Features I'd Like To See In VMware Virtual Infrastructure

I’ve been doing a lot of work lately in my VI3 clusters, namely bringing new machines online. There are a few things that I’d love to see added to the product that would make my life better.

  • Cluster-wide SAN rescan. I’ve been moving machines around in clusters and changing the storage, and going to each machine to rescan sucks. I wrote a script to SSH in to the boxes and run the rescan scripts, but it would be cool if there was a button in VirtualCenter that took care of it for me.
  • Expose more information about the LUNs in VirtualCenter. It’s sometimes difficult to figure out what LUN I want to deallocate. If I could see more information I would feel more comfortable about making changes. Especially if I could see the description of the LUN from my CLARiiONs.
  • “Make the other ESX hosts look like this one.” Some sort of automated configuration propagation would be really nice, so I could add a VLAN on one host and have it added to the whole cluster. Or I could change an advanced option and have it propagate automatically. I probably could write something to do this but again, it’d still be better if it were built in.
  • Better patch management. I’d love it if I could run something to have ESX patch itself then reboot at the end. And an automated way to keep a depot updated. Patching is 100% better than on ESX 2.5 but still needs a little work. Rumor is that this will be part of ESX 3.1, though.
  • Build NTP into the configurable options for the ESX host. Everybody runs NTP. Just add an option to set the NTP servers while people are setting gateways, DNS servers, etc.
  • Allow the VMware Tools to do a non-disruptive upgrade. I maintain our VMware infrastructure but other admins maintain their own VMs. They often forget to upgrade the VMware Tools when they patch & reboot their OSes. I would love to automatically deploy new VMware Tools versions all at once, but doing so currently kills the networking on the VMs. Could we get a mode where the VMware Tools could just be upgraded in-place and the new code sits patiently, waiting for a reboot to become active?
  • VMotion for disks. Once in a while my storage guys decide to shuffle things around, and it’s a massive pain in the duff. Once in a while I decide that the VM we thought needed fast disks could use ATA instead. I would love to be able to move running VMs between two LUNs without taking an outage on the VMs. I don’t care if this is an LVM-style operation from the console (extend a volume, start a low priority job to move the data from the old to the new, reduce the volume) or something else. For me, storage is the biggest way that VMs end up having to acknowledge physical hardware, and it sucks.

4 thoughts on “Features I'd Like To See In VMware Virtual Infrastructure”

  1. I have some more items for the wishlist…

    10 GB ethernet support
    4GB FC HBA support
    more than 1 vCPU support in NetWare

  2. I know your article was about things you’d like to see in “VMWare”, but a lot of these things are present in other utilities that may solve your annoyances until VMWare blesses you with the features.

    Not much comfort to you since you already have an established SAN, but Lefthand Networks SAN supports the “VMotion of LUNs”. You add a new storage module to the cluster (can be running dissimilar hardware) and then move LUNs to the new module without any downtime. Since the VMWare servers access the cluster through a load-balanced virtual IP, they don’t skip a beat. It’s been fantastic, I’ve replaced entire clusters with new hardware without ever having to stop a single server or service.

    The VMTSPatchManager as mentioned is great as the “Windows Update” for ESX.

    For NTP, check out the free Veeam Configurator: http://www.veeam.com/veeam_configurator.asp

    I agree that some sort of ESX configuration mirroring would be a killer addition for VirtualCenter. Good Call.

    As far as exposing more info, that’s not really part of the iSCSI or Fibre Channel protocols, but some sort of third-party querying protocol or API would definitely be good to get the more detailed descriptions from storage devices.

Comments are closed.