Web Tool for XenServer: Xen Orchestra

While not earth-shattering for most, having a good web-based tool for managing XenServer installations is something I have been looking for since we started our virtualization project at work a few years back.

Well, here is Xen Orchestra to do just that!

xo21This morning I finally spent the little bit of time it takes to get Xen Orchestra up and running as a virtual appliance on our XenServer infrastructure and so far I have been very pleased with it. It is still very young and needs some time to cook, but it will allow me to do the basic things I need to do from the web instead of needing to spin up my Windows VM to get XenCenter going.

That makes me very happy.

Features are missing, things are sometimes a little clunky, but I think the basic bones of the application are there for all to see and this could end up to be an excellent web-based tool to help anyone with a XenServer of XAPI-based infrastructure.

How To Upgrade to XenServer 6.2: My Story

This is my story on how I was able to upgrade our two virtualization stacks to XenServer 6.2. It is a tale of woe, so be prepared.

Where to begin …

We have two virtualization “stacks” consisting of four servers each. Two servers are for storage (Ubuntu 12.04 boxes using DRBD for replication) and two are XenServer hosts. At first we were hoping to use software RAID on the host boxes, but that did not work out.

So, we went ahead and purchased Adaptec RAID 6405 cards for the host boxes even though they were not on the HCL list for XenServer because we thought it would be easy enough to go ahead and create driver disks. While it is possible, it is still a pain.

Worse than that, when we attempted the upgrade to XenServer 6.2 from our 6.1 pools … the installation media would not see the prior installation even when using proper driver disks. We could do new installations, but we could not upgrade pools.

What!?

So … a new plan was hatched. Here are the steps:

  1. Purchase new LSI MegaRAIDSAS 9260-4i card as a replacement for the Adaptec RAID 6405 card currently in one of the host boxes.
  2. Install said card into host box and test installation of XenServer 6.1.
  3. After installation of XenServer 6.1, test upgrade to XenServer 6.2
  4. Reinstall XenServer 6.1 onto host.
  5. Run patches and add back into pool.
  6. Order three more RAID cards.
  7. Migrate VMs to the newly added pool member.
  8. Drop other host box with the Adaptec card still in it.
  9. Install new RAID card and install XenServer 6.1.
  10. Run patches and add back into pool.
  11. Upgrade all pool hosts and pool to XenServer 6.2.

Do that for each stack. It allows me to move each host box onto a RAID card supported by XenServer and then allows me to upgrade the entire pool to XenServer 6.2 using the mechanisms with XenCenter.

YAY!

I’ve learned a lot, again, through this entire process … maybe most importantly how vital it is to have a plan ready to go in your head before you start and to follow it as closely as possible. Luckily, this one worked.

I’ll have to wait and see if I am as lucky in the future.

Xen Orchestra

I’ve been looking around for alternative administrative GUIs for XenServer and happened upon this young project: Xen Orchestra.

Web-based? Check.

Attractive design? Check.

Open source? Check.

That’s pretty cool. Go ahead and check it out yourself. It is very young, but it is good to see some life around XenServer now that it is open source.