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Archive for August, 2012

Corsair XMS3 RAM compatible with HP Microserver N40L

August 31st, 2012 No comments

Just a quick post today on RAM compatibility with the good old trusty home lab server, the HP Proliant N40L Microserver. I am currently using Microservers for my home vSphere 5 lab, running ESXi 5.0 update 1.

 

I had 8GB of Corsair XMS3 PC3-12800 C9 (1600MHz) RAM lying around at home and wanted to put it back to good use. It does not have ECC, but I tried it out in my Microserver and it works! Despite being a higher voltage rated RAM kit (1.65v odd), it works with the Microserver’s 1.5 rated DIMM slots just fine. No need to buy an extra 8GB RAM kit with my second Microserver now.

 

 

The latest trends in VMware and Cloud Computing

August 29th, 2012 2 comments

cloud computing

 

VMware promotes virtualization as a catalyst for cloud computing. Cloud infrastructures are built on and powered by VMware. VMware allows IT professionals to build solutions that are specifically tailored to a client’s individual needs. Internal and external clouds may be created to handle the needs of a growing business. Hybrid clouds are growing in popularity for businesses that want the convenience of both. Here are some of the benefits of VMware cloud virtualization:

 

  • Efficient Processes. VMware makes it possible to automate processes and employ utilization to increase IT performance. When IT professionals leverage existing resources and avoid expenses related to infrastructure investment, the total cost of ownership (TCO) is reduced tremendously.
  • Agility. End-users gain a more secure environment with cloud computing. With VMware, IT professionals can be assured that they will preserve IT authority, control and security while remaining compliant. Processes are also simplified to make the job easier. An IT organization is able to respond quickly to organizations with evolving business needs.
  • More Flexibility. IT professionals can use VMware in conjunction with traditional systems for maximum flexibility. The systems may be deployed internally or externally. When configuring VMware, IT professionals are not limited to using any one vendor or technology. The solutions are portable and are capable of using a common management and security framework.
  • Better Security. VMware solutions protect end-points, the network edge and applications through virtualization. The cloud based deployments of security patches and solutions are dynamic and constantly being updated.
  • Automation and Management. With VMware, a highly efficient, self-managing infrastructure can be created. Business rules and policies can be mapped to IT resources when the tools are virtually pooled.
  • Portable and Independent. Open standard VMware solutions provide more flexibility and reduce the dependence on a particular vendor. With this security model, applications are easily portable from internal datacenters to external service provider clouds. The applications are also dynamic, optimized and deployable on public clouds with VMware cloud application platforms.
  • Saves Time. A self-service cloud-based portal is capable of reducing time spent by deploying standardized solutions that have been pre-configured to operate off-the-shelf or out-of-the-box. This method promotes efficiency through automation and standardization. Tailored services are also popular and can be achieved with VMware solutions. IT can remain in compliance and preserve control over policies with VMware.
  • Virtual Pooling and Dynamic Resource Allocation. Virtual datacenters are created by pooling IT resources through abstraction. Logical storage building blocks, server units and network are integrated into the solution to power applications. This process is completed in accordance to regulations and business rules. User demand also plays a role in how these applications are deployed and hosted.

 

How Businesses are using VMware to transition to the Cloud

Dynamic businesses have a need for a robust and affordable IT solution. Most businesses use 70 percent of their resources focusing on maintenance of servers and applications in a traditional system. With only 30 percent of the IT budget left for innovation, companies cannot grow and provide the type of service and products its clients need and desire. IT management is searching for a better strategy, and VMware seems to be a viable solution.

VMware provides users with faster response times. Faster response times lead to lower costs over time. Self-managed virtual infrastructures are efficient and preferred by many businesses.

IT professionals can identify which cloud-based solution is best for your company. The choices typically consist of a public, private or hybrid solution. Many companies have successfully implemented these solutions.

VMware’s cloud infrastructure and management application is commonly known as vCloud Director.  This application will allow a company to transition to the cloud at their own pace. The application was introduced in 2011 to provide companies with greater flexibility and efficiency in the cloud.

VMware’s solution allows companies the ability to leverage their existing infrastructure. This saved business owners significant time and money. The savings could then be reinvested for innovation. VMware’s cost-effective solution provides an answer to the pre-existing solution of 70 percent spending on infrastructure maintenance.

NetApp has exceptional backup and recovery capabilities that are necessary for any company’s disaster recovery solution. Within minutes, VMware’s vCloud Director can recover data. The backup and recovery system is customizable, fast and accurate.

NetApp and VMware have a 24 hour per day and seven day per week global staff monitoring the applications and data stored in the cloud. This ensures the data is protected. Technical support constantly works with all parties to ensure issues are addressed promptly and efficiently. Additionally, VMware ensures that resources are available to meet service level agreements.

 

Consider How VMware Can Help Your Organization

VMware is a viable solution that can be beneficial in any organization. Consider VMware for your business and witness an increase in productivity, efficiency and mobility. VMware solutions are chosen frequently because they work.

 

Author Bio:

David Malmborg works with Dell. When David is not working, he enjoys spending time with his two kids. For more information on cloud computing, David recommends clicking here.

Accelerate your Windows 7 migration workshop – London

August 24th, 2012 No comments

With Microsoft withdrawing support for Windows XP SP3 in April 2014, do you have a strategy in place to deal with the inevitable migration? How about adding value to your end-user app portfolio?

 

Xtravirt and IBM will be holding a half day workshop, where best practises and experiences around accelerating migration to Windows 7 can be discussed and shared. The following tasks and objectives are also on the cards for discussion:

  • Application compatibility and migration
  • Rapid Windows 7 deployment
  • Achieving security and compliance
  • Supporting BYOD and flexible working

 

Another great opportunity for delegates who attend will be the chance to throw their questions at a panel of industry experts during the session. So, if you are looking for some great discussion, and are looking for ways to develop and optimise your existing EU desktop estate, be sure to sign up for the event!

The workshop will be taking place on the 12th September 2012 in London. For more information and details, or to sign up, be sure to check out the event page over here.

 

This is the official agenda:

1pm: Registration & Coffee
Introductions & Session Objectives
W7 Migrate or Transform
IBM Methodology
Case Study/Lessons Learnt
4pm: Closing – Next Steps

 

Checking if your SSD supports “TRIM” using FreeNAS 8.x

August 19th, 2012 2 comments

I have been playing with the newer versions of FreeNAS for shared storage on my home VMware vSphere lab recently (after having last used it on version 7.x). I added a spare OCZ Vertex Plus 120GB SSD to my mini-ITX based FreeNAS box and was wondering how TRIM would be handled, if at all with FreeNAS.

 

To check to see if your SSD supports TRIM under FreeNAS, open up a Shell session to your FreeNAS box – i.e. PuTTy, or via the Web GUI. Then issue the following command, specifying your SSD drive where /dev/ada0 is used as an example below. Note that we are using the CAM control program that comes with FreeBSD. Please exercise caution with this command as it has the potential to cause damage if not used correctly!

 

camcontrol identify /dev/ada0

 

If you need to check disk/device names to figure out which one is your SSD, you could use the GUI. Go to Storage -> View Disks, then check the name column for the device names of each disk. Use /dev/diskname in the command above. After running the command above, you’ll get a list of disk information back, just check the “data set management (TRIM)” row to see if TRIM support is enabled or not.

 

I have not yet worked out a way to see if TRIM is actually being actively used yet though – so if anyone has any suggestions or ideas as to how to check that it is actually in use, please let me know!

 

Home labs – adding and modding a dual port Gigabit NIC to the HP Microserver N40L

August 8th, 2012 12 comments

I wanted to add more physical NICs to my HP Microserver N40L machine to use with vSphere. The box comes with an onboard 1GBit NIC, but I wanted to play around with VLANs and multiple uplinks in my home lab. The problem is finding an affordable solution – most dual port NICs that are any use with ESXi (Intel chipset based) cost almost as much as the Microserver itself which is quite off-putting!

After trawling ebay and the VMware HCL I found that that the HP NC360T PCI Express Dual Port Gigabit Network Card would work well with ESXi 5.0 and that I could get these NICs (used) fairly cheap. I picked up a used card off ebay for only £30 ($46.97 US), which was in my budget. Problem was I could not find a card with a low-profile bracket, so I thought I would just make do with the normal bracket and either remove it, or modify it to fit.

The NIC itself has two 1GBit ports, and is based on the Intel 82571EB chipset and offers a 4 lane (x4) PCI Express bus. This means that I could use it on the HP Microserver’s 16x PCI Express slot (which is downward compatible of course). Apparently there are also mods out there that can be used to get this card to work in the x1 slot if you don’t have the x16 slot free – but I haven’t attempted this yet.

I first tried it out without the bracket (by just removing two screws that hold the bracket to the PCB). This worked fine, but was really not a permanent solution, especially for plugging/unplugging cables whilst the machine was powered up.

not a good solution - the NIC without bracket - way too flimsy

 

So out came the tools as I decided to modify the existing bracket to fit the Microserver’s low-profile chassis.

The Intel card's bracket next to the Microserver's blanking plate.

 

HP NC360T PCI Express card with bracket removed

 

Step 1 – I drew a line at the point where the 90 degree bend in the bracket should be for a low-profile card. I then took a junior hacksaw and “scored” this line out (saw a little bit in to weaken the metal).

Step 2 – Now with the score mark in place, I simply used two pairs of pliers to bend the bracket along the score mark, which was now easy and accurate.

bending the bracket on the score mark

 

Step 3 – I marked off where the 90 degree protruding point of the bracket would end, and used the hacksaw to remove the excess. I then cut out a small notch in this top piece for the screw that holds the PCI card in place normally. I attached the bracket back to the NIC and installed in the Microserver.

 

The HP NIC fitted with modified bracket

 

And here is the final result after ESXi 5.0 recognises the new hardware –

The NIC recognised under Network adapters view - ESXi 5.0

If you have managed to find any good PCI Express NICs for the HP N40L Microserver, or have any advice or experiences with mods for hardware and the Microserver, please post in the comments section!