As I received many positive reactions on my Analog Alarm Box to monitor your VMware vSphere environment, I decided for the first “finalized” product to not include the split-flip display, as I still need to work out a lot of things to be able to “mass” produce it. The slim box will have 4 analog meters and you will be able to decide yourself what each meter displays. Like 4x the CPU usage of 4 different clusters or the CPU and Memory Usage of 2 clusters, storage consumption, or what ever.
I am adding a 2 line 16 chars LCD display in the box, that can show the names of the meters that are being displayed and can also display alarm notifications. The box will get a buzzer, for when an alarm condition is met. You will be able to configure and setup the box using the build-in webserver.
I will make easy kits that people will be able to assemble that will contain everything but the Raspberry PI board, including a breakout board will all the electronics that can just be put on the header pins or the Raspberry PI, 4x the analog meters, the LCD display, buttons and the wooden box itself.
I know this is supposed to be a weekend project, but I had some spare time on my Thursday evening So here an update on my vSphere Alarm Box.
I received my analog panel meters this week. Instead of them displaying 0 to 5v I created some new face plates for them using my automatic paper cutter so they can display CPU and Memory consumption. These meters are very easy to control by using a PWM signal, but the challenge is that the Raspberry PI only has one PWM port. So I decided I want to use an arduino for this. Making the Raspberry PI talk to the arduino is fairly straight foward. I am using I2C, but as the arduino uses 5v for its logic circuits and the Raspberry 3.3v I had to build a small level shifter to allow both both safely to communicate over I2C.
Everything now connected hardware wise, now I just had to make the meters work, displaying the right information from VC. I am writing my code in PHP and already had last weekend written the PHP code to use the QueryPerf API call to retrieve the last 5 minute average for CPU and memory of my cluster. But PHP does not allow me to send I2C calls, so I had to write an extension module for PHP to enable me to do this. As I never had written an PHP module, thanks to google, this did not take too long
So there it is.. IT IS WORKING Every minute Raspberry PI uses QueryPerf to retrieve information from VC. Using my PHP I2C extension it sends an I2C call, via the level shifter to my arduino. The arduino uses the value received via I2C to set the PWM for the specific pins and tha dah… working
As I am happy with the progress my little project is taking, I thought I would share with you all what I am working on. I like to make physical things and one of the things I have been developing is and old-school split-flap display (You know from those boards in old train stations). Some day I like to make 140 units, so I can have a live twitter board in my living room, but for now I have settled with one
I needed a purpose for my display… So I thought I would make a vSphere / Datacenter Alarm Box, based on some good old-school components. At first I wanted to use my good trusted Arduino, but unfortunately it does not support HTTPS/SSL (not powerful cpu to deal with the encryption). And if I want to make an alarm box for the vSphere environment, it need to at least be able to get all kinds of info from your virtual center server. So I ordered an Raspberry PI, a new open hardware platform like the Arduino, but based on a much more powerful processor and running linux (and all this for $30!).
After some tinkering around this weekend, I was able to get my Raspberry PI to talk to Virtual Center using the official APIs So I can now get alarms, check for other things like retrieve the CPU and Memory Usage of the entire cluster (last 5 minute average). So besides using only my split-flap display, I decided to also build 2 analog panel meters in my box, as these measure 0 to 5volt, I can easily control them just using PWM, so they can show (in percentage) at any time the CPU and Memory consumption of your Cluster.
I am not 100% finished yet, but all the components are starting to fall in place So I thought I would share with you and of course if you have any great ideas about what this Alarm box should monitor/detect, please let me know. I am also putting in a 7-segment display, to show the amount of running Virtual Machines.
Here a video of the split-flap display part I have build for testing.
Let me know if you like this project and if you maybe someday want an Alarm box like this, as I can consider making a few.
I plan on making the face plate from aluminum or really nice oiled wood. Their will be a serine on top of the box, that can go off on certain events you selected, with just the light and/or sound going off. So they box will be completely stand-alone (NO PC required) and will be about $75 in parts. Just plug in power and ethernet, it will run a webserver that you can connect to to configure it.
to be continued…
I thought I would share with you a simple way to copy a VM from your ESXi servers to your desktop. In my case, my local NAS (qnap) device had a diskfailure, so it is rebuilding its disks for the next 2 days, which slows down IO for my VMs (mainly for my work VM), so I temporary wanted to copy the VM to my local PC and run it in workstation.
Using the build-in download option in the vsphere client sucks. It was super slow. I tried using sftp, again slow (bit faster then vsphere client). My first tought was to google “enable ftp server on esxi”, which I did, and did find ways to get an ftp server installed on my ESXi boxes, but while I opened the ESXi firewall, it still had problems opening a data connection. So after 15 minutes fussing with that I quit that road.
In the forums about FTP on ESXi I came across posts to use Veeam FastSCP, so let’s give that a try. Turns out that the software does not exists anymore and is integrated in a 500mb install of Veeam Backup. I have fast internet, so sure I can download then, but then during the install.. “do you want to install local sql server or use existing??” Hello, I am just trying to copy a single VM, I do not want to screw up my local machine with all that stuff, so cancelled that as well.
Mmm.. what else to do… went googling again and then stumbled on a Freeware bit of software called FreeNFS (http://freenfs.sourceforge.net/) It seems very recent as the note from the developer is from August 14th 2012. It is the most simplest plain NFS server software for windows. its a single executable, click on it, and it runs. done
So now it was easy. As my local machine suddenly was an NFS server, I add the NFS datastore to my servers and just used a clone VM operation, to thin disk, to my local datastore
Thank you Lawrence for making this great Free NFS software! Works great with ESXi (version 5).
FreeNFS – http://freenfs.sourceforge.net/
No worry I am not selling you anyone’s products, but this is a chance you do not want to miss. Veeam is having an awesome competition on their VMworld booth!! A chance to win a DREEAM LAB!!!
- 2 HP ProLiant Servers with memory upgrades
- NETGEAR ReadyNAS storage system with SSD storage
- HP V1410-16G Ethernet switch
…and Microsoft, VMware and Veeam subscription for 1 year!
WOW.. I should be writing, DO NOT go to the VEEAM booth, because I want to win this price, and yes for sure I will be participating in it I need a nice upgrade of my home server lab.
Way to go veeam!
I guess it is time again to start building a list of ways to go for free to VMworld. Every year some vendors have competitions and give-aways for free tickets and even sometimes with free travel.
First to start this year is Veeam. Just by filling in a simple form you can participate in their raffle. It is ‘just’ for the ticket of VMworld, so travel and hotel you need to pay yourself. Competition ends April 18th!
Also VMware is having a competition. Create a video that shows how you are using VMware and you can win a free TRIP (flight plus hotel) to VMworld 2012.
Veeam free pass competition (ends August 9th, 2012, ticket only)
Create a video for vmware (end April 30th 2012, FULL Trip and 2x Conference passes)
Keep checking this page as I will add any other competitions to this list
Well well, what is going on in the virtualization landscape. I guess more compute virtualization challenges are solved, so it is up to the next challange, network virtualization. Today IP addresses really pose a big problem in creating an agile environment, as it represents both identity and location.
To help start solving some of these network challenges, VMware and Oracle both announced big acquisitions in the networking space.
VMware will acquire Nicira, who is specialized in software-defined networking. Oracle will acquire Xsigo, who as well is specialized in software-defined networking
Is it a coincidence that both virtualization players are getting into software defined networking? Of course not, as I said, most problems around compute virtualization are solved today, while networking is still very much old-school. If we want environments where virtual machines can move from on-premise to off-premise, from one datacenter to another, if we do not want a 1000 cables sticking out of our highly consolidated servers, we need to get the networking on the virtualization bandwagon
When both companies will integrate these solutions into their stack it will truely be a win for all their customers, who will gain a lot of networking flexibility because of it.
Gartner just released an updated Magic Quadrant for x86 Virtualization, and I am happy to read (as I am Oracle Employee) that Oracle is on the way up Sure VMware is still leading the pack, followed by Microsoft, but Gartner is seeing customers more often evaluating alternatives to prevent lock-in with VMware.
According to Gartner: “There has been growing interest during the past year in competitive evaluations and creating a separate virtualization footprint with a different technology — typically Microsoft Hyper-V, although Oracle VM use is also growing among VMware customers.”
See the full Gartner report, it is an interesting and fair analysis of the current x86 Virtualization Market.
The Gartner Magic Quadrant report
This week VMware was in the negative limelight because of hacker Hardcore Charlie (clearly a hacker who watched to much Snoopy in his live). He claims to have stolen VMware ESX source code, not directly from VMware (that would have been really bad) but from the China Electronics Import & Export Corporation (CEIEC).
So far he only released publicly some 300MB of the source code, but he is saying he will release all on may 5th.
If source code of ESX and vSphere is out in the open, this of course can become a serious problem as it would make it much easier for hackers to figure out where the weak spots are. (the image supposedly is proof from mr Hardcore charlie that he has the code).
I wrote a while back an article about how many people have their ESX and vCenter boxes directly attached to the internet… you might want to reconsider implementing a firewall in between
Read more about the ‘hack’ in information week.
or visit my article about unsafe placement of ESX servers
Yesterday, Login Consultants announced their new Client Side performance testing module for Login VSI. If you are evaluating a VDI solution like VMware PCoIP, Citrix HDX or Oracle VDI based on RDP you might care about the performance of the display protocol, especially if you are not going to do VDI on a local lan but use a WAN or the Internet.
This is not a stand-alone tool, but an optional module for Login VSI Pro 3.6. The beta version will be available at no additional cost for existing users of VSI Pro (which you would expect from a beta product), but it seems like there likely will be an extra charge when the module will go GA.
The main new type of testings that can be done are:
- Character response – How long does it take to press a key on the keyboard and return it onscreen via protocol?
- Large text response – How long does it take to show a large block of text onscreen via protocol?
- Mouse click feedback – How long does it take to register and handle a mouse click within the remoting session?
- Image quality and loading times – How long does it take to show a complex image onscreen via protocol? This image has been specifically designed to measure quality and speed of different protocols in an independent way.
All testing is done based on client-side screen scraping technologies, so the module is completely protocol independent and can test anything that is out there.