TheSaffaGeek

My ramblings about all things technical


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#VCDX Design Scenario “Tips”

Yesterday I ran some face to face mocks at Dell EMC’s offices in Brentford UK and during part of those at the end we discussed the design scenario and what i recommend people practice. I have partly mentioned some of it already in a posting i did after the last face to face mocks here. Additional to that I was showing those people that were going to defend this coming week the plan I had around the things I wanted to ensure I asked and also what I felt I needed to keep in mind during the design scenario. Now i have to make it clear I am not a panellist nor have i seen nor know the rubric the scenario is scored on but what worked for me at least are the following:

Question any information that doesn’t make sense!!!!

Compute

1. NUMA aware applications/OS’s?

2. If not how wide is the VM that is not NUMA aware?

3. Amount of growth?

4. Total vCPUs? Divide that by 5

5. Peak GHz for CPU?

6. Peak RAM for Memory?

7. PCIE connected hardware or USB dongles?

8. Rack or Blade? If blade are they half or full and logical diagram spreading across chassis. FDM mention

9. What kinds of applications are on these servers?

10. Scale up or scale out? N+ value

11. Right size VM’s after conversion

12. Add N+ value

 

Storage

1. FC,FCoE,iSCSI,NFS,VSAN,vFRC

2. Existing Tiers of Storage?

3. Amount of Free space? Is this dedicated to the project? How long is the support for this?

4. PEAK IOPS

5. Average IO size

6. Read/write ratios

7. SP speeds? Active passive,active active, ALUA?

8. Standard access switch and core setup?

9. Speed of existing FC switches if applicable?

10. Existing HBA’s? speeds of these HBA’s?

11. Software or hardware initiators?

12. CHAP?

13. IOPS, Amount of required storage?

14. Amount of growth?

 

Network

1. Traditional or CLOS?

2. North/south or East/West traffic?

3. vSS,vDS on N1KV?

4. Hybrid or vDS only?

5. 1GbE or 10GbE?

6. Converged Network Adapter or 10GbE?

7. Peak network throughput required?

8. Speeds of Network Switches

9. MTU for Jumbo frames 9000

 

VIM

1. HA and DRS? (limit 32 hosts and 3000 VM’s)

2. Dedicated management cluster?

3. Virtual vCenter or VCSA?

4. Linked Mode?

5. vCenter heartbeat

6. VUM and UMDS?

7. BC/DR?

8. vCenter design to separate vCenter from DB

 

I also did a second prep list that is very much alike to the one above but some slight addtional parts and for the cenceptual were the questions i had made a sentence out of to remember to ask them as i felt they gave me a good start and it was what i asked myself during each practice of the design scenario so when i did it in the defence it just felt like another practice and so calmed my nerves

 

Conceptual

  • Pick out the main objective of the project (design a cluster for the migrated workloads)
  • Write down all other requirements ,assumptions ,risks and constraints
  • Availability Requirements? <- if over 99.9 then warn of additional costs
  • N+ requirements
  • If existing hardware then how old? Is it dedicated to the project? What speeds and free space does it have? Processor family? NIC speeds? Room for growth? Anything missing that is required (HBA cards or 10GB NICS)
  • Consolidation and containment seem to always come up so ask about the steps for migrating the servers to vm’s and minimizing the risk of server sprawl….
  • Licencing?
  • Budget?
  • BC/DR? <- How soon is the requirement for the failover site and is the site even built? Distances and latency if already built

 

Compute

  • Total number of CPU’s <- Question/highlight if really high or low
  • Are applications/OS’s NUMA aware? What is the largest non numa aware vm?
  • Calculate number of required hosts
  • Very quick mention that could work it out with Peak CPU and Peak RAM also but DON’T DO THIS CALC
  • Add N+ to the total number and make sure the cluster doesn’t go over 32 or 3k vm’s (This was applicable to my vSphere 5.0 design where the limit was 32)
  • Right size VM’s after conversion

 

Storage

  • Peak Storage ,Peak IOPS,Average IO,Read/write? <- Question/highlight if really high or low
  • Storage Protocol?
  • Active/Active, Active/Passive,ALUA?
  • Different workloads require different tiers of storage?
  • Allocate RAID levels to different tiers

 

Network

  • Traditional Core access switch setup?
  • Total Peak throughput <- Question/highlight if really high or low
  • North/south and east/west
  • 1GB or 10GB
  • CNA or 10GB
  • vSS,Hybrid or VDS based on licencing question and on amount of required throughput and storage protocol

 

VIM

  • HA and DRS with the N+1 portion from earlier included
  • If avail was high and they keep to it then vCenter heartbeat
  • Dedicated Management Cluster
  • Separation of database and vCenter for resiliency
  • vSphere licences from conceptual questions


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Why you should attend VMworld US

VMworld US is just around the corner (58 days to be exact) and I have been graciously allocated a bloggers pass for the conference and given backing from my company Dell EMC to attend. This will be my sixth time attending and my third time attending the US one. VMworld has something for everyone from those just learning about virtualisation to those who have been part of the industry for a number of years and are looking to those in depth sessions and discussions with the evangelists and guru’s of VMware plethora of offerings and solutions. If you haven’t yet booked your place then let me list some of the reasons I think you should attend as they are the reasons I try to attend every year:

  • On the Sunday of VMworld is Partner Exchange and TAM day where VMware partners can attend exclusive sessions talking about everything from future roadmaps for all of VMware product lines but also new solutions VMware are looking to release. The sessions are always extremely interesting and from my experience are the best chance to speak to the “rockstars” who evangelise and breath the various solutions. If you aren’t a partner or are looking  for something community driven then the vBrownbag crew along with the VMUnderground crew are again running opening acts and then the VMUnderground party in the Evening (unfortunately the party tickets are now sold out). I will be attending opening acts and have actually submitted a panel idea that I hope will be accepted.

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  • My next reason is about the community again but this time the ability to network with like minded individuals at the bloggers tables, fellow vExperts, fellow VCDX at the VCDX townhall on the Saturday before VMworld and all those I hope to meet over lunch and at the vBrownbag TechTalks who are working in collaboration with the VMTN team to run the infamous TechTalks. If you have never heard of the TechTalks then a brief overview is below:
    • Tech Talks originated at VMworld 2012 where they provided an opportunity for community members, whose presentation submissions were not accepted into the main catalogue, to present the core of  a topic.  #TechTalks are a ten minute presentation by a community member for the benefit of the community. Since almost everyone working in technology has solved problems and learned something almost everyone could present a #TechTalk.  The format can be a slide deck or simply talking, they are usually about how to solve a problem or get the most out of a product. The TechTalk is captured on video and published on the vBrownBag YouTube channel.
    • If the conference Internet connection allows, the talk is also live streamed from the show.
    • #TechTalks are for community members to reach other community members, any topic that will help other people is good.  The one thing that TechTalks are not is an opportunity to present the corporate slide deck about a great product you would like us to buy.  #TechTalks are about up skilling and education, the only marketing should be from the TechTalk sponsors who help make the whole thing happen.
  • Next are the breakout sessions, group discussions and expert panels. The content catalog is now live and it is packed with amazing sessions by some of the biggest names in the industry and those up and coming in the industry. I’m personally really looking forward to all of the VMware Cloud on AWS sessions as it bridges my existing knowledge and interest in VMware with my exponentially growing interest in AWS. The sessions are also recorded so if you can’t make it to a sessions due to a conflict then by registering for VMworld you get access to all the recorded sessions after the conference for you to watch in your own time.
  • My next reason are the VMware Hands-On Labs which cover all VMware technologies and allow you to play with the latest releases and offerings not just from VMware but also VMware partners. Alike to the sessions the hands on labs are available after the conference but I would recommend going to a few that really interest you (again I’ve allocated some walk trough’s of the VMConAWS solution) and then you can do the remaining ones after the conference. If however you really want to hit the labs hard then I know they normally give a free pass to next years VMworld to the top few people who have completed the most labs.
  • The solution exchange is my next reason as this is the perfect opportunity to speak to those vendors who are offering the latest solution that might save your business and team loads of money and or time and this is the perfect opportunity to speak to that vendor who might be offering the solution that will fix the issues your company is experiencing and take that knowledge back to your company and impress your management with how you’ve found a great solution and to prove that your going to VMworld was worth it and that they should send you again next year. I would be remise if I didn’t encourage you to go speak to Dell EMC and hear about their amazing offerings all the way through the stack as well as pre-packaged and validated solutions for SMB’s all the way to large enterprises.
  • If you are looking to obtain that next VMware certification or want to speak to the certification team about the performance of your latest VCAP-Deploy exam then there are loads of  VMware Certification opportunities. You can also book reduce cost exams at VMworld which I have personally never decided to do but loads of the community swear by it and due to the reduced cost it means if you unfortunately don’t make it then it isn’t that much of a dent to your pocket and lets you scope out the exam to better prepare for next time.
  • Last is the parties and due to the conference being in Vegas you can imagine the amount of them there are and the amount of meet ups after the parties that happen.  There are parties for everyone so if you are looking for a chilled drinks evening then there are loads of opportunities for that and if you want to party all night (save some sleep to be able to attend the conference) then there are plenty of those as well. If you haven;t got a ticket to VMUnderground on Sunday then the Welcome Reception kicks off the conference experience with food, drinks, and networking in the Solutions Exchange. There are normally loads of announcements about the parties closer to the time so keep an eye out on social media as the parties fill up fast and remember the strip is big so unless you plan to uber it then getting to three parties in a night might not be possible. The VMworld party finishes off the conference on Wednesday night, the venue hasn’t been announced as far as I’ve seen but he bands have been and teenage Gregg is super excited about it as  Blink 182 and Bleachers will be performing. Last years aprty at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway was really fun and fall out boy were awesome in my opinion

If you are looking to attend then sign up here https://reg.rainfocus.com/flow/vmware/vmworldus17/reg/account?src=so_590b899c53598&cid=70134000001K6I4 and make sure to come find me and say hi as well as i encourage you to attend the TechTalks which are due to be added to the content catalog very soon.

Gregg


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My First VMware Certification #vExpert NSX

The VMware vExpert NSX program is running a community blog series and this post is about my first VMware certification.

Why did you decide to take your first test and what was your motivation?

I had been allocated to look after the VMware 3.5 estate of my old company and decided that trying to pass the VCP3.5 was the best way for me to learn VMware. I followed this up with the VCP4 which had been released around the same time in quick succession to help me learn what was coming in the next version.

What was your journey for the first test?

The VCP3.5 was my first one but due to me doing the VCP4 almost immediately after the journey actually merged covering both which I blogged about on my blog here https://thesaffageek.co.uk/2009/12/02/vmware-certified-professional-vsphere-passed/ . VMware was very new to me then but the community was in it’s relative infancy in 2009 and twitter had a small but hard-core group that I loved being a part of and learning from some of the famous pioneers like Scott Lowe, Duncan Epping and Frank Denneman to name but a few. My preparing for the exam started off my interest and now continued link to writing up the study resources (Part 1 and Part 2 ) I used for the exams which became very popular and actually led me to getting my first vExpert the year after.

Were you nervous, how did you study?

I was very nervous as I actually mentioned in my posting for VCP4 as the technology was very new to me as I had up until that point been a Microsoft fan boy having done the MCP’s and MCSE’s and virtualisation plus what it could do was in it’s infancy (at least in my opinion then) . How i studied for it had been covered in the blog postings I mentioned earlier around the VCP4 (Part 1 and Part 2 ) and the methods I followed then I still follow largely today around using multiple techniques to learnt he material such as books, podcasts, CBT and good old lab time. I also had much more time then to read blogs announcing the latest features or what people were having issues with and how they fixed them. This interest in learning what issues people had and how they fixed them as well as trying to help people with issues drew me into the VMware communities and which led me to become Master status and being asked to become a VMware communities moderator.

How did it benefit your career as well as your community?

Immense amounts as just reading the posting around my passing the VCP4 reminds me how much I’ve learnt over the time from doing those exams as a junior IT Technician freshly “off the boat” from South Africa to a Cloud Practice Solution Lead and VCDX #205. The community involvement was what really got me excited and I made some great vFriends whom I am still very friendly with as well as countless others from VMUG’s to VMworld’s to Twitter to the communities to now being part of the vBrownbag crew that I learnt so much from in the early days. The VMware community was amazing then and even though some people have moved onto other things that ethos is still around and is something I personally try give back to the community.

Knowing what you know today, what are some of the pain points in this certification that you can share with your audience?

It varies based on the level of the VMware certification you are going for. For the VCP it is now much easier to learn about the technology as there is a sheer abundance of resources out there to learn from whereas the amount in the 3.5 days was much less although the suite of products and amount of features were much less then so I think it balances out somewhat. As with any certification it is about spending the time understanding it and for me as I’ve mentioned before I sometimes find different methods of learning it helps explain it better as sometimes reading page after page of a book can make you lose focus but a video by the vBrownbag where you hear it from someone in the community can keep your interest much more and maybe even explain it in terms you would have never thought of.

 

If you are going for the VCP6 then why not have a look at my study resources page and good luck on the journey. If you told me in those VCP3.5 days that I would be a VCDX doing enterprise level work like I am now I would have never believed you. Also with so many paths such as NV,DTM and CMA the amount of amazing technology you can learn to advance you career never mind the integrations with Openstack, AWS and Azure it’s still an exciting time to being doing virtualisation.

Gregg


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vSphere 6.5 Operations Management Announcements

At today’s VMworld Europe conference in Barcelona VMware are announcing vSphere 6.5. There are a plethora of new features and fixes in this series of postings I plan to cover the ones that caught my eye and so for the first second one let us cover the updates to vSphere 6.5 Operations Management.

vR Ops – New Home Dashboard

The vR Ops home dashboard as part of vSOM has had a makeover where you can now filter and find important things to the environment easily such as

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Quickly identity top problem objects

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Filter by severity

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Condensed alert and information and remediation guidance

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Enhanced vSphere DRS Cluster settings dashboard

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Conveniently monitor each cluster workload

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Updated Workload Utilisation Dashboard

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Easily visualise separate workloads

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Quicker access to rebalance plan

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vR Ops – Additional Improvements

vCenter Configuration

  • Combined Configuration of vCenter and Action Adapters
  • One-button ease of enabling or disabling actions
  • Create and apply global monitoring goals to multiple vCenters

Automation

  • New CaSA public REST API interface
  • Documentation available@ <vrops>/casa/api-guide.html
  • Allows for cluster and node management

Security and Compliance

  • Added support for the vSphere 6.0 hardening guide
  • New certificate validation checks
  • Import certificates via CaSA REST API

Log Insight Integration

  • Log Insight management pack comes pre-installed
  • Improvements of Log Insight alerting to vR Ops

Log insight – New Clarity UI

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Log Insight – Additional Improvements

vSphere Content Pack

  • New vCenter Server Dashboards
    • Overview
    • Performance
  • Updated Dashboards
    • General- Problems
    • vSphere – vMotion

Widget Updates

  • New Event Widgets
    • Event Types
    • Event Trends
  • New vSphere widgets:
    • Replicated VMs
    • Recovered VMs
    • Upgraded VMs

Other Notables

  • Added PSP PhoneHome Support
  • API-Based Improvements
    • Install
    • Upgrade
    • Query API Enhancements
  • Streaming Support Bundles

Make sure you attend one of (if not all) the multiple sessions by Kyle Gleed to learn and see more if you are at the show or watch once the recordings have been released

Gregg


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vSphere 6.5 VCSA and Clients Announcements

At today’s VMworld Europe conference in Barcelona VMware are announcing vSphere 6.5. There are a plethora of new features and fixes in this series of postings I plan to cover the ones that caught my eye and so for the first one let us cover the vSphere 6.5 VCSA and Clients announcements.

Overview

  • Native high availability – An all new HA solution that reduces RTO and is easy to configure. No dependency on expensive 3rd party database clustering solutions of RDMs while eliminating the single point of failure for vCenter Server
  • VMware Update Manager – is now integrated into the vCenter Server Appliance. Simple, enabled by default, and removes the requirement for a separate Windows VM.
  • Improved appliance management – an improved vCenter Server Appliance Management Interface (VMAI) brings more CPU, Memory, Network and Database monitoring right into the UI. Reduces reliance on CLI for simple monitoring tasks.
  • Native Backup and Restore – Simplified backup and restore with a new native file-based solution. Restore the vCenter server configuration to a fresh appliance and stream backups to external storage using HTTP, FTP or SCP protocols (Only available on the vCenter Server appliance)

VCSA Deployment

  • Installer support now for windows, Mac and Linux
  • An updated menu where you cannot just select to install or upgrade but also migrate and restore.

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  • VMware vSphere Update Manager included
  • VCSA and PSC install is now a two stage process
    • Stage 1- Deploy OVF
    • Stage 2 – Configuration
  • The benefits of the 2-stage deployment are:
    • Improved validation and checks
    • Manual snapshot between stages for rollback
    • Create a template for additional deployments

VCSA Migration – 6.5

  • 6.5 support for Windows vCenter 5.5 or 6.0 -> 6.5
  • Migrations for both embedded and external topologies
  • VMware vSphere Update Manager included as part of migration
  • Assumes the identity of the source Windows vCenter (UUID, IP, OS Name, Certificates)
  • Embedded and external Database support: MSSQL, MSSQL Express, Oracle
  • Migration Assistant pre-checks
  • Option to select historical and performance data

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VCSA Monitoring

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  • New vCenter Server Appliance Management Interface
  • Built in monitoring: Network, CPU and Memory
  • Visibility to vPostgres DB
  • Remote syslog configuration
  • vMon: Enhanced watchdog functionality

Native vCenter Server Appliance Backup & Restore

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  • Removes dependency on 3rd party backup solutions
  • Restore vCenter Server instance to a brand new appliance
  • Supports backup/restore of VCSA & PSC appliances
  • Includes embedded and external deployments
  • Supported protocols include:
    • HTTP/S
    • SC
    • FTP/S
  • Option for Encryption
  • Restore directly from VCSA ISO

Native vCenter High Availability

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  • VCSA Only
  • Active/Passive with witness
  • Required network configuration:
    • Eth0 – Public network
    • Eth1 – Private network (added during configuration)
  • Two configuration options: Basic and Advanced

Client Integration Plugin Deprecation

  • In 6.5 CIP is no longer required
    • Replaced by native browser functions
    • Optional plugin called Enhanced Authentication Plugin for smart card and Integrate Windows Authentication login capabilities.

vSphere HTML5 Web Client

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· Clarity UI standard

· No browser plugins

· Integrated into vCenter Server 6.5

· Fully supports Enhanced Linked Mode

Make sure you attend one of the multiple sessions by Emad Younis and Adam Eckerle to learn and see more.

Gregg


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#VMworld Day 2

My VMworld day 2 started with getting into the VMvillage so that I could write up my #VMworld Day 1 posting as well as make sure I was near the vBrownbag presentation area so that I could setup whilst the keynote was displayed over the screens in the VMvillage.

I am not going to go over over the keynote point by point as to be honest I was half setting up for vBrownbag and also only paid full attention when Kit Colbert was presenting around cloud native apps as that is the bits I am extremely interested in and with VMware supposedly stopping their licencing/agreement with SUSE and planning to “drink their own champagne” and use their own code moving forward.I strongly believe this is the next step in the journey of those who were server admins, then virtualisation admins and now holistic/full stack Virtualisation admins. If you want to watch the keynote then you can watch it here.

After setting up for the vBrownbag TechTalks I attended an invitation only vRealize Automation workshop in the Hands on Labs hosted by Jad El Zein which was amazing and has certainly shown me the amount of progress VMware has made and will be making with containers and reigning in the management and lifecycle of DevOps for their customers.

After the session I made my way back to the vBrownbag area where we ran sessions consistently for the rest of the day. you can watch all the recordings from Day1 and Day2 on the the YouTube channel here

I also wandered into the solutions exchange as I had heard a rumour that Anxcient had a VCDX gift of a poker set. The poker set gift rumour was true and it is certainly a great bit of swag and a good way of alerting a group of highly skilled people about your company

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I ended the day fairly low key after getting a wholesome meal at a restaurant nearby the conference and then made my way to the Bellagio fountains which was really awesome and is something I always wanted to see as I don’t know when or if i will be back into Las Vegas.

Today the vBrownbag TechTalks continue from 11am PST. You can watch the live stream here and as per usual they will be recorded and uploaded as quickly as we can upload them.

 

Gregg


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#VMworld Day 1

Yesterday was the official first day of VMworld for those that are not partners. The day started for me with a bit of breakfast at the conference with Rene van den Bedem (VCDX133) after which we made our way to the bloggers area which had already started to fill up with bloggers and those deciding to not venture into the keynote hall but rather watch the keynote on the big screens in the VMVillage.

I’m not going to do a blow-by-blow analysis of the keynote but would rather recommend you  watch the keynote recording here. Some highlights from the keynote for me were:

  • 23,500 attendees (I wonder if cheaper hotel rooms helped this number)
  • 21 alumnus get lifetime passes for them and their spouses
  • By 2021 June 29th 3:57 the enterprise with be 50/50 in the cloud
  • By 2030 52% of all workloads will be public cloud.
  • Tech Vendors are #1 for embracing the Cloud.
  • The Cross Cloud Architecture was announced. You can see the whitepaper for the Cloud Foundation here
  • VMware Cloud Foundation as a Service first partnership is with IBM
  • A pet hate of mine that both Pat Gelsigner and a number of others used on premise. As Smeagol would say

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After the keynote the #vBrownbag TechTalks kicked off with the vExpert Daily and ran almost continuously for the rest of the day with a new session every 15-20 minutes to finish up with us having streamed and recorded 20 sessions which we are very pleased with. You can see all the recordings on our YouTube channel here.

I also snuck out during the day to pick up some exclusive #vExpert Swag like the VMworld Survival Kit from Cohesity with was a Timbuk2 bag with a portable charger, usb stick, water bottle and multi charger cables. A very good idea by their marketing, so much so they are having to mail a whole bunch as they ran out by lunchtime.

We finished the last vBrownbag near 5pm after which I made my way back to my room to drop off my bag then went early to the VMware Code Hackathon. I purposely didn’t bring a laptop so that i could just watch without showing my lack of programming knowledge but i still managed to have loads of brilliant conversations and numerous discussions around the VCDX Study/Mock group I run for those realistically looking to obtain the VCDX. The hackathon was a great success and certainly linked up like-minded people where everyone could learn and make connections whilst having some nice food and drinks.

Today the vBrownbag TechTalks continue from 11am PST. You can watch the live stream here and as per usual they will be recorded and uploaded as quickly as we can upload them.

Gregg