Update: SVGA Drivers on Windows 2008 R2 and Windows 7

I posted an article in December on how the SVGA driver included with VMware Tools caused the guest VM to freeze.  I referenced VMware's KB Article 1011709, which directed you to not use the SVGA drivers included with VMware Tools.  KB1011709 has since been updated (as of February 25, 2010) to indicate that the VMware Tools package included with ESX 4.0 Update 1 includes a new WDDM driver that is fully supported.  If you have updated to Update 1, you should upgrade VMware Tools to take advantage of the new driver. If you followed the KB1011709's original advice and did a custom install of … [Read more...]

Storage Basics – Part V: Controllers, Cache and Coalescing

My Storage Basics series has been neglected for some time (sick kids, snow storms, VMware Upgrades, SAN implementations and some Cisco switch upgrades took all my free time), so let's jump right in to Part V - Cache, Controllers, and Coalescing.   Between the alliteration and fancy words, it might seem like I am about to tell a tale of international espionage.  Unfortunately, my introductory treatment of these aspects of a storage system will probably not keep you on the edge of your seat - but I'll try to keep it interesting. Throughout this series, we've been working our way from the … [Read more...]

The Skinny on ESXTOP

A reader named Mark contacted me today and asked if there was a way to reduce the size of the batch output from an ESXTOP run.  And he asks for good reason: Depending on the number of VM's on your host, the delay between ESXTOP samplings and the number of samples you collect, using the All Stats option (-a) can yield a massive file in a short period of time.  If written to a partition on your ESX Service Console you run the risk of filling the partition, and forget about actually being able to analyze the data in PERFMON or Excel.  For example, on an ESX host running ~15 VM's I produced 100MB … [Read more...]

Microsoft and VMware Virtualization Documentation

Microsoft published a document named "Getting to Know Hyper-V: A Walkthrough from Initial Setup to Common Scenarios" last week.  According to Microsoft, "this guide provides detailed step-by-step walkthroughs for testing Hyper-V on a pre-production environment. You can use this guide to become familiar with Hyper-V and the process of creating and managing virtual machines. Also included in this guide are useful scenarios that you can test to better understand how Hyper-V can address the business goals of your organization."  The document serves as a sort of evaluators guide for Hyper-V, … [Read more...]

ESXTOP Batch Mode Analysis with Windows Perfmon

I needed to grab some stats from my ESX hosts for off-line analysis so I fired up my trusty ESXTOP intent on using batch mode to capture a .csv formatted output.  I started to manually select the counters I was interested in while working in ESXTOP interactive mode (you can save your selected counters to the esxtop configuration file with the 'w' command) and thought that there must be a better way.  I found that better way in the VMware Performance Community: http://communities.vmware.com/docs/DOC-3930.  There is now a -a switch that can be used to include ALL performance counters.  I'm … [Read more...]

Balloon Driver Problems with SQL

I have been meaning to write this up for a while; Scott Drummonds' 'Love Your Balloon Driver' post today at his Virtual Performance blog gave me a nice reminder.  I actually caught a sneak peak at the graphs with an explanation from Scott at his instructor-led lab at VMworld 2009.  Scott calls out that the only workload they discovered suffers from balloon driver activity is Java.  The reason for Java's problems with balloon driver activity is that Java itself runs in a VM and so the guest OS cannot properly determine which pages should be swapped out when the balloon driver calls for … [Read more...]

IBM DS3300 iSCSI Write Performance Solved

I have been pulling my hair out with a small VI3 implementation running against an IBM DS3300 iSCSI array.  Performance, for lack of a better term, sucked.  Granted, the DS3300 is not an enterprise level workhorse of a storage system, but it fit the budget.  Read performance was decent from the array, but write performance was terrible, maxing out at 10Mpbs throughput and insanely high latencies on long writes when the system was under load.  This led to some long P2V operations, poor guest performance, and some questions from the project sponsors on why I couldn't make the environment … [Read more...]

VMware Networking Demysified

VMware vExpert and fellow Northern Virginian, Ken Cline, has posted an excellent article on his Ken's Virtual Reality blog that aims to demystify VMware networking.  The article, the first in a new series by Ken, provides an overview of networking in an ESX/ESXi environment and breaks down the intricacies of the vSwitch and VLANs.  The article comes complete with some nifty diagrams to help make sense of the topic. The timing of this article is great for me as it helps to frame my thoughts as I delve into the design of my latest VMware project on an IBM BladeCenter with IP SAN … [Read more...]