The new way to patch the vCenter Server Appliance 6

The patching process in vCenter Server Appliance (vCSA) version 6 is changed from previous versions. It is not possible anymore to use the Virtual Appliance Management Interface (VAMI) and update the appliance using the User Interface. The new way to patch the vCenter Server Appliance involves the following steps:

  • Download the patch from the VMware Patch Download Center, link.
  • Choose vc and select version 6.x
  • Download the latest patch ISO

1_patch

  • Attach the *.ISO to the vCenter Server Appliance.
  • Open a console session or SSH (SSH must be enabled) to the appliance. In the console session press ALT + F1 and login.

vcsa

  • Stage the ISO using the following command
software-packages stage --iso  --acceptEulas
  • See the staged content
software-packages list --staged
  • Install the staged content
software-packages install --staged
  • Reboot the appliance
shutdown reboot -r
  • After the reboot check the new vCenter Server Appliance build version

vcsa version

The easy updating process that was used in the vCenter Server Appliance 5.x is gone. The new update process involves more manually steps. We hoping that the easy updating will return in further releases of the vCenter Server Appliance.

 

Windows 10 with Horizon View Agent generates BSOD

After installing the VMware Horizon View Agent (6.1.1)  on a Windows 10 (tested with build 10240), it generates a Blue Screen Of Death (BSOD) when pressing Ctrl+Alt+Del/Ins.

PSOD

 

The error is: DRIVER_IRQ_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL (kbdclass.sys).

To fix the problem (The solution was found on the Microsoft Community site, link):

  • RDP to the Windows 10 VM
  • Edit HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Class\{4D36E96B-E325-11CE-BFC1-08002BE10318}\UpperFilters
  • Put the kbdclass before the vmkbd value
  • Reboot the VM

Upperclasses Uppper2

After changing the UpperFilters value I was able to login the Horizon View desktop without BSOD.

 

 

Manage Azure VMs with System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM)

With Update Rollup 6 it is possible to add one or more Azure subscriptions to SCVMM 2012 R2. When the Azure subscription is added in SCVMM, it is possible to perform some basic actions such as:

  • Add and Remove one or more Azure subscriptions by using the VMM console.
  • See a list view with details and status of all role instances in all deployments in that subscription.
  • Manually refresh the list of instances.
  • Perform basic actions on the instances:
    • Start
    • Stop
    • Shutdown
    • Restart
    • Connect via RDP

To add the Azure Subscription to SCVMM 2012 R2 UR6 following these steps:

1. Install UR6 to System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) 2012 R2, link.

2. Create a self-signed Azure management certificate. The self-signed must have a key length of at least 2048 bits and should reside in the Personal certificate store. To create a self-signed management certificate, the makercert tool is used. Makecert is part of  Windows SDK. The SDK can be downloaded here, link.

Install the SDK and choose as feature to install “Windows Software Deployment”. After the installation copy the makecert tool to the SCVMM server.

3. Create the self-signed certificate with makecert with the following command:

makecert -sky exchange -r -n "CN=<CertificateName>" -pe -a sha1 -len 2048 -ss My "<CertificateName>.cer"

Example:

makecert -sky exchange -r -n "CN=ivobeerensazure" -pe -a sha1 -len 2048 -ss My d:\install\ivobeerensazure.cer

4. The certificate needs to be present in the Current User \ Personal store of the computer running the VMM console.

5. To upload a management certificate to Azure, go to the Settings page in the Management Portal, and then click MANAGEMENT CERTIFICATES.

6. In SVVMM start the Add Azure Subscription Wizard, click the Azure Add Subscription button. The wizard is a single page dialog box:

SCVMM

  • Display Name: Enter the display name
  • Subscription ID: The subscription ID can be found on the Azure website under settings
  • Certificate: Add the self-signed certificate by using the browse button

After the Azure subscription is added, the Azure Virtual Machines are listed in SCVMM:

azure

Basic actions can be performed on the Azure VMs such as:

stopstart

UR6 adds support for managing Azure VMs. The management is very basic. So hopefully on the next releases the management support for Azure VMs will be improved.

VMware Horizon View Client Drive Redirection

On of the new features of VMware Horizon 6 version 6.1.1 is Client Drive Redirection (CDR). Microsoft RDS and Citrix already have CDR for many years in there product. Now this handy feature is available in Horizon View. CDR is supported on VDI desktops (single-user) and RDS desktops and applications on Windows and as Tech Preview on Mac OS X clients.

Here’s a quick overview how-to enable Client Drive Redirection (CDR):

Requirements

  • Horizon View 6.1.1 environment (Connection Server, composer etc.)
  • View Agent 6.1.1 or later
  • VMware Horizon Client 3.4.0 build-2769709

Install the Horizon View Agent. During the installation of the VMware Horizon Agent enable the Client Drive Redirection feature.

agent

After installing the new Horizon View Agent is deployed on the Horizon View environment,  connect with  new 3.4.0 Horizon Client. When connecting for the first time to the there’s  a pop-up asking to access your local files. Make sure to allow this and select “Do not show this dialog again”.

View Deskstop

In the Horizon View Client there is a option called “Share Folders”. In the sharing box add local drives and folders to share in the VDI desktop session.

0_sharing Sharing

In the Windows Explorer the drives and folders that are mapped are visible.

files

 

Note: With Client Drive Redirection (CDR), the folders and files that are sent across the network are NOT encrypted!

Tested: VMware snapshot management with Snapwatcher

To monitor and manage VMware Virtual Machine Snapshots Opvizor has released a tool called Snapwatcher.  As consultant I see often that admins don’t have an overview of all the snapshots that exists in their environment. The main concerns with Virtual Machine snapshots are:

  • Snapshots are created and forgot to remove
  • Snapshots can very quickly grow in size
  • Snapshots filling datastore space
  • Delta files may cause decreased Virtual Machine and host performance

In this review Opvizor Snapwatcher is tested. With the Snapwatcher tool it is possible to centrally monitoring and managing snapshots one on more more vCenter server environments.

Installation

The installation of Snapwatcher is simple. Before installing make sure the requirements are met:

  • Windows Installer 4.5
  • Microsoft .NET Framework 4 (x86 and x64)
  • VMware vCenter 4.1 or higher

Download and  installation the Snapwatcher application.  The installation downloads the latest bits from opvizor.com and installs Snapwatcher.

1_InstallNew Update

Every time Snapwatcher is started it checks for the latest updates. So Snapwather is always up-t0-date.

Configuration

The first configuration step is adding one or more vCenter Servers:

add vcenter

After adding the vCenter Server(s), thresholds on warning and error levels can be set, for example:

  • Size and age of the snapshot
  • Size and percentage of the datastore
  • Amount of snapshots for a Virtual Machine

thresholds

Monitor

The dashboard is divided in seperate windows. The screenshot below lists the dabboard with all the 5 windows:

dashboard

Each window can be resized and re-ordered. The 5 windows displays the following information:

1. Overview of the 5 largest snapshots. The amount of snapshots displayed is configurable.

2. Snapshot Disk Waste History (GB). Displays how much disk space is wasted over a period of time.

3. Overview of all the snapshot. All the snapshots are listed with there status.  Snapshots can be sorted on VM or snapshot name, description, status, Size (GB) and created Date. Actions can performed against snapshots such as delete, fix it and exclude.

4. General overview information. Display information about the number of vCenters, ESXi servers, VMs, VMs with snapshots added, the total snapshots and snapshot size.

general info

5. Work History. Displays information about the deleted snapshots and sizes.

Manage

From the dashboard the following actions can be performed against snapshots:

Buttons

Refresh: Refreshes the dashboard and perform an updated inventory of the snapshots.

Delete: Remove the snapshot from the VM.

delete

Exclude: Snapshots can be excluded in the dashboard from displaying. This can be handy for template VM with snapshots or VMware Horizon View Linked Clones.

Fix It: Fix It repairs broken snapshots are snapshots that are not managed by the vCenter Server but are still getting used by the Virtual Machine. In the vSphere Web/Client this status is showed as “Virtual Machine disks consoldition is needed”. In Snapwatcher the status is invalid.

lx250 01 Snapshot

Licensing

When the trail period (7 days) is expired it is still possible to use Snapwatcher. The following Enterprise Edition features will not work when the trail period is over:

  • Fix broken and inconsistent snapshots with our patent pending technology
  • Ignore certain VM snapshots
  • Track your VMware snapshot history

Conclusion

Opvizor Snapwatcher is a great tool for a VMware admin to centrally monitor and manage all the snapshots that exists in there VMware environment. Want to try Snapwatcher? Use this link.