vSphere 5 Cool Stuff : Storage DRS

Looking into the new features of vSphere, Storage Distributed Resource Scheduler (SDRS) is probably one of the best and one of the coolest new features that comes with vSphere 5. DRS is one of the standard features in vSphere and is used to distribute the load of the workload evenly over all the ESXi host within a cluster.

Within vSphere 4.1 and previous versions this was based on the CPU and memory load which was generated by the virtual machines that were hosted on top of vSphere. Now with vSphere 5 VMware has added Storage DRS. This extends DRS with the storage stack.

Storage DRS provides smart virtual machine placement and load balancing mechanisms based on I/O and space capacity. Overall this comes down to four nice features that Storage DRS provides :

1. Smart initial placement of the VMDK on the LUNs
2. Migration recommendations (manual and automated)
3. Affinity and anti-affinity rules
4. Storage maintenace mode

Basically these features are similar to the features you see with “normal” DRS. It adds a whole new dimension to vSphere and makes it more flexible and contributes to the fact that vSphere is a cloud operating system. In my opinion this will make life a lot easier and in the end it will save time and money in operating your virtual infrastructure.

To see how Storage DRS in action, have a closer look at the following video created by VMware :

For more information on the topic of Storage DRS see :

VMware product page
What’s New in vSphere 5.0 – Storage

And if you really want to dive into the new features of DRS, including Storage DRS, you have to take a look at the book written by Duncan Epping and Frank Denneman : VMware vSphere 5 : Clustering Technical Deepdive.

For more information on the book see the following pages on Yellow-Brick.com and FrankDenneman.nl.

vSphere Licensing : Desktop edition

VMware releases a new vSphere License for the hosting of VDI desktops. In addition to the new vSphere 5 licensing editions, VMware releases a new edition : vSphere Desktop : vSphere Edition to host Desktop Virtualization


vSphere Desktop is a new edition of vSphere for deploying desktop virtualization.  It provides the full range of features and functionalities of the vSphere Enterprise+ edition allowing you to achieve scalability, high availability and optimal performance for all of your desktop workloads.

Also, vSphere Desktop enables you to realize high virtual desktop consolidation ratios at a lower cost as it comes with unlimited vRAM entitlement. The vSphere Desktop edition is intended for customers who want to purchase only vSphere licenses to deploy desktop virtualization. In addition to the vSphere Desktop edition, VMware also sells a comprehensive end to end desktop and application virtualization solution – VMware View. 

vSphere Desktop is already included in the View Bundle – The desktop and application virtualization product from VMware. This offer gives customers the option to purchase vSphere Desktop as a standalone vSphere edition outside of the View Bundle.

vSphere Desktop is licensed based on the total number of Powered On Desktop Virtual Machines. It is available in a pack size of 100 desktop VM at a license list price of $6500 USD.

vSphere Desktop can be used only for hosting a VDI environment.

The article below also gives a good example on how this new edition impact licensing cost in contrast to vSphere Enterprise Plus license.

vSphere Desktop is the cost effective vSphere SKU for deploying desktop virtualization.

Example: Customer deploying 1000 Win 7 desktops


Memory/VM =1 GB
vSphere Ent+: List Price: $3495/CPU with vRAM
entitlement of 48GB
vSphere Desktop: List Price $65/VM, Unlimited vRAM
entitlement for desktop VMs

# of vSphere Enterprise+ licenses required = (Total pooled vRAM required for all desktop VMs / MIN (vRAM used per processor, vRAM entitlement per processor)) = (1000 desktop VM *1GB / MIN (vRAM entitlement used,48GB) )

# of vSphere Desktop licenses required = # of desktop VMs


More information see this FAQ doucment over here.

VMware licensing : vRAM entitlement explained

The release of VMware vSphere 5 comes with a new licensing model. This model is based on licensing “per CPU with vRAM entitlement limitation”. As I mentioned in my previous licensing post this is a difference with regards to the previous vSphere version. :

“Also I need to mention that VMware changed it’s licensing model from a “per CPU with core / physical memory” to a “per CPU with vRAM entitlement limitation”. No longer the limitation is on the amount of cores or physical RAM memory in a server, but the limitation is in the amount of virtual memory (vRAM) consumed by the hosted virtual machines.”

In this post I will try to explain the per CPU with vRAM licensing model by using the example below. I hope this will make things a lot easier to grasp. After all it’s about licensing, so it’s about money! And in the end you don’t want to end up in a situation that you’re unable to power-on new virtual machines.


In the example we have 2 ESXi host that both have 2 processors. The amount of cores does not matter anymore when using vSphere 5. There is no longer a limitation on the amount of cores or the amount of physical memory in a server. But as mentioned above, VMware has introduced a new limitation with regards to licensing : vRAM entitlement.

vRAM entitlement

vRAM entitlement comes with each “per CPU” license. The amount of vRAM depends on the vSphere edition that is being used.

* vSphere 5 Standard Edition gives you 24 GB vRAM
* vSphere 5 Enterprise Edition gives you 32 GB vRAM
* vSphere 5 Enterprise Plus Edition gives you 48 GB vRAM

So this means that for each CPU license that you buy, you’ll get a certain amount of vRAM entitled. In the example above there are 2 physical CPUs in each ESXi host. Making a total of (2 x 2 = ) 4 physical CPUs you’ll need to license for VMware vSphere 5. In the example I’m using Enterprise licenses, which entitle me to 32 GB of vRAM per CPU license. This makes a grant total of 128 GB of vRAM which I can use.

The total vRAM is also known as a vRAM entitlement pool. This is the combined total of all the ESXi hosts managed by a vCenter instance or a set of linked vCenter instances. Every vRAM entitlement is aggregated into one pool which can be used by all virtual machines managed by vCenter.

vRAM usage

The usage of vRAM comes with the amount of virtual machines that is powered-on. Each time a virtual machines is powered-on, licensing will check if enough vRAM is available in the vRAM pool. The amount of vRAM used by the virtual machine is then added to the total amount of vRAM used by all virtual machines combined.

The total of the used amount of vRAM must be equal of lower then the total amount of vRAM in the vRAM pool. If this is not the case, the virtual machine will not be powered on and you’ll need to buy more licenses or upgrade to a higher vSphere Edition (if possible).

In the example above we have 18 virtual machines, all configured with different amounts of vRAM per virtual machine. The total amount of vRAM used by all virtual machines is 68 GB.


So looking at the example again. I’ve got 128 GB of vRAM in my vRAM pool. At this moment I’ve got 18 virtual machines that combined have a vRAM usage of 68 GB.

So to calculate the amount of vRAM I still have left I need to take total licensed vRAM minus the vRAM that is already used by the virtual machines :

Total licensed vRAM – Used vRAM = Available vRAM

In the end this comes down to 128 GB (Total licensed vRAM) – 68 GB (Used vRAM) = 60 GB of vRAM that still available for new “to-be-powered-on” virtual machines.

I hope this gives a good impression of how the vRAM entitlement works in vSphere 5. For more information have a look at the VMware vSphere 5 Licensing, Pricing and Packaging Whitepaper over here.

Update  : PowerCLI guru Luc Dekens already wrote a Powershell scrip to verify if your vSphere environment is covered by the new vRAM licensing model. See for yourself over here.

Licensing in VMware vSphere 5

With the new vSphere release VMware also updated the licensing for this release. The diagram below gives a graphical representation about what features are included per vSphere edition.


As you can see VMware will release vSphere 5 into 3 Editions : Standard, Enterprise and Enterprise Plus. These can be bought individually, but can also be purchased in Acceleration Kits which will give you a fixed amount of vSphere CPU / vRAM licenses and a vCenter license for a standard price out of the box.

Also I need to mention that VMware changed it’s licensing model from a “per CPU with core / physical memory” to a “per CPU wit vRAM limitation”. No longer the limitation is on the amount of cores or physical RAM memory in a server, but the limitation is in the amount of virtual memory (vRAM) consumed by the hosted virtual machines.

Besides the vSphere Editions you can also buy the (SMB) Essentials kits. These are specifically targeted at small businesses. Not all vSphere features are included in these releases, but enough to run your SMB workloads.

For more information about licensing and how to obtain vShere 5 over here.

Launching VMware vSphere 5!

Today Paul Maritz and Steven Herrod announced the release of VMware vSphere 5. This release is the next step in VMware’s cloud operating system. It is the industry leading platform for building cloud infrastructures.

vSphere accelerates the shift to cloud computing for existing datacenters, while underpinning
compatible public cloud offerings, paving the way to the only hybrid cloud model.


New Features include :

Scalability and Performance – Enables Virtual Machines (VM) to grow up to 32 virtual CPUs, can support 1TB vRAM, and a variety of next-generation hardware, such as 3D graphics processors and USB 3.0 devices.

High Availability – Deliver the right availability services with groundbreaking simplicity for any application.

Auto-Deploy – Deploy more vSphere hosts running the ESXi hypervisor architecture in minutes.

Flexible Hybrid Cloud Management – The vCenter Server Appliance is a Linux-based virtual appliance and the Web Client works from any browser anywhere in the world.

From my point of view this release is again a major (r)evolution in path towards a cloud operating system that can be used for both private as public clouds. vSphere is the base for all the VMware products and indeed like the online event suggested VMware raises the bar again for the competition to follow. This results in a cloud operating system which more and more becomes hardware independent. Which in the end will make IT infrastructure a lot more flexible and easier to maintain.

More information about VMware vSphere 5 is available over here.

Set VMware VUM to use HTTP download

VMware vCenter Update Manager (VUM) comes preconfigured with a couple of download locations to download your ESX(i) patches. By default VUM uses HTTPS to connect to the download locations. This is secure, but some companies want to know what you download and / or scan everything that you download. Therefore they request you to download your patches using HTTP.

To configure VUM to use HTTP in stead of HTTPS you’ll need to edit the following XML file (please create a copy before manually editing the file) :

<install location VUM>\VMware\Infrastructure\Update Manager\vci-integrity.xml

This file contains the host configuration settings for VUM. Change the following entries from https to http.




After you have saved the file vci-integrity.xml restart the VUM service on the server where VUM is installed.

VMware still leader in x86 Infrastructure Virtualization

Gartner published their magic quadrant again for x86 Server Virtualization Infrastructure. VMware again came out as the number 1 company in infrastructure virtualization.

The number of installed server VMs and containers has nearly doubled in the past year as competition improves, virtualization adoption expands, the midmarket heats up, desktop virtualization drives more workloads to servers and workloads are deployed by cloud computing providers.

The magic quadrant by Gartner shows VMware being the number 1 company in x86 Infrastructure Virtualization, followed by Microsoft and Citrix .


As of mid-2011, at least 40% of x86 architecture workloads have been virtualized on servers; furthermore, the installed base is expected to grow five-fold from 2010 through 2015 (as both the number of workloads in the marketplace grow and as penetration grows to more than 75%). A rapidly growing number of midmarket enterprises are virtualizing for the first time, and have several strong alternatives from which to choose. Virtual machine (VM) and operating system (OS) software container technologies are being used as the foundational elements for infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) cloud computing offerings and for private cloud deployments. x86 server virtualization infrastructure is not a commodity market. While migration from one technology to another is certainly possible, the earlier that choice is made, the better, in terms of cost, skills and processes. Although virtualization can offer an immediate and tactical return on investment (ROI), virtualization is an extremely strategic foundation for infrastructure modernization, improving the speed and quality of IT services, and migrating to hybrid and public cloud computing.

For the entire article go to the Gartner post over here.

Unattended install of VMware Tools

Large environments require different techniques in rolling out software packages. This is also the case for VMware Tools.

You can of course right click on the virtual machine in the vSphere Client and select Guest > Install/Upgrade VMware Tools or even create a PowerCLI script to do the job for you. But sometimes, and common in large environments, you need to comply with the IT infrastructure policy and install your VMware Tools by using a software distribution tool like Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager.

For this you need to know how the VMware Tools MSI package is installed and which options you want to install. For this Valentin Hamburger, Technical Account Manager @ VMware, has written a great PDF document containing the decomposition of the VMware Tools package.

The picture below shows the various installation options from the VMware Tools MSI package and if they are required or not.


You can download the complete PDF over here, but with the following disclaimer : “This documentation is provided “as is”. It is not part of the official VMware product documentation.”