TheSaffaGeek

My ramblings about all things technical


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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

VMW_09Q3_LGO_VMwareCertifiedProfessional_K

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How to ease the management and monitoring of VMware Snapshots

 

Recently I have been doing some cleaning up of old snapshots that users have created and forgotten to delete and have therefore been around for too long and are in danger of either using up all the space on the datastore they are on or corrupting once the snapshot is ”deleted”/applied to the vm. I came across an additional way I can make my management and monitoring snapshot tasks easier and so I though I would write up a quick post of all the tools I use that save me having to manually go through a crazy amount of machines. I have used a few of my fellow virtualisation friends scripts and tools to help me do this.

  • First and the one i use the most is the SnapReminder script by scripting guru Alan Renouf. Alan’s script is a fairly straight forward one (his words not mine as I’m not at the level yet to be able to write this). The script is simple yet so very effective as it automatically finds the snapshot that meets your time criteria,finds out who created it ,retrieves their mail address from AD and mails them reminding them that they have this snapshot and it is older than a number of days. It’s really great when you get a mail back from a user replying to one of these mails and saying they don’t need it anymore as you know it’s going to make your environment better while you barely had to do anything to remind and alert them to it.
  • Next is part of the vCheck daily report ,one I have spoken of before which is also created by Alan. The vCheck tool is a brilliant reporter for gathering all the information you need to know to make sure your environment isn’t having any problems and enables you to be proactive so as to stop problems before the arise. The snapshot part of this report is always helpful so i know if people have removed their snapshots after being pestered by the SnapReminder e-mails and gives me a good idea of my progress in minimising the amount of snapshots over the limit.
  • Last one is one I stumbled across this morning while researching some other things and is one i didn’t think of creating but is one that is a brilliant idea especially for automated monitoring. Sadly i can’t seem to find the name of the guy who wrote up the article and did the video as i like to give credit where i can but good work to them for doing a video of it. The article shows and details how to configure VMware vCenter Server to send alerts when virtual machines are running from snapshots and reach a certain size. I’ve always used the alerts for memory,cpu and hosts errors which are pretty much the standard ones you get with vSphere with the additional and tweaking of a few to customise it for our environment but I’ve never thought of it for alerting me about snapshots. 

 Hopefully these tips and tricks will help save you some time and heartache with the management and monitoring of your companies snapshots.

Gregg Robertson

VMW_09Q3_LGO_VMwareCertifiedProfessional_K

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***UPDATE****

As is my luck ,on the heels of me posting this Alan brings out his latest instalment of vCheck, version 5. This new one has some brilliant features and really is an improvement over the last one. I’ve already given it a run over a few of the environments I support and the webpage view it now allows you to view the report in is actually a bit overwhelming with all the data and reporting you get back and has flared up some warnings i didn’t even know were there which is brilliant!

Also a quick congrats to Alan who has now become the latest member of Chad Sakac’s vSpecialists. A brilliant hire there if I do say so myself and very exciting for an EMC employee like myself that someone like him is now part of the team.


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Dell Openmanage Installation

 

A few weeks ago I had to install OpenManage on some of my newer dell server machines and since some of the settings have changed since I last used it I thought I would write up a list of the steps required for our teams wiki site and write up a blog posting of the the steps for anyone who hasn’t done it before.So belatedly here are the steps and cool new tricks some of my friends on twitter showed me.

Firstly the standard steps:

  1. Download the tar file from the ftp site or the support site 
  2. Copy the file using winscp(this is what i use at least) to /tmp/openmanage on the server
  3. Log into the box either via winscp /via putty or onto the console directly and type in:

    cd /tmp/openmanage
    tar -zxvf OM_X.X.0_ManNode_A01.tar.gz (OM_6.2.0_ManNode_A00.tar currently)

  4. Once the files have unpacked type in:
    cd linux/supportscripts/
    ./srvadmin-install.sh -x
      (-x is for express install and installs everything but if you only want to install specific features the commands you can also use are -d -w -r –s )

    -d = Dell Agent
    -w = web interface
    -r = DRAC services
    -s = storage management

     
  5. Once the files have unpacked and installed type:
    srvadmin-services.sh start
  6. When the various component services have finished starting type in: 
    cd /tmp
    rm -rf Openmanage
  7. To allow the Openmanage agent to function the following firewall commands need to be run, these open the firewall ports required: 
    esxcfg-firewall -o 1311,tcp,in,OpenManageRequest

 

While asking a few friends on twitter if the latest Openmanage worked well in their environments Arne Fokkema @afokkema of ict-freak-nl fame pointed to the automated scripting way of doing it written up by Scott Hanson @dellservergeek . As you may know if you’ve read some of my previous blog posting I’m trying to learn how to script more and more of my daily tasks to firstly build my powershell and scripting knowledge and skills as well as making my daily job easier. The script is really simple and is one I’m planning to test in my lab environment very soon. At the bottom of the script though was a comment by one of my powershell idols in Alan Renouf @alanrenouf. He had changed a few of the snmpd commands and so I got a hold of him via twitter and classic him he mailed me the script he spoke of. Only after this did I notice he wrote up a blog post about it,which is exactly what he sent me.

Thanks to all who replied to my twitter messages and hopefully I can get Alan/Scott’s scripts into my automated server deployments in the very near future.

Gregg Robertson

VMW_09Q3_LGO_VMwareCertifiedProfessional_K

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All things Virtual V

 

The past few weeks have been very busy both personally and in the virtualisation arena. My previous posting on the DNS issues I came across and my still unanswered problem with Virtual Distributed Switching VLAN connectivity(which I will post a blog about when I find a solution better than the long winded work around I detailed in my discussion) while deploying a large number of projects both here in the UK as well as in the US has kept me very busy. As for the virtualisation side there has been a large amount of interesting articles,more employment movements by some of the top people in virtualisation and a very nice bit of coverage of this blog.

Unfortunately even though I work for one of the major VMware partners I wasn’t fortunate enough to make it to the VMware Partner Exchange in Las Vegas last week. Sadly I didn’t see a large amount of new and interesting news coming out of this either,but the blogs I found very interesting and which covered the events was blogs Duncan Epping(@duncanyb) of Yellow Bricks fame’s blog on the event detailed. From these blogs the points that really interested me were:

  • VMware’s recently acquired company Zimbra. I would firmly recommend reading up on what Zimbra is and what it does as I have a very strong feeling we’ll be hearing plenty about it in the coming weeks and months.A very interesting acquisition which I’m sure is one they have done to increase their clout in the Cloud Computing arena.
  • The news and painful lack of definite news on the decommissioning of the service console was of upmost interest to me obviously as we have a large array of esx machines here in my environment that are all using the service console. I’ve still not read any really good reasons for this happening apart from someone at VMware thinking it would be fun to make VMware Systems Administrators have cold sweats at the the threat of it coming in soon and the work that will need to be done as well as the skills that will need to be learnt for this to happen.  From chatting to a few fellow virtualisation sys admin’s there is a lot of dissatisfaction with this decision and the reasoning of “minimize the possible attack surface”. This is complete rubbish to me as the trade off of ease of configuration and management compared to the possibility of your systems being attacked is massively painful as with correct security procedures there shouldn’t be any real chance of this happening so why take it away and make my job that much more difficult and complex. Hopefully someone will be able to answer this with better reasoning.Scott Lowe’s first session’s blog comments have detailed part of this and is where my disappointment in the still lack of news is detailed by a few people.
  • The next part that i did find interesting due to my plans to utilise the software for my works own environment was the talk about VMware Chargeback. Scott Lowe’s blog about this session was the one i got the most out of on the topic and is one I’m currently using as a resource for my roll out of the appliance. Hopefully if all goes well I can post my findings and opinions of what it does and how it has or hasn’t helped me.
  • If you want a really good overview of the day Chad Sakac of virtual geek fame has posted a very in depth and detailed posting on the event and is a blog i would recommend if you have the time to read(I’m currently still making my way through it)

This week Monday Nicholas Weaver (@lynxbat) posted his latest update to the much tweeted about and highly spoke of vSphere Mini Monitor. I have personally installed the tool and am busy configuring it to suit my needs. It’s a brilliant tool for anyone wishing to monitor their virtual environment in new practical ways(twitter feed especially). Also a big welcome to Nick on his joining EMC. Seems the tide of top virtualisation people joining EMC is carrying on. Nick’s posting on his leaving and his reasons for leaving are something I can relate to as is his desire to constantly learn and push himself and is what I did when I left my then gf,parents,lifestyle and comfy job back in South Africa to move over to the UK just so that I could push myself and become better and hopefully end up working with some of the industry leaders(which I’m very proud to say I am now that I work at EMC and previously Conchango)

After much waiting (almost three months) my VCP4 certificate finally arrived this past week and with it my workstation 7 licence key. The licence is very helpful as I use workstation 7 for a lot of my home testing/workshop testing and work. Eric Sloof(@esloof) posted about the kits being sent out and as well as the new vcp logo which I have now attached to my signature at the bottom to keep in accordance.

In the past two weeks one of my team members and I have now been tasked with the backing up of our virtual machines and so i needed to brush up my knowledge on vcb backups. While asking an open question on this David Convery(@dconvery) pointed me to a blog posting he did detailing a document he wrote all about vcb and how it works and how to deploy it. It’s a brilliant document and one I have saved and have been using to manage our vcb backup environment.

As I have detailed in previous blog postings my aim this year to try better my skills in Powershell so that I can make my life easier in managing my companies virtualised environment. One of the leaders in this field in using powershell for VMware tasks is Alan Renouf(@alanrenouf). Last Monday he posted a brilliant article detailing automated vm provisioning. I have yet to try these scripts out but if these do what they say they can do and are anything like his vcheck tool then I can’t wait to get them to make my daily job easier.

Simon Seagrave from techhead.co.uk posted about the ability to Pre-register now to be notified when you will be able to register for VMworld2010 (i had to read that twice myself to make sure it made sense) I’m planning on going to the European one this year, which I’m extremely excited for for so many obvious reasons!!

While busy working this past week I decided to catch up on all the VMTN podcasts I hadn’t listened to yet as I like to keep up to date on everything happening and unfortunately with the amount of new and information coming out all the time the only time I can listen to these things is while I’m at work. The last one had Mike Laverick of RTFM-ED fame and Stevie Chambers from the UCS team and of viewyonder.com fame. The podcast was extremely interesting to me and I found myself sitting still at points to concentrate on the things the podcast was covering. The podcasts are very informative and I would highly recommend them to anyone wanting to learn and keep up to date with everything happening and due to happen in the virtualisation field.

As I said in my previous All Things Virtual posting the London/South England VMUG is happening next week Thursday. Sadly I’m not able to attend as I stated in the posting which was made even more painful this week when I heard it’s fully booked before my co-workers had registered so now none of us are going and that so many of the top british virtualisation industry leaders are attending. I’ll definitely be glued to twitter during the day and Simon Long of SLOG fame has promised me a detailed blog about the days proceedings.

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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Powershell,PowerGUI,PowerCLI and vCheck

As i said in my last post I’ve decided to start brushing up my non existent knowledge of powershell and learn the applications that link into VMware Virtual Infrastructure and how they can make my daily job easier and more automated. I’ve found many great articles and actually registered myself for two on demand Microsoft live meetings on using powershell a number of months back which i still need to make my way through. The two live meetings I’m planning to go through are:

Introduction to Windows PowerShell: http://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/WebCastEventDetails.aspx?EventID=1032314395&EventCategory=3&culture=en-US&CountryCode=US

Writing Scripts with Windows Powershell : http://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/WebCastEventDetails.aspx?EventID=1032320637&EventCategory=3&culture=en-US&CountryCode=US

Hopefully these will give me a basic basic knowledge of standard commands i can use and how they work as I’m a very big point and click type of person. There are many brilliant resources out there to learn from and reference.

For PowerCLI there is obviously the administration guide. The administration guide has loads of examples and covers both basic and advanced cmdlet usage. I’m definitely going to be spending a fair amount of time reading through and learning everything in the guide.Obviously to do all the great commands in your VMware environment you’ll need to install the PowerCLI application from http://www.vmware.com/support/developer/windowstoolkit/index.html.

Alan Renouf(@alanrenouf) has written a great blog detailing some really helpful links and documents you can follow and use to learn and perfect your PowerCLI knowledge.I’ll be making my way through this list in the coming days. Alan also has a page on his site where he blogs about any new developments in powercli at http://www.virtu-al.net/category/powercli/

Microsoft has very handy PowerShell Quick Reference guide that has some very good examples for doing stuff in your environment.

Vinternal (@vinternals) has a really great blog page about learning all things powercli http://vinternals.com/powercli-mastery/ which is something I’m planning to get through once i have learnt all the basics from all the above resources. But a really great resource.

But my first port of call is a document detailed on both Alan and Simon Longs blogs that was made available at VMworld Europe last year. As it covers all the basics while teaching me about VMware specific commands.http://blogs.vmware.com/files/vi-toolkit-lab—-vmworld-europe-2009.pdf

If your on twitter and wish to follow me and hear about my progress on my learning of powershell,powercli etc then my username is @greggrobertson5

Gregg Robertson

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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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