My ramblings about all things technical


All Things VMworld: Day 1

As you can imagine the first real day of VMworld US has been massive and there has been some really exciting news, some of it unexpected(at least for me) and others not so unexpected (view 4.5)

  • First has to be the keynote speech by VMware Chief Marketing Officer Rick Jackson,Paul Maritz CEO of VMware and Steve Herrod VMware’s CTO. I’ve only managed to watch the keynote once so far(yes i like to watch it a few times to try absorb and understand everything 🙂 ) . I think some of the top bloggers have already done a good job of covering the keynote so instead of me waffling on and giving my take rather watch it yourself right here . The two blog postings I’m making my way through for the covering of the keynote is Scott Lowe’s and Brian Madden’s
  • As I said one of the not so unexpected announcements was the announcement that the latest version of VMware View, version 4.5 is not available. Chris Wolf from Gartner has done a brilliant review of the new version on his blog here.
  • As I mentioned yesterday one of the big announcements was the release of vCloud Director (VCD). Rodney Haywood has done a great posting all about it seeing as he is part of a  major deployment of VCD in Australia and therefore already has a great working knowledge of the product. You can also now download VCD from the VMware website and  as Rodney says “build an internal or public cloud (subject to licensing programs of course)”.
  • Barry Coombs has done a great posting about the Xsigo announcements at VMworld. I’ve only read a few articles on Xsigo myself so it good to learn more from his posting and hear about the new products being launched.
  • Scott Lowe has also done a very good liveblog posting for the View Composer Technical Deep Dive and Best Practices session.From my brief read of the posting it looks like the session was very very interesting and  i plan to read through his posting a few times when I have a moment.
  • As I mentioned yesterday VMworld have created their own channel on YouTube and have posted some more really interesting videos in covering the “2nd day @ VMworld 2010 in San Francisco”,the highly debated question “Tier 1 Apps – Should you run them in virtual machines?” and  a preview if the upcoming “VMware View iPad App with PCoIP support.”
  • Lastly on my list is the three postings by Chad Sakac on:
    • DRS for storage where he shows  and explains how VMware SIOC and EMC Fast allow you to have the DRS you have in your VMware environment now for your storage,
    • His detailing of the VCD product and announcement and how he feels EMC Ionix UIM v2.0 is going to allow a vCloud “in a box”
    • Last is his posting all about the EMC VPLEX and how VMworld attendees “can try VPLEX (it’s in the EMC hands-on-lab on the show floor), and can try it for 90 days” I’m very jealous of this as a number of the vSpecialists I’m friendly with have been working and testing the product and sadly I am yet to have fiddled with it myself. Hopefully i can get some time with it at the VMworld in Europe if they are still doing it, which I would be amazed if they weren’t. Also he mentions the preview of VPLEX Geo – aka vTeleportation and has posted a video of the preview which is really awesome in my opinion (no not because I work for EMC at all, seriously). Have a look at the video on the blog and tell me you aren’t impressed and excited by what it will allow.

Well that’s my list of things that I feel I need to read up on and that have caught my attention.


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All Things Virtual 15

It has been a crazy couple of weeks lately due to a data centre relocation I’ve been working on and due to this I haven’t had as much time to post new information and hence the delay of this next “instalment” of All Things Virtual.

  • Firstly a massive thank you to Simon Long for adding my blog posting to his “Recommended Reads” section of his blog. It’s a true honour to be mentioned on his blog for something I posted. I would highly recommend looking through his recommended reads as he’s added some really great postings from some of the top blogs. Also a thank you to Troy Clavell on the VMware forums for linking back to my posting on the Active Directory Web Services encountered an error while reading the settings for the specified Active Directory Lightweight Directory Services instance error and solution. It’s been the most read posting on my blog for the past week because of his reference.
  • Alessandro Perilli posted about VMware officially announcing the ESX end of life.  So for those of you out there like myself who are still trying to perfect your PowerCLi,VMA and vCLI skills, we now have a date that those skills need to be perfected. I still don’t fully buy into the whole reason for the removal of the COS but no point moaning over something that has already been decided.
  • Next is something Darren Woollard ,who I follow on twitter tweeted about, which is a list of all the VMware twitter accounts. There was quite a few mentioned that I wasn’t following. As I’ve said before I believe the amount of knowledge to be gained from following people and organisation related to your field is priceless and it has certainly helped me gain better knowledge of virtualisation products and practices. I’m on twitter at @greggrobertson5 or if you want to follow me.
  • Mentioning social media there is now a document on the VMworld website for anyone who is attending and plans to use social media during their visit to talk about VMworld and their experiences. I’ve already added my information to the document. *NB* Edit the document as far too many people aren’t reading the steps mentioned at the top and posting comments instead of editing the document. VMworld have also created their own channel on YouTube for all the news and videos of the events here
  • Talking of VMworld ,Gestalt IT are doing a competition in which they’ll  pay airfare, hotel, and registration for VMworld for two lucky winners. It’s a great idea as the winners aren’t just picked at random but rather have to motivate how they are going to “pay it forward” by describing how they are going to give back to the virtualisation community by them going to VMworld.Good luck if you have or are going to enter
  • Scott Drummonds posting a very interesting article on the idea of Designing VMs with Performance SLAs. The article is a very good one and is one that will encourage a very good debate on the positives and negatives of using limits which is one of the techniques Scott mentions in his posting to allow for Performance SLA’s.
  • Tom Howarth has posted all about the session himself and Cody Bunch are doing at VMworld this year and is asking for some questions in preparation for the sessions from the community. Adam Carter of HP,Vaughn Stewart of NetApp and Chad Sakac of EMC are three of his speakers so if you you can think of any I’m sure Tom will be very grateful for your help.
  • Duncan Epping of yellow bricks fame posted all about the ability now with vSphere 4 using ADAM to store the roles and permissions to have a standby vCentre Server in case of a disaster. I’m definitely going to get one of these built up having had the experience of a virtual centre server going awry and having to rebuild it all.
  • With the release of vSphere 4.1 one of the new features is memory management and compression. Gabrie van Zanten has posted all about this feature, how it all works and how it will bring benefits to your VMware environments. A must read!
  • If you are planning to upgrade any of your machines to vSphere 4.1 then I would highly recommend looking through and watching the video from the KB article all about…you guessed it vSphere 4.1 upgrade pre-installation requirements and considerations. I love finding and watching these kinds of things as it always feels as if I’ve actually been shown and taught it from a mentor or work colleague like you would in your daily jobs knowledge transfer. Vladan Seget has posted all about the Best practices KB on how-to install ESX 4.1 and vCenter which is another brilliant bit of information and reference if you are installing ESX4.1 and vCentre.
  • The Malaysia VMware communities has done a very interesting posting all about the VSI plug-in from EMC. The plug-in is a brilliant tool and is a very good example of the VAAI that ESX 4.1 is enabling storage vendors to create for people to utilise in their VMware environments. Chad Sakac has done a great YouTube video on vSphere4.1 and EMC VAAI capabilities. Richard Brambley has done a brilliant posting a while back all about what VAAI is and what it means for virtualisation here.
  • Talking of VMware and EMC Alan Renouf and Simon Seagrave of Virtu-al and Techhead respectively did a session at the last London VMUG all about Why EMC for VMware. Unfortunately even though the day was sponsored by EMC i wasn’t able to make it due to there being a mandatory quarterly results presentation on the same day, so as to not say the wrong information and because Alan covered it so well I encourage you to read his post 🙂
  • Elasticsky have posted a very helpful video on YouTube on how to reset a forgotten or lost root password on vSphere 4. I have posted these steps before but the video is a very helpful addition to this if you ever have the problem.
  • Scott Vessey has posted all about the Changes to VCP exam due to the vSphere 4.1 release.A number of people have been talking about if there are any changes to the vcp4 exams since the release of vSphere4.1 and Scott has answered it perfectly.
  • Kendrick Coleman has done a brilliant resource page for all the resources you may need in your preparations for the VCAP DCA exam. I’m hoping to start building up my own list of resources that I’ll be using in my preparations for my VCAP exam/s once I get it under way :).
  • Lastly is one for anyone going to a convention or conference this year who will get themselves one of the customary backpacks. As Kevin Houston posted, if you aren’t planning to actively use the backpack why not donate it to a local school and fill it with some basic supplies. Great idea Kevin!

Gregg Robertson

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All things virtual 14

Unless you have been under a rock ,you will know the biggest news recently in the virtualisation arena, which has filled most of the top blog posters blogs is the release of vSphere 4.1. For all the news and latest features ,I posted a blog posting last week all about the best resources to get yourself up to speed here this should cover it all for you and most of the blogs are constantly being updated. There no real point to say anything more seeing as the people i linked to have done and currently still are doing such great jobs covering it all

Duncan Epping posted a very interesting article all about the the changes to the snapshot “delete all” mechanism. I still think they should change it to Commit All but it is a very good change that should allow better and faster committing of the data to the virtual machine.

Chad Sakac aka VirtualGeek has posted all about thin provisioning and if you should do it in vsphere and or the disk array and the reasoning to his recommendations as well as a brief lesson on the differing formats of virtual disks and what theses choices will mean for you and your storage utilisation.

David Davis of Trainsignal fame posted a very interesting video all about the new feature in vSphere 4.1 ,Windows Active Directory Authentication-the ability for ESX/ESXi servers to “join” a Windows Active Directory (AD) domain. The video is really good as you would expect from David’s in depth expertise in creating technical videos. also have a look through the site as David has posted up some really good videos and has put up the first vChat with Simon Seagrave from Techead.

Chris Dearden has blogged all about the second volume of the Trainsignal vSphere Pro series. I actually have a set of these with my name on it at our main offices but haven’t been able to collect them due to work constraints, plain laziness in part and the person who has them for me being a very busy person himself. If these videos are anything like the first volume then i can’t wait to get my hands on them and better my knowledge especially as i plan to have assimilated as Chris said in his blog posting all the information into my head amongst many other resources before I attempt the vcap exam/s.

Cody Bunch has started his infamous Brown Bags for the VCAP-DCA exams and the first one is today/tonight(depending on your time zones) I’ve made a few of Cody’s brown bags before and they are brilliant for asking your fellow administrators questions about things and covering the topics you are required to know to pass. Cody also does brown bags for the VCP4 exams so i would HIGHLY recommend getting yourself registered for them and watching some of the past ones if you are writing soon or looking to sit the VCAP-DCA exam at some point like myself.

Well that’s it, I’m sure I’ve missed a few nuggets this past week but most of the news is obviously about 4.1 and I’ll leave that in the more capable hands of the people I mentioned in my blog posting.

If you’re interested in working for EMC Consulting like myself and being a part of this ever strengthening arm of EMC, then drop me a message via the blog and I’ll more than happily pass your information onto our recruitment people.

Some roles going at the moment are:

Senior Solutions Architect/Exchange

Senior Solutions Architect/VDI

DW Architect

FYI: all of EMC Counting’s hiring is done through direct contact. We don’t use recruitment consultants, so don’t waste your or my time if you are one.

Gregg Robertson

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All things virtual X

The past two weeks have brought some really great news and views in the virtualisation arena.

On the 6th of this month i was able to attend the London VMware User Group for the second time. There were some very interesting discussions and presentations. I wrote up a blog posting on the day here if you’re interested. I would firmly recommend anyone interested in this field to find out where and when your local VMUG is happening and get your spot as conversing with fellow virtualisation administrators can increase your knowledge on new things very quickly and easily. Hopefully the content from the user group will be uploaded to the normal location soon.

If you somehow haven’t heard about it yet the features due to be in vSphere 4.1 were “leaked” a few weeks back now. There are quite a few new features I’d welcome with open arms like support for up to 4 vMotion concurrent live migrations in 1GbE networks and up to 8 concurrent live migrations in 10GbE networks and Support for 8GB Fibre Channel HBAs. As the article says there is no guarantee that the features will actually be in the public release. I say “leaked” as personally i think if they didn’t want it getting out it wouldn’t have got out, i think it’s just a perfect way of judging people reactions to the features mentioned and see see how they can make some minor changes before making it available.

One of the people i got to meet in person at the London VMUG was Ricky El-Qasem of Veeam. As I’ve said numerous times before I’m hoping to better my powershell/PowerCLI skills as at the moment they are terribly basic and therefore are in dire need of bettering to enable me to script portions of my work to save me time and hopefully prepare me for the lack of the COS in possibly vSphere 4.1. Ricky has posted a few blogs all about his journey in learning PowerCLI in PowerCLI lessons and the resources he has used to grow his skills. Embarrassingly i still haven’t forced myself the time to sit down and get through all of the posts but after speed reading most it it looks like it is going to be highly beneficial to me when I stop being lazy and start working at it.

EMC world that ran from the 10th to the 13th of May brought some really interesting news.The most interesting to me was the announcement of the VPLEX which will enable “VM teleportation”. I won’t try and describe what the technology does and enables you as Chad Sakac has done a brilliant blog posting all about it and what it enables you to do. I can’t wait to be able to play with VPLEX once it’s available. There is also a very interesting KB article all about Enabling long distance vMotion with EMC VPLEX here

Last week the Call for Papers Public Voting opened up for VMworld 2010. Quite a few of the guys I’m friendly with on twitter have made the cut and their sessions have been made available to be voted on. I’m quite amazed by the massive amount of cloud sessions that have been selected. I’m really hoping that VMworld isn’t overshadowed(pun kind of intended) by all the cloud talk. I’ve cast my votes some of which were for fellow UK virtualisation friends and others obviously for ones i really want to be able to see/attend. If you’re like me and gain loads of information and help from Alan Renouf’s PowerCLI scripts then I would recommend a vote for his and Luc Dekens’ “ PowerCLI is for administrators! “ session. There are also sessions by Simon Seagrave of TechHead fame with “Building A Successful vSphere Lab” and “Network Segmentation in a Virtualized Environment ñ Best Practices and Approaches” by Nicholas Weaver of Nickapedia fame to name but a few. So go vote if you’re going to make it to either of the events and hopefully we’ll have loads of really great sessions. If you haven’t registered to attend VMworld then you can still register and get a $250 or €200 early bird discount.

Gregg Robertson



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All things virtual IX


It’s been a very interesting week in the virtualisation arena and a number of really great resources and news has come out.

  • First is the news that VMworld registrations are now open.  Since following every bit of last years VMworld via twitter to peoples streaming videos to peoples blogs I’ve been excited that this year I’ve been given approval to attend the conference and hopefully i too can give back some top blog postings like so many of the people i read last year did. Richard Garsthagen (@the_anykey) has posted a great blog posting all about what you can expect to see and be able to do at this years VMworld. I’m personally really excited to play with quite a few of the labs and increase my knowledge on some of the technologies and features i haven’t had a chance to test drive/learn about yet. That and nerdy as it is to hopefully meet and “Chinwag” as Mike Laverick would say(I would highly recommend listening to Mikes chinwags as they are remarkably interesting and helpful to hear what other top virtualisation people are doing and what their views are on things happening in the virtualisation arena). Richard also posted some ways of winning your way to VMworld as the cost for it is obviously very costly especially if you work for a small company or are self employed.
  • Next is the news of the names of the new VMware exams. I posted all about it a few days back  and how I feel this is a very helpful idea and necessary step by VMware to help people grow their knowledge and bridge the gap between the VCP and the VCDX. Have a look at the links I’ve mentioned in the posting..
  • Steve Jin posted a very interesting article about how to use HTTP with the vSphere Client. As he says in the posting the video by Carter Shanklin (@cshanklin) is where the “trick” is shown and is a brilliant video for anyone wishing to learn more about Onyx. This trick is really great and very helpful. Luc Dekens (@LucD22) also posted a very interesting article all about using fiddler as a onyx alternative. I’ve used fiddler a few times before to try work out why certain things weren’t running or what ports an application/server was trying to reach and it’s a very helpful tool, i haven’t had the time to try out Luc’s idea but if it works like he says it does this will be a very good trick and tool in every virtual administrators tool belt.
  • Duncan Epping (@DuncanYB) posted all about the vSphere Resource Kit a book that will have all the things the Microsoft Resource kits had but obviously covering everything vSphere. If the chapter names of the book are anything to go by this book is going to be the bible for vSphere. Check out the webpage of the book here.
  • Rich Brambley (@rbrambley) has done a great posting all about his use case for using VMware Data Recovery and all the positives and negatives of using it. We personally use it here for some small backups and the software is brilliant and very simple to use and understand and is a great tool for small businesses looking for a backup solution for the virtual environment.
  • The hardening guide for vSphere 4.0 has finally come out. For those of you that haven’t used or seen these  before they are brilliant guides by VMware for securing your virtual environments by following more than 100 guidelines from ones for your virtual machines to your hosts to the console OS.
  • VMware have put out a survey/questionnaire all about HA (High Availability) and FT(Fault tolerance) asking about everyone’s experiences of using it. I’ve already filled it in and feel everyone should fill it out as the more people that fill it out obviously the better VMware can understand everyone’s needs and make the products better. The survey is here
  • Next week Thursday is the London VMUG and I’ve just received my confirmation that I have got myself a seat so really looking forward to meeting up with a load of fellow south UK virtualisation geeks and then getting to vbeers afterwards. If you haven’t requested your spot then get a mail sent as the more the merrier. Also Doug Hazelman from Veeam (@VMDoug) is coming to the user group so should be very exciting.
  • A big welcome to Simon Seagrave (@Kiwi_Si) on joining EMC. That’s two of the top virtualisation guys i look up to that have joined EMC now with Alan Renouf also having joined EMC. Hopefully I can work my way into being able to be around these guys and tap into their amazing knowledge.
  • Duncan Epping posted all about the availability of the VCDX application form. As I’ve said in previous postings I’m hoping that one day i have the expertise and knowledge to gain this accreditation.  The application form is also a great view into the kinds of things that will be necessary for you to do the defence and so is helpful to anyone planning to do it and wanting to gain the knowledge necessary.

Gregg Robertson



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All Things Virtual II

Seeing as so many people read my previous blog posting I thought I would continue with my keeping people up to date with all the things virtual and linked to virtual that i have been doing/working with/learning/reading up on this week so far.

I think the first one should definitely be about the release of esx(i)4 Update 1 a. Duncan Epping(@duncanyb) was the first person I saw talk about it and has done a very detailed blog posting about the update

Recently I had to explain to some people what Distributed V switches were and how they worked. Not wanting to make a fool of myself I went back to an article I used to strengthen my knowledge on the topic before my VCP4 exam and clarified what I was telling the people was correct (which it was thankfully) .It’s a great posting from Barry Coombs(@virtualisedreal) for anyone unsure or confused on what distributed switches are and what they do/are used for.

When I started in IT I always dreamed of working for a big company that was on the forefront of technology. This dream was one of the reasons I moved over to the UK and recently this dream was partly clarified by EMC being in the Fortune 500 list of companies. It’s a small thing in reality as you don’t have to be in the fortune 500 to be at the forefront of technology but 19 year old Gregg would have been impressed I think if I could tell him where he would be working 7 years later

As I’ve said in previous blog postings, I’m trying to grow my knowledge in powershell scripting as I feel this will only help make my daily job easier but it will also enable me to do it better in the future. Jonathan Medd directed me to a great podcast covering the topic called Get Scripting Podcast. I’ve unfortunately only been able to listen to a few of them but my aim is to get through them all before January next year. They are great for anyone wanting to learn ways of making their daily jobs easier and also to learn all the latest going’s on.

EMC recently announced their new storage technology called FAST. I’ve heard it called the DRS of storage technologies and was obviously interested to see what it was(as my knowledge on storage technologies has only started to grow in the past few months so is quite minimal at the moment) and how it worked. Two great pieces of information that came out this week that cleared some it up was Chad Sakac’s blog on the topic in which he goes into amazing detail on the topic and a great YouTube video Steve Chambers(@Stevie_chambers) tweeted a few days back showing Fully Automated Storage Tiering (FAST) on a Symmetrix V-Max

If you’ve read my blog postings on my preparing for the vcp4 exam you would know I used Scott Lowe’s (@scott_lowe) mastering VMware vSphere book. Now he has a new reference guide out called: VMware vSphere 4 Administration Instant Reference. It looks like another great reference guide for anybody in the VMware field and is another book I have added to my ever increasing Amazon wish list.

Last but not least a big congratulations to Jonathan Medd(@jonatanmedd) ,Matt Roblin(@mattroblin) , and Maish Saidel-Keesing(@maishsk) on the passing of their vcp4 exams this past week .

Gregg Robertson



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