vExpert 2015

The 2015 vExpert List was released today and I am honored to be on the list for the second year in a row. The vExpert program was developed to recognize those who active discuss and help others with VMware’s virtualization products in a number of ways, but notably through blogging and social media. To other vExperts that may be reading this please accept my hearty congratulations on your inclusion, whether it’s your first or your fifth time around.

While it isn’t really the point, there are a number of benefits to being a vExpert with most of them compiled and listed by Romain Decker on his website. This can include anything from swag to free or heavily discounted training to NFR licenses for your home lab from many companies in the virtualization industry.  In truth what I’ve found to be the biggest benefit is getting to know, at least virtually, some exceptionally bright people in our field.

If for some reason you either didn’t apply and or didn’t make the cut this time around and would like to be considered for inclusion there will be another round of applications this year but it hasn’t been announce yet. A best bet to be notified of when this opens would be to either follow the VMTN blog feed or the @vExpert twitter account.

What’s New in vSphere 6: Licensing

Today's release of vSphere 6 brings about quite a few new technologies worth getting excited for. This includes things such as Virtual Volumes (VVOLs), Open Stack Integration, global content library and long distance vMotion. Now for many of us, especially in the SMB space, the question is can we afford to play with them. As usual VMware very quietly released the licensing level breakout of these and other new features and I have to say my first take is this is another case of the rich getting richer.

If you are already Enterprise Plus level licensed you are in great shape as everything discussed today except VSAN is included. Specifically this includes

  • cross vCenter/ long distance vCenter
  • Content Library
  • vGPU
  • VMware Integrated OpenStack

While that's great and all and I applaud their development, they have quite a few other licensing levels that have been left out. Personally my installations are done at either Standard or Enterprise levels. The only major feature with across the product line support is VVOLs, which is nice but I honestly expected them to at least move some version 5 features such as Storage DRS down a notch to the Enterprise level and I figured the Content Library would maybe come in at the Essentials Plus level or Enterprise.

As Mr. Geitner alluded to in his talk about half of all vSphere licenses are Enterprise Plus, my guess is the company really want to see that number grow. Here's to hoping that like vRAM this recent trend of heavily loading features into the highest level is a trend that will be quickly rectified because I think this is … Go Read More

Managing your vSphere 6 Environment

VMware released their long awaited version 6 of its vSphere 6 products today and as I’m sure you’ll be running out tomorrow to go update all your production environments….

Ok now that we’re done laughing what you probably are going to want to get into is getting your lab updated or built so you can work out the changes yourself, possibly using your EvalExperience licenses you got with VMUG Advantage? Once you get it up and running you’ll notice that a few things have changed from the administration point of view. In this post I’m going to take a quick look at the Management features of vSphere 6.

Platform Services Controller

One thing you’ll find right off is that many of the underlying vCenter services have now been lumped together into what they are calling the Platform Services Controller. These services include Single Sign-On, licensing and certificate management.  At installation you are given two options on how to deploy the PSC, either embedded, where the PSC always rides along with vCenter, or External where the PSC is installed on its own VM and each vCenter talks back to the central services controller.

There are a couple of design requirements here if you chose to go the embedded route. You can have a maximum of 8 embedded or external PSCs per Single Sign-On site, and if you choose to go the embedded route it will increase the minimum RAM required to 8 GB.

vSphere Web Client

As has been the trend VMware has spent some serious time improving the Web Client, this time focusing on loading time, login time and a more streamlined component layout. It is still Flash based, but still a bit better. Time will tell with this one.

vSphere Host Client

Is … Go Read More

3 steps to really reset a Cisco 7900 Phone

Recently had some issues with one of our phones at the office and you know how it goes, reboot it. What you may not know is that there are different levels of “reboot” for the 7900 series phones, each of which are a little more pervasive. In this post I’ll outline how to go about performing these 3 ways to reset your desk phone to cure what may or may not be ailing you.

I. The Simple Reset

Sure you could go into ccmadmin and hit the reset button but that doesn’t work as well if you are standing right in front of it.  A quick reset can be performed by doing the following directly from the device

  • Hit the settings button on the device
  • Hit **#** on the keypad
  • You should then see the screen display the “Resetting…” message followed by a reboot
  • II. Configuration Erase

    When you boot your 7900 series IP phone as part of the boot sequence it reaches out to your Publisher’s TFTP server to grab a copy of either its specific configuration file or if none exist the default configuration file. Once this occurs it is stored locally to allow for quicker subsequent reboots. From time to time this locally cached copy will get gummed up and it is necessary to erase it and have it download a fresh copy. To do this the steps are

  • Hit the settings button on the device
  • Hit the **# buttons in order, afterwards you will see “Settings Unlocked!” display on the screen and a “More” soft button appear on the screen
  • Hit the “More” soft button followed by the “Erase” soft button.
  • You should then see the screen display the “Resetting…” message followed by a reboot
  • III. Factory Reset

    This is the big daddy, if neither of … Go Read More

    VMware’s Big February 2nd Announcement

    VMware will be having a big announcement event next week, most likely regarding the public release of their vSphere 6 suite of products. Version 6 has been in a “private” beta that anyone can join for the past 5 months or so and looks to include various features to move the product along. The beta program is still open for enrollment with the latest version being an RC build, you can sign up here to gain access to the bits themselves but also various documents and recorded webinars regarding the new features.

    Just going by what was discussed at VMworld 2014 what is included in this version includes

    • Virtual Volumes: A VMware/Storage vendor interoperability technology that masks much of the complexity of storage management from the vSphere administrator and makes the storage more virtualization-centric than it already is. There is a lot of information out there on this already available through the power of Google, but the product announcement on the VMware blogs is nice and concise.
    • The death of the fat VI Client: This is the release where we are supposed to be going whole hog on the vSphere Web Client. Can you feel the enthusiasm I have for this?
    • vMotion Enhancements: One feature really worth getting worked up for is the ability to across the both vCenters and datacenters, neither of which was possible in the past. This is great news.
    • Multi-CPU VM Fault Tolerance: While the fault tolerance feature, the ability to have in essence a replica of protected VMs on separate hosts within your datacenter, has been around for years it has been relegated to the also featured category due to some pretty stringent requirements for VMs to be protected in this manner. In vSphere 6 the ability to protect VMs … Go Read More

    VMUG Advantage Eval Experience

    Do you find yourself longing for the good old days of the VMware Technical Network (VMTN)? Do you have a home lab you are wanting to use to learn more about the VMware ecosphere. Well good news, the fine folks at VMUG today announced the addition of a service called Eval Experience to their already excellent service VMUG Advantage. Eval Experience will provide 365 day evaluation licenses for a variety of VMware’s products including

    • vCenter Server Server 5 Standalone
    • vSphere with Operations Management Enterprise Plus
    • vCloud Suite Standard
    • vRealize Operations Insight
    • vRealize Operations 6 Enterprise
    • vRealize Log Insight
    • vRealize Operations for Horizon
    • Horizon Advanced Edition
    • Virtual SAN (VSAN)

    That is a great list that includes the vast majority of technologies that one wanting to break into virtualization would look for. Really the only thing missing in my opinion is NSX and frankly I’m flummoxed as to why it isn’t there considering VMware’s big push in the SDN direction of late.

    In any case, considering the $200 price tag for an Advantage subscription this is a good deal for evaluation licensing kit. For comparison, the best deal I ever got for Microsoft Technet (#RIP) was $250 per year. Nevermind the fact that you get a number of other discounts and services as part of your subscription.

    Configuring Networking for Nimble-vSphere iSCSI

    One of my last tasks for 2014 was integrating a new Nimble Storage array into our environment. As this is the first of these I’ve encountered and I haven’t been able to take the free one day Nimble Installation and Operation Professional (NIOP) course they provide I was left to feeling my way through it with great help from their documentation and only ended up calling support to resolve a bug related to upgrading from 2.14 of the Nimble OS. On the network side our datacenter is powered by Cisco Nexus 3000 series switches, also a new addition for us recently. These allowed us to use our existing Cat6 copper infrastructure while increasing our bandwidth to 10 GbE. In this post I’m going to document some of the setup required to meet the best practices outlined in Nimble’s Networking Best Practices Guide when setting up your system with redundant NX-OS switches.

    WordPress Here We Come!

    It seems like just last year I posted that I had redone my website in Drupal and had gotten back into blogging, ok, gotten back into blogging somewhat. I am a pretty big fan of Drupal, I love their community driven method, the flexibility, the do it yourself of it all. As time went by though I found myself with less and less time available to deal with the community driven method of website development, lots of flexibility and the do it yourself of it all at the personal blog site level. Further I was especially stymied by the almost nonexistent support for blogging from mobile platforms. I tried various methods of dealing with this, but none of them felt as easy as anything on an iPad should feel and what was there seemed to rely on either hosting through Drupal Gardens or on running an outdated version of the Blog API module.
    So for all those reasons and more this week I’m pretty happy to say that I’ve now ported this site over to essentially the anti-Drupal, WordPress. WordPress comes in both community and commercial flavors, but while I don’t think in 4 years of working with Drupal I saw a single paid module or theme that wasn’t custom work almost everyone I’ve found so far has at least some relationship with a commercial product in the same ecosphere. Even with that so far I’ve found it to be an economically viable option as long as free isn’t your ceiling. In this post I’m going to outline some of the things I’m finding helpful and some of the challenges and differences between the two I’ve had to work my way through.

    Unsupported Configuration when using VUM for a Major Upgrade

    I’ve recently been working on getting my environment upgraded from vSphere 5.1 to 5.5. Last week I replaced one vCenter server with a clean install and upgraded another, in process implementing home brewed certificates thanks in no small part to Derek Seaman’s excellent SSL toolkit and tutorials. With that done and nice and clean this week I turned towards getting the ESX hosts updated. Like all right thinking folks, I typically like to use vSphere Update Manager for this task in a vCenter supported environment.

    The first host went very well and was up and patched without issue. After that the wheels fell off for the other two. I was continuously getting “Unsupported configuration” when I would try to scan the host, if I tried to push through and Remediate it would fail with “Software or system configuration of host <hostnamehere> is incompatible. Check scan results for details.” Nice error messages right? I tried a few things, reinstalling the management agents via VMware KB 1031919, rebooting the host, etc. After no luck there I logged a case with VMware where we began trying to find more information in the vua.log and verifying the correct fdm agent is installed via the esxcli software vib list | grep fdm command. In the end we were able to find my issue but I’ll be honest the documentation and logging in this scenario is pretty bad.

    When Veeam Backup & Replication creates a vPowerNFS share, mounting your backup datastore as an addressable datastore to your host that is added in at least one way as a series of lines in the /etc/vmware/esx.conf file as shown below:

     

    Go Read More

    VeeamON 2014: Conference Season Veeam Style

    I write this aboard about the coolest painted plane I’ve had the pleasure of flying on, en route to Las Vegas, NV to attend and speak at the inaugural VeeamON conference being held at the Cosmopolitan.  The conference is being held by Veeam Software, one of the leaders in virtualization backup, known best for its Veeam Backup & Replication product. The conference itself represents a pretty big milestone for a global company who in my opinion has done a very solid job of getting social right from the corporate standpoint. It is also going to time well due to the pending version 8 release of Backup & Replication.

    I have been working with Veeam’s Backup & Replication software for a little over four years now and find it to be both powerful as well as easy to use, a nice combination when talking about the product responsible for the safety of your data. I will be speaking about my experiences with this software package from the small government organization standpoint and how it helps us deal with some of the particular challenges that come from being in that segment. My session will be on Wednesday at 8:30 AM.

    This will be my first time speaking in this type of setting so we’ll see how it goes, but there will be no shortage of seasoned veterans providing sessions. Others speaking include a great deal of the staff from Veeam including Anton Gostev, Doug Hazelman, Rick Vanover, & Ben Milligan and those are just the ones that I’m personally familiar with. Further the virtualization industry will also be well represented by the likes of Chris Wahl, Symon Perriman, and Joep Piscaer.  Finally Go Read More