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VI3Monitoring and Troubleshooting Best Practices

The following best practices will help you troubleshoot a problematic VI3 deployment.

◆ Monitor virtual machine performance with a combination of tools inside the virtual machine and tools in VI3. For example, use Task Manager inside of a virtual machine and the performance reports from VirtualCenter to monitor CPU utilization and to identify bottlenecks.

◆ Regularly review the levels of CPUReady and Ballooning in the performance charts provided
by VirtualCenter. Abnormally high values of either counter would indicate an issue
with CPU or memory, respectively.

◆ Create virtual machine benchmarks as a standard of comparison when changes are made.

◆ Create e-mail-based performance alarms for key virtual machines. Allow administrators to
be notified of system problems for virtual machines that provide core network services
such as mail, databases, and authentication.

◆ Identify the root of any problem, then attempt fixes based on monitoring results, feature
dependencies, and the company’s documented change management process. For example,
if VMware HA is not failing over properly, review the DNS configuration for the affected
hosts since HA relies on name resolution across ESX Server hosts.

◆ Engage in a systematic approach to identifying and fixing problems with ESX Server hosts
and virtual machines.

VMWARE Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Best Practices

◆ Implement Microsoft Clustering Services to achieve high availability of individual virtual
machines. Note that versions of ESX Server prior to 3.5 were certified for support of
Microsoft server clusters in virtual machines. As of this writing, the recertification process
for clustering in a virtual machine was not complete. Please refer to the VMware website
for updated information about supported technologies.
◆ Implement VMware High Availability (HA) to provide automatic restart of virtual
machines residing on an ESX Server that fails.
◆ Use strict admission control for HA clusters unless virtual machine performance is not as
important as simply having the virtual machine powered on.
◆ Prioritize virtual machines for startup after server failure. Prepare a contingency plan
for powering off unnecessary virtual machines in the event of server failure, resulting in
reduced computing power.
◆ Implement a backup strategy that involves a blend of full virtual machine backups with file
level backups.
◆ Purchase enough backup agents to ensure minimal recovery times for servers with critical
production data. Schedule the backups to ensure that recovery times are appropriate
for the data type. For example, for data with greater value and a requirement for quicker
restore, backups should be scheduled more often than usual.
◆ Do not use virtual machine snapshots as long-term solutions to disaster recovery or business
continuity. Snapshots are meant as a temporary means of providing an easy rollback
feature and are used primarily for short term recovery purposes.
◆ Back up data as often as needed as determined by a written business continuity/disaster
recovery plan. More critical data should be backed up more often to prevent less data loss
in the event of disaster.
◆ Test the full and virtual machine backups regularly by restoring to a test or development
◆ Store a copy of virtual machine backups in an off-site location. Otherwise, use tools to perform
virtual machine replication to distant datacenters. Virtualization offers significant
advantages in the realm of disaster recovery because virtual machines are encapsulated
into a discrete set of files.
◆ Purchase licenses for Windows Server 2003 Datacenter to achieve a greater return on
investment and achieve less stringent VMotion restrictions. Datacenter licenses allow for
the installation of an unlimited number of virtual machines per ESX Server host.

Vmware Infrastructure 3 Best Practices

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
◆ 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
◆ 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
◆ 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.

VICFG Vmware ESX Service Console Command

The latest updates to the VI3 product suite, ESX Server 3.5, ESXi, and VirtualCenter 2.5 have also brought about the introduction of a new set of command line tools in the vicfg. The commands are similar to the esxcfg commands but are more directly dedicated to remote host management functions using the new remote command line interface tool available from VMware.

vicfgvicfg-nas Used to manipulate NAS/NFS.
--add or -a to add a new NAS file system
--delete or -d to delete a NAS file system
--help to display help text
--nasserver or -o followed by to add the hostname of the new NAS file system
--share or -s used with -a to provide the name of the directory that is exported on the NAS device
--vihost or -h followed by to direct the command to a particular ESX Server host

vicfg-vmhbadevs Used to discover information about available LUNs.
--help to display help text
--query or -q to print the output in 2.6 compatibility mode
--vihost or -h followed by to direct the command to a particular ESX Server host
--vmfs or -m to print the VMFS UUID in addition to the HBA and /dev names for LUNs that are formatted as VMFS

vicfg-mpath Used to manipulate multipathing.
--help to display help text
--bulk or -b to show all LUNs and paths in parsable format
--detailed or -d to show all information about a LUN, including its globally unique name
--hbas or -a to print the list of HBAs that can be identified by a unique ID
--list or --l to list all LUNs on the system and the paths to each LUN
--lun or -L followed by to specify the LUN to use in the operations command (this option is not used by itself)
--path or -P followed by to specify the path to use in the operations command (this
option is not used by itself)
--policy or -p followed by [mru | fixed] to set the policy for a given LUN (the option for round-robin (rr) can be used but is still experimental)
--preferred or -f to set the specified path (--path) as the preferred path
--query or -q to query a LUN for information
--state or -s followed by on or off to enable or disable a given path
--vihost or -h followed by to direct the command to a particular ESX
Server host

vicfg-rescan Used to perform a rescan for discovering new LUNs.
--help to display help text
--vihost or -h followed by to direct the command to a particular ESX Server host
to provide the name of the adapter to rescan
(i.e., vmhba1)

vicfg-dumppart Used to query, set, and scan diagnostic partitions on ESXi.
--activate or -a to activate the configured diagnostic partition (performs the same as
--deactivate or -d to deactivate the currently active diagnostic partition
--find or -f to find all diagnostic partitions
--get-active or -t to get the active diagnostic partition for the system
--get-config or -c to get the configured diagnostic partition for the system
--list or -l to list all partitions on the system that can act as a diagnostic partition
--set or -s followed by to set the active and configured diagnostic partition
--vihost or -h followed by to direct the command to a particular ESX Server host

vicfg-nics Used to report on and manage physical network adapters.
--help to display help text
--auto or -a to set the given adapter to autonegotiate the speed and duplex settings
--duplex or -d followed by [full | half] to set the duplex value for a givenNIC
--speed or -s followed by to set the speed value for a given NIC
--list or -l to list the physical adapters in the system
--vihost or -h followed by to direct the command to a particular ESX Server host

vicfg-vmknic Used to configure virtual network adapters.
--help to display help text
--add or -a to add a virtual network adapter to the system (an IP address and port group
name must be specified)
--del or -d followed by to delete the virtual network adapter on the specified
port group
--ip or -i followed by [| DHCP] to set the virtual network adapter to a given
IP address or to obtain an address from a DHCP server
--list or -l to list virtual network adapters on the system
--netmask or -n followed by to set the network mask for the assigned IP address
--vihost or -h followed by to direct the command to a particular ESX Server host

vicfg-vswitch Used to configure virtual switches.
--help to display help text
--add or -a followed by to add a new virtual switch
--add-pg or -A followed by to add a port group to the specified switch
--check or -c followed by to check for the existence of a virtual switch
--check-pg or -C followed by to check for the existence of a port group
--delete or -d followed by to delete the specified virtual switch (this
command will not work if any of the virtual switch ports are in use)
--del-pg or -D followed by to delete the specified port group (this command
will not work if the port group is in use)
--link or -L followed by to add a physical adapter to a virtual switch
--list or -l to list all virtual switches and port groups
--mtu or -m to set the maximum transmission unit (MTU) of the virtual switch
--pg or -p followed by to provide the name of a port group when using
the --vlan option (use the ALL parameter to set VLAN IDs on all port groups of a virtual switch)
--vlan or -v to set the VLAN ID for a specific port group (using the parameter 0 disables all
VLAN IDs; using --vlan requires the --pg option)
--vihost or -h followed by to direct the command to a particular ESX Server host
vicfg-route Used to configure the default route for VMkernel ports.
--help to display help text
--vihost or -h followed by to direct the command to a particular ESX Server host
to specify the default gateway to be used by the VMkernel

vicfg-ntp Used to configure NTP settings.
--help to display help text
--add or -a followed by to add an NTP server
--delete or -d followed by to delete an NTP server
--list or -l to list the configured NTP servers
--vihost or -h followed by to direct the command to a particular ESX Server host

ESXCFG Vmware Service Console Command

In addition to the standard Linux commands covered thus far VMware has implemented a specific set of commands directed toward ESX-specific tasks. The following list of commands show how to manage various components of the ESX Server configuration.

esxcfg-auth Used to configure an ESX Server host to support network-based authentication
methods (e.g., Active Directory [AD]).
--enablead to configure Service Console for AD authentication
--addomain to set the domain the Service Console will authenticate against
--addc to set the domain controller to authenticate against for AD authentication
--usecrack to enable the pam cracklib formanaging password complexity

esxcfg-firewall Used to query, enable, and disable services on the Service Console firewall.
-q to query the current firewall settings
-q servicename to query the status of a specific service
-q incoming/outgoing to query the status of incoming and outgoing ports
--blockIncoming to block all incoming connections on ports not required for system function
--blockOutgoing to block all outgoing connections on ports not required for system function
--allowIncoming to allow incoming connections on all ports
--allowOutgoing to allow outgoing connections on all ports
--e servicename to enable a specific service
--d servicename to disable a specific service

esxcfg-info Used to review the hardware information for Service Console and VMKernel.
-w to print hardware information
-s to print storage and disk information
-n to print network information

esxcfg-mpath Used to view and configure the multipathing settings for an ESX Server host’s
fibre channel or iSCSI storage devices.
-p to set the policy for mru (most recently used), fixed, or rr (round-robin)
-P to define a path to operate on
-s with ‘‘on’’ or ‘‘off’’ to enable or disale a specific path
-f to set a specified path as the preferred

esxcfg-nas Used to configure NAS storage on ESX Server.
-l to list all NAS
-a to add a new NAS datastore on a specified host
-o to provide the name of the NAS host
-s to provide the name of the NAS share
-delete to delete a NAS datastore

esxcfg-nics Used to obtain information about and configure the physical network adapters
installed in an ESX Server host.
-s to set the speed of a card to 10, 100, 1000, or 10,000.
-d to set the duplex to half or full

esxcfg-route Used to configure the default gateway for the VMkernel.

esxcfg-swiscsi Used to configure the software iSCSI component of ESX Server.
-e to enable software iSCSI
-d to disable software iSCSI
-q to query if software iSCSI is enabled
-s to scan for new LUNs using software iSCSI

esxcfg-vmhbadevs Used to obtain information about the LUNs available to the ESX Server.
-m to print the VMFS UUID if formatted as VMFS
esxcfg-vmknic Used to configure the VMkernel NIC.
-a to add a VMkernel port group
-d to delete a VMKernel
-e to enable the VMkernel NIC
-D to disable the VMkernel port
-i to set the IP address of the VMkernel NIC
-n to set the networkmask for the IP of the call

esxcfg-vswif Used to set the parameters of the Service Console
-a to add a Service Console NIC (this option is predicated on having IP information and
port group names)
-d to delete a the Service Console NIC
-e to enable the Service Console NIC
-D to disable the Service ConsoleNIC
-p to set the port group name for the Service Console NIC
-i to set the IP address to be used for the Service Console NIC
-n to set the network mask of for the Service Console NIC

esxcfg-vswitch Used to add, remove, or modify a virtual switch.
-a to add a new virtual switch
-d to delete a new virtual switch
-l to list all existing virtual switches
-L to unlink a network adapter from a hosting provider
-U to link a network adapter
-v to set the vLAN ID for a port group
-A to add a new port group
-D to delete a port group
-C to query for the existence of a port group name

Managing Directories, Files, and Disks in the ESX Service Console

Without a graphical interface to use creating, managing, and deleting files and directories will
have to be done in the console session. The following commands provide basic instruction on
moving, copying, creating, and deleting files and directories.

mv Used to move or rename files.
Example 1: mv oldfile newfile
Example 2: mv file1 /newfolder/file1

cp Used to copy directories or files. Can be used to rename a file during the copy process.
-f to force the copy
-p to copy the permissions
Example 1: cp file1 /newdocs/file1
Example 2: cp file1 /newdocs/file2

rm Used to remove files and directories.
-f to force the removal
Example: rm -f /olddirectory

rmdir Used to remove empty directories.
Example: rmdir

touch Used to create a new file or change file access and modification time.
Example: touch mynewfile.txt

fdisk Used to manage disk partitions.

mount Used to mount CD-ROM or floppy drives.
Example: mount /mnt/cdrom

Navigating,Managing, andMonitoring through the ESX Service Console

Navigating the Service Console command line and performing management, configuration, and
troubleshooting tasks is an important skill set for virtual infrastructure administrators.
This appendix discusses the following topics: navigating and managing the Service Console,
managing disks and files in the Service Console, and using esxcfg, a management tool from VMware.

Navigating,Managing, andMonitoring through the Service Console

First and foremost, getting around the service console is a critical skill for troubleshooting and
managing ESX Server hosts when the traditional graphical tools are not available. The following
commands are some of the common and basic commands for moving around a Linux-based
operating system.

cd Used to change directories.
Example: #cd /vmfs/volumes

ls Used to list files and folders in the current directory.
Example: #ls
ls -l Used to list files and folders in a long format with rights and owners.
ls -s Used to list files and folders in a short format.
ls -R Used to list files and folders with the ability to scroll.

whoami Used to identify the effective user.

who am i Used to identify the currently logged-on user.

logout Used to log out the current user.

reboot Used to reboot a system.

adduser Used to add a new user.
Example: useradd newaccount

passwd Used to update a user account password.
Example: passwd newaccount