Archives for the month of: March, 2011

DELL PowerEdge T310

Just received a new DELL PowerEdge T310 server that will eventually reside in a new office we are opening in Austin, TX.  This server will be the first of a new strategy that I am implementing for all of our branch offices.  The new strategy is simply to configure the servers as ESXi servers, manage them through VMware vCenter and install 2-3 VMs on the servers.  We have 1 server at each of our branch offices acting as Domain Controllers, file servers, print servers and SCCM distribution points.  I’d like to separate these roles across multiple servers and the best way to do this is via virtualization.

A Few Hardware Specifications

  • Intel Xeon X3450 2.66 GHz Quad-Core processor
  • 16GB 1333MHz Dual Ranked RDIMM memory
  • PERC H200 Adapter Internal RAID Controller for Hot Plug Hard Drive
  • RAID 1 – SAS6iR/H200/PERC6i/H700 (SAS/SATA Controller)
  • 2 1TB 7.2K RPM SATA 3.5″ Hot Plug Hard Drive
  • Redundant 400W power supply
  • Baseboard Management Controller
  • Intel Gigabit ET Quad Port NIC in addition to the dual 1GB integrated NIC

In this guide, I’m going to present the steps that I took to configure the server for use in production.

Powering Up

After connecting everything to the server and powering things on press F2 to enter System Setup.  I had to change the System Time so double-check this.  The most important thing to check in here is to go to Processor > Virtualization Technology and make sure that it is Enabled.

Using the DELL Unified Server Configurator (USC)

The DELL Unified Server Configurator (USC) is a new feature that I have yet to use as this is the first system that I have configured with it installed.  The USC is an “embedded configuration utility that enables systems and storage management tasks from an embedded environment throughout your system’s lifecycle,” (DELL Unified Server Configurator User Guide, p.7).  Sounds cool to me! To enter the USC press F10 System Services at the DELL logo during system boot. Note:  Unfortunately, I was unable to take full advantage of these features because this server was ordered without a DRAC card–blah!

RAID Configuration

Entered into the SAS Configuration Utility by pressing CTRL+C.  Found the default settings to be sufficient. Volume was configured with RAID 1 by default so we should be good to go here.

Remote Access Configuration

This is a feature that I do not use and currently have no use for so I press CTRL+E to enter into the configuration utility and disable this feature.

VMware vSphere Hypervisor 4.1 Update 1 (formerly ESXi)

Many of you already know that VMware renamed the free hyper-visor from ESXi to Hypervisor 4.1.  I downloaded the ISO for the latest version of the Hypervisor and burned to  a CD.  Booted into and ran the VMware ESXi 4.1.0 Installer.  Pretty much chose the default settings here as the Hypervisor is pretty easy and straight forward to install.

Press F2 after installation is complete to Customize System.  Configured a root password and then Configure Management Network.  Basically all I need to configure here is the IP address.  Since I’m not shipping the system just yet, I will let DHCP take care of all of the IP settings.  Once it gets on its destination subnet, I will configure static network settings for the server.

After the IP address has been set, I launch the vSphere Client and attempt to connect to the IP address.  The client informs me that my current client needs to be upgraded first so I perform the upgrade (which took quite some time).  After the vSphere Client was installed I connected to the ESXi server just fine.  Piece of cake!

 

Thanks to VMware Technical support on this one, thought I’d share the solution with you all.

The Issue

So the issue is/was that I would create a virtual machine from a template which had the Windows 7 O/S installed on it.  VMware uses the built-in sysprep for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 so there is no need to edit anything on the vCenter Server.  I used Customization Specifications to configure the cloned machine.

Well, it appears as though at the Workgroup or Domain step of the Customization Specifications Wizard you must used the Fully Qualified Domain Name (FQDN) in the Windows Server Domain box.  You also must use a <username>@fqdn (ex. jdoe@contoso.com) in the Specify a user account that has permission to add a computer to the domain box.

Go here for the official VMware KB Article:  Windows 2008 guest customization fails to join deployed virtual machine to Active Directory domain

Debriefing

We’re a Windows shop here.  So when the topic came up from our Application Developer to test out WordPress as the platform for our next website we knew that it would be the unconventional approach to doing things.  But, I’m always up for the challenge.  Since I could find no concise guide to getting this done I figured I’d share my approach with you all to ease some of the pain.

The Environment

  • The server is a VM running Windows Server 2008 R2 which is of course 64-bit.  This is now the standard O/S platform for all newly created servers in our environment.
  • The database server will not be SQL Server Express as we have a VM running SQL Server 2008 SP1 in our environment.  This guide is written for those who have this setup as most of the guides that you find around the web assume that installing SQL Server Express locally is acceptable.
  • Keep in mind that this installation is intended for a development environment and not for production.  It’s safe to assume that additional security measures will need to be taken before employing IIS, WordPress or any of the other components in a production environment. Read the rest of this entry »

Upgrade Changes

I was recently troubleshooting another unrelated issue within our virtual infrastructure and needed to login to an ESX server via the Service Console.  I use Putty as my SSH client.  This was the first time that I had logged into the Service Console via SSH since the ESX 4.1 upgrade several months ago.

When attempting to login with the lower privileged account that I had been using since the day I installed ESX I received an Access Denied message from the console.

According to the vSphere Upgrade Guide on pg. 69, “After upgrading to ESX 4.1, only the Administrator user has access to the service console. To grant service console access to other users after the upgrade, consider granting the Administrator permissions to other users.”

In Simple Terms

Unfortunately, they don’t tell you exactly how to fix this.  All you have to do is add that particular account to the local root group on the particular ESX server.

Step-by-Step

  1. Launch the vCenter Client software and login to the ESX host using the root credentials; not the vCenter Server.
  2. Select the ESX host and click on the Local Users & Groups tab.
  3. Right-click on the user and select Edit (or add the user if it doesn’t exist).
  4. Under Group Membership find the root group and click the Add button.

Now the user can login via SSH.