Check out Neil Anderson’s (@flackboxtv) “How to Build a NetApp ONTAP 9 Lab”


Neil Anderson has been in touch to let me know that he’s produced an extensive guide to building a complete vSphere Lab with NetApp ONTAP 9 as the backend. So its essentially a free eBook to cover the new version. Neil is kinda tooting his own horn but he’s confident my book blows the NetApp setup guide out of the water – He’s got full step by step instructions with screenshots about how to build a fully networked two cluster lab with Windows and Linux clients. I’ve taken a quick gander and I can tell its a quality ‘product’ that might have once found a home on my old “RTFM Education” site from the good old days!

Readers can download it from Neils blog (it’s free of course) and the goal is to help people get their first hands-on look at the new OS

It’s downloadable from

If you interested with connecting to Neil here’s followable (is that word now?) on twitter here:



Posted by on October 19, 2016 in Announcements

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Do you want to be an author?


For me writing a book was the next step up from being a blogger. True some of my early “RTFM Eduction” guides got pretty lengthy – but the commitment to writing a book was a whole new order. I really enjoyed the process and understanding how the publishing industry works. Plus there’s the satisifaction of seeing your work on the bookshelf at VMworld – or even you local bookshop. The other thing I would say is if your aim is to build your ID in the community and perhaps getting on the speaking circuit. Of course, a bit like a PhD you can’t measure the value of being an author in dollars and cents (I wouldn’t measure it in pound and pence, in case it devalues further). Its more a sense of achievement. But I would say that writing a book does seperate the men from the boys, and girls from the women. Lets face anyone these days can crank up a blog and write a couple of posts. But its different skill and commitment to write a book. I wouldn’t say your joining an elite officers club either, but you will become part of the support group (see it like Authors Anonymous) who have been there, and done that. Who knows you might actually enjoyed it. After each book I always said it was the last one –  some eight books later – I was still saying it.

My former publisher, McGraw-Hill Education, recently let me know about an authoring opportunity for a new book covering the VCP6-DCV certification exam. They are interested in technical expert(s) with a passion for educating. Ideal candidates will have the VCP6-DCV certification credential and possesses a combination of classroom training experience; course content development; and user group/community participation. They are interested in both prospective authors and technical reviewers. If you are interested, please contact them at


Posted by on October 19, 2016 in Announcements

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Bright Light City…

…gonna set my soul, gonna set my soul on fire….

Just a quick blogpost to tell folks that I will be at VMworld Vegas this year (I arrive late Sunday afternoon). I had some frequent flyer points and hertz points to use. So I was able to cover my cost of travel to the event with minimal costs. A big shout out to the communities folks (you know who you are!) for seeing me clear for a bloggers ticket (not that I’ve been that prolific in this my gap year). I wasn’t sure initially if I was going to make the event – but with a cool head I decide that I couldn’t really not attend, as the event is a great opportunity for me to meet, greet and reconnect with people in the community & industry, and start the process of looking for my next role. I’ve assumed that its going to take anything from 3-6-9 months to find a suitable position – so it doesn’t feel too early to start putting the feelers out (so to speak), as in my experience things can take time to reach fruition. With that said, if there is anyone out there reading this who thinks there might be interesting opportunity that would suit my sort of unique background and skills – do get in touch by the usual methods (linkedin or twitter). As for what I’m looking for I’m open-minded and open to suggestions. Although another stint in vendorland or cloudland seems the most likely place.

After the trip I will be heading off to the Shenandoah National Park in West Virginia. In case you don’t know its part of the Appalachian Trail. I’ve enjoyed to holidays along the trail in the last decade, but I felt I need to see this end of it. Not least so I can take my guitar to the banks of the river, sing Country Roads!


Posted by on July 28, 2016 in Announcements

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Open Home Lab Project


I’m pleased to hear that the Ope Home Lab Project has launched its website today. It’s testament to the guys who provided the inspiration for this project have acted so quickly to move from open discussion to open project so rapidly. As we all know Home Labs have been central to many people’s career development in the last decade, and the topic is a perennial favourite on the VMUG circuit. To date much of the material around home labs has been fragmented across a number of different blogs and forums – and those deciding to take the plunge, have had to resort to many hours of piecing together the information together – and speaking from personal experience – often one bit advice conflicts with another. We’re an opinonated bunch of people who is often a good reflection of different experiences and attitudes.

The Open Lab Project mission is to try to provide a central location where all the neccesary info can be found – whilst maintaining and encouraging that diversity of opinion. Here’s their blurb:

Homelab presentations are some of the most popular at technical user groups. The challenge is that unless they are recorded, the contents of these sessions is always lost at the end of the day, and only the attendees could consume the information and utilise it. What is needed is a method for crowdsourcing and capturing the collective homelab knowledge and experiences of the community, to provide people with a single source of information and advice which will help them make decisions on the best homelab solution for them, based on their individual requirements.

Although the site was started from a VMware user group, we believe that a homelab is a homelab! As such, we are keen for people across the IT community to contribute with their knowledge and tips across operating systems, hypervisors, tools and applications.

Technology agnosticism FTW!

Check It out today!


Posted by on May 10, 2016 in Announcements

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VMUG Wiki Update: Distributed Switches

Last week I got on a bit of roll updating my old vSphere 5.5 content on the VMUG Wiki to be vSphere 6.0 Update 1 content. I’ve had some time away from doing this bit of community work – a combination of family commitments and prioritising my own interests have had to come first. Hey, this is a Gap Year remember!

So there new chapter on Distributed Switches for vSphere 6.0 U1 is here:

As with Standard Switches you’ll see there’s a couple of new options when creating vmkernel ports on a a DvS:

Once again I found enabling the Health Check feature helped me ID some tagging issues on VLANs on my ‘new’ pSwitch. I recently pulled the Cisco Nexus gear I had out of my lab – because I had to be returned to VMware when I went on my sabbatical – that meant bring in a new/old switch that had been gathering dust under the spare bed. There were a couple of VLANs I’d setup up where I had bodged the VLAN configuration. What can I say I’m bad network admin who does network admin every couple of years….

Some of the stuff in this chapter hasn’t changed – because it hadn’t changed. Some of it I could update because my physical infrastructure didn’t support some of the pre-reqs required. So if anyone spots anything that seems to be incorrect let me know – and provide a screengrab to swap out….



Posted by on May 10, 2016 in VMUG Wiki

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Facebook Live – This got too long for a tweet

I got one of those emails from Facebook introducing Facebook Live. It’s aimed at businesses (I still have LLC here in the UK, but it doesn’t do much. Anyway, they were advertings streamGO – which essentially offering video production services….

Anyway I was reading the stuff/guff online. When up pops an irratating “Live Chat” box that I had close and dismiss before I could carry on reading. Then I read this statement:

Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 15.15.12

I’m sorry – but I don’t understand why any company would use Facebook Live/streamGo. If you have a marketing effort that has no measurement – and no method to contact interested customers – why would you bother?


Posted by on April 28, 2016 in Other

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VMUG Wiki Update: Configuring Standard Switches

Today I completed updating the original vSphere 5.5 content on Standard Switches to make sure it chimed with the vSphere 6.0 U1 release. You can see the new chapter over here:

As you might suspect there really isn’t much to write home about in vSphere 6.0 U1 when it comes to Standard Switches – consider the functionality and configuration of this type of networking hasn’t really altered significantly from one generation of vSphere to another. For the most part I saw no earthly point in retaking graphics of videos where nowt has changed.

However. There was just one area which I noticed what I felt was a change worthy of note – the list of “Available Services” that can be enabled is slightly different from vSphere 5.5 to vSphere 6.0. Let me show you where in the UI…

Before: vSphere 5.5

After: vSphere 6.0

As you can see there are now options for vSphere Replication Traffic/vSphere NFC Traffic as well as this thing called “Provisioning” Traffic. A quick click of the ? in the top hand corner of the box will take you to the online documentation – and some further clicking a bit – will (eventually) tell you what these Provisioning Traffic is all about:

Supports the traffic for virtual machine cold migration, cloning, and snapshot creation. You can use the provisioning TPC/IP stack to handle NFC (network file copy) traffic during long-distance vMotion. NFC provides a file-type aware FTP service for vSphere, ESXi uses NFC for copying and moving data between datastores. VMkernel adapters configured with the provisioning TCP/IP stack handle the traffic from cloning the virtual disks of the migrated virtual machines in long-distance vMotion. By using the provisioning TCP/IP stack, you can isolate the traffic from the cloning operations on a separate gateway. After you configure a VMkernel adapter with the provisioning TCP/IP stack, all adapters on the default TCP/IP stack are disabled for the Provisioning traffic.

I think its worth saying the a lof the time this might not happen. If you provisioning tasks happen within the SAME array then ideally VAAI will use its awareness of SCSI primatives to offload any IOPS so it happens inside the array (at blistering speed). However, there are some cases where this logically can’t happen – such as a move between two different storage arrays (you decommisioning one and emptying of VMs) or your unfortunate enough to be using local storage and moving a VM from one ESXi host to another (if you doing this you should be really thinking about VSAN my friend). Clearly, if the ethernet network must be used – this traffic can chew up the available bandwidth on you default management network – so dedicating a physical NIC and associating a portgroup with that type of traffic mitigates against that traffic. It’s akin to having dedicated NIC for VMotion because by default VMotion just gobbles up all the available network traffic to move the VM as fast as possible. Of course there other ways of limiting the impact these bandwith heavy process with traffic shapping for example.

As for vSphere Replication Traffic/vSphere NFC Traffic – as ever the phrasology in the vSphere product is rather letting the side down here. vSphere Replication Traffic source replication traffic and vSphere NFC Traffic is destination replication traffic. There’s probably a good reason for the ‘funny’ names used here – most likely because vSphere NFC Traffic is just used for replication but for other background process – NFC comms has been used for a man of communications not just replication – for instance it has been used in the past (and present?) for moving data around for backup purposes (to be honest, I don’t know if it still is…)


Posted by on April 27, 2016 in VMUG Wiki

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March Acoustic Session Set Recording

This month’s set list is taken from a single singer-songwriter partnership comprised of Pete Atkin and Clive James. Yes, THE Clive James (Writer, Broadcaster, Poet) is also a lyricist. Clive and Peter began working together decades ago, and have an extensive recording career together. I first discovered them on BBC Radio4 about them. It’s a radio programme so even if you’re not in the UK you can still listen. For some reason the BBC doesn’t protect radio shows as much as television. Perhaps because so much BBC Radio content get syndicated to noncommercial radio elsewhere.

So after a listening I identified three songs that I felt were outstanding. They are all from album called “Beware of the beautiful stranger”. The title track concerns a man’s trip to a fairground to have his fortune told – I guess its akin to when a woman is warned of a “dark handsome stranger”. Anyway, I bought the album off iTunes. Oddly enough despite the duo’s cult following this influential album is out of print – so the 2nd copies of the vinyl and CD are massively expensive on Amazon. But you can pick up the album from iTunes for less than a ten quid. The cover is wonderfully retro. That corduroy suit and cravat is sooo retro!

Screen Shot 2016-04-15 at 14.08.48

Anyway, my version of my favourite tracks is up on Soundcloud for your delectation. The only song I think I’m really doing different is the one called “Laughing Boy” which sounds a bit Elvis Costello like. Anecdotally, I heard a story that Pete and Clive did discussing writing for Elvis Costello. I think the generally view was Elvis didn’t need any help in the writing department!

So there’s three tracks in this single recording… and I’ve provided the links to the lyrics if your interest (and the music) Pete has the words and music up on his website.

  1. Beware of the Beautiful Stranger (
  2. Laughing Boy (
  3. Touch has a memory (


Posted by on April 15, 2016 in Mike's Music

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VMUG Wiki Update: VMware vCenter Server Appliance 6.0 Update 1 (VCSA)

This chapter of the VMUG Wiki has been up for a while on the public site, and just haven’t got round to making folks aware of its existence. The new chapter is over here:

There’s a couple of things new about the VCSA that caught my eye. Firstly, the setup/installations/import/configuration (take your pick about the appropriate word to use for getting the appliance ready for use) has been radically overhauled from previous releases. Previously, there was convoluted process of downloading, importing and then running thru a configuration process (the manual process was better the automated method) – that involved ‘toggling’ between different UI. That’s all changed – now you mount .ISO to your workstation with visibility to an ESXi host – and ‘setup’ wizard runs though the entire process. This is MUCH better than the previous approach, and I think it will help improve adoption of the “linux version” of vCenter.

As ever care must be taken over the FQDNs/IP address used – ensuring that DNS is up, accessible and is resolving. If you don’t you find the installer process will crash and burn… In this case I asked for the VCSA to have FQDN of, and that wasn’t resolvable to the IP I’d assigned.

Secondly, The ye olde 5480 VMware Studio portal still exists but the look, feel and functionality has changed significantly.You shouldn’t really need to touch this unless you need to re-configure the networking (for example) of the VCSA…

Thirdly, the VCSA Console is much more like the ESXi DCUI interface. I quite like this tidying up process – standardising on the console look and feel, makes the VCSA and ESXi feel more like the double act they really are. There isn’t a huge amount you can do here admittedly – just to say that you can do things like enable SSH to PuTTy into….


Posted by on March 11, 2016 in VMUG Wiki, vSphere

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February Acoustic Session Set Recording

As some as you might know I’m taking a grown-up gap year to pursue my own personal interests (travel, photography, music, and creative writing). In the last two months I’ve been ‘gigging’ around my local “acoustic session” scene in area. Just so you know there is a difference between an acoustic session and the popular term “open mic”. An acoustic session is totally unplugged – whereas an open-mic will have mic and perhaps even amplification. Right now I’m playing at least once a week, but I’m thinking of upping that to twice a week. The idea is to get over my ‘performance nerves’, as I often play a song in the kitchen quite well, but even with a small audience my nerves cause me to screw it up or not ‘commit’ to the song enough.

I have a ‘set’ of songs from January and February. Folks have been asking me if I was doing any recording, and I’ve been avoiding that for a while. But this afternoon I recorded Februrary’s set in the kitchen this afternoon. The reason I did that was because they are more familiar, and also they are all related to each other. Looking at my black folder of music in Jan, I realised I had few Elvis Costello songs. So I thought I would practise those and gig those around the circuit. I’ve written a couple of songs in the last couple of months, but I’m not sure if they are really ‘ready’ for a public outing than just the local pubs!

So in Soundcloud there is a recording of the set. They were recorded individually with GarageBand with a Snowball Mic, and then a little effect put on each one to make them stand out a bit.

1) New Lace Sleeves
First appeared on the album “Trust”

2) Our Little Angel 
First appeared on the country sounding “King Of America” album

3) Gods Comic
First appeared on the “Spike” album

4) I’ll wear it proudly
First appeared on the country sounding “King Of America” album

5) American without tears
First appeared on the country sounding “King Of America” album. It tells the story of the young women who fell in love with G.I’s “over-sexed and over here” in the UK during WWII, and then found themselves living in the US after the war was over.

6) Good year for the roses
First appeared on the “Almost Blue” album. It’s a ballad written by Jerry Chestnut and originally recorded by American country singer George Jones. It rose to #2 on the country singles chart in 1970, but I first heard it by Elvis Costello…


Posted by on February 24, 2016 in Mike's Music

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