA can be more efficient then it ever was.

It takes a total of 25 seconds for a new master to be elected (from the time the original master fails) in a cluster and at 35 seconds, the newly elected master begins to restart VMs and assume all master responsibilities. So now lets look at what could cause a new master to be elected. A new master will be elected if any of the conditions below are satisfied:

  • A master fails
  • When HA is reconfigured
  • Becomes network partitioned or isolated
  • Is disconnected from VC / removed from cluster
  • Is put into maintenance or standby mode
As you can tell, a new master is elected in almost all scenarios that could go wrong and more importantly we are aslo covered if the master fails. Keep in mind we were not covered for primary host failures in vSphere 4. So what can we do with our design?

vSphere5 HA Cluster

Well we certainly don’t have a need to limit the number of hosts per chassis to 4 anymore. Keep in mind we only did that because of how HA worked in vSphere 4 and that we couldn’t afford to loose all 5 primaries. Because if we did, HA would not work.

As vSphere 5 relies on a whole different mechanism and really relies on a single master host which is replaced by a slave host  (via election of a new master) in all the conditions mentioned above, I think it will be safe to assume we could shrink our 32 node cluster to two chassis instead of 8. Now is that a good design? I don’t know. If you loose a chassis in this setup, your cluster would loose 50% of resources so perhaps spanning the cluster across 3 or 4 chassis would be a better option? It depends really on what is available and sort of out of scope of what I want to discuss here.

I believe large clusters were ignored due to the 4 host limit per failure domain along with other legacy issues that dont exist anymore. A good use case for a large cluster would be the need for creating large vDC for a customer instead of multiple small vDC. Again, that is a little out of scope of what I want to discuss. The point of this post is that HA has been redesigned and redone, so it’s important for us to understand how the new architecture impacts whats we have believed to be good practice in the past. I still hear stuff about scsi reservation from 4-5 years ago which doesn’t apply anymore. So read up on the new HA and understand how it would impact the designs you have done in the past. Don’t get caught with your pants down 😀