VMware Homeserver – ESXi on 6th Gen Intel NUC

Intels 6th Gen NUCs are out and it’s time to take a look on their capabilities as homeserver running VMware ESXi. NUCs are not officially supported by VMware but they are very widespread in many homlabs or test environments. They are small, silent, transportable and have a very low power consumption, making it a great server for your homelab. I’ve posted a preview on the new models in December. Currently, 6th Gen NUCs are available with i3 and i5 CPU

6th-gen-nuc

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ESXi 5.5 December 2015 Patch (Build 3248547)

VMware has published a patch for ESXi 5.5

Product: VMware ESXi 5.5
Release date: December 8, 2015
Patch: ESXi550-201512001
Build: 3248547
Build (security only): 3247226
Links: KB2135410 | Download

Update vCenter Server to version 5.5 Update 3b before updating ESXi to ESXi 5.5 Update 3b.
Due to SSLv3 deactivation vCenter Server will not be able to manage ESXi 5.5 Update 3b hosts if you update ESXi before updating vCenter Server. (KB2140304)

A patched ESXi Installable and a new vCenter Server version has also been published:

Beside these core components we also have new versions for Mirage, BDE and Workstation:

If you want to get notified when new patches are released, subscribe to virten.net via Email in the sidebar.

The latest ESXi 5.5.0 Build number is now: 3248547
Updated: ESXi Release and Build Number History
Updated: VMware Product Latest Version
Updated: ESXi Image Profiles

Virtual Volumes Vendor Status – December 2015

vvol-december-2015VMware vSphere 6.0 with the new Virtual Volumes (VVol) storage architecture is in the market since 9 month now. Many vendors have adopted the technology and the list of supported storage arrays has grown massively in the last couple of month. This post takes a look on the current status and which vendors are supported today:

  • Atlantis
  • DataCore
  • Dell
  • EMC
  • Fujitsu
  • Hewlett-Packard
  • Hitachi
  • Huawei
  • IBM
  • NEC
  • NetApp
  • NexGen
  • SANBlaze

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VMware Workstation from 1999 to 2015

About 16 years ago, long before ESXi and vSphere, VMware published their first product: VMware 1.0. VMware was the first application that allowed to run multiple operating systems on a single x86 machine. The VMware Virtual Platform technology adds a thin software layer that allows multiple guest operating systems to run concurrently on a single standard PC.

vmware1

The first product “VMware” is still available today, but known as VMware Workstation.  Read more »

Preview on 6th Gen (Skylake) Intel NUC for VMware ESXi

The 6th Generation of my favorite Homelab systems are ready to be launched and the shipping is expected to start in December. Intel NUCs are small, silent, transportable and have a very low power consumption, making it a perfect system for homelabs or homeservers. Intel has put its latest Skylake mobile CPU into the mini system.

6th-gen-skylake-nucIntel NUCs were never officially supported by VMware but they have a great community support. Their last 4th and 5th Generations are proven in many homlabs or even for demonstrating Virtual SAN deployments.

  • 6th Gen NUCs are equipped with Skylake CPUs
  • i5 and i3 systems will be available in December 2015
  • Up to 32GB of DDR4 SODIMM memory
  • Available with and without 2.5″ HDD slot
  • M.2 slot with PCIe x4 support
  • External SD Card Slot
  • Intel I219V Network Adapter

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ESXi 6.0 November 2015 CBT Fix Patch (Build 3247720)

VMware has published a patch for ESXi 6.0 that resolves the (new) CBT Bug documented in KB2136854.

Product: VMware ESXi 6.0
Release date: November 25, 2015
Patch: ESXi600-201511001
Build: 3247720
Links: KB2137545 | Download

This patch updates the esx-base VIB to resolve an issue that occurs when you run virtual machine backups which utilize Changed Block Tracking (CBT) in ESXi 6.0, the CBT API call QueryDiskChangedAreas() might return incorrect changed sectors that results in inconsistent incremental virtual machine backups. The issue occurs as the CBT fails to track changed blocks on the VMs having I/O during snapshot consolidation.

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How to create custom vCenter Alarms from Events

In my last article I’ve created a custom vCenter alert with a special event trigger. I’ve received a question about how to figure out the trigger event string to be used for creating alarms.

The vSphere Client shows the following error event:vcenter-event

To create an alarm based on this event, you have to create a new alarm and use the following event trigger: com.vmware.vc.vsan.RogueHostFoundEvent
alarm-trigger-RogueHostFoundEvent

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Why you should protect your Virtual SAN Network

As a common best practice you should separate management, vMotion and Virtual SAN traffic from production traffic. This is not only a performance requirement, but also for security concerns. Compared to management traffic which is encrypted and requires authentication and vMotion traffic which is impracticable to eavesdrop, Virtual SAN traffic presents a large surface area to attacks.

This article explains why it is critical to keep Virtual SAN traffic in protected networks and what can happen when you ignore this guideline. I am also explaining how you can detect and monitor such attacks.

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Building a Single-Node VSAN

single-node-vsanI was wondering if it possible to speed up my Intel NUC based ESXi with Virtual SAN. The idea is that compared against vSphere Flash Read Cache, Virtual SAN can use the SSD not only as read cache but also as write buffer. This post explains how you can create a Virtual SAN Datastore on a single ESXi host from the command-line without a vCenter Server.

It goes without saying that this is neither the idea behind Virtual SAN nor officially supported by VMware. It also violates VMware’s EULA if you are running Virtual SAN without a VSAN license. To assign a licence you need a vCenter Server and wrap the single ESXi into a Cluster.

My configuration for this test:

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How long are Virtual Machines stunned for Snapshots and vMotion?

I’ve read this excellent article by Cormac Hogan explaining why and when a Virtual Machine receives a “stun”. This post is a follow-up explaining how you can determine the duration of a Virtual Machine stun on the most common vSphere functions:

  • Create a Snapshot
  • Delete a Snapshot
  • vMotion

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