Monthly Archives: March 2014

#TopvBlog2014 – Two words – Thank you!

CaptureAs you have probably noticed (yeah right – you haven't noticed πŸ™‚ ) I have changed the little award banner on my left sidebar from 'Top 50' virtualization blogs to 'Top 25' virtualization blogs.  This year mwpreston.net moved up 19 spots to #20 on Eric Siebert's Top Blog voting and I couldn't be more humbled and appreciative of the VMware community.  Honestly, it's amazing to even be on the list, but moving up on the list over the last two years really gives me the drive to continue doing whatever it is you call this.  I am humbled, that's true – but honestly, I'm excited and content as well.  It feels great to be recognized and I think we can all agree on that.

Here's the thing – Two and half years ago I attended my first VMworld – a lonely little vSphere admin who didn't really have a handle on the technology but was developing quite an interest in it.  Those 4 days really changed my outlook on my career and how I consume information.  Getting on Twitter, sitting through a "Start your virtualization blog" talk with none other than the great John Troyer, Eric Siebert, and David Davis, and just getting a handle on all of the community resources available has drastically changed how I consume and research any new IT initiatives.  Fast forward to today and I'm sitting at #20 on the Top Blogs list.  I just think it's a cool story!

Either way, enough reminiscing – I just wanted to put this post up to say Thank You to everyone who voted, not just for me, but for all the blogs.  Over 1400 total votes and 300 + blogs just goes to show you the support that the VMware community has and how awesome it is!  Also, thanks to Eric for all the work he puts into this – it can't be an easy job tallying and filtering out those votes, let along maintaining his Launch Pad page.  I also won a cool prize as well in the forms of a tablet, as well as one to give away to one of you – so watch for that contest to start soon.

So thanks for reading and as always, let me know if I screw up πŸ™‚  Here's to another great year!

The ol’ vSphere upgrade ain’t what she used to be!

With Update 1 of vSphere 5.5 released to the masses I'm sure that there are a lot of IT environments finally making the jump to the latest version of the hypervisor.   I've begun the task of upgrading my vSphere environment in hopes of getting it up to snuff with all of the latest features and bug fixes.  5 years ago, this 'vSphere environment' consisted of vCenter Server and some hosts, now, vSphere environment contains a whole lot more than just the core components of hypervisor and management.  The following are just a few examples of the many reasons that I believe vSphere upgrades, while having gotten easier, take much much longer to complete – there is a lot to it!

My vCenter Server has put on some pounds

in-n-out_animal_styleAs I mentioned just a short 5 years ago I had no problems pealing through a vSphere upgrade in less than a day.  A simple vCenter upgrade followed by update manager orchestrating a handfull of host updates and voila, up to date.  Now, things have changed.  Yes, we've definitly accepted virtualization as a viable option for our production workloads, thus we've grown substantially, so there are more hosts to update – but hosts aren't really the most time consuming task in the process.  It's everything else.  Have a look at vCenter for instance – it's no longer just vCenter – it's moved from a single service to a compilation of applications and services handling everything from host provisioning to authentication to syslogging.  So really, when I look at upgrading my vCenter Server, I'm actually talking about upgrading SSO, vSphere Web Client, Inventory Service, vCenter Server, AutoDeploy, Update Manager, and the SysLog Collector – all of which take time and could easily require a half day in itself to be configured.

Don't forget about the value-add!

Value Add – you know, all of those VMware and third-party tools that you threw into the environment over the years to monitor, secure, backup, automate, and tweak the performance of vSphere!  Aside from assuring that they are compatible with the new release, most of the time, especially in VMware's case, they themselves will require upgrades to support the new release.  So things like vCenter Operations Manager, Site Recovery Manager, vSphere Replication and Data Protection, vCenter Orchestrator, vSphere Management Assistant, etc will all need to be updated.  Thankfully VMware has done a great job over the last couple of years in terms of the timing of these releases, more so aligning them with the release of the hypervisor updates.  In terms of compatibility you need to pay attention to what versions of vSphere your third-party applications support.  Applications like Veeam Backup and Replication, VMware View – you will want to be sure that before you go ahead and venture on a vSphere upgrade that you have the support from your third party vendors.

When I was your age we didn't have all these Virtual Appliances.

PreviewIt's no doubt that VMware sees value in releasing some of their products in the form of a virtual appliance.  By bundling these applications in an ovf it simplifies the setup and configuration, allowing customers to get things up and running faster, essentially hitting the market quicker.  On VMware's end, let's just hope that they reduce the support calls and resources they need to dedicate to maintain these products – although that's highly unlikely :).  Either way, the virtual appliance route doesn't just help with your initial setup, it can also provide ease of use when upgrading as well.  vCenter Orchestrator upgrades can be accomplished by attaching a new appliance to the old database and performing updates. The vCenter Operations Manager vApp can be updated by simply loading a .pak file you download from your myvmware portal. The vSphere Management Assistant can accomplish updates via the vima-update command.   The vCenter Server Appliance handles this even better – 2 clicks – check for updates, apply updates.  This will go ahead and update all of those components that make up vCenter Server (SSO, Inventory, AutoDeploy, Web Client, etc).  It's nice to have an easier upgrade with these appliances, what would even be nicer is to have VMware standardize on how the appliances are upgraded – chose one method and go for it.  

Are we done yet?

No, not really even close.  Aside from the core component updates there are a number of items within your vSphere environment that also need to be updated.  First off, do you use dvSwitches?  Be sure that you circle back and see if they require an update.  dvSwitches add new features and benefits in terms of versions – so if your initial upgrade was driven by a new networking feature that was included, you might not get access to this until you go and upgrade your switches to the new version.  Same goes for vmfs and your storage.  Any datastore formatted as vmfs will also be tied to a specific version or compatibility number – so be sure to upgrade all of your datastores as well.  Thankfully these processes are non disruptive and can be done without affection our production workloads

Lastly, the reason we are all here, the VMs

More so the applications running on the VMs but none the less we have to update these as well.  Firstly, every core release usually sparks an update for VMware Tools as well.  By now we should all be used to updating VMware tools. Again, we now have the ability to do this without requiring a reboot of the virtual machine which certainly makes this process more scriptable and achievable. Secondly, to support newly published config maximums and engage in some new features the VM hardware needs to be updated.  Unfortunately there is no way around downtime being required for this one as the VM compatibility as it's now called can only be upgraded while the VM is powered off.  That said, VMware has made some strides and implemented some features within the Web Client that we can flag to upgrade VM compatibly during it's next normal reboot – so a bit of help there for us.  Personally, I like to schedule the maintenance and just get it done – that way I know it's done and done right πŸ™‚

Go have a beer!

Well, I think I've covered everything!  Everything inside of my environment anyways.  So pat yourself on the back and go have a beer – unless you have a DR environment – then you need to go and duplicate everything you have just done!  So, I guess I'm going to have a beer at my DR site πŸ™‚

 

Packt offering Buy One Get One Free!

2000th-Book-Home-Page-Banner

Who doesn't like free stuff right?!?!  I know we all do!  Just wanted to give everyone a heads up who might be thinking about buying a book from Packt Publishing that now is the time to do so.  Until the end of today they are offering a Buy One Get One free deal on all of their eBooks.  This is in celebration of their 2000th title being released.  So, if you were thinking about picking one up then hurry and do so!  If you weren't, you might want to head over and check out what they have to offer – might I suggest this one πŸ™‚

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If you looking for other Virtualization focused books published by Packt, Damian Karlson has a great list over on ProfessionalVMware.com Anyways, just trying to spread the word πŸ™‚

Friday Shorts – Updates, Veeam, Fevers, and Apple CIDR

Please get out of my Van Halen t-shirt before you jinx the band and they break up – Robbie (Adam Sandler) from The Wedding Singer

Horizon DaaS now available directly from VMware

VMware LogoThe "Year of VDI" has yet to hit me and my day job.  There's always been lots of talk, but no walk – I have no excuse for this – just seems like it always takes the back burner in my list of priorities.  VMware seems to continue to aquire companies, hire resources and push their VDI initiatives so I have to believe that they know something I don't (maybe I'll be less busy this year).  Anyways, a recent announcement about Horizon DaaS being available now through vCHS is the latest in VMware's VDI arsenal.  Brian Madden has an excellent article about it on his site.  I'm interested to see how well adopted the cloud desktop is knowing that it hasn't made a huge impact inside of datacenters yet.  Only time will tell.

vSphere 5.5 Update 1 is here!

For all those who have implemented the "I don't upgrade until Update 1 is released" mindset get your bits downloaded because it is here.  For the rest of you, you can now find some new functionality inside of flagship hypervisor – you know, that little thing called VSAN.  VSAN support, which was once only available to a small subset of 12,000 beta testers is now baked into the update 1 release of ESXi.  The other benefit of 5.5 U1 comes in the form of cloud management.  The vCHS vSphere Web Client plug-in is now available within the Inventories section inside your web client – allowing you to view all of your dedicated and virtual private cloud instances from vCHS, from the comfort of your web client.

Pour yourself some CIDR and read this.

Chris Wahl has a great post on Wahl Network where he compares simple networking concepts to his professional career development.  Judging by the successes Chris has had, I would recommend listening to what he has to say on how you can move further in your carreer!!!

I got a fever and the only prescription is more Visio Stencils

feverVeeam has a nice collection of free Visio Stencils for both VMware and Hyper-V.  For those that fancy nice little diagrams and designs you should probably go and add these to your arsenal.  Also if you are running multi hypervisors, this gives you a nice consistent look and feel accross the diagrams that you are creating.  Thanks Veeam!

Around the world

veeam_logoSpeaking of Veeam, they have a pretty cool contest about to start!  In celebration of their 100,000th customer, yes, that's 6 digits Veeam is giving away a trip for 2 to ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD!.  How do you enter?  Simply head over to the link above and guess where you think that Veeams 100,000th customer will be located.  And hey, in general Veeam fashion they have a ton of cool prizes for the runner ups as well.  Google Glass, iPADs and Surface Pro's are a plenty.

 

VMware vCenter Operations Manager Essentials by @malhoit – reviewed!

6961EN_VMware EssentialsIt should come as no surprise that I have been a huge fan of vCOPs – I've had the application installed in production ever since it's first beta with VMware, I've spoke twice at VMworld as a member of the customer panel, and I've done numerous blog posts about the value and benefits that you can get by implementing vCOPs.  That's why when I had the opportunity to perform a technical review of a new book by Lauren Malhoit (blog/twitter) centered around vCOPs I didn't have to think very long.  The book, titled VMware vCenter Operations Manager Essentials will most definitely not disappoint.

To begin Lauren jumps into what exactly vCOPs is, the different versions available, and how each can benefit you.  From Chapter 2 on you can expect to see a slew of tutorials, real world examples and detailed descriptions about all of the functionality that vCenter Operations delivers.  vCenter Operations in its base is a very easy application to get setup and configured; understanding all of the dashboards, colors and data is a whole other challenge. This book however does a great job at explaining all of the different dashboards, badges, and metrics that vCOPs collects in an easy, real world fashion.

Lauren doesn't just stop at that.  The remainder of the book takes you through step by step how to configure everything and anything that vCOPs has to offer including the various reports, what-if scenarios, Log Insight, vCenter Infrastructure Manager and vCenter Configuration Manager.   Aside from the core vCOPs components Lauren also delves into the configuration and setup of some popular vCOPs plug-ins; Horizon View and EMC Analytics.

To me though, the real gem I got out of this book was how to use vCOPs to troubleshoot different real world scenarios. Things such as capacity planning, VM/Host performance, network performance; they are all covered in this book.   You can definitely see how Lauren's career as a consultant shines through in this book by the methodologies and processes she uses to begin troubleshooting.  The vCenter Operations Suite is a very large collection of some complex applications, all collecting thousands of metrics.  This book is key to understanding just what the data means that vCOPs displays, as well as how to best use it in your day to day job to plan, analyze and troubleshoot issues as they occur.  I would recommend this book to anyone using vCOPs or simply wanting to learn more about vCOPs.  If you are interested, check out the books landing page on Packt, where you will find all the links to your preferred book seller.

VCP now coming with an expiry date

vcp-expiredJust as you check the expiry on a carton of milk, employers will now have to be keen on checking the expiry of the VMware Certified Profession (VCP) holders they are seeking to employ.  Effective March 10, VMware will begin expiring all of their current and any new VMware Certified Professionals, granting them a period of two years to re-certify in order to maintain their VCP status.

VCP recertification can be achieved in a few different ways; the first being simply take the newest VCP certification in your current track.  Alternatively by achieving VCP status in another solution track can also re-certify your current VCP.  Lastly, achieving the next level VCAP certification will in turn recertify your VCP status.  So, what does all this mean.  Let’s take a look an example of each recertification option

  1. A VCP4-DCV certification is set to expire in 2015.  By passing the requirements for the VCP5-DCV, the VCP-DCV status will be extended 2 years from the the completion date of the VCP5-DCV
  2. A VCP4-DCV certification is set to expire in 2015.  By passing the requirements for the VCP5-Cloud, both the VCP-DCV and the VCP-Cloud certification status will be extended 2 years from the completion date of the VCP5-Cloud.
  3. A VCP4-DCV certification is set to expire in 2014.  By completing the VCAP5-DCA, the VCP-DCV certification status will be extended 2 years from the completion of the VCAP5-DCA.

Hey, it's not as bad as I initially thought…

Honestly I feel that this is a good change from VMware’s part.  Past practice has shown that VMware will release a new version of their flagship hypervisor every year around VMworld.  Recertification allows the certification to maintain credibility, ensuring that any VCP holder is at least certified under one of the latest two releases.  In the past, VMware has given a grace period to VCP holders, allowing them a period of time where they can upgrade to the most current VCP status, without having to partake in any required training classes.  This grace period was most certainly not 2 years, so recertifying on new versions of the VCP, in my opinion, just got a bit easier.

Just don't forget to get new milk…

Failing to recertify within the two years however will essentially result in all access being stripped from the VCP portal, and the rights to market yourself as a VCP and usage the VCP logos will be be revoked.  At this point, anyone looking to recertify will need to start from square one.  Meaning you will not only need to pass the most current exam again, but you will have to obtain a credit in one of the mandatory classes as well – not a very cost effective solution.

Any change to certifications is always a touchy subject through tech communities so it will be entertaining none the less to see how this one plays out.  That said, by setting a two year/no training grace period, it appears as if VMware has just made it easier for those VCP’s who wish to recertify on a more current version to do so.  Also, the change will help to ensure that those that are VCP’s, are at the very least certified within the last two years adding credibility and proficiency to anyone who calls them self a VCP.  This, along with the recent addition of the VCA certification, seems like another response to the community uproar over the mandatory training requirements inside of the VCP certification.

VCP expiry dates are now live within the mylearn portal.  Just note that the dates displayed do not reflect those that have essentially already met the recertification requirements by complaining a VCAP level exam.  This functionality is expected to roll into the portal in the near future.

Friday Shorts – Infinio Lab License, @VMPete iSCSI and #VFD3

This guy is either gonna think 'Hear's another kid with a fake ID' or 'Here's McLovin, a 25 year-old Hawaiin organ donor.'  –  Evan (Michael Cera) from Superbad

To Infinio and beyond – all the way to your lab!

infinio_logoIf you haven't heard of Infinio then you should definitely check them out.  They have a cool way of accelerating your NAS storage utilizing none other than your RAM.  And there is no better way to evaluate and figure out just how cool this tech is than to stick it in your lab and spin the tires; Infinio is allowing us to do just that.  With the release of Infinio Accelerator 1.2, along with adding support for ESXi 5.5 Infinio is offering up free fully functional lisences for use within home labs.  Simply fill out the survey to get yours – **Note – if you are worried about Infinio making any crazy changes to your environment have no fear – it's easily removed with the click of one button, which to me, insinuates total confidence in the product.

Converting in-guest iSCSI to VMDK.

virtuallangerPete Koehler has a great guest post over on Jason Langers blog dealing with the many ways to convert your in-guest iSCSI volumes over to native VMDK's.  He provides three different options for you to use; VMware Converter, rsync, and a neat little RDM/Storage vMotion trick.  This is definitely a handy little post to bookmark if you are planning to finally move away from in-guest iSCSI to take advantage of the benefits and glory that is native VMDK.

Virtualization Field Day 3

VFD3-Group-Photo-400If you aren't aware (Where have you been?), Stephen Foskett has kicked off the awesomeness that is VIrtualization Field Day.  We have already seen some great presentations from some cool tech like CloudPhysics, Pure Storage, Atlantis Computing, and Coho Data and there is more going on today!  If you aren't familiar with the "field day" events they are basically a venue where vendors have the opportunity to get in front of some smart and influential technologists to give their pitch in a very technical matter.  The technologists have the opportunity to sort through any FUD and get the deep details of how products work.  It's a super way to get the message out on a particular product and I trust the venue very much in my decision making in my day to day job.  Also, fellow Toronto VMUG Leader Eric Wright has been chosen as a delegate for VFD3 and I'm super excited to hear his take on everything.  Anyways, you most certainly should be watching.  You can check out the live stream here!

MacGyver and the VMware community

paperclip-bentWhen I was a kid I was somewhat of a MacGyver freak. I used to watch the show regularly and was always interested in how old Mac would get himself out of the next jam. Anyways, ever since I've put xbmc on my raspberry pi ( thanks Simplivity) I've resurrected the MacGyver in my life and have started watching some reruns. One could maybe chalk this up to the break in the NHL ( thanks Sochi) or maybe it's just the stellar acting *sarcasm* of Richard Dean Anderson that has led the paper clip bamboo airplane making man back into my life. Whatever the answer I have quite the different outlook on the show then I did when I was 10

You are my Swiss Army Knife!

swiss_army_knifeI'm constantly looking for ways to metaphorically compare everyday life to IT. I guess you can thank the Geek Whisperers for that habit! So when I see MacGyver pull out that Swiss Army knife of his and turn a candle into a harpoon I can't help think about how it relates to my experiences in my day job. Day in day out I'm constantly faced with new challenges. Whether I need to adapt and learn about something new or figure out how to fix something that's broke, not a day goes by that I don't have to learn. So this is where the metaphor comes into play.  In a way the VMware community is my Swiss Army knife. There have been many a time where I've had to use this knife in order to get myself out of a bind or better the environment I work on by leveraging the many blogs, scripts, tips and tricks that the VMware community provides.

So just as MacGyver does, I use the resources available to me to get the job done, be it a chocolate bar to stop an acid leak or a blog post to configure and SSO database.  Sometimes you need to get creative and use bits and pieces from a few different resources, and sometimes it's not the most robust or permanent solution, but all in all, it gets the job done.

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So, chalk this post up to me simply wanting talk about MacGyver, or consider it an opportunity for me to thank the VMware community for all the help over the years.  Hey, it also provides me with a great excuse to post some sweet mullet pictures.  Either way I need to get back to my show πŸ™‚