TheSaffaGeek

My ramblings about all things technical


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VCDX Spotlight: Byron Schaller

Name: Byron Schaller

Twitter Handle: @byronschaller

Blog URL: vbyron.com

Current Employer: RoundTower Technologies

VCDX #: 231

How did you get into using VMware?

I started with VMware Workstation in 2000 when I was writing code for a living. I started working with ESX in 2005 with version 2.5.1. VMware products became my main focus with the release of VI3.

What made you decide to do the VCDX?

This is complicated. Mostly the challenge and to prove I could. In seeking validation, I ended up gaining far more. I’m easily twice the architect now compared to when I started.

How long did it take you to complete the whole VCDX journey?

I completed my VCAP-DCD in February 2014. I guess I was passively preparing from that point until I began in earnest writing my design in May of this year (2016). I submitted in July and worked on my deck from the day I submitted until 2 days before I defended in September. In all I probably spent 200 hours this summer between writing, revising, and raw study.

What advice would you give to people thinking of pursuing the VCDX accreditation?

Three points:

1. Get a mentor.

2. Get a study group of people you respect and trust. Mine was fantastic and I’m sure we will be friends post VCDX for a long, long time.

3. Understand your use case. What the workloads you are running on your clusters actually do for the business matters. Understanding the business impact of the applications leads to justifying design decisions. If you design an infrastructure for it’s own sake without taking this into account, I’m almost sure you will fail the defence.

If you could do the whole VCDX journey again what would you do differently?

I would have used a real use customer design. Mine was entirely fictional. The upside is I’m pretty sure I’m one of the only folks to pass on the first attempt with an entirely fictional design and without working with a partner(s).

The downside is that it made the process significantly harder. I had to make up all my performance and sizing data and make it feel real. That was very hard, and I still think I could have done a better job of it. If I had those numbers collected, because they were real, it would have saved me significant time.

Life after the VCDX?  How did your company respond?  Was it worth it?

My goals around learning include knocking out all 5 AWS certs by the end of the year and then starting on my VCDX-NV.

My company has been pretty great about everything, however with Rene (VCDX #133) as my boss I would expect no less.

In the end was it worth it? Yes. Would I do it again? Yes.

The friends I gained and the skills I cultivated were well worth the effort. Without a doubt the VCDX journey changes you in ways few things can.

Byron

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New Horizons

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

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

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

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

Gregg


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VMware Integrated Openstack 3.0

At todays VMworld Keynote VMware Integrated OpenStack version 3.0 is going to be announced. If you are like me and haven’t had a chance to learn about the VIO offering as a whole then let me give a basic overview and then what new capabilities and features are coming in the 3.0 release.

What is VMware Integrated OpenStack (VIO) ?

  • VIO is an “Integrated Product” Approach to OpenStack
  • Standard OpenStack Distribution (delivered as OVA)
  • Deploys & Manages Proven Production Architecture on VMware SDDC
  • Fully Supported by VMware

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The features that have been released prior to the this release and the ones in this release are:

VIO 1.0 (Q1 2015)

  • Icehouse Based
  • VMware Platform Differentiation
  • Production Ready
  • Simplified Deploy
  • Day 2 Operation Workflows
  • Automated Patching
  • Fully Supported

VIO 2.0 (Q3 2015)

  • Kilo Based
  • Seamless / Automated Upgrade & Rollback
  • Backup & Recovery
  • Customisations

VIO 2.5 (Q2 2016)

  • Kilo Based
  • Compact Architecture
  • VM Template Import
  • Scale, Perf & Stability Improvements
  • Simplified Monitoring & Troubleshooting
  • NFV Features

VIO 3.0 (H2 2016)

  • Mitaka Based
  • Compact VIO
  • Import existing vSphere workloads

VIO 3.0 Mitaka OpenStack Release

  • Latest OpenStack Release
  • Tons of improvements
    • Improved day-to-day experience for cloud admins and administrators.
    • Simplified configuration for Nova compute service.
    • Streamlined Keystone identity service is now a one-step process for setting up the identity management features of a cloud network.
    • Keystone now supports multi-backend allowing local authentication and AD accounts simultaneously.
    • Heat’s convergence engine optimized to handle larger loads and more complex actions for horizontal scaling for improved performance for stateless mode.
    • Enhanced OpenStack Client provides a consistent set of calls for creating resources no longer requiring the need to learn the intricacies of each service API.
    • Support for software development kits (SDKs) in various languages.
    • New “give me a network,” feature capable of creating a network, attaching a server to it, assigning an IP to that server, and making the network accessible, in a single action

VIO 3.0: Slimmer Full HA Architecture

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VIO 3.0: Compact Mode

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VIO 3.0: Import vSphere Workloads

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VIO delivers AWS Productivity with Private Cloud Control

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If you want to learn more about VIO then make sure you attend the VMware booth in the solutions exchange at VMworld US if you are attending the conference or speak to your TAM/VMware Sales representative for a demo or PoC.

Gregg


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Join Me At VMworld US 2016

VMworld 2016

Yet again I am honoured to have been given a bloggers pass to VMworld US due to my vExpert work but more importantly the vBrownbag TechTalks and opening acts that the vBrownbag crew will be running in the hang space.

VMworld is always an exciting conference to go to and if you haven’t yet booked your place then let me list some of the reasons I think you should attend as they are the reasons I try to attend every year.

  • On the Sunday of VMworld is Partner Exchange and TAM day where VMware partners can attend exclusive sessions talking about everything from future roadmaps for all of VMware product lines but also new solutions VMware are looking to release. The sessions are always extremely interesting and from my experience are the best chance to speak to the “rockstars” who evangelise and breath the various solutions. If you aren’t a partner or are looking for something less formal than PEX then the vBrownbag crew along with the vBrisket and VMUnderground crew are running opening acts with vBrisket for lunch and VMUnderground party at the end of the day. Opening acts has gained popularity with each year and the level of panels as well as those attending has also kept on increasing. The schedule for the day is:
    • 10:45am – The doors open
    • 11:00am – Panel Session 1
    • 12:00pm – Panel Session 2
    • 1:00pm – BBQ lunch by vBrisket
    • 2:00pm – Panel Session 3
    • 3:00pm – Panel Session 4
    • 4:00pm – Fin.
  • Also if you live in the US and want to do a road trip to VMworld then the vBrisket team are doing a road trip, you can see all the details here: http://www.vbrisket.com/vbrisket-bus-tour-to-vmworld-2016/.

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  • My second reason for attending is networking. I know it should be sessions or HOL but the ability to network with like-minded people and make relationships with people doing cutting edge work with the latest technologies has proved so beneficial to me in the past. The ability to network can be done in several places and at several parties but the best place IMO has to be the hangspace where you can sit at the bloggers table or speak to the VMware communities team as well as (and most importantly) listen and watch the vBrownbag TechTalks. If you have never heard of the TechTalks then a brief overview is below:
    • Tech Talks originated at VMworld 2012 where they provided an opportunity for community members, whose presentation submissions were not accepted into the main catalogue, to present the core of  a topic.  #TechTalks are a ten minute presentation by a community member for the benefit of the community. Since almost everyone working in technology has solved problems and learned something almost everyone could present a #TechTalk.  The format can be a slide deck or simply talking, they are usually about how to solve a problem or get the most out of a product. The TechTalk is captured on video and published on the vBrownBag YouTube channel.
    • If the conference Internet connection allows, the talk is also live streamed from the show.
    • #TechTalks are for community members to reach other community members, any topic that will help other people is good.  The one thing that TechTalks are not is an opportunity to present the corporate slide deck about a great product you would like us to buy.  #TechTalks are about up skilling and education, the only marketing should be from the TechTalk sponsors who help make the whole thing happen.
  • Anyone can watch the TechTalks and there are almost always a crowd of the biggest names in the industry,VCDX, vExperts and top 50 vBloggers either watching the TechTalks, Chatting amongst themselves nearby or writing up blogs and uploading videos to their blogs from the bloggers table. The community is very welcoming so please do come say hi and I promise if i am there I’ll try not be grumpy 🙂
  • Next are the sessions. The VMworld Schedule Builder opened yesterday and within 3 hours a whole bunch were fully booked just to show the sheer interest of people to listen to some of the biggest names talking about the biggest technologies such as Duncan Epping of Yellow-Bricks.com fame talking about “A day in the life of a VSAN IO”. The sessions are always engaging and cover technical depth from beginners all the way to veterans so there is always something to learn. the sessions are also recorded so if you can’t make it to a sessions due to a conflict then by registering for VMworld you get access to all the recorded sessions after the conference for you to watch in your own time.
  • Next reason are the hands on labs. the labs cover all technologies and not just from VMware but also partners including the EMC Federation. The labs allow you a brilliant way of working your way through using the latest solutions and technologies so if your boss is wondering what NSX is and if it will fit your companies requirements you can do several labs on it and then can not only help your company understand it’s benefits having gone to sessions around NSX but also know how to do tasks inside NSX due to the labs.

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  • Next is the solutions exchange which is firstly an amazing place to talk to all the top vendors and companies working within the virtualisation arena and secondly to maybe even win yourself a few prizes from the plethora of competitions all the stands are running constantly. I personally love walking around the solutions exchange after grabbing some food so that you can listen to all the vendors explain why their solution is the best fit for you and get in some much-needed sustenance as you will be walking A LOT at the conference.
  • Lastly are the parties, these are normally amazing and seeing as the conference is in Las Vegas the locations are likely to be unbelievable. The parties vary in craziness so you can attend mellow drinks or full or parties in clubs it is entirely up to you. Apart from the VMUnderground party the Welcome Reception kicks off the conference experience with food, drinks, and networking in the Solutions Exchange. The always energetic Welcome Reception is a great way to reconnect with old friends, network, share ideas, and get to know our inviting community of VMware customers, experts, and partners. The parties have only just started getting announced but you can see which ones have been announced on Hans’ blog here. The VMworld party finishes off the conference on Wednesday night and is hosted at the legendary Las Vegas Motor Speedway and the band has been announced and despite what some old farts say about the band selected I can’t wait to listen to Fall Out Boy!!

Hopefully i will see you at the conference and as I stated do come by the hang space and say hello, I will be wearing a vBrownbag shirt with my name and twitter handle on so I should be easy to locate and identify.

 

Gregg


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VCAP6-CMA Design Objective 1.2 – Gather and Analyze Application Requirements.

Due to my decision to aim for my VCDX6-CMA this year and thereby to get it in in time for the only VCDX-CMA defence of the year (so far) I have signed up for the VCAP6-CMA Design beta exam. I’ve been working on a very large-scale vRA 6.2 project for the past 14 months and so I hope this experience of designing and building it as well as my preparations via these objectives breakdown (plus my study resources) and using some of my VCDX5-DCV knowledge will help me. So I thought I would slowly post up each objective for my own benefit but also hopefully help other people looking to pass the VCAP6-CMA Design exam (beta or GA).I will be consolidating all the objectives on my blog page here

Knowledge

Gather and analyze application requirements for a given scenario.

  • What I believe is being looked for here is for you to having spoken to the stakeholders and more importantly the application owners and worked out what exactly they require for their applications and the interdependencies the applications have. Applications can be standalone and require no outside communication or could be multi-tiered and require access to the internet or a public git repository for example. Asking the right questions and fully understanding what the applications do and require will then allow you to provide what is required or if it isn’t available start making plans to make it available.

Determine the requirements for a set of applications that will be included in the design.

  • This is exactly the same as above in my opinion but now instead of just one application you need to get a holistic idea of all the applications in a multi-machine blueprint for example and all the requirements these have to work whilst also not impacting other workloads.

Collect information needed in order to identify application dependencies.

  • This is done by speaking to the application owners and then validating yourself as even though the application owners say they need certain things you need to validate this and ensure that they are correct and that putting it into the vRA solution doesn’t require another method of doing something. For example maybe the physical F5 load balancers can’t be used for load balancing applications deployed within the vRA solution so you either need to open firewalls to allow this or deploy maybe NSX load balancers within the environment to allow this capability. In the blueprint they recommend the Foundations and Concepts document which is good but personally I think you need to know much much more than the foundations to understand application dependencies and how they would fit within vRA.
  • They recommend the vRealize Infrastructure Navigator User-s Guide as a study tool and this is certainly a great method of looking at existing applications and understanding heir interdependencies and what the applications are talking to. This also makes sure that the application isn’t talking to some old database server in the background that Joe Blogs setup before he got retrenched and no one has known about since. VIN is a great tool and there’s loads of free videos and resources you can use to learn about the product like this VMware YouTube video.

Given one or more application requirements, determine the impact of the requirements on the design.

  • Again this is understanding holistically what the applications are talking to and require and then ensuring it is available within the environment or communicable from the environment (services like AD, DNS,IP Management etc). I’m not really sure how you can learn more about this without experience of differing products but understanding how multi-tiered applications work and require resilient back-end resources to function is very important (think of a web applications with multiple web servers, application server and a DB)

VMware Recommended Tools

The VMware recommended study tools for this objective are:

If you disagree with anything I’ve said above then please let me know and if I agree (I’m always open to learning) then I will update the posting. Now onto objective 1.3.

Gregg


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VCDX Spotlight: Jason Grierson

Name: Jason Grierson

Twitter Handle: @JasonTweet7889

Blog URL: www.virtualtiers.net

Current Employer: Cisco Systems

VCDX #: 206

How did you get into using VMware?

I started just prior vMotion being introduced. I was working for a loaning company at the time which was an early adopter of VMware. At the time I was lucky to be part of the project to upgrade to the latest version and saw vMotion for the first time. I knew right then this would change the way Datacenters would work.

What made you decide to do the VCDX?

I had been working with VMware for a number of years now and had held my VCP since 3.5 upgrading it along the way. I figured it was just time to strive for my VCDX. Why couldn’t I reach the VCDX and what harm would come in trying. Little did I know where the journey would really take me.

How long did it take you to complete the whole VCDX journey?

Between the VCAP-DCA, VCAP-DCD and VCDX the journey took me a year and half pretty well.

What advice would you give to people thinking of pursuing the VCDX accreditation?

My advice would be to go for it! It’s not an unachievable exam that sits on a pedestal. It’s a lot of hard work and time commitment but in the end the lessons you will learn while striving for your VCDX is priceless. You will become a much better architect and meet many others striving for the same thing which will only expand your network of professionals. The lessons learned along this journey will only better your career no matter where you end up going.

If you could do the whole VCDX journey again what would you do differently?

Umm I don’t really know lol. I would probably focus more on my defence probably knowing what I know now. Also there would probably be sections of my design I could improve on.

Life after the VCDX?  How did your company respond?  Was it worth it?

Life after my VCDX has gone back to normal for the most part now that the dust has settled. My company was very excited that I passed and send out a Canadian wide email so now there a lot more VMware questions being fielded my way lol. Was it worth it, yes absolutely! I couldn’t imagine the growth in my career or where an exam track would take me and am extremely appreciative of all of those who helped me along the way. I’m also beyond over joyed to have my VCDX # and am looking forward to seeing my Partner achieve his soon as well.


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VCDX Troubleshooting Skills

55020378So this posting isn’t about my opinion of if the dropping of the scenario is good or bad as in all honesty more time in the design scenario sounds great to me. This posting is actually about the resources I used to prepare for my VCDX troubleshooting scenario that I think an architect should know and thereby any good VCDX should also.

  • The first resources I used were actually the ones I used in my preparations for the VCAP5-DCA as this really makes you learn where all the logs are, what methods there are of troubleshooting issues and what you might be looking for. My study resources list for the VCAP5-DCA is a great start and if you are at the point of defending for VCDX you should have used some of these in your preparations but what I went over again were the troubleshooting videos by David Davis. Even though they are old the methods in them still apply especially ESXTOP etc.
  • The next resources were a mix between my two mentors for my recent VCDX attempt aka Larus Hjartarson and Rene van den Bedem. Both of them did brilliant breakdowns of how to prepare and think during the scenario and the methodology you need to keep to. These methods give you a great plan of attack even if it is a real world customer you are trying to help. Larus’ methodology is mention in his VCDX: Troubleshooting Scenario posting and Rene’s VCDX – Troubleshooting Scenario Strategy posting.
  • One resource that I felt was the best real world applicable resource I used that didn’t map perfectly to the VCDX scenario methodology but was brilliant was one that was recommended to me by Frank Buechsel who used to work for VMware GSS until recently was a book called Debugging—The Nine Indispensable Rules for Finding Even the Most Elusive Software and Hardware Problems. It’s more based at software development but each of the steps applies perfectly to troubleshooting any issues in a technology environment and now that the scenario has been stopped I can put out the loose outline from the book and kinds of questions I wrote up for each of the headings plus what I wanted to say to explain why i was asking in red that I wanted to ask in the scenario and how I thought it might fit:
    • UNDERSTAND THE SYSTEM
      • When did the problem start exactly?
      • What is meant to happen? – Why I am asking is because……………and what I’m hoping to achieve…………
      • When did you see the problem start happening? Is it recurring after a certain task or event or has it only happened once? – Why I am asking is because……………and what I’m hoping to achieve…………
      • Have any changes been made recently and are they tracked in a change management system? – Why I am asking is because……………and what I’m hoping to achieve…………
      • Have we collected logs or alerts from the systems and are we using something like vCOps where we can drill down and see alarms or alerts? ? – Why I am asking is because these mechanisms can give us ideas of the failures and possibly where it is happening if not just one location and what I’m hoping to achieve is to find the specific places the errors are showing, what the errors have been in the past if possible but also prepare for the next step of making it fail again so we can possibly see the error again or collect it for the first time.
    • MAKE IT FAIL
      • If it happens around a certain event can we try replicate the error and make it happen as often as possible? – Why I am asking is because I want to confirm the error is in fact happening at the point you mention and I’m hoping to achieve the exact step where it is happening and confirm if indeed our assumptions of when it is happening are true or not so we don’t waste time troubleshooting an assumption.
      • When are we doing the replication of the error can we document each step? – Why I am asking is because I want to confirm it is not just the step where it fails but the steps leading up to it in case a step in the sequence is then causing the eventual failure and I’m hoping to achieve the possible conflict or incorrect setting/step being followed.
    • QUIT THINKING AND LOOK
      • Are there any alarms or alerts on the source or destination system/s ? – Why I am asking is because I want to confirm not just the outcome of the failure that you mention but hopefully what is causing the failure and what I’m hoping to achieve is the point/component where we should do the troubleshooting so that we don’t make any unnecessary changes.
      • For the errors can we search the VMware/Vendor KB/Forums and see if any matches come up for some/all of the errors? – Why I am asking is because some of the errors might be known or even just give us an idea for where to look and what I’m hoping to achieve is to isolate the problem even more and not waste time looking at other components when a kb article might give us a good lead and save us precious time getting the issue fixed
    • DIVIDE AND CONQUER
      • For the machines that are failing are they the same configuration/going to the same location/coming from the same location/going over the same path? – Why I am asking is because I want to isolate the good parts/side and the bad parts/side and what I’m hoping to achieve is to focus my attention on the side that is showing the error so we don’t waste time and have less things to cover in the hope we can isolate the problem.
      • Can we try reverse the step in the opposite direction? – Why I am asking is because……………and what I’m hoping to achieve…………
    • CHANGE ONE THING AT A TIME
      • Try a migration/alteration/fix and if it doesn’t work then change it back and try something new. “Please can we migrate the failing machines to another host? “it still fails” Ok please move it back “– Why I am asking is because I don’t want to receive additional/red herring errors due to the change we made and what I’m hoping to achieve is to keep the environment unchanged as much as possible so we don’t cause additional errors/lose methods to troubleshoot.
    • KEEP AN AUDIT TRAIL (these were more writing out my thoughts and what I felt I needed to remember)
      • Write down what you did and the outcome and also WRITE DOWN THEIR RESPONSES as these may have clues!! “there are no errors in vSphere” might mean the error is not reaching vSphere for it to log the error so go “upstream” to find the source.
      • The error doesn’t sound like it is in vSphere so can we please look at the HBA on the host and ensure it is connected correctly and receiving data via ESXTOP.
    • CHECK THE PLUG
      • You state that the network connections are correct but please can we get it checked again? – Why I am asking is because I want to confirm that what we state is correct is in fact correct right now and what I’m hoping to achieve is to clear up any assumptions and have clear and confirmed facts about necessary “upstream” components.
      • Are the steps you are following worked in the past? Are we following the exact steps that worked before? – Why I am asking is because I want to confirm if it has ever worked/if we are following different processes and what I’m hoping to achieve is to confirm if it has ever worked and if a new step if causing the error to happen so we can troubleshoot what the different steps is bringing up.
    • GET A FRESH VIEW
      • Not really applicable to VCDX troubleshooting but asking for someone who is an SME in the customer might shed some new light/clear up what the exact problem is.
    • IF YOU DIDN’T FIX IT, IT AIN’T FIXED
      • Not really applicable to VCDX troubleshooting.

If you want to read about my utter joy about passing the VCDX then have a look at my VCDX #205 posting and also my VCDX Spotlight.

Next I’m hoping to dive deeper into each of the points from my VCDX #205 posting starting with VCDX Resources – Did you use them all??

Gregg