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VMware ESXi SATADOM Boot Device

In the blog post, I am showing you how to deal with SATADOM boot devices in your ESXi Hosts. Recently I replaced my SD cards with SATADOMs in all my ESXi Hosts in my HomeLab. This blog post is about my experience and configuration that was required for HPE ProLiant servers.

SD Card

In the past, I always used SD cards in my VMware ESXi servers as a boot media but overtime SD cards would wear out of fail. This is of course not ideal but the costs of replacing an SD card are quite low compared to 2.5-inch drives for example. So a nice alternative is a SATADOM, a fast, cheap and more reliable solution.

Here are some screenshots of my Home Lab environment with a failed SD card. The ESXi Host is still fully operational but has lost its boot device. In most cases, you can reboot the ESXi Host and it will work for about three days and the issue is back.



SATADOM

So after a couple of failures over the years, it was time to replace the SD cards with a SATADOM. The installation is quite simple but you need to verify some stuff… some SATADOMs use external power and some receive their power from the SATA connector (please verify this before buying).

In my case, I bought a SATADOM with an external power source. This because my ProLiant servers do not have SATA Ports with a power feature. I ended up buying a Delock SATA 6 Gb/s Flash Module 16 GB vertical (part nr 54655) in a webshop in Holland.

The “biggest” issue I encountered was configuring the BIOS in a way that the device was correctly detected. Here are the screenshots related to the BIOS settings and SATA port used on the motherboard. It appeared that the ML10v2 expected the SATADOM to be connected to port 5, on other ports, it was not working or it was not detected by VMware ESXi.

Here is a recording of the HP ProLiant ML10 v2 booting from SATADOM after a successful ESXi installation. Compared to the SD card the boot time has been reduced with 50%. Speed is of course always nice to have but how many times do you boot an ESXi host in a production environment? On the other hand… it could be very useful for a Lab Environment that is not running 24×7 and you boot your ESXi Hosts on a daily basis.

HP ProLiant ML10 v2 – Booting from SATADOM


VMware vSAN Requirements

So let’s look at the official requirements for VMware vSAN when using a SATADOM as boot media. Note: based on the amount of physical memory installed in your ESXi Host the requirements change!

  • When you boot a vSAN host from a SATADOM device, you must use single-level cell (SLC) device. The size of the boot device must be at least 16 GB.
  • If the memory of the ESXi host has 512 GB of memory or less, you can boot the host from a USB, SD, or SATADOM device.
  • If the memory of the ESXi host has more than 512 GB, consider the following guidelines.
    • You can boot the host from a SATADOM or disk device with a size of at least 16 GB. When you use a SATADOM device, use a single-level cell (SLC) device.
    • If you are using vSAN 6.5 or later, you must resize the coredump partition on ESXi hosts to boot from USB/SD devices. For more information, see the VMware knowledge base article at http://kb.vmware.com/kb/2147881.

Sources

Here is a list of sources I used for writing this article.

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vSAN: PBM error occurred during PreCloneCheckCallback

Lately, I encountered some issues related to VMware vSAN in my Lab environment. The error message that was popping up all the time was “PBM error occurred during PreCloneCheckCallback“.

So how did the problem occur? First, we start with some background information. My Lab environment is powered-on when needed and powered-off when not needed. This is, of course, a little bit different than a production 24×7 environment that you have in your datacenters worldwide.

The environment was booted successfully at first glance. We are talking about Domain Controllers, vCenter Server, VMware NSX-V, nested ESXi Hosts and vRealize Automation. When I started deploying virtual machines with a vRealize Automation (vRA) based on blueprints with vSphere Templates issues started to occur.

vRealize Automation was failing on the provisioning task and was cleaning up the deployment because of the failed state (default behavior). So it was time to dig into the underlying infrastructure.



Environment

When the issue occurred the following software versions were used in my lab environment:

  • VMware vCenter 6.5 Update 2B
  • VMware vRealize Automation 7.3.1
  • VMware ESXi 6.5 Update 2
  • VMware vSAN 6.6

Error message(s)

Here is all the information that can be found in various locations surrounding the issue.

Error message: Screenshots

Here are the screenshots, the first one is from VMware vCenter and the second one is from vRealize Automation. As you can see there is clearly a problem.

Error message: vRealize Automation

Here is the vRealize Automation log entry related to the VMware vSAN issue:

Error in Execute DynamicOps.Common.Client.HtmlResponseException: Service Unavailable (503)

Error message: vCenter Server

Here is the VMware vCenter log entry related to the VMware vSAN issue:

A general system error occurred - PBM error occurred during PreCloneCheckCallback (2118557)

Solution

The solution is quick but is more like a quick fix because it comes back every time I start up my lab environment.

Procedure:

  • Open a web browser.
  • Navigate to your vCenter Server URL (https://%vc%/vsphere-client).
  • Login with a user that has administrator credentials (administrator@vsphere.local).
  • Navigate to Hosts & Clusters > Select the vCenter Object.
  • Click on the Configure tab.
  • Click on the Storage Providers.
  • Click on the following two buttons:
    • Synchronizes all Storage Providers with the current state of the environment.
    • Rescan the storage provider for new storage systems and storage capabilities.
  • After pressing the buttons, you don’t see any tasks running on the vCenter Server (expected behavior). After 5 seconds everything should be working and provisioning should be possible.

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VMworld 2018 US Announcements

VMworld 2018 US - Featured Images

This blog post is dedicated to the VMworld 2018 US announcements. In the post, you will find the articles, links and highlights. VMworld 2018 US is an event that is organized by VMware. The US version is a five-day event that is held in Las Vegas. It takes place from 26 August to 30 August 2018. This page will be updated multiple times to coming days to add additional information and the latest announcements.

Please reply underneath this blog post if you have some additional information. This can also be additional links or blogs posts.

VMworld 2018 US – Product Announcements

In this chapter are all the product announcements. I can tell you there are a lot of announcements made at VMworld 2018.

vRealize Automation (vRA) 7.5

One the first day of VMworld 2018 US vRealize Automation 7.5 was announced.

The key highlights are:

  • Easy to Operate
    • Modernized vRealize Automation/vRealize Orchestrator(vRO) UI
    • Closed Loop Optimization with vRealize Operations
    • Enterprise-ready ServiceNow plugin
    • NSX-T On-premises Support
  • Built to Support Developers
    • Configuration Management with Ansible Tower
    • Kubernetes Cluster Management with VMware Pivotal Container Services (PKS)
  • Helps Embrace Multi-Cloud
    • AWS Enhancements
    • Azure Enhancements
    • Google Cloud Enhancements

Links:



vRealize Operations Manager (vROPS) 7.0

On the first day of VMworld 2018 US vRealize Operations Manager 7.0 was announced.

The key highlight are:

  • Enhanced User Interface
  • Automating Performance Based on Business and Operational Intent
  • Automated Host Based Placement, Driven by Business Intent
  • Capacity Analytics Enhanced with Exponential Decay and Calendar Awareness
  • Plan Capacity across Private Cloud and VMware Cloud on AWS
  • Simplified Dashboard Creation and Sharing
  • vRealize Operations AWS Management Pack Update
  • Other Miscellaneous Enhancements
    • Workload Right-sizing to avoid performance bottlenecks and reclaim over-allocated resources
    • Built-in vSphere config & compliance: PCI, HIPAA, DISA, FISMA, ISO, CIS
    • Ability to extend to the entire data center and cloud with updated management packs for Storage, vRO, Kubernetes, Federation etc.
    • vSAN performance, capacity, and troubleshooting including support for stretched clusters and through vRealize Operations plug-in in vCenter
    • Wavefront integration for application operations

Links:


vRealize Log Insight (vRLI) 4.7

On the first day of VMworld 2018 US vRealize Log Insight 4.7 was announced.

The key highlights are:

  • Security Improvements
    • Detailed verification of certificate when adding it to vRLI both from UI and REST API
    • Ability to retrieve current certificate details both from UI and REST API
    • LIAGENT_SSL_CA_PATH environment variable
  • Usability Enhancements
    • vCenter Integration now relies on user-provided hostname instead of trying to resolve it
    • Ability to choose the content packs, the fields of which should be dynamically extracted in the query result in Interactive Analytics
    • Improvements in the REST API
    • UI/UX improvements and bug fixes

Links:


vRealize Network Insight (vRNI) 3.9

On the first day of VMworld 2018 US vRealize Network Insight 3.9 was announced.

The key highlights are:

  • Plan micro-segmentation and get visibility for NSX Data Center, including NSX-T
  • Enhanced security for service access with Multi-factor Authentication
  • Custom dashboard support for Cisco ASA firewall and enhancements to Checkpoint Firewall support
  • Many customers are now using VMware Network Insight as a service, and customers based in Europe now also have the option of using the VMware Network Insight service hosted out of London, UK.

Links:


vCloud Director (vCD) 9.5

Just a couple of days before VMworld 2018 US vCloud Director 9.5 was announced:

The key highlights are:

  • Cross-site networking improvements powered by deeper integration with NSX
  • Initial integration with NSX-T
  • Full transition to an HTML5 UI for the cloud consumer
  • Improvements to role-based access control
  • Natively integrated data protection capabilities, powered by Dell-EMC Avamar
  • vCD virtual appliance deployment model

Links:


vSphere Platinum

On the first day of VMworld 2018 US, a new vSphere edition was announced. The product is called vSphere Platinum and it has a tight integration with VMware AppDefense.

The key highlights are:

  • Benefits for vSphere Admins
    • Gain visibility into the intent of each virtual machine, and a detailed inventory of application assets and context.
    • Understand how applications behave and be alerted to potential issues and deviations.
    • Shrink the attack surface and reduce the risk of security compromise.
      Establish a simple and powerful way to collaborate with security, compliance and application teams.
    • Get better visibility and protection with a simple, light-weight and scalable security solution, with no agents to manage, and minimal overhead.
    • Use what you already own, understand, and run in your data center – vSphere – with its unique visibility, automation and isolation qualities.
    • Play a larger and critical role in the security of your entire IT environment – Be the Security Hero!
  • Benefits for Security Teams
    • Better visibility and situational awareness of application behaviours, and virtual machine purpose.
    • Faster detection, analysis, and time to response – quickly understand attacks and make fast decisions using application context and scope.
    • Enhance existing security tools and support compliance efforts through contextual visibility and alerts into application communications and deviations.
    • Lower false positives – integrated behavioural analytics and machine learning offer a more precise method to identify and respond to threats.
    • Big data correlation for better identification and context using cloud SaaS model.
    • Security as an agile business enabler – support DevOps environment through continuous learning and protection.
    • Easily Coordinate with vSphere Admins and Application teams for better security while respecting existing workflows & maintaining separation of duties.
  • Secure Applications
    • VMware AppDefense – Protects the integrity of applications running on vSphere, using machine learning to monitor against threats and automate responses. AppDefense locks down the guest operating system for all applications, the VMware application stack and third-party applications.  To accomplish this, AppDefense gathers inventory data on virtual machines and applications from vCenter Server, development tools, and automation frameworks and applies machine learning to discover the intended state and establish the known good behaviours for the application and machine.  Any deviations from this state are detected and prevented, securing the integrity of the applications, infrastructure, and guest operating system. AppDefense provides detailed visibility for better change management and compliance reporting and also provides a rich set of automated or orchestrated incident response mechanisms to address attacks. Moreover, it leverages machine learning for a simple and automated way to conduct audits and reviews for applications.
  • Secure Data
    • FIPS 140-2 Validated VM Encryption, and cross-vCenter Encrypted vMotion – Secure against unauthorized data access both at rest and in motion, across the hybrid cloud.
      Secure Infrastructure
    • Secure Boot for ESXi – Allows only VMware and Partner signed code to run in your hypervisor.
      Secure Boot for Virtual Machines – Helps prevent images from being tampered with and prevents the loading of unauthorized components.
    • Support for TPM 2.0 for ESXi – Enables hypervisor integrity by validating the Secure Boot for ESXi process and enables remote host attestation.
    • Virtual TPM 2.0 – Provides the necessary support for guest operating system security features while retaining operational features such as vMotion and disaster recovery.
    • Support for Microsoft Virtualization Based Security – Supports Windows 10 and Windows 2016 security features, like Credential Guard, on vSphere.
  • Secure Access
    • Audit Quality Logging – Enables authorized administration and control by providing high fidelity visibility in vSphere operations.

Links:


vSphere 6.7 Update 1

On the first day of VMworld 2018 US vSphere 6.7 Update 1 was announced.

The key highlights are:

  • Fully Featured HTML5-based vSphere Client
  • Enhanced support for NVIDIA Quadro vDWS powered VMs; and Support for Intel FPGA
  • New vCenter Server Convergence Tool
  • Enhancements for HCI and vSAN
  • Enhanced vSphere Content Library

Links:


vSAN 6.7 Update 1

On the first day of VMworld 2018 US vSAN 6.7 Update 1 was announced.

The key highlights are:

  • Simplified Operations
    • Cluster Quickstart
    • Driver & Firmware Updates using Update Manager
    • Decommissioning and Maintenance Mode Safeguards in vSAN 6.7 U1
    • More vRealize Operations Intelligence
    • Improved Capacity Reporting
  • Efficient Infrastructure
    • TRIM/UNMAP Support
    • Mixed MTU Support for 2 Node and Stretched Clusters
    • Updated Sizing Tools
  • Rapid Support Resolution
    • Improved Health Check Guidance
    • Enhanced Support Diagnostics

Links:


VMware Validated Design 4.3

Also, the VMware Validated Design (VVD) received some new features and changes to the documentation. Personally, the greatest value in this release is the Visio stencils that are available for everyone.

The key highlights are:

  • Official NSX-T Support
  • Documentation Updates
    • IT Automating IT Scenarios
    • Intelligent Operations Scenarios
    • Introduction to Security and Compliance
    • Operational Verification
    • Certificate Replacement for 2-pod
    • Certificate Replacement for 1-pod
  • Architecture and Design of VMware PKS for Workload Domains
  • Design and Deployment of VMware Skyline
  • Architecture and Design Guidance for NIST 800-53
  • VVD Diagrams and Stencils

Links:


VMworld 2018 US – Technical Previews & Projects

There were also a lot of announcements surrounding some new developments/projects.

Project list:

  • Project Concord – Project Concord uses Byzantine fault-tolerant consensus protocols to deliver a functioning distributed trust system: one that is both “safe” and “alive.” Concord is a generic state machine replication library that can handle malicious (Byzantine) replicas.
  • Project Dimension – Project Dimension will extend VMware Cloud to deliver SDDC infrastructure and hardware as-a-service to on-premises locations.
  • Project Magna – Project Magna will make possible a self-driving data center based on machine learning.
  • RDS on VMware – VMware demonstrated how Amazon Web Service’s RDS service will run on VMware in a private data center, thus offering developers a familiar RDS Functionality available on VMware in a private data center or at the Edge.
  • Virtualization on 64-bit ARM for Edge – VMware demonstrated ESXi on 64-bit ARM running on a windmill farm at the Edge.

Links:


VMworld 2018 US – ITQ Blogs 

Here is a list of ITQ blogs with additional VMworld 2018 US content:


VMworld 2018 US – Keynotes

There are already some recordings available of the keynotes. These can be found on YouTube with the following links:


VMworld 2018 US – Recordings

Just like every year, William Lam from the website virtuallyGhetto creates a GIT repository with all the VMworld sessions. For each session, a recording and presentation are provided. It will probably be a couple of days till weeks until all sessions become available.

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The VMware vSAN 2017 Specialist Exam

VMware vSAN 2017 Specialist - Badge
VMware vSAN 2017 Specialist – Badge

This afternoon I took the VMware vSAN 2017 Specialist and I passed with a score of 456 points. The exam is about… guess what Virtual SAN (vSAN)! To be more precise the latest version of vSAN version 6.6. The exam is a mix of deployment & design questions. In my opinion it is a smaller version of the separated Deploy & Design exams as in the major exam tracks (DCV, NV, CMA, DTM). The questions were really good and realistic, some examples: like about space efficiency, cluster sizing and some customer use cases. The exam contains 60 questions and you have 105 minutes to complete the exam.

Over the years I have done a lot of vSAN deployments, starting in the vSAN 5.5 days. So personally it was not the most difficult exam to pass but a good one to add to my résumé.

Exam description

The official exam description from VMware: “The VMware vSAN 2017 Specialist badge holder is a technical professional who understands the vSAN 6.6 architecture and its complete feature set, knows how to conduct a vSAN design and deployment exercise, can implement a live vSAN hyper-converged infrastructure environment based on certified hardware/software components and best practices, and can administer/operate a vSAN cluster properly.”

The Specialist Exams

At VMworld 2017 three new specialist exams were announced by VMware Education:

  • VMware vRealize Operations 2017 Specialist
  • VMware vSAN 2017 Specialist Exam
  • VMware Validated Designs for Software-Defined Data Center 2017

Currently the remaining two are on my “To Do” list because they all cover my area of expertise. The vSAN Specialist exam is the only one of the three that is done at a test center, the other two are online exams.

Study Material:

There is a lot of free vSAN 6.6 content available, especially the VMworld 2017 sessions are full of useful information. Take a look Duncan Epping his YouTube Channel (the URL listed below).

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Veeam Backup & Replication 9.5 Update 1 Released

With the release of Veeam Backup & Replication 9.5 in November, there was an announcement made about the vSphere 6.5 support.

“Yesterday, with impeccable timing, VMware announced the general availability of vSphere 6.5. As always, we started work on the full integration of vSphere 6.5 since its beta, however, we now need adequate time to integrate the final VDDK code and then perform full regressive testing against the final vSphere 6.5 code to ensure the reliability of our advanced vSphere integrations. Therefore, full support for vSphere 6.5 in Veeam Availability Suite 9.5 will be delivered as a part of Veeam Availability Suite 9.5 Update 1. And while an exact support timeline will depend on the results of our testing, historically we deliver support for new vSphere releases approximately two months after the final code availability.” Source: https://www.veeam.com/blog/new-veeam-availability-suite-9-5-is-available-today.html

On 20 January, Veeam has finally released update 1 for the Backup & Replication software (download link below).

Platform support:

  • Dell EMC Data Domain OS 6.0 support, including synthetic full backup performances optimizations, backup retention and health check reliability improvements
  • HPE 3PAR 3.2.2 MU3 support, including multiple API interaction improvements for added reliability and performance
  • HPE StoreOnce 3.15.1 support, bringing Instant VM Recovery to Catalyst-based backup repositories
  • Veeam Agent for Linux 1.0 support
  • Veeam Agent for Microsoft Windows 2.0 Public Beta (build 2.0.0.594) support
  • VMware vSAN 6.5 support
  • VMware vSphere 6.5 support
    • Encrypted VMs support
    • VMFS6 support
    • Virtual hardware version 13 support
    • NBD compression
    • New guest interaction API support
    • New VM tag API support

Download link: https://www.veeam.com/kb2222

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