vExpert 2017

First off I would like to say a big welcome to all the new vExperts that have joined in 2017. The numbers look to be up by ~100 from last year, but we will wait for the stats to come out later on.

Second, I would like to thank VMware for the opportunity to be selected as part f the vExpert group for 2017. This will be my fourth year. It is a great honour to be part of such a group filled with people from around the globe who support the virtualization community. This group is filled with such knowledgable people who spend a lot of their own time helping out the vCommunity and being very active.

So what is vExpert?
I’ve already mentioned a small part of this above, but the vExpert program is in recognition of those who go out and support the virtualization community, discussing, training, promoting virtualization. Even though this is a VMware award, it is not just based on VMware products. Anthony Spiteri (@anthonyspiteri) has a great post about the vExpert program: It’s about the Advocacy

Then there are the benefits, It has slowed down a little over the years,  however there are many more vendors offering up longer evaluations or free softare to vExperts to use and then write blogs posts about the product, this is a great way to get reviews of their software. There are also beta sessions that vExperts can elect to be part of to offer their expertise and insight into the product and provide feedback on the up and coming new program.

Again, I would like to thank the VMware community for giving me this opportunity.

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VCP6 – Update #3

It’s been a couple of weeks since my last update. The first week was a little bit different as I was unable to carry a book and thus I decided to start going through the vBrownBag VCP-Foundations series. This was a great option as it keeps things interesting and offers other examples and a different perspective on the subject.

The two videos I watched were the first two in the series. Both were very well presented and covered in great detail. Both episode were hosted by Emad Younis (@emad_younis) who asked some great questions and added some great value. The first video for the series started from the beginning of the blueprint with Section 1: Install and Configure vSphere 6 with Kyle Ruddy (@kmruddy). This was very in depth with a great demonstration.
The second video of the series was Section 2: Configure vSphere Networking with Brian Welch (@brianwelch) and covered the blueprint content well.

I have since moved on from Chapter 5: Creating and Configuring Virtual Networking and am now onto Chapter 6 Creating and Configuring Storage Devices.

In this chapter, so far I have covered:

Examining Shared Storage Fundamentals
In this chapter, we covered use casees for shared storage, breakdown of capacity and throughput and how to determine performance requirements for Online transaction Servers, Database servers and file servers.  

Comparing Local Storage with Shared Storage.
Local storage can be used from running ESXi through to running VMs, however it is limiting to the fact that VMs that are running on Local Storage are unable to be migrated to another host. Shared Storage combats this limitation and allows for the flexibility to build a highly available datacenter. VMs are able to run from shared storage keeping them in the same location when a VM is moved between hosts, providing that the Datastore is connected to the participating hosts. There are multiple protocols that can be used, from Fiber Channel, FCoE, iSCSI. 

Explaining RAID
With Dynamic Disk Pools, RAID isn’t as widely used anymore, however it is an underlying technology that should be known. First we cover off using RAID0 (stripe), aggregating all the disks together for performance and maximum capacity. Then we read upon the different RAID1 (Mirror) or 1+0 configurations, bringing in some redundancy and backup against failing drives. Following on from RAID1, we learn about parity and hot spares with RAID5 and RAID6.

Understanding Virtual SAN
Virtual SAN (VSAN) has been out since vSphere 5.5 and has recently reached 7000 customers around the world. VSAN brings together local storage using a Flash Drive and a spinning disk. There is a minimum requirement of 3 hosts par-taking in VSAN to provide redundancy of data. VSAN is part of the Software Defined Storage. VSAN does not have any limitations to vSphere features such as HA and DRS, these work between VSAN and regular SAN storage using FC, FCoE, or iSCSI.

So far, this has been my current reading progress and study, and I wish I could have done a lot more by now, but slowing it down, writing up notes and revision, adding videos and specific whitepapers to take it in does take time, but in the end, it will all be worth it.

VCP6 – update #2

This week has been fairly full on and I haven’t been able to carry my Mastering vSphere 6 book with me to work and back, so I have been doing little mini topic looks up on my phone and also listening to the VirtuallySpeaking Podcast  which is a storage focused podcast. This has given me some inspiration and catching me up with VVOLS and VSAN, etc.

In my readings I have covered off Section 1 and Section 2 of the blueprint, there is much more to go, including watching the vBrownBag and Pluralsight videos. The topics I have covered off in  Section 2 are: DvS, VSS, Migrating port groups, Security (Forge transmits, MAC Changes, Promiscuous Mode), Maximums, Multicast, LACP, VLANs/PVLANS, TCP/IP Stacks, NIC Teaming and 3rd Party Switches (Cisco 1000v, IBM 5000v)

Below is my current notes I have typed up. There are many more that will soon make an appearance.

Section 2.  vSphere Networking.

Objective 2.1 Configure vSphere Standard switch

+ Explain vSphere Standard Switch (VSS) Capabilities

A vSS is the default vSwitch that connects your vSphere environment to your network. When you set up ESXi out of the box, this vSwitch sets up a VMkernel port group and a VM port group. The first  difference between the two groups of ports is that the VMkernel port group requires an IP address assigned to it (DHCP or Static) where as the VM Port group just passes through the IP addressing from the guest OS.

After ESXi has been installed, the IP address will be displayed on the DCUI, if this is set to DHCP and you want to specify a static address, you can do this by pressing F2 and configuring the mangemant IP. You can only configure Mangement port and no others from the DCUI.

The vSS VMkernel port groups is used for a set of network services

iSCSI
Mangement
vMotion
Fault Tolerance logging
Virtual SAN
vSphere Replication Traffic
vSphere Replication NFC Traffic
Provisioning Traffic

 

iSCSI
To setup iSCSI networking, when creating your VMkernel port group, there is no tick box for this, you will need to ensure all options are unticked and continue. ISCSI is used to connect to SAN (Storage Area Network). To enable iSCSI you will need to go to Storage Adapters and add the iSCSI adapter.

Management
By default, management is already configured. If you need to make setting changes or set up management redundancy theny you can do that there.

vMotion
When you have vCenter installed and your hosts added to a cluster, you will then have the ability to utilise vMotion. This is used to migrate live Vms between hosts. It is recommended to have a minimum of 1Gbps dedicated to vMotion

Fault Tollerence logging
This is required for replicating between VMs that have been configured for Fault Tolerence. As this will continue to replicate the current state of the primary VM to the secondary, there is a requirement of a minimum 1Gbps and even better to have a dedicated network adapter

VSAN
VSAN VMkernel is a dedicated link to transfer and replicated information/data between hosts. This is recommended to be a dedicated 10Gig link. There must be a minimum 3 hosts participating to create a VSAN array over the network.

vSphere Replication Traffic
The vSphere Replication Traffic VMkernel isolates the traffic sending from the source host to the vSphere Replication (VR) server.

vSphere Replication NFC Traffic
The VR NFC (Network File Copy) Traffic VMkernel isolates the data incoming to the destination replication host.

Each of the VR replication links require a minimum of 1Gbps, when setting up the isolation traffic, a separate vmnic is recommended to keep the traffic secure. This will require 3 vmnics on the vSphere Replication Server. The first will be the mangement nic, followed by the vSphere Replication Traffic and the 3rd for NFC. This will ensure replication traffic is routed securely.

Provisioning Traffic.
The Provisioning Traffic VMkernel allows the separation of traffic created from cold migrations, snapshot creation and VM cloning.

 

 

Now that I have covered Networking, it is time to start moving over to Storage for the next week or so and spend some time reading, watching and Labbing.

Thank you for reading, if you have any suggestions please leave a message in the comments.

Keiran.

VCP-DCV Study – Post #1

To kick things off with my series of study notes and progress, I thought I would write a quick post on the resources that I am using and a brief overview of the exams. Back in February 2015 I wrote a post on the changes that were made to the VCP certification track. This included details about the additional pre-requisite exam VCP-Foundations which covers the underlying technology that supports each track.

In the VCP Datacenter Virtualizaation track, the foundations are similar, as networking, storage and compute are presented in the same way. This makes it a little easier to learn as I can focus on similar resources for this. Once I have taken the online foundations exam, I will then be able to take the DCV test.

My first resource is a blog post I refer to often when studying by our local VCDX Travis Wood (@vTravWood) – 7 Tips to Prepare Pass VMware Exams – This has some fantastic suggestions, such as creating a scorecard to rank your knowledge. I was impressed with this blog that I printed it out and laminated it. I now try and stick to it as a guide.

The below resources are what I will be using throughout this process, I am definitely open for more suggestions. As I mentioned in my previous post, I want to go right back to basics and fully understand the finer details.

Mastering vSphere 6 (Purchase here)
This by far, is my favourite series and book. I have been reading them since Mastering vSphere 5 and use it as a resource for production. The amount of content and the presentation of the content is phenomenal. There have been a lot of stories I’ve heard where people have passed the VCP exam from labbing and using just this book. Nick Marshall (@nickmarshall9) has done a terrific job following on from Scott Lowe.

vSphere Official Documentation (Blueprint)
The official documentation lays out the bare metal details, there are documents that are 200 pages on a particular technology (vSwitches, Storage, etc). These are also linked in the Blueprint available on the VMware Certification page. I highly recommend this documentation, even just for further clarification on a particular topic.

VMware vSphere Design (Purchase Here)
For further detail, use case and design information, this book has been a great read, I have read it a couple of times already and enjoy the way it breaks down different scenarios for components. This is an older book that was written back in the 5.x days, however a lot is still relevant. Scott Lowe (@scott_lowe) and Forbes Guthrie (@forbesguthrie) have done a great job.

vBrownBag (@vBrownBag – Podcast VCP-DCV series)
This is a series of Podcasts by members of the vCommunity running through the VCP blueprint over a number of weeks. These are some great videos as they are all deep dives. I’ve found a lot of information and learnt a lot just from watching tutorials. I highly recommend checking out the series.

Pluralsight (vSphere 6 DCV – vSphere 6 Foundations)
There are a number of series on Pluralsight that are dedicated to both the Foundations exam and the DCV. both David Davis (@davidmdavis) and Greg Shields (@concentratdgreg) have put together some great course with excellent content that dives into the blueprint and real world use cases. I highly recommend Pluralsight videos for more than just vSphere certifications.

vSphere HA Deepdive (HA DeepDive – Gitbooks)
This is a dynamic online book hosted on Gitbooks written by Duncan Epping (@duncanyb). The level of detail that Duncan dives into and explores really gets the deep understanding of how HA in vSphere 6.x works.

This is just an outline of what I am and plan to use. At present I am watching vBrownBag videos and reading Mastering vSphere 6 on the bus to and from work, as well as on my lunch break. I am currently finishing off vSphere distributed Switches and will hopefully have my completed Section 2.0 review notes completed for posting within the week.

Please feel free to leave any comments below or suggestions.

Thank you.

Keiran.

2017 – New Year and the outlook

First off, Happy New Year everyone. Thank you to all those I had the pleasure of meeting or working with in 2016. What a year it was, aside from a busy work schedule with some busy projects, I also welcomed my first child. This has obviously added to what i felt was already a busy schedule, but all I can say is that I am very grateful to have her in my life and things have certainly changed and will continue to change.

That being said, I realise I was not very active on my blog in 2016, however it does not reflect the amount of articles I wrote that I didn’t publish because it is not 100% completed or because I just didn’t like feel comfortable it was ready. Most of what I wrote was merely notes for myself or just jotting down sentences and paragraphs to ensure I was reciting what i knew. In 2016, I started to explore new horizons for myself. I started using Nutanix CE on Ravello to understand all the hub-bub around. I decided that I would make the switch from using Windows 10 to Linux Mint and then on to Ubuntu on my main computer, this created some challenges from an administrative perspective, but I feel as though I have increased my brain power just that little more. I managed to add to my lab increasing it over 3 times my previous lab. I have started testing Linux and other OSes in my lab to get a better understanding and broader knowledge. Each one of these things and a ton of other little bits and pieces I have changed or picked up are going to make 2017 a much better year for my IT future.

This brings me to my outlook for 2017 and what I plan to be a good year full of learning. This year I am hoping to finally knuckle down and get my VCP out of the way and hopefully complete a VCAP or two. When I look back, I realise how unfocused I was and how much my ego stood in front of me when I studied and then going in for the exams – going back and re-reading/re-learning how to install ESXi or how to vMotion a VM does not show weakness but shows strength knowing the very fine detail and understanding. I have now changed the way I study and now add more time and extra steps to ensure I fully understand before moving on. There are some smaller exams I would like to also get and also looking at CCNA and having more foundations covered.

For 2017, I plan to write and publish as much of my study log and notes I can, and hope that someone might find them useful for their own studies. This will hopefully be joined by many more blog posts to help make my blog active again.

In closing, I hope that you all have a very happy and safe 2017 and I look forward to meeting new people, creating friendships and working with many of you through the large list of communities.

vSphere 6.5 GA

vSphere 6.5 has now been released. This is a very exciting release for many as it brings a load of new features and some very long-awaited advances. There are many new features around DRS, HTML5 Client, VSAN 6.5 and even VCSA high availability. The biggest one that has got so many people excited is the long-awaited VCSA embedded vSphere Update Manager. With this brings the advantage of keeping vCenter and Update Manage all part of the one appliance.

there are many blog posts regarding the release and all the features that have come along with it.

You can check out What’s New in vSphere 6.5 and also check out the below blogs to help get started.

http://www.virtuallyghetto.com/2016/11/vsphere65.html

http://www.yellow-bricks.com/2016/10/26/vsphere-6-5-whats-new-storage-io-control/

http://atherbeg.com/2016/10/18/whats-new-in-vsphere-6-5-security/

http://atherbeg.com/2016/10/18/whats-new-in-vsphere-6-5-lifecycle-management/

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.