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Open Home Lab Project

Ohpmedlogo

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!

http://openhomelab.org/

 

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:

http://wiki.vmug.com/index.php/Configuring_Distributed_Switches_in_vCenter_6

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:

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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:

http://wiki.vmug.com/index.php/Configuring_Standard_Switches_in_vCenter_6

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:

http://pubs.vmware.com/vsphere-60/index.jsp#com.vmware.vsphere.networking.doc/GUID-8244BA51-BD0F-424E-A00E-DDEC21CF280A.html

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.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06nnnlc

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!

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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 (http://www.peteatkin.com/a13c.htm)
  2. Laughing Boy (http://www.peteatkin.com/a12c.htm)
  3. Touch has a memory (http://www.peteatkin.com/a2c.htm)

 

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:

http://wiki.vmug.com/index.php/Deploying_VMware_vCenter_Server_Appliance_6_(VCSA)

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 vcwdc.corp.com, 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”
Lyrics: http://www.elviscostello.info/wiki/index.php/New_Lace_Sleeves

2) Our Little Angel 
First appeared on the country sounding “King Of America” album
Lyrics: http://www.elviscostello.info/wiki/index.php/Our_Little_Angel

3) Gods Comic
First appeared on the “Spike” album
Lyrics: http://www.elviscostello.info/wiki/index.php/God%27s_Comic

4) I’ll wear it proudly
First appeared on the country sounding “King Of America” album
Lyrics: http://www.elviscostello.info/wiki/index.php/I%27ll_Wear_It_Proudly

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.
Lyrics: http://www.elviscostello.info/wiki/index.php/American_Without_Tears

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…
Lyrics: http://www.elviscostello.info/wiki/index.php/Good_Year_For_The_Roses

 

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

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VMUG Wiki Update: VMware vCenter 6.0 Update 1 (Windows)

As promised I’ve been chipping away at the VMUG Wiki. I’ve spent the last couple of weeks updating the vCenter chapter based on the Windows edition. I say weeks, in truth I spend a couple of hours each week on the Wiki, just fitting it in around my other interests that are focus of my gap year. I’ve been toying with recording the “sets” that I’m “touring” (more grand term, than it really implies) around various acoustic sessions in my local area. The other week someone said I should go to Sheffield and put myself up on stage all mic’d up and plugged in. Not sure I’m quite ‘seasoned’ enough for that yet! But perhaps I might record each monthly set and put it up on SoundCloud for those who are interested.

ANYWAY. Digression. This post is supposed to be about the VMUG Wiki. So the main “news” is the chapter on the Windows vCenter setup is completed and live – you can find it here:

Install VMware vCenter (Windows)

To any old hands here. There’s isn’t much to report in the “What’s New” stakes – but there were a couple of notable changes which I thought I’d bring to people attention.

Read the rest of this entry »

 

Posted by on February 23, 2016 in VMUG Wiki, vSphere

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Vendorwag Reloaded: Liquidware Labs

Screen Shot 2016-02-11 at 13.52.00

It’s back – Vendorwag! So why the 3-year hiatus? Well, I felt whilst I was working with VMware that spending precious time working with other vendors wasn’t really very ethical. VMware employed me to promote VMware, not other vendors after all. Additionally, my first role at VMware was in the competition team – helping VMware folks handle competitive situations. It seemed a bit hypocritical in my day job, helping to defeat the competition whilst at the same time being all lovey-dovey with the same competitors here on my personal blog. Anyway, now I’m in my Adult Gap Year and a free-agent again, I felt it was finally OK to crank-up the Vendorwag. Plus I see it as a good way to keep in touch with the wider industry whilst I’m off being creative.

For those of you have been round the block for a while in the virtualization space like me, Liquidware Labs has an interesting pedigree. One of the co-founders is David Bieneman – who came to my attention when he found the VizionCore company (it went on to be acquired by Quest, and then Dell). I’ve had the pleasure of meeting David at the London VMUG – and that was in the previous decade. Yes. We are really getting that old…

Liquidware Labs positions themselves as a desktop transformation company (hence Transforming the Desktop!), and see themselves as solving the thorny problems of profile management (ProfileUnity), Application Layering (FlexApp), Monitoring and Diagnostics (Stratusphere) of existing environments in pre-transformation assessments, as well as diagnosing typical problems once the desktop transformation has gone live to users. The technology works for physical, virtual or cloud hosted desktops – as well as being compatible with the popular VMware and Citrix EUC suites.

The Vendorwag is slipping comfortably back into its original format – with an Elevator Pitch, Product Lowdown and Techknowledgy Demo strands. Each video is really intended for a different audience or character.

You can watch the videos embedded here on my blog, alternatively if you prefer you can subscribe to the Chinwag/Vendorwag podcast. If your specifically interested in the vendorwag I would recommend the videos – because they help complement the audio element substantially, and of course a demo without being able to see the screen – will stretch your powers of imagination!

Podcast Version Links:

The Elevator Pitch

The Elevator Pitch is a high-level overview of Liquidware Labs value proposition. It’s some elevator because the video runs to 30mins! That would be some skyscraper!  You can see the Elevator Pitch as the kind of video discussion you point your senior management at – for those people who aren’t concerned how the product works or indeed what it even looks like – just what it can do for the business.

J.Tyler “T. Rex” Rohrer is one of Liquidware Labs Co-Founders with a focus on strategic Alliances. Tyler Rohrer helped co-found Liquidware Labs after leaving a key role within VMware’s Enterprise Desktop Team. Previously, he was a partner at FOEDUS, which was acquired by VMware. Tyler heads up the Strategic Alliance program and is engaged in managing the company’s relationships with major platform and storage partners.

[Note: To see us in glorious TechnoColour and Panovision – make the video full-screen and make sure HD quality is selected]

The Product Lowdown

For the more ‘technically” mind the Product Lowdown talks about the product – what they can do and what their capabilities are. This video will be of interest to those who will eventually press buttons and knobs in the software, or the kind of person manages a team who will do that for them. Increasingly people are delegating tasks to others, but that can lead quickly to a “de-skilling” – or what I sometimes paraphrase as “I spend so much time doing high-level architecting, I don’t know how stuff works anymore!!!”. You know that anxiety we all have as we get older and “mature”, that our technical skills aren’t sharp as they once were. Hopefully this video will help you understand the technical challenges, advantages and disadvantages – and leave you being able to talk the talk (and be credible), even if you through with walking the walk.

JES05312011

Jason E. Smith, VP, Product Marketing. Previously an owner of Entrigue Systems, which was acquired by Liquidware Labs after its founding in 2009, Jason E. Smith currently heads the company’s Product Marketing team. In this role, he works strategically with Product Management, and focuses on go-to-market strategies for the company. Jason’s previous experience includes external strategic product and marketing consulting for Citrix, Red Hat, Scriptlogic, UltraBac Software, Internet Security Systems, and RES Software. Jason is a frequent speaker on technology trends in desktop computing. Recent speaker engagements include Citrix Synergy, VMworld, and VMware Partner Exchange, as well as numerous local CUGC and VMUG events.

[Note: To see us in glorious TechnoColour and Panovision – make the video full-screen and make sure HD quality is selected]

The Techknowledgey Demo

Like me you’re probably fine with a little theory, but all theory and no practical – can after while make you feel like you’re loosing grip with the real world. I don’t know about you – but once I have got the first principles of what technology does and how it works – I need to see it in action. That’s where the Techknowledgey Demo comes in. See the technology in action on screen, often visually illustrating the theoretical principals outlined in the Product Lowdown.

Jason Mattox, CTO is well-known in the virtualization community for his world-class knowledge and leadership in end user computing. In his role as CTO, Jason actively drives product development and product roadmaps for the company. What I personally love is the fact that Liquidware Labs selected their CTO to deliver the demo. How often does that happen now in our industry? Nowadays most C-class executives of software are so far removed from the coal-face of technology they would have to get one of their “minions” (the SE who actually does know how the product works!) to do it for them.

[Note: To see us in glorious TechnoColour and Panovision – make the video full-screen and make sure HD quality is selected]

 

Posted by on February 19, 2016 in Vendorwag, View/EUC

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VMUG Wiki Update: VMware ESXi 6.0 Update 1

Well, a few weeks have gone by since I made my little announcement. I’m happy to say things are going well on the creative front, and I’ve been toying with the idea of recording some songs and putting them on her for your delight and delectation. This post is about my computer life. As promised I’ve started contributing to the VMUG Wiki project. I must admit the first couple of attempts were disaster. I had technical problems as my home lab has been down for months, and the process of updating the vSphere5 content to vSphere6 content is actually – sorry to say this – tedious.

Anyway, last week and the week before – I got over my technical problems and started to find an approach for updating the content that feels quicker, and therefore less tedious. What floats my boat is writing new content about something that has changed significantly, rather than playing a ‘spot the difference” game with software that if you blinked you’d miss any changes. Anyway, someone had to do this job, and as I have time on my hands now, it might as well be me.

So I’m pleased to report we have a new chapter on the VMUG Wiki (probably the first in months!) called thrillingly “Installing VMware ESX 6“.  Yes, I know there’s a broken image in the content. I’m working to resolve that – we have a more serious problem with images in Wiki generally – as MediaWiki sometimes fails to create “thumbnails” correctly. I’m working with the VMUG folks to try and resolve that.

For those like me who have been in this game for a while – there are no surprises here. Indeed some of the content is so similar I haven’t bother to swap graphics around when the only difference in the UI is the bloody build number! However, there were one or two new things that caught my eye.

Firstly, “Lockdown Mode” (that highly popular feature of ESX 😉 ) has a new option or mode called “strict”. I understand this prohibs the use of the DCUI to turn it off. So the only way to turn off “Lockdown Mode” is if the host is manageable via vCenter. That makes vCenter the only method by which the host can be managed. I guess this removes a ‘backdoor’ method caused by the root account being compromised. In my experience customers (except govt/military types) rarely use this feature – in fact many people lower security by enabling SSH which is normally disabled.

Secondly, the other thing I noticed is if you attach two vmnic to vSwitch0 they marked as being Active/Active. Previously, ESX marked one as being Active (vmnic0) and the other being Passive (vmnic1 for example). I consider this an ‘improvement’ but I imagine most experience VMware shops pretty much have the network setup nailed down by now and automated – and never use this method anyway.

Thirdly, I notice the TCP configuration has changed slightly for DNS (this might have changed a while ago, and I hadn’t noticed). You can now set a IPv6 DNS address (whoopee!), But the ‘odd’ thing is the option to set a secondary DNS for IPv4 seems to have disappeared. I assumed you could use comma separated values in the box – but it doesn’t seem to accept that. I dunno if that’s “by design” or bug…. If someone in the ESX team is reading this and knows their onions I’d be interest to know what the rationale is behind this… so I can feel less stupid and educate the community.

Finally, I am working on Chapter 2: Installing vCenter. That’s proved to be a bit more interesting given that there’s the new “Platform Service Controller” (great sexy name there!) and new Postgres support for the Windows version of vCenter. I increasingly find setting up the Windows vCenter a total ball-ache. That’s not because of VMware, but because of the bloody Windows dependencies that must met first. I mean why does anyone bother with the Windows vCenter for new deployments (lights touch paper and walks away!

 

Posted by on February 7, 2016 in VMUG Wiki, vSphere

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