Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Adding a VMWare node, and my big one for the year...

So I got the go-ahead to add another VMWare node to our infrastructure. This makes sense in lots of ways - I've only got two nodes at the moment and they're oversubscribed really - I couldn't run all my VM's on one box if the other fell over. I've also got another reasonably powerful, new box sitting around from our stalled Email project, so my only cost right now is in licences.

So I went to the reseller, and said simply - I want to add a new node. I'll add right now, I'm no VMWare guru. I can do what I need to with ours, I've built a fair few virtual machines on both ESX and VmWare free - we have a touching aquiantance, let's say. Our existing infrastructure is ESX 3 nodes, Virtual Center / Server 2.

Which they don't sell anymore - we're onto ver 4 - VSphere. Which doesn't work quite as wholeheartedly as the reseller led me to believe. My own silly fault for not going religiously through the upgrade section on the VMWare website, which would have pointed this out to me. This is, of course, an omission on my part of which my boss is going to remain blissfully ignorant.

The next fly in the ointment is that our existing estate is out of support. So I went back to our reseller and got a quote to renew it (without which I can't upgrade our existing nodes to VSphere and restore harmony to the universe.) Then, I thought, I'll cover my arse properly this time. So I raised a support ticket with VMWare themselves to confirm that this support contract covered everything I needed. Not too difficult, but that was a month ago, and I'm still waiting for an answer.

Anyway, licensing fun and my biggie aside, the installation's been incredibly easy. I created another VM datastore on our HP SAN, pointed the new and both old nodes towards it. The new node's picked everything up, the older ones won't pick up the new storage until they're rebooted. So now I have three datastores on the same SAN. I know I could have added extents to my existing datastores, but given the expansion in our VMWare holding that's likely over the next couple of years, I don't see that as a problem. I've got two Citrix XenApp VM's purring away on my new VSphere node, I can import VM's from the other two if required - I just can't use VMotion or HA, and I'm having to administer it for now through the VSphere client.

Which is all well and dandy, but if that's what I wanted then I could have got Citrix XenServer for nothing. Come on, VMWare, get your arse in gear.


  1. Lets hope your boss doesn't read your blog and find out about that snafu ;).

    How old is your existing VMware infrastructure? Just curious why you didn't go with Xenserver. I have a fair amount of experience with the Xen hypervisor but only recently have I started working with Citrix Xenserver. I like it quite a lot. I haven't looked for an API to interface with VMware but it sure it nice to be able to write my own automation apps utilizing the api without having to pay the piper.

  2. Ended up going with VMWare for two reasons - firstly, it was what we had already, and it seemed as if we'd better leverage what we already had by adding another node - and secondly, XenServer doesn't have the amount of support materials around as VMWare does - a function of it's maturity, I guess. Given the speed with which I had to implement this learning on the job with a whole new technology wasn't really on the cards.

    Now, for the next time the support's up on VMWare - once I've finally got an answer on what DR capabilities we need - then I think we'll be heading down the XenServer route, if their pricing stays the same...

    for the comment!


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