TheSaffaGeek

My ramblings about all things technical


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All things virtual VIII

 

It’s been a very busy but also a very rewarding productive few weeks for me. Even though it came down to a relatively simple solution the working of my VMware Update Manager was a massive weight off my shoulders and a lot of lessons learnt from it which is always something valuable.

On the virtualisation news side it’s been a very interesting couple of weeks with some brilliantly written blogs and articles.

  • Vladan Seget (@vladan) did a very good posting on setting a static MAC address in VMware. This is something you learn when you’re studying for your VCP but is something that personally I’ve forgotten really easily but is a very helpful feature especially if you have a vm with software on it that requires a licence to be attached to the vm’s MAC address but you still want to be able to migrate the vm around for either HA or DRS capabilities.
  • Next is the VMware Support Toolbar by Rick Blythe (@rickblythe) aka VMwareWolf. The toolbar is a very clever idea and the only reason I’ve linked Vladan’s posting on it is that he details all the features it has and how to set it up etc and seeing as Rick linked to it at the top of his posting about the toolbar it seems he’s happy with the posting being used for his toolbar. I’ve only partly played around with the toolbar but it’s a great example of how professionals are thinking of new ways for a VMware administrator to be able to keep up to date and easily search for VMware knowledge base items.
  • Cody Bunch (@cody_bunch) of http://professionalvmware.com has been doing some really great VCDX brown bag sessions on all the things you should know for you VCDX and obviously as the name alludes to they are discussions amongst fellow professionals about the topics you will need to know to do your defence. A “study group” is another way of describing it. Cody was nice enough to reply to me on twitter when I enquired about the ability to watch/listen to the previous brown bag sessions and I was pleased to find out they have been recorded and the second brown bag session is already up. I’ve always found discussions amongst fellow professionals about a common technology highly beneficial as sometimes i really need someone to explain something in laymen’s terms to me for me to understand it. I’d recommend registering for the next one and to keep an eye out for the future sessions. He’s also done a few VCP brown bag sessions and theses have also been recorded so if you’re looking to write your VCP soon or even like me keep your knowledge fresh then these are perfect for this.
  • Duncan Epping of Yellow Bricks fame did a very informative posting all about aligning your VMs virtual hard disks. I spoke partly of this in one of my blog postings a few weeks back and Duncan has added some great information to this discussion and is one i learnt quite a few things from so is well worth the read. Duncan also did a very helpful posting on where to find pre-windows 2008 sysprep packages for those who are battling to find them.
  • Eric Sloof (@esloof) posted two great articles these past few weeks. The first one was a very interesting interview with one of the attendee’s of his VMware vSphere Design Workshop course and his opinions of how the course went and how good it was. After watching it it’s made me even more keen to attend the course and gain the knowledge they you can gain from it especially from fellow VMware professionals. The other is his announcing of the upcoming vSphere 4 Automation course. It shows the growing need and trend of VMware professionals to have the knowledge and ability to automate some of the tasks performed in their VMware environment as well as a great course for gaining the knowledge you will require for managing your environment in ESXi.
  • Talking of ESXi and the push by VMware for people to migrate from ESX to ESXi, Eric Siebert (@ericsiebert) of http://vmware-land.com/ posted a very very good blog posting all about how VMware’s desire for people to adopt ESXi isn’t going as well as they may have hoped and how VMware are going to need to fix a number of issues that ESXi has that ESX doesn’t before the change over and how their motivators for the switch aren’t as strong as they make out. The article is brilliant and is especially so to me as I agree wholeheartedly with many of the points in it and myself don’t see nor agree with the whole idea of them moving over to ESXi and scrapping ESX.
  • There has always been the discussion of scale up versus scale out when you are creating a Virtual environment and over the past few weeks there have been a few great postings from some of the top virtualisations bloggers about this discussion. It seems the whole thing kicked off from a blog posting Duncan Epping did about scaling up due to the release of the new Intel 5600 series that has six cores. Which set off a blog posting by Ian Koenig at http://itsjustanotherlayer.com/ titled scale up or scale out in which he brings up some brilliant check points every VMware administrator should ask when determining whether to scale up or scale out. Scott Lowe then commented on Ian’s posting  in his Virtualization Short Take #37 and gave his opinion on the discussion which in turn made Steve Chambers (@Stevie_chambers) write an article about how he feels UCS is the solution to the worry about having “all your eggs in one basket”. His blog posting is also very informative about the features UCS has and how it allows you to have all your machines on one big server. This in turn brought Scott to write a posting describing his opinions in full and how he feels as is always said for anything in IT “it depends”  on a number of factors and one model or decision is never the same for every company/environment/situation. Lastly a great blog posting by a twitter friend of mine and top VMware professional Daniel Eason(@Daniel_Eason) about High Density Virtual Hosts gives a great insight into more of the factors you need to consider when building a “Super ESX Host(my own words)”. All of these articles are brilliantly informative and as with any great article they encourage discussion. You make your own decisions and I encourage you to read all the comments below each of the articles as these are as good if not maybe a little bit better than the articles.
  • This past week the applications for the VMware vExpert award have been opened. The vExpert for anyone that doesn’t know it is “a way for VMware to acknowledge and help those who ‘go the extra mile’ and give back to the VMware user community by sharing their expertise and time. vExperts are bloggers, book authors, VMUG leaders, event organizers, speakers, tool builders, forum leaders, and others who share their virtualization expertise.” As you can imagine there has been a very large amount of chat in twitterverse about the applications and who may be honoured by the awarding of it. Personally I’d love to become one and hope that with my continued efforts to give back to the community and grow my contributions to the field I’ll one day soon be awarded the title. If you know of anyone that deserves this award then get an application in for them. But be warned that multiple nominations don’t count extra so applying for yourself 100 times and asking loads of people to apply for you won’t help you to win this.
  • In my Distributed Virtual Switches blog posting i detailed the process of upgrading your virtual machines hardware version to version 7 but Sander Daems (@sanderdaems) posted a very helpful posting on how to downgrade your vm hardware level from 7 to 4 if it is needed to fix an issue you may be having. It always makes me smile when a blog posting like this is posted as I’m always so focused on the newest things and the latest versions of software that i forget that sometimes the need for rolling back to an older possibly more stable version is the option.
  • Even though this next posting is old it’s one I feel is very important and useful in the growth of anyone’s scripting knowledge. Alan Renouf created a very helpful Quick Reference Guide for the VI toolkit which you can print off and obviously reference whenever you need it.
  • VMware have recently posted a new white paper detailing performance results of tests conducted of a vSphere 4.0 environment using Microsoft SQL Server 2008. The white paper can be downloaded here.
  • Rich Brambley (@rbrambley) posted all about the reasoning and some fixes/solutions you can make as to why cloning a vm from a template can take such a long time. Rick’s posting has some great links for IOPS and gives some very in depth solutions and reasons as to why the problem might happen. The posting is very helpful and sheds light on points some people may miss in their aim of making their virtual environment run as quickly and smoothly as possible.
  • Arnim van Lieshout (@avlieshout) did a great blog posting about how to setup and get running The VESI (Virtualization EcoShell Initiative). If you’ve never heard of The VESI before then i would recommend reading the FAQ before reading and then implementing the solution into your environment. Arnim has detailed every step and installation needed in getting it working and is a massive help for someone trying to get it setup.
  • Last by definitely not least was a posting by Devang Panchigar (@storagenerve) with the video of the VBlocks presentation at the GestaltIT Tech Field Day 2010 in Boston Massachusetts this past week. The presentation was highly informative and a great insight into the solution and is well worth the watch.

As I’ve said before I’m always happy for people to leave a comment below or add me on twitter at @greggrobertson5. If you feel I’ve missed something or not given credit or wrongly described yours or someone else’s posting as this is the last thing i mean to do, please tell me an I’ll change it.

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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