Tagvsphere 6.0

Shall I upgrade vHW? Enhanced vNUMA support with Hardware Version 11 (vHW11) in vSphere 6.

As with every release VMware increased the version of the virtual hardware of its virtual machines.

ESX/ESXi 4.X vHW7
ESXi 5.0 vHW8
ESXi 5.1 vHW9
ESXi 5.5 vHW10
ESXi 6.0 vHW11

Each ESXi / vCenter has a only a limited set of vHW compatibility  (e.g. vHW11 MUST run on ESXi6.0++ and therefore managed by a vCenter 6.0++. Check the VMware solution interoperability Matrix for that) and multiple virtual machine related feature enhancements (e.g. new OS-support, new device-support, more vCPU, more vRAM, more more more).

vHW11 - upgrade

Andreas Lesslhummer did a short summary on the what’s new features within vHW 11 and one feature that jumped directly into my eyes:

‘vNUMA aware hot-add RAM’

In my job people often ask me.

‘Do I need to upgrade my virtual machine hardware version?’ 

and I respond with a typical consultant/trainer answer

‘It depends! ;-)’

You need the following questions to answer

Q1. What is the current and the oldest version of vSphere where your VMs might run in a worst-case (failover, recovery, etc.)?

A1. Make sure you are able to run the VMs in all environments (Check the compatibility upwards (newest version) and downwards (oldest version)). You don’t want to start to deal with a vCenter converter to downgrade vHW again.

Q2. Do you need the additional features offered by the specific vHW?

A2. For most use-cases I have dealt with so far, it was not necessary to upgrade the Hardware Version for the new features, except you have pretty BIG MONSTER VMS or the customer had VMs with a vHW < 7With vHW11 a new feature might come in handy if you are dealing with … I don’t know how to call them…  ‘a little bit smaller business critical MONSTER VMs (> 8vCPUs)’.

vSphere 6.0 and vHW11 resolves 1 out of 2 constraints still not everyone is aware about regarding (v)NUMA. vNUMA offers the non-unified memory characteristics of the Server to the guest operating system inside a virtual machine. The guest operating system can now schedule more efficient its processes to the vCPU. This is only relevant by default if you have > 8 vCPUs and multiple Sockets defined as your virtual machine hardware (Mathias Ewald wrote an excellent article about it a while ago).

NEW: If you enable memory-hot add to a VM (to increase the memory size during the runtime – ideal for performance baseline definitions OR quick responses to increasing demand) the additional memory will be extended equally over all existing NUMA nodes of the VM if you are on vHW11.

Unfortunately the other constraint still remains in vSphere 6.0. If you enable CPU hot-add in your VM, the vNUMA characteristic will be hidden from the Guest-OS (KB – 2040375).

Make sure you are aware of the hot-plug settings you have done in your environment with your business critical VMs, since it might have a performance impact (Sample here).

If you want to have memory hot add available including vNUMA support and your complete environment is running on vSphere 6.0, upgrade to vHW11 enable memory-hotplug and disable cpu-hotplug.

vSphere Web Client 6.0: working remote via tethering. Bandwidth comparison RDP vs. local Browser

When I first installed vSphere 6.0 I was pretty impressed about the performance gain of the vSphere Web Client. Finally the Web Client is a tool I can work productive with and mustn’t be afraid to be marked as unproductive from my customers (it’s tough to argument a higher hour-rate if I wait 20% of my time for the UI 😉 ).

So my homelab was installed with vSphere 6.0 and I tried to connect to it via VPN from my hotel wifi. Since the wifi was blocking my VPN attempts I was forced to tether/share the internet via my smartphone.

Sharing internet on… starting OpenVPN against my homelab… opened Chrome to use the Web Client and.… the useability with the Web Client 6.0 was really really good.

After a few minutes I received a warning by my provider T-mobile that my data plan has reached the 80% thresholds. I know 500MB included in my data plan is not that much, but still I was really suprised seeing this OpenVPN statistics after a few minutes.

Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 21.11.54

 

Since I haven’t used any other services than the vSphere Web Client I wanted to know how much bandwidth working in a local Browser via the Web Client really needs.

I created a test-case (it’s Sunday, weather is bad, Bundesliga is pausing) which should take around 3-4 minutes:

  1. Login to the vCenter via the Web Client
  2. Navigate around in the home menu
  3. Select Hosts and Clusters
  4. Choose an ESXi Host and navigate to Manage / Settings / Networking
  5. View the vSwitch, virtual adapater and physical Nics settings
  6. Go to related Objects and select a datastore
  7. Browse the content of the datastore
  8. Create a new VM with default settings
  9. Power on the VM

I did this test with 2 Browsers Chrome and Firefox (to make sure the results are nearly identical) and observed the results via the activity monitor of MacOS. As a 3rd alternative I have chosen to use a remote connection via Microsoft Remote Desktop (native resolution, 16 Bit color) and did the same test-case steps mentioned above.

Here are the results:

  1. Chrome – duration: <4 minutes, bandwidth: ca. 21 MB
  2. Firefox – duration: < 4 minutes, bandwidth: ca:26 MB
  3. RDP – duration: < 3.5 minutes, bandwidth: ca. 2 MB

Of course there are a lot of factors not considered (high activity on the vCenter that might increase the data most certainly), but the numbers should give you a feeling that the better performance of the Web Client seems to come side by side with a pretty bandwidth sensitive caching on the client side. So if you work with limited bandwidth or any kind of throughput limitation use an RDP connection to a Control-Center VM within your environment that is able to use the Web Client for your daily vSphere operations.

Appendix:

Screen Shot 2015-03-29 at 15.27.18 Screen Shot 2015-03-29 at 15.34.47 Screen Shot 2015-03-29 at 15.38.05

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