TheSaffaGeek

My ramblings about all things technical


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All Things Virtual 17

 

As you can imagine the virtual community is still abuzz after all the news of VMworld US. So obviously All Things Virtual 17 is heavily weighted to this news and the additional information coming out after it.

First are number of blogs that are still coming out about VMware vCloud Director, with all the talk of everything moving to the cloud the release of the product has caught the attention of a lot of people. So because of this everyone remotely related to this field for example everyone in virtualisation are now trying to get their knowledge up to scratch on the product in preparation for their boss asking if the product can be deployed,how it all works and when will it be ready in the company. Hany Michael has done an amazing job of listing all the videos related to VCD on his blog here. it is quite staggering how many videos are already out for a product only fully released just over a week ago. Hany is also very well known for his Visio diagrams of any kind of processes in the VMware field (one of the reasons I’m sure that he was snatched up by VMware) and has done a very detailed and brilliant diagram all about The VMware vCloud Director Cell Architecture. Have a look through some of his diagrams and then you’ll understand why he’s well known for them. Aaron Delp has also done a very extensive link directory of all the links for VCD here. I’ve still got a large amount of the links and videos to get through but the lists from both Hany and Aaron are extremely helpful.

Kendick Coleman and David Davis did a session at VMworld all about Free vSphere Tools. I’m looking forward to being able to view the session once it’s published on the VMworld website and if Kendrick can organise a flight and a hotel being able to attend it at VMworld Europe(if you want to sponsor him he’d be more than happy to hear from you via his site). He did a posting all about the session on his website as well as some serious name dropping about the rest of his activities and who he met each day :). If you haven’t seen his free tools page have a look here, it’s got some amazing tools on it. David Davis also did a posting all about a survey he is doing all about the session and how he obviously wants you opinions to help him and hopefully Kendrick better their presentation and know what people like. CompuerWorld have also done a nice posting of Eight great virtual appliances for VMware, free for the downloading.

One of the big open sessions of the week at VMworld was the Storage Super Heavyweight Challenge with Adam Carter from HP, Eric Schott from Dell, Vaughn Stewart from NetApp, and Chad Sakac from EMC. If you ever read or follow either Chad or Vaughn’s blogs you would know there is a very healthy competition and debate between Chad and Vaughn which I feel can only be a good thing as long as there is no FUD throwing. So this was a great way for the general public of VMworld to put questions to the panellists in a controlled manner. Chad blogged about it and put up the video here. As to only be fair and as to not be labelled biased(even though I am referring you to the video in the blog) Vaughn also blogged about it with the same video here. It’s a really interesting video and I feel everyone gave fair and precise answers and hopefully this healthy style of questioning can happen again next year.

As of this morning VMware View 4.5 is now GA. You can download it from the VMware site here. If you are like me and haven’t been able to get your knowledge fully up to scratch on the product then as posted today by Mike Laverick(yes the same one who features in the storage heavyweights video) you can get his VMware View 4.5 Guide – Author’s Edition for a small donation to UNICEF. So get donating and downloading and as Mike says “When the full version is ready you will be welcome to contact me with your proof-of-purchase, and I will send you a private link where you can download the full PDF version at no additional charge”.

Scott Vessey has posted about the exclusive VCAP-DCA exam release date here detailing that the exam will be available from September 13th 2010. I’ve personally started to build up my home lab for my preparations for this exam but looking through the blueprint I think it will only be next year by the time I’m possibly ready to attempt the exam( which is quite exciting as I enjoy having to really push myself to gain knowledge to try pass a certification)

Scott Lowe has posted all the vSphere4.1 links he was planning to use for his latest instalment of Mastering VMware vSphere which was sadly not picked up by the publishers. A great bit of resources if you are planning to write your VCP4 exam soon or if you need to update your knowledge like myself on the new values and features of vSphere 4.1.

If you live in the south east of England like myself or are really keen to travel down to the south east then the announcement of the next London VMware user Group (VMUG) on Thursday the 28th of October will be of interest to you. Already Gabrie van Zanten of GabesVirtualWorld fame will be presenting.

Last is something I’m really proud of which is that all three of my blogs summarising the news from each of the main days of VMworld: All things Vmworld: Day 0, Day 1 and Day 2 all made it onto the main page of the VMworld 2010 Buzz page and was re-tweeted numerous times by a number of the top people in the industry. I know it’s nothing insane but I’m really proud of it especially seeing as I only started blogging properly in January this year. Mine is the third in the list below 🙂 Also the exposure has increased my number of views substantially 🙂

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Gregg (@greggrobertson5)


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London VMUG

For only the second time I made it to the London VMware User Group (VMUG) yesterday. The day was very interesting and the most exciting part for me was I got to meet some of the top VMware people i follow and chat to on twitter.

The day started off nicely with my colleague Simon Phillips and I attending the optional early presentation by Alan Renouf (@alanrenouf) . His session was all about the VESI and how he has used it to create a whole load of scripts he uses in his daily life. He also announced that his “Virtu-Al.net PowerPack” has now been re-launched as the VMware Community PowerPack to allow anyone to add their scripts to the powerpack he had built up and it already has contributors from the likes of Jonathan Medd (@jonathanmedd), Armin Van Liesenhout (@avlieshout) and Luc Dekens (@lucd22) to name but a few. The VESI application is one I unfortunately haven’t had a very large amount of time to play with but it is now higher on my list of things to learn and play with and hopefully I can contribute a script or two to it once I have honed my PowerCLI skills. A very funny point of his presentation was his slide with a hypnotising pattern on it saying VMware works better on EMC products.

We then had a lunch break and then the “real” VMUG started. Alaric Davies welcomed everyone and detailed the itinerary and then we got right into the first presentation by the sponsors RES Software.The product they spoke of and demoed was a was highly interesting one called PowerFuse. To not say the wrong facts etc I would highly recommend downloading the introduction guide from here and reading through it yourself.

Next was a presentation by Colin Styles from Prudential all about his experiences of migrating his servers from ESX 3.5 to ESXi 4 while also migrating to a new HP blade system. His experiences were very interesting and it’s always invaluable to hear some of the problems he came across as if VMware do actually follow through with removing the COS in version 4.1 then the migrations to ESXi will be inevitable. One thing I’m glad about was that I don’t have an HP blade setup as hearing Colin and many of the other attendees numerous problems they have had with them it’s pretty scary especially seeing as how much of the market they dominate.

Then Peter Polkinghorne of Brunel University spoke all about his environment and the challenges and lessons he has learnt and why he chose specific VMware technologies to storage technologies. The discussions that came off of his presentation were very interesting especially the discussions around SNMP monitoring and how he battled once he migrated from 3.5 to 4.

We then had a very quick refreshment break as we were already 40 minutes overtime and then Simon Gallagher (@vinf_net) spoke all about Virtualising Terminal Server workloads and his experiences in doing it. I was quite impressed with the results he noticed from doing this and the idea is one I’ve never thought of doing before but is a perfect example of the capabilities of VMware and that even tier 1 applications are perfectly safe to be virtualised and even made more productive.

Then Dave Burgess from VMware spoke about VMsafe and the features it is due to bring. I’ve personally never used VMsafe before but was very impressed by what Dave said it could bring to your environment. I had only briefly read about VMsafe before so the session was very interesting. I won’t try cover what was said as I’m sure I’ll explain it wrong so check out the page for it here

Simon Townsend  also from VMware then presented and discussed VMforce as it seems not many people watched the webcast from last week all about it. I won’t embarrass myself by trying to cover everything he said as there are some brilliant blogs and nice demo of it’s capabilities and feature.

  • Parker Harris posted a blog posting all about VMforce here.
  • Rod Johnson of Springsource also posted a brilliant posting all about it
  • Then there’s the video demo which is a bit cheesy but shows all the features really well

We then started the interactive panel discussion. Mike laverick and Stevie chambers discussed the “egg’s in one basket” theories and how the real thing in the end is no one really notices the difference of a highly utilised host but everyone knows when a host goes down. Stevie then invited us all to come see the Cisco UCS environment which is a very exciting idea as it would be amazing to see it all in action and see it’s capabilities.

We then finished due to us having overrun and those of us who could make it went down to The Pavilion end pub for vBeers. I hung around a lot longer than I planned to as I ended up chatting with Simon Long (@simonlong_) of The SLOG fame , daniel eason (@daniel_eason) ,Doug Hazelman (@vmdoug) from Veeam software, Simon Seagrave (@kiwi_si) the recent joiner to the EMC vSpecialist team , Matt Roblin (@mattroblin) ,Steve Chambers (@ Stevie_Chambers) from Cisco and Ricky Alqasem (@rickyelqasem) also from Veeam. It was really great to put faces to names and chat to them all. I’m really glad I got to go to it and hopefully I’ll make it to the next one on the !5th of July.

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

VMW_09Q3_LGO_VMwareCertifiedProfessional_K

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vBeers – May 6th

Just to spread the word and hopefully get as many people as possible I’m reposting Simon Longs posting about the vBeers. I plan to attend both the VMUG beers and the vBeers after the London VMUG . The following is quoted from Simon’s Website:

Definition of vBeers

vBeers is an informal get together of virtualisation enthusiasts and professionals to meet and discuss all things IT.  It’s a great opportunity to network, learn and meet like minded people.

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When? Where?

So now you know what it is, it’s time for me to let you know the when and the where.The first vBeers evening will be held on:

May 6th6pm till late at The Pavillion End, Watling Street – MAP

This is straight after the London VMUG. For those of you who regularly attend the VMUG, vBeers will be help at the same pub as the usual after-VMUG beers.

The next vBeers evening

June 3rd6pm till late at The Cittie Of Yorke, Holborn – MAP

Gregg Robertson

VMW_09Q3_LGO_VMwareCertifiedProfessional_K

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All things Virtual IV

I know it’s the end of January but due to my being on holiday back in South Africa then on honeymoon this is my first posting of the new year.  Due to this, there has been a large amount of virtual things i have been interested by and learning about.

I see the next UK south/London VMware User Group is happening on the 25th of February. The last one I went to was really interesting and also a great day of meeting some fellow virtualisation geeks like myself who I talk to and follow on twitter. Unfortunately it doesn’t look like I’m going to be able to make this one as out of our team of four only two of us can afford to go due to work constraints and so my fellow co-workers who didn’t go last time now have preference.

A new addition to EMC’s ranks is Scott Lowe. I’ve spoken of Scott before as his book Mastering VMware vSphere 4 was extremely beneficial to me in my studies for my VCP4 exam. He recently posted a brilliant article on Resetting the Root Password on VMware ESX 4.0. If you are like me and pretty much any IT person i know then you have forgotten the admin password at least once in your career. One of the main ones you don’t want to forget is your esx host’s root password. Scott has detailed a few simple steps of resetting yours and I’ve already added the link to my favourites as I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before someone forgets theirs and asks me how to reset it.

Talking of EMC employees Chad Sakac posted a blog entry all about EMC and Cisco looking for people to fill some positions. There was a very large amount of conversation and comments on twitter about this and most amusing to me was his first test of people having to work out his EMC e-mail address to apply for the roles. Even more scary was that people couldn’t work it out somehow and were posting comments to the blog asking how to apply still.

As everyone knows there is a large amount of competition(yes an understatement) between Microsoft and VMware for the best virtualisation applications and services. A very recent and interesting bit of this came out in the last few weeks. Nick Weaver (@lynxbat) has covered both sides of it all and is a blog i highly recommend if you want to amuse yourself and keep yourself informed of what is happening.

A big congratulations has to go out to Mike Laverick(@mike_laverick) who has now joined SearchVMware.com.Mike’s website and blog are renowned in the virtualisation industry so his joining is of great interest and seems in another one in the top 15 blogs who has now joined a new company He details his joining in his blog posting on the subject and his thought behind it.

This is just a nerd bit, but recently i was alluded to Jason Boche’s home lab setup which boggles my mind. A brilliant setup and one i would LOVE to have although i bet his electricity bills are seriously high having to run the setup. Another geek toy that has caught my eye this past week is the new v.Clone from Iomega. A very impressive little tool that they say will allow you to “move seamlessly back and forth between a physical environment (home or office PC) and a virtual environment (Iomega Hard Drive connected to any PC) “. Hopefully i can talk myself into getting one for corporate testing =0)

There has been loads of talk over the past weeks about how virtualisation is now making its way from consolidating old back end servers to running tier 1 Applications. A brilliant posting on this was Jason Nash’s blog Why Isn’t Your Data Centre 100% Virtualized? which was the Winner of Cycle 7 on Virtualizing Tier 1 Applications. It does raise many valid points and also shows that virtualisation technologies are rightfully slowly being accepted as being capable of running companies tier 1 applications. Another blog stemming off this growth of virtualisation is one i read last week about how it’s believed that the best days of virtualization are still ahead of us. A very interesting posting even if you aren’t in the virtualisation industry.

As I’ve said many times before in my blog postings i enjoy challenging myself and growing my knowledge by doing courses in fields I’m currently working in and/or fields that interest me. Recently a new VMware course was released called VMware vSphere: Manage and Design for Performance. Scott Vessey from global knowledge was the person who i saw mention it first then Scott Drummonds posted a blog entry about how he actioned the idea of the course,how himself and his team have worked alongside the Education Services team at VMware to get the course up to standard and complete and the full layout of the courses modules. Hopefully i can get myself on this course very soon as it would be highly beneficial to my daily job. also congratulations to Scott V on his being chosen as Global Knowledge UK “Trainer of the Year” for 2009.

Gabrie van Zanten(@gabvirtualworld) wrote a really interesting and myth busting posting all about memory overcommiting and how he has proven it doesn’t impact your environment any more than normal memory usage. I would highly recommend it as it’s well worth a read to prove it not only to yourself but others of how overcommiting your memory will save you physical resources without the heavy payment.

Both Simon Long (@simonlong_) and Simon Seagrave(@kiwi_si) have posted entries on their blog sites:The SLOG and Techhead today about the new vSphere 4.0 Security Hardening Guide. The guide looks like a brilliant resource tool and is definitely something i will be printing out and adding to my resource library.

Last but not least is all the nifty tools and diagrams people have been creating over the past few weeks. I’ve just listed them as it’s easier for you to choose the ones that might interest you rather than me waffling on about them.

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London VMware User Group

Last week Tuesday i attended my first VMware user group. I have to admit that i was sadly really excited to be attending it for learning about new things from my fellow peers and also about finally meeting some of the people i follow on twitter and whose blogs i read and receive so much information from. The event was help not far from EMC Consulting’s London offices at the Chambers of commerce and trade near Southwark bridge.

I confirmed my attendance to Jonathan Medd’s( @jonathanmedd) powershell session before the user group as  i knew my powershell skills are far from competent and what better way than to get a run through of the best tools and methods i should learn for administering my VMware environment. Jonathon covered a couple of very interesting applications the first one being the vCheck by Alan Renouf(@alanrenouf). I don’t know how i never learnt or heard about his tool but it is definitely something i am planning on rolling out for my VMware environment as soon as possible as it’s reporting of any problems and things you need to watch/resolve is a great tool for any VMware administrator wanting to keep his/her environment running smoothly.

Another topic which was covered by Jonathan which I’m definitely now planning to make a concerted effort of attempting to get through and learn is using powershell and powergui to automate and administer my environment. Fellow VMware user group attendee Simon Long @simonlong_) wrote a great blog about learning it which I’m definitely going to try and get through.

Jonathan also covered onyx alpha and VESI. New applications to me which look to be very helpful also in the maintenance of your VMware environment. I really do have a lot of reading a research to do on this scripting/powershell side!

Next was the sponsors chat who were Symantec. I was quite impressed with them as i have to be honest i had no idea they had so many tools and solutions geared towards virtualisation. Their next set of releases in 2010 are well worth looking out for especially if you have a number of their solutions in your environment already.

Then Simon Gallagher(@vinf_net) spoke about creating a white box environment for home testing/learning. His T.A.R.D.I.S. (no i can’t remember what exactly the acronym stands for) was a real eye opener especially the vmotioning of a machine from a virtual esx server in a virtual machine(yes this isn’t a typo) to a physical host was very impressive and definitely showed how well developed the VMware technology really is. Simon Seagrave(@kiwi_si) who was meant to co host this session but couldn’t because of work commitments has a really great page on his site about the equipment they used and deals on equipment you could use for your own white box lab environment.

The final session was by Mike Laverick(@mikelaverick) and Guy Chapman talking about their opinions and thoughts on cloud computing and the new vSphere features. This was a great session as really brought up a nice discussion from everyone. I’m definitely looking forward to going through his slides once they are published as he had some brilliant comments and references and his describing of the cloud was especially interesting to me as I’m also trying to understand what the cloud is and what it will do for me and my organisation.

A big thank you to Alaric and the rest of the guys for organising the user group. I thoroughly enjoyed it and hope to be able to make the next one. If you live in the south of England and wish to come to the next one i would recommend joining the community on http://communities.vmware.com/community/vmug/emea/london?view=discussions and subscribing to any new posting on the community or mailing londonvmug@yahoo.com and requesting to be added to the list for the next one early next year.

Gregg Robertson

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