TheSaffaGeek

My ramblings about all things technical


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New Horizons

Almost five years ago I wrote a posting titled The Next Chapter where I was blogging about my leaving the then named EMC Consulting to join Xtravirt as I wanted to spread my wings and test myself against being a consultant and with the dream of getting the experience to attempt the VCDX one day. Well I’m pleased and blessed to say that I went from a Technical Consultant to now a Lead Consultant and after my second defence attempt last October I am now VCDX #205.

So to the part that everyone is more interested in, as of October the 3rd I will be joining Dell EMC as a Global Cloud Architect . The role is far too good to not take and the technologies I’m going to be working with plus the exciting  future from the acquisition by Dell scratches my nerd itch. I am not leaving Xtravirt due to not having loved my time with the company and will be leaving many highly intelligent friends and a fellow VCDX (not that he isn’t intelligent as well😀 ). Without the experience I have gained working for Xtravirt and the high end projects I have been very fortunate been part of as a white labelled VMware PSO consultant ,the ability to work alongside and learn from some of the smartest people in the industry  I don’t know if I would have had the experience and knowledge to gain my VCDX.

I’ll still be on twitter whenever I have the opportunity and will still try answer and help people on the VMware Communities , try attend the London VMUG’s + vBeers as well attend VMworld US and EU. I will also still be running the unofficial VCDX Study/Mock group and be a VCDX mentor as much as time allows.

Also don’t worry I won’t be posting comments on twitter around “My HCI solution is better than yours and your metrics are rubbish” so you don’t have to unfollow me😀

Gregg


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VMworld Day 0 – Partner Day

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VMworld officially only starts tomorrow for most attendees but for those that are partners there is partner day where VMware done a number of sessions for their partners to allow them to understand the roadmap and the solutions on the roadmap.

I flew in yesterday so that I was ready for partner day and also to attend the vRockstar party which has become an annual event on the Sunday night at the hard rock cafe before VMworld and is the only party that really happens on Sunday. I have attended for the last two years and this year they got the upper section booked out which was certainly cooler on the much more humid and hot Barcelona nights (compared to the UK in my case). The vRockstar party was sponsored by Cisco , EMC , VMUG and Nutanix which enabled us to have some champagne on arrival and then beers for the remainder of the night, so a big thanks to all the sponsors and thanks to the organisers Patrick Redknap, Marco Broeken, Robert Payne and Hans De Leenheer.

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The remainder of my day was spent chatting to fellow vExperts and bloggers at the bloggers table and providing moral support to the vBrownbag crew (Alastair had it all done before I arrived). The vBrownbag TechTalks kick off tomorrow and just like it was in San Francisco we will be streaming it live as well as recording them so please tune in and we promise to try get the audio clearer this time. If you are at the conference then come watch them as they are happening in hall 7 near the bloggers table and across from the general session hall.

My night will be spent at an exclusive VMworld drinks reception hosted by TD Azlan and then I will be attending the PernixData party held at an amazing venue on the Barcelona shorefront who are one of Xtravirt’s partners. I’m looking forward to all the announcements tomorrow and the reason i spent so much time at the bloggers table was scheduling a number of blogs around these announcements so keep an eye on my blog tomorrow.

Also don’t forget to sign up for the Xtravirt SONAR beta bit.ly/1sjutrX .


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All Things VMworld Europe Day 0

Yet again, i have been fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to attend VMworld Europe. I really enjoyed my time last year and knowing what to expect made it even more exciting for me than last year. Monday is Partner day and they definitely made sure all the partners felt welcome with free drinks, loads of top sessions and awards at the end of the day. I only arrived around 2pm so i had already missed one or two of the sessions and felt like a number of the VMworld sessions that I can watch them off the VMworld website in my own time later on and i would rather meet up with fellow vExpert’s and some of the top bloggers and talk shop. One confirmation that I am a real nerd is that I got Duncan Epping and Frank Denneman to sign my copy of the VMware vSphere 5 Clustering technical deepdive book clip_image001. Day 0 went by very quickly and I had been invited to two of the parties. The official VMUG party hosted by the Danish VMUG and the vGeekfest run by EMC. Seeing as EMC were so nice in sending me yet again and because a number of the people I really wanted to meet and chat to were going to the vGeekfest party. After getting lost trying to find the party, I finally found it at the Apollo Brewery. A very nice location and the whole ground floor was allocated to us with home brewed beers and very nice food. The main thing I really enjoyed about the evening though was meeting loads of the top bloggers and social media experts so I’m sure I’m going to miss out a few but I was fortunate enough to meet Aaron Demp,Fred Nix (@nixfred) ,Delon Karrim (@delonk) , Travers Nicholas (@travern),Simon Rahilly (@noneonemany), Scott Lowe,Bas Raayman, Simon Long ( aka the SLOG) ,Steve Chambers, Craig Stewart and Simon Seagrave to name but a few clip_image002. The VMworld TV team have already posted a video of Day 0 although due to it not being the official first day they don’t cover very much of the technology yet but more the conference centre and what they are hoping to see and here

If you are at the conference and see some nerdy Saffa walking around stop me and say hi, as I’d love to meet as many people as possible

Gregg


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All Things VMworld US 2011 Day 1

 

Yep seeing as loads of people seemed to like my postings from last year I thought I would do it again and it should also help me to list all the news I need to read up on seeing as my twitter feed for VMworld is going crazy and is going to be a nightmare to keep up with. So here is all the news from day 1 of VMworld US 2011 that I want to read when I have a chance and caught my eye:

  • First has to be a number of postings covered by Vladan Seget of Vladan.fr fame as he has already posted some great postings about announcements happening at VMworld. His first is all about the announcement by vKernel of their new version of their flagship product vOps- vKernel Operations Suite. Vladan has detailed all the new features in his blog posting so have a read through it as it looks to be an amazing product. Second is his covering of the announcement that David M Davis and  Elias Khnaser have now released their VMware vSphere 5 Trainsignal videos. As I’ve mentioned numerous times and even in my review of one of David videos yesterday I really enjoy these videos and owe a large portion of my passing of my VCP4 to David’s videos. So I cant wait to get my hands on this new set especially seeing as I’m going to need to know it not just for my daily job but also for my eventual upgrading of my VCAP’s to version 5. Talking of vSphere 5 certifications Vladan covered that the registration for the VCP5 exams are now open. I’m hoping that the rumours of being able to achieve the VCP5 automatically by upgrading my VCAP exams are true but as I say those aren’t confirmed as yet.
  • Next is all the great sites and links that can be used to keep up with all the latest news from VMworld US.
    • You can register and watch Paul Maritz’s keynote and Steve Herrods session today here if you possibly miss it like I did Paul’s last night.
    • There is the live stream from VMworld with interviews and news and even a link to the Keynote by Steve Herrod the Chief Technology Officer and Senior Vice President of R&D for VMware from 8am-9:30am Vegas time tomorrow.Plus all the videos from the past few days so make sure you have a look at them all here and make sure you’re watching the keynote.
    • There is also the VMware Community TV booth run by John Troyer and Alex Maier. These ones are my favourite as it covers all types of things from the vExpert daily podcast (where a number of the 2011 VMware vExperts give us their views on the announcements of the day and what they think it might mean to the future of virtualisation) to Mike Laverick’s Chinwags and the vChats by David Davis, Eric Siebert and Simon Seagrave. The schedule for it all and when it is happening can be found here.
    • VMworldTV is also running again on YouTube and already there’s a number of videos up including Day1 Summary of VMworld 2011 in Vegas and the very exciting news that a load of us have all been waiting for that VMworld Hands-on Labs will be going public in 2012 (also it’s great to hear a fellow Saffa Mornay van der Walt ,Senior Director of R&D for VMware describing it all) . I really enjoyed the videos from VMworld TV last year as they covered loads of the great news really quickly allowing me to get a very good high level view of the things happening and then I could further research the things I wanted to know more about.
  • Next is a number of announcements from EMC all about the compatibility of it’s service offerings with VMware vSphere5 and all the new features they are releasing. So as to not explain things incorrectly and to make this posting non biased I’ll let you read the postings by Chad Sakac himself in his EMC and vSphere5 what’s supported when posting as well as his EMC virtual storage integrator version 5 posting. Some really exciting stuff and personally I’m loving the free licence period for PowerPath
  • Some of the top bloggers have given their perspective’s on the first day and even given their opinions on some of the sessions they attended. Duncan Epping of Yellow-bricks.com fame posted all about his VMworld Day 1 experiences and gave some brilliant insight into his session with Frank Denneman (one I’m definitely planning to attend in Copenhagen) as well as other sessions he attended. Scott Lowe also blogged about Duncan and Franks session in his posting  VSP1682: VMware vSphere Clustering Q&A. Scott also did a brilliant posting all about Monday’s General Session. Some amazing facts and figures mentioned in the General Session.
  • Last but not least is something people may miss during all the news coming out of VMworld and that is that the vExpert Spotlight postings are still being published every other day and already there’s been some really great ones with Jane Rimmer’s last Friday and James Bowling’s yesterday. So keep an eye out for them as there really are some great tips and advice from the 2011 VMware vExperts

Gregg


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London VMUG

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to attend the London VMware User Group (VMUG). I’ve been unable to attend the past few due to work commitments but yesterdays theme of “Your Journey to the Cloud” couldn’t have come at a better time as we’re currently looking at VMware’s vCloud Director product and a number of the sessions and talk were centred around this product.

The day started at 10am due to the number of presentations they were able to get in and the labs that people were able to take. The labs were a first and ran two different paths. The two labs and layout were described on the VMUG page as:

The VMUG are providing VMware vCloud Director Labs for all UG members to get a look and feel for the product.  COLT has very kindly agreed to host the labs on their infrastructure in the Cloud.  COLT are a certified VMware vCloud Datacenter Services Provider and the first in EMEA to provide this service.  The COLT team along with VMware vCloud Architects have provided two types of labs to provide the best experience possible.

Lab A – Consuming Cloud resources from VMware vCloud Director
This lab is tailored to provide a user’s view of consuming compute resource from the cloud.  It provides an insight into the ability provide resources via a self-service portal deploying virtual machines via vApps within private virtual datacenters.

Lab B – Administrating VMware vCloud Director
This lab provides the administrators view of vCloud Director.  The lab contains a virtual center server, vCloud Director server and an ESX host to create compute resources within the cloud.  It provides the ability to define different compute services in the form of vApp’s which can then be published within the vCloud Catalogue.

I personally didn’t attend a lab due to my wanting to get a number of my questions around vCloud Director answered and due to my already having done all the vCloud related labs at VMworld Copenhagen and so having already done large portions of the steps within the labs. I did however hear raving reviews of the labs from fellow attendees and when I arrived there was a line of people waiting to register for the labs which shows the interest in the labs.

The day kicked off with the standard welcome from Alaric Davies and Martyn Storey detailing the layout of the day and announcing the UK National VMUG being planned for Warwick for November 3rd .We then got straight into the first presentation from COLT who were presenting and demoing all about their vCloud environment’s implementation and inner workings. Greg Branch, Director of Architecture for Colt and Dan Senior, Virtualisation Architect for Colt did the presentation and demo’s together and I was really impressed with their offering and how they have used the vCloud technologies and products to be the first in EMEA to be a VMware vCloud Datacenter Services Provider.

Next was Paul Martin (@vzpaul) from Quest Software talking about “Private Cloud – Build for Success by Planning for Failure”. Pauls presentation was all about thinking and planning for things before and during the build out of your Private Cloud. Paul did leave me with a number of thoughts and things I need to research prior to us rolling out our own private cloud and how many differing parts of your environment can impact the running of it. Credit to Paul for not doing a marketing pitch for Quest software but rather giving valid points to look out for.

We then had a very quick refreshment break and then Simon Rahilly of EMC (@NoneOneMany) did his presentation all about the cloud and how the varying technologies from EMC from the storage, to backups to disaster recovery and high availability can help you with your journey to the cloud. I personally enjoyed the presentation and it was nice to hear a bit about the release of EMC’s Project Lightning also.

Lunch was then served at the event which was a very nice change as it meant everyone stayed in the rooms and I got to meet loads of people I follow on twitter and got to talk about all the things we’re currently doing in our VMware environments and gain some very helpful tips and tricks.

We were then given the option of two different tracks, each with different speakers and topics. I personally chose track two as I’ve always enjoyed hearing from Stuart Radnidge ( @vinternals ) and was keen to listen to Massimon Re Ferre’s presentation on the same track also. Stuart’s presentation was all about Rethinking Infrastructure and the experiences he has had with deploying a private cloud within his organisation. For anyone that knows Stuart you knew this was going to be a straight talking honest presentation and he didn’t disappoint as he gain some great pointers on how the business will ask for certain things and will expect things from your cloud implementation even though you “aren’t a web start-up”.

Next was Massimo (@mreferre )  who is a VMware vCloud Architect talking about vCloud and giving an overview of all the products in the “vCloud Family” and how each of them work. His presentation was very helpful to me to better understand vCloud Director and most importantly allowed me to ask all the questions I have been needing to ask about vCloud Director. I’m pleased to say Massimo and Martyn answered all my questions Smile

Last in the track was Richard Zuber from VMware Global Support talking about support issues they have been receiving from customers using vCloud Director and the solutions they used to fix the problems. The presentation was a little dull as hearing about support calls and solutions isn’t the most exciting of things but it did show that making sure your networking is correctly administered and deployed for your vCloud implementation is very important in making sure you don’t experience problems and faults.

We were all then released to go to The Pavilion End pub for vBeers and I got to talk shop with fellow VMware Admins and met Julian Wood (@Julian_wood) of http://www.wooditwork.com fame, David Owen (@vMackem) of http://www.vmackem.co.uk fame, Simon Davies (@EV_Simon) of http://www.everything-virtual.com fame,Luke Munro (@mnrmunro) a fellow Saffa and Ed Grigson (@egrigson) of http://www.vExperienced.co.uk fame to name but a few.

It was an amazing day and I would highly recommend anyone thinking of attending to register for the next one on July  14th. Also a special thanks to Jane Rimmer (@Rimmergram) for her hard work on getting this all done and then not being able to attend due to being ill.

Gregg


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Avamar Windows VMware Image backup fails with Generic 10013 error in Avamar administrator and "Unable to access file[Datastore location]" in vCentre

 

For the past day and a half I’ve been receiving the above error in my Avamar v5.0.3.29 server and in VMware vCentre every time I tried to backup certain virtual machines via the Windows VMware Image plugin. I searched all over the web and couldn’t find anything related to the problems I was experiencing and tried loads of different ideas and looked for similarities between the virtual machines that were failing but found nothing.

As is the case sometimes, once you ask for help you stumble across the solution on your own. As soon as I posted a discussion on the EMC Community Network about my problem and asked for some help/guidance on the problem and then found a posting on the ECN about a problem with the error code I was getting in Avamar Administrator (id 10013). The environment I’m running the backups in hasn’t been upgraded to version 4.1 yet so it did fit the criteria’s for the problem and fourth possible root cause and solution in the list was spot on and fixed the problem for me.

I was planning to write the exact steps I followed but while searching the internet I noticed one of the Varrow bloggers Hugh Griffin had beaten me to it and posted about the error and the same steps I followed(the second workaround).So due to my hating people who repeat my solutions to problems on their blogs with minimal credit I felt it was only fair to give him the credit so here is his blog posting of the solution “Avamar 5.0 VMware Image Backup Error” (Personally I have to put two dashes instead of one like Hugh did for it to work so it only works for me if i do –x22=8192)

Now for the upgrades to vCentre to make sure I don’t need to run the workaround  for much longer clip_image001

Gregg


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EMC Information Storage and Management(ISM) exam experience

 

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For the past few weeks I have been learning and studying for the EMC Information Storage and Management(ISM) exam. I decided to set this goal for myself a few months back, as I felt that storage knowledge was lacking from my repertoire and due to it being a prerequisite for the EMC Cloud Architect certification I thought I should try obtaining it.

This morning I sat the exam and I’m very pleased to say I passed it clip_image001. The exam certainly tested me on some questions whereas on others it was quite simple and straight forward. The questions covered all the modules and technologies covered in the course/book fairly equally although there were a few things not covered in the book or course that I remember that was asked.

The resources I used for the exam were four things:

  1. The training course. Due to my working for EMC this allowed me to do the online training for the exam rather than attending the course. The online courses (I say courses as mine were split into four different modules whereas the training classes cover all four in the one course) were really good and allowed me to do it as and when I could, which is partly why it has taken me so much time to finally sit the exam after doing the online course. The course is really good and even though it does give you examples of EMC technologies/services which provide these capabilities (which some people may not like) it does give you a really good base knowledge if you’re a storage noob like me and the EMC examples are a small section of it all.
  2. The ISM Book. This in my opinion was the best resource for the exam as I read it cover to cover and used it extensively for writing notes and looking up different things. The course wasn’t enough for me personally and I’m pretty certain if I just did the online course I would have failed it. This may be due to my doing the online course rather than attending the instructor led one but I still think the book is a must read. Simon Long has done a quick write up on the book on his site if you want to know more about it and has attached a video review done by EMC vSpecialist Bas Raayman at EMC World 2009 on the book too clip_image001[1].
  3. The online practice exam. This helped me greatly with peace of mind in knowing I was prepared for the exam and was really helpful in showing me parts I needed to re-read and study more. You can take the exam as often as you like and if you get the questions wrong it will tell you where to look to learn more about the subject you got wrong.
  4. Research. Yes ok maybe a bit of a soft point but searching the internet and learning/researching more about different things I was unsure about really helped me understand some things much better (converting CHS to LBA) and helped me have more confidence in my answers in the exam. There were also a few people’s blog postings about their experiences of the exam and what they used to study that helped me greatly. The two main ones were
    1. Gina Minks’ blog posting on the exam was a really great resource and pointed me to the Proven Professional community where a large portion of the questions I had, had already been asked and answered.
    2. EMC vSpecialist Nick Weaver’s blog posting on his passing the exam was also helpful in my making sure there weren’t additional resources I needed to use before the exam.

For anyone looking to sit the exam, good luck it’s a good and fair exam. Next for me is my VCAP-DCA which unlike the gentleman writing the VCAP-DCA exam at the same testing centre as me, will require me to study more than a weekends worth of playing in my lab (he was a VMware instructor though)

Gregg