TheSaffaGeek

My ramblings about all things technical


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EMEA #vBrownbag VCDX Series

Let me first wish everyone reading this a very successful 2015, I have a substantial amount of things I’m planning to do/accomplish this year and one of these is to get my VCDX and so this series is certainly going to help with this.

As the name alludes to, the EMEA vBrownbag of which I am one of the three hosts is going to be starting a VCDX series all around the VCDX to try help people along every section of the journey to obtaining the certification. I know all the things I am looking to get out of the series but despite me wanting to make it focus just on the things I want to do/know I wanted to get out a posting asking people what they would like us to cover. As I’m sure you are aware there are NDA’s attached to the certification but I am certain we can keep to these and have cleared this idea with the powers that be within VMware who are happy for us to do and will be participating at points also. Below are the rough plans for the series which we can run as long as there is content and people are interested. If you can please write in the comments section what you would like to see then we can start getting the ball rolling.

EMEA vBrownbag VCDX Series

  • January 20th (Confirmed) – VCDX Q&A Panel

A panel of a number of current VCDX and the VMware VCDX program manager where those burning questions you have about the VCDX can be asked. People need to come with questions for this.

  • February 10th (Tentative) – VCDX Design Scenario Mock Panel

We will do one or even two VCDX Design Scenario Mock Panels where a pre-agreed volunteer will do a VCDX Design Scenario Mock with a set panel just like the real defence and then will analyse what the panelists feel they did right and wrong.

  • February 17th (Confirmed) – What is required in a VCDX submission?

For this the name describes it all. We will go through what is required in a VCDX submission by following the VCDX blueprint and showing the depth and breadth of documentation that you should be submitting to be invited to defend your VCDX design.

  • March 3rd (Confirmed)  –The Art of IT Infrastructure Design -Part 1

The authors of The Art of IT Infrastructure Design book will be covering their new book and what it entails and how it is a valuable resource for those looking to obtain the VCDX.

  • March 10th (Confirmed)  –The Art of IT Infrastructure Design -Part 2

The authors of The Art of IT Infrastructure Design book will be covering their new book and what it entails and how it is a valuable resource for those looking to obtain the VCDX.

  • March 17th ( Confirmed) – VCDX Bootcamp Session with John Arrasjid, Mostafa Khalil, Chris McCain, and Mark Gabryjelski 

A VCDX Bootcamp session will be run by John Arrasjid, Mostafa Khalil, Chris McCain, and Mark Gabryjelski.

As I said this is to help those thinking about doing the VCDX or even those who are already on the path towards it to get the information and knowledge they are looking for so let us know your thoughts on the tentative schedule and what other things you would like to see. Also don’t forget you can sign up for the EMEA #vBrownbag via this link.

Lastly a shameless plug of if anyone is interested in knowing all the resources I’m personally going through for my second VCDX attempt you can see them here.

Gregg


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Rethink Your vSphere Virtualization Infrastructure for your SMB

I just wanted to repost this just in case people don’t follow the VMware SMB blog page. The below blog posting was posted by me on this blog over a week ago (I’m very busy at work doing cool vRealize Automation stuff which I hope to blog about very soon) . Hopefully this is of interest to a number of people and so keep an eye for my future blog posting via the SMB blog.

In recent years, virtualization has dramatically changed the infrastructure of companies and helped them to consolidate and optimize their environments. With the change and growth of the VMware vSphere® family of products, a number of features and solutions that were only part of the Enterprise and Enterprise plus licencing packages are now available for the small and midsize business (SMB) market as well. This change is causing SMB customers to rethink and re-evaluate their vSphere virtualized infrastructure to leverage these new offerings and realize the benefits of advanced reporting, data protection, enhanced optimization and advanced service offerings, to name a few.

In the past, many of these new features and technologies made a perfect fit for the SMB market, but costs made them prohibitive. That is now changing with a new wave of virtualization 2.0 technologies, including:

As a senior consultant doing work as a VMware partner and as an extension of VMware PSO, this change is something I am evangelising and explaining to all my customers. I especially want the small and midsize businesses I work with to know the capabilities and solutions that are now available at no extra cost to them, which can help enhance and optimize their virtualized infrastructure.

A large portion of these successes have been through the ability of SMB customers to now utilize vSphere with Operations Management to do reporting, monitoring and future planning through smart alerts, built in reports and health dashboards designed to optimize the utilization of hardware resources, such as CPU, memory and storage.

As shown in the screenshot below, this dashboard enables SMB customers to monitor the state of the environment through the current health score, the potential risks to the environment, the future health of the environment and how well the environment is running through the efficiency score. Each of these scores can be expanded to give further information and methods to improve these rankings. I always like to explain these scores like the the health of a person – the higher your health score is, the healthier you are, and the higher your risk factors, the bigger the chance of your health being impacted. Your efficiency is how well you are doing things and how you could do things better.

Download Here

I’ve written a whitepaper around the need for SMBs to rethink their virtualization infrastructure and to elaborate on a number of the features and solutions that are now available to SMB customers, like vRealize Operations built into vSphere with Operations Management, as briefly detailed above. Download the whitepaper to learn how these solutions can help your business and your customers.

If you require any more information or consultancy about the solutions and technologies covered in the whitepaper, then please don’t hesitate to contact VMware Professional Services.


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Blog Sponsor – Pluralsight

I am pleased to announce the second sponsor of my blog: Pluralsight . I am really excited by this sponsorship as I have been a massive fan and user of Pluralsight’s and previously Trainsignal’s videos and online courses for years and they  have helped me pass all of my certifications within the last 7 years so you can understand how fond of the courses I am.

Pluralsight

Pluralsight’s purchase of Trainsignal has enabled the videos to now be available via your tablet and gives you the ability to download videos to your tablet so you can watch them without needing Wi-Fi like on a train or plane. I honestly can’t recommend them enough and would highly recommend you give them a try and sign up for their no obligation 10-day free trial. They have videos ranging from VMware technologies, learning programming languages from scratch or advanced courses , Windows technologies,hacking, A+ N+ , leadership courses and Scrum fundamentals to name but a fraction of the courses. For some of the certifications I have recommended and personally used Pluralsight courses for and will be using again in the future have a look at the following study resources pages and blog posting:

http://thesaffageek.co.uk/vsphere-5-study-resources/vcp5/

http://thesaffageek.co.uk/vsphere-5-study-resources/vcap5-dca-dcd/

http://thesaffageek.co.uk/vsphere-5-x-cloud-study-resources/vcp5-iaas-and-vcp5-cloud/

http://thesaffageek.co.uk/vsphere-5-x-cloud-study-resources/vcap5-cia-and-cid/

http://thesaffageek.co.uk/2014/04/28/vcdx-prep-round-2/

 

Gregg


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VMworld Day 2

VMworld EMEA day 2 kicked off with the keynote from Carl Echenbach, Ben Fathi and Raghu Raghuram. Unfortunately the keynote was again largely a repeat of the VMworld US day 2 one with all of the same jokes and mock up pictures also. Due to this I’m not going to break down the keynote but rather recommend you watch the keynote recording here.

After watching the keynote and writing up my VMworld Day 1 blog posting I helped the vBrownbag crew with preparations for the TechTalks for which the recordings are now available on the vBrownbag YouTube channel. I would highly recommend watching these as there were some really great presentations from some very big vendors and names within the industry. I then went to the hands on labs and did  HOL-SDC-1420 – OpenStack with VMware vSphere and NSX. The lab was really good and I plan to do the second part of it today.

Talking about containers VMware released a blog posting yesterday around Docker containers performance in VMware vSphere. some of the highlights from the article are that:

  • VMware find that for most of these micro-benchmarks and Redis tests, vSphere delivered near-native performance with generally less than 5% overhead.
  • Running an application in a Docker container in a vSphere VM has very similar overhead of running containers on a native OS (directly on a physical server).

To view the full blog post, you can visit :  http://blogs.vmware.com/performance/2014/10/docker-containers-performance-vmware-vsphere.html

After the HOL I attended the Solutions exchange and spoke to some of the vendors whose solutions interest me such as Nutanix, Hitachi Data Systems, PernixData, Simplivity , SolidFire and Colt stalls. Some amazing solution from these guys as well as many others, it’s scary how much the virtualisation ecosystem is changing.

From the solutions exchange I attended session STO2997-SPO The vExpert Storage Game Show EMEA which was really good fun and filled by really smart guys on the stage. I watched the recording of the one from the US a few weeks ago and it too was very informative and is a session I would recommend watching from both VMworld’s.

I then made my way back to the solutions exchange for the hall crawl where Hitachi were serving up sake and sushi at their stand which is two of my favourite things so I had to make sure I got myself some and they even gave us nice sake cups which I will personally use for a double espresso cup. A big thanks to Paul Meehan too for chatting us through their solution.

hitachi

I stuck around in the solutions exchange until the VMworld party as the party is in the convention centre. The party seemed smaller this year although there was a big roller rink in the middle last year so possibly this was the reason. It was good to chat to very vNerds and even some ex-colleagues whilst waiting for Simple Minds to come on. I’m only 31 so I only knew two or three of their songs but they were hands down better than Taio Cruz last year and most of the crowd seemed to really enjoy it and they even did an encore. From the party I met up with some of my Xtravirt colleagues for a night cap.


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VMworld Day 1

Tuesday is the real start of VMworld where both partners and customers of VMware come to attend sessions, do hands on labs, talk to vendors in the solutions exchange and attend the keynote/general session.

The day kicked off with the general session, I opted to not go into the general session hall but instead go into the hang space across from the hall where the keynote was being shown on big screens. This enabled me  to sit at the bloggers table to ensure my scheduled blog postings around a number of announcements could go out smoothly and in San Francisco the keynote overran into the first sessions and I had one booked at 11am. The blog postings I posted which the ones I had to make sure the scheduling worked for are:

I was planning to mention quite a bit about the keynote but it was 98% exactly the same as the VMworld US one with even the same jokes. If you missed the keynote you can watch it again here. The big announcements from the keynote for me was the announcement that there is now a vCloud Air datacentre in Germany allowing the selection of this datacentre as the location of your data. For those who aren’t from Europe, many countries in Europe have strict regulations about information leaving their countries and Germany is one of the strictest so giving the ability to have customers data in Germany makes things a lot simpler. The second big announcement for me was that HP and Hitachi Data Systems are  have joined the VMware EVO:RAIL program.

Just like in VMworld US, the keynote ran overtime so I started walking to my first session which was MGT1969 vCloud Automation Center and NSX Integration Technical Deep Dive . The session was really informative and the two speakers gave some great insight into the integration and capabilities of the two products as well as doing a live demo at the end. I always appreciate a good demo so i would highly recommend watching the session once the recordings are available.

I had a quick lunch as most of the 11am sessions were delayed due to the keynote and then went up to the solutions exchange to talk to some vendors I wanted to hear more things about. The solutions exchange certainly doesnt seem to have as many vendors as last year and it was also very interesting to see how some vendors stalls have doubled in size whereas a few others have got a lot smaller and moved to the outer edges.

I then went to the hang space to watch a few vBrownbag Techtalks which were really good and also to chat to some fellow vExperts. for me one of the best parts about VMworld is being able to chat to your peers about technology and also make good connections professionally with partners companies. whilst i was in the hang space I also attempted my paper airplane challenge for project Destination Give Back which allows you to create a paper airplane and then depending on how far you throw of if you land on one of the circles you “win” money for a charity cause of your choice. Yet again I threw mine too hard Smile but it’s a quick and easy way to give back to good causes and I applaud VMware for doing it. giveback

My next session to attend was TEX1991 vCenter Orchestrator – What’s Next? which was a good session giving insight into you guessed it, what’s new in vCO. it was a good session and there really are some great things coming out in vCO that will help both SMB and enterprise customers.

I again did a walk around the solutions exchange after this as it was then the hall crawl where drinks and snacks are supplied before making my way to the vExpert/VCDX party where I managed to chat to loads of people about my previous VCDX attempt and my plans for my next one and lastly I attended the Cisco vJamon party. Both parties were really good and I must be getting old as I quite liked that there was good food and no thumping music so that I could chat to people with ease.

If you spot me at the conference please do come say hi. I will be wearing a vBrownbag shirt with my name on the front and back.


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What’s New in vRealize Automation 6.2

Today at VMworld Europe, VMware are going to announce vRealize Automation 6.2 which is the renamed vCloud Automation Center solution but obviously the next version which is due to be available in Q4 this year. It does seem like there is a new version every six months of the solution as vCAC 6.1 was only GA 6 weeks ago which added a whole host of new features.

Below is an overview of what is being added in the vRealize Automation 6.2 product, fortunately there isn’t a change to the architecture so for those who have recently deployed vCAC 6.1 to customer like I have recently you don’t have to stress about doing the upgrade like it was between previous versions.

Upgrade and Migrate to vCAC 6.1

Release 6.0.1.1 to release 6.1

  • 6.0 must first be upgraded to 6.0.1.1
  • In-place upgrade from 6.0.1.1 to 6.1
  • Application Services (AppD) requires side-by side migration

Release 5.2.1 to release 6.1

  • Older versions must be first upgrade to 5.2.1
  • 6.1 will be installed side by side with 5.2.1
  • A migration utility will move data from 5.2.1 to new 6.1 deployment
  • Will require some system down time
  • Does not include AppD

vRealize Automation 6.2 Summary

Enhanced integration between vRealize Operations and Automation

  • Health status displays
  • Reclaims inactive VMs

Admin Friendly CLI

  • Simplify scripting of vRealize Automation commands

Enhanced Endpoint Support

  • vSphere 6 (Q1-15)
  • XenDesktop 7
  • Enhancements to vCloud Air

Proxy Support

  • Pay as you go support (Q1-2015)
  • OpenStack (Havana)

vRealize Automation 6.2 In-Depth

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CloudClient

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CloudClient Overview

  • Command-line utility that provides verb-based access with a unified interface across the vCAC APIs (including IaaS, Applications, vCO)
  • Focused on providing an easy-to-use command-line interface for the IT administrator where scripting and CLI use is more feasible than direct API calls
  • Stable interface while underlying APIs may change over time
  • Provides common security; exception handling; JSON, CSV and tabular formatting; file export; auto login for scripting (password and keyfiles); and auto-generated documentation.
  • Available as a separate Download in Early Q4 (supports 6.1)

Make sure you  watch the live VMworld keynote to learn more.


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#VMworld Announcement #1 VMware EVO:RAIL – What is it?

 

imageAt VMworld US this morning VMware will announce numerous new solutions and one of these will be VMware EVO: RAIL I mean MARVIN I mean VMware EVO: RAIL, but what is it and what does it do. Below is a high level overview of the solution. Make sure you also  watch the live keynote to learn more.

Introducing VMware EVO: RAIL

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VMware EVO: RAIL™ combines compute, networking, and storage resources into a hyper-converged infrastructure appliance to create a simple, easy to deploy, all-in-one solution offered by VMware qualified partners.

Simplicity Transformed

EVO: RAIL enables power-on to VM creation in minutes, radically easy VM deployment, one-click non-disruptive patch and upgrades, simplified management…you get the idea.

Software-Defined Building Block

EVO: RAIL is a scalable Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC) building block that delivers compute, networking, storage, and management to empower private/hybrid-cloud, end-user computing, test/dev, and branch office environments.

Trusted Foundation

Building on the proven technology of VMware vSphere®, vCenter Server™, and VMware Virtual SAN™, EVO: RAIL delivers the first hyper-converged infrastructure appliance 100% powered by VMware software.

Highly Resilient by Design

Resilient appliance design starting with four independent hosts and a distributed Virtual SAN datastore ensures zero application downtime during planned maintenance or during disk, network, or host failures.

Infrastructure at the Speed of Innovation

Meet accelerating business demands by simplifying infrastructure design with predictable sizing and scaling,by streamlining purchase and deployment with a single appliance SKU, and by reducing CapEx and OpEx.

Freedom of Choice

EVO: RAIL is delivered as a complete appliance solution with hardware, software, and support through leading
systems vendors; customers choose their preferred brand.

Hardware

VMware is not entering the hardware market. The EVO: RAIL software bundle is available to qualifying EVO:RAIL partners. The partner, in turn, sells the hardware with integrated EVO: RAIL software, and provides all hardware and software support to customers.

Appliance

Each EVO: RAIL appliance has four independent nodes with dedicated computer, network, and storage resources and dual, redundant power supplies.
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Nodes

Each of the four EVO: RAIL nodes have:

  • Two Intel E5-2620v2 six-core CPUs
  • 192GB of memory
  • One SLC SATADOM or SAS HDD for the ESXi™ boot device
  • Three SAS 10K RPM 1.2TB HDD for the VMware Virtual SAN™ datastore
  • One 400GB MLC enterprise-grade SSD for read/write cache
  • One Virtual SAN-certified pass-through disk controller
  • Two 10GbE NIC ports (configured for either 10GBase-T or SFP+ connections)
  • One 1GbE IPMI port for remote (out-of-band) management

Fault Tolerance and Reliability

Each EVO: RAIL appliance has the following hardware components and reliability features:

  • Four ESXi hosts in a single appliance enables resiliency for hardware failures or maintenance
  • Two fully redundant power supplies
  • Redundant 2 x 10GbE NIC ports per node for all communication
  • ESXi boot device, HDDs, and SSD are all enterprise-grade

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Automatic Scale-Out

EVO: RAIL Version 1.0 can scale out to four appliances – for a total of 16 ESXi hosts, 1 Virtual SAN datastore backed by a single vCenter Server and EVO: RAIL instance. EVO: RAIL handles deployment, configuration, and management, allowing the compute capacity and the Virtual SAN datastore to grow automatically. New appliances are automatically discovered and easily added to an EVO: RAIL cluster with a few mouse clicks.

Software

EVO: RAIL delivers the first hyper-converged infrastructure appliance 100% powered by VMware’s proven suite of core products. The EVO: RAIL software bundle is fully loaded onto the EVO: RAIL qualified partner’s hardware.
This software bundle is comprised of:

  • EVO: RAIL Deployment, Configuration, and Management
  • VMware vSphere® Enterprise Plus, including ESXi for compute
  • Virtual SAN for storage
  • vCenter Server™
  • vCenter Log Insight™

EVO: RAIL is optimized for the new VMware user as well as for experienced administrators. Minimal IT experience is required to deploy, configure, and manage EVO: RAIL, allowing it to be used where there is limited or no IT staff on-site. As EVO: RAIL utilizes VMware’s core products, administrators can apply existing VMware knowledge,
best practices, and processes.

EVO: RAIL leverages the same database as vCenter Server, so any changes in EVO: RAIL configuration and management are also reflected in vCenter Server and vice-versa.

Compute, Networking, Storage, and Management

EVO: RAIL Compute

Virtual Machine Density

  • EVO: RAIL is sized to run approximately 100 average-sized, general-purpose, data center VMs. Actual capacity varies by VM size and workload. There are no restrictions on application type. EVO: RAIL supports any application that a customer would run on vSphere.
    General-purpose VM profile: 2 vCPU, 4GB vMEM, 60GB of vDisk, with redundancy
  • EVO: RAIL is optimized for VMware Horizon® View with configuration options that allow up to 250 View VMs on a single EVO: RAIL appliance. Actual capacity varies by desktop size and workload.
    Horizon View virtual desktop profile: 2vCPU, 2GB vMEM, 32GB vDisk linked clones

EVO: RAIL Network

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Connections

  • Each node in EVO: RAIL has two 10GbE network ports. Each port must be connected to a 10GbE top-of-rack switch that has IPv4 and IPv6 multicast enabled.
  • Remote/lights out management is available on each node through a 1GbE IPMI port that can connect to a management network. NOTE: In some configurations, there may be additional 1GbE ports that are covered and disabled.

Traffic

  • EVO: RAIL supports four types of traffic: Management, vSphere vMotion®, Virtual SAN, and Virtual Machine.Traffic isolation on separate VLANs is recommended for vSphere vMotion, Virtual SAN, and VMs. EVO: RAIL
    Version 1.0 does not put management traffic on a VLAN.
  • IPv4 and IPv6 multicast must be enabled on the top-of-rack switch(es). EVO: RAIL’s automated scale-out feature uses IPv6. (It is not required for your complete network to support IPv6.)
  • VLANs are not required when customizing a EVO: RAIL configuration; however, they are highly recommended.When using the Just Go! option, it is assumed VLANs are configured.

EVO: RAIL Storage

EVO: RAIL creates a single Virtual SAN datastore from all local HDDs on each ESXi host in a EVO: RAIL cluster. Virtual SAN read caching and write buffering uses SSD capacity. Total storage capacity is 16TB per EVO: RAIL appliance:

  • 14.4TB HDD capacity (approximately 13TB usable) per appliance, allocated to the Virtual SAN datastore for virtual machines
  • 1.6TB SSD capacity per appliance for read/write cache
  • Size of pre-provisioned management VM: 30GB

EVO: RAIL Management

EVO: RAIL enables deployment, configuration, and management through a new, intuitive HTML5-based user interface showcased in the next section. EVO: RAIL provides new non-disruptive updates for VMware software with zero downtime and automatic scale-out of EVO: RAIL appliances.

User Interface

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Configuration Screenshots

Below are a few configuration screenshots showing how intuitive and easy it is to configure EVO:RAIL.

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Use Cases

Below are some of the use cases for EVO:RAIL.

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Make sure you  watch the live VMworld keynote to learn more.

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