Tuesday, August 29, 2017

VMworld 2017 - Day 1

Today was Day 1 of VMworld 2017 and yet again, over 20,000 folks saw fit to descend upon Las Vegas, NV in search of education, excess, and esprit de corps. I count myself among privileged group that made it out this year largely because of the vExpert program and VMware's sustained support of the community. So first and foremost, my thanks to @vCommunityGuy and the entire vExpert team for everything you folks do.

There were three major themes that stood out during today's content and, spoiler alert, they aren't surprising:

First order of business during today's keynote was describing the landscape we are all faced with as business professionals and technologists today: Shipyard workers in South Korea wear exoskeletons to help them move heavy loads, quantum entanglement allows us to teleport small bits of information instantly, and scientists efficiently and accurately modify genes using CRISPR. Tech continues to "leave the nest" and become more the rule and less the exception with some industries further along the maturity curve than others. Buzzword or not, it appears that this digital transformation trend is here to stay for the foreseeable future. 

VMware seems to have matured their message from 2015 around any device, any app, any cloud. In my opinion, it's been tempered by the marketplace's obvious desire for agility and simple consumption models. Ready for any is a foregone conclusion in this day and age. Our customers want ready for any, quick, easy, and secure. In my opinion, today's announcements show a good faith effort on VMware's behalf to deliver on that vision.

VMware Cloud on AWS GA Announcement

VMware cloud on AWS has now formally been launched  and is available in the US West (Oregon) region with plans to expand globally in 2018. 

The offering consists of a single host footprint currently. There is lots of detail in this whitepaper, but here's some choice cuts to get you started:

  • VMware Cloud on AWS base cluster configuration contains 2TB of memory and four hosts. 
  • Each host is configured with 512GB of memory and contains dual CPU sockets that are populated by a custom-built Intel Xeon Processor E5-2686 v4 CPU package. Each socket contains 18 cores running at 2.3GHz, resulting in a physical cluster core count of 144. 
  • VMware Cloud on AWS uses a single, fixed host configuration; the option to add components to the host configuration is not offered at this time. However, the scale-out model enables expansion to up to 16 hosts, resulting in 576 CPU cores and 8TB of memory.
  • The SDDC cluster includes a vSAN all-flash array. At initial availability of VMware Cloud on AWS, each host is equipped with eight NVMe devices and a total of 10TB of raw capacity, not including the cache capacity of the vSAN datastore, for the VMs to consume.
  • Within a VMware Cloud on AWS four-host cluster configuration, 40TB of raw capacity, comprising all 32 encrypted NVMe devices, is available for the VMs to consume. 
  • The management VMs consume. 9 percent of the vSAN datastore capacity. 
  • If the cluster is expanded to 16 hosts, 160TB of raw capacity is available for the VMs to consume, along with 128 encrypted NVMe devices. 
  • For all cluster configurations, the usable VM storage capacity depends on the per-VM storage policy. 
Pricing details are here but long story short there are hourly on demand rates, 1 and 3 year terms and you can save up to 25% of list price by owning existing licenses for vSphere, vSAN, and NSX for on premises use in conjunction with VMware Cloud on AWS.

You will be able to use the new Hybrid Linked Mode to connect your vCenter Server running in VMware Cloud on AWS to your on-premises vCenter server to get a single inventory view of both your cloud and on-premises resources but be aware you will need to be on 6.5 to do this. VMware's long term stance will be N-1 support for on premises resources going forward.

I could do an entire series of posts on this offering alone but the main product page should give you everything you need at this juncture.

VMware Cloud Services

VMware also announced 6 new cloud services today aimed at allowing customers to easily manage and secure workloads in the cloud and in the datacenter.

Now that customers have quick and easy access to a VMware based hybrid cloud, they need simple, accessible, and scalable tooling to connect, secure, monitor, and manage the stack. This appears to be the primary focus of VMware's new Cloud Services. Here's what we have today:

  • AppDefense - An endpoint security solution with process and application level threat detection and response. Read Robertson's Post for great detail.
  • Cost Insight - A vRBaaS looking tool designed to help customers understand the aggregate costs associated with their workloads across clouds as well as in the datacenter allowing for educated workload placement and ongoing optimization. Some info in this blog.
  • VMware Discovery - Single pane of glass discovery, cataloging, and search across clouds and on premises, sort of DoubleCloud-esque. More info in this blog.
  • VMware Network Insight - Hybrid network and security analysis service aimed at giving deep visibility into traffic flows and advising on best practices. I am gonna stick with my theme here and call it vRNIaaS. Additional information here.
  • VMware NSX Cloud - Single console and API based management for NSX based hybrid networks spanning clouds and datacenters includes policy based administration of microsegmentation and overlay networking. Additional info in this post.
  • VMware Wavefront - Large scale monitoring and metrics analytics engine aimed at giving application level insights in real time. Here's some more info.
All in all it was a great formal kickoff to the conference. As a VMware and AWS junkie I can't even begin to describe how excited I am to see these two behemoths coming together to deliver our customers a great hybrid cloud experience. Today's announcements show that VMware understands what the market wants and is attempting to deliver on their interpretation of that vision for the future. Until tomorrow my friends! 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Rubrik Drops 3.2 - Cloud Clusters and More!

Today the fine folks over at Rubrik dropped their 3.2 release and it is packed with quite a few nifty little features, especially for a .2 release. Quick aside here, if you dont follow the below folks on social media you're missing out. They have at least a quorum between them of VCDXs and each and every one of them are accomplished technologists with strong social media presence. Quite a stout tech marketing group for a small company if you ask me.

In their 3.1 release, Rubrik enhanced their support for Microsoft SQL Server, added bare metal Windows/WSFC support, rolled out a custom reporting interface, and added Software encryption. Now that we are done with that brief recap, lets dig into what 3.2 brings to the table.

Cloud Clusters

Rubrik has a fairly pragmatic view of what most customers experience during their cloud adoption journey, and it looks something like this.

One could argue these as the prescriptive steps for all organizations but I think its a fair argument that a lot of organizations start out tiering off archive data, then move towards test/dev on IaaS and SaaS based application delivery models where it makes sense, and finally (..eventually? ...hopefully?) arrive at an automated IT service delivery model based on a cloud first strategy and heavily backed by tools like Automation, SDx, CM, etc. as well as the appropriate org structure and processes to support such a consumption model.

With this model in mind it's pretty clear to see why cloud clusters make sense and where Rubrik is heading with this release. Here's what the architecture might look like in a customer scenario.

Essentially, we now have the ability to stand up a 4 node cluster as either EC2 or Azure VMs and with that cluster we can do a few different things.
  • Act as an in region backup target
  • Replicate down to a physical cluster somewhere
  • Act as a replication target for a physical cluster somewhere
  • Archive off to cloud targets
Very cool if you ask me. As of 3.2 you have cloud workloads such as SQL Server, Windows, and Linux filesets, you can now back them up, in region, via Rubrik without having to worry about paying for egress bandwidth. Additionally, that data could be replicated to an on-prem, or multi-cloud cluster for the sake of resiliency. Lastly if you only have one site and you need a DR target, this architecture has you covered as well, although the recovery workflow currently leaves much to be desired. I wonder how Rubrik might get around that one day... hmmm :) Lastly, you can take advantage of the same cloud archive you have come to know and love, potentially even in region!

Other Enhancements

Native NAS Support

Native NAS backups are now supported. As of 3.0 NAS was officially supported via a proxy VM that you mounted the NAS on to in order to back it up. Rubrik has done away with that model and will now mount NAS shares directly to the cluster for backing up. Both NFS and SMB are supported and you simply add the share by IP/FQDN, supply credentials, and configure the fileset definition as you would in a Windows/Linux environment.

Policy-Based On-Demand Snaps

On-demand snaps now offer up the following retention options:
  • Assign an existing policy
  • Create and assign a new policy
  • Retain forever (manual deletion)
All SLA based snaps are visible through managed objects and adhere to SLA domain compliance rules. Retain forever snaps are unmanaged and will persist until deletion. Handy for stuff like legal or other data holds.

Replication Enhancements

Rubrik has introduced an enhancement to their replication capabilities known as Distinct Retention. In the past, your retention settings applied to all copies of that data. Including replication and archival targets. This could was problematic for stuff like edge use cases where you might want to retain the replica longer than the original. Now with Distinct Retention you can selectively determine how long the replica is retained.

Key Management

3.1 brought Software D@RE into the mix leveraging Rubrik's internal key manager enabled by an embedded TPM chip. 3.2 extends the D@RE capabilities of Rubrik by offering support for external key managers. r300/r500's are supported and key rotation is done via a one-time UI operation allowing movement to the external key manager. From there on out you can us the API to automatically rotate keys as necessary.


There are quite a few other enhancements worth digging into whenever you get some time to cozy up next to the fire with a glass chardonnay and your favorite medium for reading release notes. Here are a few bullet points to whet your appetite.

  • API Enhancements
  • Pure Storage Snapshot/Proxy based VM Backups
  • Time Zones!
  • Configurable Support Tunnel Timeouts
  • Custom Edge Builds for MSPs

That's It!

As always, thanks for taking time out of your busy day to read my blog. Feel free to follow me @vDingus and lets learn something new together! Have a great day.

Warm Regards,


Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Dell EMC {code} Catalyst Program Launch!

Let's blow the dust off this blog...

To say that my industry has evolved a lot since my last blog post would be a bit of an understatement. In fact it has changed to such a degree that probably merits a blog post of it's own, but suffice it to say next generation IT and cloud native applications are and they are here to stay.

What I am here to discuss today is an exciting new evangelist program from the great folks over at {code} by Dell EMC.

For those of you unfamiliar with them, the {code} group's motto is:

It's boom times for the open source movement, and {code} has been contributing like mad to the open source community along side numerous other developers outside of the group in order to make next generation IT approachable and consumable for the whole industry. Originally being a pure play infrastructure guy myself, I thank them for it. 

They also have a great slack team that I highly recommend you join. They are always willing to help out, even if you are just getting started with basic stuff like OSS or development. I promise you will learn something new and exciting. If you are interested, reach out to @jonasrosland on twitter for more info.

Due to the aforementioned, I am honored and excited to announce that I have been selected as one of the initial members of the newly launched {code} Catalyst Program! 

You can read more about the launch on the {code} by Dell EMC blog as well as the Dell EMC Pulse blog but I will do my best to inform you here as well.

So, what exactly is the {code} Catalyst Program?

"The program is is focused on promoting thought-leading members of the open source community by creating a candid dialogue between open source advocates, developers and project managers across company boundaries. The goal is to create an ecosystem of innovative open source advocates who lead and advance emerging technology to support software-based infrastructures."

Needless to say, I am honored to have been included in the program. I am relatively new to OSS at least in any professional capacity. It's exciting and motivating to have been granted the opportunity to learn from and work with such a great group of folks.

What role do {code} Catalyst members play?

"The members are influential advocates of open source. They educate others on projects they are involved in, engage in conversations to advance next-gen open source infrastructure and share real-life experiences with other members of the larger {code} Community. Members should have vast knowledge in industry-changing open source projects that redefine how modern data centers are run, from containerization to automation to large-scale CI/CD pipeline implementations."

All I can say is wow, thats quite a standard to live up to. I look forward to continuing to engage with the members of the {code} team and the community at large as a Catalyst.

What's Next?

The Catalyst program is going to be just that for my public facing social media presence. While I have been active on many slack teams lately, blogging and twitter have certainly fallen behind. Here are a few things I hope to accomplish sooner rather than later now that I am back in the saddle.

  • This blog needs a facelift. Probably going back to Wordpress. Might even stand up something on AWS as opposed to going with Wordpress.com. More to follow here.
  • Series on AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate cert that I am pursuing
  • re:Invent 2016 update post
  • Updates as the Catalyst program progresses
  • Random thoughts on technology, usually rife with misspellings and the occasional profanity

Thank you!

Seriously, thank you for taking the time to read. This blog has been dormant for way to long and those of you that took the time to come here from twitter, slack, linkedin, etc. to read are greatly appreciated. Everyone in IT has too much to do and not enough time to do it, its flattering that you are willing to carve off some of your time to read this blog.

Have a great day and leave it in the comments or hit me @vDingus if you want to talk more.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Q3 Wrap Up - Life is a whirlwind

Those of you that read this blog with any sort of frequency probably realize that I tend to produce more install/configure or break/fix type posts than anything else. This post is a departure from that paradigm, at least for a little while. Life has been crazy lately, so let's have a recap! Following PEX in February, I announced in this post that I was going to take on a VCDX and that's pretty much where I left it. Since then, lots has changed, here's an abridged list:
  • I changed jobs, not companies, I still work for the best company in North Carolina (and probably the world!) but I have moved from our Operational Services team over to a Solutions Architect role. So now I get to help design and build the solutions we support. It's a massive paradigm shift, and I am really enjoying the opportunity to look at technology from an operational and architectural perspective.
  • I spoke at Varrow Madness, this is something I try to do at least once a year. I love evangelizing about technology and this is a great opportunity to do that. Really appreciate Varrow letting me take part in such a great event.
  • I became a vExpert! This is a huge accomplishment and one that I have been aiming at for quite some time. Thank you all for reading this blog and to all my friends in /r/VMware for helping me accomplish this goal.
  • I submitted a VCDX Application. The design process itself was ripe with learning opportunities, putting a design like this together has taught me so much about the process that even if it gets rejected (it wont!) I feel like the time invested was well spent. Thanks everyone who has supported me throughout that process, I couldn't have done it without everyones (especially the wife's) support.
  • I finished my Master's Degree! ...and not a moment too soon, lets just say higher education and I have come to an uneasy truce. I doubt we will be crossing paths again in the traditional sense. Glad to be done.
Suffice it to say, things have been busy, really busy, and it doesn't look like they are slowing down. My National Guard unit is mobilizing and it looks like I will be going with them. As always, Varrow is going above and beyond with regards to accommodating me through the process and I know that I am going to be coming back to an awesome job and an great group of people in a year or so. In the interim I am going to tie up loose ends around work and prepare for the transition. Hopefully I will be defending VCDX in October while on leave from the Army. So in no particular order are some of my goals while I am away with the Army.
  • Be an outstanding Army Officer - I've never been mobilized and this mission is going to require planning, intelligence, and flexibility, hoping I am up to the task.
  • Get my VCDX - The closer I get the more real it becomes. Hoping that the defense goes well and I knock this one out. Hit me up @vDingus if you are interested in mocks.
  • Stay in touch with the community - This mobilization might actually afford me more opportunity to blog more, maybe even do a Pluralsight course the intent is to stay hooked into the community despite being away from home. Maybe I will do an EMEA #vBrownBag.
  • Get some other certs - looks like some potential for a testing center near our location, so perhaps I will be able to get CISSP / CCNP R&S since they relate to my Army role.

That pretty much covers it, life is a whirlwind and will continue to be I feel like there is a lot of opportunity coming for me in the future. Right now the plan is to make the best out of every moment I have at my disposal. As always, thank you for reading, and please comment or hit me on twitter if you want to talk more.

Friday, August 1, 2014

VMware Fusion 6.0 - Hung Resuming VM

I haven't blogged in ages and I have lots to share in a more thought thorough post - but for now, a quick fix.

Twice now I have run into this problem on my Windows 8 VM in Fusion 6 so I figured it's time to share this with the world as well as document it for myself. That way next time I don't need to rely on my google-fu to fix the issue.

Let me set the stage - Suspend seems to be more problem than it is worth with Fusion6 and Win8 at least in my case. Every once in a blue moon, my VM just will not come back from suspend and the same sequence of events occurs.

  1. When resuming I get a progress bar that goes nowhere, basically it spins and never fills up.
  2. In my infinite genius, hold alt, open the virtual machine, and force it to shut down.
  3. I try to boot my virtual machine back up, and I get a greyed out resume button and nothing happens.
  4. I can't quit fusion, I have to force quit it, re-opening does not even display my VM any longer.
  5. I reboot, try to power it up, and we are back at step 3.
  6. Facepalm:

Ok then.. I have myself convinced that I am a pretty smart guy... Lets go in and delete the suspend state files and the vmx, memory, and vmdk locks. That should fix it. Delete them all, reboot so fusion will act right, and power up my VM...


Oh wait, this thing probably creates logs! Lets take a look. Head to your VMs location, right click it, show package contents, and open my most recently updated vmware-#.log, crap.

Luckily, google was able to solve this one - here's how we repair the VMDK.

  1. Kill fusion
  2. Delete .lcks again
  3. Open terminal
  4. Run this command replacing vmdk location and names with your own (KB Here):
sudo /Applications/VMware\ Fusion.app/Contents/Library/vmware-vdiskmanager -R /Users/yourusername/Documents/Virtual\ Machines.localized/Windows\ XP.vmwarevm/Windows\ XP.vmdk

Reboot for good measure, and....

Hope that helps, now back to my design. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Varrow Madness 2014 - Auto Deploy, Image Profiles, and Host Profiles Slide Deck

Another Varrow Madness is behind us, and the feeling is bittersweet. So much fun and such great content, but I would be lying if I didn't say that we all look forward to it every year. It was a huge success with a great speaker, Shawn Achor, check out his Ted Talk if you havent. Also, we had some AMAZING speakers including but not limited to Scott Lowe, Chris Colotti, Jim French, Mike Foley, Chad Sakac, Rick Scherer, and of course, The Jason Nash. In addition to these big names there were a host of other industry experts from both inside and outside of Varrow that also contributed amazing content. I attended what sessions I could given the need for me to help out with the conference and I was blown away by the quality of the content. As always, highly impressed by what Varrow has done given the size of our organization.

Anyhow... While at madness I did a session on deploying stateless hosts with Auto Deploy, Image Builder, and Host Profiles. It covers a few of the VCAP-DCA objectives so I figured I would post the deck here. If I have time later, I will make a video of the demo portion and post it as well. Hope its helpful!

Friday, February 28, 2014

PernixData FVP 1.5 Reinstall

One of my favorite things to do is try to squeeze as much performance out of my home lab without buying more expensive gear or generating excessive amounts of heat since I already have space and cooling issues in my 15x15 office at home (yay townhouse). To that end, PernixData's FVP seemed like a perfect fit. These guys are awesome and one of their Engineers, Charlie Gautreaux has been really helpful as far as aiding me in getting this set up in our Greensboro lab and my home lab.

Smarter people than me (for instance, Nash and Wahl) have already blogged in depth on the architecture and performance gains offered by FVP so I wont dive too deep here. Suffice it to say the technology leverages local flash drives in your hosts as an intelligent read/write cache to accelerate storage performance. There is also a write back option that will mirror your writes to other hosts before acknowledgement rather than flushing to the datastore immediately further improving performance and ensuring data integrity if you lose a host.

Instead, what I am going to blog here real quick is an uninstall/reinstall of 1.5. please note there is an upgrade process for the management server, but I prefer to just dig it all out and start fresh. Refer to Pernix's documentation for an in place upgrade. This will give you an idea of how easy the product is to use in addition to the massive performance gains it offers up. With that, lets dive in.

Flash Cluster Removal

Before we start messing around with the managment server I am going to disable the acceleration on my datastore, remove the flash devices from the cluster, and delete the cluster.

So lets hop into our flash cluster from the web client and start working:

We will need to add the security exception to manage FVP since I am using Chrome:

And now we can mange our flash cluster, first I am going to remove acceleration from my iSCSI datastore:

Next, I am going to remove my flash devices from the cluster:

Once that is all done we can delete the flash cluster without issue, you may be able to delete the flash cluster outright and have it clean up for you, but I like to control all these mechanics. Also ignore the fact that my screenshot shows 3 flash devices in the cluster, you should see 0. I was just too lazy to take another screenshot:

This should be the end result:

Host Extension Removal

Next we need to uninstall the host extension from each of the hosts, so go ahead and throw one in maintenance mode, SSH into the host, then remove the host extension using Pernix's uninstall script: 

Once this is done, reboot the host, exit maintenance mode, vMotion some VMs, wash rinse and repeat.

Management Server Uninstall

Now that all the host extensions are uninstalled, we can uninstall and reinstall the management server. So lets start the uninstall:

Management Server Reinstall

Sweet, now we can install the latest management server, download the executable, and kick it off:

Accept the EULA:

Select an install type, I've always done complete:

Installation location:

Point it at your vCenter server and give it credentials to connect, the checkbox is for fairly niche use cases where you need to run the mgmt server as local admin rather than a domain account:

Give it credentials to the DB, I am am using my sql SA account b/c it is a lab, this is not a good security practice. Windows integrated auth works fine too:

Select the name used to identify this management server, I am using local hostname:

Away we go:

All set!

Host Extension Reinstall

First stick one of your hosts in maintenance mode. Then, upload your new host extension to one of your datastores, and kick off the extension installation using the following command:

esxcli software vib install -d /<PATH TO VIB>/PD-host-extension-version# --no-sig-check 

Where path to vib is the path to the folder location of the vib on your datastore and version# is the appropriate version# string for your extension. No sig check is necessary for now but eventually you can do this all through VUM once it is signed.

Once this is done, you can pull that host out of maintenance mode, and move on to the next. Continue until all of your hosts have the new extension on them.

Flash Cluster Recreation

Now that the management console and the host extensions are reinstalled we can rebuild our flash cluster. You will need to log out of, then back into the vSphere web client in order to get started.

Once logged back in you should see Flash Clusters listed under your vCenter server:

Click on the flash cluster and then click the add icon to create a new flash cluster:

Give it an appropriate name and select the cluster you are working with:

Once it's creation is complete select it, then head to the manage tab, then flash devices, and click add devices to bind your host flash devices to the FVP cluster:

Next, Select datastores/vms and add either the datastores you want to accelerate or the specific VMs you want to accelerate, make sure you choose write back if you want peak performance, and select the write redundancy you are comfortable with. I usually power off one of my hosts and this is a lab so I am only doing 1 network flash device for redundancy:

Voila! In short order you will be able to use the monitor tab to see your individual VMs consuming flash cache, make sure that your write policy matches what you had selected earlier:

Hopefully this is helpful, FVP is awesome and I really hope it gains some real traction out there. Hit me on twitter if you have questions!