vCenter 5.5 U2 does not upport SQL AlwaysOn AGs afterall

VMware has just published a KB article (KB 2086946) [Temporally down] on using Microsoft failover clustering services to support high availability of vCenter 5.5 U2. My assumption for this support is the demise of the vCenter Heartbeat product. I appreciate VMware giving customers a new choice for vCenter high availability.

Slightly buried in this gem of a KB article, in the original version, was the new support for using SQL 2012 Always-On Availability Groups for the vCenter database! However, the KB was since pulled and I’m told by VMware it was published in error. In fact, AAGs have not been qualified and are not supported for the vCenter database. If you are a customer that wants vCenter DB SQL AAG support, then escalate to your TAM and make your opinion heard. In case you missed it, vCenter 5.5 does support the ‘traditional’ shared storage SQL cluster configuration for vCenter.

SQL 2014 AlwaysOn AG Pt. 4: Node A Install

2014-09-14_19-49-30This is Part 4 of the SQL Always-on Availability Group installation, where we finally get to install the SQL Server database engine and related tools. This first SQL installation will be a fully manual process where we walk through the GUI to get SQL installed. For our second node we will use an unattended installation, based on the answers captured during this install. Let’s roll!

Blog Series

SQL 2014 Always-on AG Pt. 1: Introduction
SQL 2014 Always-on AG Pt. 2: VM Deployment
SQL 2014 Always-on AG Pt. 3: Service Accounts
SQL 2014 Always-on AG Pt. 4: Node A Install

SQL 2014 Always-on AG Pt. 3: Service Accounts

This is Part 3 of the SQL 2014 Always-On Availability group series where we setup two service accounts and a security group. One account is for the database engine and the other is for the SQL agent. In order for Kerberos to work properly the database engine account must be Active Directory based. We will also be observing the rule of least privilege. The less privileges the accounts have the more secure you are. So these accounts won’t be given local administrator rights. You don’t want your SQL service running with admin rights!

vSphere 5.5 Update 2 Released

Hot off the digital presses is vSphere 5.5 Update 2. This is a minor update, but with some important supported database updates. It’s great to see SQL Server 2014 now supported. I’m in fact surprised they supported SQL 2014 so fast, so kudos to VMware. Now if we can only get SQL AlwaysOn availability groups supported..maybe someday. You should also take note that SRM 5.8 requires vCenter 5.5 Update 2, so whenever SRM 5.8 comes out be sure to upgrade your vCenter prior to deployment. vSphere 5.5 update 2 also allows the “legacy” C# vSphere client to modify some properties (RAM, Change network port group, Remove devices, vCPU, Mount ISO, Increase disk space, reservations, Edit advanced settings) of HW v10 VMs. Thanks VMware! Full vCenter release notes are here.

SQL 2014 Always-on AG Pt. 2: VM Deployment

First up in this series is deploying your two Windows Server 2012 R2 VMs, which will be the SQL 2014 Always-On availability group nodes. I have a standard VM template that is built in a nearly fully automated manner with Microsoft MDT 2012 Update 1. If you are still making your VM templates by hand, or some cobbled together semi-automated scripts, then check out Microsoft MDT. It’s free, lots of info on the web, and once I started using it I never looked back. Really, it’s that good (not perfect, but good).

SQL 2014 Always-On AG Pt. 1: Introduction

SQL 2014This series of posts will show you how to configure SQL 2014 on VMware vSphere 5.5 using SQL Always-On Availability Groups (AGs). Always-on Availability Groups is the ‘next generation’ in high availability technology that relies on application level data replication versus shared SCSI disks like traditional failover clustering. No more shared LUNs! This is very similar in concept to Microsoft Exchange DAGs.

Major vSphere Toolkit Update – v2.0 Live

While I was at VMworld 2014 in San Francisco last week I got a lot of very positive feedback about my 20 part vSphere 5.5 install series and my vSphere toolkit script. I’m glad its helped so many people make their vSphere SSL life easier. Up until now my Toolkit script assumed the ‘simple’ vCenter install with all services located on a single VM. This worked for most deployments, but clearly doesn’t cover all use cases. Some large organization may separate out the roles, such as SSO.

VMworld 2014 Wrap up and Thoughts

2014-08-29_10-35-00So VMworld 2014 was my sixth VMworld, if I’m counting correctly and was in many respects the best one to date. It had two firsts for me:  my first VMworld as a VCDX and the first time attending as a VMware partner/vendor employee. VMworld 2013 was big for me, as encouraging comments by people that I greatly admire, plus some sessions presented by VCDXs, gave me the fire shoot for the moon and ultimately succeed. This year built on that, as I had great conversations with peers, customers,  book authors, strangers, blog readers, and industry greats that I truly think the world of. I also got stopped more times than I can count by strangers, who had kind words about my blogging efforts. It was also gratifying to hear that in at least two VM world sessions I got mentioned for my vSphere SSL work and my Toolkit script.

VMworld 2014: SDDC VCDX Panel

Session: INF1736

Jon Kohler (Nutanix), Josh Odgers (Nutanix), Matt Cowger (EMC), Scott Lowe (VMware), Jason Nash (Varrow)

This was a very lively session with a panel of five VCDXs from  a variety of companies. I was taking real time notes, so I didn’t capture all of comments and some of the grammar and wording may be a bit awkward. If you attended VMworld, then you can listen to the sessions and get all of the comments and friendly banter among the panelists.

Q: If you are converging multiple datacenters (and multiple vCenters) with NSX in the future, how would you design your datacenter today? What do I do to avoid problems?

VMworld 2014: Re-imaging VDI for Next-Gen Desktops

Session EUC2551

VDI 1.0 challenges: Storage cost and performance; 3D Graphics; Application management; Provisioning: All adds up to a frustrating experience

Broad Goals for Next Gen VDI

  • Efficient use of infrastructure – just in time desktops w/ zero copy architecture – Building at the point of demand
  • Improved flexibility- user installed apps – Dynamically assemble of JIT desktops
  • Best user experience – Low latency I/O – advanced vSAN and RAM desktops
  • Simplified implementation – adaptive designs, easy deployment

Next-Gen Solutions

  • vSAN storage: simple, affordable
  • 3D Graphics: SVGA shared GPU and DGPU for power users
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