Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Are you backing up the vSphere Inventory Database?

The Inventory service came about as a separate item in vSphere 5.x and is the place where all of your web client tags get stored (you ARE using tags, right?) but it also gets used to cache queries destined for the vCenter database from the web client, which reduces the load on the vCenter server database. It's also a database that grows substantially if you ever recover a load of VMs with SRM or similar, but that's another story.

The upshot of all this is that there's data in here that does not exist anywhere else and that means that you should be able to backup and restore that data as required.

I was rebuilding a vCenter server recently, which got me thinking about this task as I ran down my post-install checklist. It's one of those hidden tasks that doesn't quite get the attention that it deserves, especially since it is so easy to do, as we will discover here...

Saturday, 12 December 2015

New blood in the London VMUG Committee

I attended my third UK VMUG Conference on the 19th of November (again at the National Motorcycle Museum) an event which is put on by the London VMUG Committee. As planned, I spent the majority of the day in the Community Track, lending my support to all the folks from this amazing community who'd come from near and far to present sessions. What with the vCurry and the vQuiz the night before, which gives folks a chance to catch up with old friends and meet new ones, the UK's National VMUG conference is always a great event.

 The days sessions were bookended by the ever-supportive Joe Baguley and the well travelled John Troyer, both of whom are particularly well known in the community and are always worth listening to. Neither disappointed. I also attended sessions by community stalwarts Eric Wright, Josh Atwell and Frank Buechsel, as well as learning more about Project Photon and CNA and mingling with all the vendors who turn out in force each year. So far, so good, all as expected.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

vSphere 5.5 u3b released December 8th - plus other VMware releases

6 new ESXi 5.5 patches came out overnight. Click here for the full release notes. Your post update 3 VUM baseline would now look like this...

Friday, 30 October 2015

Update SRM to 5.8.1 ASAP if you use linked mode

VMware have not shouted about this one as much as they should have, given the potential gravity of the situation. If you use linked mode to connect multiple sites and have SRM installed, then you will not be able to run an SRM recovery when you have the sites disconnected. As in, when you are experiencing a disaster which you want to recover from as quickly and painlessly as possible, as in, precisely what you purchased SRM for in the first place, you're out of luck.

So, if you are using SRM and you have vCenters operating in linked mode, go away now and break linked mode. Now you're safe. You can always put linked mode back, after all. That's a lot easier than trying to put your DR site back when you cannot see the Recovery Plans you spent time creating and testing.

Monday, 19 October 2015

vCenter 5.5 Linked Mode issues on Windows Server

I recently saw a problem where a vCenter linked mode configuration appears to have failed half way through. It's highly unusual in that from the C# Client when certain users log in to certain vCenters, they can see the newly added vCenter visible in linked mode as if everything was perfect. Other C# client users, anyone logging in to other vCenters or anyone using the web client does not see this intended end state. The new vCenter does not see any other servers and running the linked mode tool suggests that it is not in linked mode at all.

VMworld Thursday, or, TAM Day 3

A lot of folks head back home on Thursday, so the train and bus were both pretty empty this morning. The hardy folks who do make it in generally make use of the bag drop today for all those suitcases full of accumulated swag.

I had 5 sessions planned for Thursday, so for me, this was a busy day session wise.  Most of these were TAM sessions, so TCC was my first port of call for some welcome tea and croissants.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

VMworld Wednesday everything else

The first thing I had on my agenda after the General Session was to take a look at Rubrik, one of the companies that have been getting a fair aount of buzz lately and so I took the opportunity to go and find out why. A hyperconverged type solution, a number of blocks (briks, obviously) a nice interface, dedupe, replication, all that seems to be the thing to do these days. What was noteworthy was the calibre (and diverse origins) of the people who started the company and the functionality around search within the backups.

VMworld Wednesday General Session

Poised with the same team as yesterday in the Hang Space awaiting the General Session, plus a couple of extra faces. The raised desks and UK plug adapters are well set up for the blogger types.

VMworld Tuesday - Everything else (or TAM day 2)

I was straight off to the first of my TAM sessions after the general session, covering the ESXi lifecycle. The basic gist of this one is that VMware recognise that customers find it time consuming to maintain hosts and possibly difficult to spin up hosts. There's one tool to provision (auto deploy), another place to go for initial configuration (host profiles) and then another to manage going forward (VUM). Discussions centred on initially not having the majority of this process even available from the web client on through where we are now, what is coming next and then on to the more distant future. I have been asked not to post full details here as a lot of what was covered is subject to significant change over time, so let's just say that the move is towards accessibility from the web client and, significantly, a drive towards faster turnaround times and much less disruption when hosts are being patched in future. This is starting along the lines of intelligent placement of VMs when a cluster is being patched to minimise total vmotions through to more complex matters.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

VMworld Tuesday General Session

A better start than last year since we were able to set up in the Hang Space before anyone started speaking. I managed to get a seat along with @julian_wood, @scott_lowe and @vcdxnz001 and had a go at the minimal setup, iPad for blogging, iPhone for twitter and a bluetooth keyboard. That wasn't as "corridor warrior" as I had hoped, it doesn't really cut it as a practical solution, too slow.

Jean-Pierre Roulard opened up proceedings for us, similar to the US event, the first thing on the agenda is destination giveback and also vmwomen, so again, community before product, which is nice. Then the handover to Carl Eschenbach, Within a couple of minutes of coming on, he mentions the big one, the Dell/EMC merger. VMware will continue as it is he says. Then a Michael Dell video, He apologises for not making it to Barcelona, stating that it has been a busy couple of days. I guess it took a bit longer that that, but we get the point.

VMworld Monday - TAM Day

Yeah, I know, Dell buys EMC for a proper Doctor Evil amount of money, on top of the billions it already owed the banks and VC guys who helped it to go private last year, but like I say, a debt is just a bunch of numbers on a piece of paper until someone actually calls it in. So whatever. VMware is still independent, just as it was last week, so we all have to wait to see just how this shakes out. Suffice it to say, I was expecting #vmworld to top my twiftter feed today, not #dellemc.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

VMworld Euope Sunday

Ok, so first things first, I don't know what day this is, day 1, day 0 or day -1, so it will have to stay as Sunday. That means flying to VMworld Europe day, a number of hours spent in transit, by now the normal Airbnb approach to staying in Barcelona, considering that basically all I will do in this apartment is sleep and shower. OK, and blog.

It's only a couple of hours from Gatwick to Barcelona, but today's transport involved car, train, plane, taxi, taxi, feet, which would have been a lot worse had I not been able to sponge lifts off of unnamed people's expenses :-) You have to love this community. 

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Nutanix NPP

There's no doubt that the likes of Nutanix, and SimpliVity are the standard bearers for a whole raft of Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI) products which are changing the way that we can think about our infrastructure these days. There's definitely use cases out there. Maybe you're finally having your year of VDI, your FC fabric switches might be getting full, perhaps a new requirement needs separate storage or maybe, like me, you're just HCI curious. If that's the case, the NPP cert from Nutanix might be just the thing for you.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Pure Storage Product comparison

A quick post to compare the releases of some Pure Storage products which I've been using over the past couple of months now.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

VSAN 6.1 and 6.NEXT

Cormac Hogan has posted a couple of blog posts in the last 24 hours detailing the new features offered by the newly announced (today?) release of VSAN 6.1 and also lifted the veil somewhat on what can be expected in the next release, including another VSAN beta signup offer.

Whatever you may think about the adoption rates for VSAN there's no arguing with the pace of development coming out of VMware for this technology. Obviously, VMware had a lot of ground to make up from the initial 1.0 release, but they never shied away from that fact. These two posts are evidence of the rapid development rate for VSAN.

Monday, 31 August 2015

VMworld 2015 Keynote thoughts

So here we go, The Keynote from the first day of VMworld 2015, San Fran. This is more a stream of thought than anything totally structured/sensible and is partly my notes to see what I need to go look at later on!

Apps and Cloud huh? Opening with a video before Carl Eschenbach takes the stage. There are a record 23,000 folks attending in person this year, somewhat different from the 1,200 in the first year, plus loads of folks like me watching from further afield.

Nice to see that the VMware Foundation and #vGiveBack are mentioned by Carl before anything else.

VMware Validated Designs announced

Sometime yesterday, VMware announced the existence of VMware Validated Designs, which are a series of architecture designs validated by VMware experts. These appear to be a number of fluid designs (sorry to use a brave liquid word there but you'll see what I mean) which will be updated regularly, meaning that the design principles espoused within will not be stuck at a single release version and more importantly will not be stuck at a single product. The inter-operability and compatibility (or not) between a variety of the VMware products which make up their SDDC offerings will be laid out upfront.

Right now, there is an early access community opened up for folks to go and take a look at the first two designs here. As an example, the first of these, the SDDC Foundation Reference Architecture, incorporates VSOM 6.1, vCenter 6.0 U1, VSAN 6.1 and NSX 6.2.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Initial CloudLab environment creation with Ravello

Once you have created an account with Ravello and Uploaded some images, then it is time to start building a lab environment on someone else's cloud. If you've not signed up for a Ravello account, then you can do that here and if you've not read my first article in this series, then you should go here. I'll wait.

So, to get started you'll need to create an empty, cloud optimised, ESXi application and then install ESXi within it.

Ravello announce the General Availability of InceptionSX

Ravello Systems was founded in early 2011 by the same people who created the KVM hypervisor. Rami Tamir is the CEO and he took an invited audience of vExperts through a preview of Ravello InceptionSX on a pre-launch briefing early in August 2015.

The Ravello Systems mission statement is to provide Cloud Economics (Pay as you go, on demand, endless capacity at commodity prices) for All Workloads across All Environments while Maintaining SLAs, Tools, Security etc. That's a journey they've started and it will be quite interesting to see how far this thing can go.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

VMworld Europe Session picks

So, the VMworld Europe schedule builder opened up today and some of the sessions are already full up. Scary. Almost every guided lab session was full up by lunchtime on day 1, I wonder if the same folks got in to all of them, quite likely!

This is the list I am thinking of at the moment. I am sure this will get turned on it's head when more info comes out about TAM Customer Central, additional sessions get announced after the releases announced at VMworld US and I'll need time to take a look at the solutions exchange and talk toa ll the clever folks around the place. In fact, I reckon I will probably get to 2 or 3 of these sessions a day, tops. The good thing is that they are all available later online, so no biggie.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Time for a Cloud Lab

Those lovely people over at Ravello Systems have given all of the current vExperts access to their nested virtualisation offering, so each month I have some free hours to run the equivalent of a homelab, but it's located somewhere out on AWS or Google, fronted by the clever Ravello interface. This should allow me to test out a whole bunch of things that are difficult to set up on a home lab, so I can keep the on premises stuff for running my production and put my dev / test in the cloud. I kinda think that's the idea isn't it?

So I signed up to create an account, waited for my vExpert status to get verfied and then installed the image uploader that Ravello provide you with. If you simply cannot wait any longer to work out how this all works, then you can find out more about the upload process in the blog post that Ravello have already kindly made for you.

Monday, 20 April 2015

VMware's April 20th launch of Photon and Lightware

Over the last couple of weeks there's been a lot of talk about products being launched by VMware's relatively new Cloud-Native Applications division. Now the launch date is here and even though it's not quite launch time yet, the cat is out of the bag.

The products are currently known as;
Project Photon - A stripped down Linux version optimised to run on the vSphere hypervisor which is designed solely to host and package containers.
Project Lightwave - An Identity and Access Management (IAM) tool which ties in to existing  VMware authentication products.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Upgrading Site Recovery Manager 5.5 to

More messing around in my lab and it was time to upgrade SRM from 5.5 to 5.8, including an update of the vCenter itself to 5.5 u2d as well as the IBM SVC SRA as precursors to the SRM upgrade itself.

Upgrading vCenter is pretty simple as long as you run a custom installation and step through the components one at a time, SSO first through to vCenter 4th and last. Upgrading an SRA is also straightforward. I found moving from SRM 5.5 to to be considerably more tricky.

The SRM installation seems easy enough, there's an upgrade option where all you need to do is confirm your password information for the account running the SRM service and the account connecting to vCenter itself (they might even be the same account). All the other settings can be retained, same certificates and everything. Coupled with the fact that SRM 5.8 comes with the web client plugin installed as part of the update, it should only take a few minutes, surely?


Tuesday, 17 March 2015

vExpert Homelab 6 - vCenter Configuration

So, you've got a nice new vCenter 6 up and running, maybe you have an external PSC as well? Jolly good! Now what?

There's a whole bunch of additional configuration items that you should look at amending before too long. Log in as your SSO Admin account - administrator@vsphere.local (or whatever you changed it to during the installation) and away we go.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

vExpert Homelab 5 - ESXi 6.0 - Nuc Nuc Nuc

It was time to replace my old workhorse HP ML115's with some new kit ready for the vSphere 6 launch and given the amount of commentary around the community at large I decided to take the plunge and source a bunch of Intel NUC devices, namely the D54250WYK model.

No point doing things by halves, so I got three* and stuck 16GB memory in each, which should give me enough room to build a decent lab!

Friday, 13 March 2015

Synology DSM 5.2 Beta will run Docker containers

Synology have announced their latest beta this week. DSM 5.2 Beta now gives you the abilty to run Docker Containers natively.

This will be interesting for a bunch of vExperts, who use these devices. After I get vSphere 6.0 bedded in, I imagine that I will be looking at the option that this presents where I will be able to have a Docker implementation within the vSphere environment and play with the portability options by shifting them in and out of the Synology.


Thanks to Kendrick Coleman for tweeting out on this one, cos I'd seem the emails but not read them yet.

Unfortunately, having had a look at the Beta release notes, I am out of luck. Due to "the hardware requirement", Docker will be only available on the following models:
  • 15-series: RS815RP+, RS815+, DS3615xs, DS2415+, DS1815+, DS1515+, DS415+
  • 14-series: RS3614xs+, RS3614RPxs, RS3614xs, RS2414+, RS2414RP+, RS814RP+, RS814+
  • 13-series: RS10613xs+, RS3413xs+, DS2413+, DS1813+, DS1513+, DS713+
  • 12-series: RS3412xs, RS812+, RS812RP+, RS3412RPxs, RS2212+, RS2212RP+, DS1812+, DS3612xs, DS1512+, DS412+
  • 11-series: RS3411RPxs, RS3411xs, DS3611xs
  • 10-series: RS810RP+, RS810+, DS1010+, DS710+

vExpert Homelab 4 - Installing a vCenter 6 VCSA using an external PSC

Following directly on from my previous post where I install a PSC, it's time for a vCenter. There's not a lot of point having one without the other. The webpage I used to install the PSC is still open so I can just click on Install again and accept the EULA again and it is right back to the connecting to target server options once more.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

vExpert Homelab 3 - Installing vCenter 6 as a PSC

So at last, vSphere 6 release day. Let's crack on with this new PSC stuff! vSphere 6.0 splits vCenters into a Platform Services Controller piece (SSO, licensing, Certificates - all the bits that really tie your setup together) and the vCenter installation itself. These can be on the same server (VM, right?) or different servers, creating stand-alone PSC's which can be load balanced and so on.

The vCenter Deployment Guide has been available for a few days already and that is really a step by step guide through the installations that you can do.

vExpert Homelab 2 - More Cisco 3550 Config

After setting up the basics of a Cisco 3550 in the previous blog in this series, it is time to carry out the more advanced setup. Here I'll step through some of the options that are good to set up if you want to run a vSphere homelab on one of this type of switch. Ideally, you will want one which is L3 capable so routes as well as switches (the 3550 series is one of those oddities that can be L2 only or L3 as well, depending on the age or model).

This post is a bit of a work in progress, published now so I can step on to other stuff as well.

LonVMUG vExpert shirt offer

Those of you who know my twitter handle may know that I am an international Diplomacy player, but I'm a big boardgamer generally and I order a game or 3 from the US most years, so I know all about customs import charges and $$ postage. I'm also a freshly minted vExpert so when I saw the recent email about vExpert branded gear, this was bound to pique my interest. There aren't too many customer track vExperts so I am proud enough of this to treat myself to something to reflect that, but this thought was immediately tempered by the realisation that it would most likely cost more to ship a polo shirt than the cost to buy one. I filled out a request for a quote and waited. Sure enough, the cost of an average shirt with custom logo and my twitter handle added would be eclipsed by the $52 cost to ship by air. So that was that.

Or was it?

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Site Recovery Manager Advanced Settings

At this point, I am not going to go in to detail about the installation of SRM 5.x, as there are already lots of good blog posts / series out there about this. SRM 6.x though, fair game!

However, I wanted to lay out some of the changes that should be made after an installation of your SRM environment before you start your testing, to give you the best chance of success as possible.

These are settings from SRM 5.5 / SRM 5.8 and work with the IBM SVC SRA's.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

vCenter 5.5 and SRM 5.x Services on Windows Server 2008 failing to start

A few oddities I have discovered recently when working on one of my lab environments, so I thought that I would note them here for my own ends if nothing else.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

About Speaking at January's LonVMUG

Ask people what their fears are and with the overwhelming majority, you'll get to public speaking sooner rather than later. Most people would rather do almost anything else, so to go and present to a room full of technical experts and be judged by them all, when you could just sit back and listen to someone else, in blissful anonymity? Well, surely there's no decision to be made? As a consequence, it's no surprise that the erstwhile LonVMUG ctte. wanted to do something to encourage members of the community to step up for the first time and present something, since new volunteers aren't always that forthcoming and listening to the same people each time around will eventually (eventually!) get stale. And so, the grand LonVMUG V-Factor competition was launched.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

vExpert Homelab 1 - Setting up a Cisco 3550 switch from scratch

I've been running a homelab for a number of years, but with the impending release of vSphere 6, my pair of old HP ML115 servers were looking a little tired. After being selected as a vExpert in 2015, I figured it was time to treat myself to some new infrastructure and also to rig up a proper network solution to underpin it all. I'd had an old Cisco 3550 (the layer 3 version) hanging around for a while waiting for this moment. I'm going to be using Intel NUC servers, so this is not going to go as far as nic teaming. This first post in my homelab series explains what I did to get the thing up and running with a very basic configuration,

I found some of this information easy to get hold of and some a little more tricky to find, so I hope assembling this in one place helps someone other than just me!

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

VMware launches vSphere 6.0 and various other happenings

The worst kept secret in Hypervisor history was finally revealed last week, when VMware went public with the launch of vSphere 6.0 (alongside a swathe of other products) in what they are calling their biggest ever release. So big in fact that it's taking 28 days to get through it if you read up at, a microsite introduced under the title "One Cloud, Any Application". 28 days is handy in that it gives people time to digest a range of features and also write additional contributions (more on that later).

Sunday, 8 February 2015


In a move that I have to say that I did not see coming (but then I think no-one did) VMUG recently announced that subscribers to their VMUG Advantage initiative would also receive EVALExperience licenses for a number of vSphere related products meaning that these products are now available for use with a 365 day license which you can renew as long as you maintain your VMUG Advantage subscription .

As a home labber faced with rebuilds after 30-60 days, this is a godsend, I can now seriously think about downloading a product, installing, blogging and messing about in my own sweet time, rather than not bothering since I would imagine that I would blow through the license before I got much out of it.

The products that are licensed are;
•VMware vCenter Server™ 5 Standalone for vSphere 5
•VMware vSphere® with Operations Management™ Enterprise Plus
•VMware vCloud Suite® Standard
•VMware vRealize™ Operations Insight™
•VMware vRealize Operations™ 6 Enterprise
•VMware vRealize Log Insight™
•VMware vRealize Operations for Horizon®
•VMware Horizon® Advanced Edition
•VMware Virtual SAN™

Thursday, 5 February 2015

vExpert 2015

Well, well, well. I'm pleased to say that I have been awarded the title of VMware vExpert for 2015, my first time! You can see the full list here on the VMTN site. Congratulations to all the new and returning vExperts named this year.

It's rather humbling to gain this recognition and it really is great to see so many of the #LonVMUG folks who've helped me along the way be named as well. Cheers guys! Hopefully this will inspire me to do more in the future, I am really enjoying being a part of this community - I have so much I can learn and hopefully once in a while I can give something back.

I must add my thanks to Corey Romero for the effort he puts in to this every year. At least for now I won't have to ask him for help to get me into the vExpert party at VMworld again:-)

Saturday, 17 January 2015

LonVMUG January 22nd 2015 - vFactor, vBeers and more

It's nearly time for the first #LonVMUG of 2015. As usual, a cracking line-up has been finalised for this all-day event, but for myself and 4 other delegates, this will be an extra special day, cos we get to present!

Long-time LonVMUG stalwart Mike Laverick put together a #Feed4ward initiative in cahoots with
Duncan Epping and Scott Lowe as an attempt to solicit more community content at VMUGs around the world by mentoring would be presenters before their big day in front of an audience. Feed4ward has been so successsful that it is now an offical VMUG supported program. You can read more about that on Mike's site.

Having seen at first hand how Alex Galbraith had presented a lightning talk and then a full session at LonVMUGs in 2014, I fancied a go at it myself and had chatted with Mike in the summer and secured his agreement for mentoring. I had an idea for a talk and was really just working on material to get it up to a suitable length when the LonVMUG crew came up with this particular bombshell at the UK National VMUG in November. A V-Factor competition! 5 slots for community folks to talk on any VMUG related subject of their choice in a series of lightning talks, with prize support to boot. So instead of having to find content for a 45 minute preso, I now had to bang on for a whole ten minutes if I was one of the  5 "winners" selected. How could I say no?