Vmware Infrastructure 3 Best Practices

Posted on 6:13 PM by Bharathvn

This webpage serves as an overview of the many design, deployment, management, and monitoring concepts discussed throughout the book. It can be used as a quick reference for any phase of your virtual infrastructure deployment. The appendix is also meant as a review of the material

we covered, with a focus on the concepts of VMware Infrastructure 3 (VI3) that are commonly
discussed in the world of virtualization management. By reviewing the appendix, you can gauge
your level of fluency with the concepts we’ve discussed. If you’re unsure of any of the best practices outlined here, you can revisit the various sections of the book for more details about that particular best practice.

Installation Best Practices

◆ Review your architecture needs to determine if ESX Server 3.5 or ESXi is the right foundation
for your virtual infrastructure. Identify the answers to questions like:
◆ Do I have a need for the console operating system?
◆ Do I have a need to minimize the footprint on the physical server?
◆ Do I want to install any third-party applications that require the service console?
◆ Always consult the ESX Server compatibility guides before purchasing any new hardware.

Even if you are successful at installing on unsupported hardware, be aware that using hardware not listed on the compatibility guides will force any support calls to end abruptly. Ensure that you review the appropriate compatibility guide for the product you have chosen to install.

◆ Plan the Service Console management methods before installing. Identify the answers to
questions like:
◆ Will the Service Console be on a dedicated management network or on the same network
as virtual machines?
◆ Will I be using VLANs or physical hardware to segment the Service Console?
◆ How will I provide redundancy for the Service Console communication?
◆ If you’re installing ESX Server 3.5, construct a Service Console security plan. Ensure limited
access to the Service Console by minimizing the number of administrators with local user accounts or knowledge of the root password.
◆ Create user accounts for each administrative user who requires direct access to an ESX
Server host.
◆ Establish strong user account policies in the Service Console by integrating ESX Server
with Active Directory or by deploying a Linux-based security module.
◆ Establish growth projections and plan the ESX Server partition strategy accordingly.
◆ Increase /root partition size to provide ample room for growth and/or the installation
of third-party applications. If the root of the file system runs out of space, there will most certainly be issues to address.
◆ Increase /swap partition size to address any projected increases in the amount of RAM
provided to the Service Console. The /swap should be twice the amount of RAM that
will be allocated to the Service Console.
◆ Change /var/log to /var and increase partition size to provide ample room for logs
and the ESX Server patch management process that writes to the /var directory during
the process.
◆ Unless performing a boot from SAN, detach ESX Server hosts from the external storage
devices to prevent overwriting existing data. At minimum, don’t present LUNs to a new
ESX Server host until the installation is complete.
◆ When reinstalling ESX Server on a physical server, be careful not to initiate LUNs with existing data. Once again, disconnecting a host from the SAN during the reinstall process will eliminate the threat of erasing data.
◆ Configure a time synchronization strategy that synchronizes all ESX Server hosts with the
same external time server.
◆ Ensure the security of console access by guaranteeing the physical security of the box. If the
server is configured with a remote console adapter, like the Dell Remote Access Controller
(DRAC), ensure the default password has been changed and that the DRAC network is
not readily accessible to other network segments.

Virtual Networking Best

◆ Plan the virtual-to-physical networking integration.
◆ Maximize the number of physical network adapters (Ethernet ports) to provide flexibility
in the virtual networking architecture.
◆ Separate Service Console, iSCSI, NAS, VMotion, and virtual machine traffic across different
physical networks pending the availability of network adapters or use a VLAN architecture
to segment the traffic.
◆ Create virtual switches with VLAN IDs to provide security, segmentation, and scalability
to the virtual switching architecture.
◆ Construct a virtual networking security policy for virtual switches, ports, and port groups.
◆ Create port groups for security, traffic shaping, or VLAN tagging.
◆ For optimal security, configure the virtual switch properties with the following settings:
◆ Promiscuous mode: Reject
◆ MAC Address Changes: Reject
◆ Forged Transmits: Reject
◆ Avoid VLAN tags used by common third-party hardware devices, like VLAN0. Virtual
switches do not support the native VLAN as physical switches do.
◆ Define traffic shaping to reduce the outbound bandwidth available either to the virtual
machines that do not require full access to the bandwidth of the physical adapter or to
the virtual machines that inappropriately monopolize bandwidth. Weigh the options of
micro-managing virtual machine bandwidth against the configuration of NIC teams with
the installation of additional network adapters.
◆ Construct NIC teams on a physical adapter connected to separate bus architectures. For
example, use one onboard network adapter in combination with an adapter from an expansion
card. Do not use two adapters from the same expansion card in the same NIC team
or two onboard adapters in the same NIC team.
◆ To eliminate a single point of failure at the physical switch, connect network adapters in a
NIC team to separate physical switches that belong to the same broadcast domain.
◆ Consider creating a NIC team for the service console. Otherwise, consider providing
multiple vswif ports on different networks for redundant Service Console access.
◆ Construct a dedicated Gigabit LAN for VMotion. Ideally, all physical network adapters in
the server offer gigabit speeds.
◆ Create separate networks for test and production virtual machines.

StorageManagement Best

◆ When booting from SAN, mask each bootable LUN to be seen only by the ESX Server booting
from that LUN.
◆ Build a dedicated and isolated storage network for iSCSI SAN storage to isolate and secure
iSCSI storage-related traffic.
◆ Build a dedicated and isolated storage network for NAS/NFS storage to isolate and secure
NAS/NFS storage-related traffic.
◆ Perform all masking at the storage device, not at the ESX Server host.
◆ Separate disk-intensive virtual machines on different LUNs carved from separate physical
disks.
◆ Provide individual zoning configurations for each ESX Server host.
◆ Allow the SAN administrators to manage LUN sizes. VMFS extents might help immediate
needs, but might lead to loss of data in the event that an extent becomes corrupted or
damaged.
◆ Spread the storage communication workload across the available hardware devices. For
example, if the ESX Server host has two fibre channel adapters, ensure that the VMkernel is
not sending all traffic through one adapter while the other remains dormant.
◆ Use separate storage locations for test virtual machines and production virtual machines.
◆ Build LUNs in sizes that are easy to manage yet can host multiple virtual machines. For
example create 300GB or 400GB LUNs to host 5 or 6 virtual machines. Be prepared to use
storage VMotion to move disk intensive virtual machines.
◆ Use storage VMotion to eliminate down time when needing to migrate a virtual machine
between datastores.
◆ Use Raw Device Mappings (RDMs) forMicrosoft Clustering scenarios or to provide virtual
machines with access to existing LUNs that contain data on NTFS formatted storage.
◆ Implement a solid change management practice for the deployment of new LUNs.
Identify a standard sized LUN and stray from the standard only when the situation calls
for it.

VirtualCenter Best

◆ Uninstall IIS prior to installing VirtualCenter Server.
◆ Use the Service applet in theWindows Control Panel to configure the VMware VirtualCenter
Server Service for autorestart.
◆ Design a strong high availability solution for the VirtualCenter database server (i.e.,
Microsoft Clustering or consistent database backups).
◆ To install VirtualCenter 2.5 with a SQL Server 2005 back-end database requires a SQL
Server authenticated user account with membership in the db owner database role and
ownership of the VirtualCenter database. Once the installation of VC 2.5 is complete, the
db owner database role membership can (and should) be removed.
◆ Carefully monitor the transaction logs of the VirtualCenter database. To eliminate transaction
log growth, configure SQL Server databases in Simple Recovery mode. For maximum
recoverability, configure SQL Server database in Full Recovery mode.
◆ Configure VirtualCenter in an active/passive server cluster with Microsoft Clustering Services
for high availability, or install VirtualCenter into a virtual machine and perform a
copy of the virtual machine at regular intervals.
◆ Create a VirtualCenter hierarchy to support your management model. If your organization
manages resources by location, then create management objects (datacenters, clusters, folders)
based on location. On the other hand, if your organization manages by department,
then create objects accordingly. In most organizations the VirtualCenter hierarchy will
reflect a hybrid approach that combines location, department, server function, server type,
and so forth.
◆ Apply the principle of least privilege to permissions assignment policies in VirtualCenter.
Employees who use VirtualCenter as a common management tool should be granted only
the permissions required to perform their job.
◆ UseWindows groups in the VirtualCenter security model. AssigningWindows groups to a
VirtualCenter role that is assigned privileges and permissions will facilitate the application
of similar settings in the future. For example, create a Windows group called DomainControllerAdmins that is a member of the VC role called DCAdmins, which has the privilege to power on and power off and has been granted the permission on a folder containing all domain controller virtual machines. When a new user is hired to administer the domain
controller virtual machines, the user can simply be added to the DomainControllerAdmins
Windows group and will inherit all the necessary permissions.
◆ Identify a systematic approach to LUN creation and management. Identify either the adaptive
or the predictive scheme as the LUN management process. Keep in mind that your
overall storage management may involve a combination of larger LUNs with several virtual
machine files and smaller LUNs for individual virtual machine files.
◆ Configure DRS to perform VMotion based on comfort level. Some VMotion will be necessary
to ensure balance and fairness of resource allocation.
◆ Disable the automated VMotion for critical virtual machines that you do not wish to be
VMotion candidates based on the DRS algorithm.
◆ If the DRS algorithm suggests a VMotion migration of four or five stars, it is in the best
interest of the system to apply the recommendation. The algorithm takes into account
many factors for offering recommendations that result in increased system performance.

VirtualMachine Best Practices

◆ Construct virtual machines with separate drives for operating systems and user data. Place
each of the virtual SCSI hard drives on separate virtual SCSI adapters.
◆ Always install VMware Tools to provide the optimized SCSI drivers, enhanced virtual NIC
drives, and support for quiescing the file system during the VMware snapshot process.
◆ Use the VMware tools to complement the Windows Time Services to synchronize the time
on a virtual machine. The Windows server functioning as the PDC emulator operations
master should be configured to synchronize time with the same time server used by the
ESX Server hosts.
◆ Avoid special characters and spaces in the display names of virtual machines. Create
virtual machine display names with the same rules you apply when providing DNS
hostnames.
◆ During a physical-to-virtual migration, adjust the size of the hard drives to prevent excess
storage consumption of the target datastore.
◆ After a physical-to-virtual migration, reduce the amount of memory to a more appropriate
level. In most physical server environments, the amount of RAM is drastically overallocated.
In virtual environments, resource allocation must be carefully considered.
◆ After a physical-to-virtual migration, reduce the number of CPUs to one. Increase only as
needed by the virtual machine. Additional virtual CPUs can cause unwanted contention
with the scheduling of multiple vCPUs onto pCPUs. The number of vCPUs in a virtual
machine should be less than the number of pCPUs in the server to prevent the virtual
machine from consuming all pCPUs.
◆ Maintain virtual machine templates for several different operating system installations.
For example, create and maintain templates for Windows Server 2003, Windows Server
2003 Service Pack 1,Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 2, Windows Server 2008, and
so forth.
◆ When templates are brought online, place them onto isolated networks away from access
by standard end users.
◆ Use CPU and memory reservations to guarantee resources to critical virtual machines and
use share values to guarantee appropriate resources to critical virtual machines during
periods of increased contention.