May 282010

This week I had the luxury of attending the three-day vSphere: Design Workshop in Orlando, FL.  The class is now a requirement for VMware Enterprise Partners which was the reason for my attendance.  The class had about 15 attendees comprised of partners, customers and VMware employees.  There are no formal prerequisites for the course although I would highly recommend a VCP4 as some of the topics and recommendations get very technical and that level of experience would be very helpful.  This class is intended for those that will be designing virtual datacenters.  It is directly related to the newly-announced VCAP4-DCD certification and I would also recommend it for any one considering the VCDX certification.

The class was comprised of eight modules.  Day one ran through modules one thru four, day two had modules 5 and 6 and day three was comprised of modules seven and eight.  You can read this to see the syllabus for the class as well as the description for each of the modules.

There were a two things about this class that I found to be very different than any other VMware class I had attended.  First, there was no real administrative work.  We never used the vSphere client or looked at a host.  We barely used the classroom terminals at all.  Almost all of the work was whiteboarding and drawing architectures of networks and storage and physical infrastructure.  For the labs, the class was divided into two groups, one group was given an enterprise customer case study and the other received a SMB case study.  Both study’s had physical environments that wanted to virtualize.  The enterprise study was obviously significantly larger however the SMB had a very limited budget.  Both had items to challenge the designers.  As we reached the end of each module, we would incorporate what we learned into that phase of the design.  The labs were actually designed very well.  At the end of each lab session, each group had to pick someone to defend their design to the rest of the class (surely to prep us for what we might find at the VCDX defense session).

The second thing I noticed about the class that was very different from other classes was the references to blogger’s information.  The instructor referenced Duncan, Frank and Mike on more than one occasion (The VMguy was left out unfortunately – guess I’ll have to try harder).  Never had I seen such a display of non-vmware owned information in such a class.  Personally, I read all of their information pretty religiously yet I still found things I did not know or had not read.  This class was a very good summary of the pitfalls to avoid in design.  It was a collaboration of all of the gotchas that these designers (some who are now VCDXs) have seen.  Everything from the configuration maximums to what features are not supported with Fault Tolerance.  It was an outstanding display of all the things you have to remember when designing an entire virtualized datacenter.

My only complaint would be that the case study notes for the labs were incomplete.  We constantly found ourselves wanting to ask our imaginary customer for more information.  This can be expected somewhat as the class is a new offering from the education department.  I must say that our instructor was constantly requesting feedback for the course and promised to relay that information back to the class designers.

All in all, I would highly recommend this class to anyone who might need to design a virtualized datacenter.  It was an outstanding collaboration of experiences and best practices that would be required before creating a accurate, reliable, properly sized, well thought-out design.  Well done VMware Education Department, well done.

May 252010

Workstation 7.1 has been released and can be downloaded here.  VMware ACE and Player have been updated as well.  Here’s the what’s new section from the release notes:

This release of VMware Workstation adds the following new features and support:

New Support for 32-Bit and 64-Bit Operating Systems
New Features in VMware Workstation
New Support for 32-Bit and 64-Bit Operating Systems

This release provides support for the following host and guest operating systems:

Operating System
Host and Guest Support

Ubuntu 8.04.4    Host and guest
Ubuntu 10.04    Host and guest
OpenSUSE 11.2    Host and guest
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.5    Host and guest
Fedora 12    Guest
Debian 5.0.4    Guest
Mandriva 2009.1    Guest
New Features in VMware Workstation

OpenGL 2.1 support for Windows 7 and Windows Vista guests — Improves the ability to run graphics-based applications in virtual machines.
Improved Graphics Performance — Enhanced performance with better benchmarks, frame rates, and improved rendering on Windows 7 and Windows Vista guests allows you to run various graphics-based applications. In addition, major improvements in video playback enable you to play high-resolution videos in virtual machines.
Automatic Software Updates — Download and install VMware Tools and receive maintenance updates when available.
Direct Launch — Drag guest applications from the Unity start menu directly onto the host desktop. Double-click the shortcut to open the guest application. The shortcut remains on the desktop after you exit Unity and close VMware Workstation.
Autologon — Save your login credentials and bypass the login dialog box when you power on a Windows guest. Use this feature if you restart the guest frequently and want to avoid entering your login credentials. You can enable Autologon and use direct launch to open guest applications from the host.
OVF 1.1 Support — Import or export virtual machines and vApps to upload them to VMware vSphere or VMware vCloud. The VMware OVF Tool is a command-line utility bundled in the VMware Workstation installer. Use this tool along with VMware Workstation to convert VMware .vmx files to .ovf format or vice versa. VMware recommends that you use the OVF command-line utility. For more information, see the OVF Web site and OVF Tool User Guide.
Eight-Way SMP Support — Create and run virtual machines with a total of up to eight-processor cores.
2TB Virtual Disk Support — Maximum virtual disks and raw disks size increased from 950GB to 2TB.
Encryption Enhancements — VMware Workstation includes support for Intel’s Advanced Encryption Standard instruction set (AES-NI) to improve performance while encrypting and decrypting virtual machines and faster run-time access to encrypted virtual machines on new processors.
Memory Management — User interface enhancements have simplified the handling of increased virtual memory capacity.
User Experience Improvement Program — Help VMware improve future versions of the product by participating in the User Experience Improvement Program. Participation in the program is voluntary and you can opt out at any time. When you participate in the User Experience Improvement Program, your computer sends anonymous information to VMware, which may include product configuration; usage and performance data, virtual machine configuration; usage and performance data, and information about your host system specifications and configuration.

The User Experience Improvement Program does not collect any personal data, such as your name, address, telephone number, or email address that can be used to identify or contact you. No user identifiable data such as the product license key or MAC address are sent to VMware. VMware does not store your IP address with the data that is collected.

For more information about the User Experience Improvement Program, click the Learn More link during installation or from the VMware Workstation Preferences menu.

May 252010

Fusion 3.1 has been released and it’s a doosy.  You can download it here.  There’s tons of great information in the what’s new section of the release notes:

VMware Fusion 3.1 has a large number of new and improved features, including:

New Features

8-way SMP
2 TB Virtual Disks
OpenGL 2.1 for Vista
OpenGL 2.1 for Windows 7
Support for overlapping Unity windows in Exposé and Dock Exposé
USB “EasyConnect” to easily assign USB devices to virtual machine or Mac when connected
OVF Tool for Mac OS X now included as optional install with full download or CD install
OVF Tool 2: Import and export OVF packaged virtual machines and upload to vSphere with bundled OVF Tool
Drag a disk image or virtual disk to the installation media pane of the assistant
Add shortcut for opening a virtual machines configuration file in default text editor for VMware Fusion (Hold down option and right-click in Virtual Machine Library)
User Experience Improvement Program

Graphics Improvements

Aero is much faster on Windows Vista and Windows 7
Greatly improved scrolling speeds in Windows Vista and Windows 7 with latest Mac OS X release
Some games up to 10x faster than VMware Fusion 3.0 with VMware Fusion 3.1 and latest Mac OS X release
Improved performance and better compatibility for both DirectX 9 and OpenGL 3D applications

Boot Camp Improvements

Up to 5x disk performance in Boot Camp virtual machines
New option to minimize prompting for password (authentication dialogs) when using Boot Camp virtual machines
Handle Mac OS X disk changes better to avoid multiple references to Boot Camp partition in the Virtual Machine Library

PC Migration Improvements

Improvements to Migrate Your PC assistant, including better validation of names and better location prompt
Prompt user if Mac OS X guest account prevents guest access to shared folders instead of failing
Open new virtual machine on successful migration
Enhanced user interface on PC being migrated including:
New progress dialog on the PC being migrated as well as in VMware Fusion
Option to show converter logs and troubleshooting steps on PC if PC migration fails
Avoids port conflicts with Web server software installed on PC such as IIS, Tomcat, and Apache

New Guest Operating Systems Supported

Ubuntu 32- and 64-bit
Ubuntu 10.04: 32- and 64-bit (currently in Beta)
SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 11 Service Pack 1: 32- and 64-bit
SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 Service Pack 1: 32- and 64-bit
RHEL 5.4: 32- and 64-bit

You can download it using the link above or running the updater inside of Fusion itself.  Enjoy.