VMware Virtual SAN & Sizing Tool

VMware have released the Virtual SAN sizing tool this month.


Virtual SAN has had a lot of attention over the past year since it was announced. Naturally it makes sense to answer the question – How does Virtual SAN work? What is it?

To put it simply – Virtual SAN is a software defined storage solution from VMware. Unlike other products out there, Virtual SAN sits inside the ESXi layer and therefore is not an additional software appliance. Virtual SAN aggregates local storage from ESXi hosts into a single shared datastore presented to all hosts in the Virtual SAN cluster.

Do not be surprised with the SSD requirement. Virtual SAN relies heavily on SSD for performance, every write I/O will go to the SSD first, and then eventually follow through to Magnetic Disks.

Minimum Virtual SAN requirements;

  • 3 x ESXi 5.5 hosts per Cluster
  • 6GB Ram per host
  • 1 x SSD & 1 x Magnetic Disk per Host
  • 1 GB Ethernet NIC dedicated for Virtual SAN per Host

Full requirements can be found here.


Virtual SAN is licensed on a per CPU basis with a 60 day trial. For example, if you have a Virtual SAN cluster that contains 6 hosts with 4 CPU’s each, you will need to assign a 24 CPU licence.

Virtual SAN sizing tool;


Virtual SAN customers can get easy sizing estimations for the hardware resources necessary to support a Virtual SAN design. You just need to provide high level virtual machine data on capacity, performance and desired availability requirements.

The sizing tool can be accessed at – http://virtualsansizing.vmware.com

How to enable Virtual SAN;

If you plan to test this out in a Lab, you can emulate the SSD / Magnetic Disk set-up through VMware Workstation / Fusion.

Enabling VSAN is simple. Step 1 – Create a VMKernal Port dedicated to Virtual SAN, Step 2 – Enable Virtual SAN at a cluster level as displayed below;


Gartner Magic Quadrant for x86 Server Virtualization Infrastructure 2014. VMware vSphere Leads

Recently Gartner published their annual Magic Quadrant for x86 Server Virtualisation [2014].

A lot has happened in the virtualisation / cloud space, and VMware certainly remains the overall leader in 2014. When comparing 2011-2014, we see Citrix move into the niche player’s quadrant and VMware / Microsoft remain stable in the leaders quadrant. A new entrant for 2014 is Huawai and their hypervisor – FusionSphere which is mainly running on Huawai server hardware currently.

The full Gartner 2014 report can be read here.


2011 – 2013 quadrant diagrams can be seen in the full post.


Veeam Whiteboard Fridays: Disaster Recovery Wars


I have just come across these recordings on DR strategy and the Veeam product line. The recordings feature Veeam One for VMware virtual environments including best practices on DR.

Aside from the DR learning, the star wars theme gives it an interesting spin! Go from an IT padawan to a  true Virtualisation Jedi in the 3 part training series.

Master your DR skills in three episodes:

• Episode IV – A New Host: learn how to prepare for disaster, document your environment, ensure your backups are current and configure your backups.

• Episode V – The Admin Strikes Back: be prepared for the recovery. Watch and learn more about the recovery of primary VM’s and rebuild your environment effectively

Episode VI – Return of the Admin: deep dive into restoring services, best practices around restores, focus on getting services up and running for end-users.

Click here, register and view the video series.

vCenter Server 5.5 root account locked out after password expiration

If you have not come across this yet, you probably will soon if you have deployed a vCenter Server 5.5 Appliance. The root account on the vCenter Server Appliance 5.5 will lock out 90 days after deployment, or root password change. Not to be alarmed, VMware added the security best practice to encourage administrators to frequently change the password or be locked out every 90 days.

The KB article 2069041 –  “The vCenter Server Appliance 5.5 root account locked out after password expiration is located here, and describes the process to a) prevent a forced lockout every 90 days and b) how to unlock a locked out root account on the vCenter Appliance.

Certainly a handy KB article if you are approaching 90 days following your vCenter 5.5 Appliance deployments.

vSphere HomeLab – Step-by-Step Guide – ESXi 5.5 Installation

Posted here is part 3 – How to Install ESXi 5.5. This part goes through the installation of ESXi 5.5 on VMware workstation 10. The Final Part 4 will be posted this weekend with the installation and configuration of Openfiler shared storage (iSCSI & NFS). Thank you for the e-mails so far!


VMware ESXi 5.5 is a bare metal hypervisor from VMware. Bare metal hypervisors run directly on the host computers hardware to control resources and manage multiple guest operating systems. For your home-lab you will need two ESXi 5.5 hypervisor instances. This guide focuses on how to install a successful instance of the ESXi 5.5 bare metal hypervisor within VMware workstation for your home lab.


  1. Download ESXi 5.5 software from VMware
  2. Set-Up Virtual Machine in VMware Workstation
  3. Install ESXi 5.5
  4. Configure – Hostname, IP Address, Gateway, DNS on ESXi 5.5
  5. Test Installation – Access ESXi 5.5 using the C# Windows vSphere Client
  6. Repeat – Steps 2-5, to create the 2nd ESXi 5.5 Server for your Lab.

Link to the vSphere 5.5 Home Lab Page – Click Here

Direct Link to Part 3 of the series mentioned here – Click Here

vSphere HomeLab – Step-by-Step Guide – vCenter Appliance 5.5 Installation

The second update to the vSphere Home lab series is finally here. This part 2 goes through the installation and configuration of the vCenter Appliance 5.5. Look out for part 3 in the series which will be on the installation of two ESXi 5.5 hosts for the lab. As always if you have any questions, drop me an e-mail or a comment.


VMware vCenter Server is a centralized management application for your vSphere environment. vCenter Server lets you manage multiple ESXi Hosts and Virtual Machines centrally. vCenter Server (dependent on licensing) unlocks a range of enterprise features for scalability, availability and management e.g. vMotion, High Availability, Fault Tolerance, Update Manager, Distributed Resource Manager, Storage Clusters etc. In this guide we will look at the steps for a successful vCenter 5.5 installation.


  1. Download the vCenter appliance 5.5 .from VMware
  2. Import .ova into VMware Workstation or VMware Fusion
  3. Configure – Hostname, IP Address, Gateway, DNS on Virtual Appliance
  4. Access – vCenter appliance 5.5 configuration page using google chrome
  5. Configure – vCenter appliance using the First Time Set-up Wizard
  6. Test Installation – Access vCenter using the C# Windows vSphere Client
  7. Test Installation – Access vCenter using the vSphere Web Client
  8. Test Installation – Access vCenter Single Sign On (SSO) using the vSphere Web Client

Link to the vSphere 5.5 Home Lab Page – Click Here

Direct Link to Part 2 of the series mentioned here – Click Here

vSphere HomeLab – Step-by-Step Guide – Installation of Active Directory & DNS on Windows Server 2012

I have uploaded here the first part in the vSphere 5.5 Home Lab series. Part 1 is a step-by-step guide on the installation of Active Directory & DNS on Windows Server 2012. Look out for the next one in the series which will be on the vCenter 5.5 Appliance (VCVA).


The first requirement for a home lab is a fully functioning Active Directory / DNS set-up. For your home lab this guide goes through the installation steps for a successful AD and DNS installation. After the installation, we go through the process of adding DNS “A” records for various parts of your lab.


  1. Configure – Hostname & Static IP Address
  2. Setup ADDS Role (Active Directory Domain Service)
  3. Promote to Domain Controller
  4. Configure – Add DNS “A” records for your LAB

Link to the vSphere 5.5 Home Lab Page – Click Here

Direct Link to Part 1 of the series mentioned here – Click Here

Network ports diagram for vSphere 5.x (2054806)

A fantastic resource directly from VMware which maps out the network ports to look out for across the VMware vSphere platform.

I like the way it maps out all of the firewall ports visually, a nice easy read for planning designs. Below are the download links, and an excel version.

  • View and download full diagram from here.
  • View and download the Ms excel list version of the ports from here.

networkPorts-2054806           networkPorts-2054806-xls

Source – KB Article 2054806

Another great vSphere firewall diagram can also be found hosted at vreference.com

Difference between OVA and OVF formats

What is the difference between the two OVF and OVA export/download formats? Like me in the past, you may have asked yourself the same.

OVF standards were formed and submitted to the DMTF in 2007, an industry working group comprising 17 industry-leading technology companies. Both the OVF and the OVA formats are cross platform open standards for packaging and distributing virtual machines.

Both the OVF and OVA formats typically comprise of four files;

  1. The descriptor file (.ovf) – An  XML file which describes the packaged virtual machine. The file also has metadata included such as the name, hardware requirements, references to the other files in the package and descriptions.
  2. Virtual Machine Disk Files (.vmdk) – VMware products utilise a variant of the VMDK format that is designed for distribution and compressed.
  3. A Manifest File (.mf) – Used for integrity and contains the SHA1 digest of all files in the package (except for the .mf). This file is optional and not required.
  4. A Certificate File (.cert) – You may also have a .cert file with the .mf file for authenticity to allow the package author to be verified. This file is optional and not required.

The key difference between OVF and OVA formats is the end presentation;

  • OVF – Collection of items in a single folder that can be downloaded and are visible separately i.e 4 files.
  • OVA – A single file with all of the necessary information encapsulated inside of it. Stored in the archive (.tar) file format.

The real benefit of an OVA over the OVF is the ease of portability and sharing, both use the same amount of disk space. I prefer the single download OVA!

Configure Static IP on vCenter Virtual Appliance 5.5 via command line

One of the most common issues encountered with home labs is that the vCenter Appliance does not obtain an IP to access the quick start. This is usually because there is no DHCP server to pull an IP from, probably because your network is ring fenced for your Lab. The error message “No Networking Detected” is displayed. Looks familiar right..

Lets go through the steps preceding this and look at how to deploy the vCenter Virtual Appliance 5.5 (VCVA);

via VMware Workstation (most Home Lab Configs)

  1. Open VMware Workstation
  2. Click “File” > “Open”
  3. Browse to the downloaded OVA or OVF for the appliance
  4. Type a name for the imported virtual machine e.g vCenter
  5. Give a location for the storage location i.e My Documents > LabVMs
  6. Finish and let the import complete

via vClient connected to ESXi

  1. Login to your esxi host with vSphere Client
  2. Click “File – Deploy OVF Template”
  3. Browse to the downloaded OVA or OVF file for the appliance
  4. Type a name for the imported virtual machine e.g vCenter
  5. Select the data store you want to store it on, with default on the disk settings
  6. Provide networking details, or leave blank and configure later
  7. Finish the wizard and let the import complete

This is the “No Networking Detected” error you will get if you do not have a static IP configured on import, or if you import with all the defaults and the network is ring fenced without a DHCP server. Of course the other reason could be that the interface is facing the wrong network.. but we will assume that not to be the case here.

No Networking Detected

To fix this issue login to the vCenter Virtual Appliance 5.5 console (default username – root / password – vmware)  and type > hit enter;


vami_config_net script

At this point go ahead and run through options > 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 (if applicable) and use option one to save the config once done. Just a tip to have num lock on when you type the number inputs, and type exit at the command line to get back to the original vCenter Appliance blue screen. This script will allow you to configure, or even re-configure, the IP of the vCenter interface without logging into the management web page of the appliance.

Of course once you have done that check the config and run through initial set-up on the appliance management page at:- https://IP address or DNS name:5480

To start using your new vCenter access the Web Client at:- https://IP address or DNS name:9443/vsphere-client/

Hopefully this should get you through the situations where you have a vCenter Appliance deployed, but for some reason it did not pick up a DHCP IP for initial access and config!