RVTools 3.5 released!

RVTools is one of the best FREE tools available which helps consultants and system administrators in inventory and managing a VMware vSphere infrastructure. It offers a lot of information on the configuration of storage, network, virtual machines, ESX hosts  and a LOT more. Information can easily be downloaded in CSV format so you can do for example capacity planning. With RVTools you can disconnect the cd-rom or floppy drives from the virtual machines and RVTools is able to update the VMware Tools installed inside each virtual machine to the latest version.

If you do not know RVTools I strongly recommend to download the tool and see for yourself how useful it is and makes your life much easier. You won’t regret.

At March 9 RVTools version 3.5 has been released. New are:


  • On vInfo tabpage new field: Resource pool
  • On vInfo tabpage new field: Consolidation needed.
  • On vCPU tabpage new field: Number of cores per socket
  • New tabpage with resource pool information
  • On vNetwork tabpage new column: Switch name
  • On vNetwork tabpage new column: Starts Connected
  • On vTools tabpage new column: required version
  • On vHost tabpage new columns: custom fields
  • On vDisk tabpage new columns: raw disk information
  • Improved error handling for SSO login problems
  • Bug fix: Invalid snapshot size fixed
  • Bug fix: All datetime fields now use the local time zone
  • Bug fix: data not refreshed after changing filter


RVTools 3.3 released

Today version 3.3 of RVTools was released. If you are unaware of what RVTools is for your VMware environment: This free tool is able to give a complete overview of a VMware vSphere infrastructure. Properties of virtual machines, datastores, networking, memory etc etc. Reports can be exported to text and CSV format.

A great tool. Download here.

New in version 3.3:

  •  GetWebResponse timeout value changed from 5 minutes to 10 minutes (for very big environments)
  •  New tabpage with HBA information
  •  On vDatastore tab the definition of the Provisioned MB and In Use MB columns  was confusing! This is changed now.
  •  RVToolsSendMail accepts now multiple recipients (semicolon is used as separator)
  •  Folder information of VMs and Templates are now visible on vInfo tabpage
  •  Bugfix: data in comboboxes on filter form are now sorted
  •  Bugfix: Problem with api version 2.5.0 solved
  •  Bugfix: Improved exception handling on vCPU tab.
  •  Bugfix: Improved exception handling on vDatastore tab.

Kaspersky Lab to Support VMware vShield for Virtual Data Centers

VMware vShield Endpoint is a middleware solution which allows vendors of anti-virus solutions to use a set of API’s to scan and detect virusses. For an overview see this FAQ.
Instead of the legacy anti-virus solutions which run inside a guest perating system (and consuming valuable CPU, memory and disk resources) vShield App does protection at the VMware kernel level. Thus reducing the resources consumption. Very important in VDI-infrastructures.

Until now Trend Micro is the only vendor delivering an anti-virus solution based on VMware vShield Endpoint. However Kaspersky Lab announced it will release a product later this year.


 Kaspersky Lab, a leading developer of Internet security solutions that defend against computer viruses, spyware and all forms of malicious software, announces upcoming support for VMware vShield™ Endpoint to be delivered later this year.  Kaspersky’s support of VMware vShield Endpoint will offer comprehensive protection for virtual machines from the latest malware threats without compromising speed and performance.

VMware vShield Endpoint streamlines and accelerates antivirus and anti-malware processing. It improves performance and provides comprehensive security by eliminating the need for agents in every virtual machine. In addition, the solution optimizes resource utilization by offloading anti-virus processing to a single security virtual machine, delivered by Kaspersky Lab.

Continue at source.

New and free alignment tool: UBERAlign

Incorrect alignment of the VMware virtual disk on the storage array layer can result in performance issues. Basically it means the storage array needs to read two blocks of data instead of one when disk is properly aligned. This has a negative effect on the disk performance and thus application. Lots of information can be found on the internet. A good article which explains alignment written by Duncan Epping can be found here.

Alignment is done correctly by Windows Server 2008 and Windows 7 but other guest operating systems might need a manual re-alignment.

This freshly developed, new and free tool will check if alignment if correct, perform correction on the alignment and even reclaim diskspace.

Take some time to read the various posting, it can help save some disk problems.

More info on UBERAlign and download here.

RVTools version 3.2 released

A *MUST* have tool for any VMware administrator, consultant etc wanting to have information on the VMware infrastructure is RVTools. This free tool developed  by Rob de Veij from the Netherlands shows you about anything on ESX hosts, virtual machines, networking and storage. Overviews can be exported to CSV for import in for instance Excel. Very handy to do calculations on resource consumption.

If you do not know this tool, download it now. You will not regret!

rvtools inventory vsphere

New in version 3.2 which was released in October 2011

  • New tabpage with distributed switch information
  • New tabpage with distributed port information
  • It’s now possible to export a single tabpage to an excel file from the command
  • It’s now possible to save the filter. The next time RVTools is started it will use the
    filter automatically.
  • Bugfix: On vSnapshot tab the displayed filename and filesize are not always
  • Bugfix: Improved exception handling on vPort tab.

VMware apps for the Apple iPad

In 2011 VMware will release several apps for the Apple iPad. One will be able to manage the virtual infrastructure (hosts, virtual machines) and will have similar functionality as the vSphere Client. Another soon the be released app will be the VMware View client. Users can access virtual desktops from their iPad. A third app is for vCloud Request Manager.

A video showing demos of all three apps recorded at VMworld Europe in October 2010 can be seen here.

A demo of the VMware View client for iPad here:

More information on VMware applications running on mobile devices can be found here.

VMware Converter 4 versus PlateSpin 9

This is one of many articles on PlateSpin Migrate  hosted on my site. For a complete overview of PlateSpin Migrate postings with info on troubleshooting, best practices etc see this link:

June 2011: for an overview of VMware Converter 5 beta and PlateSpin Migrate 9.1 see this blogposting 

In June 2011 VMware announced the public beta of VMware Converter Standalone version 5. This version will have alignment. Alignment is important to get the most out of the storage. See this posting for more info.

Two of the most used tools for converting physical servers to virtual machines are VMware Converter and PlateSpin Migrate (formerly known as PlateSpin PowerConvert). While the VMware tool is free to use, for the use of PlateSpin counterpart you need a paid license.  

I have been using PlateSpin Migrate 8.1.3 and version 9 for a couple of months and got quite some experience with it. I am also familiar with the use of VMware Converter 4 . My experience:

Setup of both products is fairly easy. VMware Converter setup is basicly next,next, finish. Setup of PlateSpin Migrate is a three step process: install the free SQL Server Express database (or create a database instance on one of your SQL servers), install the PlateSpin Migrate Server and last install the client. Make sure you are local admin and User Access Control is disabled as this can cause issues during installation.

PlateSpin  Migrate has a lot of features. Not only is it able to convert from Physical, Virtual and Image to all three media, it also supports conversion to Hyper-V and XenServer. VMware Converter is limited to P2V conversions to VMware workstation and ESX hosts. PlateSpin Migrate is able to reverse back a virtual machine to a physical server. Such a V2P conversion can be needed in cases where a software supplier is only willing to deliver support in case the application is running on bare metal servers
Another very usefull feature of PlateSpin Migrate is the ability to perform the IP-configuration on the target server. After the data transfer has ended, the target vm is started and PlateSpin configures the IP-configuration. This can be the same ip address, netmask, gateway etc as the source, it can also be a different configuration.
VMware Converter does not do post configuration. After conversion has finished you will need to either manually enter IP details or use a script. Obviously this is more time consuming and likely to create errors.

VMware Converter Standalone is free. I believe VMware does not give support on this. 
PlateSpin has great support on the product. If there is an issue, a Support Request can be issued on the Novell website and a support engineer will contact you. The response is fast and almost always very helpfull.   

Discovery: while PlateSpin was able to discover most of the servers instantly, I found VMware Converter had some problems. Initially it could not connect to the source server, the next try it did with nothing changed. This problem is reported on several sites. One of the solutions mentioned is to install the VMware Converter client on the source server. Also restarting VSS services might help.

support of vSphere features: while PlateSpin Migrate is regarded as the top tool for performing conversions, it lacked for a long time support for vSphere distributed switches. Support was added in version 9, long after distributed switched became available. It also does not support the creation of thin provisioned disks. VMware Converter Standalone Edition supports both distributed switches and thin provisioned disks.

Support for platforms: VMware Converter supports P2V conversion to VMware ESX 3 and 4 hosts and vCenter Servers. PlateSpin Migrate supports conversions to VMware ESX, vCenter, Hyper-V hosts, Citrix XenServer and Virtual Iron.

 Disk alignment: PlateSpin Migrate is able to align the first partition of the virtual disk while doing a X2V conversion. Alignment can be important in cases where diskresources are used intensively. See various articles on the internet on how to align the disks of the guest operating system. VMware Converter does not align disks. A not aligned partition can reduce disk performance with 10 to 30%.

conversion: VMware Converter is able to tranfer data to the newly created virtual machine without a helper virtual machine. This is an advantage over PlateSpin migrate in my opinion. Migrate is creating a target virtual machine during conversion. This loads a Windows PE operating system. This connects over the network to the source server. In my experiece this is most more funerable for errors. In some cases Windows PE does not have enough internal memory assigned and the conversion stops because of that.

Post conversion: Using VMware Converter you will need to delete devices like the network adapters before being able to manually reconfigure the IP-settings of the adapter(s). The adapters are hidden. PlateSpin Converter however is able to delete the adapters, and automatically configuere the IP-configuration as defined in the conversion job. This will save you some time and prevents making errors in the post conversion stage. Deletion of hardware like Dell OpenManage can be scripted.

Synchonization: PlateSpin Migrate has two types of transfers jobs available:

  • a full migration job is which a virtual machine is created and all the data is being copied from the source server to the target server.
  • a server sync tranfer job in which only the changed data is being tranfered from the source to the target server.

The server sync option (for either file or block based synchronization) will save the downtime of an application and the number of working hours. A source server having lots of data can be ‘prepared’ by performing a full migration. All the data is copied to the virtual machine disk files. This can be done during office hours using a hot migration: the server and application remains online. This works even if the application is using a database. Prerequisite is that the database support VSS and the operating system is Windows Server 2003 SP1 or later.

When the server has been prepared, it can be tested by the application owner. This test however is a bit limited as the prepared virtual machine is not connected to the production network. In most cases it will have the same servername and ip-configuration.

During off hours the server sync can be performed. As most data is already available in the virtual machine, the tranfers will take much less time than a full copy. After the data sync has completed, the source server can be switched off and the virtual machine can be connected to the production network.

VMware converter is able to perform a post-conversion synchronization. Initially it will convert the phyisical server. At the end of the conversion it will tranfers the data which has been changed during the conversion. It is not able to sync data between physical server and virtual server with a couple of days or hours between the initial creation and sync as PlateSpin Migrate does.  

Ease of use
VMware Converter has a simple to use interface. It does what it has to do. PlateSpin Migrate has far more options and is less easy to use. I experienced quite a lot of issues while doing the conversions. The errors displayed in the logs points to URL’s on the Platespin website. However, it does not show any solution to solve the problems. It is very difficult to troubleshoot because you do not know what is going on under the hood of PlateSpin. A support contract is a must if you are performing critical  conversions with tight deadlines.

Unfortunately Platespin Migrate is not able to perform file based tranfers if the source volume has many files. In my case a source server had over 30.000 small files on a volume. The file transfer stalled at 1%. The solution was to use block level tranfer.

If you want to limit downtime to a minimum and want to reduce working hours during off hours for performing conversions, PlateSpin is the right tool. A conversion can be run while the source server is operational during office hours. During the off hours or in the weekend, the delta can be synchronised reducing the hours needed to convert the server. This is very handy for servers with lots of data (over 100GB of data)
Be prepared for a steep learning curve on PlateSpin as you are likely to run into issues some time or later.

For a small number of conversions with source server having small partitions, the free VMware Converter will in most cases be a good solution.

New versions of Novell PlateSpin Forge, Migrate and Protect released

At October 4 Novell released new versions of PlateSpin Protect (version 10.0.2), PlateSpin Forge (3.0.2) and PlateSpin Migrate (9.0.2)

Download here:

vReference Card on vSphere 4.1

Forbes Guthrie created a nice overview of commands and maximums on ESX vSphere 4.1 displayed in a PDF file. Download it here http://www.vreference.com/2010/09/12/vreference-4-1-card-released/  

What’s new in vCenter Chargeback 1.5

This week VMworld is being held in San Francisco. Today, Monday is dedicated for VMware Partners. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday is open for everyone and will be full with keynotes, breakout sessions, labs etc etc. I will do my best to keep you updated on the news!

Today the new features of vCenter Chargeback 1.5 were presented at VMworld.

VMware vCenter Chargeback delivers a pay as you go solution for resource tracking and billing. In the days of physical servers, a customer or department of an organization paid for the cost of the physical server and operational costs. This is not a fair system. A customer using all of the resources (CPU, internal memory) of a server pays the same amount of money for a customer which is not using all the resources. This happens because most companies standardize on a limited number of server types (one small, one medium and one large sized server for example). 

Using virtual servers, it is easy to assign a certain amount of resources to a virtual machine. One VM can have a maximum of 8 GB of internal memory, while another only gets 1 GB assigned. It is quite easy to send a bill to the customer based on the reserved amount of money or the average usage of resources. Heavy users pay more than small users.

VMware has vCenter Chargeback available to track resource usage and create reports which can be used as input for billing (chageback). Version 1.0 was lacking some features and I believe it is quite expensive compared to one of it’s competitors, Vkernel Chargeback.   

VMware vCenter Chargeback 1.5 will be available September 1 2010. Licensing will be based on the number of powered-on virtual machines managed by vCenter Server. The current release is licensed per CPU socket. This is less attractive for customers.

What is new in version 1.5

  • Automated cost management 
      for VMware HA/FT, Guest OS-es , VM creation/deletion fees
  • Expanded cost model support
      -one time costs, average fees , custom billing polices
  • Enhanced reporting and cost analysis
       dashboard, cost and usage breakdowns, top 10 most expensive VM’s
  • Integration with VMware vCloud director 
      metering vcloud resource usage, multi tenant reporting   

Documentation on Chargeback 1.5 has already been made available by VMware. Download it from this location: http://www.vmware.com/support/pubs/vcbm_pubs.html
You will find the following documents :

  • vCenter Chargeback Release Notes
  • User’s Guide
  •  Using vCenter Chargeback with VMware Cloud Director
  •  API Programming Guide
  •  API Reference (ZIP)

CA Arcserve 12.5 backup fails while using VDDK and multiple VMDK’s with the same file name

<update August 02: it seems CA has a fix available for this! Keep you updated on this issue>

CA Arcserve for Windows r12.5 is able to backup virtual machine over the network (the tradional way of making backups) and using a direct SAN connection. In this case the virtual machine disk files (vmdk) are copied to the backup server. I believe Arcserve calls this a raw backup. This method delivers a much faster backup and faster and easier restore. Arcserve uses for direct SAN backup the Virtual Disk Development Kit of VDDK.

VDDK lets you access VM disks remotely on ESX Server systems without exporting the disks to the backup proxy system. Integrating with VDDK provides you with an alternative approach to using VCB Framework to back up VMs. This approach can be used only on ESX Server 4.0 systems, ESX Server 3.5 systems, vCenter 4.0 systems, and VirtualCenter Server 2.5 systems. VMware Virtual Disk Development Kit is a collection of APIs and management tools that let you create, manage, and access virtual storage systems. VMware VDDK is supported on x86 and x64 versions of Windows and Linux operating

There is an issue with Arcserve if your virtual machine has more than 1 vmdk file which are located in different datastores using the same name! if you are using VDKK instead of backups over the network the backup is likely to fail with error AE0521 VM Mount operation error

The solution to solve this problem is renaming your vmdk files. Not an easy job if you are having a lot of VM’s running.

See Arcserve Knowledgebase article for more information. You need a CA Support Online account for this. Download a PDF of the article  TEC512189 here.

“VM Mount operation failed backing up with VDDK a virtual machine having different disks spanned across different locations (data stores) but having same file name”


For more information see http://communities.vmware.com/thread/257003

VMware vCenter Converter 4.2 plugin available

Together with the release of vSphere 4.1 VMware as well released vCenter Converter version 4.2.

VMware vSphere 4.1 is the last major release for VMware vCenter Converter plug-in. VMware will continue to provide technical support for vCenter Converter through the end of its support lifecycle. VMware will continue to update and support the free vCenter Converter Standalone product, which enables conversions from sources such as physical machines, VMware and Microsoft virtual machine formats, and certain third-party disk image formats.

Taken from the release notes:

What’s New

The VMware vCenter Converter 4.2 is a substantial upgrade from vCenter Converter 4.1 and includes the following new functionality (previously found only in vCenter Converter Standalone 4.0.x):

  • Physical to virtual machine conversion support for Linux sources including:
    • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 2.1, 3.0, 4.0, and 5.0
    • SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 8.0, 9.0, 10.0, and 11.0
    • Ubuntu 5.x, 6.x, 7.x, and 8.x
  • Hot cloning improvements to clone any incremental changes to physical machine during the P2V conversion process
  • Support for converting new third-party image formats including Parallels Desktop virtual machines, newer versions of Symantec, Acronis, and StorageCraft
  • Workflow automation enhancements to include automatic source shutdown, automatic start-up of the destination virtual machine as well as shutting down one or more services at the source and starting up selected services at the destination
  • Destination disk selection and the ability to specify how the volumes are laid out in the new destination virtual machine
  • Destination virtual machine configuration, including CPU, memory, and disk controller type

more info at http://www.vmware.com/support/vsphere4/doc/vsp_vcc_42_rel_notes.html

VMware Infrastructure Toolkit for Windows

To automate tasks in a VMware Infrastructure environment the VI Toolkit can be very handy. Using Powershell language lots of tasks can be automated. Automated tasks save time and can prevent errors.

Using Powershell for VMware is getting very populair. The session called ‘TA01 Managing VMware With PowerShell’  was rated number 1 in the list of most populair sessions during VMworld Europe 2009 in Cannes. The hands-on-lab was also very populair. A video of the session can be seen via the links below. Thanks to Erik Sloof for all the hard work to publish these videos.

TA01 – Managing VMware With PowerShell  Introduction

 TA01 – Managing VMware With PowerShell Part I

TA01 – Managing VMware With PowerShell Part II 

Getting started with Powershell can be a bit difficult in the beginning. But after a while it will save the VMware admin lots of time.  Vizioncore is working on a free tool which enables to make Powershell scripts using a graphical interface. Read more about this at http://www.thevesi.org/. The info below is taken from the website:

“The Virtualization EcoShell Initiative (VESI™) is a community-based initiative to help extend virtualization management using Microsoft Windows PowerShell. Whether you are a novice looking for assistance in enhancing your virtualization administration practices or an expert looking to share your knowledge with others, theVESI.org is the place for you. If this is your first time here, please read the FAQ section of this site.The Virtualization EcoShell Initiative (VESI™) is a community-based initiative to help extend virtualization management using Microsoft Windows PowerShell. Whether you are a novice looking for assistance in enhancing your virtualization administration practices or an expert looking to share your knowledge with others, theVESI.org is the place for you. ”

More info on Vesi: http://www.virtu-al.net/2009/03/03/the-vesi-is-on-its-way/

The VI Toolkit for Windows examples used in the Lab at VMworld Cannes can be found here http://technodrone.blogspot.com/2009/03/tiny-bit-of-powershell.html

a good reference guide can be found here http://virtu-al.net/Downloads/VIToolkitQuickReferenceGuide.pdf

OpsCheck checks your VMotion configuration for free!

OpsCheck is a handy free tool which checks your VMotion configuration. OpsCheck is made by the same team which made ConfigCheck, a free tool to asses the security of  your ESX infrastructure.

“Leveraging Tripwire’s core expertise in configuration management, OpsCheck analyzes configurations of ESX servers and their VMs, many of which are often easily overlooked. If OpsCheck discovers any configuration discrepancies that affect VMotion, Tripwire’s VMotion Troubleshooting Guidance provides tactical, specific recommendations for your environment, allowing you to immediately bring your system into a “VMotionable” state.

Download at the site of Vwire  http://www.vwire.com/free-tools/opscheck/


A very usefull tool to display about everything you want to know about your ESX hosts and virtual machines is RV Tools.

Interacting with VirtualCenter 2.x or ESX 3.x RVTools is able to list information about cpu, memory, disks, nics, cd-rom, floppy drives, snapshots, VMware tools, ESX hosts and datastores. With RVTools you can disconnect the cd-rom or floppy drives from the virtual machines and RVTools is able to list the current version of the VMware Tools installed inside each virtual machine. and update them to the latest version. 

Available for free at http://www.robware.net/

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