frankdenneman Frank Denneman is the Chief Technologist for AI at VMware by Broadcom. He is an author of the vSphere host and clustering deep dive series, as well as a podcast host for the Unexplored Territory podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @frankdenneman

Removing orphaned Nexus DVS

4 min read

During the test of the Cisco Nexus 1000V the customer deleted the VSM first without removing the DVS using commands from within the VSM, ending up with an orphaned DVS. One can directly delete the DVS from the DB, but there are bunch of rows in multiple tables that need to be deleted. This is risky and may render DB in some inconsistent state if an error is made while deleting any rows. Luckily there is a more elegant way to remove an orphaned DVS without hacking and possibly breaking the vCenter DB.
A little background first:
When installing the Cisco Nexus 1000V VSM, the VSM uses an extension-key for identification. During the configuration process the VSM spawns a DVS and will configure it with the same extension-key. Due to the matching extension keys (extension session) the VSM owns the DVS essentially.
And only the VSM with the same extension-key as the DVS can delete the DVS.
So to be able to delete a DVS, a VSM must exist registered with the same extension key.
If you deleted the VSM and are stuck with an orphaned DVS, the first thing to do is to install and configure a new VSM. Use a different switch name than the first (deleted) VSM. The new VSM will spawn a new DVS matching the switch name configured within the VSM.
The first step is to remove the new spawned DVS and do this the proper way using commands from within the VSM virtual machine.
Removing DVS with Nexus VSM virtual machine:
Log in VSM
Ping the vCenter to make sure you have a connection.

conf t
svs connection connection_name

The connection_name is created during the configuration of the connection between the VSM and the vCenter server. The default connection name is vCenter.
To query the current connection name:

show svs connections

If the SVS connection output does not show a datacenter name, but the minus (-) sign, you must specify the vCenter datacenter where the DVS is created, with the following command:
(In my case I needed to specify the datacenter even when the datacenter name was listed in the svs connection)

vmware dvs datacenter-name name (case sensitive)

e.g: vCenter datacenter name = DATACenter

vmware dvs datacenter-name DATACenter

Use the following command to remove the DVS:

no vmware dvs

The following warning appears:

This will remove the DVS from the vCenter Server and any associated port-groups
Do you really want to proceed (yes/no)

When selecting Yes, the following output appears in the VSM command prompt:

Note: Command execution in progress, please wait..

Simultaneously the recent task window in vCenter shows two tasks:
Delete folder
Delete vNetwork Distributed Switch
Select Network Inventory view to check if the DVS is deleted.
Removing DVS after destroying the VSM virtual machine.
The first part was the easy part, removing a DVS after the corresponding VSM is removed is a bit trickier.
First we must change the hostname of the VSM to reflect the switch name of the orphaned DVS.
Log in VSM

conf t
copy run start

After setting the new hostname, the command prompt changes immediately to the “new” hostname.
At this moment, the VSM is using the same switch name, but it still uses a different extension-key as the orphaned DVS.
We need to change the extension key of the VSM to match the extension key of the orphaned DVS. Both old and new extension keys are listed in the vCenter database. First we need to know which extension-key the VSM is currently using. This key is going to be deleted from the vCenter DB.
This is done by using the following command in the VSM:

show vmware vc extension-key

The command prompt returns with an extension-key e.g:


We need to remove this extension key from the vCenter DB, to do this we are going to use the managed Object Browser or (MOB. The Managed Object Browser is a web-based tool for working with the API. This tool enables you to browse managed objects on vCenter Server.
Open an Internet Explorer window to access the vCenters’ MOB.
Enter https:///mob
See KB 568529 for more information about using the Managed Object Browser operations.
Log in with user with administrator rights in vCenter.
Before we are going to unregister the “new” extension-key, we need to know which extension-key the old VSM used. (the values listed in italic are examples, the values in your environment can be different)
Go to:
ServiceContent: content
rootFolder: group-d8
childEntity: datacenter-76
networkFolder: group-n15
childEntity: group-n3456
childEntity: dvs-3457
DVSConfigInfo: config
At this moment, two keys exists, one key matching the orphaned DVS and one used by the newly spawned DVS during configuration of the second VSM. Copy the old key matching the orphaned DVS to notepad file; we are using that key later on.
Now copy the key matching the new DVS, this key must be removed using the ExtensionManager. For example:
extensionKey: “Cisco_Nexus_1000V_1234101238”
Go to: https://vcenterhostname/mob/?moid=ExtensionManager or follow the following path from the MOB home screen:
ServiceContent: content
extensionManger: ExtensionManager
void: unregisterExtension
extensionKey (required) string: paste key you copied from the DVSConfigInfo
for example:
extensionKey (required) string: Cisco_Nexus_1000V_8321457891
Click on InvokeMethod
This will return with the status: Method invocation result: void
Now return to the VSM command prompt and use the old extension id of the first VSM (saved in notepad file).

vmware vc extension-key

If the following error appears:

Cannot change the extension key while a connection is already enabled

the svs connection is still active and you must disconnect the current SVS connection by entering the following commands:

svs connection vcenter
no connect

Issue the vmware vc extension-key again after closing the svs connection.
At this point the VSM is configured with a matching extension-key as the orphaned DVS, but the VSM must registered within vCenter with this extension-key. To do this, you must use the extension.xml of the VSM, which is available for download on the webpage of the Nexus VSM.
(Before I downloaded the xml file I restarted the vCenter, don’t know if this is necessary, but I just wanted to be sure that the prior configuration settings are saved and committed to the database.)
Register the VSM by importing the xml with the extension key of the orphaned DVS switch:
open internet explorer and enter the ip-address of the VSM.
right click the link to save the cisco_nexus_1000v_extension.xml to your computer
open vcenter
Select Plug-ins
Manage Plug-ins…
Right click on whitespace inside Plug-in Manager and select the option New Plug-in…
click the Browse button and select the saved xml file
click on Ok.
now the Cisco_Nexus_1000v_old extension key code appears in Available Plug-ins section.
At this point the VSM is using the matching switch name and extension key of the orphaned DVS and is registered with the extension key in vCenter.Time to connect the VSM to vCenter. This will spawn a new DVS, this DVS will use the same extension key and switch name as the orphaned DVS and override all the info in the vCenter database. But because a extension session will exist we can remove the newly spawned DVS from the VSM using the commands mentioned in the first part of this article.
Return to the command prompt of the VSM and issue the following commands;

conf t
svs connection vcenter
vmware dvs datacenter_name datacenter

The DVS is created with the same name as the orphaned dvs and overwriting the old configuration. When this is completed check the network inventory view.
return to command promt and issue the command

no vmware dvs

to remove the new-old DVS.
If you will receive an error follow the steps mentioned in the Removing DVS with Nexus VSM virtual machine section.
The orphaned DVS is removed.
More information about the Nexus commands go visit the online nexus command reference

frankdenneman Frank Denneman is the Chief Technologist for AI at VMware by Broadcom. He is an author of the vSphere host and clustering deep dive series, as well as a podcast host for the Unexplored Territory podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @frankdenneman

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15 Replies to “Removing orphaned Nexus DVS”

  1. Frank,
    you always have great articles. I have a question related to the Nexus VSM not directly related to the points you bring up in this article.
    We have a vSphere4 enterprise configuration with dVs and were looking to use the nexus 1000v. I was wondering if you can give me some of the downside to using the Nexus enterprise wide. What are the risks? what happens when vCenter is unavailable or there is a SAN Issue or datastore issue that somehow corrupts the database?
    I guess you can rightfully pose the same questions of every single component of vCenter but I want the customer to rightfully understand what the pros and cons are of going this way. I know there is redundancy with the VSM – at least 2 VSM appliances on pinned on seperate ESX Hosts and datastores? Is there a best practices confguration for redundancy? a Real-world solution or situation?
    Thanks for any feedback

  2. Frank,
    I cannot thank you enough for this article!
    One part that seemed a bit confusing was when I initially entered the:
    no vmware dvs
    command it removed the extension key for the “new” DVS from the vCenter DB.
    So, effectively there was only (1) extension key for me in the DB.
    I then took that key, disconnected the VSM, changed the hostname, set the key, and unregistered the key using the MOB.
    After this I was able to register the VSM and remove the old DVS.
    Thank you

  3. Theres an easier method to find the extension key. Just create the 1000v with the same hostname as that of the orphaned DVS, and connect to the SVS. The resultant error will give you the required extension key to be voided.

  4. Frank, thx u 4 article, but it seems to me that it is either not worikng for version 4.0.4.SV1.3b or I am doing something wrong: on the last step on issuining “connect” command, I got this error:
    “A vDS Nexus_1kv-primary with as Nexus_1kv-primary already exists, cannot create vDS Nexus_1kv-primary”
    But I recheck all twice: I ‘ve removed new key, changed the extension key of VSM to the old one, downloaded plugin, registered it, and try to reconnect and everytime I get this error message,
    any suggestions?…

  5. Frank, thank you for this article, it has just saved my day 🙂
    Just to mention it, I found the old extension keys by running a query directly on the database: “Select Name, Extension_key from VPX_DVS”

  6. Frank,
    Is this possible if you do not have the original cisco_nexus_1000v_extension file?

  7. Found an easier way with ver 4.2.1.SV2.1.1
    In the installer_APP folder (Nexus1000v.4.2.1.SV2.1.1\VSM\Installer_App), there is a jar file that will do gui installs for you.
    Use this to fix your issue.
    Create switch as above. Change name to old switch name. Change extension key to old one as above. Invoke jar gui installer, and choose “VCenter Server connection” . This will register the switch, WITH the old key you put in earlier, and you can then remove the dvs like normal!

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