Newsletter: December 15

Hello all,

For a fair number of years, I think from late 2007 until today, I did a newsletter for a large number of people – weekly in fact. It went out to mostly partners of VMware, and VMware people as well around the globe.  With my not being part of VMware any longer it is time to change the format of this newsletter.  I will do it in this blog, in the same way I have been doing it meaning a collection of information I think important enough to share.  I hope my newsletter readers of the past find it as useful, and if anyone new likes it too that is just great.


Alert: If using vCAC to import virtual machines, using stub or custom workflow – than stop doing that!
It turns out we have a bug currently, one that engineering has identified, but we have not released a fix yet.  The problem is that if you are using a stub or custom workflow to import existing virtual machines, and that process fails, it is likely that the virtual machine(s) being imported will be deleted.  GSS is aware of this, and there should be KB articles soon.

Warning: vSphere Web Client corrupts passwords entered into Custom Specifications
I have warned everyone of this before, but I forgot myself.  I could not figure out why I could not have my deployed virtual machines successfully added to the domain.  Turns out I added the account information used for the domain add using the vSphere Web Client.  I also did that to the administrator account password so I could not log in to the virtual machines I deployed either.  So while I work most of the time in the vSphere Web Client, in this case you need to enter the passwords using the C# client.

vSphere and UPS integration – Updated
I started several weeks ago by asking a question about how people get their UPS integrated with vSphere.  It is not an ideal thing.  Last week I reported on how people answered.  I think I had maybe 10 people respond and all of them confirmed it is not ideal.  The nicest idea was using VCO to do the shutdown when the VM where it was installed was alerted.  However, since than I have learned a lot more.  First, while the majority of the world seems to use APC in vSphere, and all of the respondents and myself included due use APC, it turns out that there is another vendor who has carefully considered this problem and have an elegant and useful solution.  They won best of show at VMworld this year.  Since they are integrated that means a plug-in, but also their solution knows what maintenance mode, for example, is.  They will put the servers that are in danger of losing power in maintenance mode, and the servers that are not impacted will not be impacted.  So very cool.  Check out an overview , and how to here.  But based on this, I will check out Eaton before I buy any more UPS gear.  From someone who has actually implemented this at a customer, they mentioned that all work was done in vC, and no scripting was needed.  Major thanks to DanC for putting me onto this.

The winner of the 2013 VMware Fling is ….
This is very good to see.  I was quite hopeful something like this would win.  Hopefully for next VMworld there will be a fling that will convert a Windows vC to vCSA.  Which would be very cool.  See this for more info.

Hybrid environment leveraging SSO Multi-Master Replication between vCenter Server for Windows & vCSA
This is a very interesting and important article that William has done.  The work he did has a lot of potential and I think for many of the architects out there you need to know and understand.  It may not be supported but it may be very useful in specific circumstances.  And remember, that not supported means you only get best efforts for support and no guarantee of patches or endless support.  I also believe that this will be supported as well – especially if customers need it and push for it.  Great work William!

VMware VAAI with EMC ScaleIO
This is an interesting article that helps you – not just with EMC ScaleIO but also with understanding of VAAI. Of note it shows you how to test VAAI which I think is useful.  I have visited a number of different customers who really had no idea of VAAI and how important it was.  They were not sure if they had it or were using it.  That is too bad as it can make a very big difference.  If you know how to test it, maybe the partners reading this can show customers the value of it.

Devices depreciated and unsupported in ESXi 5.5
This was something that was bouncing around in Twitter traffic.  This KB article (KB 2056935) shows all of the devices that were depreciated in vSphere 5.5 and what that means for support.  This is a long list but I did not see anything on it that was going to impact me nor that was very familiar to me.  I am thinking that this will impact home labs maybe more than the average enterprise.

VMware NSX Network Virtualization Design Guide
I know many have been looking to learn more about NSX.  This design guide will help you learn but also help you implement.

Auto Deploy GUI for vSphere 5.5 now GA
You can get an updated Auto Deploy GUI for vSphere 5.5 / 5.1 / 5.0 and I think that this is pretty good!  I do like the tool and find it a big help.  Find the info here.  Make sure you download the exact version you need.

vSphere 5.5 nuggets: Change Disk.SchedNumReqOutstanding per device
This very good to know, but also, like Duncan suggests, do not make this change unless you really know what you are doing!  Check it out here.

VMware Virtual SAN Design & Sizing Guide available
I had not heard about this until I saw this blog.  But it looks like it will be quite interesting and useful.  Definitely something you need to help with your design or just learning so you can beta / test better.

Videos to help with VSAN – monitoring and troubleshooting
Here is a link to monitoring VSAN, and a link to one about Troubleshooting.  So both very useful!

VSAN Community HCL
A community HCL is good help for people to see what has been working with VSAN.  Check it out here.  I should report my stuff up there!

Virtual SAN – Maintenance Mode Monitoring
This was the biggest change to me when I started working with VSAN.  I found it easy to get VSAN working, and configured and than I saw how maintenance mode changed.  You learn quick how your choice could have impact on how long it takes to go into maintenance mode!  Cormac has got a nice article on this subject.  This is important.  If you enable VSAN in your company, or for a customer, it will be largely in the background and not really relevant to people.  Except for when they go into maintenance mode on a VSAN host.  So this is something people need to know.  This is important to know and understand when you look at this – shutting down the VSAN cluster.

Configure Custom Alarm for Virtual Machine disk consolidation needed
Many customers I have visited do not use Alarms much.  I have had to educate hard a number of customers to use alarms with SRM which was critical.  But here is another example of good alarm usage.  You will not see if VMs need their disks consolidated unless you click on every VM.  So an alarm can be used to let you know which exact VM needs help. Find out how here.

Removing unwanted extensions via vSphere MOB?  Not sure which is which?
If you have unwanted extensions, and need to remove them, sometimes the app – like VIN will remove them for you.  But if you forget and clear out the appliance, or you have apps that don’t do it, you will need to do it yourself.  This article will be a big help.  Plus it has all the names in it so you can copy and paste as necessary.

Changing VMware ESXi host logging level
Someone was talking about doing this, and using this as a guide, but I would like to say you may not want to do this.  There may be a reason for the log levels, and if you change them it may be harder to support you if you call VMware for help.  And your syslog of choice should be able to handle the volume and I know – in fact better than most – that ESXi logs are noisy, but you can deal with that with good searching.

How to analyze and compare two or more ESXTOP logs with perfmon
This is an interesting article in that it teaches you how you can use perfmon to compare two ESXi hosts in terms of ESXTOP capture data.  Check it out here.

vCAC 6.0 is now GA
This is a little old, as I think it was the 10th or 11th that this happened.  But this is a big release.  Remember there is no upgrade currently for vCAC 5.2 users.  That will come in the future.  This is not a critical issue as if you are an IaaS user currently there is not much new for you in vCAC 6.  One of the things in this 6.0 I wanted very badly to test, but was not able to, is the ability to provision a collection of virtual machines behind a router that would let me through, but not let them out.  Just like Lab Manager.  While I ran out of time, and was not able to get this working, I have had several people confirm with me they have.  All of the work was not done just in vCAC but also in vCNS.  It will take another release I think before you will be able to do all of the work in vCAC alone.  Find the release notes here.  I would suggest that this product, over all others at VMware, needs to have a real task plan, and diagram before you start.

Scripts to automate configuration of pre-reqs for vCAC 6.0
I have shared with you previously the script I use for vCAC 5.2 and I still use it with vCAC 6.0 as well and it works.  I use the script I found here.  However we now have a script from a VMware blog here but I have not tried it.  I do like we have a script from a VMware source however.  I recommend using one of these scripts as the fact is there is a lot of places you can make a mistake when doing the pre-reps!  So using the script helps avoid that.

vCAC – How to use vCenter Orchestrator as deployment option in vCAC
You do not have to use VCO to deploy but you can in vCAC 6.0.  If that is an option that you need to exploit you can find help on that here.  I must admit I would not normally do this, as I think vCAC itself can do this and do it well and easier too but I can think of times where the VCO method is more useful.  Like maybe when you need to talk to an IPAM as part of the deployment process.

Using CA Certificates with your vCAC virtual appliances
Grant has a very nice article that will help you replace the self signed certificates in vCAC appliances.  It is nice to have a blog article with pictures and colors that are often not found in computer documentation.  Plus, it is easy to leave a comment for help!  Thanks very much for doing this Grant, I know it is a little tricky.

Common Installation Issues for vCAC 6.0
Grant has another nice article today.  This one is about common install issues for vCAC 6.0.  Here is the list.  I would add that in number 1, the most common cause of that problem is regenerating the default self signed certificate.  Do not do anything with the default cert in the SSO VA.  If you replace it with a CA signed cert that is fine, but do nothing else.  In number 2, my issue there was that I was using the user ID instead of the display name for the DN.  And while there is no mention of time, we saw a lot of issues related to time in the beta and onsite betas.  Make darn sure your time is consistent between AD, SSO, vCAC and virtual infrastructure.

vCloud Hybrid Service vSphere Web Client Plug-in now available
Not sure how many of you are using vCHS but I do know a few are.  I love the idea of a plug-in for the vSphere Web Client so that you can use the same tool you use to manage your own gear with and your hybrid cloud environment as well.  Nice.  See the release notes for more info.

Debunking the 5+2 Myth About Horizon View Connection Servers
This is a blog by someone I have not met nor read a lot from.  But I do like his writing style, and he has cleared up something very easily and clearly that people have quoted to me as fact and best practice!  You do not need standby connection servers but this article is about much more than that.

Making Horizon View HTML Access Webalicious
I used HTML 5 access the other day from inside my lab, and it was actually pretty darn good.  I had tried it in an older version and was not as impressed.  But it has come a long way and I now use it – inside my lab only right now when I need something quick.  I found this short blog as a reminder about things to know around HTML5 access.

Real-Time Audio-Video Test Application
This is interesting.  A tool you can use to test your real-time audio and video configuration.  Without accounts or painful installs or even web access.  Pretty simple use as well.  More info is here.

VDI Calculator v5 is now available for Beta with Multi Desktop Type support
Andre has released for beta use his upgraded VDI Calculator.  It has come a long way.  It now has multiple desktop type support which I think makes a lot of sense.  Check out the info – and calculator here.

Two VMware Data Protection icons after upgrading VDPA?
This happened to me very recently.  So I wrote up the solution and blogged about here.  So yes, this is me promoting my own article!  I wrote about it as both the admin guide and dev folks pushed me to the wrong answer.  So this article I did works.

vC Ops 5.8 is now GA
This is a big release.  There are over 300 bug fixes, but also other things like AD integration, and a vC Ops content pack for Log Insight.  Find the release notes here.  The MS Exchange and SQL dashboards sounds pretty important to many customers as well.  BTW, I have done a couple of upgrades to 5.8 and they have gone smooth and had no issues.  I love the .pak file method of upgrades.  Not as cool as the vCSA option where it downloads and applies it but still pretty good.

VMware Infrastructure Navigator 5.8 is now GA
There is not much new in this release, but it does now work with both 5.1 and 5.5 of vSphere Web Client.  And something new you will not guess is the ability to install Hyperic agents from VIN is now possible.  No idea why VMware did that.  I may not agree that this was a good use of engineering time, but I must admit they did a very good job of it.  Very easy to use.  Find the release notes here.  I have done several VIN upgrades as well, and they are very smooth and easy.  Instead of a .pak file, the patch is downloaded and applied automatically when you tell it to upgrade(in the VAMI).  Very easy.  It did not find any patches to download for several days after GA but they are there now.

How to configure vC Ops 5.8 to forward logs to vC Log Insight
This was not as easy as I had hoped.  And when I tried to do it, there was not any help.  So I wrote how to do this in one of my first articles.  I was prompted to do this when I found there was a vC Ops Content pack for Log Insight.

vC Ops 5.8 Management Packs, and Log Insight Content Packs
Management Packs add functionality to vC Ops, like the one for Storage Devices, but there are a variety of them.  You can find what management packs there are here.  It looks like they add more than just dashboards.  The Content Packs for LI can be found here.  There are a variety including new ones like vC Ops.

VMware vCenter Configuration Manager 5.7.1 now GA
This looks like a big release too me.  The list of what’s new in the release notes is quite long.

SRM (ABR / VR) and VDP – do they conflict?
Someone did a test of this – does VDP impact SRM / ABR, or impact SRM / VR.  BTW, ABR means array based replication, and VR means vSphere Replication.  Check it out here.  You will find likely what you expect.

Log Insight – Reset admin password from command line
What happens when you lock yourself out of Log Insight?  Find the answer here.

VMware Technical White Papers
There is a surprising amount of technical papers recently released from VMware.  The best way to see them is with this fancy link.  I have shared links to some of these before, but it is nice to see all of them in one place.

Automation Tip 1 – Measure It
This is the first of the automation tips that Allan is providing us with.  This is an important one as it makes automation possible!

Automation Tip 2 – Find your standards
This is a very short and small tip, but it has huge and very practical implications.  You cannot automate everything, and there are things you should not automate.  So anyway, a great tip.

Why is Social Media Important?
Someone was asking about this recently.  I started with Tweeting for my VMworld session as I thought I could help out with it using Twitter.  Not a big leap but I think it was successful.  And this blog is social media and it means I can share more knowledge and ideas with more people.  Again not a big thought process to do this.  But the guy I was chatting with about this was a little more marketing oriented.  So I found this for him.

Virtualizing Exchange?
There is a lot of good info on this subject found here.  There is a lot of stuff on this page, but near the bottom are some whitepapers that should be useful – like the best practices one for Exchange 2013.

Deep Security and ESXi
In this article you learn about the use of Deep Security and vSphere.  This article talks about what you should know in your design.  Deep Security is the product that will allow you to offload the anti virus actions from the VM to the Deep Security appliance.  This provides for better security, and better resource utilization.  It works with the vCNS Endpoint API.  BTW, if you want to know about the integration between Control Manager and Deep Security check this out.

New Book – Troubleshooting vSphere Storage
I saw this only recently.  This is an important topic, and something that is hard for most of the VMware customers.  So it is good to see this book review.  I have actually ordered this book but will not see if for 3 – 5 weeks.  Amazing.  But the book sounds good so check out the review here.

What is Customer[0]?
This is something pretty cool.  I was part of it at VMware, and I will be practicing it at my next job as well.  If you want to learn what Customer[0] is check this out.

Building a Windows 2012 + Veeam 7 Backup Appliance Part 1
This is quite interesting as they are using the deduplication built into Win2K12 for the Veeam repository.  This has some good ideas and thoughts around that deduplication as well.  So a particularly good use-case for Veeam but I am also sharing it for the deduplication information as well.  Check out the article.

Home Lab Series: Storage
I met Simon at an event in EMEA and was very impressed with how smart he was around VCO and vCAC so it is very good to find he has a web site.  He has jumped into home lab storage with both feet!  But it sounds like a very nice solution and also very flexible.  I like how he can share out an NFS share also as CIFS.  I thought I had a lot of storage but Simon certainly has a bit more.  While I know a bunch of people that use Synology gear, no one has gone with it as big as Simon!  See the article here.

Employee Retention
I saw this recently, I think from WilliamL, but it is pretty interesting.  It is pretty good, and it would work with me!

This is cool – Christmas surprise
Westjet is a cool airline.  Last time my wife flew on them, the safety chat was done in interpretative dance.  Yes, really.  Angela said it was great and it was easy to understand.  But it turns out each Christmas they pull something.  For this year, it was pretty darn cool.  Check out the video here.

Fast way to lock your MacBook screen
I normally set a hot corner so when my mouse is in it my screen saver is engaged which also locks my screen.  Someone shared with me a faster and easier way.  This seems to only work on the built in keyboard of MacBooks and that is to hit the power or eject button to lock the screen.

Thanks for reading or skimming this far!  Have a great week, and let me know if you have questions or comments.


4 thoughts on “Newsletter: December 15

  1. Michael,
    I am pleased to see you are continuing your excellent newsletter in the new context with your recent change in role. As a long time VMware employee, I can attest to the quality and informative nature of your newsletters, and how much they have been a standard of my weekly reading. I wish you great success in your new role, and look forward to a continued stream of articles each week in the new blog format. I can heartily recommend that readers of this blog make Michael’s posts a priority in the weekly cadence of the blogs and information they peruse. Absolutely subscribe!

    Tom Mackay
    Americas SE Enablement Program Lead

  2. Michael –
    Best if luck in your new endeavors! Keep up the great work with your newsletters / blog.

    Dave Convery

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