vSAN and memory usage alerts for home labs

After using NFS-based storage in my home lab for a number of years, I wanted to try out vSAN. This was to play with the technology itself, as well as to make my storage a little faster where needed for some VM’s.

I decided to go all-in and put a small all-flash configuration together with all hosts using a 120Gb SSD for the cache tier and a 500Gb SSD for the capacity tier in a single pool. This went swimmingly, and the majority of my VM’s now live on vSAN.

Something I noticed after implementing vSAN, is that I was starting to get intermittent memory usage alerts for the hosts, usually when the host had the memory-heavy VCSA sitting on it. During my initial quick look into the alert, I was a little baffled as vCenter was reporting less than 8Gb of VM memory usage on the host with the alert. As the hosts in my home lab all have 16Gb of RAM there was no immediate reason that a host with what appeared to be 8Gb of free RAM should generate a memory usage alert.

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Upgrade vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) 6.x to 6.7

I’ve been running a vCenter 6.0u2 appliance (VCSA) since my home lab was built in 2016. Its been very stable, and with the issues of the early 6.5 versions I’ve been reluctant to upgrade. With 6.7 being released earlier this year, its finally time to get my home lab updated.

First up if you aren’t aware of what 6.7 brings to the table, have a read over the Introducing vCenter Server 6.7 blog post by Emad Younis.

The upgrade process is the same for all 6.x versions going to 6.7 but its always a good idea to check the VMware Product Interoperability Matrices to ensure your ESXi host version is supported being managed by the current VCSA version.

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Upgrade vRealize Log Insight from 4.5 to 4.6

VMware vRealize Log Insight provides advanced log management for infrastructure and applications, and can be thought of as syslog on steroids. The main benefit of vRealize Log Insight over other solutions is the deep integration with VMware products and pre-built dashboards available for many VMware solutions such as vRealize Operations, vSAN and NSX.

With the release of vRealize Log Insight 4.6 in April 2018, and 4.6.1 not long after, VMware delivers many improvements and new features which can be found in the vRealize Log Insight 4.6 Release Notes.

To upgrade to 4.6, you must already be running version 4.5. If you have an earlier version deployed, you will need to incrementally upgrade to version 4.5 before you can upgrade to version 4.6.

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Native Australian support for Alexa

For those of us who have been using Amazon Alexa within Australia for a while, I imagine most of us have been using a US-based account so that we can use the Amazon Echo devices. While this works for the most part, a major draw back was a requirement to use a US-based street address which restricted some of the natural flow of spoken commands.

Instead of saying a simple “Alexa, what is the weather tomorrow”, we instead had to use long-form speech to specify a major city such as “Alexa, what is the weather tomorrow for Perth, Australia”. You could also forget trying to specify smaller cities such as Bunbury or Rockingham. Some skills such as news or sports updates were also limited to US-based organisations such as CNN or Sky Sports.

If this applied to you, good news! Amazon has now announced the official launch date for the sale of Echo devices within Australia, which includes native Alexa support, from 1st February 2018. The Australian skills store already has a landing page – Alexa Skills with a number of skills from Australian-based organisations such as SBS News and CoastalWatch.

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VMware vSphere Replication – com.vmware.vcHms continuously installing vr2c-firewall.vib

Having recently installed VMware vSphere Replication 6.5.1.2243 (Build 7184803) for a customer, I was surprised to see the Recent Tasks window pane filling up with “install” tasks with com.vmware.vcHms listed as the initiator. These tasks were occurring every minute for all hosts in the cluster.

The vSphere 6.5 web interface didn’t provide much information when looking at host tasks, other than the install task being successful. While being successful is normally great, these tasks should not be happening every minute. It was time to look through the raw logs, so I SSH’d into a host to read the /var/log/esxupdate.log file.

Esxupdate.log was filled with ERROR entries showing that vr2c-firewall.vib was failing to be installed. Vr2c-firewall.vib is used for the “Replicate to a cloud provider” option within vSphere Replication. The install failure was due to the file download from the vSphere Replication appliance failing with entries including these;

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