Tag Archives: Community

Top vBlog voting is underway

The shear amount of blogs listed over on Eric Siebert’s vLaunchpad is simply amazing!  I don’t know how many there is listed there – but there is certainly a lot of scrolling that needs to happen in order to get to the bottom – it’s awesome to see just how much information is being shared with each other from the virtualization community!  Props to everyone for that!  And props to Eric – I sometimes struggle with setting up links within my blog posts, let alone tracking the RSS and twitter profiles of all of those blogs/bloggers.  Every year Eric keeps this list up to date – ensuring blogs are current, active, and categorized – all with the intentions of hosting the annual Top vBlog voting!

Well – that time is now.  It’s time to go and show your support for the blogs, news sites, and podcasts out there that help guide you through your daily job or spark your interests into new technologies.

This year we see some changes for the better to the contest – firstly, blogs with 10 posts or less during 2016 will not be listed on the ballot – ensuring that we are only voting for those who put forth the time and effort of releasing content.  Secondly, pubic voting will not be the sole measurement in the ranking of the blogs.  Sure, your opinion will still hold the majority of the ranking at 80%, however the remaining 20% will be split between the number of posts published on the blog, along with the Google PageSpeed score of the blog – forcing bloggers to sharpen up their web hosting skills and try and optimize their site.

So with that – if you have found a blog post particularly useful through out the year or enjoyed reading a particular community members blog – go and vote and support them!  In all honesty, it’s not as if there is a massive prize or anything at the end, but I can say, as a blogger, I enjoy looking at the results and seeing where people have ranked, as well as where I rank among them!  For me, it’s a humbling experience to even be listed!  So big thanks to Eric for tallying up all these votes and handling all of the category submissions and everything!  I know that it’s not for the faint of heart!  And also, huge thanks to Turbonomic for supporting the Top vBlog this year!  If you are looking to right size your environment, migrate to cloud, or simply get the most bang for your buck no matter where your workloads live I would recommend checking out what Turbonomic has to offer!  And, when you are done, go vote & Make Virtualization Great Again!

Did you know there is a Veeam User Group?

vuglogorevLike most of you I’ve been attending VMUGs for quite a while now and over the last few years I’ve helping out by co-leading the Toronto chapter.  Each and every one I attend I always get some value out of it – whether it’s from presenting sponsors, talking with peers, or just creepily listening to conversations from the corner – one of the challenges we seem to have is getting the “conversation” going – getting those customers and community members sitting in the audience to voice their opinion or even at times get up and do a presentation on something.  For our last meeting I reached out to Matt Crape (@MattThatITGuy) to see if he might be interested in presenting – Matt was quick to simply say yes – yes, but on one condition – do I want to come and present at his Veeam User Group?  So, with that a deal was cut and I headed out this morning to my first Veeam User Group.

Veeam User Group – VMUG with out the ‘M’

Matt runs the Southwest Ontario Veeam User Group (SWOVUG) – I’ve seen the tweets and blogs around the SWOVUG events taking place, and have always wanted to attend but something always seemed to get in the way – for those that know me I’m a huge Veeam user and fan – so these events are right up my alley.  So, I did the early morning thing again, battled the dreaded Toronto traffic and headed up to Mississauga for the day to check it out.

The layout of the meeting is somewhat similar to a VMUG meeting we have – two companies kindly supported the event; HPE and Mid-Range – and in return got the chance to speak.  HPE started with a short but good talk around their products that integrate with Veeam; mainly 3PAR, StoreOnce and StoreVirtual.  They also touched on HP OneView and the fact that they are laser focused on providing API entry points into all their products.

I’m glad HPE didn’t go too deep into the 3PAR integrations as I was up next and my talking points were around just that.  I simply outlined how my day job is benefiting from those said integrations; more specifically the Backup from Storage Snapshot, Restore from Storage Snapshot and On-Demand Sandbox for Storage Snapshots features.

After a quick, but super tasty lunch (Insert Justin Warren disclaimer post here) Mid-Range took the stage  Mid-Range is a local Veeam Cloud Connect partner offering DRaaS and a ton of other services around that.    Mid-Range did more than simply talk about the services they provide – they more-so went into the challenges and roadblocks of consuming disaster recovery as a service, then touched briefly on how Veeam and themselves could help solve some of those…

Finally to cap the day off we had David Sayavong, a local Veeam SE take the stage to talk to us about “What’s new in version 9.5?”.  David’s presentation was not just him up there flipping through slides of features, but more of a conversation around certain features such as ReFS integration and how all of the new Veeam Agents will come into play.  Just a fun fact for the day – the audience was asked who had already upgraded to 9.5 – and honestly around 1/3 of the room raised their hands.  That’s 33% that have already upgraded to a product that just GA’ed only 7 days ago – talk about instilling confidence in your customers.

Anyways I wanted to breifly outline the day for those that may be thinking of attending like I was, but haven’t yet set aside the time to do so.

But there’s more…

I mentioned at the beginning of the post that there is always struggles with getting people to “speak up” – this didn’t seem to be the case at the Veeam User Group.  I’m not sure what it was but conversations seemed to be flying all over the place – for instance, after I was done talking about the integration with 3PAR there was a big conversation that started around Ransomware and security.    Each presentation seemed more like a round table discussion than a sales pitch.  It truly was a great day with lots of interaction from the both the presenting companies and the audience – everything you want from user group.

The user group intrigued me – and maybe some day I’ll through my name in to try and get something started up on “my side of Toronto” – it’s Canada right – there’s only a handful of IT guys here so everything east of Toronto is mine Smile  For more information about the Veeam User Groups keep an eye out on the Veeam Events page and @veeamug on Twitter!  And to keep track of the SWOVUG dates I suggest following @MattThatITGuy and watching the swovug.ca site!  Good job Matt and team on a great day for all!

How the Friday Shorts posts come to be

I’m always looking for a way to automate things – whether it be in my work life, personal life, home life, or even my blog life – when I first started to do Friday Shorts, an initiative for me to share out some blogs and articles that sparked my interest it was a manual process.  There was a lot of “Who wrote that article again?, What site was that again?, Where’s that link I emailed?” going on in my head and even though it was only a handful of links it was still a lot of work.   Now I had already automated my sharing of links out to Twitter (needs an update BTW, oauth1 depreciated in Google Script now – another post) and for the most part I’ve found that the articles I chose for Friday Shorts are the same as the ones I share out.   So with all that said I set out to automate a process that would at the very least get a draft of a Friday Shorts article into this blog – and this is what I’ve come up with.

So in order to do this I’ve utilized four different services; Google Drive/Scripts, IFTTT, Delicious, and WordPress – each playing a key role in the automation.  So the process goes as follows

  • While perusing all the great blogs out there if I find one I feel needs to be included, I quickly use the Delicious toolbar button to create a public bookmark with the ‘FridayShorts’ tag.  Also, while using my RSS reader of choice (Digg) – if I ‘Digg’ a post, IFTTT runs a recipe to automatically create bookmarks of the post with the proper tag.
  • Another IFTTT recipe takes all of my Delicious ‘FridayShorts’ tagged bookmarks, and appends them to a Google Spreadsheet within my Drive account.
  • From there I have a WordPress plugin I’ve developed which essentially connects to a Google Script which parses a spreadsheet – allowing me to select which articles I’d like to include and finally creating a draft WordPress post (Friday Shorts) following a specific template.  The articles which I select are then updated (through the Google Script calls) in order to ensure they aren’t displayed the next time I go through the process.
  • I clean up the post, add some pictures, descriptions, links and whatever and publish it…

So with all that said let’s have a quick look at how each of the components are setup and configured.

IFTTT

If this then that is a great tool for automating almost anything within your life.  For the purposes of creating a Friday Shorts post I have two main recipes which are utilized…  In all honesty recipes on IFTTT are fairly simple to setup so I’ll simply just show the screenshots outlining what they do.

Digg to Delicious
Delicious to Google
DiggToDeliciousIFTTT DelciousToGoogleIFTTT

See – pretty simple to setup – at then end of it all we should be left with a spreadsheet similar to the following…

FridayShortsSpreadsheet

Google Script

Now we have the information that we want sitting inside a Google Spreadsheet – but before we get into the WordPress Plugin we first need to create a Google Script (script.google.com) containing all of the functions and methods which will actually do the work we request from WordPress.  To do so, go to script.google.com and select File-New Project.  This should open up a blank script for you to run with.

Sometimes it’s easier just to see the whole thing first so let’s just lay it out there for you – we can go through some specifics at the end of the script.

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// open up the spreadsheet and set the active sheet.
var files = DriveApp.getFilesByName('FridayShortsLinkCollector');
var file;
while (files.hasNext()) 
{
file = files.next();
Logger.log(file.getName());
}
 
var ss = SpreadsheetApp.open(file);
var sheet = ss.getSheets()[0];
 
// return specific link
function getLink(articleid)
{
var values = sheet.getDataRange().getValues();
var articles = [];
for(var i=0, iLen=values.length; i<iLen; i++) 
{
if(values[i][6] == articleid) 
{
var article = [];
article.push(values[i][6].toString());
article.push(values[i][1].toString());
article.push(values[i][4].toString());
article.push(values[i][0].toString());
article.push(values[i][5].toString());
articles.push(article);
}
}
return articles;
}
 
// return all unprocessed links
function getAllLinks2()
{
var values = sheet.getDataRange().getValues();
var articles = [];
for(var i=0, iLen=values.length; i<iLen; i++) 
{
if(values[i][5] == "0") 
{
var article = [];
article.push(values[i][6].toString());
article.push(values[i][1].toString());
article.push(values[i][4].toString());
article.push(values[i][0].toString());
article.push(values[i][5].toString());
articles.push(article);
}
}
return articles;
}
 
// mark specific link as processed
function markArticleProcessed(articleid)
{
values = sheet.getDataRange().getValues();
 
for(var i=0, iLen=values.length; i<iLen; i++) 
{
if (values[i][6] == articleid)
{
values[i][5] = "1";
}
}
sheet.getDataRange().setValues(values);
}

So, if you are having trouble with my great comments throughout the code (I know, one-line here and there :)) let me try and explain a few things.  First of all, Lines 1 through 11 simply find the Spreadsheet within my Google Drive containing the links, then set the active sheet to the first one.

From there things are a bit more simple – the getLink() function returns an array of one specific article, taking in the articleID (auto genereated number in the spreadsheet) as a paramater.  The getAllLinks2() function returns an array of all of the articles within the spreadsheet (so long as their 5th cell (or processed as I call it) contains a value of 0.  The markArticleProcessed() function takes in a specific articleID as a parameter, and simply changes it’s 5th cell to a 1 – meaning it has been processed by a Friday Shorts article.

GoogleDeployAPIThat’s it for Google code but there are a few other things that you will need to do in order to make your script available for use by the WordPress plugin.  First off, select ‘Publish->Deploy as API executable”  Be sure to select “New” under the version (you will need to do this upon making any changes to the code) and make note of the API ID – we will need this for the PHP calls in WordPress.  Go ahead and click ‘Update’ when ready!

Secondly we need to open up some API’s within Google in order to allow the script to access your Google Drive content.  This is done in the developers console.  The easiest way I’ve found to get to the place we need to be is by selecting Resources->Developer Console Project.  If you haven’t already you will have to give your project a name and save it.  Once that is done simply click the link shown to go the scripts associated project.

DevelopersConsoleLink

The two APIs that we will need to open up for this project are the Drive API and the Google Apps Script Execution API (as shown below).  From the Dashboard select ‘Enable APIs and get credentials like keys”.  From there you should immidiately see the Drive API, but may have to search for the Script Execution API.  Either way, in the end you need to have them enabled as shown below…

APIsEnabled

From here move down to the Credentials section.  We need to create credentials to allow WordPress to access our Google content.  To do so select ‘New Credentials’ and then ‘Oauth Client ID’ as the type.  When presented with the application type chose ‘Web Application’, give it a name, and set the proper redirect URLs.  This can get tricky and will certainly change given your setup but my working setup is shown below.

redirectURIs

As you can see I’ve entered quite a few redirect URIs – not sure if I need them all but it works this way.  Also, make note of your Client ID and Secret – put it in the same place as your Script/API Id as we will need all of this for the WordPress Plugin.  For now, we are done with Google 🙂

The WordPress Plugin

I don’t want to go too deep into the specifics of how to create WordPress Plugins – partly because there is a lot too cover – too much for a this post, oh, and partly because I have no idea about 99% of it.  I simply fiddled until I got what I needed to work.  Again, let me simply just lay out some code and explain what it does – I’ll leave the fine details of the structure of WordPress Plugins to someone else.

folderstructure

As for my plugin there are really only 5 components to it..

  • The Google PHP SDK – download it here
  • fridayshorts.php – this is the main plugin page
  • fridayshorts-functions.php – this is a page containing all of the function calls to the Google Script
  • options.php – this page contains a means to setup the options for the plugin (the Script ID, Client ID and Client Secret)
  • js – some Javascript for checking boxes and stuff 🙂

Due to the fact that there is probably a few hundred lines of code within the plugin itself I’m not going to throw it all out there – instead I’ll just put up a few examples of how I call the Script Execution API from within the PHP code.

First up we need to import the PHP SDK for Google declare some variables – I’ve stored my client id and secret (from the Google section above) in a wordpress option – so to recall these we simply just need to do the following…

require_once 'Google/autoload.php';
 
$client_id = get_option('fsGoogleClientID');
$client_secret = get_option('fsGoogleClientSecret');
$redirect_uri = get_option('fsGoogleRedirectURI');

Now that we have this information we can start setting up the objects we need to interact with our Google script as shown below, storing everything we need in the client object.  As you can see I’ve also specified the scopes in which the API requests will fall under.

$scriptId = get_option('fsGoogleScriptID');
$client = new Google_Client();
$client->setApplicationName("Process Friday Shorts");
$client->setClientId($client_id);
$client->setClientSecret($client_secret);
$client->setRedirectUri($redirect_uri);
$client->setScopes(array('https://www.googleapis.com/auth/drive','https://spreadsheets.google.com/feeds','https://www.googleapis.com/auth/spreadsheets'));
$client->setAccessType('offline'); // Gets us our refreshtoken

As far as processing one of the functions in the Google script that can be done as shown below.  I’ve also shown the code I use to display data on my plugin pages so you can sort of visualize what is happening.  The function getAllLinks is passwed through the setFunction function (alot of function in there :)) and you can see how I go about parsing the response back from the API call to build out an HTML table containing data from my spreadsheet.

function getAllLinks()
{
global $client,$scriptId;
$client->setAccessToken($_SESSION[‘token’]);
$service = new Google_Service_Script($client);
$request = new Google_Service_Script_ExecutionRequest();
$request->setFunction(‘getAllLinks’);
$response = $service->scripts->run($scriptId, $request);
$resp = $response->getResponse();
$articles = $resp[‘result’];

//build html table and return
$content = ‘<table width=”98%” bgcolor=”white”><TR><TD><input type=”checkbox” onchange=”fridayshorts_links_checkall(this)” name=”checkAll” value=”all”></TD><TD><B>Title</B></TD></TR>’;
foreach ($articles as $article)
{
$content .= ‘<TR><TD><input type=”checkbox” name=”art[]” value=”‘.$article.'”></TD><TD>’.$article.'</TD></TR>’;
}
$content .= ‘</TABLE>’;
return $content;

}

Anyways, enough with the php code – if you are in dire need of it just let me know and I’ll send it to you – way to boring to go through it all line by line.  In the end though I’m left with nice little GUI that allows me to select which items I’d like to include in my Friday Shorts post as shown below…

fridayshortsplugin

Once I’ve selected which posts I’d like to include within my new Friday Shorts post I can go ahead and click Create Draft.  What happens then is a new draft is created within WordPress in a format that I specified for my Friday Shorts posts.  The code to do so is as follows

$my_post = array(
'post_content' => $content,
'post_title' => "Friday Shorts",
'post_status' => 'draft',
'tags_input' => 'Friday Shorts'
);
$post_id = wp_insert_post( $my_post, true );

Additionaly, remember that markArticleProcessed function within our Google Script – it’s called as well, passing the parameter of each link as it loops over them and sending that id back to the Google Script using the setParameters function on the request object – as follows…

function markArticleProcessed($articleid)
{
global $client,$scriptId;
$client->setAccessToken($_SESSION['token']);
$service = new Google_Service_Script($client);
$request = new Google_Service_Script_ExecutionRequest();
$request->setFunction('markArticleProcessed');
$request->setParameters($articleid);
$response = $service->scripts->run($scriptId, $request);
$resp = $response->getResponse();
$article = $resp['result'];
 
return;
 
}

So now you know just how far I will go in order to maintain my comfort level of laziness – honestly, automation is key in my life and anything I can automate means more time for creativity!  Again, I’m sorry I couldn’t go deeper into the PHP/Wordpress plugin development – it would just be one heaping pile of code on a page that makes no sense – but if you are interested definitely get in touch with me and I will send it along!  Anyways, thanks for reading thus far and I hope this post helps you in some way automate something of your own!

Friday Shorts – #TOVMUG, Ravello, Veeam Vanguard, vExpert and more…

Doughnuts!  I told you I don’t like ethnic food! – Mr Burns, The Simpsons

This edition of Friday Shorts isn’t really going to be that short at all – It’s been a while since I’ve done one and there is a ton of content out there that I wanted to re-share for people so buckle up, here it is!

2016 Toronto VMUG UserCon !

tovmugThursday, February 25th marked the date for the 2016 Toronto VMUG Full Day UserCon and I couldn’t be happier as to how it turned out!  Honestly, as a leader I was interested the whole day about how many attendees we had and as it turned out we had our best year ever with 800+ registrations and 605 brains that walked through the doors!  Last year we had 601 and I’m sure it would have been more for this year but you know, Canadian winters eh!  We had Nick Marshall do the morning keynote and his talk was awesome – I heard nothing but good things from the attendees in regards to the content Nick had to talk about (BTW it was dubbed Building your IT Career)  If you get a chance to have Nick out for your VMUG do so!  He’s awesome!  For our lunchtime keynote we had a VCDX panel – Tim Antonowitz, James Wirth, Joe Silvagi and Eiad Al-Aqqad graciously volunteered to sit up on stage as we had some great discussion with the attendees at the conference from everything dealing with certification through to NSX integration!  All in all it was a great day and if you were there I hope you enjoyed it – if you weren’t, come next year!

What does Docker, vExpert, Ravello and Netflix have in common?

@h0bbel that’s what!  More explanation – well, Christian is a vExpert, vExperts get some free CPU hours on Ravello Systems (Ravello is awesome BTW – be nice Oracle!), and he has a great post on his blog on how to setup Dockerflix within Ravello on Photon in order to test (get around) those geo-blocking Netflix firewall “you can’t watch this” setups!   So if you are say a vExpert blogger that lives in Canada that really fancies yourself a couple of hours of Legally Blonde I suggest you set the Maple Syrup ladle down and head over to Christians post!.

Speaking of Ravello – How’s about some community cmdlets?

PowerShell-LogoAnd when you think of community in the sense of this blurb just think of Luc Dekens being a one-man community!  If you are Ravello user and fancy yourself some PowerShell cmdlets Luc has an updated module on his blog available for download.  Luc has certainly put a lot of effort into this module which contains hooks into almost every single API Ravello offers!  I certainly find this module very useful for my work with Ravello and just want to give Luc a big Thank You for this!

Running commands on the VCSA without SSH

commandlineIf I was being shipped off to a deserted island and could only take with me the RSS feed of one virtualization blog I have to think that as of today that blog would be William Lams virtuallyGhetto!  William just seems really good at figuring things out – is that a line that can go on a resume?  I don’t know, either way, his recent post on how to run commands on the VCSA remotely without enabling ssh is pretty awesome!   He utilizes the Guest Operations API through a vSphere SDK to do so!  Just go read it, it’s gold Jerry, it’s gold!  goes here it is

 #ChrisWahlFacts – He doesn’t mess around when it comes to dropping knowledge about PowerShell and REST APIs

apiOver yonder at WahlNetwork.com Chris Wahl has a great series going on dubbed Automation for Operations – Honestly the whole series is great but its the last 4 parts that have really helped me out…a lot!  Chris has done a great job at explaining a bunch of concepts around utilizing PowerShell to connect to RESTful API’s, including Authentication, Processing GET Requests, Sending data with POST/PUT/PATCH, and his latest, creating hashtables for JSON payloads!

Veeam Vanguard nominations are open!

veeam_vanguard-700x224Ever wake up and think “Hey, Why isn’t so and so a Veeam Vanguard?”  or “Why am I not a Veeam Vanguard?”  Well, so long as you wake up wondering about that before March 30th you have a chance to throw your name or someone whom you think is worthy into the mix!  You can check out the official Veeam post here.

vExpert stuff!

vmware-vexpert-2013We all know that being a vExpert isn’t about what you get, but more about what you give – buuuuutttt, the fact of the matter is you do get stuff, sometimes lots of stuff, and it’s hard to keep track of it all!  Thankfully for the vExpert community Andrea Mauro is doing a great job at keeping track of it all for you!  Without posts like this there is no way I’d be able to keep track of it!  So, Thanks Andrea!

February 25th Toronto VMUG Agenda Finalized

1362963110-TorontoVMUG1-300x79Consider this post what you will – call it self promotion, a plea to get more registrations, an advertisement for the VMUG – it really doesn’t matter.  The truth is I’m just excited about the Toronto VMUG UserCon coming up on Feb 25th and wanted to spread the word about what we have put together on the agenda for the day.  Last years UserCon was a good one – everything went off without a hitch and honestly it will be hard one to top but I think we’ve done a pretty good job…  With that said, before you even read on I’d suggest you register below – then come back!

First up let’s start with the keynote!  We are super pumped this year to bring you Nick Marshall (blog / twitter) from VMware to deliver our morning keynote – from what I can gather Nick will be talking about IT careers and how to develop and elevate your own IT profession.  Judging by past conversations at VMUG events with attendees, and listening to where a lot of the “hallway” conversations end up I think this subject will be a GREAT fit with our Toronto VMUG attendees and I for one am very excited to hear what Nick has to say.   Although Nick works at VMware he’s done a lot of community driven work in his own time, including authoring both the Mastering VMware vSphere 5.5 and Mastering VMware vSphere 6.0 books, along with blogging, helping out with the vBrownBag podcast and playing a big role in AutoLab!  We are pretty lucky to be able to lure him away from Palo Alto and into the -20C temps currently whistling around Toronto!

Last year we had somewhat of an impromptu VCDX panel at the end of the day – although we had some people who had already left there was great discussions around pretty much every “v” topic you can think of!  This year we decided to repeat this, and at the same time move it to a more structured time – so our lunchtime keynote will consist of 4 very, very bright minds!  Tim Antonowitz (VCDX #112), James Wirth (VCDX #83), Joe Silvagi (VCDX #175), and Eiad Al-Aqqad (VCDX #89) will be on hand just after the lunch hour to talk about pretty much anything we want.  And looking at their bios I really can stress the word anything – between the four of them they have a ton of experience in hyperconvergence, storage, performance optimization, SDDC, automation, NSX, Cloud, professional development… – it just goes on and on – be sure to jot your design questions down and don’t miss this!

Our Demo Zone will be in full effect again this year with Daemon Behr (twitter) doing a customer presentation in regards to risk and design!  I always love seeing the community members present and try to encourage as many to do so as we can.  Big thanks to Daemon for stepping up and doing so…

As always we also have a slew of sponsors, vendors, and partners with some awesome content lined up for you as well.  A big thanks to those people because without them we wouldn’t be able to bring you things like toques and stickers!  This year we have presentations lined up from the likes of Brocade, Veeam, EMC, VMTurbo, Cohesity, Dell, Trend Micro, VCE, Zerto, Nutanix, Tintri, Simplivity, Vertias, and Riverbed – I’m sure you can pick a few names out of that list you recognize!  Also, we have VMware slotted for 8 sessions as well – and with the recent announcements you can bet there will be some great content to talk about.

Wait did you say toques?

toqueThe “Virtualization eh” toques will be back again this year so be on the lookout to nab yourself one of those – we will also have a drawing where one lucky attendee will take home a homelab as well as many giftcards, stickers, etc – you know, the usual swag!

So with all that said I hope to see you at the end of the month in Toronto!  As always you can keep up to date with the happenings of the Toronto VMUG by following the @TorontoVMUG account on Twitter and joining in with the #TOVMUG hashtag!

Friday Shorts – Veeam Endpoint Multi-boot, Community Awards, New Pernix UI and more…

It became very clear to me sitting out there today that every decision I’ve made in my entire life has been wrong. My life is the complete opposite of everything I want it to be. Every instinct I have, in every aspect of life, be it something to wear, something to eat – it’s all been wrong. – George Costanza

Multibooting Veeam Endpoint USB

veeam_logoVeeam has a pretty nifty little product in their Endpoint Backup solution.  Honestly just the other day I was wondering if it was still installed on my laptop as I haven’t even noticed it at all – sure enough there it was, quietly doing its’ thing.  Anyways, Vladan Seget has a great article on his blog in regards to creating a multi-boot USB stick w/ the Veeam Endpoint Backup recovery ISO’s on it in order to support various different hardware and laptop flavors!  Something to definitely check out if you manage multiple different hardware platforms and want to use VEB to protect them all!

2016 Vendor Community Awards

There are a ton of community award/recognition programs being run by vendors these days.  It seems like almost everyone is trying to recognized the hard work that community leaders, bloggers, and evangalists alike are putting in to help spread the word about everything tech.  That said, after seeing Andrea Mauro’s post about the programs upcoming for 2016 I realized I didn’t even know about all of them.  If you are interested in applying for a program, or just want to know more about them head over to Andrea’s blog and check it out!

Automate the answering of questions!

There is nothing more enraging than writing a great big long automation script only to find the vSphere client sitting at a prompt waiting for you to answer some kind of stupid question!  I’ve never been able to find a way to work around some of these issues but after seeing Luc Deken’s post in regards to answering the infamous CDROM unmount question I might have a push in the right direction!  Anyone dealing with automation and PowerCLI should really be following Luc and certainly check out his blog!

Testing JSON Syntax!

When dealing with a lot of API calls, especially when trying to form your own body for one it can sometimes be a little monotenous trying to find an error or test certain JSON syntax that you may have created.  Jonathan Medd has a great blog dealing with all that is PowerShell and his latest Quick Tip, Testing JSON Syntax walks us through a quick and easy way to make sure that none of our JSON is malformed – and if it is how to quickly find out where the problem lies!

While we are talking about automation!

Sometimes I wish I had more time to spend within the VMware Hands on Labs environment – there is a ton of cool technology up there available to play with absolutely free of charge!  I’ve done a dozen or so labs in my time, mostly centering around newly released products or things that spark my interest.  What I didn’t know of is that there are labs there centered around VMware’s development tools and their respective SDK’s.   I really need to set aside a few hours to have a look at these as it’s something I struggle through everytime I attempt to utilize them!

PernixData and their new UI

PernixData_Logo_ColorI have always been a fan of products with a clean, crisp, usable UI.  I like whitespace and I like intuition and when attending Tech Field Day presentations it’s always the first thing I see and really sets the stage for the whole presentation!  I saw Pernix at VFD5 along with their newly redesigned UI and it did not dissapoint!  Pete Koehler (@vmpete) has a great post on his blog covering almost everything there is to know about the new PernixData UI – why they went there, what it involves, and what are some of the goodies to really focus on!  If you are a fan of Pernix, or simply a fan of creating beautiful interfaces check out Pete’s post!

Embedded to External, External to Embbeded – It’s all possible now!

VMware LogoFor those that made the jump to vSphere 6 before Update 1 was released you may have noticed some odd and annoying limitations during the upgrade – the first being their was no “supported” way to upgrade directly from 5.5 embedded SSO to a 6.0 external PSC.  You had to first break out your 5.5 SSO to another box and then proceed with the upgrade – it was just a big PIA to tell you the truth.  Along with Update 1 came some tools that allow us to simply repoint and reconfigure our vCenter Servers to new PSC’s, which essentially allow us to perform the embedded upgrade and then repoint to a newly installed external PSC – a welcome addition!  If you want to learn more there is a great post by Ryan Johnson on the vSphere blog outlining all of the scenarios and commands you need to run to repoint and reconfig!

Disclose all the things!

allthethingsThere are few things in this world that amuse me to the level that Justin Warren’s disclosure posts do and his latest in regards to VMworld 2015 does the trick just the same!  Justin is a great writer and I follow his blog religiously – he has lots of excellent posts is a very smart man with an interesting take on everything – including disclosures!  Justin spares no attention to detail in these types of posts with disclosures of food (” Some nice roast chicken and vegetables from somewhere local paired with Diet Coke. There was pie, but I had a cookie instead”) and schwag (“EVO:RAIL threw a cap at me, and I grabbed some stickers, one of which is on my laptop. The cap will go into the cap drawer because my wife says I’m not allowed to wear baseball caps.”) alike!!!  Aside from these being incredibly amusing it does have an impact on you – just think of all the small, little things that you receive during a conference and how they may influence you!

Friday Shorts – #VMUG, nmcli, All flash VSAN, Altaro and more…

Why hello there – it’s been a while – It’s been a busy couple of months with work, conferences and home life and blogging has been put on the back burner for a bit.  I mean hey, I live in Canada and I need to get ready for the winter eh!  It’s a “Game of Thrones” winter around here!  Fear not over the past couple of months I’ve been doing some awesome things with Ravello, with a vSphere 6 upgrade, and some other awesome automation and orchestration stuff so I have a lot of posts filed under the idea category – so there is no lack of content to be written!  All that said for now let’s just have a look at some great community posts.

More advantage to the VMUG advantage

vmugVMUG Advantage has many benefits including free NFR software evals, discounted training, certification, and conference fees, discount codes for software and labs and more – but now we can add one more item to that list.  As of now VMUG is offering $600 of service credit with vCloud Air OnDemand.  I’ve reviewed vCloud Air OnDemand and can say that $600 is more than enough to get you in there and playing around for the year!  This is yet another great benefit to the VMUG Advantage program so if you haven’t bought it – do it!

Unexpected Signal: 11

VMware LogoDid you jump to get vSphere 5.5 Update 3 installed and running in your environment?  If so you might want to check out this VMware KB which outlines that the snapshot consolidation process may cause your VMs to fail with the above, well descripted, error message Smile  Sorry, nothing funny about if you are running any backup solution that may utilizing the VADP to free up disks for processing!   Anyways, downgrade, power off VMs and consolidate, or redeploy 5.5 are your resolution options for now!

Linux Networking through vRO

vmware-vcenter-orchestrator-vco-logo-150x150If you love vRO and automation and you don’t follow the vCOTeam blog then you should, do that first before continuing any further.  There, now that that’s out of the way have a look at this very detailed post in regards to configuring networking with Linux using nmcli, or better yet doing the whole thing through a vRO workflow – Awesome stuff!

All Flash VSAN in the homelab

tier-whatJason Langer (@jaslanger) has a great article about spinning (err flashing) up an All Flash VSAN setup in his homelab – showing you both the hard and the easy way this is a great guide for those looking to test out AF VSAN in their spare time (you know, when you aren’t building lego and what not Smile)

Rubrik and vRealize Orchestrator

rubrik_press_bg1Well, if you are a Rubrik customer and you are a vRO lover then I suggest you head over to Eric Shanks’ blog as he (and Nick Colyer) has a slew of blog posts related to vRO and Rubrik and how to do just about anything utilizing the API’s that Rubrik provides.

Speaking of backup – Altaro is now on the scene

altaro-vm-backup-500x257There’s a new player in the backup space when looking at protecting VMware virtual machines!  I had a chance to sit on the beta for the Altaro VMware backup and albeit I didn’t have a lot of time to check it all out I did get it installed and configured some backups and liked what I saw!  There have been a lot of community reviews of their software and first impressions are very positive – anyways, all the data protection junkies can check them out here.

As of today I shall be referred to as Vanguard!

veeam_vanguard-700x224

I’m super excited today to finally announce that I’ve been selected to be a part of the newly announced Veeam Vanguard program!  Now I’ve been a vExpert a handful of times now, however was never involved during the early years of the program – so to be part of a community recognition program like the Vanguard right from the get go is a pretty cool honour and something I’m really looking forward to.  As for what the Vanguard program is and how it works, I’ll leave you to the Rickatron’s article published earlier today!

Veeam has always been a company that’s been near and dear to me – they were really one of the reason’s I started blogging here in the first place – to help share some of the experiences I had while using their software!  They were my first sponsor of this blog and have been around the whole time I’ve been engaged with the virtualization community!

Congrats to the other original nominees and the more that there is to come!  It’s really cool to see all of the countries represented on the Vanguard page – it truly is a global program!  I excited to see how this program grows and how it all pans out!  Also being able to call myself a Vanguard is pretty cool, in a midevil warfare kind of way!

Lobstah, Chowdah, and Virtualization Field Dah – Here I come #VFD5

VFD-Logo-400x398Boston is known for many things – as the title suggests they have their lobstah and chowdah, the infamous and tasty Boston cream donut (don’t know if that’s an actual Boston thing but it is at Tim Hortons) – outside of food they have the New Kids on the Block (don’t ask how I know, wait, I mean, I don’t know anything about them 🙂 ).  They have the perhaps the biggest rivalry in the NHL with my beloved Habs having played the Bruins over 350 times.  Aside from all this perhaps the biggest thing they are known for, or soon will be, is that they are the host of Virtualization Field Day 5 – and lucky for me I’ll be there to see it all go down live!

If you haven’t had the chance to check out one of the Tech Field Day events then you should probably peruse over to the their site and have a look at all the resources they have to offer.  I really like the format of these events, essentially stuffing vendors and delegates into a room together to have a deep, technical discussion about their product or offering.  The action is streamed live and the back channel on Twitter is a lot of the time just as, if not more amazing then the discussion in the room.

I was lucky to be chosen as a delegate for Virtualization Field Day 4 in Austin and placed all my content on my VFD4 event roundup here.  When approached with the opportunity to follow it up with VFD5 in Boston (I know, Boston/Austin – neat) I jumped on it.  If you have a look at the sponsors below I think you might see why…

DataGravity_392x652-wpcf_100x17 logo-wpcf_100x21 logo1
med-vert-notag-wpcf_93x60 PernixData_Logo_Color v2Ravello_Logo_large-wpcf_100x27
logo-large-gray-wpcf_100x48 Scale_Logo_High_Res-wpcf_100x38 VMTurboLogoSm

See what I mean – there is definitely some great tech backing up all those logos and I can’t wait to hear more about it!

Sure you get to hear from each vendor for a few hours and that’s exciting, but what really makes your Tech Field Day experience is all of the delegates (and of course Stephen, Tom and Claire).  You are in a room for 8 hours a day with these people, being rushed in and out of offices and cars – you get to know each other pretty well.   Without further ado the VFD5 delegates are Alistair Cooke (@DemitasseNZ), Amy Manley (@WyrdGirl), Bob Plankers (@Plankers), Chris Marget (@ChrisMarget), Chris Wahl (@ChrisWahl), Eric Shanks (@Eric_Shanks), Ethan Banks (@ECBanks), Justin Paul (@recklessop), Luc Dekens (@LucD22), Sean Massey (@SeanPMassey), Vladen Seget (@Vladan) and myself.  That is for sure a smart group of people and I’m excited to get rushed around like cattle with them :).

And of course the Tech Field Day events couldn’t be made possible with the countless hours of work put in by Stephen Foskett and the whole crew at GestaltIT – honestly they treat you like gold while you are there and it’s quite a humbling experience.

I suppose I should leave it at that as June 24th is not that far away, although I’m sure it will feel like an eternity.  I’ll just have to take it step by step and hang tough for the next few weeks (see what I did there, ugh!).  Watch this space as it is where I will post all of my #VFD5 related material – See yah in Bawston!

Huh?

Huh?

What does VMTurbo, Starwind, Unitrends and the Habs have in common? Friday shorts that’s what!

And another installment of Friday Shorts – a spot for me to share some awesomeness I’ve found on the interwebs, upcoming events and info from some awesome blog sponsors, and just random thoughts around events and news that might not quite fit within the niche of this blog – basically a mashup of my brain!

First up – free passes to VMworld

VMTurboLogoSmVMworld is sneaking up faster than you think!  Have you got your conference pass yet?  If not why not help ease the pain on your company by letting VMTurbo pick up the conference pass for you?  Along with ensuring performance and maximizing efficiency in your data center the folks at VMTurbo are doing their best put a full VMworld US conference pass in the hands of three people – you can sign up here and the drawings for the three passes take place on May 29th, June 19th, and July 10th!  Good luck!

More freebies from Unitrends

unitrendsSo VMTurbo has you covered for the conference pass how’s about getting a little money to help cover the travel costs from Unitrends (trust me you will need it – the prices of hotels are crazy this year in San Fran).  Just this week Unitrends released Unitrends Free – a completely free, full featured backup solution for up to 1TB of data – I reviewed it here if you missed it!  Anyways, asides from putting a completely free backup product into your lab or data center Unitrends has a gig going right now where you can win a $1500 Visa Giftcard, just for downloading and registering FREE software.  You have till the end of June on this one so best get signed up!

Upcoming Starwind webinar

starwind_softwareStarwind Software, a long time mwpreston.net sponsor and creator of Starwind Virtual SAN have a webinar coming up on May 20 titled Snapshots vs Replication – chosing the right data protection strategy, presented by Chris Evans. If your interested I definitely recommend checking it out as making the choice between snapshots and replication and/or both are key in developing a fool proof data protection strategy!  Also, if you haven’t checked out Starwind Virtual SAN I would take a look at it as well.  I’ve used their free version in the lab numerous times for different projects!

EMC virtual VNX

EMC-LogoConference season is among us and with that comes a slew of releases and announcements.  One that caught my attention coming out of EMCworld was the release of a community edition of the VNXe software.  Shipped as an OVA you can simply load it into your environment and get the functionality and software stack of a VNXe, but without the dedicated storage hardware and controllers.  I love messing around with all different types of storage and VSA’s in the lab so I’ll for sure be looking at this a little closer!

Au reviour les habitants

priceAnd last but not least, and certainly the saddest news of the week is the second round exit from the Stanley Cup playoffs for my beloved habs!  Honestly the bleu, blanc, et rouge had a great season, picking up 110 points and finishing 2nd overall in the eastern conference.  Their goalie, Carey Price had a career year – picking up nominations for both the Hart (League MVP) and Vezina (Best Goalie), and more than likely will take both these trophies home this summer.  That said expectations around hockey in Montreal are high and a second round exit overshadows all the success that they had!  Anyways we know Carey probably doesn’t care about those two trophies and is now out of the running for the only one he wanted.  All that said the Habs have a great core, and they are young – so hopefully we see improvements for years to come – they will need to pick up another top 6 forward though if they want to go anywhere in the post season!  At the end, they are now on the links and hopefully that means a little more time for me to work on this blog 🙂  Au revoir! Ole!

Unitrends Free equals Free Unitrends!

Recently Unitrends have released a free product cleverly titled Unitrends Free.  The product, which is unlimited in terms of VMs, sockets, scheduling will allow members of the Unitrends community to protect 1TB of VMs absolutely free, forever!  I had the chance to get on the beta for this product and loved every bit of it.  It’s a great product with a beautiful UI – and given the price (FREE) I would certainly recommend you give Unitrends Free a shot to see if you have a place for it.

Installation

Installation of Unitrends Free is a breeze – after meeting a couple of requirements in terms of .net 3.5 and 4.0 configurations you simply point the installer to either and ESXi host or vCenter server within your environment – from there you specify desired storage locations and IP information for your Unitrends appliance.  You can also chose to size your backup storage at this point – allowing you to add a disk to the appliance.

Installations storage

From there the magic of automation takes over as your Unitrends Free appliance ovf is deployed, powered on, network configured, virtual disk for backup storage is added and finally a browser is opened putting you directly into a configuration wizard where items such as NTP, SMTP, hostname, and root passwords are setup.

installwizard

Once completed we move directly into the newly redesigned Unitrends Free user interface.

Speaking of UI

Wow!  They say that first impressions count and this one really did with me.  I love the design and intuitiveness of this user interface.  It’s very clean, lots of whitespace, and very very easy to use.  The default dashboard makes it easy to see all the important aspects about  the health of your backup environment; the performance and speed, the unprotected VMs, any active jobs as well as the status and capacity of your storage.  To top that if you are a member of the Unitrends Community forum you can see to the top posts here as well (which is where support for the product is provided BTW).  All of this, on one single section of the UI.

UnitrendsUI[1]

Getting up and running

addvCenter[4]Pretty is definitely a selling factor but functionality is key  There are only a few things you need to do to get running with UF.  First, we simply need to add our vCenter server or ESXi host as what Unitrends calls a ‘Protected Asset’.  This is done on the ‘Protected Assets’ tab inside of the ‘Configure’ section by clicking ‘Add’.  From there enter in the standard fqdn/ip and authentication information for vCenter and save.

Now that we have configured our vCenter we can begin the process of setting up a backup job.  Clicking ‘Create Job’ from the ‘Jobs’ section will get us there.  The backup job creation is very intuitive; first selecting which VMs we want inside the job from the tree view and then defining a few job settings revolving around scheduling and backup verification.

createjob1[1] createjob2[1]

Your backup job status can be monitored  through the ‘Active Jobs’ tab in the “Jobs’ section of the UI, however to get a very clean quick overview of our complete environment we can head to the ‘Protect’ section – As shown below we can see that we have a successful backup for the OnIceEntertaintment VM on Thursday but we have yet to process a backup of the Scoreboard VM.  A very nice overview of just how protected our environment is.  And, if we desired, we could simply select our VM from this view, click ‘Backup’ and create a job directly from here as well.

protectionoverview

Unitrends Free also offers deduplication and compression as it pertains to storing your backed up VMs.  I can tell you that the OnIceEntertainment VM was just over 2GB in size, and when Unitrends was all said and done with it the amount of data laid down during the first full backup to the storage, after deduplication and compression, was just under 1GB – a 50% reduction – not bad.  An incremental backup after laying down another 1GB file to the VM resulted in another 200MB of space being utilized – not too shabby : 0.  The first full backup of my VM took a mere 2.5 minutes, with the incremental taking only 1.5 minutes.  Even though it is a small VM these are still pretty impressive performance statistics.

Backups are processed in what Unitrends calls an Incremental Forever strategy – meaning we have an initial full backup followed by daily incremental backups.  The appliance will automatically create synthetic full backups from the existing incremental backups in order to ensure very quick restores in the event you need them.

incrementalforever

Recovery

RecoverOptions Let’s face it – we can backup to our hearts delight but when push comes to shove it’s the recovery that we really need to be top notch!  Unitrends Free provides three different recovery options as it pertains to your virtual machines; recovering the entire VM, individual file level recovery, and instant recovery.

Recovering the entire VM is pretty self explanatory – you simply select your restore point, provide the location in which you want to restore to and Unitrends will restore a complete duplicate of your VM.  In my testing, the 3GB OnIceEntertainment VM was restored in only 3.5 minutes.

That said, if you can’t wait the 3.5 minutes Unitrends also provides the instant recovery option.  Instant Recovery reserves a portion of your appliance backup storage for use as an NFS datastore which gets mounted directly to your hosts.  From there, VMs are recovered and powered on within vSphere utilizing the actual backup files stored on the Unitrends appliance.  What this does is provide a super fast way to recover your VMs – mine was up and responding to pings within 2 minutes.  From there the VM is relocated to a datastore (utilizing Storage vMotion) of your choosing during the restore wizard.  Instant Recovery is a great way to get VMs up and running quickly, while ensuring that they eventually get moved back to a production datastore.  Instant Recovery also provides an “Audit Mode” which allows us to simply ensure that the backup itself is indeed restorable.  When/if you wish to end your Instant Recovery job you can do so by clicking ‘Tear Down’ from the Instant Recovery tab.

instant recovery

If you aren’t looking for a complete VM restore and just need a simple file that may have been deleted off of your VM then the File Level Recovery option is the way to go.  The FLR does not actually perform an restoration of files to your VMs, but provides accessibility to your desired restore point utilizing either a CIFS or iSCSI connection to your Unitrends appliance.  The intention is that you and/or the app owner would simply connect to either the CIFS share or iSCSI target and perform the actual copying of data back to your VM or other desired location manually.  This is basically an Instant Recovery with no visibility into the VM from vSphere and only internal network access into the recovered VM from the Unitrends appliance.  Once the files have been recovered the backups are then un-mounted from the Unitrends appliance by clicking ‘Remove’

flr

Is it worth the price?

Given that the product is FREE, yes FREE I would definitely say so.  It does a lot of things well, backup, restore, reporting, etc.… and it has one of the nicest user interfaces that I’ve seen – it’s clean, easy to use, and very intuitive.  Not once did I have to ready any manuals and/or forums to perform any of the backups or restores.  Not that they don’t exist because they do – support also exists for the product as well.  Unitrends Free is designed bo be a product for the community and keeping true to the community philosophy this is offered through the Unitrends Free Community forums as well as through a multitude of knowledge base articles.  Although I only tested with vSphere the product does support Hyper-V as well, which is also FREE!    The product is unlimited in terms of the number of VMs, sockets, retention and scheduling – this is all included in the free edition.  You will be limited however to 1TB of protected capacity.

Honestly I think this is a great product and I like the way that Unitrends are marketing this as a “community” product.  As always I encourage you to go ahead and check it out for yourself  and let me know what you think – you can’t go wrong being that the price is free.

Note: I was given compensation from Unitrends in exchange for getting on their beta, checking out Unitrends Free and posting my thoughts around it!  Key here is that they are my thoughts – Unitrends in no way told me what to say or how to say it!