Set up Nutanix CE on Ravello Systems

Being a vExpert is a great acknowledgement of community contributions not just around VMware, but virtualization in general. As part of the award and recognition, many companies step up and also recognise the contributions the vExperts make. As part of this, Ravello Systems (recently acquired by Oracle) offers vExperts 1000 CPU hrs a month for Free. This is really great, and allows for the use of cloud resources for labbing and testing.

Ravello Systems is a cloud provider hosting on both Amazon and Google Cloud. The way Ravello is designed is that you create a blueprint of your servers and then fire them up and operate as required. There are some pre-made blueprints with images already loaded and there is also the ability to upload your own ISO/image to use the build of OS you require.

Today I am going to talk through setting up the Nutanix Community Edition blueprint that is readily available on Ravello.   (You can sign up and get your copy of Nutanix CE here for your home lab.) The Nutanix Community Edition is as it is called, the Community Edition. This is a free version of their Acropolis Hypervisor and Prism interface for use on your home lab.
Setting up a pre-set blueprint is simple.

  1. Select the Applications Tab on the right and click on the bright orange “Create Application.” This will then open up a dialog box asking for the Name and Description of your new application. Tick “From Blueprint” and select “Nutanix Community Edition” 1_Create Application 2_Create Application
  2. Once created, you will see the VM sitting on the blueprint of your application. 3_Blueprint
  3. Select the Nutanix VM as this will bring up the resources tabs on the right hand side. This is where you can set your Compute, Storage and Network (including public IPs) – I will take your through these tabs, but it’s best to leave as default for this blueprint.
    The summary tab gives you a brief overview.
  4. Select the General Tab, this is where you can rename the VM and give it a hostname before publishing. You can also set up a security key. 4_Genreal Tab
  5. The third tab is the System Tab, where you can adjust the compute for your VM. I have tried setting up with more memory, however I continue to receive errors on the blueprint – just leave as is.  Make sure you leave the “Allow Nested Virtualization” selected, otherwise you will not be able to run VMs on the Nutanix platform.5_System Tab
  6.  Coming up fourth is the Disks Tab, this is where you can configure your disks. Nutanix uses HDD and SSD, so this are already pre-configure with heaps of room. 6_Disk Tab
  7. The Network Tab allows you to set up networking. 7_Network Tab
  8. The last tab is the Services Tab, this is where you can open ports for your public IP through to your system. The main port for Nutanix is 9440 which is where your will connect through to Prism interface to manage your Nutanix Acropolis HV. There are also the SSH and sftp ports available as well as many others. 8_Services
  9. Once you are happy with any changes you may have made, you can select the “Publish” button at the top of the screen.
    9_Publish
  10. You will then receive another box that will ask for where you would like to host your application. The two choices are Amazon and Google Cloud, there are cost benefits between the two providers and also speed benefits depending on where you are (Play around with different providers until you find one that suits – however you will need to recreate the applications). You can also set how long you would like your application to stay on for if you only need it for a certain length of time. Once you are happy  select “Publish”. This will then set up your VM in your blueprint and assign a public IP and DNS entry so you can then access the Prism interface over the internet.10_Publish Application
  11. During the application creation, there will be an hourglass displayed on your VM as it builds. This will then turn to a play button once it is on.
    11_Publishing12_Published
  12. Once the VM is ready to be accessed, you will have both public IPs and DNS hostnames available on the right hand side under the Summary Tab. Select either DNS or IP and paste into your web browser (There are two, so you may need to try the other one).13_Published_App
  13. If everything is up and running then you will be presented with the Prism logon screen. The default log in is admin/admin14_PrismWeb

That’s it. Really simple to set up Nutanix CE on Ravello Systems. Make sure that you have set up a .next account with Nutanix CE as this will be required to continue past the prism log in. As I am in Australia, I do find Ravello slow, but with a little patience it really does help, especially if you do not have a lab at home.

Thank you again for reading, I really appreciate any comments you have about this post or any others.

 

Keiran.

 

Update vSphere 6.0U2 – Part 1 vCSA

There are a few new things that have been added to vSphere 6.0 in the most recent update. One of the biggest additions and what I think is one of the coolest is the HTML5 Embedded Host Client that allows you to connect directly to the host using your Web browser, eliminating the need for the desktop client. Check out William Lam’s post on the Embedded Host Client.

For more What’s New in U2 – Check out the below release notes.
ESXi 6.0 U2
vCenter 6.0 U2

Part 1 will talk about how to update your vCenter Server Appliance with part 2 covering how to update your ESXi hosts. I’m not going to cover other components in this article, but keep in mind when you do, you will need to follow the upgrade sequence advised by VMware.  This article will cover upgrading a vCSA with an embedded PSC.

 

Updating vCSA

Note: You will be required to reboot the vCSA at the end of the update process.

First step is to log in to the vCenter Appliance Management Interface (VAMI) as root. You can do this through your supported web browser and go to the VAMI <HOSTNAME/IP>:5480.   From here you can select Update in the navigiator – this displays your current running version.
1_update

2_CheckCurrent
You can see above 6.0.0.10000 is 6.0u1

Once you have checked the current version, you will need to make sure that you are a using a valid repository to get your update from. Select Settings from the top right hand corner. In most cases it is best to leave as default, but if you have a local repository that you would prefer to use, then you can select that by choosing Use Specified Repository

3_CheckSettings
Choose default unless you have a custom repository

Once you are happy with this, then you can click OK and select the Check Updates via URL.

4_CheckURL

Once the vCSA has finished checking for updates, you will see the update information displayed on the Updates home screen. Confirm that this is the version you are after. The Description, release date and severity of the update is outlined under More Details.

5_CheckUpdateVersion

When ready, you will need to select the Install Updates on the right hand side and in most cases you would select Install All Updates unless you are only interested in the third-party updates. Once you have selected, then you will need to accept the EULA before the update will start.

6_SelectInstallVersion

7_EULA

The update will start and you will receive a progress bar. Select the Show details  to see a log of the progress. I have noticed that the progress bar shoots up to 40% and will sit there for some time until it will move up to 70%. My understanding is that at 40% it is downloading and 70% is installing. 8_ProgressLog

Once it reaches 100% you can click OK.

9_Reboot

Next, select the Summary linkinside the Navigator. Here, you will find the Reboot option. You will need to click this when you are ready, the vCSA will restart reasonably quick.

10_SelectReboot

To check that the update was successful, you can log back into the VAMI and click on the Update link and view the current running version.

In part 2, we will cover updating ESXi Hosts.

I you have any suggestions or want to request a blog post, please comment below or send me an email @ keiran [at] readsetvirtual.com

Thank you for reading.

Keiran.

Now you can update to 5.5u3

Time to get back into blogging. it’s been a couple of months of quiet with a couple of large posts being constructed.

So VMware released vSphere 5.5u3 a few weeks back, which saw a lot of security updates and bug fixes. These updates are great and definitely see a lot of improvements that come along with them. Unfortunately, this time around a serious bug came out in the release. This bug cause VMs to crash during snapshot removal. I was quite excited about the update and getting prepared for testing, however as we are a cloud provider and rely on Veeam to backup some of our VMs, this was not a good thing.

Thankfully as of yesterday VMware released a patched version of 5.5u3 build: 3116895 which has fixed this bug.

 

Snapu3Err1

Snapu3Err2

 

So now you can safely update, but make sure you check the rest of the release notes to make sure your environment won’t be affected by known issues.

As a side note, keep an eye out for other Security Patches for your environment.

Thank you/

VMware Blacklisting Drivers in ESXi 6.0

Recently I purchased a new lab computer to be able to shift my workloads out of VMware Workstation to a dedicated box. I didn’t have a large budget as I plan to purchase at least another one or two down the track. For this reason I opted for an AMD system, I was able to get 6 cores instead of 4 cores that comes with a similarly priced Intel CPU. All is well and good, the parts fit together and I am able to squeeze 32Gb of RAM on to the board easily.

Everything is going well until it came to installing ESXi 6.0. I start to go through the prompts to accept the EULA, scan for drives, select drives, etc. Until the final stage where it starts to install and there it is, “No Network Adapters”  – This was not what I was expecting to see.  Realtek!  After a little bit of googling ESXi and Realtek 8019 – I hadn’t come across it previous, but VMware has been removing Drivers that were valid in 5.0 and 5.1 – this isn’t a real issue.

I was able to find a .vib file for the driver I required. Oh boy, this is a good thing. So I went ahead and used ESXi Customizer to insert the .vib to the ISO. You beauty, this surely will get me out of the water – sadly, no.  I made it all the way to the same spot as previous, however, this time I was presented with a much larger error message “This driver *blah* is obsolete”  and some recommendations.

Once again, I started to google and came across some interesting articles. In vSphere 6.0, not only are older drivers removed from the ISO, but they are also blacklisted. I don’t understand why VMware wants to blacklisted, but I’m sure they would have a good reason to do it.

To overcome this, I found an excellent link to a repackaged driver .vib – you can get it here,

I once again created my custom ISO using ESXi Customizer and was able to fully install ESXi without a hitch and able to connect to it via C# client.

 

I highly recommend checking out Andreas Peetz blog here for more information on how to run his ESXi Customizer and also get around driver issues with vSphere 5.5 and 6.0

Thank you.

My VCP6 Exam reviews

It’s been almost 2 months since I last did a blog post, and for that time I have been flat out reading and labbing getting ready for my VCP6 Foundation and Datacenter Virtualization exams. These we both the BETA Exams that ran from 1st April right through to today, 27th May. As I am currently not a VCP holder but I have sat the 5.x course with a registered organisation, I am eligible to sit both exams that a new future VCP would take and only need to sit the What’s New Exam.

I feel I should do a little review here as there was no opportunity to do a review of the exam (which is what I thought the whole point of the BETA’s were for – not just to see if they opened up and moved on to the next question).

The Foundation Exam.
it was a good morning, I followed Travis Wood’s advise and had a big breakfast as I had a 9am booking. The plan was to get it over an done with. Everything went smoothly registering myself at the test center and getting my photo taken, etc. I sat down at my test station ready and straight away I am presented with an NDA – At this point it all seems normal, and the next section I was expecting to see the quick survey that I have encounted on every other exam I have done, unfortunately, this was not the case and I was immediately in the exam, no way I had time to do my 10 second breathing.  The exam went quite smoothly and covered a lot of topics, this was good as they were simple enough to not scare you off, but they were tough enough that you were challenged and gave you an idea what you would need to brush up on before the DCV. There were quite a few grammatical errors, but these were looked past and I hope I answered them correctly. I suspect it is the same exam for which ever track you take that requires the Foundation exam. There were 100 questions in 120 minutes, much better than the 135 questions in 120 minutes that were in the 5.5 exams, you didn’t feel as rushed, but you still felt you needed to keep the pace at approximately 1 minutes per question.

The DataCenter Virtualization Exam.
This exam seems to be causing confusion for some people, and I believe it is due to adding the Foundation exam. I found that this exam I took today focused heavily on 3 topics, all of which were quite in-depth, but the topics were ones that I rarely touch, and I don’t think many administrators would touch on a day to day basis either. That aside, the level of questions were definitely raised up a level. I took a little longer on some questions to fully understand them, I was still keeping at approximately 1 question per minute, but some were quicker than others. I don’t feel too confident this time due to how heavily focused this exam was and not as broad as I thought it should be for a Datacenter exam. There was a lack of new things but some was covered – this gives me the thought that there are many more questions to come, but these are the ones so far.

After both exams, I felt like there should have been a little review quiz at the end to give feedback, but unfortunately there wasn’t.

At the end of the day, I put in a lot of study time, ran through practice quizes with Manny, Tom and Michael, all of whom I am grateful for their time. I read at night, and read on the train to and from work. I built my lab a few times and lab on items and even utilised the Hands-on-Labs.

Study Resources
Mastering VMware vSphere 6 – Nick Marshall
Official Blueprint Documentation
Blueprint
vBrownBags vSphere 6 Series
VMware Hands-On-Labs
Many vSphere 6 blogs

As I wait for my result (that can be anywhere up to 6 – 8 weeks) I will start on my VCIX path, although the blueprint has not been released yet, I will be reading through Scott Lowe/Forbes Guthrie vSphere Design guide and running through the VCAP-DCA/DCD blueprints to start getting up to speed.

Whether you pass or fail, the best outcome is that you move forward.

 

Thank you, if you have any questions please ask.

Keiran.

New: VCP6-Cloud/DT Certifications

As always with a release of a new version of vSphere, there is always a new certification to be had. This time, VMware has released the VCP6 Cloud and Desktop exams early. When vSphere 5.5 was released, it was a number of months before we saw the exams and a lot of people were asking the question; Should they take the 5.1  or wait for the 5.5?

The 5.5 exam was a minor update packed with new technologies, it was easy to watch the “What’s New” and then sit the test providing you had studied the the 5.x material, regardless of which exam, you still walked away with a VCP5. This, vSphere 6 is a major release, and just catching up with “What’s New” and tinkering here and there with VSAN, etc. will more than likely not cut it.

The VCP-DCA has not been released as of yet, but I can’t see this being too far behind the Cloud and DT exams. I am really looking forward to the new exams amd cam’t wait to get into them!

You can check out more information in the MyLearn section on the VMware website.

VCP6-Cloud:
http://mylearn.vmware.com/mgrReg/plan.cfm?plan=54066&ui=www_cert

VCP6-DT:
http://mylearn.vmware.com/mgrReg/plan.cfm?plan=53471&ui=www_cert

 

Thank you.

Keiran.

VMUG UserCon Sydney: 2015

On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to go to the Sydney VMUG UserCON. This was quite an amazing experience. The last time I was in Sydney and outside the airport was when I was 12 on a school camp, and even then I was off the bus, on the ferry and then back on the bus.
So what happened at Sydney VMUG UserCON that made it such an amazing day? Well… lots!! I guess starting and running through the day is the best way to start.

It was a warm sunny morning, the birds were singing, the workers were hurrying across the roads to get to work on time and I was passing by to try and get my 5 seconds of window fame on sunrise…. Alright, fast forward to the event.


0800hrs: Registration:  
This was a great set up, walking into the venue was great, very well presented, the sign-in desk was well set up allowing the member to search their name and print out their name tag, thus one step closer to saving the environment. Breakfast was also available with croissants and muffins, and COFFEE!!! (I walked through the city from 6am looking for coffee, I was at the venue waiting outside very early.) After standing around a little I quietly walked into the main hall for the opening to the day.

0830hrs: Welcome, VMware Updates and morning Keynote: John Troyer
VMUGhq representative Renee did a short welcome introducing the VMUG team and giving a brief overview and then introducing Ryan McBride (Sydney VMUG Leader). Ryan also started off with a welcome followed by a presentation on the updates to VMUG including VMUG Advantage and the benefits along with EVALexperience. Ryan then spoke about the steering team, about the sponsors and what was going to be in store for the day. Next was Tom Hubert from VMware education bringing up-to-date information in regards to the new vSphere 6.0 certification paths. (You can read about the changes in this article.)

All of a sudden, Ryan did not come back on stage, instead Nigel Moreton from VMware was on stage and in no time at all he dropped a big surprise, Sanjay Mirchandani (VMware Senior VP and GM for APJ) was in the house and in no time at all, he was up on stage with so much energy.

On to the Keynote. Mr John Troyer was up, straight away he was in to it. The entire audience was engaged as John delivered The New I.T. There were a lot of funny meme’s that John had put together, and for good reason, they were the exact example of how I.T. is viewed, the team in the dungeon. The key is to change from saying “No” to “Yes, and….” This drops the ego, and it allows you to show your interest to take the next step and progress further. John continued to discuss how there are different technologies that are becoming big and will change I.T. as it is today. There are many ways we use to rely on hearing technology news, we don’t buy the latest magazines anymore, we just google what we want, or read blogs.

The points that John left us with were;

  • Start Side Projects (Create New things)
  • Teach Internally
  • Blog
  • Educate

Move from being the operator and keep moving by doing things that charge you. Don’t write a book first, start small by building in your network where you may only start with one friend reading your blog, but within time, more and more will join until you have thousands.

1055hrs: The Missed Session

Two days before the event, I spent an hour putting together my agenda for the day, trying to work out which events would be best suited to myself and job. Unfortunately, they don’t always go to plan. Fortunately, during the break, I met some very knowledgeable people, Josh Odgers, Ryan McBride and Michael Webster. Within this time, we had missed the call for the next session, but it turned out for the best as the first session I picked to fill in time anyway. We had some great discussions about technology, VMUGs, customer stories, designs, among other things that were just an eye opener to me. This lead into the next session.

1155hrs: Performance Tuning for Monster VMs and Business Critical Apps – Michael (Web-Scale) Webster.

Now I don’t deal with monster VMs that use 40 vCPUs and 512Gb of RAM, but regardless, this session was full of content that related to how you should think about sizing your VMs, and how you can get the most performance out of your databases. Michael broke down how you should assign cores to your VMs, eg. 8 Core CPU = 1, 2, 4, or 8 cores in a VM. 10 core CPU = 1, 2, 4, 5, etc.  vNUMA only kicks in once you start using 9 cores or more.

Michael talked about a series of tweaks that you can perform to get the most out of your VMs, by upgrading to Hardware Version 10 he noticed an 8% increase in performance.

Storage Controllers are a critical choice that needs to be correct as the different controllers, you can read more here: More here.

NIC choices are also an integral part, but if you choose the wrong one, you may be harming your throughput. Again Michael has done up another great post here.

This was another great session as it got me to really think about the way I design my VMs and what I need to configure to get the most out of the VMs.

VMware vSphere 5.5 Virtual Network Adapter Performance

1410hrs: Accelerating Business Critical Apps and VMware Horizon 6 with Web-Scale

After lunch and a bit of spare time walking around talking to some of the sponsors and finding out about their products a bit more, I gave in and went to Josh Odgers, and Michael Websters presentation. I was particularly interested in what Nutanix could do with with VMware Horizon, and I was impressed with the results that were displayed. Up to 2048 VMs in a HA cluster (but this is limited due to VMware limitations). 6 minutes to load 100 or 888 VMs.

Nutanix have designed a really nice little unit that scales really easily, and has great GeoLocation ability.

 

1520hrs: Deploying Vmware Horizon Workspace in the real World – Alastair Cooke

This was a session I was really looking forward to, and it delivered a stack of information. Alastair described a recent project that he worked on for a particular client who was using XenApp. This project involved migrating them across to Airwatch, Horizon 6 and Workspace Portal. During the presentation, Alastair talked about the design, the road blocks and challenges that he experienced. Alastair showed pictures of the Workspace Portal and how it presents a corporate App Store (as everything has an App Store these days) he talked about how customisable it is to work with for the users. The Citrix integration wasn’t very straight forward, but if you read the instructions it is certainly a lot easier. There were several key points that Alastair shared.

  • Put workspace in an internal network first for testing (Firewalls are a huge issue)
  • Learn Distinguished Names
  • Read documentation
  • Know your DNs

 

1620hrs: Closing Keynote: Chad Sakac

Wow! What energy to start a keynote (especially after a long day). This really got me thinking, my entire way of approaching design, operations, work ethic. Chad was a standout guy on stage. So much content packed in. The diagrams that were presented on screen gave a clear picture on how different Storage controllers and designs could greatly impact the data and performance.

4 main types of storage fabrics:

  • Persistence Models: Changing
  • Tightly Coupled
  • Loosely Coupled.
  • Distributed Share

The one thing that stood out to me was the time it takes data to be stored. Even when using FusionIO or ExtremeIO it still is a long time, not humanly noticeable, except Chad broke it down to be noticeable. If moving from CPU to SRAM is 1ns, then it would be 1 Second. If SRAM to DRAM it would be 10 seconds,  right up to All Flash Array that equalled a trip around the the world in a boat.

ChadTalk

The key points that Chad left us with were:

Watch:

  • Increasing Application Delivery
  • Increase Diversity in Compute

Do

  • No time to Dither
  • Start to be Maniacal/clear about workload
  • Accepting the differences
  • Invest time into M&O
  • Use Internal Pressures

This was certainly a great way to close off the entire days worth of sessions.

Congratulations  to all that won prizes from VMUG and the Sponsors.

 

1735hrs: Reception

Beers, who could say “No”?

If you didn’t get a chance throughout the day to meet new people, this was the time. I got a great opportunity to speak with Alastair Cooke, I was able to thank him personally for all his work that he has put into AutoLab. We had a really good conversation about opportunities for building the community for VMUG. A very nice guy who is very passionate about communities and presenting.

The evening was cut short for me as I needed to catch my flight home. To me I felt like I had made new friends in business and personally. I learnt a lot in the one day, and I am really keen to bring that day to the Brisbane VMUG, if not this year, then next year. This was a very enjoyable event for me and I take my hat off to Ryan and his team for making it a great day!

Thank you.

Keiran.

*I do apologise if I have missed some content, this was produced a little later than I anticipated.

VMware vSphere 6 – Certification Changes

2 days ago now, VMware announced in a live online event, vSphere 6.  This was one huge announcement, there are so many game changers that are part of the latest version that I am not going to go through them right now.  If you would like to see what is new in vSphere 6, you can check out the vExpert blogs here.

 

Certifications have become a large part of today’s education. A lot of companies are accepting certifications in specific area of technology as a way of showing your skills and experience, and also your drive to keep yourself up to date. As much as this is a good thing, sometimes vendors decide to change their certification path by adding/subtracting parts and this can then become confusing for HR officers and Execs who don’t know too much about those certifications as there are so many. (Now hold onto that last sentence, you’ll need it soon)

 

Let’s take a look at the new vSphere 6 certification Path.

Cert_Roadmap_2015Q1_v5_final_WEB

 

There are 4 silo’s (paths) you can choose from. Each one covers a little of the other, but each have a significant difference – especially as your get further up the chain. There 4 silos are,

  • DCV – Data Center Virtualization
  • CMA – Cloud Management and Automation
  • Network Virtualization
  • Desktop & Mobility

VCA – VMware Certified Associate.

Just like the previous VCA exam that came out during last year, this is an online exam. This exam requires only 3 hours of material and is recommended for sales staff, Managers and those just starting out.

VCP – VMware Certified Professional

The VCP is the most common exam that is taken as it was originally the entry level exam, and some consider it to still be. The VCP is no walk in the park exam, it has required a lot of hands on experience for it’s style of questions. To take the VCP you are required to sit an authorized Install, Configure & Manage (ICM) course. This is all fairly much the same as previous versions of the exam, except you are now required to sit a Foundation Exam and a Solution Track exam. If you sit the VCP exam in multiple silos, you can then gain the status of “Elite.”

VCIX – VMware Certified Implementation Expert (Formally VCAP)

This is where the major changes happen.  The VCIX was formally the VCAP layer which incorporated 2 separate certifications with an exam each, VCAP-xxD (Design) and VCAP-xxA (Administrator). The VCIX now includes both exams which are still separate from each other, but are both required to gain the VCIX badge. The VCAP exams were previously 3 hours, however, this has now changed to only 2 hours for the design exam and 3-3.5 hours for the Administration exam. The VCIX badge isn’t necessarily new as it was used for the first set of VCAP equivalent for Network Virtualization.  Remember the sentence I told you to remember above, there is a positive and a  negative with the change of name, HR and Managers might not understand what the level of certification is and they could possibly over look you as they look for “VCAP”. On the plus side, the Expert may help.  As with the VCP, taking multiple of these exams can award you with the “Elite” status.

VCDX – VMware Certified Design Expert

This is the top of the pyramid, only a select few make it this far, but these are the ones who spent countless hours hidden under the stairs working on a design to defend in front of a panel of potential colleagues. The VCDX path requires the VCIX. This isn’t an exam like the others, this is a fully fledge written design document that you submit to a panel who will then decide if you meet the requirement to defend your design. I have heard of stories of short designs that are only 100 pages, but then there are some large designs that are over 1000 pages. On average, the candidate will spend up to 4 hours a day/7 days a week (Obviously more on the weekend) while working and in most cases, raising a family.

 

This is just a brief look at the certification paths that are now available with the vSphere 6 release. You can log on to the VMware Training Portal to find out more information.  For another quick overview, you can also check out here.

 

Thank you.

If you have any questions or suggestions for posts, please post them below.

 

Thank you.

Keiran.